Wednesday, March 27, 2013

21 Exciting Room Addition Ideas That Will Make Your Family Happy

The Best Time To Add Rooms to Your Home Is Right Now!


See more Dallas room additions in our website's gallery

Are you thinking of building an addition when you remodel your Dallas home?


Perhaps your kids are getting bigger and need their own room and/or bathroom. Maybe Grandma is coming to stay for a while...(could even be more than a while). Or maybe you have always wanted a play room for your kids or utility room or home office or home theater. Now you are ready to get serious in making this dream happen. What will it cost? How long will it take? What part of the dream is reality and what part might need to happen in stages?  Is this a good time to borrow?


21 Ways You Can Add a Room that Everyone Will Rave About


You might already know exactly what the next room in the house should be.  But it will be less costly, less hassle, and better all around to do multiple new rooms and any remodeling at the same time, than to do it piecemeal.  So, lets do some brainstorming.  And if I left out any great ideas, please add yours in the comments.  
  1. Teenagers private bedroom - Can you imagine the possibilities?  Hidden closets, media centers, fully wired in, any color paint they want, storage for sports equipment.  Go CRAZY!
  2. Pantry - Cut down on trips to the market.  A 5 X 8 pantry with a freezer will allow you to stock up for the next natural disaster.  Make it bigger and include a sink and work station.  WOW!
  3. Office - For some this is the best room in the house.  Who would use the office.  Design it 100% to their taste.  Music, internet, game table, lighting systems.  Say, "My Space."
  4. Another office - Maybe you both need an office.  His and Hers.  
  5. Home Theater - 72" 3D Wall Mounted Screen with Surround Sound, fully wifi, Game systems, Apple TV control unit, theater seats, special lighting & acoustics, soundproof.  Nice!
  6. Game Room - Just a matter of how big you can make it.  Pool, Ping Pong, Air Hockey, Darts, bowling alley, indestructible furniture, game consoles, arcade games, Card tables.  Ready, set.
  7. Pool Room - You think this is just for the really wealthy?  Why should it be? Why limit your pool enjoyment to the summer months? Marco Polo anyone?
  8. Spa - Okay.  Can't go for the full pool?  You cedar or Spanish tile spa could have over sized tub with jacuzzi jets, full jacuzzi, fancy shower heads, steam/sauna generator, music, and more.
  9. Pool House - You've got a pool.  How about a pool house for guest to change and shower.  No more wet feet on your new rugs.  Also store pool equipment and toys. Add a 5 X 5 steam room.
  10. Grandma's room - Or it could be grandpa or both.  Maybe it is your aging son who hasn't launched yet.  Add a bathroom and a private entry.  Your choice if you charge rent. 
  11. Art center - Is someone in the house an arts and/or crafts person.  You can bet they would love to have a place to set up, spread out, organize and store supplies.  Scrapbooking maybe?
  12. Music studio - Not so much into art?  Your gift is music.  Today you can set up a really nice professional studio for very little money.  Soundproof, pre-wired.  Hit Play!
  13. Video production room - YouTube is making folks rich.  Hard to create the very best stuff without the lighting, green screens, and acoustics under control.  Lights, action ....
  14. Indoor gardening center - This room might pay for itself.  Save big bucks and enjoy fresh produce year round.  Use the room to store equipment for the outside gardening too.  
  15. Laundry room - Tired of trying to turn around in the current laundry hallway or in front of the cars?  Everything at your fingertips in a 6 X 8 laundry room.  Add TV.  Kids might even help.
  16. Workshop - No basement and no room in the garage to really build stuff?  Create this room from the ground up with places for every tool, and plenty of room to work.  
  17. Vanity - Maybe there isn't room in your master bedroom to create a master bath suite.  Create a new room for all the ladies in the house to pamper themselves.  
  18. Another bathroom - But this time it isn't just for guests.  Luxury tub and showers.  Full environmental cabinet or just a steam shower.  Maybe a bidet'.  Oui Oui 
  19. Toy room - If you have or plan to have kids under 12, the toy box is or will be running over.
    The Toy Room as a Room Addition
    There is no room in the room for the kid.  Set up a room for the toys with lots of storage.
  20. Homeschool classroom - If you homeschool, you don't want to have to put it all away every day and you don't want to leave it out all the time.  Set this room up once like a classroom.
  21. Maids quarters - Could also serve for a nurse as needed, room for foreign exchange students, guest room, or boomerang room for returning adult child.  Room and a bath. 
 Undoubtedly given a few more hours there could be a longer list.  Anything up there look like something you'd love to have at your place?  Do you have suggestions to add in the comments?


Why Is 2013 the Perfect Time to Get This Done?

Two big reasons.  Interest rates are at historic lows.  And most Dallas buildering Contractors are not crazy busy yet.  The only reason the builders are still not overwhelmed is the lack of available places to build custom homes.  This is a window of opportunity to call Unique Properties and let us help you with one of the above ideas, a kitchen or bath remodel, or even a complete tear down and dream home build.

Unique Properties will be more than happy to come out and sit down with you for a free consultation. We will listen to your vision, sketch out ideas, help you plan a realistic budget, and give you estimates on the time it will take to complete the job. We are highly experienced and love our craft. Our goal is to build your dream, and make it better than you expected. We are committed to staying within budget and finishing our projects on time.

Please don't hesitate to ask for our references. We can give you reliable references that will share what we have done for their Dallas room addition.
 



Monday, March 25, 2013

How to Avoid Remodeling Scams and Save Thousands of Dollars

We hear about these scams all the time from clients like you.  Our heart breaks, because most of our friends are getting many phone calls and door-to-door solicitations from companies asking to do everything from room painting to roofs.  Don't be taken to the cleaners by these folks.  Use a reputable licensed contractor.  Check out our earlier post on this subject. 
 Five Ways to Check Out Your Dallas Builder Before You Start Your Construction Project

Here is a great article from CNN that tells the story better than we can:

 Remodeling your home? Watch out for scams

May 23, 2011: 10:35 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- For many homeowners, the warmer months is the prime time to remodel a kitchen or bathroom. But beware -- there are some contractors who may offer you a deal that's simply too good to be true.

Here are a few warning signs to keep an eye out for:
home remodeling
Home remodeling could cost you more than you think.

Tip 1. Avoid "one-time" offers
Before you sign on the dotted line with a contractor, check to see if the deal is legit.
One huge red flag? Any special "one-time" offers you may get from a potential contractor.
Lou Manfredini, a former remodeling contractor and Ace Hardware's home expert, says "one-time offers" simply don't exist.

Stay cool for less

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) says don't be pushed into these high-pressure tactics. If someone shows up at your door unsolicited, or claims they have enough materials from a neighbors' project to do work on your home right now, don't fall for it.

In fact, one of the top scams of 2010 was at the hands of these door-to-door salesmen offering to fix up your house, according to the Better Business Bureau. Any reputable contractor will let you take the time to do your homework.

Also, NARI warns to watch out for these types of offers during storms and disasters, when some contractors may be looking to make a quick buck.

Tip 2. Check out your contractor

Appearances can also be a tip-off a contractor is not on the up and up.

Take a look at their van or truck; if there's no logo or company identifier, that's a warning sign.
Before anyone picks up so much as a hammer or nail in your home sweet home, ask for proof of insurance, if they're licensed, and for references.

And when it comes to references, don't just ask who they worked for last week, but ask also about clients from five years ago and see how the quality of their work has held up, Manfredini says.

Avoid 4 common remodeling mistakes

Check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau at BBB.org as well as if they're members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry by going to NARI.org.

Also, keep Grandma and Grandpa in mind. Many elderly folks might not be tech savvy, so before any work gets done on their home, help them out by checking on references and making calls to their local Better Business office.

Tip 3. Money matters

In this economy, it pays to shop around to get the best deal on your remodeling project.
An easy rule of thumb?

Get about three bids or offers on your work. Once you've finally picked your contractor, don't offer any more than a 10% deposit, and be left holding about 20% of the costs to ensure the contractor will come back, according to Manfredini.

Also, make sure you're not overpaying. Check out Remodeling magazine's latest "Cost vs. Value" Report to see the average cost for many popular remodeling projects, as well as see how much of the costs you'll recoup.

Get everything in writing, including your payment plan set up at different milestones of completion on the project.  If a contractor asks for payment in full -- and in cash -- before work is even started, NARI says be skeptical.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions; it's your house after all.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Four Ways to Build or Remodel to Create a Fantastic Home Office

Home Office?  You Deserve to Make It Amazing



Work life is changing, and telecommuting is becoming more common.  Or maybe you are in business for yourself and have the luxury of working from your home all or most of the time.  Think of the money you would have spent on an office space away from home to make it comfy or efficient.  Why shouldn't you spend that or more on yourself to create a fantastic workspace environment.  After all, you may be spending 6, 8, 10 or more hours per day in that office. 

There are three or four basic approaches to setting up a home office.  Here are some of the pros and cons of each option

A Room Addition as a Home Office

Add on is the most expensive, but allows you to optimize the space in every possible way.  This approach also creates a clear write off (not intended as tax advice), and becomes an asset if you sell.  When adding this room, you may want to go so far as to add a wet bar or mini kitchen, and even an additional bathroom if you want to give yourself a "walled off" experience.  Many books on working from home recommend that you dress for work and go to your office space, just like if you were going out to the office.  This helps to separate your home life from your business life.

When building a room from scratch you have the advantage of wiring it for an office.  Of course our living rooms often need almost as much internet and computer wiring as an office today.  Give yourself tons of outlets and options for electrical hook ups, cable, computer, internet, speakers, and phone.  Ironically, phone may be the one you now need the least.  


Lighting is key.  Make sure the office is well lit.  We all love to have windows with natural light in an office setting.  Be sure you are taking into consideration where you will be looking into your computer screen.  Otherwise you may either be looking over the screen into direct sunlight or direct sunlight might be behind you interfering with the quality of your view.  

Some may choose to use an aluminum sun room for the office addition.  Keep in mind the potential cost to heat and cool such a room.  The money you save on construction may be eaten up by poor insulation.  

Don't box yourself in to only one option for desk and chair placements.  If you like to work on a laptop, where will you do that?  At a desk or in your Lazy Boy?  Design in options for all the furniture so you don't get bored.

We can help.  Send an email to UniqueProperties1@Verizon.net and tell us your plans.  We'll get right back to you. Or call 214-533-0716

Remodel and Entire Room into an Office

Maybe you have a spare bedroom or large attic space that can be converted.  This will be less expensive than the room addition, but will be more limiting in how you can design it.  Almost all of the considerations above will apply.  You will kick yourself if you skimp on pre wiring and pre plumbing the room.  An existing room is unlikely to have adequate or appropriate lighting.  Remember you are going to spend most of your day here.  Don't have a dingy environment or one that strains your eyes.

Remodel Your Garage into and Office

Some folks have turned their garages into fantastic offices.  The big limitation here is usually outdoor natural lighting.  Garages are rarely built with much in the way of windows, and also are not the easiest to add windows that will give great views or lighting.  The trash section on the side of the house isn't an inspiring place to stare at all day.  

There are ways to camouflage such areas that may at least beautify the view.  But getting much sunlight may still be an issue.  The good thing is that you can usually add all that pre wire at a much lower cost than in an attic or back bedroom.  You generally will end up with a far bigger space than you would have otherwise.  

Obviously, there are two big issues.  Temperature control and loss of your garage.  The space is large and very hard to insulate, so heating is going to be an issue.  AC may be an even bigger issue.  In some neighborhoods or towns, they frown on garage conversions, thinking that they don't want your cars hogging all the parking.  Make sure you know what the rules are in your community.

An Office Nook


Robinsons Bay Residence traditional home office
With the surge of mobile devices and laptops, the home office doesn't have to be that big.  And depending on the kind of work you do, you may not need all that cabling and internet wiring.    You might want to consider the office nook, which has become a very popular feature. Often the office nook will be located off the kitchen or living room, but you may even find it in a corner of the bedroom, in the attic, or in a part of the garage.

In some houses the office nook may act as a home command center, homework station, traditional office, or all three. Many people are installing office nooks in closets or dormers, but those who are building a new house may designate a special space for this purpose.



Here is a lovely example of how this trend might be incorporated into a traditional style home. If you want gorgeous remodeling in Dallas, give us a call. 214-533-0716


If you liked this article you might also like: 
How to Finance your Remodel with the Same Monthly Payments with North Dallas Home Value Increase


Monday, March 18, 2013

Nine Mistakes To Avoid When Doing a Kitchen Remodel

Your Kitchen Is the Most Complicated Room in the Home

See more Dallas kitchen remodel pictures in our website's gallery.
You may only remodel your Dallas kitchen once in your lifetime. A really well designed kitchen can last 25 years or longer without any major changes.  If you only do something once in life, you need to work extra hard to get it right the first time.  Unfortunately, many homeowners do not take the time to get it right and are very disappointed in the outcome. 


Don't Make These Mistakes When Doing Your Kitchen Remodel

  1. Do not start without a budget - Seriously consider the maximum you want to pay.  Almost all remodeling projects cost people twice what the expect.  Don't create your plan around some hazy expectation.  A good kitchen remodeling contractor can build you a fantastic kitchen within your budget
  2. Don't  underestimate of overestimate cabinet space needs - Probably the number one disappointment after building a new kitchen is underbuilding cabinets.  You sure thought you had enough in the plan!  The way to determine your cabinet needs is by writing up a list of EVERTHING you want to put in cabinets.  What would be your perfect set of pots and pans, baking items, storage containers, table settings, linens, pantry foods, spices, cleaning supplies, etc.  An experienced kitchen contractor will be able to lay it out based on your needs.
  3. Don't forget about lighting - Lighting sets the mood of the room.  There are so many lighting options today that will allow you to provide low-energy but perfect lighting to spotlight work areas and optimize outdoor lighting.  
  4. Don't design the kitchen until you pick out the appliances - You want the kitchen layout to be such that it is possible to use different appliances in the future, but you don't want to be too limited on the perfect kitchen you are working towards.  Go appliance shopping first.  
  5. Don't layout the kitchen until you plan the plumbing -  You need sinks, faucets, dishwasher, water filters, gas lines, water for the refrigerator, water to the center island or wet bar.  Anything else?  One of the most expensive cost in any remodel is the plumbing.  How you layout the kitchen will effect how much it will cost to move and install new plumbing.  
  6. Don't go cheap on cabinet and drawer hardware - Great hinges and sliders will make you happy for years and years.  Cheap ones will have you mumbling under your breath.  
  7. Don't assume your contractor or designer knows everything - Shop offline and off.  Check out model homes in upscale developments.  Go to home shows.  Your designer may not be thinking about pot drawers, corner cabinets with lazy susans, space saving options on pantries, or the latest in lighting systems.  
  8. Don't scrimp on the flooring, cabinets, and counters - You are going to be staring at that floor, counter top, and those cabinets for years into the future.  You want them to be easy to maintain, and to clean.  You want them to be scratch and chip resistant.  You want them to look good together.  
  9. Do not use a handyman, big box retailer like Home Depot, or high pressure sales organization to do your kitchen - There is a lot of money to be made in kitchen remodeling.  Therefore there are plenty of companies who will try to make a lot of money off of you.  Instead, here is how you should select the licensed general contractor to do your work:

 Hire a Licensed General Contractor for Your Kitchen Remodel



When you decide to take the big step of getting a new kitchen, you do not want to choose just anyone to do the work. You will want to choose an experienced general contractor to be with you throughout the process who has a flawless reputation for integrity, quality, and completing jobs on time and within budget.

You will want someone who will listen to your dreams and goals for the project without preconceived notions or preferences for certain approaches that might differ from your desires. This is a huge investment for your family and your future, and you will want to enjoy your new kitchen for many years to come. Your kitchen should meet the needs of your lifestyle and be a place you love to spend time in.

Unique Properties can provide you with many client references who will give enthusiastic reviews of the work we have done.  Call us today to set an appointment!  214-533-0716


Here is a detailed post on how to hire a contractor - http://uniquehomeconstruction.blogspot.com/2013/03/5-ways-to-check-out-your-dallas-builder.html 

If you liked this article, you might also like   10 Amazing Technologies for Your Dallas remodeling Project

If you liked this article, post about it or tell others on your Facebook updates.  If you have other Don't's about kitchen remodeling, share those below in the comments.  If you'd like to be kept aware of new articles we write here, subscribe to us or use your RSS feed.  Link up to us at LinkedIn or Like us on Facebook.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Dallas Real Estate News - Build A New Custom Home

Can't Find the Right House to Buy in Dallas?  Build One!



The Dallas Real Estate Market has changed dramatically over the past 6 months.  While Dallas was never impacted as badly as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or Miami, the market certainly was down and prices fell, too.  Since the middle of 2012, however, the inventory of existing homes for sale in Dallas has dried up.  This has resulted in prices jumping as much as 10-20% in that time period.

The result is that many who want to move into a larger home or need to move closer to their job or just want to move for any reason withing the Dallas area, are finding very few quality properties for sale.  For some the answer to that is to build their dream home.   There are several ways to do that.

Find a Lot for Your Dallas Dream Home 


Many are scouring choice neighborhoods for vacant lots that might be available for sale.  This can be a time consuming approach, but can also pay off big time.  There are many owners of vacant lots who don't pay much attention to their property.  They may just see it as a long term investment, may have bought it once-upon-a-time for some purpose that no longer makes sense, or have been waiting for a change in the market.  Once you find a possible lot, you can check with County Records and see if you can find a way to contact the owner. 

Find a Tear Down and Do a Remodel or Complete Rebuild


While you are looking for that vacant lot, also look for really badly maintained homes.  You can also look for homes that are much smaller than the neighboring properties.  Even if these are not currently on any listings, the owners might not realize what the current value of the house could be.  Knock on the door and ask to speak to the owner.  If it turns out to be a rental, ask the name of the landlord.

Now the question becomes just like any negotiation.  Is there any price they would take for the house?  Let them go first.  If they say they have absolutely no interest in moving, you can still come back with the old ploy where you say: "Would you take $1,000,000?"   If they look at you crazy and say, "Of course!" you can work down from there until you get to the highest number you'd be willing to pay.  If they are still in the conversation, go to your real offer. 

Multiple Real Estate Agents

Every real estate agent that you employ to look for property is going to want an exclusive.  This demand is in their DNA, and they have a million excuses why this will be better for you.  Give them a time limit on the exclusive, and even then, do your own searching.  Some homes never make it to the listings before they are sold.  Some are FSBO, for sale by owner, so the agent doesn't know about them. 

If your agent doesn't deliver by the agreed upon date, hire as many agents as you like.  No more exclusives.  My rule of thumb is three agents.  You will be shocked to see each agent sending you different lists. 

Bought a Great Lot or Tear Down? -  Time to Build


We have recently posted details of how to check out your contractor.  Check out that post here.  So I won't go into those details again.  However, even a great contractor can have a terrible result if the client is off the track.  This problem seems more widespread on dream home builds than anything else.

In one case, a friend was building a 5000 square foot home, but didn't include maid quarters.  In another case the dream home was open architecture.  But it was so open that the acoustics were non existent.  You could hear every voice in the house bouncing from room to room.

Listen to your contractor.  If you have followed the advice in the other post, you will have chosen someone with years of experience.  You will likely also use an architect.  Listen to both.  You will save yourself some potential expensive reworks or just living with your dumb mistake.

A Related Article You May Want to Read - Cool, Affordable, High Tech Features You Can Add to Your Dream Home or Remodel Project

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

5 Ways to Check Out Your Dallas Builder Before You Start the Remodel

Did I hear that right??  You Did What?

Your Dallas Room Addition Can Be a Great Experience or a Disaster

The Remodeling Horror Stories

Everyone has heard the stories.  You hire someone to add a room to your Dallas home or do other remodeling jobs and everything that can go wrong does go wrong.  The project goes twice as long, creates twice as much stress, and cost way over your budget.

Oh it can be way worse than that.  The "contractor" or glorified handyman takes a deposit and never shows up.  Or maybe he shows up, starts the work, asks for more money with some sob story about his mom or his kids and you believe it.  You give him more money, then you never see him again.

Can it be worse than that.  Sure.  The builder does the whole job.  Sure it looked to be a bit under your idea of how you wanted it.  Some things needed to be changed along the way.  You never did quite feel good about things.  The guys always left the place in a mess, especially at the end.  Stuff you thought they should do, you ended up having to do.  Then, when you signed off, things didn't work that well, and the phone number always goes to voice mail now.

This does not have to be the result.  You can do a few things to make sure that you end up singing the praises of your contractor.

Get References Before the First Meeting

You don't have to call the potential builder today to get references.  The internet is teaming with them.  Check out Google Places or Google Plus, YellowPages.com and other online resources.  Look the contractor up on LinkedIn to see what others have said about him there.  Go to the BBB Dallas website and find out if there are any outstanding complaints.

Check Out the Company's Work on their Website

Assuming they have a website, they probably have descriptions of how they work, evidence of their business history and experience, the type of work they specialize in, and a gallery of work they have done in the past.

Call the Contractor and Ask for Personal References

Start by asking for references.  Lots of them.  There's an old trick I learned when I was doing credit checking.  Everybody has three great references.  So ask for five or even 10 references.  At random, call at least three of these.  You may even want to ask if you can come and see the work.

First Meeting Ideas

Have the first meeting with your best choice and see if you and your spouse both feel he is the right person for the job.  The most critical thing that you can look for is that the contractor is LISTENING to you.  Does he seem to gloss over things or is he answering your questions in detail with great interest?  Can he give you examples of having done similar types of work in the past?  Does he explain how there are choices that need to be made regarding materials, fixtures, and detail that will effect the cost?

Work in Progress

Still not sure.  Ask to go visit a current remodeling project.  This may be possible or not depending on the homeowners.  However, you might even want to talk to the customer who is in the middle of a project.  This is horribly unfair to the contractor, of course.  The middle of the remodel is the time of greatest stress.  But it could be very telling regarding just how things are going.

Check out this video to learn more about why Unique Home Construction is the best possible choice for your project.




Unique Home Build Dallas wants to answer all those questions you have about home remodeling.  Please, if there are any we haven't addressed, please leave a comment!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Nine Smart Ways to Finance Your Remodeling Project

The Nasty Kitchen!!

 If You Really Want to Blow Up Your Nasty Kitchen, There Are Ways to Finance It!!


Are you in this situation: you know you want to or need remodeling of your Dallas home, but you don't know how to finance it?  That old kitchen is badly in need of a facelift, but you want it done right.  Your kids need their own space, so you want to add another bedroom and a bath.  

During these tough economic times, many families are woried about the cost of home improvements, and put them off, even if they are badly needed. Home remodeling is a financial investment, so it is wise to consider all your financing options before you decide to put off what could actually make you money in the long run. 

Refinance Your First Trust Deed Mortgage





The most common way people finance a home improvement project is through a mortgage loan, either a home equity loan, or a regular mortgage. There is much to learn about financing your remodel through a mortgage broker or bank, so even if you choose to go the most common route, be sure and do your research, read fine print, and compare rates. 

The reason that a refinance of your existing mortgage is the most common method is that it is generally the least expensive.  In the current market that is certainly the case.  It is possible in many cases to refinance your existing mortgage at a lower rate than the current one, take out $25,000 - $50,000 for the remodel, and actually see your monthly payments reduced.  See more on that in a post we wrote:

How to Finance your Remodel with the Same Monthly Payments with Dallas Home Value Increase

Using a Home Equity Line of Credit for Remodeling 


One of the most common ways people finance a home remodel is through a home equity line of credit (HELOC). If you have enough equity, a HELOC allows you to borrow on your home's value, using the home as collateral. You can borrow up to the credit limit, and interest rates are often low. If you go with this option, be sure and shop around for a competitive rate.

This HELOC method is popular, because it can be the fastest and easiest.  Plus you have the flexibility of a revolving line of credit, but at very low interest rates.  You can pay it off faster or borrow more later with the same methods as you would a credit card.  

Using Tax Incentives to Offset the Cost of Your Home Improvements or Remodel

 
Making your home more energy-efficient is a great improvement that will save you money over time, as well as increasing your home's value. The government offers tax incentives that can offset this expense. Accessing these incentives may help you finance your home build or remodel. Federal tax incentives may be available to offset the cost of upgrading your appliances to Energy Star, or installing solar panels or solar energy systems. There are also green building programs through the state of Texas, and the city of Dallas. 

Today we are talking about financing through Federal Title I loans.

Currently many families are concerned about the cost of home improvements, and may be putting them off, even if they are badly needed. Title I loans may be an option for homeowners who may not qualify for other types of financing because they do not have equity in their home. Loans are available for up to $25,000 in home improvements, and up to 20 year loans. Interest rates are generally much lower than what private lenders.

The Federal Title I program provides insurance to private lenders. Approved lenders then provide Title I-backed loans to consumers. Applications for Title I loans are available through many financial institutions in the Dallas area.

Other Time-Honored Methods of Financing Your Home Remodel

There are plenty of other ways to do the job.  Some make way more sense than others, but you are the only one to make that judgement call:
  • Borrow from Mom or Dad or Rich Uncle or Other Relation or Friend
  • Credit Cards can be a fast approach if you plan a quick pay off
  • Personal loans through banks, credit unions, or finance companies
  • Borrow against other assets such as second homes, investments, autos
  • Borrow against your Insurance Policy
  • Combine different Methods


 

Friday, March 8, 2013

10 Amazing Technologies for Your Dallas remodeling Project

How to Make Your Dallas remodeling Project High Tech

When you are remodeling a single room or the entire house, or if you'd just like to upgrade some of the technologies in your house, check out this top ten list from PATH.  We have given you a thumbnail of each of their ideas.  You can check out the PATH website for more details on each technology.  

PATH selects these technologies for their notable strengths in one or more of the following areas: quality and durability; energy efficiency; environmental performance; safety and disaster mitigation; and affordability. 

10. Tubular Skylights



This is such a cool idea and what a huge energy saver.  Many homeowners love the natural light that the receive from skylights.  Skylights, unfortunately, do not distribute light evenly, and can be a source of energy loss due to there being no insulation.  Of course skylights are limited to use where the room has access to the roof.

On the other hand, using tubular skylights solves all of these issues. They resemble conventional fixtures in their versatility in providing light where needed.  There is no exposure to outside elements to create higher AC and heating bills.  And, they are commonly easier to install than traditional skylights.


Tubular skylights use roof-mounted light collector with a reflective sun scoop directing sunlight into a metal or plastic tube which has a highly reflective interior coating. The reflective tube guides the sunlight to a diffuser lens mounted on the interior ceiling. This lens spreads the sunlight evenly throughout the room. Some tubular skylights even have integrated electric lights so that the same fixture can provide light at night, too.  It is even possible on some units to limit the amount of light coming in during the day.

- See more at: http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Interior-Partitions-Ceilings/tubular-skylights#sthash.tPbsJMwf.dpuf


9.  Recycled Wood Floors

Old wood can be given a new life when it is recycled into "new" wood flooring. Recycled wood flooring is made from salvaged boards or trees that have been remilled into a product suitable for residential use. Since this wood came from old growth forests of America, it is often harder, denser, and more attractive in appearance than new growth wood. Recycling wood is more resource efficient than making new wood flooring. 

Specialty recyclers glean reusable hardwoods such as chestnut, hickory, cherry, and oak from old houses, buildings, and barns that are slated for demolition. Another source for reclaimed wood flooring is river and lake bottoms where wood from long-ago logging operations sank and has been retrieved from its underwater storage. Salvaged logs, beams, and planks are sent to a lumber mill where they are remilled into individual flooring pieces. The surface can be selectively finished to have a final appearance anywhere between rough-hewn to finely sanded and varnished. 

Recycled wood flooring can be installed in planks, similar to the flooring seen in historic homes. It can be milled into tongue-and-groove strips similar to modern wood flooring systems, with individual strips made in widths from three inches to sixteen inches. One company makes end-grain flooring by cutting oak beams 3/4-inch thick and placing them on the floor with the end-grain facing upwards, almost like laying tiles. 

Details available at http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Interior-Partitions-Ceilings/recycled-wood-flooring

Old wood can be given a new life when it is recycled into "new" wood flooring. Recycled wood flooring is made from salvaged boards or trees that have been remilled into a product suitable for residential use. Since this wood came from old growth forests of America, it is often harder, denser, and more attractive in appearance than new growth wood. Recycling wood is more resource efficient than making new wood flooring.
Specialty recyclers glean reusable hardwoods such as chestnut, hickory, cherry, and oak from old houses, buildings, and barns that are slated for demolition. Another source for reclaimed wood flooring is river and lake bottoms where wood from long-ago logging operations sank and has been retrieved from its underwater storage. Salvaged logs, beams, and planks are sent to a lumber mill where they are remilled into individual flooring pieces. The surface can be selectively finished to have a final appearance anywhere between rough-hewn to finely sanded and varnished.
Recycled wood flooring can be installed in planks, similar to the flooring seen in historic homes. It can be milled into tongue-and-groove strips similar to modern wood flooring systems, with individual strips made in widths from three inches to sixteen inches. One company makes end-grain flooring by cutting oak beams 3/4-inch thick and placing them on the floor with the end-grain facing upwards, almost like laying tiles.
- See more at: http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Interior-Partitions-Ceilings/recycled-wood-flooring#sthash.eW0PUNYg.dpuf
Solar Water Heating Is Cost Effective NOW!

Old wood can be given a new life when it is recycled into "new" wood flooring. Recycled wood flooring is made from salvaged boards or trees that have been remilled into a product suitable for residential use. Since this wood came from old growth forests of America, it is often harder, denser, and more attractive in appearance than new growth wood. Recycling wood is more resource efficient than making new wood flooring.

Specialty recyclers glean reusable hardwoods such as chestnut, hickory, cherry, and oak from old houses, buildings, and barns that are slated for demolition. Another source for reclaimed wood flooring is river and lake bottoms where wood from long-ago logging operations sank and has been retrieved from its underwater storage. Salvaged logs, beams, and planks are sent to a lumber mill where they are remilled into individual flooring pieces. The surface can be selectively finished to have a final appearance anywhere between rough-hewn to finely sanded and varnished.

Recycled wood flooring can be installed in planks, similar to the flooring seen in historic homes. It can be milled into tongue-and-groove strips similar to modern wood flooring systems, with individual strips made in widths from three inches to sixteen inches. One company makes end-grain flooring by cutting oak beams 3/4-inch thick and placing them on the floor with the end-grain facing upwards, almost like laying tiles.

- See more at: http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Interior-Partitions-Ceilings/recycled-wood-flooring#sthash.eW0PUNYg.dpuf8. Solar Hot Water

While it is not yet cost-effective for most homes to switch completely to solar power, the availability of small solar technologies is offering great savings to families, as well as the environment. In sunny Dallas, there is plenty of radiant heat to efficiently power your hot water usage, lightening your monthly power bill. The new solar water heater technology is much more discreet than the old ones, mounting flush with a home's roof and resembling skylights.


Call Unique Properties to discuss how solar technologies can be incorporated into your Dallas kitchen remodel or other building or remodeling project in the greater Dallas area. We can be counted on to deliver quality workmanship, with professional customer service, on time, and on budget.  


7.  Control All Your Lighting from a Computer or Cell Phone


Automatic controls for lighting, are now available for residences ranging from a simple outdoor light fixture with a built-in photosensor to whole-house programmable controls that can activate lights for various scenarios (e.g., time of day, vacations, entertaining) from a computer or cell phone.
Such centralized lighting controls are now affordable to the average homeowner.

Controls can:
  • switch lights on and off 
  • dim lights based on input from sensors which include simple timers
  • dim lights based on occupancy sensors to detect motion
  • use infrared radiation from a personal photosensors to operate lights or adjust light levels based on the amount of available daylight.
  •  operate lighting by voice or sound. 
  •  be managed via phone, computer, or a standard remote control.

Central lighting control systems can be "zoned" to provide pre-programmed lighting levels (often called "scenes") for different situations. Examples of modes that may be preprogrammed include: vacation, dining, entertaining, and morning.

Dimmer switches can allow one fixture to serve several lighting functions, such as task lighting at full ballast and decorative or safety lighting on a lower setting. Dimming increases lamp life and saves energy - a light that is dimmed by 25% uses about 20% less energy while lamp life is increased fourfold.

http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Electrical-Electronics/lighting-controls

Automatic controls for lighting, common in commercial buildings, are now available in a variety of options for residences ranging from a simple outdoor light fixture with a built-in photosensor to whole-house programmable controls that can activate lights for various scenarios (e.g., time of day, vacations, entertaining) from a central command center. Once a luxury for the wealthiest homeowners, centralized lighting controls are now affordable to the average homeowner.

Controls can switch lights on and off, or dim lights based on input from sensors which include simple timers, occupancy sensors to detect motion or infrared radiation from a person, or photosensors which operate lights or adjust light levels based on the amount of available daylight. There are also sensors, suitable for accessibility, that operate lighting by voice or sound. Many systems include the option of remote control via phone, computer, or a standard remote control.

Controls can be hard-wired or wireless. Most hard-wired controls rely on low-voltage CAT-5 wiring for signal transmission. However, there are a few products on the market that transmit signals over standard household wiring (and therefore require no additional wiring). Some systems are "plug and play" while other systems - typically ones that provide the most flexibility - require design and programming by the installer. All whole-house systems require some user programming, although programming can be as simple as programming a preset radio station in the car.

Central lighting control systems can be "zoned" to provide pre-programmed lighting levels (often called "scenes") for different situations. Examples of modes that may be preprogrammed include: vacation, dining, entertaining, and morning.

A manual-on occupancy sensor is a wall switch that will allow regular on and off switching of lights and can be used as an electronic occupancy sensor, as well. The occupancy sensor operates on low frequency sound waves that can sense movement in an area. After a prescribed time delay of six to fifteen minutes, dependent upon manufacturer, the sensor will turn off the light if movement has not been detected.

Dimmer switches can allow one fixture to serve several lighting functions, such as task lighting at full ballast and decorative or safety lighting on a lower setting. Dimming increases lamp life and saves energy - a light that is dimmed by 25% uses about 20% less energy while lamp life is increased fourfold.

One wireless controller, ideally suited for retrofit, works with a transmitter and receiver located in the same room. The transmitter is a push-button switch that generates its own electricity when pressed (and therefore does not require a separate power source such as batteries). The receiver is either an electrical outlet or a hard-wired device, and the light source (or any connected electrical device) can be toggled on or off via the transmitter switch. A single device or a group of electrical devices can be controlled via the toggle switch.

- See more at: http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Electrical-Electronics/lighting-controls#sthash.D0dWZVwj.dpuf

6. High Performance Windows/Storm Windows  


 In most U.S. climates, low-E coatings reduce heating costs associated with energy loss through windows by lowering the window’s U-value. Compared to tinted windows, solar control windows allow more natural light to enter the home, thereby reducing the need for and energy used by artificial lighting. Impact-resistant windows can prevent damage and injury by preventing panes from shattering under impact. Read more about high performance windows, as you consider technologies for your Dallas building or remodeling project.


5. Compact Fluorescent Lighting

We are living in a new era when it comes to lighting our homes. No longer is it enough for fixtures to be beautiful and illuminate our spaces. Now, we also expect them to use energy as efficiently as possible to help conserve the limited supply of available energy. In some areas of the country, energy efficient lighting is now required in new and remodeled homes. 

Compact fluorescent lamps are simply miniature versions of full-size fluorescent lights.          


They use an arc discharge through a phosphor-lined tube instead of heating a resistance filament which is used in incandescent light bulbs. A CFL consists of a lamp, lamp holder,
and ballast. The ballast provides the electrical control to strike and maintain the arc.  


Historically, fluorescent lighting’s bluish hue has turned people away from using the energy-efficient lighting in living spaces. However, the warm tones of newer compact fluorescent lighting make it almost indistinguishable from incandescent lighting.

4. High efficiency toilets

High efficiency toilets save water that would otherwise be wasted, not only reducing your utility bill, but also the amount of available fresh water used. At Unique Properties, we recommend using high efficiency toilets in your Dallas home, as water conservation is a significant issue in our city. Not only will you save money on your water bill, but you may be able to get a free toilet through the city of Dallas' rebates and incentives program.
Designed for water conservation, high efficiency toilets (HETs) have been defined by the plumbing industry and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as those that use an average of 20 percent less water per flush than the industry standard of 1.6 gallons (or, 1.28 gallons). Using a high efficiency unit (in place of 1.6 gallon flush units) can save up to 8,760 gallons of water each year for a family of four with average daily flushes of six each.
  

3. HVAC Sizing

Right sizing an HVAC system improves efficiency, reduces noise, offers greater cooling/heating comfort and saves money. Getting correct HVAC sizing is recommended by PATH as one of the smartest things you can do for your home. Many Dallas contractors will install oversized units, costing you unnecessary money. A larger unit does not necessarily mean it is cooling better. In fact, a properly sized unit will provide the best cooling of your Dallas home for the lowest cost and energy use. 


 
We can install a ventilation system in the crawlspace of your Dallas home! Contact Unique Properties for a consultation. 

2. Smartvent Ventilation/Ventilation Control System


Whether crawlspace ventilation is necessary (or even detrimental) is a hotly debated topic among building scientists. Especially in humid climates, ventilating the crawlspace often adds undesirable moisture to the area. New products provide mechanical ventilation that measure the moisture content of outdoor and crawlspace air and only provide ventilation when the outdoor air is drier than crawlspace air. Thus, systems prevent moisture from being added to the crawlspace due to ventilation.

This map shows areas where air commonly escapes in a house. A good contractor like Unique Properties can complete a full air sealing job on your house, saving you money. 

1. Air sealing

Reducing the amount of air that leaks in and out of your home is a cost-effective way to cut heating and cooling costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment. In addition to caulking and weather-stripping your home, PATH recommends these insulation alternatives to provide adequate air sealing in your home.

Conclusion

We at Unique Home Construction can provide you with any of a wide variety of new technology that will make life simpler, more convenient, the environment more pleasant, and cut your energy cost.  These can be done during a remodel, which is a great time to do them.  But almost any can be installed as a stand alone effort.