Tag Archives: House

House Painting Odors – Getting Rid of the Smell

Homeowners, especially those with small children, often ask me how to get rid of paint odors. It’s such a big concern for some folks that they’ll ask me about potential odor control before they even book the painting estimate.

The good news is that the evolution of house paint has come a long way with low-odor and even odorless lines for some applications. The bad news is there are still so many reasons to use the smelly stuff, especially if you’re repainting an older home. Alkyd (oil-based) and shellac or alcohol primers are especially effective in sealing water damage and old oil painted surfaces to upgrade them to Latex top coats. But they’re also very smelly with potentially long-lasting vapors. Even the most common low-odor alkyd paints often used today to repaint wood work can have a lingering odor for days under the most ventilated conditions.

So how do you get rid of the smell?

I’ve just received an email from a mother asking me that very question. Her young child’s room was painted almost two weeks ago and she’s left the windows open and the fan on ever since. Still, the paint smell is strong enough that she’s concerned about letting the child sleep in the room. The painting of this room involved a lot of priming to cover the dark brown oil paint used by the previous home owner. Since the color needed to be lightened up and the surfaces converted to a far more Eco-friendly Acrylic Latex, a common top brand Alkyd primer was used to give the whole room a fresh start. And although it had “Low Odor” printed on the can, it obviously was NOT odorless. To compound matters, all the woodwork had to be finished in a leading “Low Odor” brand of Alkyd semi gloss which produced a smooth lustrous finish as well as a migraine inducing vapor.

So what can you do? Well, there a few ways you can overcome these situations beyond obvious ventilation to control, eliminate and even prevent odors from lingering.

“An ounce of prevention”… Before there was such a thing as “low odor paint” we used to add a splash of vanilla extract to every gallon of oil paint to make it “low-odor”. It was cheap, easy to do and had no effect on the color. Now that low-odor alkyd paints are commonplace on the market, adding about a tablespoon of vanilla extract makes them virtually odorless.

Or, as in the case above, the painting is already done. It’s too late for vanilla and the smell won’t go away as quickly they’d like. What’s happening here is that the odors are being trapped in the walls while the paint cures and probably in all the fabrics and rugs in the room as well. They need something else to absorb them for good. So, here’s what I advised her to do. Cut up a few onions and place them in a couple of bowls of cold water. Put one of the bowls in the room and the other in the closet. As simple and crazy as it sounds, the onions absorb and actually eliminate the paint fumes and odors… sometimes as quickly as overnight!

I first learned this trick while creating a baby’s room about 17 years ago. I had spent about 5 weeks converting a badly crumbling and dusty old attic room into a nursery pending the baby’s birth. And as it turned out, the baby was born about two weeks early and was ready to come home just as I was finishing the project. The job required a lot of smelly primers and sealers to bury decades of neglect and water damage. As was customary in those days, I added vanilla extract to minimize the paints’ odor (and damage to my brain cells) but the smell wasn’t clearing up fast enough to bring the newborn in. The homeowner’s Nanny, who was moving into the bedroom next door (and who was also troubled by the smell) used a couple of bowls of cut onions in cold water over night and the smell was gone the next day. I couldn’t believe it!

I’ve recommended this technique ever since with great results. But it should be noted here that this example was in an empty room. In the case of a fully furnished room, as in our case above, you should consider airing out clothing, drapery, rugs or anything else which might be trapping the odors and give them a shot or two of Febreeze to do the trick nowadays.

Now sometimes, there are extreme cases where odors are simply not an option. Some people are highly allergic to the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) contained in paints and the tints used to color them. Some can become quite ill with even short term inhalation of the fumes. In these cases, you have to resort to the whole gamut of tricks:

  1. Before you paint, empty the room completely to make sure there is nothing that will trap the odors.
  2. Open all the windows before you open the paint cans and keep them open throughout the entire painting process.
  3. Add vanilla extract to your Alkyd, Alcohol or Shellac based paints. (Latex paints don’t usually need this step as they’re relatively low-odor to begin with).
  4. Place several bowls of onions around the room (as above) while you paint to absorb the fumes as they escape.
  5. When the painting is finished, seal and remove all paint cans, bag your drop sheets in plastic before taking them out through the rest of the house (or throw them out of the window if possible) to keep from spreading the fumes they’ve trapped indoors.
  6. Refresh your supply of onions in water as the old ones will have had their fill of vapors by the time your finished the painting.
  7. Keep the windows open and wait until the paint has fully dried and the odors have gone before you replace the furniture and other belongings.

Of course, these tips are offered in connection with interior painting but you should also try adding some vanilla to your paint when painting the exterior in Alkyd coatings as well. It saves the painter a lot headaches… literally. But whether inside or out, these simple ideas combined with some good old fashioned common sense should produce a fresh new look with clean, breathable air you can live with.

Happy painting!

The Tiny House Movement and Merits of Downsizing

People are talking about the tiny house movement. What is it? Is it small houses that are being moved down the street to tiny lots? Is it a political movement? This movement is all about a segment of society that states that people are downsizing the space or spaces that they live in.

If you haven’t heard of it, the tiny house movement is a growing trend and not just a fad. It’s been featured on network television all over the world. What makes the tiny movement so big, and what determines what a small home is? The average house in America is just less than 3,000 square feet in size. Tiny houses are built with the focus on smaller simplified living so they average around 400 to 500 square feet at the most. Some small houses are very tiny, at around 65 square feet.

But Why the Movement toward Downsizing Houses?

This movement is all about efficiency, saving natural resources, and saving the environment. People who have been concerned about these factors in society have been very concerned at the amount of natural resources (and accompanying waste) that’s generated every time a standard size home is built.

And if you include all the resources that go into maintaining older standard size houses, a good argument can be made that the old adage of “Bigger is better” is not better anymore. For example: If a tiny home of about 200 square feet is built in remote areas away from sprawling cities, the house leaves virtually no impact or carbon footprint on the natural environment around it. And in many areas small houses are using solar panels for their energy source.

Smaller Homes Are Economically Friendly Too

When you consider many automobiles today cost over $50,000, it’s easy to see the economic value in getting involved in the tiny house movement. Small homes or houses can cost as little as $37,000 if you buy a pre-fabricated or pre-built one. If you build it yourself you’ll save a lot more.

A lot of people think that buying a tiny home means living in a cardboard box or something like that. Not so. Because the cost of a tiny house is so low, builders can focus on higher quality building materials that are more energy-efficient and last longer than materials used in traditional home building.

The small house movement is also providing an affordable means of home ownership to people whose homes were destroyed during hurricanes in the southeastern U.S. in the past ten years. Some people whose houses were completely demolished could not afford to rebuild, or they did not have sufficient insurance coverage to rebuild the home they had before. So tiny homes provide a comfortable and safe life for them.

Downsizing to Simple Housing Is the Answer for Some

There are some people who have not been affected by natural disasters or financial meltdowns. They simply want to join the movement because for a lot of people in today’s hectic society, simplicity is king. Many people in society during the last few decades have found themselves working long work weeks and getting little time off, only to spend that time constantly maintaining a large house that they hardly ever spent any time in. Although small homes will always be just that, the tiny house movement is growing into something big.

Achieving Greener House Through These Easy Tips

Green is in – not just in the sole sense of its color, tones, and hues but also due to its association to efforts done to help preserve Earth and its resources. If you are a homeowner who is concerned of helping in the large-scale conservation efforts, making your house greener and more at tone with nature through the following easy tips can be your right start.

Cut down on what you consume.

Consumption reduction is probably one of the easiest ways to make your house greener. Cutting down on what you use and consume will reduce your household waste production. According to available stats, the United States generates an annual municipal solid waste of 208 million tons – and the figure has your waste contributions. By reducing your consumption of every thing such as toilet paper, bottled water, and other packed things- you are actually contributing not only in lessening waste production but also in reducing energy consumption needed to manufacture those things.

Replace old appliances with those bearing the Energy Star logo.

The use of appliances contributes to about 20% of a household’s electric bill. Of this 20%, a large segment comes from your old appliances. Replacing them with Energy Star compliant counterparts would cut down on your energy consumption. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the energy-efficient appliances utilize up to 50% less of what the standard models use. This is a huge slice on your average electricity usage.

Change your water usage behavior.

While a lot of water can be saved with the use of water-efficient fixtures like shower heads and toilet flushes – a lot more can be saved if you would change your water usage behavior. Simple things like turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth can save up to 4.5 gallons of water. Bigger volume of water can be saved if you will use a broom to drive away the dirt and sand particles on your driveway. This act alone is estimated to save up to 80 gallons of water.

Choose bamboo over wood.

If you are into replacing your floor for a greener feel, the use of bamboo is better than using hardwood. By using bamboo, you are actually contributing to hardwood resources conservation. You are also directly contributing towards lessening operating energy used when cutting the hardwood into standard dimensions. Although bamboo comes from nature, it is a fast-replenishing resource that just takes a maximum of six years to mature as compared to hardwood which normally takes 5 to 10 decades to grow mature enough.

Use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers.

Tune up your garden greener with the use of compost rather the commercially available synthetic fertilizers. Compost supplies your plants with all of the essential microorganisms needed to help the plants absorb the rich nutrients within the soil. Compost will not damage the soil’s pH as compared to the synthetic counterparts which have been proven to degrade the soil’s nutrient content through repeated use. Also, the use of compost as natural fertilizer can be your way to garden-to-table produces which are healthy options for your daily cooking.

Being green doesn’t mean you always have to go to the streets and bring a placard to join demonstrations. Action is greater than speaking loudly without actions at all. Be green now and start it right in your doorstep!

Aluminium Windows and Doors – Beautifying the House

The proper placement of doors and windows is essential in a house for the good light and ventilation. So, what would be better than having the option of aluminium doors and windows? The correct ventilation not only provides you with fresh air but keeps the house cool and cuts down the electricity bills, to a certain extent. There are many other green and eco friendly materials for this purpose, but they don’t give a good appealing view. Aluminium, on the other hand, has all these qualities and looks appealing to the eye also. They are super efficient, strong, light weight and cheap too. It also has other qualities like it can withstand many harsh factors like the chemicals, heat, corrosion, etc.

The other advantage of the aluminium doors and windows is that they are available in a huge range of shapes, designs, sizes and with different color finishes. The finishes include matte, solid, shiny, etc. You can also get it personalized paint finishes or faux finishes of your own choice. There is an option of the danmer customized doors windows and shutters. They are available in the form of the sliding doors, fixed windows, and many more. These would improve the indoor of your house.

These doors and windows consume far less space than the traditional ones made of iron or wood. This can be a boon in case you have less space at your place. Therefore, you can fit more and more things in a small area with the help of the aluminium doors and windows.

The other factor that makes it different from others is that these windows and doors are very easy to install and only require a bit of information. They are eco friendly and can be recycled. If combined with fiberglass or the plastic glass, then it could be the most intelligent thing one can do. It is the best combination which is attractive and low maintenance for the long run.

The doors and windows made of aluminium are extremely useful and can be recycled. It has many advantages over the wooden or the iron windows. So, the best option for your house is to have the proper symmetry and matching of the windows and doors which would make your house beautiful.

6 Green House Considerations

Because of the many environmental concerns, threats and considerations, many buyers, as well as homeowners, today, have become more – and – more concerned with various factors, often referred to as green real estate. There are many considerations, and variations, as well as degrees of greening individuals are interested in. Some (however a minority) are real environmentalists, and want their home, to exhibit their concern and attention, to this very important issue. Others merely want to proceed in a somewhat balanced manner, and want to include reasonable green characteristics. This article will be a basic one, and discuss, in general terms, 6 considerations, regarding making your home, a greener one.

1. Windows and doors: Obviously, energy conservation is a major environmental concern. We often speak about a business’ carbon footprint, but, obviously, certain houses are far more energy – efficient than others. When were your windows replaced and/ or upgraded, and are they efficient? Do they keep out most of the cold, in the winter, and minimize the amount of heat, which enters in the hottest weather? What materials are your windows and doors, made of? Do your doors leak? Begin by having someone do an energy inspection, and see if you are losing much heat, because of inefficiencies. Doors can often be made more efficient, by having them re – hung, and putting a properly installed, sweep, on the bottom of the door. How much money, and energy are you wasting?

2. Solar, geo – thermal, etc: Some houses are candidates for solar panels, while others are not! What direction does your roof face? Are there any large trees blocking your roof? How many hours a day, of sun, does your roof, experience? Have you had your home examined, to discover whether you might be a good candidate for geo – thermal? This often requires a combination and evaluation of your property, pitch, location, and layout.

3. Energy – efficient burners/ boilers, and air conditioners: When was the last energy efficiency evaluation, you had performed? How old is your burner/ boiler, and is it efficient? What type of air conditioning do you use, and what it the Energy Efficiency Rating?

4. Roof: Light – colored roofs reflect heat, while darker ones, absorb it. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense, that warmer climates should use lighter ones, and colder ones, darker? What is the material being used? Is it efficient, effective and safe? How old is the roof?

5. Insulation: What is the rating of your insulation, and how well insulated, is the house? Have the walls (especially outside ones) checked, for efficiency? Older houses tend not to have updated insulation, or may contain less than the safest materials. An ounce of prevention, makes lots of sense!

6. Materials: Are you using safe, sustainable materials, in your house? This is generally more relevant, in newer houses, or extensions, but if you are concerned with the environment, you should consider the sustainability, safety and impacts of your home!

There are numerous environmental considerations. Whether you are truly committed to the environment, or merely want to be responsible, and save money (and be safer), it makes sense to think green!

Building a Dog House? – The Type of Wood to Use

Despite the fact that many families provide their dog with a wooden dog house in their backyard, only a few people realize there happens to be quite a few various kinds of wood offered on the market.

Cedar is definitely the most popular kind of wood used nowadays. It is a very common choice for wooden dog house simply because of its resistance to corrosion, rotting and insect devastation.

This type of wood is simple and easy to work with as well as being resilient, reputable, and low maintenance.

Pine and hemlock are among other kinds of wood that are chosen in constructing a dog house although they do not tend to be as popular. It is attributed to the fact that they are lacking resistance to decay, rotting and destruction by insects as opposed to cedar wood. Whenever in contact with the yard, these two types of wood will get rotten rather fast so they are hardly ever used to construct the frame work of a dog house as well.

If you decide to build your own dog house, be weary of utilizing pressure-treated timber. Even though they resist rotting and damage from bugs, they carry dangerous chemical substances that may possibly present a threat to your dog.

Also, you should decide on a wooden house over a plastic one simply because they keep a lot warmer throughout the winter season. Additionally, a wooden dog house will help to dissipate warmth the natural way during the summer time.

Furthermore, wood is less of a challenge to work with when compared to plastic material. All you need to have is a hammer, a saw, and a good quality woodworking plan to construct your dog house. In case you are eco-conscious, then making a wooden house is actually much more environmentally friendly in addition to being conveniently recycled for various other uses.

Magnetic Generators – How Big Does One Need to Be to Power an Entire House?

I’m pretty sure that as a responsible individual, your answers must be of an affirmative nature. There are several options available out there of which we can make use such as wind power, solar power and so on but now you have another solution to look into – the magnetic generator. As the name itself suggests, a magnetic generator has the capacity to produce electricity based on magnetic forces. Also known as magnetic motor, it causes the magnetic forces to spin specific way hence producing electricity. It acts as a turbine in order to give such results. You will find several tutorials and e-books online telling you about the benefits and advantages of getting a magnetic generator. You can get your hands on all its parts and elements quite easily and build your own magnetic generator while at home. This way you can provide you house with completely free electricity.

A magnetic generator is also very eco friendly and does not give out any toxic fumes or gases that might be harmful to our environment. It works as a free energy generator, very much like the solar and power generator and the wind power generator; producing clean, free and efficient power that we can make use of. Studies have shown that magnet power generator produces enough energy to accommodate an average house. Imagine discarding all those utility bills and producing your own energy. Why is magnetic power generator a better choice? Because it also does not make use of any addition products such as gas or diesel which gives off harmful polluting fumes. This one works on the very phenomena of basic magnetic field lines through the constant spinning of a turbine.

Why should you opt for this generator?

You can easily install it in your house and have it stored in a small room. It will not take up a lot of space on your property so you do not have to worry about giving up your space to accommodate it.

It will most definitely bring your utility bills to half of what they really cost. It is just dependent on the way you implement it in your house. If you do it the correct way, you will definitely be saving yourself a good amount of money.

A magnetic generator has the capability of working in all weather conditions; let it be summers or winter. The activity and the efficiency of the generator are not affected by the natural elements.

The parts and elements that you require in order to build your generator are easily available in the market and they are not even costly. You can get a guide as to how to assemble it and in no time you would have your very own personal generator running and producing electricity on daily bases and if you’re looking for plans to build a magnetic generator yourself then open Google and Do a search for “Top Magnetic Generator” Skip the paid ads the top and get into the first result you found. There is a Electrical Engineer named as John Richard from past 30 years he has been doing research and perfoming expirements. He has also installed and supervised on large scale industrial electric systems.

House Plans – Prioritizing Requirements

House plans need a great deal of attention because there are some basic elements that are necessary inputs in a house plan and they cannot be missed. A basic knowledge about architectural guidelines and building plans will allow you to make a few initial sketches yourself. Even otherwise, making a rough plan of all the spaces you want to incorporate in a new home and consulting a professional architect ensures that the plans are of sound design and viable.

There are some basic design concepts and elements that are to be kept in mind while making a house plan. The primary factor that is a common element in most house plans is keeping in mind the ‘future’. Making provisions for changes in lifestyles must be upfront and enough space and viability placed on them. All these have to be considered within the space available with sufficient allocation for a garden or yard, children’s play area or just enough open space to chill out on a summer evening.

Some basic requirements regarding drawing up house plans include the following to be able to prepare a budget and see if it is alignment with your finances.

• Measuring the amount of space available for building

• Visualizing the plan vis-a-vis the number of floors

• Upfront flow of the house i.e. number of rooms and placing which room where in the house

• Children’s areas – keeping in mind they are going to grow up and need more space

• Parents or aged dependants

• Passageways

• Utility areas – includes storage areas like pantry, laundry, garden shed etc.

• Staircases

• Installation of green environment factors / eco friendly measures – rainwater saving, solar energy panels etc.

• Flexibility to rearrange rooms based on architect’s / builder’s inputs

The keyword in drawing up house plans is ‘priority’. Aspects like providing a strong foundation is very necessary even if the current plans do not include more than one or two storeys for now. Adding additional floors can be done later but the foundation is the ‘all important’ factor that all plans hinge on. Similarly, installation of energy savings measures and appliances should be done in the first phase. Prioritizing necessities helps sticking to budgeted expenses; slight variations notwithstanding. Add-ons that are not on ‘first priority’ can be added later provided your financial situation allows it but you should be able to manage fine without those, if necessary. It is one of the important things to remember.

A House You Can Skate In

How would you like to have a house you can skate in? What if every surface of the house was a skateable surface, even the bed? Can you imagine how cool it would be to skate around from one room of your house to the other or to invite your friends over? It’s better than having your own skatepark in your backyard. While it sounds like a kid’s dream or something you’d see in a movie, for one man, this house is actually a reality.

Last year, Francois Perrin, an architect in Los Angeles, was approached by Pierre-André Senizergues, a former professional skateboarder and the owner of a sportswear company with an idea to create a house that was completely skateable.

While it sounds like a dream come true for your typical skater fan, the two made this house a reality and it was big news earlier this year in the skate community. Perrin was a longtime fan of skateboarding and decided to take on the unique project.

“I did work on skate parks, but this house was the first time I could merge these two passions,” he said, referring to his love of skateboarding and design.

Everything in the final design of this house can be skated on, even the kitchen counter (metal trim allows for grinding). They called it PAS House, named after the client’s initials and they showed off the design at an exhibition on skate culture at La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris in July of this year. A full-scale prototype of the house’s living area was revealed and some skaters were even given the opportunity to try it out for themselves.

An interview at the NY Times revealed a question and answer session with the architect about the project. Mr. Perrin shares things such as what his biggest challenges were as well as how it’s possible to skate on a bed. The house is also fully sustainable so it’s eco-friendly as well.

Archinect has some great photos of the skateboard house if you want to see for yourself. While we might all dream of having a house we can truly skate in, it’s not very practical for the average person. It also comes with a very hefty price tag.

Sustainable Houses: The Calm Living House in Melbourne

What is it?

You must have heard of the Sustainable homes that are being built all over Melbourne and have been for a few years now. So, I decided to check out and do some research on the internet about the whole thing. Apparently, there are a large number of sustainable houses and you can make a paid trip to some of this. So I decided to check out one of them – the Calm Living House at Upper Ferntree Gully 3156.

Basically, it was built by the famous owner and builder Anton Engelmayer. The house was built with completely eco-friendly objects and is completely passive, that is, it, in no way, harms the ecosystem or the atmosphere.

Here is what I found out.

What are its features?

The house is a standalone type of architecture. It is 54m square, has six large bedrooms and 2 large bathrooms. Its design is adaptable in nature. It consists of two green walls, three green roofs and one rain garden. The presence of such a green infrastructure is beneficial for the solar panels installed in the house. Therefore, the green makes sure that there is enough energy and electricity for the house to run upon. The flora also acts as a binder of the soil, thus preventing soil erosion and water run off by controlling the flow of water at the steep side.

What are the eco-friendly sustainable features?

The house has been built with insulated panels. The paint that was used all over the house, is completely non-toxic and therefore, does not emit toxic fumes, which is harmful to the environment as well as the family living in the house.

The entire household runs on solar energy, which is generated by the solar pv grid system installed. This generates electricity as well as heats water. The temperature inside the rooms remains low due to cross ventilation and the presence of ample green trees.

The house is also provided with a drip irrigation water system as well as an edible garden filled with local as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables. Certain water wise plants are also present in the garden and the surrounding. You can even grow chicken in a coup here!

What is the approximate cost of the sustainable home?

Around 150,000 dollars approximately. They provide tours to the house for 25 dollars. That is how I got to visit it!