Front Porch Friday

Surprise and Inspiration at RDS 2018

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As 2018 comes to an end, we look forward to what 2019 is going to bring. We’ve been reflecting on 2018 here at Residential Designed Solutions, asking the question to our designers and staff, "What has surprised/inspired you this year and how, both professionally and personally?” Our answers are as varied and unique as all of us and we want to share them with you. Ask yourself the same question! You might be surprised by the answer.



Jim Wright

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A new design challenge always brings a little extra adrenaline to the process. With the Evans Farm development coming online this year and providing the opportunity to design a Parade of Homes house, I’m finding that absorbing and working within the very specific architectural guidelines is adding some design excitement! It is always inspiring to be part of the initial design process in a master planned community.

On the personal side, we welcomed our first grandchild in February, a very handsome and inquisitive little boy. He is telling us all about a lot of things, is crawling, and has just discovered that floor registers are removable! We enjoy spending as much time with him as possible, as you can imagine.




Hylas Stemen

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This year at RDS has brought new responsibilities. Some have allowed me to grow in areas that are new; others have allowed me to revisit areas that I thoroughly enjoy. The Front Porch Friday videos have been fun and challenging at the same time. I often prefer the behind the scenes approach and there is nothing behind the scenes about being on camera! Providing clients with color selection assistance for their new projects has given me another avenue to use my creativity. From tiles to granite, to cabinets and paint colors, it’s been a pleasure helping clients see their projects really come together. I am hopeful that both avenues will continue to help RDS grow our business and brand to the public, as well as within the building industry.

Personally, in May of 2017, my 16-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. After extensive treatments last year, trips to Philadelphia for immunotherapy over the winter, and missing the entire school year, he received a bone marrow transplant in March of this year. He is back to school cancer-free this fall and doing very well. We are enjoying the good days! His experience has taught me the valuable lesson that ‘Every Day is a Gift.’ We continue to pray that his good health remains, and continues to get better.

 

Michelle Bush

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Professionally, I was inspired by our Front Porch Friday series. I have learned a lot from them and even though I was a fan of DIY projects to begin with, after a little research on different topics, I feel even more confident to take on more projects on my own. I also feel as though from learning all of these new things that I am also a little wiser on not taking on some projects that I would have otherwise because now I know what is actually involved.

Personally, I’d say I’m a little surprised at how much life can change in one year. Justin and I had been planning to start a family, but planning and having it actually begin to happen are two different things. It has been a year full of mixed emotions and excitement. I am excited for what the remainder of the year holds for us.

 

Caleb Frost

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On April 2nd, seven months ago, I stepped out of my car and walked into Residential Designed Solutions. I was on the edge of a new beginning personally and professionally and didn’t fully appreciate the challenges and rewards that awaited me. 

One of my favorite childhood pastimes was to sit at the window in my room and daydream about house designs. One day it would be a rugged mountain cabin defying its natural surroundings and the next day a quaint getaway by a peaceful trickling stream. I would then sketch these simple conceptions in my graph paper notebook. As is true of most sketches these were simple representations of space and form, completely devoid of the detail necessary to make such structures stand in the real world. Now this romantic love of childhood was going to be what I would do every day. The stage for my surprise and future inspiration was set.

Working at RDS hasn’t been all a daydream through the windows of imagination. There has been a lot to learn about the practice of architectural drafting. Along the way I have come to appreciate the detail and accuracy that goes into even the simplest construction drawing sets. I’ve been brought face to face with some of my personal weaknesses; acknowledged them and endeavored to use them to become stronger. The journey has encouraged me to continue growing personally and professionally. 

I am blessed to work with the team here at RDS. They work continually to create strategies and procedures that enable us to meet the demands of an ever- changing market. Their commitment to providing a higher quality of service for the amazing people we work with inspires me. There have been many lessons from this that I have taken for myself. To each of my coworkers here at RDS and those of you I get to work with a big thank you. This November I’m thankful to be a member of the RDS team.

 

Dominic Luppino

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Watching my two daughters grow into adulthood, each adjusting to new challenges this year (one starting college, the other beginning a career as a pharmacy technician) has both surprised and inspired me. They have reached far with bravery and enthusiasm and that inspires me in my work and personal life.

 

 




Barb Marquis

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In the past year, I have been inspired professionally by witnessing fair and honest business practices. Whether the account is large or small, the consistency of doing business with honesty and integrity is considered a core value of the company.  

On a personal note, these values are also practiced when interacting with associates of RDS. It is an honor to be a part of the RDS team.

 

All of us here at RDS wish you the best for these last days of 2018. As 2019 approaches, should you be in the need of home renovation plans or a new house plan, our designers would love to surprise and inspire you with our thoughtful and well-designed house plans!

Thanks to Our Clients!

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As we quickly approach the start of the family holiday season, we are reminded of all the wonderful folks we have had an opportunity to work with over this past year. You invite us into your lives to help you with designing a new home for your family or reimagining your existing home to better meet your needs and we consider it an honor to be asked to do so. We thoroughly enjoy working together solving challenges and helping you to realize your dreams.

We wish each of you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving and the happiest of holiday seasons!

Get Your Home Ready for Winter

 

Start getting ready for winter by raking leaves and showing your home some love!

Start getting ready for winter by raking leaves and showing your home some love!

It’s been a stunning fall so far but we know what winter will bring! Not only do we need to get out our winter coats, gloves, warm clothes, and shovels, but we need to get our homes ready for winter, too. At RDS, your home design specialists, we’ve been discussing what we need to do to our homes this fall so that we aren’t caught off guard when cold weather really arrives. 

Download our Winter Ready Checklist here. Use this handy checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you can to have your home ready for winter.

What should you be doing to get your home ready for winter?

Furnace:

One of our first Front Porch Friday videos was all about furnace filters. View it here for everything you need to know about them. It’s important to get your furnace serviced, the filter changed, and tested for any leaks.  A yearly furnace checkup could save you from a really cold night. 

Clean Up:

The leaves are falling and we’re busy raking. (Make sure to mow or mulch some of them into your lawn to give it some much-needed nutrients.) But don’t forget to clean out the gutters once the leaves are down in order to prevent overflowing gutters when it rains or ice build-up when it’s cold. 

To avoid a slippery scenario, keep leaves cleared off walkways, the driveway, and decks.

Is your chimney clean? If it hasn’t been cleaned in a while, especially if it is wood burning, now is the time. Experts suggest having them inspected yearly.

Cover outdoor furniture or move it indoors after cleaning it.

Take soil out of the pots that you keep outside or bring them inside. The soil can freeze, expand, and crack your pots.

Do you need to trim branches from trees and bushes that could be affected by wind, snow, and ice? This is especially important if they are near your home. Wait until they are dormant to trim them so that you don’t hurt the plants. 

A Little Prevention:

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and check your fire extinguishers (the pressure gauge needle should be in the green area). 

Do your flashlights need new batteries? Be prepared! It’s going to be dark longer so you’ll want plenty of working batteries in case of a power outage. 

Take a hard look at your fireplaces, furnace, and any other types of heaters you use. Is the area around them clear and free of anything flammable?

Reverse the blade flow of your ceiling fans so they run clockwise, creating an updraft and pushing the heated air down into your rooms.

Disconnect outdoor hoses and store them in the basement, shed, or garage. Drain the outdoor faucets and cover them with hose bib covers. Don’t forget to have your lawn irrigation system winterized.

If your roof and shingles are older, have them inspected for cracks, leaks, and damage to flashing seals around chimneys and vent stacks.

 

Winter will be here before we know it, but now you know what to do. So get out those warm, snuggly blankets, find your slippers, and heat up the hot chocolate. And if you’re ready to design a new home or remodel part of your existing home, we’d love to create it for you. 

Help Your Home be More Efficient

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Keeping our homes eco-friendly, efficient, and reducing power consumption is something we should all be thinking about and implementing. Many of the things we can do are tried and true and some are new and innovative. Here at RDS, when we are designing new homes or completing remodeling plans, we are asked about how homes can be made more energy efficient. We’ve gathered up a few tips and tricks you can implement to be more energy efficient, which can save you money, too. Some are simple and won’t cost much, while others will involve a bit more time, energy, technology, and money on your part. 

Simple Ideas:

1. Just lowering your thermostat a few degrees in the winter or raising it a few degrees in the summer, (especially if you aren’t home) uses less energy and saves on your utility bill. Energy.gov estimates that you can save as much as 10% a year by daily turning your thermostat 7˚-10˚ lower or higher from your normal setting. A programmable thermostat can do this for you. There are many options available, including ones that sync with your phone or home voice controlled device. 

2. Another consideration for your thermostat is its placement. It shouldn’t be placed near a heating or cooling vent, near a window where it could receive direct sunlight, behind furniture, or near doorways, windows, or drafty areas. If you’re building a new home or remodeling, look at the placement of the thermostats to eliminate any of these issues.

3. Low-flow showerheads won’t feel much different when you shower, but they will improve the efficiency of your water use. Installing them is a Saturday project and as easy as finding the one you like. 

4. Seal your windows if they are older and drafty. Adding caulk or spray foam around the frame or any cracks will help, as will applying shrink film to the windows. This is a big one for your college kids living on campus apartments!

5. Unplug whatever you can when it’s not in use, especially phone chargers and small kitchen appliances. All of these little things continue to use electricity even when not in use and can add up on your energy bill. 

6. If you already have smart technology, are you using it to its advantage? What could you be doing better? Can that app turn off your lights when you aren’t home? What about adjusting the temperature in your house from your smart phone?

7. Keep blinds and curtains closed on hot summer days (to keep the sun out) and open on sunny winter days (but close at night to keep heat from escaping). Close vents in unused rooms. 

8. You don’t use your computer 24/7, so be sure to turn off the monitor when not in use. It is a big energy drain on the computer system. 

9. Turn off lights when you aren’t in the room. This seems like something easy, but how often do we really remember to turn them off? Another thing to think about is using compact fluorescent bulbs. They will save you money. 

10. Are your trees helping you? Are they blocking the sun from your house in the summer but allowing sunlight in the winter? Especially in a new build, spend some money to position trees to your home’s advantage. Plant shrubs and evergreens around the north and west sides of your home to combat those cold winter winds. 

11. Don’t have many dishes? Wash them by hand to save on the energy the dishwasher uses. Or only run the dishwasher when it is full. Some of us could run it daily, but those of us that don’t have big families could probably wait a few days. 

12. Need to light up a walkway? Put in solar garden lights instead of electric ones. All you’re using is the power of the sun! You can even find torches and patio string lights for your yard that are solar-powered. 

A Bit More Involved:

1. Is it time for a new furnace or air conditioner? If either of yours is older, have them inspected and the usage analyzed. It might be less expensive in the long run to upgrade to a new, efficient system. Up to 44% of our utility bills are attributed to heating and cooling our homes. Have all ducts inspected to be sure they are working properly. Consider sealing any that aren’t serving a purpose or installing ones that are in unfinished spaces to stop heat loss. 

2. All older appliances should be replaced, as you are able. Look for Energy Star rated appliances. These products are the most energy efficient. This includes that old refrigerator in your basement or garage! If you can’t replace a washing machine or even if you have, reduce the amount of energy used by using less water and cooler water temperatures. Most clothes can be cleaned in warm or cold water temperatures. 

3. Is it time to install solar panels? They are expensive upfront, but the cost savings might be worth it. Depending on where you live and the amount of sunlight that will hit the right areas of your roof, this might be a viable option. 

4. Is your home well insulated? Adding more insulation to the attic, crawl space, exterior walls, and basement is one of the best and easiest ways to increase the efficiency of your home. Don’t assume a new build has enough insulation. Most homes, old and new, are under insulated. Have it checked out!

5. Installing a new energy-efficient hot water tank or an on-demand tankless hot water heater can have a big impact on your bill. These systems have come a long way and are extremely efficient and effective. Can’t afford a new system? Turn the temperature down a few degrees on your tank. You won’t notice the difference but your energy bill will!

6. Replace your windows. It is a significant cost, but the rewards are worth it. Double or triple pane windows keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If you can’t replace them, consider getting storm windows for the cold months. This lower-cost alternative might be a good option if your interior windows are still in good shape. 

7. Purchase energy-saving power switches and put in all of your outlets. They draw no energy when the switch is flipped off, but your appliances or devices can still be plugged in. Good for those of us that can’t remember to unplug appliances such as stand mixers, toasters, and coffee makers.

8. Ceiling fans are more than décor ideas. Their ability to circulate air in your home makes them a perfect companion to your heating and cooling needs. They don’t cost much too run and will help your air conditioner or heater work more efficiently.

If you really aren’t sure how your home is working, get an energy audit. Many energy providers will provide an audit for free or a small fee. Their report will guide you to make the improvements you need for you’re a more efficient home.

If you haven’t watched our latest Front Porch Friday video, watch it here for more ideas. As always, we are thinking about you when we create these videos. Contact us to help you create your energy efficient home.

 

Spruce Up the Front of Your Home!

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Summer is almost here and with that comes the fact that we are spending more time outdoors. Neighbors are out walking the neighborhood, kids are playing, and you might be having more parties at your home. But what does the front of your home look like? Is the curb appeal all that you want it to be or could it use some help?

At RDS, our latest Front Porch Video - Curb Appeal Tips dealt with just this topic. We’ve got sprucing up on the brain, so we wanted to share more tips to help you get the front of your home looking its best! And the best part? It doesn’t have to break the bank to accomplish it!

Front Porch:

Your front porch is the first thing most people notice. Is it welcoming or will it scare people away? A well designed and interesting front porch not only provides great curb appeal, but it’s inviting! So what can you do?

  • Fill colorful containers with summer flowers and place in groups on your porch.
  • If your porch is large enough, put a couple of chairs out so you can sit and chat with neighbors. 

Painted Brick:

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Many homes have brick exteriors. It’s timeless and a staple when building. But does it need a facelift? Many people love the look of brick, but not the bold reddish hues. One change you can make is to paint it. Painting it will update the look and freshen up the front of your home. Choose a color that will coordinate with any adjacent siding. Two popular options include choosing the same color as the siding or a shade or two darker or lighter. 

Window Pediments (or Headpieces):

Window pediments give your home proper dressing on the outside, much like window treatments do on the inside. Window pediments come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so choosing a style that works with your home’s architectural style is important. Choose to reinforce the style of your home or bring out more of your home’s character. If window pediments aren’t your thing, or you want to do more, add shutters if they will work on your home. 

More Sprucing Tips:

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Garage Door: Look at your garage door. Does it need a thorough cleaning? Is it time for a new paint color? Maybe the hardware needs to be updated or replaced. Or is it time to replace the door with a new wooden door, a door with windows, or a whole glass door? You can change the whole look of your home with a new garage door. 

Window Boxes: Window boxes are simple, yet effective ways to add pops of color and depth to the front of your home. There are a variety of styles, materials, and colors available, allowing you the option to customize the look you want to achieve. 

What’s Around Your Front Door: Sometimes it’s the smallest details that can make the difference. Replacing the hardware on the front door, the house numbers or the mailbox are easy changes to make, yet add flair to the front of your home. 

Light it Up! You’ve made many improvements and now it’s time to show it off! Exterior lighting can provide you not only with safety at night but a little flair and drama. Uplighting in front of your home can light up trees, landscape, and exterior details. Change out existing lighting for new and trendier lighting. Don’t forget to light up your garage door. 

Give your home a whole new look with a little dressing up the front elevation of your home. You can choose to do a little or make it a bigger project. Whatever you do, it’s going to help the curb appeal of your home. Our designers would be thrilled to help you do even more and redesign the front of your existing home or design a new home for you. Contact us to get your project started!

 

How to Prepare For Your First Design Appointment

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You’ve decided you’re ready to build a new home or maybe you’re ready to redesign a room or rooms in your existing home. Our designers here at RDS are very skilled when designing rooms and new homes, but there are some things we would love for you to do before meeting with us for your first design appointment. 

Start With Measuring:

When you meet with us and say, “I want a large Master Suite, or Bathroom, or Great Room”, we’re going to ask you what large means to you. So start by measuring your existing room(s) to see what we have to work with, and how much you might want to add or change (if possible). If you’re starting with a new home, go outside where you have space and measure out what you’re thinking, or go into that room you love in your friend’s house and measure the room. Having an idea of the size of your current rooms, or what your dream sized room or home might be will help us understand your vision.

We Love Photos:

“Every picture has a story to tell” and while we love seeing photos of your children, we really want to see photos of the rooms you want to change and photos of rooms you’ve fallen in love with for a new home or redesigned space. When you meet with us the first time, having photos of the rooms in your home that you want to redesign, gives us a first look. In the same vein, having those inspiration photos from Houzz, Pinterest, your favorite sites, and actual photos, helps us to understand your vision. The more photos the better, they give us more insight into your dreams, making it easier for us to make them your reality. 

Our First Meeting:

If you’re planning a new build, we’ll meet with you at the office so we can get to know your needs and wants, answer and ask questions, and check out those inspirational photos. If you are remodeling, we typically first meet at your home, giving us a first-hand look at the space and your vision for transforming it.  

Our designers can’t wait to meet with you, see your photos (including the ones of your kids!), and get the process started to redesign your existing rooms or help you create your new home.

Check out our Front Porch Friday Video - How to Prepare for Your First Design Appointment 

It’s All About the Filters!

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We all have them and it’s one of those things we might just forget about. But we shouldn’t. Just what does the furnace filter do for our homes and why is it so important to change them? Our Front Porch Friday video discussed just that. At RDS, we know how important and necessary our furnace filters are to our homes, but do you know everything you need to know about these filtration devices?

What Does the Filter Do?

  • The main purpose is to protect the blower fan from dust and debris pulled in from the return duct.
  • The filter keeps the quality of the air you are breathing in cleaner.
  • It helps remove allergens from the air, which can, in turn, help your allergies.

 Why Do I Need to Replace or Clean It?

  • A clean filter promotes proper airflow.
  • Replacing the filter helps to maintain and extend the life of your furnace.
  • It helps reduce your monthly gas or electric bill because the furnace doesn’t have to work harder or longer.

 How Often Should It be Replaced?

  • The longer you go between replacements, the harder your furnace will have to work, so you need to know your furnace’s requirements. 
  • Every furnace is different, as is how it is being used in your homes, so it might take some trial and error to get the right balance of efficiency and cost for you.
  • This is dependent on the type of furnace you have, but twice a year at the very minimum. Most furnaces will need to have filters replaced every 30 - 90 days.
  • Inexpensive filters should be replaced monthly, but more often if you have pets or smokers.
  • Some furnace manufacturers suggest replacing the filter every 3 months, but it is important to check the filter monthly for blockage or build up.
  • An electrostatic filter, the type that is cleaned by removing it and running it through a cycle in the dishwasher, should be cleaned according to the owner’s manual.
  • If you don’t replace your high-efficiency filter when needed, it might end up costing you money!

 I Don’t Know What Size Filter or Kind I Have…Help!

  • Check for the size and kind on the side of your existing filter, or take the filter to a home improvement store and they can help you.
  • Not all filters can be purchased in a home improvement store, but can be found online or purchased through your furnace professional.
  • Not all filters are created equal and come in many styles, sizes, ratings, and price points:
  1. Filter Efficiency Ratings range from 1-16 (the MERV rating) with 8-11 very adequate for most homes. If you don’t see a MERV rating number, just remember that usually the higher the number rating assigned to your filter, the better filtration it has. Surprisingly, the highest rating and expensive filter might not always be the best choice.
  2. Some common styles include disposable fiberglass, disposable pleated (a popular option), disposable electrostatic, permanent electrostatic, and high-efficiency pleated.
  3. Filter thickness ranges from 1”- 4” and size varies with the type of furnace.

 What Else Should I Know? 

  • If you have severe allergy issues, you might want to get your vents professionally cleaned and then change the filters regularly.
  • Turn your furnace off when replacing the filter or working on your furnace.
  • If you notice dust and hair around the filter opening, vacuum it.
  • If your system gets heavy use in the summer and winter, you might need to replace the filters with more frequency.
  • Have your system checked yearly by a licensed professional. They will make sure the system is working properly, no gases are escaping, connections are secure, and you won’t wake up to a cold house one morning.
  • Keep the space around your furnace and all air returns clear of clutter, boxes, and furniture. This will help your furnace not only work more efficiently but keep you safer, reducing any risk of a house fire. 

 Check out our Front Porch Friday video here for Replacing Furnace Filters

 

Preparing Your Deck for Summer

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Spring is finally here and we’re all thinking about lazy summer days and nights spent on our decks. At RDS, we love it when we see a deck being built, knowing what fun it will provide the family. Grilling out, sitting, reading, watching the birds, and enjoying time with family and friends, all happen on a deck. But is your deck ready for everything that will happen on it this spring, summer, and fall? As your residential designers, we’ve done the research to help you get your deck in party shape!

Structural Integrity:

A quick look at your deck, no matter the age, isn’t enough. Get under the deck and inspect the posts and beams that hold up your deck. Any chunks of wood missing? Touch the columns to make sure they aren’t soft, spongy, or showing signs of rot. Even pressure-treated wood can show signs of rot, especially in areas where it touches the ground and areas where non-rated pressure-treated wood might have been used. Don’t forget to check all railings to be sure they are still secure. Anything amiss? Call a contractor or handyman and get these problems fixed. Rain, snow, and ice can do a number on decks, especially older ones or decks that haven’t been treated, so do your due diligence to keep the deck structurally sound. 

Dazzling Decks:

The structure is sound, so now it’s time to make your deck dazzle. Clear everything off of the deck so you can see all of it. Search for boards or nails that have come loose and replace as needed. All wood decks will have this issue over time. 

Now comes the next step – cleaning. If your deck is a composite deck, cleaning is a breeze. Scrub it with a soap and water solution and removed any mildew or dirt that built up over the past year. Rinse it well, dry it and let the decorating begin.

A couple more steps are required for those of us that have a wood deck. Clean and dry the boards, maybe with the help of a pressure washer. Just don’t spray with too much pressure or you’ll take off the paint or damage the wood. 

If your paint is peeling or the stain has faded, scrape off the loose paint, sand it, prime it, and repaint. Have fun with the color! You could even paint patterns or use a different color as a border. Staining might be an option for you. It allows the grain to show through and doesn’t wear as quickly as paint does. Follow the application and care process no matter which application you choose to create your best summer deck.

Add the Accents:

Now the fun begins! How do you use your deck? Do you have shady and sunny areas for you and your guests? What mood do you want to set? 

There are many options available for you to create the best looking, comfortable, entertaining space you could imagine.  This is the place for bold pops of color, fun, colorful outdoor rugs, sail shades, umbrellas, or a pergola, and a variety of furniture – think about a big table, some low tables, comfy chairs, loungers, and seating that is perfect for kids. 

Create different seating areas that serve different purposes. Do you want a safe fire pit area? A gathering area perfect for conversations? An outdoor kitchen and bar? An eating area? A spot for the kids to gather and play?  Your own personal retreat?

And don’t forget planters filled with a variety of plants. Create a privacy wall with tall plants, add pops of color with colorful annuals, and plant herbs for delicious summer meals. You might want to plant lavender, marigolds, citronella grass, rosemary, or peppermint to keep those pesky mosquitos away. Use plants like asters, bee balm, butterfly bush, cosmos, and lantana to draw butterflies to your yard. 

Whatever you desire, you can create it on your deck!

Did you see our Front Porch Friday Video? Click here Preparing Your Desk for Summer to view it. Have a fantastic summer on your deck! 

 

Do You Understand Building Codes?

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Our most recent Front Porch Friday Video dealt with building codes – the rules and regulations we must follow for any house remodel, addition or new build. Why is this important to you? At RDS, we believe that knowledge is power, and when you’re in the process of building or remodeling a home and the builder starts talking about codes, you’ll know what this means.

What is a Building Code?

The building code is a set of rules that clearly specifies all standards needed for remodeling or constructing a home. Any work done in the home must conform to the codes in order to acquire design and installation approval from the local government building department. Don’t confuse building codes with zoning ordinances, as they are usually a separate entity. 

What is the Purpose of Building Codes?

In a word, safety! Public health, safety, and general welfare as it relates to any construction. Engineers, architects, builders, and interior designers are well versed in the laws concerning building codes. Structures, electrical, plumbing, lighting, mechanicals, site drainage, and placement of stairs and halls, are just a few of the standards of structure that have to be enforced. 

A Brief History:

Building codes aren’t new. The first written code dates back all the way to 1772 BC. Even the Bible refers to building codes – parapets (barriers) had to be constructed on all houses to prevent people from falling off of a roof. Building codes have developed and changed over time, some as the result of a catastrophe or earth event. From these events and failures of buildings over time, let alone advances in our technology and innovations in building, we have learned, discovered weaknesses, and corrected issues as it relates to building.

The International Residential Code:

In the USA, we follow the International Residential Code and in Ohio, the Residential Code of Ohio is based on it. All phases of the building process, electrical, structural, plumbing, and mechanical, are affected by these rules. Designs have to conform to these codes before a building permit is granted and during the construction process, various phases of the project are inspected to certify that the proper implementation of the design, installation of materials, appliances, and systems have been adhered to. 

What to do?

Follow the rules. While at times some of the rules and regulations may seem arbitrary and difficult to deal with, don’t skirt the rules. They are rules for a reason. Be careful of working with a contractor that advises you that the work can be completed without the building department being involved. This is dangerous and could result in a fine for not having a permit, delaying the work completion. Working with certified home designers and licensed and bonded contractors provides not only peace of mind, but also a build done correctly, safely, and responsibly. 

The Building Code gives you, the homeowner, satisfaction that you are living in a safe and secure structure. At RDS, we feel very strongly about this and will always go the extra mile to do the right thing when we design your home. 

Watch our Front Porch Friday Video – Building Codes. 

The Electrical Walk-Through

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Your home is rising from the ground and you can see what is to come! The dream home you and your designer created is coming to life. At RDS, this is such an exciting time! Your design is literally appearing before your eyes. 

Now comes the time to walk your home with your contractor and electrician for the electrical walk-through. Do you know what questions to ask, what to look for, and what to do? Our latest  Front Porch Friday Video - The Electrical Walk-Through addressed this very topic. 

The Scavenger Hunt:

When you’re in the design stage with your architect, builder, or designer, walk through the house in your head. Your designer will make suggestions, and that is a good starting point. However, that’s not enough. You need to treat the electrical walk-through as a scavenger hunt. These are the first things you should consider when beginning your walk-through.

What Should You Do and Think About? 

  • Look at the blueprints while you’re walking around and discuss any issues.
  • Walk through the home carefully, completely, and with a critical eye.
  • Bring furniture measurements, measuring tape, markers, and labels, to mark and draw on the ceilings, walls, and cabinets…everywhere you might be putting something electrical. Use different colors to signify outlets, ceiling fans, recessed lights, and bathroom vent fans. Mark where furniture will be placed so you can plan for lighting needs.
  • What needs to be worked around? Are there beams that will interfere with pendant lights or recessed lighting? Will a cabinet or furniture cover an outlet?
  • Search for the switch locations. Don’t make the mistake of putting one behind a door that isn’t in place yet. Is there one available by the doorway into every room?
  • How many outlets do you need? Where are they? What do you need them for?
  • Ask about the septic system if one is being installed and where the thick wire that goes to the outside will be located (if applicable). 
  • Don’t forget about the basement, especially if you’re not finishing it yet. Think about future use.
  • Plan for exterior lighting. Walk the perimeter of the outside of your home. What types of lighting, how many outlets and switches do you need for the exterior, patio, walkways, and security? 
  • Your garage is an area that bears some thought. Do you have tools that require a 220-volt outlet? What about that electric car you’re thinking of purchasing? Or maybe just some extra outlets for the electric bike pump, leaf blower, or electric lawn mower? And don’t forget about lighting? Is one light enough or do you need to add more?
  • What do you want inside your home? Dimmer switches, 3-way switches that work lights independently from one place, and double, triple or quadruple-gang boxes in places where many things will need to be plugged in…like in a bedroom (baby monitor, phone, computer or tablet, etc.) are important considerations to make.
  • Outlets, outlets, outlets. Will the placement of them be vertical, horizontal, high on walls t keep them out of little hands, in the floor for a light behind the couch? 
  • Where is the breaker box?

You’re the One Living Here:

You’re completing the walk-through, you’ve looked at the blueprints, you’ve marked up the walls and ceilings, but is all of the above enough? You’re the one living here. So, now go through it again in your head and imagine yourself in the home after it’s completed and you’ve moved in. It’s easier and less expensive to make any changes now instead of after the work is completed.

  • You’ve marked all of the switches so now walk through your home and reach for lights going in and out of every room. Did you get them all? Are they accessible for everyone in your family?
  • Look at the lighting again. You’ve got the recessed lighting, chandeliers and pendant lights. But do you have plans for outlets and switches needed for additional floor lamps or table lamps?
  • What amps will you need for what appliances? Ask questions. Are you going to want a generator? Extra refrigerator or freezer? Is this in the plan?
  • Where do you want cables for TV and the Internet? Now is the time to think beyond the obvious places and really become your family living in the home. 
  • Think about furniture placement. Will you have nightstands by the bed? Are you using bunk beds and want a switch or outlet by the upper bunk? Where is the furniture? Will there be outlets available nearby or will they get covered up?
  • What are your needs in the office area?
  • Outlets need to be at the correct height and in a place they aren’t obtrusive, like the ones placed by our clients in the video on the back of the cabinet. Some people don’t want to place outlets in the middle of backsplashes, so thinking those things through now will save you future headaches!
  • Where are you going to put an ironing board? The laundry room is obvious, but many people are putting one inside a large master closet…which is a perfect place to put an outlet, right?
  • Where do you need USB ports?
  • Do you have an open floor plan? Do you need outlets on the floor to go behind a couch?
  • Under or above cabinet lights? Many homeowners want to have soft lighting for evening ambiance, outlets for decorative lighting above cabinets, or directed lighting for prep. 
  • Do you want to have lights near or on a mantel? You certainly don’t want cords hanging off of the mantel. This is a thought for any TVs placed above the mantel, too.
  • Do you want some automated lighting, such as in a pantry, closet, or garage?

The electrical walk-through should be detailed, informative, and inspiring for you! Take your time during the walk-through and be sure you, your contractor, and electrician have thought of everything. Our designers at RDS love helping you light up your life when designing the home of your dreams!