October 23, 2017

Six Easy Ways To Improve Your Kitchen, Bathroom and Bedroom

Are you planning to update your bathroom, kitchen or bedroom but have a tight budget? Here are 6 Easy Way to Improve your area and not break the bank.

atlanta home inspector(ARA) – Good lighting is not something most people think much about until they don’t have it. Living in a well-lit room is a much more pleasurable experience than trying to cook, read, entertain or do just about anything in a dark, shadowy space.

The American Lighting Association offers these tips for improving the lighting in your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom:

* Add to your task lighting. Many bathrooms and kitchens have plenty of overhead light, but are often lacking when it comes to task lighting, says David Martin, designer with lighting manufacturer Hubbardton Forge. “At the kitchen sink, for example, you can eliminate shadows by including two sources of light.” The result is a workstation with easier-to-see spaces that alleviate eyestrain.

* Include mood-enhancing lights and dimmers. “Places such as bathrooms and bedrooms – once mostly functional – now serve as an extension of our living spaces,” says Todd Phillips, owner and senior designer with Quoizel Lighting. The lights in those rooms should be both hardworking and mood enhancing. For example, inexpensive, easy-to-install cove lights in the kitchen can provide soft illumination after mealtime and cleanup. Additional lights placed at a bathroom vanity and aimed out toward the face can help brighten grooming tasks and offer awakening morning light. A bonus: Those controls can help accommodate varying levels of natural daylight, too.

* Increase the size of your bedside task light. One of the bigger mistakes Phillips sees in bedrooms is the size of bedside lamps – they’re either too small or not adjustable. “The lamp needs to provide light where you need it, and if it’s too small it can’t do that,” says Phillips. Go for a larger size with increased lumen capacity.

* Install track lighting for flexibility. Stationary overhead lights are fine when you need to flood a space with light, but too often kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms lack flexible sources of light. A good solution is track lighting. “You can direct one or two of the lights on the track and point them to a wall to add accent light for artwork, and use other lights on the track to create different focal points,” Phillips says.

* Add a light fixture for drama. A side benefit of beautiful, light-providing chandeliers and pendants is that they provide focal points. “New light sources give homeowners some great options,” says Phillips. “You can drop in a chandelier over a bathtub to create drama and get mood and ambience too.”

As a bonus, those fixtures help provide the finishing touch for different colors and accents. “People sometimes put quite a lot of money and effort into their rooms and lighting can help to show them to their best effect,” says Martin.

* Add a ceiling fan with a light source. With the flip of a switch, a ceiling fan with a light kit can improve a room’s livability with both comfort and light. It is just one more example of how light works wonders in the home. “Having more lighting options creates a better lifestyle and it enriches our lives in terms of the time we spend in our homes,” says Phillips.

To see the latest lighting products and to talk to an expert about how to improve lighting in your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, visit your local ALA-member retail showroom or go online to www.americanlightingassoc.com.

Photo courtesy of Tech Lighting

Be sure that any remodeling you do or that you have done, be sure to get a professional home inspection prior and after, just to make sure the remodeling was done properly, safely and correctly.

For your professional home inspection needs, give us a call – we’ll be there for you! 770-645-2132 – or schedule right here on our site Schedule Now

Tips For Buying The Right Grill

home inspector atlantaFiring up the grill has become synonymous with welcoming the summer, and let’s be honest, we usually don’t wait until summer to embark on the outdoor cooking season. When you decide it’s time to break out the grill, you want to find the best way to cook your burgers or bratwursts. But with all the options out there for outdoor cooking, how do you know what’s the optimal solution for your open-air culinary needs?

“The grill you choose should be versatile, so it meets all your cooking needs,” says Leslie Segrete, home expert and former designer on “Trading Spaces” and “While You Were Out.” There are so many styles and models available these days that you’re sure to find something that will make your weekend meals – and even weekday dinners – everyday special.'”

Here Segrete cooks up some tips to help everyone find their perfect grill.

1. Think about the size of your space.

It’s an obvious factor in purchasing a grill, and should be a primary consideration. If you have a small deck or backyard, it would not only be inconvenient to bring home a massive grill – it could be dangerous. On the other hand, if you have plenty of space, it would be a shame to buy a grill with a cooking capacity of two burgers when you would prefer 40.

2. Consider how you are going to use the grill.

For those who love the smokiness and real outdoorsy feel of cooking with charcoal, there are multiple models from which to choose. If convenience and ease of use are your primary goals, then a gas grill will surely be your best bet. And for those who want the best of both worlds, there are combo grills, which are becoming more popular and are like two grills for the price of one. For example, if you are making mesquite-rubbed ribs, you can contain the woodsy smoke on the charcoal side and make lamb kebabs or roasted corn on the cob at the same time with the gas section. Or, if you host large barbecues and like to entertain, think about getting a grill with a large cooking surface and multiple burners.

3. Don’t forget added features.

An invaluable feature to consider is a side burner. Side burners are great because they turn your backyard into a variable kitchen. Rather than running back and forth from kitchen to grill and risk burning your food, you can use the side burners like a regular stovetop. They are ideal for preparing side dishes, from simple options like baked beans or boiled potatoes to more gourmet options like sesame soy green beans or pesto pasta salad. You can also keep side dishes warm on very low heat. If you want ultimate versatility, look for a grill with a steamer for quick and convenient preparation of a whole garden full of fresh veggies.

4. Think beyond black or stainless steel.

Many department stores, like Sears for example, have unique options in colors like copper and red, which can add a brilliant splash of color to your outdoor space. And red and orange tones are spot-on for summer’s hottest hues.

5. Don’t forget the accessories.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money at fancy cooking stores to get the accessories you need. Stores like Sears carry everything from cedar grilling planks and pizza stones to great quality grilling tools fit for any chef.

If you use these tips, you’re sure to find just the right grill so that when you “fire it up” you’ll have everything you need to prepare whole party menus, full family dinners or just a light snack for two.

 

Money In The Attic? How A Simple Project Can Lead To Big Savings.

Most homeowners rarely venture up to their attics, but as winter approaches, many will make the annual trip upstairs to put away warm-weather items and retrieve holiday decorations. While a home’s attic is ideal for storage, smart homeowners realize that their attics also represent a great opportunity to save money.

How?

Similar to the human body, the largest source of potential heat loss in a home is through the top. Thankfully, attic insulation works like a thick winter hat – it traps the heat inside so your house stays warm and comfortable.

More than 60 percent of U.S. homes are under insulated, and the average home needs up to 19 inches of fiber glass attic insulation for maximum energy efficiency. By using a tape measure to check the depth of their attic insulation, homeowners can easily see if their homes are up to par. Homeowners can reduce their homes’ heating and cooling costs by as much as 20 percent through proper insulation and air sealing techniques, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Homeowners are always looking for ways to stretch their household budgets, and there’s no better time than now to be proactive about reducing your home’s energy use,” says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit dedicated to promoting energy efficiency. “Heating and cooling can account for nearly half of a home’s energy bill, and there are many smart, economical steps homeowners can take to cut their monthly utility bills and increase the overall comfort of their homes.”

Installing attic insulation and other simple steps
After measuring the depth of their existing attic insulation, homeowners should estimate the current performance of their homes by utilizing an online energy-efficiency tool, such as the Home Energy Analysis test available at JMhomeowner.com.

“One of the best ways to get started is to evaluate your home’s potential for energy savings and then develop a game plan focused on the projects that will provide the best return on investment,” says Mike Lawrence, vice president and general manager of Insulation Systems for Johns Manville, a manufacturer of building products. “An online assessment can help determine a home’s insulation needs, such as the recommended amount of insulation for your region and the appropriate R-value for your project. Such tools even provide a product guide that can be taken to Lowe’s to help identify the best insulation products for the job.”

Once the appropriate materials have been selected, DIY-savvy homeowners can install the insulation themselves by simply placing insulation batts or rolls into the floor joists of their attics, on top of any existing insulation. Not interested in the do-it-yourself approach? Hire an insulation contractor – seek recommendations from friends or family or speak with a reputable retail outlet about available installed sales programs.

In many cases, additional attic insulation is one of the most effective ways to improve a home’s energy efficiency. Homeowners looking to take it a step further should also take advantage of the following low- or no-cost opportunities:

* Weatherize your attic: By using caulk, spray foam or weather stripping to eliminate any holes or gaps that may exist in the floor or walls of their attic, homeowners can stop costly air leaks.

* Install a programmable thermostat: The EPA reports homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings.

* Insulate your water heater: Adding a hot water heater blanket around older water heaters can reduce excessive heat loss. It’s also a good idea to insulate the hot and cold water pipes extending a few feet from the water heater.

* Mind your chimney: Fireplace chimneys are a source of heat loss. Keep your fireplace damper closed when not in use.

* Take advantage of passive heat: Keep south-facing window blinds and drapes open while it’s sunny to absorb solar heat during the day, and close your window blinds and drapes at night to retain the heat.

For more insulation installation tips and information on energy efficient home improvement projects, visit www.jmhomeowner.com or www.lowes.com/efficienthome.

How You Can Do Your Part – And Save Money – By Conserving Water

Water may not be the renewable resource you think it is. In fact, 36 states anticipate shortages by 2013, according to U.S. government estimates. But the good news is there are multiple ways you can reduce the amount of water you use in the home, which in the end will save you money on your water bill.

There are ways to cut back on the waste with every toilet flush, every time the shower runs or each time vegetables are washed in the sink. The Environmental Protection Agency promotes water efficiency and enhances the market for efficient products, programs and practices using the WaterSense label.

Several manufacturers that actively support WaterSense are taking the federal mandate of 1.6 gallons of water per flush to a new level. Kohler Co. has developed toilets which use only one gallon of water, and there are several models available at the 1.28 gallons-per-flush level. Dual flush toilets allow users to choose a level of water — 0.8 gallons for liquid wastes and 1.6 gallons for solids — with improved flushing technology, meaning consumers are not going to lose out on performance or design.

If the average family of four people changes their old, 3.5 gallons-per-flush toilet for a high efficiency, 1.28 gallons-per-flush toilet, they could save 20,000 gallons of water a year. If every household did the same thing, more than 1 billion gallons of water would be saved.

“Homeowners are wanting energy-efficient appliances to save money around the home, and they shouldn’t overlook plumbing products,” says Master Plumber and Contractor Ed Del Grande, host of “Ed The Plumber” on the Do It Yourself Network. “By replacing toilets with newer models that flush much less water, but still perform to expectations, an average family can save a lot of water. And we know that performance cannot be overstated. What good is a water-saving toilet if you have to flush twice?”

But toilets are just the start. The standard rate of water flow in the shower is 2.5 gallons per minute. That can be cut in third by installing a high-efficiency showerhead, and many shower heads can be adjusted to get the high-pressure power massage, if wanted.

The third water-saving opportunity in every household takes the least amount of work. Faucet aerators are the screens water passes through as it leaves the spout. The replacement of a 2.2-gallons-per-minute aerator with a 1.5-gallons-per-minute aerator reduces water usage by 30 percent.

If you are curious about how much water you are using in your home, visit www.savewateramerica.com to take a brief quiz that will help determine usage and identify ways to save water in your home. For each person who takes the quiz, Kohler will donate $1 in water-saving products to Habitat For Humanity for use in their homes.

Cut Potential Exposure To Cancer-Causing Agents By Filtering Your Water At Home

atlanta home inspection

Home water filtration is no longer just about taste. People increasingly rely on it for healthy home benefits.

In fact, home water filtering devices should be used to decrease exposure to potential health hazards according to the President’s Cancer Panel (PCP). This panel reports to the president of the United States and is charged with developing and executing strategies to reduce the “unacceptable burden of cancer” on Americans.

Specifically, the report states: “Individuals and families have many opportunities to reduce or eliminate chemical exposures. For example, filtering home tap or well water can decrease exposure to numerous known or suspected carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.” Further, the panel asserts, “unless the home water source is known to be contaminated, it is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.”

While the PCP acknowledges that further study is needed to determine the full range of cancer risk associated with environmental exposure, Water Quality Association Executive Director Peter J. Censky says that home water treatment is a proven final barrier against many harmful chemicals.

“Filtration is a simple step toward better health for you and your family that can provide proven results. Many filters undergo rigorous third-party testing to prove their abilities to effectively remove contaminants,” says Keith Brown, senior technology advisor with leading filtration manufacturer Kinetico.

Some common filtration options, however, do not provide adequate defense against contaminants that may lead to cancer. While many water carafes and faucet mounts are effective at removing common water impurities, often these types of filters only employ a carbon filter that is not proven to trap many of the complex organic compounds like the endocrine disrupters mentioned in the PCP’s report.

“Some of these compounds require more sophisticated filtration options because of their unique chemical properties,” Brown says. These systems filter water at the point of use for drinking and cooking. They are generally placed under the kitchen sink but can be installed in basements, garages or wherever else is convenient.

“Homeowners concerned about what could be in their water should first research their water source and have it tested. If those investigations or the test results determine a need for water treatment, they should consider using a reverse osmosis drinking water system,” says Brown. “It forces water through a membrane with pores about 50,000 times smaller than a human hair. The contaminants get rejected by the filter and you’re left with water that is nearly free from all impurities.”

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency, recommends reverse osmosis (RO) systems to most effectively remove a larger number of contaminants that may be in water. RO systems have also been proven by the American Water Works Association and many university studies to effectively remove endocrine disruptors.

“The filtration system best suited to any particular home is determined by assessing the quality of the home’s tap water and the level of concern it presents,” Brown says. “Water filtration system dealers will have the resources to help ascertain what concerns are present.”

With a thorough water quality evaluation and the proper filtration system, a tall glass of water can be virtually contaminant free. “And homeowners can rest easy knowing they have taken an important step in creating a healthier environment in their home,” says Brown.

To learn more or to arrange a free in-home water quality analysis, visit www.kinetico.com or call (800) 944-9283.

Courtesy of ARA

Being ‘Green’ Doesn’t Have To Break The Bank

Everyone knows “being green” helps save the environment. However, many Americans have a misconception that it’s impossible to protect the planet and save money, too. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Earth911, more than 35 percent of Americans stated “money” was the one thing holding them back from being green.

Whether it’s turning off the water while brushing your teeth, unplugging electronics when they’re not in use or turning off the lights when you leave the room, adopting an environmentally friendly lifestyle on a budget is easier than you think. Below are a few simple ideas from Walmart to make green living a part of your lifestyle.

*Consider buying locally grown food to reduce the carbon emissions produced by long-distance transport.

*Install water filters on your tap-water faucets. This reduces plastic bottle waste and may save you money in the long run.

*Use rechargeable batteries and recycle your disposable ones to keep them out of landfills.

*Pack lunches to cut down on takeout containers. Bringing lunch rather than buying takeout at work or school will also save your family money.

*Recycle your old eyeglasses by donating them to charity. Your eye doctor may even accept used glasses, as many practices now have their own programs.

Like budget-conscious moms, leading retailers are finding that simple measures can mean big savings – both for the environment and consumers’ pocketbooks. Walmart reduces waste, energy and fuel consumption, and overall costs – which provides another avenue for offering the lowest prices possible to consumers on everything from organic produce to electronics.

For example, Walmart offers families its Marketside organic lettuce at the same price as regular lettuce by buying in bulk, fully loading its trucks directly at farms and cutting down on transportation costs.

“Whether it’s increasing our own energy efficiency or eliminating 100 million miles from our truck fleet, Walmart is constantly looking for innovative ideas to help protect the environment,” says Matt Kistler, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. “Our sustainable business practices add up to millions of dollars in cost savings, which helps us offer thousands of new product Rollbacks throughout the store. In addition to saving customers money at the register, we are also working to carry products that save our customers money through lower utility bills.”

Other examples of Walmart’s focus on the environment include:

*Leveraging sunshine to help reduce energy costs by installing clean, efficient solar panels at some of its facilities.

*Using less cardboard on its cereal box shipping cartons, saving over 3,000 tons of wood and more than $1 million annually.

*Saving more than 900,000 pounds of plastic last year through a new design on its Great Value cutlery.
 
For more environmentally-friendly tips or information on the many ways Walmart works to deliver everyday low prices to its customers, visit www.walmart.com/green.

Courtesy of ARA