Spring is a time of renewal, remodeling

Spring is most certainly in the air. Temperatures are warming, color is popping and the sense of renewal abounds. Those neighbors you haven’t seen since last October are out in their yards again. People are walking, kids are playing, and the sound of hammering fills the air as many folks renew via remodeling. It’s just that time of year.

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It’s the remodeling part that gets me most excited, Based on a recent study conducted online by Harris Poll and commissioned by CertainTeed, when asked which one factor is most important to homeowners when completing an exterior home improvement project, 39 percent cited curb appeal, 26 percent cited return on investment, and 21 percent noted impact on outdoor living and lifestyle considerations.

The survey also supports what we at CertainTeed have known for some time, that color is every bit as exciting as it is confusing. In fact, 40 percent of U.S. homeowners admit they are not quite sure which colors would work best on the exterior of their homes. 11 percent admit to being color “clueless” and don’t know where to begin when selecting colors for their home. Having spent a lot of time and energy on color science, this is something we get. We’ve actually built an interactive design center so that homeowners can explore, get inspired and gain confidence in their color selection. The online tool allows users to play around with different design and color combinations of siding, roofing, trim and more. It’s a fun tool to check out even if you’re not in the market for remodeling.

Beyond exterior home improvement projects, however, the Harris Poll survey reveals some telling facts about those out-of-sight, out-of-mind renovations that tend to get brushed over. One in five U.S. house owners (19 percent) give little to no consideration to insulation when planning a kitchen remodel or home addition. Even more – one in four – say the same about drywall. This is interesting because, According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we Americans spend 90 percent of our time indoors where thermal comfort and air quality matter quite a bit. The good news is by choosing high-performance insulation and formaldehyde-absorbing drywall, homeowners have more control over energy savings and indoor pollutants like mold and VOCs than they may think. It’s always advisable to work with qualified contractors who can speak to these issues and who stock quality brands and products.

While I’m on the topic of home remodeling, video entries are now being accepted for CertainTeed’s annual Living Spaces Home Makeover Contest.  It may just help you or someone you know undertake that remodeling project that is so desperately needed. The winner gets a $100,000 grand prize, which includes $75,000 worth of building products, including professional installation and $25,000 to help cover taxes. So get the family together, shoot a fun video and enter to win by May 31. For more information and complete contest details, visit www.CertainTeed.com/DesignCenter.

Happy springtime remodeling!

Tax Day Preparedness: Investing in Smart Home Renovations

BathMI_D9_BnB_flatThere’s no doubt that filing taxes can be a daunting challenge, but a refund check from the IRS comes with a lot of exciting possibilities. Pursuing home improvement projects this spring will be a great way to revamp your home after enduring a long, dreary winter. Plus, there are tax credits available that offer financial incentives to make your house energy efficient – giving you even more reason to invest in your home this Tax Day.

According to the ENERGY STAR® program, renovations such as installing quality insulation or adding a solar reflective roof can help save money on utility bills. Pursuing these updates increase the beauty and curb appeal of your home and also enhance its value.

If a reroof is in your future, make sure to choose products that are designed for optimum performance that can withstand the elements. There are various roofing designs, styles and texture options that allow you to create a unique look.

Did you know the material surrounding the exterior and interior of your home can contribute to its efficiency and strength? Insulated vinyl siding provides thermal performance and protection against noise infiltration, and new insulation batt technology can help to manage the moisture found within a home. If that’s not enough, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association says spending $1 on insulation will save $12 in energy costs.

Renovations don’t have to stop at the walls of a residence. In fact, there are many opportunities to develop your home’s outdoor living spaces. New curved railing and gate options offer a decorative design that will accentuate the beauty of a homeowner’s yard while providing complete privacy. By investing in vinyl decking or fence, you can enjoy the warm weather or entertain guests, without having to worry about the hassle of continuous repair.

Last minute filers should keep available tax credits in mind. The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 allows homeowners who upgraded their insulation last year to take a federal tax credit on their 2015 returns. The credit is up to 10 percent of the cost of the insulation with a maximum lifetime credit of $500. For information on other tax credits offered by the IRS, visit www.irs.gov.

 

Architecture Week is the Perfect Opportunity to Take Notice of the Sounds Around Us

This month, many local chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) from Washington, D.C., to Spokane, Washington, will be observing Architecture Week by reflecting on the buildings around us and the great minds behind them. Drawing inspiration from art, nature and history, architects are responsible for shaping the environment in which we work, learn and play every day. As such, those designs have a profound impact on the way we live.

Architects are charged with balancing beauty with practicality, form with function. Often overlooked in the pursuit of breathtaking aesthetics is the potential impact acoustics can have on a space. Out of sight, out of mind—until you discover your son or daughter isn’t able to understand their teacher due to a noisy classroom, or a loved one recovering from surgery can’t get any sleep amidst the hustle and bustle of a hospital corridor.

As the manufacturer of multiple products designed to contain and/or absorb unwanted sound, we’ve come to know a thing or two about how acoustics impact the wellbeing and productivity of a building’s occupants. In fact, we’ve developed a campaign aimed at raising awareness of these very issues among the architects and designers whose efforts will shape our built environment for years to come. That effort—Down With Decibels—and its associated website, www.nonoisenow.com, offers powerful stories and research-derived information on how noise adversely affects those who spend their days in buildings that are acoustically inefficient.

So this month, when the architectural community ponders its impact on the world, I would encourage anyone responsible for designing the interiors of our schools, office buildings, and hospitals to consider how noise affects all of us, every day. Then stop by our site and sign a pledge to “restore the silence.” We’ll all be grateful to you for it.

Breathe in, breathe out – do you know what’s in your building’s air?

RinaldiHomesDid you know that people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors? While most people are aware that outdoor pollution can damage health, many do not know that indoor air pollutants can have the same effect. Awareness is growing among North American homebuilders and remodelers about the importance of indoor air quality in residential construction and remodeling. CertainTeed is making strides to build partnerships that support the sustainable, energy-efficient products that enhance indoor air quality.

One of those partnerships is with Mike Holmes, a trusted contractor and long-time advocate for healthy homes. CertainTeed’s AirRenew® Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Gypsum Board is one of a select few Holmes-Approved products, offering a solution for healthier interior environments in residential construction and remodeling projects. Volatile Organic compounds(VOCs) are often introduced into the home by the off-gassing of new furniture, paint, carpeting and even air fresheners. AirRenew proactively absorbs formaldehyde and converts it into safe, inert compounds. Made from recycled material, it’s also GREENGUARD® Gold certified and can contribute to recycled materials and innovation in design credits for green projects.

Rinaldi Homes, an official Holmes Approved Homes Partner Builder, recently initiated a program that implements Holmes’ mandate in new-home construction and sustainable building. The program includes using specific building products, installation methods and building practices to ensure enhanced durability, energy-efficiency, resistance, sound protection, and higher indoor air quality – without sacrificing beautiful home design.

The upscale development consists of 26 bungalow townhomes situated in a private cul-de-sac in Mississauga, Ontario. The community showcases Rinaldi’s expertise in creating enviable, sustainable living spaces.

So the question is – are you happy with the air you are breathing in your home?

Range Hoods with Fire Suppression Systems vs Residential Sprinklers

mElFRFhKH0pOoTU8RZfawHgThe 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) recommended the inclusion of residential sprinklers in all new home construction as added protection from fires.

However, according to a recent FEMA report, about 50 percent of the American home fires between 2002 and 2013 were cooking fires and contained to a specific area of the home.

Rather than requiring the installation of whole house sprinkler systems why don’t we evaluate the impact of range hoods with automatic fire suppression such as those used in commercial kitchens?  This technology is already available for residential kitchens and would not require as drastic a change to the building assembly.

To borrow a quote from Al Franken’s alter ego Stuart Smalley “it’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world”.

 

New Information on Code Changes Requiring Cover Up of Exposed Floor Framing

download (1)In a previous Blog I discussed the change to the Building Codes that requires manufactured wood floor framing to be covered with a 30 minute radiant barrier because they will burn quicker in a fire.  This means covering up those unfinished basement ceilings as a safety precaution.  And as I stated earlier, I strongly recommend that builders be aware of the codes and requirements around this.

However, there are new ways to protect exposed TJI floor framing for fire reasons.  Instead of installing an entire ceiling, you can also install boards along the exposed sides of the web. I have seen this done and while I haven’t done the calculations, this would probably use less material and be more cost efficient than installing the entire ceiling.

I have been following this topic and I urge you to research and make sure you are aware of the options available.

If anyone has found other solutions, please let me know so we can share them with others.

Better Sustainable Habitat -Canada a World Leader

CertainTeed is pleased to introduce Building Knowledge insights that are focused on the Canadian market.  This is the first of many blogs that we will publish with our Canadian experts.

Canada represents the highest gypsum use per capita in the world and contributes significantly to sustainable habitat.  With the implementation of Toronto’s Green Standard (TGS) on January 1, 2014 the game was changed for buildings in Toronto which is the 4th largest city in North America.  This Green Standard mandates energy efficiency that will move the needle significantly and make Toronto a leader in sustainability.

TGS is a two-tier set of performance measures with supporting guidelines related to sustainable site and building design for new private and public developments. Tier One is mandatory and requires an increase in energy efficiency by 15 percent.  Tier Two, which is voluntary, requires a 25 percent increase in energy efficiency above the Ontario Building Code for Part 3 large buildings which is the highest in North America.

Toronto skyline

TORONTO (HIGH-RISE CAPITAL OF NORTH AMERICA)
WHITE = the project has had preliminary renderings, but no application has been  submitted.
RED = the project has submitted an application to the city.
GREEN = the project has been approved, but has yet to start.
YELLOW = the project is currently in sales.
BLUE = the project is currently under construction

The challenge is to identify solutions at the pre-design stage.  This can be done with various gypsum wallboard products that deliver energy efficiency, improved indoor air quality, better acoustics, mould and moisture control and increased durability with a reasonable percent of window to walls which  significantly improves energy efficiency.

With the ultimate goal of providing superior comfort and health for building occupants manufacturers are solving critical interior problems in buildings and homes through new innovative wallboard solutions.

 

Tide Turns for Home Devastated by Hurricane Sandy

IMG_4853The Sunset Green Home, once a charming 1940s cottage resting five feet above sea level, was damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and decimated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In 2015, however, the tide will turn as it will be rebuilt as a sustainable, energy-efficient home registered through the LEED® for Homes Green Building Program. The certification goal is actually LEED Platinum.

Kim Erle, the homeowner, also happens to be a LEED AP. She and her team of architects and designers recently identified CertainTeed as a company with a range of industry-leading products that would work well in her sustainably built home. We are pleased that AirRenew® Essential Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) gypsum board, FortiCel™ Mold Prevention System, SMARTBATT™ with MoistureSense™ Technology batt insulation, GlasRoc® Diamondback® Tile Backer, and CertaSpray® open and closed cell foam were all specified for this project.

IMG_4722These products are bringing Kim and her family peace of mind. She says mold was visibly rampant in the walls and floorboards when the remains of her cottage-style home were demolished. She’s convinced this mold was there before Hurricane Sandy took out the house. Many of the products she has chosen, including ours, are there to help mitigate her mold concerns. The specified FortiCel, for instance, is a protective coating that is sprayed into the wall cavity to help prevent mold growth on structural framing surfaces. SMARTBATT also helps reduce the potential for mold and mildew growth as it comes with a smart vapor retarder that changes its permeability with the ambient humidity condition. This means the wall can essentially breathe when SMARTBATT senses moisture that needs to be released from within the wall. To further improve indoor air quality, the AirRenew wallboard will actually clean the air in Kim’s house by capturing VOCs and converting them into safe, inert compounds that safely remain within the board for up to 75 years.

Her home will be under construction through June, at which time the family hopes to move in for the summer. Check out her blog for updates on the project. It’s a great study on residential LEED design and construction.

Q and A at International Builders’ Show (IBS) with CertainTeed Expert Kelly Warren

During IBS our Meet the Experts sessions gave show attendees the opportunity to get their questions answered.  Our MC, Ted Brunson pitches the following question to Kelly Warren, Senior Product Manager, Insulation

Explain what SMARTBATT™ is and the technology behind it?

Kelly and TedSMARTBATT is a kraft-faced insulation product that has an integrated vapor retarder in the product.  Not only does it protect your home from moisture entering the cavity in the winter but it opens to become vapor permeability in the spring and summer to allow vapor to escape the cavity. It is the best way to avoid moisture and mold from building up within the walls. The product senses the changes in the relative humidity causing the spray-applied coating to change molecular structure allowing the product to open and close and breathe based on ambient temperatures.

It is more important now with the changes in the building codes and the movement toward an air tight envelope. When you get to this level of air tightness it becomes extremely important to manage the moisture vapor in the home.

Q and A at International Builders’ Show (IBS) with Expert Ron Hazelton

During IBS our Meet the Experts sessions gave show attendees the opportunity to get their questions answered.  Our MC, Ted Brunson talked with TV’s “House Calls” host Ron Hazelton

What trends are you seeing with regard to Home Improvement?

???????????????????????????????One of the reasons I enjoy coming to shows like IBS is because consumers are becoming very savvy buyers. They spend much more time researching products for their home than depending on building professionals only to guide their buying decisions.

I am always looking for new products that solve problems in the home such as indoor air quality, acoustics, energy savings and comfort to share with my viewers if I believe that they will benefit them and their homes.  CertainTeed always has innovative products that I can share with my viewers whether they are building professionals, DIYers or consumers.