Friday, August 15, 2014

The Organized Move: Preparing Your Home for the Public's Eye

(This is the first in a series of three articles on "The Organized Move")

The thought of moving can set most of us in a tailspin, but what is more frightening is imagining the parade of realtors and home buyers marching through your very personal space and judging you on: neatness, maintenance and upkeep, and tasteful d├ęcor. (There will be a handful of buyers that are looking for a "fixer upper" and projects that last for years, but unfortunately only two exist to date).

So let's discuss a few easy tips to get your home in market condition. Remember -- realtors and prospective homebuyers can tell how a home has been cared for over the years. If your home is in need of major repairs it is always best to consult a professional to ensure proper technique and installation.

The month before you list your home, walk around with a notepad and write down everything that is in need of some minor repair or a little freshening up. It is very natural to focus on just the main living areas of your home and forget about the closets and storage areas, but this is a big mistake. In every home I ever bought or sold closets and storage areas were part of the public viewing. So lets divide the space of your home and get moving:

Bedrooms

Check all the bedrooms and pay particular attention to the closets. This is a great time to review the contents and do a major purge. The fewer items that are crammed in your closet, the fewer things you have to pack and your closet will appear larger to a buyer. Set a pickup date with your local charity -- this gives a little extra motivation to get those closets in order. Out of season clothes should be packed up and if possible stored at a very kind relative or friend's home.

Take a similar approach to shelves and dressers and any other surfaces in the rooms. Clutter is a real turnoff for a lot of people. Pack up the unwieldy collections and neatly organize what is left.

Bathrooms

Check for any leaks, cracks and discoloration on all your plumbing fixtures. Spend a little extra time cleaning the mirrors and the lights (this can really make your bathroom sparkle). If your beauty products are all over the bathroom vanity consider purchasing an inexpensive caddie to hold your products so they can be swiftly tucked away for a showing.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How to build an energy-efficient home

There are just a few important things to know and to remember, when building an energy-efficient home. These are; insulation, air intrusion, thermal mass, and that windows and holes in the wall of the house lose about the same amount of energy.

Insulation is a means of capturing dead air and causing it to slow the exchange of hot energy toward a cold space. Most builders use fiberglass insulation. Personally, I prefer to use blown cellulose insulation. In America, we major the value of insulation, by giving it an R-factor. The R-factor of insulation is a reference for the ability of the insulation to slow heat transfer and to the R stands for resistance factor. The R-factor is only part of the story. Insulation can have a high R factor, but if air moves through it is almost useless. One of the things we do recently, in home construction, is to use Tyvek, a thin, breathable plastic membrane that stops the wind. In modern construction; we customarily have from the outside killing in; siding, Tyvek, insulation, and drywall. Customarily this results in what we call and R-30 wall.

In other countries they talk about a U-factor. The U stands for use factor. And this use factor is merely a combination of an R factor, and an ability to withstand air intrusion. Therefore, the use factor is actually more useful than strictly the R factor. For instance, a concrete wall, has a low R factor and a high U factor if the logs are made to fit tightly together. A concrete home has a low resistance factor, because concrete transmits thermal energy easily. To properly insulate a concrete wall, one should insulate the outside of the wall. And this brings us to thermal mass.Windows are a great energy waster. Each pane of glass has a resistance factor of less than one. A thermopane window has a resistance factor of about two or three including the airspace. The more windows a home has the more expensive it is to heat. Triple pane windows have a resistance factor of about five. A drapery fully covering a window will increase the resistance factor to about 20. Therefore drawn draperies will greatly increase the insulating ability of a home.

Thermal mass is simply the amount of weight that reaches a certain temperature and wants to stay at that temperature. For instance, I home with a brick floor, and lots of books and heavy furniture, has a lots of thermal mass. Once a home with lots of thermal mass reaches a comfortable temperature it tends to stay that temperature for a long time, even after they heat or air-conditioning stops. Offices tend to have high thermal mass. It takes a lot of energy to change the temperature of thermal mass. Thus, one should leave the thermostat at the same temperature and not move it up and down. Turning down the thermostat at night and turning it back up during the day wastes energy.