Home Construction and Remodeling

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1 JUSTIN KRUG , SHUTTERSTOCK KITCHEN TRENDS TO WATCH REMODELING Home Construction cooking!Now we’re Building your DREAM HOME Viva magenta! Audacious color Sunday, April 30, 2023




Formosthomebuyers, their dream homes are not something they’re likely to find already on the market. With a unique vision of your dream home’s look, location and features, building a custom home is generally the easiestwaytomakethatdreamareality.

To keep things moving as smoothlyaspossibleamidwhatcan

beacomplicatedprocess,consider these tips as you embark on the journey.

Set a realistic budget

You’llneedtostartbydetermining how much you can spend on your house. Typically, the cost of building a home is around $100$200 per square foot, according to researchfromHomeAdvisor.You’ll alsoneedtoaccountforthelotprice as well as design fees, taxes, per-


mits, materials and labor. Materialsandlaborshouldmakeupabout 75% of the total amount spent,but it’s wise to build in a buffer for price changes and overages. While building your budget, consider whatitemsandfeaturesare“musthaves”and things that should only be included if your budget allows.

Identify perfect location

Think about where you’d like to live and research comparable lots

andpropertiesinthoseareas,which cangive you a better idea of costs

Because the features of many dreamhomesrequireawiderfootprint, you may need to build outside of city limits,which can make naturalgasmoredifficulttoaccess.

Consider propane instead, which can do everything natural gas can andgowherenaturalgascannotor where it is cost prohibitive to run a natural gas line. Propane also reducesdependenceontheelectrical

grid, and a propane standby generator can safeguard your family if there is a power outage

“As a real estate agent and builder, I have the pleasure of helping families select their dream homes,” said Matt Blashaw, residential contractor, licensed real estate agent and host of HGTV’s “BuilditForward”“Thehomeswe design and build are frequently in propane country,or off the natural gasgrid.Propanemakesitpossible

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to build an affordable and comfortable, high-performing indoor living spaces and dynamic outdoor entertaining areas”

Universal design

Many homebuyers want to ensure their space is accessible to family members and guests both now and for decades to come. As the housing market slows and mortgage rates rise, buyers may look to incorporate features that allow them to age in place. Incorporating principles of universal design – the ability of a space to be understood, accessed and used by people regardless of their age or ability – can make it possible to still enjoy your home even if mobility, vision or other challenges arise as you age

Alternative energy sources

With today’s electric grid, more than two-thirds of the energy is wasted; it never

reaches homes. Unlike electricity, propane is stored in a large tank either above or below ground on the property. A 500-gallon tank can hold enough propane to meet the annual energy needs of an average single-family home – enough to power major systems in a home.

Propane pairs well with other energy sources, including grid electricity and on-site solar, which makes it a viable option for dual-energy homes.

Like natural gas, propane can power major appliances such as your furnace, water heater, clothes dryer, fireplace, range and standby generator Often, propane works more efficiently with fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electricity, meaning your home is cleaner for the environment.

Build expert team

Hiring the right people can make the process of turning your dream into reality go

much smoother. Start by researching reputable builders, paying special attention to the types of homes they build to find a style that matches what you’re looking for as well as price ranges for past homes they’ve built Consider how long the builders have been in business and if they’re licensed and insured.

Depending on your builder’s capabilities, you may also need to hire an architect or designer. In addition to your real estate agent to assist with purchasing the lot and selling your previous home,you may need assistance from other professionals, such as a real estate attorney, landscape architect and propane supplier. A local propane supplier can work with the builder to install a properly sized propane storage tank either above or below ground and connect appliances

Find more ideas for building your dream home at Propane. com.



The kitchen is a home’s hub, heart and command center. Here’s a look at what’s new in kitchen design and outfitting:


For a few years now, the monotone,all-white kitchen has been popular, with Instagram feeds full of whiteand-cream cabinetry and pale woods. It looked clean, and like it meant business –a culinary clinic, if you will, and a far cry from the mid2000s combo of cherry cabinets and granite counters.

But there’s a shift. The standard, nickel-plated hardware in a white kitchen might now be replaced with matte black and brass, or knobs and faucets in bright hues.

Whites are getting creamier, less cool. You’ll see woods, vegan leather and rattan as textural elements to warm things up.

“The classic all-white kitchen is as relevant as it ever was, but there’s a new need and demand for color,” says Bob Bakes, co-founder and head of design for Bakes & Kropp, a kitchen design and custom cabinetry firm in New York City

He’s recently used sky blue, stone gray and a red called geranium on kitchen projects, and a glossy black in a butler’s pantry.

Betty Brandolino,founder and creative director of Fresh Twist Studio in Elmhurst, Illinois, sees a similar move toward color. “White isn’t out, but we are implementing painted or natural wood islands as opposed to an allwhite kitchen,” she says.

Some clients are asking for entire kitchens with painted cabinets, she says: “Green has been the color of choice, ranging from sage to olive and even a brighter green.”


“I’m excited to see that people are becoming more experimental in their design choices, from mixing metals tointegratingavarietyoftextures,” Bakes says.

Lightingisonewaytobring personalityandmodernityto kitchens. Recessed can lights are still with us, but there’s now a lot of statement lighting, too: a row of pendants

or a supersize fixture over an island, for example.

While subway tile still dominates backsplashes, some are tweaking how it’s used.“For example,applying them in unexpected patterns such as vertically instead of horizontally, and stacked instead of staggered,” Erin Davis,adesignerinPortland,

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A pantry room with cabinetry in satin-finished Midnight Dream paint. Counters and backsplash are quartz, providing an attractive counterpoint. ALLYSON LUBLOW/BAKES & KROPP VIA AP
cooking! Now we’re
New color, cubbies, connectivity in kitchen
Please see KITCHENS, Page 6
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From Page 4

Oregon, noted on the real estate platform Homelight, Big sections of ceramic tile are also popular. New tech has allowed makers to make large but thinner, lighter slabs that are easier to work with. And fewer grout lines mean they’re easier to clean.

Bring personality to the backsplash with patterned and textured tile; there are florals, geometrics, metallics and mural tiles that make an artsy background. And you don’t need to buy a lot – create a feature wall on the back of an island, around an office nook, or intersperse custom art tiles with regular ones. Some designers are carrying the tile from the wall down

across the floor, for an eyecatching look.

Open plan

The pandemic made us choose sides when it comes to kitchen layouts. You either embraced an open plan, where everyone could easily interact, or you were grateful for your closed-room kitchen, where some could cook without disturbing

others who were studying or on Zoom calls.

“We’re still seeing a desire for open floor plans,” Bakes says. “I don’t think the need to separate the kitchen is making a return quite yet.”

But there are tweaks to the open plan. One example is butler’s pantries – an adjunct space to the main kitchen where mess-making can take place and gear


“We’re designing more hidden pantries for appliances like toaster ovens, mixers and extra dishes,” Brandolino notes. “This also allows us to incorporate more open shelving and less overhead cabinetry, which is a trend we’ll see more of in the coming year.”

Mary Maydan, principal at Maydan Architects in Palo

Alto, California, says minimalist islands are a hot look.

“They aren’t a new trend, but they are becoming even more sleek. New technologies and hardware enable us to design islands that look exceptionally clean and sleek. And with this new hardware, we can have large doors that conceal parts of the kitchen like counters, appliances and even kitchen

ABOVE: Cold Spring Harbor kitchen with hutch cabinetry and a coffee bar painted in Benjamin Moore’s fresh, cheerful Geranium, with white Farrow & Ball’s lime White on the island and perimeter cabinets. large lighting fixtures, like these from Hudson lighting, add punctuation to the dramatic yet homey overall design.

RIGHT: a sleek, modern kitchen combining Bakes & Kropp’s Cucina cabinets in both a high gloss finish


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and a pearl walnut finish, with a brushed steel and walnut range hood. along with integrated refrigerators from Sub-Zero, a Wolf range, and quartz countertops, the kitchen is sophisticated, stylish and highly functional.
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Samsung’s Family Hub allows you to control all of your smart appliances and devices, stream music, mirror your TV, share pictures, search recipes and order groceries The fridge becomes more than a storage appliance and more of a home’s control center.

RIGHT: In architect

Mary Maydan’s family home in Palo Alto, CA, white oak floors by Italian supplier Listone Giordano provide the grounding for a kitchen replete with interesting textural pieces and design highlights in a pleasing palette of white, dark gray and walnut Open shelves and floating box cabinets are artful display elements.

Maydan Architects

custom dining table, chairs by Tonon Italia, a hanging fixture by Sonneman, and gray porcelain slab backsplash.


BOTTOM: A kitchen design with woven Palecek kitchen stools and a striking midnight blue stone island to balance the extensive Shaker-style white and glass cabinetry The brass-toned lining of the pendant fixtures from Circa Lighting is echoed in the cabinet hardware



islandseats.Thelookiscontinuous and homogeneous.”

Material mix

Houzz’sreportsnotedthat homeowners were willing to splurge on countertops, with quartz and porcelain expected to be favorite materials. Engineered quartz combines natural stone and resins to make a strong, impact-resistantmaterial.And porcelaincan’tbescratched, burned or stained. Both can be made to mimic marble, granite, onyx and other stones.

We’reseeinglighterwoods like oak and maple, dark walnut, and even plywood, used as full cabinetry and as accents What’s especially new are the finishes (most are matte) and the mix of materials:woodwithpainted glass,buffedmetal,ceramic


Lewis paired sleek, backpainted glass walls with a floor of rustic, reclaimed wood in a Manhattan galley kitchen. INC Design studio installed an all-steel kitchen cabinet suite from Poliform inaTribecaapartment,then softened the look with marble countertops.


Tech continues to move into the kitchen. Samsung’s Family Hub, for instance, putsafive-screensmartdisplay on the fridge. There’s a cooking screen for shopping lists and recipes, an entertainment screen, a smart homescreen,adigitalcalendar/pinboardandonescreen you can customize


you tap in the fridge door to see what’s inside. Appenabled smaller appliances includeslowcookers,blenders and countertop ovens. Motion-sensitive touchless faucets have been on the market for a few years If you want to take it up a notch, there are “smart” faucets too.

Source: Associated Press


Expert tips for making hardwood floors last forever


Solid hardwood floors are beautiful and timeless, adding value to any property. However, there’s a misconception that real hardwood floors are difficult to maintain The truth is that they can last for decades, as long you follow a few simple steps on a regular schedule

In fact, the time that goes into maintaining hardwood floors isn’t much more extensive than any other flooring material. The key is to practice regular care and cleaning for your hardwood to keep grit and dirt from scratching the wood.

“Hardwood floors are special, and if properly taken care of, you can have a living, organic, premium floor that lasts for generations,” said Jen Meska, director of Merchandising for LL Flooring (formerly Lumber Liquidators). “But

to keep them in top shape, it’s essential to have a regular cleaning schedule and be extra-mindful of any conditions in your home that could damage your floors.”

Tools, tips, and tricks

Meska says to start with the fundamental tools for caring for hardwood flooring: a dust mop for everyday cleaning, a vacuum for weekly cleaning, and a microfiber mop that can get damp (not wet!) for monthly, deep cleaning.

To keep day-to-day dirt and grit off your floors, aim to sweep or vacuum weekly. When using a vacuum for regular cleanings, opt for a soft floor attachment or hardwood setting that disengages the beater bar (this is the bar that rotates when cleaning carpet ) By disengaging it on hardwood and avoiding a vacuum or attachment with hard

bristles, you can avoid any scuffing or scratching of your floors.

If you have heavy furniture placed directly on your hardwood, be sure to use felt pads on the feet to avoid scratches, and replace them regularly. This also includes furniture that is moved frequently, such as dining room chairs

Strive to do a deep clean monthly to ensure you pick up the dirt and grime that inevitably forms over time A great hardwood flooring care set is LL Flooring’s BellawoodFloorCareMaintenance Kit, which comes withabottleoffloorcleaner, a mop head and handle, washable wet mop microfiber pad, dry mop pad and a variety pack of felt pads.

This set is GREENGUARD Gold Certified, which means it’s thirdparty tested for low chemical emissions and therefore

safe to use at home. It’s also urethane-safe and won’t leave a dull-streaky residue on your floors, so they’ll look refreshed when you’re done cleaning.

What to avoid

Relative to most other flooring materials, solid hardwood is sensitive to moisture, whether that be due to wet shoes or just changes in humidity. Therefore, it’s important to keep any amount of standing water off the planks.

That means ditch the traditional mop and bucket, which can leave behind water that could cause your floors to swell, crack or splinter

Another critical thing to avoid is harsh cleaning solutions which include ingredients like chlorine bleach, ammonia, pine oil or undiluted vinegar. These can dull your floors by affecting

the protective finish, causing lasting damage.

By following these simple steps, your hardwood floor should stay in good shape for many years to come.

“The best thing about hardwood flooring is that it’s a sustainable, living,

organic material that takes on its own unique character throughout its lifetime,” said Meska “Each plank is unique and tells its own story, and with the proper care, they can serve as the design foundation of your home for generations.”

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Brick by brick

warm neutralsTextures, colors in home design

trend toward


Over the past year, architectural design saw a surge in natureinspired, earth tones, such as calming shades of blue and green. Homeowners can expect this trend to continue into the coming months, but with warmer, richer colors.

This ongoing interest in warm neutrals with earthy undertones and pink and blush shades is likely to be increasingly popular in 2023 as homeowners become more

adventurous with their color choices as a form of creative expression.

Selecting the right colors for your home project is often influenced by both your personal preferences and the latest design trends. Some contemporary options to consider include:

„ Earth tones: Warmer, natural-looking earth tones are versatile, working seamlessly with just about any design or architectural style of home. Some trending hues include

muted terracotta, green, yellow and plum.

„ Warm neutrals: Although they’re not typically used as statement colors, warm neutrals bring a sense of comfort while also offering an inviting, blank canvas to let individuality flow freely. On-trend options include shades of dark brown, caramel, tan or off-white.

„ Rich, dark colors: These deep, saturated hues can make

a house stand out and look more modern while still offering a nod to warmer hues. Chocolate brown, brick red or dark jade are popular choices for those who prefer rich hues.

„ Pink and blush shades: Various shades of pink, rose and blush will be increasingly popular choices for homeowners exuding a greater sense of

Please see NEUTRALS, Page 10

Brick is often selected for its functional benefits, but it’s also an appealing building product due to its versatile color, texture and size combinations. Color can evoke a certain mood and assist in achieving a desired outcome. Often, architects and designers even incorporate multiple colors or create custom looks by using multiple brick colors and styles.

To help homeowners hone in on the perfect look to match their vision for contemporary design and align with anticipated 2023 color trends, Glen-Gery will introduce its inaugural Brick Color of the Year, a program that showcases trending hues that lend well to trending aesthetics.

Reflecting contemporary earthy, nature-inspired color trends, the Pitt Cafe Series consists of four soft, neutral-toned, versatile bricks, ranging from creamy white to earthtone and brown-gray with highly pronounced textural features. What’s more, the series can be used for both interior and exterior applications for modern or contemporary designs.



From Page 9

self-expression. In home design, look for these colors to appear in coral, pink, red-orange, raspberry or blush tones

„ Sweet pastels: There are signs homeowners are ready to bring colors back into their homes Expect to see sweet pastel shades like soft pink, mint green and light purple in furniture, decor and accessories.


With warm neutrals and earth tones dominating the color palette, both interior and exterior design will depend heavily on texture to add definition. More design choices will move away from faux finishes and instead focus on natural and authentic looks, many of which can be achieved through brick and stone.

Brick and stone give designers options for adding depth and

dimension, integrating a play on light and shadows with a variety of textural elements.

Brick carries a sense of tradition, character and timelessness while also serving as a popular choice for homeowners due to its design flexibility Qualities such as low-maintenance, resilience, durability, sustainability and beauty make brick an option that allows homeowners to balance function with appearance.

Homeowners can find more than 600 brick and stone products with Glen-Gery’s extensive product line that offers endless design possibilities and timeless beauty. From handmade to glazed bricks and everything in between, these building products come in a diverse array of colors, textures and sizes, making it easy to personalize living spaces with the latest design and color trends.

Try a virtual design tool like Picture Perfect, which can help you visualize projects, or find other style inspiration at glengery.com.

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Millions of homeowners decide to remodel each year, rather than move.

The reasons for home remodeling are as varied as the projects:

„ Adding more space.

„ Upgrading cabinets, counters, appliances and fixtures.

„ Creating a floor plan that’s customized for your lifestyle.

„ Improving energy efficiency with new windows, doors, insulation, and climate control systems.

„ Increasing the resale value of your home. Whatever your reason, here are some steps to take to make your remodeling project a success, including why to hire a professional.

1. Develop an idea of what you want to do with your home remodel. Write a prioritized list of your needs and wants. There are many sources to find design ideas for your home remodeling project. Look at magazines and websites and collect pictures of homes or remodeling projects you like. The more clearly you can envision the project and describe it on paper, the better prepared you’ll be in making your decision.

2. Think about traffic patterns, furniture size and placement, colors, lighting and how

you expect to use the remodeled space. If your decision to remodel involves creating better access for someone with limited mobility, you may want to consider contacting a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist.

3. You may want to improve home efficiency and hire a professional remodeler for green home remodeling. These projects include replacing windows and doors, upgrading heating and cooling systems, adding insulation, and other remodeling to make the home more energy-efficient, easier to maintain, and comfortable.

4. Figure out how much money you have to spend on the home remodeling job, furnishings, landscaping or any other cost you might incur.

5. Are you a DIYer? Once you have created your list of priorities, you’ll need to decide how to accomplish that vision. For the handyman or woman, a do-it-yourself project can be both rewarding and cost-effective. However, more than 30% of all jobs home remodelers perform come from failed DIY projects.

6. Hiring a professional remodeler is the best way to ensure your project’s success. These remodelers are dedicated to maintaining the highest integrity and standards in the industry.

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Viva magenta!

Audacious color commands attention


Inspired by the natural dye cochineal, “Viva Magenta,” is a deep, carmine red meant to convey a brave, fearless and strong attitude. The audacious colorisdescribedasexuberantand promotes “a joyous and optimistic celebration.”

The color practically vibrates,

but there’s just enough blue in its undertones to impart a sense of calm.

“Viva Magenta is inexcusably red,”saidLeatriceEiseman,executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “And red is Mother Nature’s most important signature color. It commands attention. It signals risk. It’s powerful and empowering.”

The color choice also was inspired by technology and the merger of human trend experts and artificial intelligence, accordingtoPantone,anditisinextricably linkedtothecoronaviruspandemic.

“People all over the world are over it,” Eiseman said “We just want to go out. We want to try something new. We need new energy.”

Pantone Color Institute Vice

President Laurie Pressman agreed.“Refusing to step back to thelifeweonceconsiderednormal, or the status quo, we are instead embracing the experience we’ve had to look upon this as an opportunity to write a new narrative for ourselves and establish a new vision. We’ve opened this door to a whole new way of living.”

How to use it?

Viva Magenta is a surprisingly adaptable color choice. Paint an entire room for an “in-your-face” statement or pump up the volume in a predominately neutral space withapunchofmagentaonaccent pillows, painted furniture such as side tables and console tables, or useitforlampshades,trimondraperies, splash it on an accent wall as wallpaper … you get the idea.

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‘King of parrots’ wall mural by andre, Wallsauce com



‘Deep Sunset’ rug, Sonya Winner Rug Studio Hand-pressed seaweed print, Beach House Art Lin dr He Ro ‘Prima Peony’ bouquet, faux, Uttermost BEL0W: ‘Betwixt,’ magenta and natural, Schumacher fabric ‘Milana’ hot pink and gray wallpaper, Olenka Design Delice bar stool, Koket

architectural facades, it’s available in both translucent and opaque colorways. Mixed materials: Blending complementary textures and materials adds depth to a space in a subtle yet unexpected way For example, pairing a sleek and modern shower with a vintage clawfoot tub can create a unique and eclectic feel. Adding natural elements such as wood or stone can also add interest to the room, creating a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere.

the sink draws inspiration from the natural veining patterns. Combined, these influences evoke contemporary design with bold veins and subtle hints of gold and brown.

Elevated lighting: Instead of relying only on harsh overhead lighting, consider incorporating more ambient lighting throughout the bath-

Innovative ideas for unexpected bathroom design

Bathrooms are frequently used spaces in a home that are brimming with design potential. Plus, these smaller rooms are ideal to experiment with new aesthetics and unique features. Incorporating unexpected elements in your bathroom’s design can add character and interest, while still creating a functional space you’ll love. Consider these tips to help you incorporate unexpected design into your own bathroom:

Experimental color: Rather than traditional white or neutral color schemes, try strategically

incorporating rich colors or patterns. Colorful tiles, a bold accent wall or brightly hued towels are just a few examples. Wallpaper is another way to add color

and pattern, with modern options available appropriate for the more humid bathroom environment. Not only will pops of color make the space more visually interesting, but it will also create a joyful atmosphere in the bathroom.

Glam glass: The sink is the ideal location to feature this luxe material. Inspired by a Champagne glass, the Salute vessel sink by Kohler is artistic and elegant and at 15 inches is ideal for small spaces, making an impression extending well beyond its stature. If you prefer an undermount, rectangular glass sink, the Yepsen Artist Editions sink is for you. Reminiscent of the carved textures on marble and

Modern metals: The right metals elevate and define a faucet and bathroom accessories, refining its overall look Thanks to the Kohler Finish Program, you don’t have to feel limited in your choices. The program offers eight key finishes across product categories, including matte black, brushed modern brass, French gold, vibrant titanium and more. Plus, these finishes resist corrosion and tarnishing to ensure enduring beauty for years to come.

Curated decor: A great way to create an unexpected design in your bathroom is by curating interesting decorations. Look for pieces that show off your style, but be sure not to go overboard with the clutter. One or two pieces of art or sculpture are plenty for the average bathroom space A pro tip: Use walls and vertical spaces for art rather than taking up valuable countertop space

Statement pieces: Invest in remarkable pieces that attract the eye, like the new Aureus Artist Editions Vessel sink that mixes two design inspirations Asian art and marble The Asian art Kintsukuroi, which means golden repair, is the process of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum. In looking at marble,

room space. This could be achieved by adding new lighting elements or installing dimmer switches Flexible lighting options in visually appealing fixtures create an environment that is as fashionable as it is functional. Whether you want soft light for a long soak or bright light to prep for the day, you will have options.

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MARBLE Mesmerizing

Influencers and décor enthusiasts are obsessed with marble. It may be considered trendsetting now,but this durable organic material has been“in and out”in popularity since Roman times.

Marble is heavy and long-lasting, but remember it is a porous stone and needs sealing to prevent stains and watermarks if used as a countertop,flooring or in showers.Make sure the structure – cabinets,walls,etc.,is strong enough to bear the weight.

On a much smaller scale, enjoy marble’s crisp, chic and natural look in these marble- and marble-inspired objects.

FROM CV HOME & GARDEN MAGAZINE Wallsauce, bright pink marble wallpaper mural Silk vessel sink and Origin three-hole mixer tap, Maison Valentina Tiffany marble knobs, Covet House OLIVER PERROTT
More photos ON PAGE 16

ABOVE: Brass songbirds on marble sculpture, Uttermost

LEFT: Marble cheese board with leather strapping, Satara


Manhattan Marble table lamp, The French Bedroom Co.

16 | SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2023
Wood and marble combination, Glimmer Mirror, Petra freestanding towel rack, Maison Valentina White Diamond faux marble freestanding sink vanity, Maison Valentina
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2. Livability

Professional: Wellequipped to deal with the No 1 threat to livable remodeling dirt and dust. Protects you and your family from annoying and potentially dangerous air particles by using the most effective tools and processes for dust elimination,such as the BuildClean Dust Control System.

home contractor

When it’s time to build a new home or work on your existing home, it’s important to find a reputable and dependable home contractor.

Do your research,read reviews and check references, says the National Home Builders Association.

Watch for these differences between professionals and amateurs:

1. Focus Professional: Puts clients first and will work with you to make sure your goals are feasible and that the project can get done on time and on budget. Treats custom-

ers, their families and their homes with respect.

Amateur: Focuses on finishing the job as quickly as possible, with little regard for your family’s personal needs and schedule.

Amateur: Doesn’t have a proactive strategy to manage indoor air quality and jobsite dust.

3. Ethical Professional: Proactively addresses challenges headon, immediately notifying you of an unexpected issue.

Amateur: Ignores problems uncovered during the project in order to keep it moving. Leaves behind things like hidden mold, leaky pipes or structural issues,putting the health and

safety of your family at risk.

4. Risk Professional: Has a license, certifications and insurance. Obtains all necessary permits, protecting you against unsafe work and legal issues.Guarantees their work.

Amateur: Unaware of or doesn’t care about building codes, required permits and health and safety regulations. Leaves you liable for any improper work, mistakes and in a potentially dangerous situation.

5. Value Professional: Communicates with you to establish an estimate and negotiate a fair contract and payment schedule.

Amateur: Underbids a project by thousands of dollars and is likely to cut corners to meet the budget or

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For more information on selecting a professional contractor, visit: livableremodeling.com.

Before you go to settlement on your purchase of a newly constructed home, you and your builder will do a walk-through to conduct a final inspection, says the National Home Builders Association.

This walk-through provides an opportunity to spot items which may need to be corrected or adjusted, learn about the way your new home works and ask questions about anything

you don’t understand.

Often, a builder will use the walk-through to educate buyers about:

„ The operation of the house’s components.

„ The buyer’s responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep.

„ Warranty coverage and procedures.

„ The larger community in which the home is located.

Part of your walkthrough will be learning about maintenance and upkeep responsibilities. Most new homes come with a one-year warranty on workmanship and materi-

als. However, such warranties do not cover problems that develop because of failure to perform required maintenance. Many builders provide a booklet explaining common upkeep responsibilities of new home owners and how to perform them.

Should a warranted problem arise after you move in, the builder is likely to have a set of warranty service procedures to follow. Except in emergencies, requests for service should be in writing. This helps to ensure that everyone clearly understands the service to be performed. Create a checklist when

inspecting the house. The list should include everything that needs attention, and you and your builder should agree to a timetable for repairs. Builders prefer to remedy problems before you move in because it is easier to work in an empty house. Some items may have to be corrected after move-in.

It is important that you be thorough and observant during the walk-through. Examine all surfaces of counters, fixtures, floors and walls for possible damage carefully. Sometimes disputes arise because a buyer may discover a gouge

in a counter top after movein, and there is no way to prove whether it was caused by the builder’s workers or the buyer’s movers. Many builders ask their buyers to sign a form at the walkthrough stating that all surfaces have been inspected and that there is no damage other than what has been noted on the walk-through checklist.

Ask a lot of questions during the walk-through and take notes on the answers. Don’t worry about asking too many questions. That is how you learn. It is important to view the walkthrough as a positive learning experience that will enhance the enjoyment of your new home.


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are perfect to set into hillsides such as amphitheater seating, where they retain soil while offering a place to sit Other options include stadium seating, replacing cold, noisy and more expensive aluminum bleachers as well as a couch or bench designed with SRWs.

Functional features

Retaining wall units can make beautiful tiered gardens, raised garden beds, planters, tree rings plus fire and water features. One common application is a raised patio, where retaining wall units serve as a foundation for a paver patio surrounded by freestanding walls in place of a wood deck Creative homeowners and installers have used retaining wall units for lighted column posts, waterfalls, hot tub platforms or mailbox columns.


5 off-the-wall uses for RETAINING WALLS


Segmental retaining wall (SRW) systems make attractive walls, but they also are used to build many beautiful and functional outdoor features for homeowners and professionals alike.

As the most versatile resource in a professional landscaper’s tool box, SRWs can also be used by do-it-yourself landscapers with a little know-how Whether you need to transition a slope, shore up soil or create beautiful hardscaped features, one retaining wall system the VERSA-LOK retaining wall system can do it all.

YouTube creator and construction pro Stanley “Dirt Monkey”

Genadek calls VERSA-LOK the “gold standard” of retain-

ing walls “VERSA-LOK’s solid, pinned units are superior to hollow, lipped blocks that require fill and might trap water,” says

Genadek, who owns a landscaping and excavating company in Mendota Heights, Minn. “It’s the one block that can do it all.

VERSA-LOK is the gold standard in SRWs as far as I’m concerned.”

Says Scott Arnold, manager of Villa Landscapes, a design and install landscaping firm in St. Paul/Minneapolis: “Retaining walls are most often employed to address grade changes in the landscape and to retain soil. But as the ‘Legos’ of landscaping tools, retaining wall units can be used to create many beautiful and functional features such as outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and seating ”


From creating seat walls to stadium seats, retaining walls are for sitting. One popular application is a freestanding seat wall around a patio or fire pit. Retaining walls

Going up and down a slope is easier with solid stair foundations created from retaining wall units From stairs out the back patio to steps for access within a hardscape design such as a multilevel patio, retaining wall units are a safe support for stair treads and pavers.


Keep people moving the right way with freestanding walls used as fencing or partitions. A parapet wall is a back-to-back wall that serves as a barrier for vehicles and pedestrians. Steppeddown freestanding walls are used alongside ramps for easy access. Custom columns designed with lighting and fencing with timbers or rail posts can serve as a fence solution.


Both residential and commercial signage can be created with retaining wall units. Stately columns with house numbers at the end of a driveway, a hardscaped entrance sign to a community development or a mailbox pillar are features easily created with retaining wall units. Monument signs can be built as freestanding walls, with channel letters, a signboard or neon mounted on the surface.

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