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Home Improvement Guide 2012

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SpringRemr

Home Improvementeling

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r o oo tdo d In Ou &

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Do-ItYourself Projects

La w Ga n & Tip rden s

A Special Section to The Lebanon Democrat Mt. Juliet News and The Hartsville Vidette

ContentsConstruction Quick Tip ...........................................................................2 Improving home efficiency......................................................................3 Projects that might require building permits ...........................................3 Must have tools ........................................................................................4 Is it time to add a half bath .....................................................................5 Patio clean-up for seasonal entertaining ..................................................5 Fence etiquette .........................................................................................8 Building a deck ........................................................................................9 Plywood vs. MDF ....................................................................................9 Shopping off season for home improvements ......................................10 Making a healthier home .......................................................................11 Spray foam insulation combats mold ....................................................11

Building a home includes dreams of a house that might last for centuries -- or at the very least, a soaring return on the investment. So with a choice in materials when building from scratch, take note that the advanced technology starts with concrete walls. The inefficiency of wood framing is yesterdays choice. Builders of homes and commercial buildings now champion the use of pre-assembled, interlocking concrete forms. Each panel consists of two layers of polystyrene, steel reinforced and filled with concrete. With this system, industry leader Nudura points to important energy savings -- as well as significant environmental and human health benefits. Wood walls, for example, are subject to rot and mould irritation over time. The wood frame method is also subject to thermal bridging, where outside cold seeps in to cause uncomfortable cold spots, drafts, and mustiness. On the other hand, the Nudura concrete walls have shown to deliver energy savings of up to 70 percent and deliver a building envelope up to three times more sound resistant, four times more fire re-

Construction Quick Tip: Post-modern homes choose walls with concrete

sistant, and nine times stronger. Floor and ceiling construction is now advanced too. More information is available online at www.nudura.com.

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The top three innovations to improve home efficiencyOur homes are a great measuring stick of how far weve progressed in the past 20 years, especially when it comes to their efficiency in terms of saving us energy and money. Here are the top three innovative technologies that can improve the efficiency of our homes: Home Automation * It wasnt that long ago that an automated home was a focus of science fiction. Today, adding the convenience and control of our indoor climate, lighting, electronic media and home security is increasingly affordable and accessible through home PCs, smart phone and tablet applications. With home monitoring systems, you can track energy and water usage in real time, spot key sources of energy loss and make immediate adjustments. Insulation * If your home is more than 10 years old, theres a good chance it has fiberglass or cellulose insulation behind its walls. While these were once the insulations of choice, there are many holes in these technologies. Since they are difficult to install perfectly and can sag or settle over time, they can leave gaps and seams. Its like leaving a window open 24 hours a day Advances in home automation, insulation and appliances have be- in the freezing come increasingly affordable and accessible to more homeowners, cold. * Expertssaving them energy and money.

Projects that might require a building permitAll too many homeowners have experienced the joy of completing a home improvement project only to learn upon completion that the project is not in adherence with local laws. That realization, while heartbreaking, is often the result of a homeowners failure to secure a building permit prior to starting the project. Homeowners who secure a permit before the onset of a project will know what they can and cant do and can rest easy knowing that an approved plan complies with engineering principles and local laws. Another disadvantage to forgoing the permit process is the potential perils such a decision cause when homeowners want to sell their homes. Projects completed without a permit might hurt a homes resale value, and such projects are not often covered by homeowners insurance policies, meaning damage to areas of the home where an illegal project was conducted wont be covered. While homeowners should always check with their local municipality before starting a project, it might help to know the following are a few of the many home improvement projects that typically require a permit before they can go forward. * Above-ground pool * Attached storage shed * Awnings * Carports * Deck installation * Demolition project, interior or exterior * Fireplace addition * Garage conversion * Handicap ramp * Handicap restroom * In-ground pool * Patio enclosure * Patio installation * Partition wall installation * Porch * Retaining walls * Roof change (i.e., flat roof to sloped roof) * Roof replacement * Room addition * Room remodel * Siding * Sliding glass door (if area is increased) * Skylight * Spa or hot tub installation * Windows, new or replacement (if area is increased)

remind us that insulation advancements (like those from leading innovator Icynene) have brought us spray foam insulation options that wont settle, sag or leave any gaps. Spray foam acts as an air barrier and can deliver up to 50 percent energy savings over older insulation options, while making our homes healthier, quieter and more comfortable. You can compare insulation options at www.icynene.com. Appliances and HVAC * Appliances and heating/cooling systems are essential in American homes -and not surprisingly, they are constantly undergoing improvements. New energy-efficient refrigerators use less than half the energy of models that are 12 years old and use 75 percent less energy than those produced in the late 1970s (Source: National Resources Defense Council). * If you have a conventional natural-draft furnace made before 1992, it might only operate between 55 to 78 percent efficiency. Upgrading to a new induced-draft condensing furnace can increase efficiency to above 90 percent as a result of more efficient heat exchangers and electronic ignition (Source: Mother Earth News).

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Must-Have Tools For the Outdoor Handyman (or Woman)Spring has sprung for most areas of the country and the average homeowners honey-do list likely has its share of outdoor landscaping tasks that need to be tackled. The right tools can make easier work of outdoor chores. A report from the Associated Landscape Contractors of America titled Economic Benefits of Landscape states that landscaping can add as much as 14 percent to the resale value of a building and speed its sale by as much as 6 weeks. Homeowners looking to sell their home or just improve its market value will want to consider landscaping a viable investment. A March 2003 article in Smart Money noted that homeowners can expect to earn back 150 percent or more of their landscape investment through the value it brings to a property. Whatever the landscaping project, the right tools will make any task that much easier. There are certain items every homeowner should have in his or her gardening arsenal. * Soil cultivator: A multi-pronged tool that breaks up clods of soil and grass to provide easier planting. * Various garden hoes: Hoes can be used for breaking up soil, weeding, cultivating, aerating, and many other purposes. * Spading fork: Another tool that loosens soil with straight tines that dig through dense soil. * Shovel: A multipurpose shovel can dig through dirt, gravel