5 Fall-Ready Home Improvement Tips to Breathe Easy

Cooler weather means closing up windows and spending more time indoors. Add to that seasonal candles, home renovation projects, and cold and flu season, and suddenly indoor air quality can border on hazardous. This fall and winter, create a clean-air haven in your home with these DIY tips.

  1. Start with easy seasonal maintenance, like changing the furnace/HVAC filter to make sure heating appliances are working efficiently. Clean out air ducts and chimneys to minimize dust, lint, and debris.
  2. Control mold and moisture. Start by fixing leaky sinks and faucets, then giving showers and toilets a good scrub to get rid of mildew build-up. After that, be sure to keep bathrooms properly ventilated to prevent future mildew.
  3. If re-varnishing or reupholstering furniture, look for low or no VOC options, and if bringing new furniture and home goods into a space, allow it to off-gas before spending time in the room with it.
  4. Purchase an indoor air purifier like Blue by Blueair, available at The Home Depot. This purifier removes pet dander, dust mites, viruses and odors that are common in the home. Also, with fall DIY home improvement season in full swing, Blueair air purifiers can remove paint VOCs and construction dust. Set them up in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or wherever it’s needed most at home.
  5. Limit use of sneaky air quality offenders like plush pillows, rugs and curtains, seasonal candles, paint, and glue/caulk, which can bring invisible but harmful particles and irritants into the home.

DIY expert Amanda Hendrix from Love & Renovations adds these home improvement tips:

“Our area in Austin is full of cedar, so we keep the house closed down when fall allergens are at their highest and rely heavily on our Blueair air purifier to help ease symptoms. I also do some quick fall maintenance around the house – re-caulk in bathrooms and kitchens, do a walk-through and check for drafty doors and windows. Winter isn’t an ideal time to be crossing these pesky items off the to-do list, so try to take care of these small (but vital!) tasks throughout the fall.”

Original Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/5-fall-ready-home-improvement-tips-to-breathe-easy-300525021.html

Original Author: Blueair

Original Date: 9-25-17


Things Needed for New Construction

There are many things that you need to consider when looking into new construction.  First of all it is important to have property in which to get started.  There are various size plots on which to build a new home.  It is crucial that the home is constructed on a plot of land that is an adequate size for the size of the home that is to be constructed.

Once this has been accomplished it is important to make arrangements to find a contractor who will work with you to make your dream a reality.  They can help you make arrangements for materials that are to be used in construction.  You will make arrangements with the contractor for all the things and laborers to be used in the construction of your new construction home.  All of the costs associated with the new construction are calculated by the contractor and told to the homeowner so that they can make proper arrangements.

There are many options available in construction of all types including:

  • Any feature you desire can be added in new construction. Each feature that is added or upgraded from the basic plan initially agreed upon will be an additional cost to the homeowner.
  • A new construction contractor has specific costs that are charged to the homeowner. These charges are the basics that are needed throughout the construction process.
  • The new construction process is time consuming. Homeowners will need to be patient and work in conjunction with the contractor to achieve the smoothest possible build.
  • Contractors will keep you abreast of time constraints and estimates of time in which different process throughout the build will take and when they are expected to be completed.
  • New construction contractors will make arrangements with other contractors who are able to complete the requirements. These are the professionals within the construction industry that specialize in services such as electricians, plumbers, and such.
  • Many experienced contractors in the industry who are ready to work for new construction at any time.
  • It is important to get estimates from these contractors before you begin making your final selections to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want at a price that you can afford.

Some contractors charge more money as compared to others so you must make time to search for a reliable contractor.  When you have found a contractor that you want to move forward with it is time to make arrangements and get things which are to be used then the process of construction will begin.  As you move forward with the build it is important to check in on the progress of the work on your new construction home.

In case you need changes or modifications it is important to contact the contractor that you have hired and they will check the work and make updates as needed.

Learn more about Aspen Construction and the variety of home construction upgrades they provide including: new construction, home additions, bathroom remodeling, kitchen renovations, and finished basements at http://www.aspencoinc.com/construction.php.  To contact one of our home construction specialists call 517.404.2176 today.

New Construction vs. Existing Homes: The Up and Downside for Buyers

If you’re in the market to buy a home in the Charlottesville region, you can find a historic home built in the 1800s or opt for brand new custom-built home — and everything in between. So how do you know whether that new or existing home is the better fit for your family?

Between Zillow.com, Redfin, Trulia, Houzz and the like, you can disappear down a rabbit hole of articles trying to make the new vs. old call. We’ve run that gamut for you and compiled a top 10 list of key factors to consider.

  1. Location. Location. Location. Proximity to jobs, good schools and amenities tend to favor existing homes, but some developers are building the community into their new home projects.
  2. Price. The neighborhood and other factors ultimately determine the price point, but new homes often have a higher sale price.
  3. Timing.  If you’re pre-approved for loan, you can go out and buy an existing home right now. If you’re building a custom home, you have to factor in the months it takes to find the lot, decide on the plan and builder, secure permits, and build. In terms of timing, a production-built new home can fall in between these two options.
  4. Lot size. You tend to get a larger lot and yard with existing homes, especially in more urban areas.
  5. Efficiency. New homes can be 30% more efficient than those built even 5 years ago due to changes in building code and appliance and lighting standards. If you want lower bills and modern comfort, look for a new home or a home that has been upgraded with efficiency in mind.
  6. Character. The features that elicit comments about “charm” and “character” are often the most expensive to build into new homes. But some of the most sought after — built-ins, molding, real wood floors — come with the territory for homes built prior to the 1980s.
  7. Customization. This is a toss up. With new homes you can pick and choose what you want; older homes you can remodel to make more your own.
  8. Maintenance. A well-built new home will usually bring years of maintenance-free living.
  9. Landscaping. Older neighborhoods have mature trees and tree cover whereas plots for new development have often been cleared.
  10. Home size. Newer homes have modern floorplans (e.g., master with a bathroom) and are just larger in general.

The home renovation sector is enjoying growth right now. As cited in the Wall Street Journal, Americans will spend a record $316 billion on home remodeling this year, up from $296 billion in 2016. That’s thanks in large part to older homeowners making “aging in place” upgrades as well as millennials who often scoop up older properties and make modifications over time.

A good real estate agent can help you make the right new-or-not-new decision based on his or her detailed knowledge of the local community and neighborhoods; it’s hard to overstate how important a real estate agent is to finding the right property. It’s also important that buyers are able to prioritize what they’re looking for because buying a home, like many things, can be an exercise in compromise. Buyers can use this list above as a starting point for feature options, but reorder it according to their interests.

If you’re leaning towards buying an older home and upgrading it, this online tool can give you an idea of costs. And companies like Pearl Certification can provide buyers with guidance on improvements that increase comfort and improve indoor air quality, while lowering utility bills. Pearl can also track and certify those improvements over time (like with investment properties) to provide proper documentation that will add to home value at the point of sale.

A case in point: we worked with one Charlottesville buyer who bought a 1950’s home in the City and renovated it in the weeks before he and his family moved in. This was a smart option allowing him to have the best of both worlds. All of the dirty and complicated upgrades were completed prior to move in, and the buyer was able to finance them through the mortgage. His reward was a Pearl Certified home that has all of the efficiency and comfort of a new home, but the character and downtown location of an older property.

Original Source: http://www.dailyprogress.com/realestate/sustainabletechnology/new-construction-vs-existing-homes-the-up-and-downside-for/article_b508d40c-7e95-11e7-a122-ff1c6195c953.html

Original Author: Cynthia Adams, Pearl Certification

Original Date: Aug 11 2017

The Importance of a Finished Basement In New Construction

Bаѕеmеnt remodeling is a dесеnt method of еxраndіng the living аrеа іn уоur hоmе. A bаѕеmеnt rеmоdеlіng project іѕ definitely a rеаѕоnаblе рrоjесt as іt іѕ mоrе рrоfіtаblе and іt provides аn іnсrеаѕеd rеturn on investment. For the longest time bаѕеmеntѕ іn our hоmеѕ wеrе not utіlіzеd іn an еffесtіvе manner. Bаѕеmеntѕ аrе normally ѕuрроѕеd tо be the рlасе where уоu put your usless things but now уоu саn еffесtіvеlу utіlіzе that ѕрасе іn a соnѕtruсtіvе mаnnеr. Basement rеmоdеlіng саn рrоvіdе more ѕрасе for nеw fаmіlу mеmbеrѕ, сrаft рrоjесtѕ, entertainment аnd many оthеr home activities. It wіll also fulfіll уоur nееd оf extra space.

Yоu саn utіlіzе it аѕ a ѕрасе for kіdѕ or you саn utilize іt as a workout аrеа. Hіrіng а рrоfеѕѕіоnаl bаѕеmеnt fіnіѕhіng and home іntеrіоr service wіll help уоu to make уоur bаѕеmеnt lооk bеаutіful. It wіll guіdе you through the еntіrе business рrосеѕѕ right frоm thе start tіll thе еnd.

Lіghtnіng аnd Bаѕеmеnt Remodeling

Thе most іmроrtаnt аѕресt in the rеmоdеlіng рrоjесt іѕ thе lіghtnіng because thе bаѕеmеnt іѕ normally very dаrk аnd uninviting fоr guеѕtѕ and fаmіlу mеmbеrѕ. To address thеse problems, wе ѕhоuld first add nаturаl lіght tо the bаѕеmеnt and then, if needed, add artificial lighting. Mоrеоvеr, уоu ѕhоuld рrеfеr іnѕtаllіng lіghtѕ іn ѕсоnсеѕ аnd сеіlіngѕ оn thе wаllѕ. They саn help wіth lighting uр thе entire bаѕеmеnt аrеа and mаkіng іt mоrе inviting and warm.

Chооѕіng Cеіlіngѕ

Durіng thе dеvеlорmеnt of thе bаѕеmеnt remodeling рlаn, the сhоісе оf ceiling is a tough аnd important decision. Thеrе are many оwnеrѕ whо prefer tо іnѕtаll thе сеіlіng tіlеѕ, whеrеаѕ others elect tо іnѕtаll drуwаll ceilings. Drорріng ceiling tiles makes іt еаѕу to ассеѕѕ tо еlесtrісаl wіrіng аnd pipes but allows less influence on thе ceiling height соmраrеd tо a drywall ceiling.

Drywall ceilings gіvе a more fіnіѕhеd lооk and рrоvіdе mоrе hеаd rооm, but ассеѕѕ tо wiring аnd pipe іѕ аlwауѕ rеѕtrісtеd. If уоur rеԛuіrеmеnt оr рrеfеrеnсе duе to restricted height іѕ limited. You саn рlаn for access doors, underneath fіrѕt-flооr bаthtub J-trарѕ, key electrical junсtіоn аnd vаlvеѕ as wеll. Thе professional hеlр you get fоr your basement fіnіѕhіng and home іntеrіоr ѕеrvісеѕ plays a ѕіgnіfісаnt role іn rеnоvаtіng your house ассоrdіng tо your and also offers you an artistic challenge you will never forget.

Learn more about Aspen Construction and the variety of home construction upgrades they provide including: new construction, home additions, bathroom remodeling, kitchen renovations, and finished basements at http://www.aspencoinc.com/basement-finishing.php.  To contact one of our home construction specialists call 517.404.2176 today.

4 Benefits of a New Construction

A home is more than brick and concrete. The walls, floors, ceilings everything reverberates of your tempestuous life journey.  A newly constructed house is your life’s investment. The new home offers not only safety and amenities but is energy efficient and up to date with the trends.

Of the many advantages of new construction, the one that stands out is, is that you can equip it with the things of your choice. You remain trouble free by not buying someone else’s problems. There are numerous benefits of having a new customs home contractor who would provide you with a house of your dreams.

Let’s just visit the many advantages of purchasing a newly constructed home.

  1. The Taxes Can Be Lower

There is an old saying that two things are imminent: death and taxes. With new custom home contractors, there are slight amendments which are beneficial. Taxes on a new home are significant low for the first two years, compared to the resale house. Many of you question this privilege. Here is how it goes. The taxes on your home are based on city, school, county, and special budgetary needs for the coming year, this is to create a market value rate. This rate is then applied to all the properties in the county according to your houses estimated value.

  1. Promoting Energy Efficiency

The new construction is built in a way to be more energy and resources efficient. The consumers ask for greener homes and building which then turn the constructors to the conventional way by utilizing more of the natural resources. Solar shingles, tank less water heater are just a few examples of the taken steps.

  1. Low Maintenance

With the resale house or a fixer-upper, everything seems okay until you move in. And that okay can cost you a fortune. Sometimes they snap at the most inconvenient and infuriating times, leaving you flustered. There is a little mess to take care of, and every new thing promises to run for at least a decade. The warranties further keep it light on your budget if the need arises for maintenance. Mechanicals and appliances are all newly built and serve for a longer period of time.

  1. Amenities of Your Choice

With a new custom homes contractor, you can personalize your house. You can add things you wish to and eliminate the ones you want to get rid of. Since it is where you have to live, things that suit you and your needs are planned and installed accordingly without the need to dig around later.

In addition to all the above advantages, if you wish to sell a newly built house it attracts the buyers. It helps you ink down a lucrative deal. When you think of constructing a house, you get to choose the location of your choice. A new construction home is also the beginning of your life whereas the resale homes are built by the previous residents to suit their lifestyle.

It was thought that buying a newly constructed house is a luxury only the rich can afford, but now times have changed, the house of every range and size is available in the market.

Learn more about Aspen Construction and the variety of home construction upgrades they provide including: new construction, home additions, bathroom remodeling, kitchen renovations, and finished basements at http://www.aspencoinc.com/construction.php.  To contact one of our home construction specialists call 517.404.2176 today.

How Long Is Your City’s Waitlist For Home Renovation?

Home renovation professionals are busy right now. That’s great news for the remodeling industry but means that homeowners need to plan ahead. Homeowners can anticipate wait times averaging 4.3 to 7.4 weeks before a pro can take on their project, the Houzz research team finds. Design-build firms have the longest backlogs, at an average of 7.4 weeks. General contractors and remodelers are not far behind, with an average seven-week wait time.

“Backlog” refers to the delay or wait time an average firm faces before starting a new midsize project due to its current project commitments.

The numbers come from the Houzz Renovation Barometer Backlog Index, a new study introduced July 17. Read on for more insights about backlogs among renovation firms — including in many major cities across the U.S.

By Erin Carlyle

Busy with kitchens and baths. Nearly half (49%) of general contractors, remodelers and design-build companies on net report an increase in kitchen or bathroom renovations for the first half of 2017, compared with the same period a year ago.

“On net” means that the percentage of firms reporting increases minus the percentage of firms reporting decreases equals 49 percent. For example, if 54 percent of firms report increases and 5 percent of firms report decreases, that means 49 percent report an increase on net.

Many homeowners are tackling multiple remodeling projects simultaneously, the firms report. With large-scale renovations (kitchens, bathrooms and multiple projects) on the rise, it’s no wonder many of these firms are experiencing project backlogs.

By Erin Carlyle

Backlogs vary by renovation sector. While general contractors/remodelers and design-build companies report the longest delays before they can take on a new job, architects also have lengthy backlogs, averaging 5.9 weeks, as do landscape and outdoor specialty firms, at 5.6 weeks on average. Landscape and outdoor specialty firms include landscape architects, designers and contractors; outdoor replacement trades such as pavers; and outdoor product installers, manufacturers and resellers of items such as pools and spas.

Building and renovation specialty firms include replacement contractors (for example, carpenters) and product installers, manufacturers and resellers (of cabinetry, for example).

By Erin Carlyle

Waits are longest in the West. Firms in the West have the longest backlog, according to the Houzz Renovation Barometer Backlog Index. Design-build companies in the western United States report the biggest backlog among all the industry groups in the nation, an average of 8.3 weeks.

By Erin Carlyle

Where does your city stack up? Wait times to hire a professional vary greatly by location. Right now general contractors and remodelers and design-build firms are most backed up in the Boston metro area, at 13.9 weeks, with greater Seattle and Portland, Oregon, not far behind. Wait times for these renovation professionals are shortest in the Houston area, averaging 2.9 weeks.

Original Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/houzz/2017/08/22/how-long-is-your-citys-waitlist-for-home-renovation/#62a77c2763cf

Original Date: Aug 22 2017

Original Author: Erin Carlyle

Changes in New Construction

New construction homes offer many distinct advantages over older ones.  While purchasing a residence that has previously been lived in might be easier than building one of your own from the ground up it is crucial that you take a patient approach when making your next investment.

Older homes can develop structural issues that can cause the value of the home to decrease over time.  On the other hand, new construction homes are in the best shape they will ever be in.  With any purchase there are pros and cons and the same is true of your next residence.  It is important to make a good decision for your family that you spend time research the best option for your ever growing needs.

Sometimes the cost of buying a piece of property that is currently available is actually greater than the cost associated with building the home.  Other times there are good deals on existing structures that make it worth buying a previously owned home and remodelling it.  What you decide to do is completely based on the current state of the housing market when you need to decide whether to buy or build.

In a seller’s market a new construction home may offer more value in return for your investment.  The land on which you build a new home should also be one of the deciding factors in the value of your new house.  You are considering every option when looking to purchase property to build on.

New construction homes are always fully customized to the owner’s exact specifications.  When you hire a contractor and start planning for your dream home you can rest assured that you will be getting exactly what you want.  If you are interested in multiple fireplaces, a spacious sunroom, an in-ground pool, or a finished basement, you can make it a reality.  You are starting from the ground up and can have whatever your budget allows.

In new construction you can get exactly what you want down to the most tedious of details.  You can choose the cabinets, the floors, the number of showers and exactly what kind of moulding to use.  This is not always the case in a pre-existing home.   Although you can remodel there may be some times where you are stuck with a truly terrible design choice that was made by the previous owners.  You may pay more for remodelling an existing structure rather than starting from scratch with new construction.  Homeowners buying a pre-existing structure need to know that they may end up paying more than anticipated when you purchased the home in the first place.

There is a great deal to consider with home remodelling and with new construction.  Think about all of the pros and cons when you are looking into moving and considering a new construction or previously owned home.

Learn more about Aspen Construction and the variety of home construction upgrades they provide including: new construction, home additions, bathroom remodeling, kitchen renovations, and finished basements at http://www.aspencoinc.com/construction.php.  To contact one of our home construction specialists call 517.404.2176 today.

HomeWork: TV shows don’t match the reality of home remodeling

Hit shows like “Fixer Upper,” “Property Brothers” and “Flip or Flop” make for great reality TV, but do they portray the realities of remodeling in a realistic way?

Is there such a thing as too much HGTV?

For many people, the thrill of renovating a house in a little under an hour is a dream come true. The amazing 3D renderings, the antique shop finds, the unforeseen hiccup and the dramatic final reveal are enough to make you pick up your phone and call your local contractor before the next show starts.

Hit shows like “Fixer Upper,” “Property Brothers” and “Flip or Flop” make for great reality TV, but do they portray the realities of remodeling in a realistic way? The short timelines and low budgets have many contractors explaining to clients what a remodel is actually like. To prepare future clients for the initial shock that’s sure to come, we’ve listed the top ways reality TV will conflict with real life remodeling so that you can better prepare yourself for the truths of today’s remodeling market.


HGTV is one of the most-watched television channels, after news and major programming channels. With its broad reach, it’s no wonder most people have some preconceived notions about home remodeling. In as a little as an hour, or 45 minutes without commercials, a home can go from dated to dreamy.

Obviously, viewers don’t think a kitchen remodel can be completed in 45 minutes, but they do see some unrealistic timelines on these shows. Kitchens, for example, are designed, demolished and reconstructed in a week or two on some shows. In reality, a kitchen remodel can take months. Sometimes, it can take as many as four or five months from starting a design to seeing the kitchen complete.

While we let that timeline sink in, we’ll explain why. The kitchen is the heart of the home, literally and figuratively. The most complicated plumbing, electrical and cabinets are located in this room. It’s probably the only room in your house with more than three appliances (refrigerator, stove, microwave, etc.) and the only room with a large amount of cabinetry. It’s also got a lot of finer details: from backsplash tile to custom countertops, there are lots of pieces at play.

Before the remodel starts, there’s a design phase that takes time to get right. A designer will help you determine the look of your kitchen, pick out appliances and recommend materials. This process can be quick, but typically you want to have some time to think about options, visit showrooms or debate different aesthetics. That means revisions to the design plan, which adds time.

If you’ve chosen any specialty items, the shipping time for those items can sometimes be a lot longer than you’d expect; for example, one month for an Italian sink or three weeks for a custom live-edge shelf.

Cabinets alone take an average of six to eight weeks to arrive. Unless you purchased cabinets before you started designing your new kitchen — which you should never do — then your kitchen remodel is going to take at least two months. Sometimes with remodels, you can’t measure for cabinets until the room is empty and the walls are gone.

With a plan in hand and your materials ordered, now comes the mobilization and deconstruction. But the average remodel isn’t an “all hands on deck” experience. Most companies will send a couple crew members to deconstruct or demo (there’s a difference!) your kitchen over the course of a few days.

Larger kitchens and certain layouts can take as much as a full work week to remove — that’s already most of the timeline that a reality show gives, and your new kitchen hasn’t even begun to take shape yet.

Reality TV has the advantage of not only hiring a larger crew but also having skilled tradespeople on hand at a moment’s notice. Though you may see only a few crew members on screen, there’s likely a huge team in place to tackle a TV remodel around the clock.

The reality here in Seattle is that we are the hottest real estate market in the nation, and skilled labor is in very high demand. You should be prepared to wait a week or two to have initial meetings with an architect or contractor. Your average design-build company likely doesn’t employ an electrician, HVAC technicians or other akin tradespeople; they are subcontracted out and require scheduling, so it takes careful planning to get all the materials and laborers on site at the right time.

Jason Legat, founder of Model Remodel, says, “We really appreciate when our clients are flexible. The current market is experiencing huge growth. A record number of homes are being built, bought and sold. There are a lot of people looking for a good contractor, and if they are willing to plan ahead and wait for the project to start, we’re able to give them a better experience. It gives us the time we need to schedule permits, subcontracts, inspections and purchases — the time to complete a large remodel the right way.”


Speaking of demand, a labor shortage is almost always accompanied by higher prices. It’s not that prices are abnormally high, but in this competitive market, rates will be higher than other U.S. cities. A kitchen remodel in Waco, Texas, isn’t going to cost the same as a remodel in Seattle. Selections, labor and the home’s condition all factor into the cost.

In general, reality TV remodeling estimates are simply far lower than they are in real life, and sometimes don’t factor in the true cost of labor.

The beauty of hiring a professional is that you have someone to guide you to the materials within your budget. The sink you found on Pinterest or the kitchen you saw on “House Hunters” might be beyond your means, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of acceptable—if not exciting—alternatives! A professional can help you narrow those choices down and offer different layouts that could help you save money.

If there’s one thing not to skimp on, it’s hiring the right firm for your project. Quality carpenters don’t come at a discount, so if your project is large, you should view your remodel as an investment in skilled craftsmen and craftswomen.

Don’t forget to shop around, but be willing to pay a premium for the right fit. Your team will be with you for months to come; you want to like spending time with them and trust in their abilities.

One of the major things some HGTV shows skip over is the cost associated with those so-called “hiccups” the contractors always seem to run into: the rotting floor, the cracked foundation, the load-bearing wall, etc.

While we’re glad it shows that remodeling can be a tricky business, the shows usually spend two minutes explaining what the problem is and how to easily fix it.  They don’t always go into is the cost associated with those changes. Removing asbestos or eliminating a load-bearing wall can mean hiring an abatement company or engineer — added costs that should fall within your contingency fund.

A good contractor will be able to give you examples of common problems that could pop up, and a great contractor will be able to do an inspection and estimate possible changes in scope before they occur. Whatever the hiccup, it’s a lot less glamorous in reality, but both require a high level of flexibility.

As industry professionals, we’ll go home and click on an episode of “Flip or Flop” as much as the next person. But when we come into work the next day, we’re back to reality. Most clients can reset their expectations and step away from the fantasy they see on the screen. Exposure to these shows has revealed to homeowners other options than buying a perfect, out-of-the-box home, and that’s a good thing. Plus, they’re fun to watch! With a realistic timeline and budget, a dream remodel is very much possible.

Original Source: http://www.seattletimes.com/nwshowcase/nwhomes/homework-tv-shows-dont-match-the-reality-of-home-remodeling/

Original Author: Emma Zimmerman

Original Date: July 26th 2017

New Royal Oak law cracks down on sloppy home construction sites

An updated city law takes effect next week that puts new restrictions — and potential penalties — on home builders in Royal Oak that block sidewalks and fail to maintain construction sites.

The updated city ordinance has been in the works for months and became one of the biggest issues in the city after multiple neighbors and officials complained about the practices of some builders.

Realtor and builder John Farhat, who has had no issues with the city, told City Commissioners this week he agrees changes needed to be made.

“To see builders closing sidewalks for months at a time is unfair,” he said.

With hundreds of housing renovations and new homes going up in the city in recent years, officials say new rules for builders will stop many of the problems they see with some builders.

“It’s going to clean up these neighborhood (disturbances) and put an end to it,” said City Commissioner Dave Poulton, who led the call for updating Royal Oak’s construction site code along with City Commissioner Jeremy Mahrle.

Violations of the updated code will now be a civil infraction. First-time violations have a minimum fine of $250 and second violations are double that amount.

Builders who rack up three or more violations face a criminal misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Some of the biggest problems, including litter, have come from builders failing to contain properties under construction with fencing, blocking and muddying sidewalks and keeping portable toilets too close to neighboring houses.

Builders will now have to get a city permit for any work that encroaches on the right-of-way or adjoining sidewalk. Dirt or debris on the right-of-way has to be cleaned up daily and trees protected with a protective screening.

Additionally, before construction begins at a site it has to be enclosed with metal fencing at least four feet high. Excavation sites have to be closed within 60 days.

Officials noted the city gets complaints on a minority of housing developers who have created disturbances in neighborhoods.

City Commissioner Patricia Paruch warns the city will need to have enough enforcement if the construction site ordinance update is to be effective.

“Until we beef up enforcement we’re still going to have problems with builders that are bad actors,” she said.

City elected officials also plan to look at other city ordinances on the books that can have an effect on how builders operate, such as installing silt fencing that keeps mud and earth from clogging city water-sewer lines.

“It’s a big issue,” said City Engineer Matt Callahan.

Mahrle said he wants to see other issues considered, including prohibiting demolition work on holidays.

Still, the new rules that go into effect July 20 are a good start, he added.

“This is a good first step in securing construction sites and mitigating the disturbances in neighborhoods,” Mahrle said. “I don’t think most builders are bad actors.”

Original Source: http://www.dailytribune.com/general-news/20170712/new-royal-oak-law-cracks-down-on-sloppy-home-construction-sites

Original Author: Mike McConnell

Original Date: 7/12/17

Top Trends in Home Improvement & Remodeling

You can’t say we have returned to the times when housing was booming, but with 1,226,000 homes built in the last year, we’re not far from it. With Americans projected to collectively offload over $300 billion in home improvements over the next year the housing industry is currently looking pretty good.

So what are homeowners getting into this year as far as home improvements go? Here are a few favorite trends that tipped to being routinely installed this year.

Smart home technology is the latest in home improvement industry trends. The projection is that 33% of houses will get connected with at least one smart device, if they haven’t done so, with home security topping the list. The rise of voice activated technology is also leading the charge to make smarter homes more desirable.

Big homes are on the down swing as more people are choosing less square feet for their living space, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This new trend means a home modeler contractor needs to get more creative with their floor plans while still fitting in lots of storage space and energy efficient appliances.  New construction homes of 2017 are smaller than those seen in the past.

Matte finishes are taking over from the more sparkly finishes such as chrome and sparkly granite. Black stainless steel is now the favorite finish of choice. Matte is big in the kitchen, but it’s also filtering down to smaller appliances and other areas of the house such as bathroom faucets.

Even toilets are getting the treatment these days. Why settle for the standard porcelain throne you have to clean yourself when you can get one of the newer models that clean themselves. Toto’s Neorest 750H toilet has “Actilight cleansing technology” which treats the bowl with a mist before each use with the aim of preventing sticking waste. There’s also a built-in UV light that supposedly accelerates decomposition of inorganic substances.

There’s a lot to get excited about in home improvement this year, so if your goal is to live cleaner and better, then this is the year to start your remodeling plans.

Learn more about Aspen Construction and the variety of home construction upgrades they provide including: new construction, home additions, bathroom remodeling, kitchen renovations, and finished basements at www.aspencoinc.com.  To contact one of our home construction specialists call 517.404.2176 today.