20 Kitchen design ideas

Source: BUILDER Online Publication date: January 14, 2011 By Jenny Sullivan Houses are shrinking in the recessionary economy, but kitchens? Not so much. As other rooms are eliminated from downsized plans, their functions are naturally migrating to the kitchen, placing more pressure than ever on this culinary zone to perform double or triple duty as the home's primary living space. Flexibility is a must in open areas that are used not only for cooking, but also dining, entertaining, homework, family time, and even telecommuting. Thrift is also a virtue. And there are other ingredients in the mix, too. Aging baby boomers, sustainability, health consciousness, stricter energy regulations, new technologies, and the rise of the single woman buyer are all factors shaping kitchen aesthetics and functionality today. These were just a few of the observations noted by kitchen designers Mary Jo Peterson and MaryJo Camp, and architect Doug Van Lerberghe in a January 13 session on "Reinventing the Kitchen" at the Int ... Read the rest of entry »

10 Green Building Trends for 2011

Green building is going mainstream, no doubt. But exactly how is building science evolving, and where are eco-minded builders and consumers likely to focus their attention in the year ahead, in light of current economic conditions? The nonprofit Earth Advantage Institute, which to date has certified more than 11,000 sustainable homes, makes some predictions for 2011 in its annual forecast of green building trends. Affordable green. Many consumers typically associate green and energy-efficient homes and features with higher costs. However, the development of new business models, technologies, and the mainstreaming of high-performance materials is bringing high-performance, healthy homes within reach of all homeowners. Leading the charge are affordable housing groups, including Habitat for Humanity and local land trusts, now building and selling LEED for Homes- and ENERGY STAR-certified homes across the country at price points as low as $100,000 (in the case of land trusts, homeowners do not own the land th ... Read the rest of entry »

The new car smell

With the average cost return of green building (8 years) being about the same duration as home ownership (7 years) – how do you sell it?  With the economy in the dumps and the main concern of buyers being cost, where is the benefit to build green, let alone quality finishes and fixtures within the building package?

Looking forward to your responses.

Level of finish vs. quality

With budget being the driving force of new construction these days, more than once have I been asked the question "What kind of quality will I get for the budget?"

The answer is quite simple and always the same –

The level of finish is a direct reflection of the budget; the quality is a direct reflection of the builder, regardless of the budget. Your budget will dictate the level or type of finishes your home will have: tile vs. granite, carpet vs. wood, drywall vs. plaster, etc. The quality will be dictated by the builder, his or her selection of subcontractors and protocol for managing the project and materials installation.

Do your homework and qualify your bidders, ask for references, and always ask to view a couple of completed homes with difference levels of finish – the quality should be the same.  

How to hire a construction manager

Most consulting firms today offer “construction management services.” However, the interpretation of construction management and the services it entails greatly varies. According to the Construction Management Association of America, “construction management is a professional service that applies effective management techniques to the planning, design, and construction of a project from inception to completion for the purpose of controlling time, cost, and quality.” While that definition may seem simple enough, the selection of the proper firm can make or break your project. By selecting the proper firm, you can help manage risks and control costs at every stage of the project, from preconstruction planning and complete construction oversight to post-construction services. What Is Their Role? Undertaking a construction project is a complex endeavor. It is critically important that public works directors and municipal leaders clearly articulate their goals for the project to all mem ... Read the rest of entry »

Do I need an Owner's Representative?

1.    Feasibility Study / Due Diligence / Permitting -       “Is there someone (with experience in construction) who can create the pro-forma for my project and see it through to completion?” -       “What is the best infrastructure system for my building site site?”   2.    Cost Estimating and Monitoring -       “I want the best value, not necessarily the lowest bid – who can give me the options?” -       “What is the real cost of construction?” -       “Who will qualify and evaluate all bids?”   3.    Buyout and procurement -       “Is there someone who can buy materials for me at cost?” -       “Who will qualify (quality and price) the subcontractors th ... Read the rest of entry »

Ups and downs continue for residential construction

Signs of strengthening conditions in the housing industry emerged in the final months of 2010. November's new-home construction and sales data released by the U.S. Census Bureau—while a mixed bag of declines and increases—were mostly positive, reflecting on-going economic volatility within the broader recovery along with housing's slow return to health. Existing-home sales and pending home sales also increased, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Overall residential construction permits and completions declined in November by 4 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively, while overall housing starts increased by 3.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000. Single-family permits rose by 3.0 percent, and starts of single-family residences jumped by 6.9 percent to a rate of 465,000. Completions of single-family homes dropped by 10 percent, however, to a rate of 436,000. New single-family home sales rose 5.5 percent in November to a rate of 290,000, but this is sti ... Read the rest of entry »