As Penelope Green reported in The New York Times on Wednesday, more and more homebuilders are outfitting new construction with gas-powered generators. Whereas they might once have been considered “a little overkill,” buyers are now starting to see these machines as desirable fail-safes, especially after Hurricane Irene (and a recent, rare October snowstorm in the Northeast) knocked out the electricity in so many areas.
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As a kid growing up, I remember visiting my grandparents’ house and heading straight for granddad’s garage. It was immaculate, had all kinds of fun stuff, and everything was ALWAYS in its place. He didn’t have closets where he could hide everything from A to Z, but he did have Pegboard from floor to ceiling. It was a dull brownish shade and definitely not pretty, but it did serve the purpose of keeping all of his Sears tools organized, visible and always at the ready.
Although Pegboard—popularized in the 1950s—has taken a back seat to more recent storage/organizing innovations, it is still a clever, simple, and inexpensive way to keep everything from tools to crafts to kitchen cookware and utensils in place.
We were so close. The cabinets were in place, the appliances and lights installed, and we’d moved in—our beautiful new countertop and backsplash were now truly work areas. We’d had our first home-cooked meals again and had been enjoying our icemaker and water dispenser (cold water, after eight months!). We’d sent out the invitations to a little cocktail party to thank our friends and neighbors for eight months of support (dinners when we couldn’t cook; play dates when we needed the kids out of the house for a few hours; the use of their driveways when we had three contractors at the house at the same time).
All that was left was the final coat of finish on the oak floors. We’d had the stain and first coat put on before the cabinets went in, but waited on the final coat until everything was done, so the finisher could buff out any of the inevitable scratches from the installation. That was set for Tuesday, leaving us four full days to get ready for our Saturday soiree—doing the wall hangings, final painting, and all the other finishing touches we didn’t want to put in place before the sanding machine was done kicking up dust.
Are you tired of using a brush and messing with a tray whenever you paint? Consider investing in a paint spray gun. Some of the newer models are a great value and can save you time on your next paint job. But it does take a little practice to learn how to use these tools properly.
A spray gun works great for coating uneven surfaces like door frames and window shutters, but because properly cleaning one takes a considerable amount of time and effort, you might want to consider using a sprayer exclusively for bigger jobs.
Sure, the majority of birds head south for the winter, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop buying birdseed. According to the Audubon Society, more than a hundred bird species supplement their natural diets with food offered at feeders, and in winter, when food is scarce, human assistance is especially important. Feeders also provide pit stops for birds on the way to warmer climates, or returning home when spring finally arrives. Providing for your feathered friends means offering fresh water, shelter, and the right mix of quality seed.
To battle the cold, birds need a high calorie, high fat birdseed mix. If you incorporate only one bird feeder into your yard, go with a sunflower-seed tube feeder that has metal ports around the seed dispensers—these will attract small birds like chicadees, titmice, nuthatches, and goldfinches. Hang feeders at least five feet off the ground, and for your own enjoyment, near a window.
The construction of 2020 Alton Road, a 3,200 square foot, single-family residence in Miami Beach pursuing a LEED Platinum rating is well underway, and the ground floor has just been completed. Before the concrete could be poured, however, a series of preparations were made and underground systems were installed all in accordance with the rigorous guidelines of the LEED for Homes green building certification program.
According to contractor Robert Arkin and developer Matt Lahn of the Florida Green Home Design Group, at this point in the process, the 2020 Alton Road project is tracking high marks. With respect to the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), the house has a 92% projected energy efficiency rate.
Cooktops that use magnets to generate heat. Lawn trimmers without wheels. Dishwashers for outdoors.
Innovation is happening all over home improvement. It’s inspiring to us here at BobVila.com to see companies invest the best of their creative energies to address home improvement needs. We know our readers invest a lot of time and energy in their do-it-yourself projects, after all. But how do you sort through the ever-growing number options?
Here are three trends that Bob has followed throughout his career. We think they are particularly relevant today, and focusing on them is a good way to make the most of your time and budget:
If you haven’t checked out Tim Allen’s new ABC comedy sitcom, Last Man Standing, you should. He’s an awfully funny guy and the show is produced very much like his very successful Home Improvement was—in front of a live studio audience. In a recent Los Angeles Times interview, Tim himself referred to the new show as “comfort food for the entertainment industry.”
I can’t remember when I first painted a room, but I was pretty young. Finding out that I was capable of improving my surroundings, and realizing how gratifying that is for me, was probably my entryway into a lifetime of home improvement. I’m guessing I’m not alone here—painting is a relatively easy task for the do-it-yourselfer, and I’ll bet a lot more of us try our hands at painting than, say, rewiring or plumbing!
That’s not to say it’s a snap—there’s a reason why there are professional painters, and it’s not just because it’s hard work. Doing a passable DIY job is one thing, but there’s nothing like a professionally painted room, with its perfect edges and corners, and without lumps, bumps, and color shifts.
There were three reasons why our top-of-the-line kitchen remodel included a DIY paint job. The first was the expense—we’d gone considerably over our original budget during this long project, and the thought of writing out yet another big check to a painter was a little daunting. The second was that the job was taking so much longer than planned that I wanted to get a jump on things—I just couldn’t bear the thought of the contractor finishing up and then facing another month of painting. The third was that the painting really had to begin before the contractor was finished (although I suspect he might disagree with that).