New House Building
Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips
Useable Lot Space
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This month's newsletter is devoted to several diverse topics associated with new home building. Most people will automatically install electric or gas fired water heaters, however there are other alternatives such as Instant Hot Water Heaters available on the market.
How much of your lot space are you using and how can you maximize the space you use?
Finally water faucets are going high tech these days and there is a huge choice in water faucets as well as features you can choose for every room with the need for a water faucet.
We will explore each of these topics and provide some information as well as useful ideas for your consideration.
As usual with all of our newsletters we will provide useful links for our readers to find out more detailed information about each of these subjects throughout our newsletter.
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Instant Hot Water Heaters
The Basics - How they Work
Instant hot water heaters or tank less water heaters are becoming more popular in North America. They have been in use in many countries for some time across Europe as well as in South America. These units eliminate the storage tank and provide a number of benefits when compared to the normal hot water tank that is currently in use across North America. The standard tank Hot Water heaters utilize a burner or heater if it is electric and continuously maintain the water in the hot water tank at the desired temperature regardless of whether you need it or not. Whether you are gone for the day to work or for a two-week vacation, the water in the tank is always hot ready for your use and utilizing energy to maintain that temperature.
Tankless hot water heaters sense the water flow when there is demand for hot water and instantly begin heating the water as it flows through the system. Assuming you have sized the tankless system for your home and family, you will always have hot water instantly when you need it.
Benefits of Tankless Hot Water Heaters
- Only heat water when you need it
- Reclaim the space normally used by your storage hot water tanks
- Generally thought to be more efficient
- Look for Federal tax credit availability
- Can be installed at point of use
- Electric systems do not require venting
Some Drawbacks to Tankless Water Heaters
- Water flow must reach a specific level for them to turn on
- Compare efficiency of gas, propane or electric heaters before proceeding
- Hot water may be too hot for some users
- Electric units require heavier gauge cable installation
- Gas fired units are more difficult to install in some locations
- Gas fired units require venting
What you Need to Know
Before you make a decision regarding your water heating system, investigate the relative cost of fuel in your area and the direction you believe it to be in the future. Gas today may be cheap compared to electricity and the reverse in the future. Examine the efficiency levels for the size of unit that you will need for your home. Request your plumbing specialist to assist you in sizing your hot water needs and then compare the efficiency charts provided in one of the links that we have included.
Consider your space needs as well as installation ease for each type. Tankless electrical systems can be mounted on the wall inside a closet, while gas fired systems need venting and storage tank systems require physical space, usually in the basement or in a large closet with proper venting.
One of the useful links that we provided show before and after pictures for homes that have switched from hot water tanks to tankless or instant hot water heaters. Although these homes are obviously existing homes, they serve to illustrate the physical and spatial benefits of tankless systems. This can be a consideration for those people who are building new homes and want to maximize their useful space in their homes. Homes built on a concrete slab will require a closet to house the hot water tank, while a tankless system could be mounted easily on the wall above the laundry for example.
General Considerations for Conserving Energy
- Use water conserving shower heads
- Use faucet aerators to reduce water usage as well as heating costs
- Insulate hot water pipes
- Lower the temperature of the hot water heater to reduce energy consumption
- Consider which type of fuel will save you money in the long run in your area
- Size the water heater capacity to meet your families needs
- Compare monthly operating costs when choosing a hot water heater
- Also compare life cycle costs of the various systems i.e. how often is maintenance or replacement required
For information on conventional hot water heaters and their care, please refer to this past newsletter
Some Useful Links:
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Useable Lot Space
There are many aspects to take into account when you are designing your new home lot and how you will use it. Many people focus on their new home and it's interior, however the first impression is always created when anyone comes to visit and see your home from the outside for the first time. We will cover a few of the design elements that everyone should consider as they design their homes, focusing on the lot space available to you.
What are the Design Aspects You Need to Consider?
Selection of your lot and the placement of your home on the lot are probably the most significant items that you should consider. Do you want a south facing home to enjoy afternoons in the sunshine in your back yard, or do you prefer the morning sun shining in your kitchen window? Do you want to place your home close to the street to maximize the space in your rear yard? Or would you prefer to move your home further back to provide more privacy from the street? Of course you must abide by local laws, however these basic decisions will have a huge impact on the useable lot space available to you in the front of your home as well as in the rear.
The House Building Guide has a very comprehensive lot/land checklist that will assist you in identifying the many different factors that should be considered.
Once you have selected the lot location and placed your home on the lot, the next step is to develop designs for the front, the rear and the side yards. Every square foot can be used to both enhance the value and the beauty of your home as well as make practical use of the space available. A couple of points are worth mentioning.
Ensure that each area flows into the next and the overall design enhances the beauty of your home. Select shrubs, flowers and trees that will grow in the environment in which you live. For example, palm trees will not grow in the northern US and pine trees will not grow in the deserts of California. Decide how you want to use your lot space and develop your design around it. For example, if you want low maintenance, avoid flowerbeds and fast growing shrubs. Opt instead for low maintenance grass or colored stones if you live in the desert. These are just two examples, however it is important to evaluate your interest level in spending your weekends maintaining your landscaping.
Storage sheds, decks, patios, in ground or above ground pools, vegetable gardens and so on can be considered and included in the designs. It really depends on your interests and hobbies as well as desire to have an attractive lot, which enhances the overall value of your home.
Develop a Plan That Meets Your Budget
Once you have your plan, you may find that you may have to phase in your design over time to ensure that it is affordable. Build the fence and add your pool one year, the patio or deck the next and complete your landscaping over several years. Decide what is important and matches your budget as well as your families needs. Summer nights spent on the patio barbequing can be very enjoyable even though all of the landscaping is not completed.
In the useful links section we have included links to landscape design sites, habitat planning sites, deck planning sites, a garden structure site, a fire pit site as well as a swimming pool site. While these ideas may not appeal to every new homeowner planning to build a new home, there generally will be something for everyone to consider as they develop there plans.
Adding a pool, adding a fire pit for backyard get-togethers on cool nights, decks or patios and structures to store your garden tools is all part of putting together that perfect yard for every home owner.
For other considerations regarding your building lot and additional information, please refer to this past newsletter.
Some Useful Links:
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Water Faucet Fixtures
Water Faucet Innovation
There are so many design elements to consider when you are choosing your faucets for your kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, it is difficult to know were to start. Just a quick review of several web sites provides the following options that are available to consider. Pull out faucets, Magnetic pull down faucets, water filtration systems, integrated pivoting aerators, jetted showers, e-flow faucets, single handles, multi handles, scald guards, kinetic technology, brilliance, finishes, hands free functionality, touch sensitive controls, high arc spout design, LED mode indicator, pull down two function spray heads, design, accessories, collections, bidets, ball valves, quick snaps, touch clean, and of course custom designs.
Fortunately there is a standard approach to completing your selections, although you first need to spend some time to learn what is available and whether you will need or would like some of the features that are available. Several web sites will also provide cost estimators for your project based on a set of questions that you provide answers to. Before you begin, there are several decisions that can help with your selections later.
Obviously the room you are working with will decide the broad category of faucet you will need, e.g. bathroom vs. kitchen. Next, budget is always important. Spending more usually means more features and better quality, however if this causes a budget issue for you, you may have to limit your selection to medium or low range water faucets.
The next decision is equally important. Do you want your water faucet to make a statement, should it be the center point of your kitchen, or do you want some other feature to be dominant in the kitchen which means the water faucet should be lower profile. Consumers can choose between casual designs, contemporary designs, and traditional or stately designs. Each choice often will have several different sub designs to choose from, which allows you to make a distinctive statement in your kitchen or bathroom.
An overall design is important regardless of the room you are working with. Blending the water faucet, sink, and accessories with the rest of the room including matching appliances can be an important issue for many people.
The best advice we found was to visit your local hardware store and spend some time reviewing all of the various faucets on display to help decide what works for you. You can also spend time reviewing available products on various web sites to also get an idea of what will meet your budget and design objectives. Finally, many hardware stores will allow you to take products home to see what they will look like in your home. You may have to pay for them and as long as you return them undamaged within a reasonable time frame, many will provide a credit or allow you to return them no questions asked. Always be clear about this before you leave the store.
Accessories are equally important. Accessories include the sink, dish drying racks, cutting boards, single sinks, double sinks, vegetable sprayers and a variety of environmental attachments which will help you conserve water as well as provide better cleaning for washing vegetables and dishes.
Accessories do not stop with the faucet. Dress up your bathroom with matching sink, soap dish, toothbrush holder etc to create just the right touch and look for your bathroom. Add the appropriate towels, decorations and other items that enhances the faucets that you have chosen.
Installation is often best left to the professionals and if you are building a new home, your builder will make arrangements for the installation for you. Always test each faucet thoroughly before completing your final acceptance of your new home. Inspect for any damage, leaks etc and make arrangements with your builder to have them replaced as required.
In summary, issues such as budget, design, blending with your overall design for your room and selection of features will ensure that you select the faucet that makes most sense for you.
One other important consideration that more and more people are considering an important item is conservation. Purchasing faucets that allow you to manage the flow of water and reduce the overall amount you use will not only save you money in energy cost for heating and water utility bills, you will also make a positive contribution to the environment. Most faucets come with this option or you can add a device that will reduce the amount of water you use. Talk to your local hardware or plumbing expert for advice.
Some Useful Links:
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