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Planning a Functional Outdoor Kitchen

Planning a Functional Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen RemodelToday, outdoor entertainment means much more than barbecue grills and patio furniture. On average, Orange County residents are spoiled with more than 280 days of sunshine a year, which is why these outdoor spaces have taken on the name “California Rooms”.  California rooms have become an extension of our homes, and most include outdoor kitchens for entertaining. Custom outdoor kitchens can include pizza ovens, wet bars, refrigerators, cook top burners, smokers, and warming drawers.

Remodeling and designing your outdoor kitchen can be a dream come true. Not only does it add value to your home, but if you like to have people over and enjoy entertaining, odds are you will be using your outdoor kitchen for more than just the occasional barbeque. Your outdoor California room can include anything you can dream up – large family dining tables, comfy couches in front of a built-in fireplace, televisions, bars, you name it. The days of running back and forth from the backyard to the kitchen are over. You can now eat and relax with guests, all while enjoying our great weather.

While one can dream of their perfect outdoor entertaining area, it may be harder to put together a cohesive design and plan than you think. Work with a designer to discuss your kitchen remodel and your vision, and let them handle the design, structural plans, material details and execution.

Two design elements that are paramount to client satisfaction, is having enough counter space in order to prep and serve food, as well as making sure that you have functional storage to avoid the trip back to the kitchen indoors. Make sure your design does not isolate the cook from the rest of the party; there is nothing worse than getting stuck with grill duty while hearing everyone else having a blast!

Lastly, choosing the right furniture and layout for your outdoor space will keep your guests entertained, and your soiree running smoothly, so you can thoroughly enjoy the festivities, too.  Happy planning!

How to Maximize Limited Living Space

How to Maximize Limited Living Space

Whether it’s a kitchen, bathroom or family room, transitioning a small space from frustrating to fantasy is absolutely achievable. No matter the part of the home, maximizing limited living space always starts with defining your goals for that particular area. Do you have a small kitchen, but you love to entertain? Have you found yourself with a lack of sitting space for those friends and family members who drop by? Or maybe you feel the walls closing in on you in the master bedroom? Before pulling your hair out, try picturing your limited living area from a new perspective.

Create Zones

Designating specific areas of your limited living space to the different activities helps to stop the chaos brought upon by small spaces. This does not necessarily mean creating zones though a residential remodel. The smallest changes can make a big difference!  Even adding a coat rack to the entry way in hopes that jackets won’t get tossed here, there and everywhere. Or even eliminating the kitchen table to allow for better flow for entertaining. While optimizing your small space, don’t be afraid to add or eliminate furnishings. Just be sure that in doing so, you’re adding value to your use within the space.

Let the Light in

If your limited space allows for natural light, embrace it! There is nothing like some Southern California sunshine to create the illusion of a bigger space. For those spaces with limited opportunity for natural light, brightness can be obtained through limiting dark furniture to accent pieces. Moreover, choosing a light paint color for the walls adds an element of freshness to the room.

Think Vertically

When done right, vertical storage can be a lifesaver! No matter how small or large, everyone has that one spot in their home that they just don’t know what to do with. Rather than adding a functionless table or chairs to that area, add vertical storage! It might take time to find the perfect storage piece for that awkward shaped space, but the work is worth the reward. What was once dead space in the home, is now the needed addition to store items that do not see everyday use.

Don’t Overdo It

Clean lines and minimalistic style furniture will shine in a limited living area. In confined spaces with design overload, the eye gets overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to look first! We may not even realize it, but design overload ads to the uneasy feeling of small spaces. Practical, and simple storage is especially essential when considering a bathroom remodel. Keep it simple and you’ll find your small space inviting and charming while entertaining friends or family.

 

SLASH ENERGY COSTS IN YOUR HOME REMODEL

SLASH ENERGY COSTS IN YOUR HOME REMODEL

If you’re considering a home remodel in Orange County, you may want to think about ways to incorporate upgrades that will reduce your energy bills. With a large project scope that involves opening or moving walls, just bringing your home up to current building codes will provide dramatic improvements to energy usage. But overhauls of drafty windows, under insulated walls and timeworn cooling and heating systems will minimize monthly bills and keep your family more comfortable year-round.

I bet you’re wondering, “Where do I even start?” Well, there would be little point in installing a high-efficiency HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) system without first sealing up the exterior of your home. First, consider what time of insulation you are willing to invest in. Spray foam insulation is roughly two to three times the cost of your standard fiberglass batting, but offers two to three times the effectiveness. The spray seals every nook and cranny, creating an air barrier, eliminating drafts. You also need to remember that a wall is only as airtight as its windows.

If you’re in the market for a new HVAC system, consider one that uses hot water as the “fuel” to heat the air stream—it’s about 96 more efficient—better than any furnace. The best feature is that it adjusts both the water temperature and the fan speed according to the system’s sensors. The equipment keeps up-to-the-minute track of weather conditions and the zones within the house demanding airflow. To expand on this, a favorite energy saver are the Nest thermostats. Using complex sensors, the Nest will learn your family’s routine and constantly reprogram based on real-time data. Each one can also be set up manually either in the home, or from a smart phone allowing you to alter your home’s environment from the road. The unit is said to reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent.

With just a couple upgrades and modifications, it’s easy to have more energy efficient home and watch those energy bills drop right before your eyes!

HOME SAFETY CHECKLIST

HOME SAFETY CHECKLIST

 

Summer is a great time to tackle those home-improvement projects, such as painting the dining room or installing new fixtures. Why not add a few to-dos that will prevent larger remodeling fixes in the future? These projects don’t require much time or money, and they could help you avoid having to make a homeowners insurance claim or calling in a general contractor to solve the problem after its too late.

Check plumbing for leaks in the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the laundry room

Cost: Free
Time: Up to an hour
Materials needed: None

Why you should do it: The largest number of homeowners insurance claims are due to water damage caused by broken pipes and supply lines. If you catch a leak early on, you can have the plumbing repaired before the drip becomes a deluge. Check everywhere, from the water heater to behind the refrigerator to inside the toilet tank; any faulty connection can lead to flooding.

Inspect all electric cords in your house

Cost: Free, or $30-$50 if you need new cords or surge protectors
Time: 30 minutes
Materials needed: New surge protectors and cords, if necessary

Why you should do it: Damaged electric cords and overloaded outlets can cause failure to the fixture, appliance, or receptacle they are connected to. Since power strips and extension cords tend to be hidden behind large pieces of furniture, many people don’t see the safety hazard until it’s too late. Be sure to check behind entertainment centers, computer desks, and anywhere else you use a lot of electronics, and replace damaged cords. If you find that circuit breakers in your home trip periodically, evaluate outlets and power strips to make sure they are not overloaded. If you have more than two fixtures or appliances plugged into one outlet, use surge protectors.

Safeguard your garage

Cost: Free
Time: Up to an hour
Materials needed: None

Why you should do it: To reduce fire risk, make sure your lawn mower, gas-powered tools, paint, and extra portable gas tanks are as far away as possible from the pilot light of a furnace or water heater.

Change the batteries in your smoke detectors, and place fire extinguishers in strategic places

Cost: $10-$15 for batteries, about $18 per extinguisher
Time: $15-$45 minutes, depending on how many smoke detectors you have
Materials needed: Batteries, a ladder, and possibly new detectors

Why you should do it: Smoke alarms provide the best early warning signal of a fire in your house. If you can detect the fire quickly, you can minimize the damage. In the kitchen, store a dry chemical Class B or Class ABC fire extinguisher near the stove to put out grease fires (never use water) and make sure it is new and operable.

 

Re-published from AAA Westways Magazine, June 2012 edition.

ROOM EDITION REMODEL BEWARE!

ROOM EDITION REMODEL BEWARE!

It may come as a surprise that there are many methods for calculating the square footage for a home addition or remodeling project. We receive many calls asking What is the price per square foot for a room addition? And over the phone, we aren’t comfortable giving you an answer.In fact, if anyone can, we strongly urge you to proceed with caution.  Without seeing your home how can a contractor have a thorough understanding of what you are looking to do, where the structural elements are in your home are and what will truly be involved?

Electrical, plumbing, engineering, architecture these are just a few of the things that will adjust the cost of an addition. That’s not the only issue you run into when trying to receive a square foot price over the phone – different contractors calculate square footage differently.

Discrepancies occur when including (or omitting) porches and screened-in decks, basements, attic spaces and garages. Was the square footage occupied by a staircase counted once or twice?  Then there’s the question of where the measurement is taken from. Some home improvement contractors may only include the space inside the walls. Other times, the calculation is based on taking measurements from outside of the wall framing (which adds the square footage represented in the wall thickness.)

As a homeowner looking to remodel, you need to consider the quality of materials used by different remodelers, as does the costs charged by the remodeler’s sub-contractors such as electricians, plumbers and painters. Every week at Sea Pointe Construction we have company-wide meetings involving design consultants, production managers and support staff to talk about products and projects. This helps us to consistently learn what works best in design and in the field.

Finally, what’s included in one contractors’ estimate will vary from what’s included in another contractor’s estimate. It’s virtually impossible to get an apples for apples comparison between two buildering contractors, and even if you could control most of the variables by having the design finalized and all products selected, there are still the differences in quality and customer service to be considered.Don’t be afraid to show the company that may have what seem like higher prices the lower quote and have them point out the differences between their quote and your second bidder. That way you can make an informed decision on what route will be best for you.

So beware of comparing two home improvement estimates solely on the basis of cost per square foot – they are all not created equal!