Did you know in 2014 the property crime rate in Blue Ridge Ga was 33.47% while the national average was 27.3%? What is most alarming about these numbers is that the crime has moved from the streets and other public areas into more suburban and residential areas. This implies that the places which should be kept safest for us and our families are now targets for home robberies.
A residential security system is becoming extremely important due to the increasing rate of crime and theft. Security cameras are able to provide us with video footage either live or recorded of our property. In fact the presence of surveillance systems have led to the incarceration of many criminals and have helped in deterring crimes and theft. Through the years security surveillance cameras have become a lot more affordable. For this reason more and more households and businesses are being equipped with security cameras with the hopes of protecting their properties.
Home security cameras are one of the most popular gadgets that people can equip their homes with these days. Having a security camera in your home may not always prevent your home from being robbed but it does offer a certain level of ease knowing that everything happening in your home is being recorded. With a home security camera no one can go in and out of the house unnoticed and no movement goes undetected and unrecorded. Installing a home security camera in full view can also be one way of warding off and discouraging robbers as security camera footage can be transmitted to local security receiving stations and monitored by people who can immediately respond to unwanted incidents. Furthermore it can also discourage robbers from pursuing the crime as security camera footage can now be used in court as evidence of a crime.
Due to the advancements in technology security cameras now come in many different shapes and sizes. There are also wired and wireless versions of these security systems as well. Security cameras that are internet ready are a good way of monitoring your home while you are away. They can be viewed from almost any location that has a computer with a internet connection. There are also surveillance systems that can notify you through email when movement has been detected in your home. Security cameras that are equipped with motion sensors give them the capability of detecting movements. Even the slightest movement can trigger these motion sensors to start the video recording process. They also have digital security surveillance cameras which are much smaller then normal security cameras. Despite their size these cameras are capable of recording video for long periods of time. The images and videos they record can be saved and edited in your computer. They have gained in popularity because they have eliminated the need for video tapes to record.
You might be asking yourself how many security cameras do I need in my home?
The specific number of cameras that you will need can depend on many factors such as:
– The size of your property.
– The size of your home.
– The number of rooms.
– The number of entrances and exits.
– How extensively you want every corner monitored.
The number of cameras that you have monitoring your home should not be your one and only consideration though as your home’s security does not stop there. Keep in mind that four home security cameras per room would still be useless if these cameras are not backed up by a solid home security system with people who can monitor and respond appropriately to incidents should the need arise.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about installing a new security system or adding surveillance cameras to your home.
C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville, Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains.
Do you have a damp basement, musty smells in your home or even mold or mildew on the walls? These are all indications of moisture getting into your home! The cause of this is likely poor drainage around your home allowing moisture to build up and remain in the soil around your foundation eventually working its way into your home. Fixing drainage problems around your home can be relatively inexpensive as it often comes down to a couple of issues: how rainwater is handled and the grading or slope of your property.
Gutters are a extremely important part of the drainage system around your house. If your gutters are nonexistent, in poor condition, or if the downspout empties right beside your house they could be causing the problem. Gutters need to be installed properly so they will catch the water coming off your roof and direct it away from your house and foundation. Gutters should have a downward slope of 1 inch for every 2 feet of run to ensure they drain completely. They also need to be firmly attached. Screws are best for this as they wont come out as easily over time. If you have seems in your gutters make sure they are well sealed and water doesn’t leak through. Gutters that leak are a problem because the drips land close to the foundation. A downspout diverter directs water from the downspout onto the driveway where it can’t seep into the ground around the foundation. The minimum size for a downspout should be 2×3 inches, but a larger size such as 3×4 inches is better. The larger size makes it less likely that anything will be able to block the downspout. At ground level the water from your downspout should be directed at a minimum of 5 feet away from your house. It’s best to have the water flowing onto a hard surface like a driveway or a splashguard designed to spread the water and stop it from forming puddles on the ground.
How your house sits on a lot and how the land slopes around it is key in keeping your home dry. Improper grading that doesn’t correctly slope away from the foundation can allow excessive amounts of groundwater to collect in the soil around basement walls. The ground should slope away from the foundation of your house for several feet at a grade of at least 1 inch per foot. It is improperly graded if it is level or angles toward the house. All of the following can easily affect grade around your home.
– Improper landscaping.
Foundation beds should follow the original grade of the site, not slope toward the house.
– Compacted soil.
The soil used to back fill around foundations settles over the years. As it does grading can flatten or even begin to slope toward the foundation.
– Soil erosion.
Wind and water can cause erosion resulting in flat or negative grades.
It’s very easy to check the grade around your house. All you need a level and a flat, thin, straight piece of wood or metal that won’t sag. This is what you do:
1. Remove any decorative rock or mulch from near your house as you want to take the measurement on bare ground.
2. Put the piece of wood or metal on the ground next to the house.
3. Place a level on the wood or metal perpendicular to the house. Raise the lower end of the level until the bubble centers on the indicator.
4. Measure the height between the end of the level furthest from the house and the ground. This will tell you how many inches of drop there is from the house.
As mentioned earlier the ground should slope away from the house for several feet at a grade of at least 1 inch per foot. For example if you’re using a 3 foot level, there should be a 3 inch difference between the two ends of the level. This may not seem like much but it’s all you need to keep water away from your house.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about grading or installing new gutters.
C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville, Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains.
So your thinking about building a new home? What do you do first? When you first starting thinking about building a home it might be tempting to just start designing your dream house. There are however some key steps that you need to take before you start designing.
1) Know your budget.
Your budget will determine all of your decisions. It is essential to understand what you can afford and to be honest when it comes to the numbers. In addition to figuring out the mortgage payments you can afford and qualify for you also need to include, home owners insurance, property tax, and HOA fees if any. Also consider any down payment funds that you have and any other money that you’ll get during the time the house is being built.
2) Select a location.
Selecting the general area where want to live is just the start to finding the perfect location for your new home. Make a list of all the facilities that you need to have access to, such as schools, shopping and public transport, and check the list against each location you’re interested in. If you want to build in a older neighborhood make sure you check the local municipal guidelines about knocking down old houses and building new ones. If you’re looking at a new subdivision make sure you know the architectural guidelines you will have to abide by. Also consider the shape of the of land you want. Do you want a corner lot, a pie-shaped lot with a large backyard or one with a large front garden space? If you have a young children or are planning to have children then look for a location that attracts people with children and have green spaces or playgrounds. One important consideration that also links to your budget decision is how much the taxes in each location are.
3) Buy land.
Buying the land with a land loan or cash allows you to take the land off the market so others cannot buy it before you do. It also allows you to have plenty of time to pick out house plans, submit the plans to the county for approval and obtain a building permit all while obtaining the best construction loan. Construction loans can also include the land into the loan but only if you already own the land and have a balance to add into the construction loan.
4) Create a plan for your house or hire an architect.
There have some great house plan resources on the internet. Just go to Google and type in “house plans” for your local area and you will have more sources than you can handle. If you choose go with a house plan from the internet you will probably still need to make some small modifications for your local building codes and type of land plot. To do this it is best that you hire a local architect.
5) Hire a general contractor.
You can hire a contractor who will organize everything for you and deliver a completed house, or if you choose to you can run everything yourself. However this involves all stages of the house building process from the initial budget and schedule through design to the actual building of the house. You will also have to schedule and interact with all the trades, buy the materials at the right time and perform quality control of adherence to building standards.
6) Know what goes into the estimated cost.
This is the breakdown of each particular cost of construction of the home. The foundation, lumber, framing, plumbing, heating, electrical, painting, etc. The builder usually completes this form to show you exactly what it will cost to build your new home. The most important thing to remember here is that you do not want to underbid any line item and you do not want to overbid any line item. You want accurate numbers from real bids. A Good builder will send out the house plans to their contractors for specific bidding on each main item or can estimate the home themselves. When all the numbers come in the builder will fill out the cost breakdown and come up with a total cost to build your new home.
7) Get construction insurance.
There are three types of insurance needed to build. All banks require the first two types, course of construction and general liability. Workman’s compensation is only required if your contractor has employees.
– Course of Construction Insurance. This policy is an all risk policy to include, fire, extended coverage, builder’s risk, replacement cost, vandalism and malicious mischief insurance coverage.
– General Liability Insurance. You or your contractor can provide this policy. This policy is a comprehensive general policy or a broad form liability endorsement. The minimum amount of $300,000 for each occurrence is required. If the builder provides the insurance a general policy of $1,000,000 or a broad form liability endorsement is required.
– Workman’s Compensation Insurance. If your builder owns his own company and has employees that are helping to build your home, workman’s compensation is required. If the builder simply subcontracts out the work and does not have employees per se, they will need to write a letter acknowledging that they do not have employees and are not required to have workman’s compensation.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about building a new home.
C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville, Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains.
Stamped concrete is a home remodeling trend that seems to be growing quickly and for good reason. In the past only expensive commercial applications looked decent, and sometimes that was a stretch. Recently though new trends in texturizing and pigmenting allow homeowners to introduce it to their exteriors. Stamped concrete involves pouring slab concrete for driveways, walkways, patios, etc. Then patterns are pressed into the wet concrete to create a textured finish. The patterns are made using large flexible polyurethane stamps. The stamps are about a 2×2 feet square and an inch or two thick. This newer type of stamped concrete imparts textures that can duplicate many different surfaces such as cobblestones, brick, pavers, wood, seashells, and more. Pigment is also usually added to stamped concrete to further duplicate the look of these patterns. Brick, pavers, and cobbles do look great but since they form a surface of many interlocking pieces they can be susceptible to changes in the underlying surface. Also bricks, pavers, cobbles, etc. allow for weed growth through the cracks. Since stamped concrete is a solid, continuous surface nothing can grow up through as it as the “cracks” in stamped concrete are just impressions in the concrete that only partially go through the surface. A stamped concrete patio will also give you the look and texture of a stone patio for a lot less than the real thing. Up to 50% less! That’s not all a stamped concrete patio is low maintenance as it won’t settle over time creating uneven surfaces. You can also add a stamped finish to an existing concrete slab as long as your old slab is in stable and good condition. You will be raising the height of your old slab by an inch or so, so you will want to make sure the higher level doesn’t interfere with existing steps or vents in your foundation walls. Like anything there are just a few drawbacks to stamped concrete:
– Deep depressions.
Although stamped concrete is a good choice for ADA accessibility, be cautious of deeply embossed patterns. All the texture may be tempting, but it creates uneven surfaces that can make patio furniture wobble and may be hazardous for those with limited mobility. Accessibility guidelines require bumps and ridges on walking surfaces to be no more than 1/4 inch in hight.
Although you will have more color options with surface colorants they can flake off over time. A better option is to have your concrete dyed while it’s being mixed for a more permanent solution.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding installing stamped concrete.
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There’s something comforting about having a fire crackling on a cool evening in the North Georgia mountains. Not everyone has a chimney though or wants to renovate their home to add one, especially when traditional fireplaces use more energy and release fumes harmful to the environment. That’s where gas fireplaces come in! They’re easier to use, more straightforward to install, and better for the environment. If you do choose to install a gas fireplace the next thing you need to decide is whether you want a vented or a ventless fireplace. There are advantages and disadvantages to using both. Understanding the differences between the two can help you determine what’s best for your home.
Pros- As the name suggests vented fireplaces require a flue or ventilation pipe to keep combustion by products out of your home. Traditional vented fireplaces have ductwork routed through your chimney. However, if your house doesn’t have a chimney you can install a direct vent fireplace that routes combustion by products out of your home through ducts in your wall. The biggest advantage of a vented fireplace is safety. You don’t have to worry about sparks, hazardous particles, or combustion by products getting into your home as all exhaust fumes are removed. The flames look natural and realistic and certain direct vent models can be great heaters having efficiency ratings up to 80% plus.
Cons- Vented fireplaces are more expensive to install than unvented ones, and installing a vented fireplace in the lower level of a two story house can sometimes be a difficult task because there’s not always a convenient place to run the venting. If your considering a vented fireplace in the lower level of your home C&H Construction can help you determine if it is possible.
Pros- Ventless fireplaces are less expensive than vented fireplaces, and sometimes there the only option if you want to add a fireplace to an existing two story home. With a ventless fireplace heat can not escape through a chimney or duct so they also make very effective heaters.
Cons- Ventless fireplaces have caused some controversy because of the fear that they release harmful combustion by products into the home if they aren’t installed and maintained correctly. Since they don’t have a vent they can release measurable levels of carbon monoxide and other chemicals such as nitrogen dioxide into your home as well as large amounts of water vapor. To be safe manufacturers recommend keeping a window partially open when a ventless fireplace is in use or even installing separate ductwork if you don’t have enough cubic feet of space compared to the amount of BTU’s. If you are unsure if you have the proper amount of cubic feet for the fireplace that you want C&H Construction can help you determine if you will need to install separate ductwork.
C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville, Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding installing vented and ventless fireplaces.
Low flow toilets
If the toilets in your home are from the mid 1990s or earlier you should strongly consider installing new ones to save big on your water bills. All new toilet models are low flow. The current Georgia code according to The National Energy Policy Act mandates that all new toilets have to be low flow toilets using no more than 1.28 gallons per flush. Low flow toilets are a smart addition to your home as they can save you money and help the environment at the same time. It is estimated that a family of four could save up to 22,000 gallons of water per year by using a low flow toilet which Home & Garden Television Network equates to as much as a $100 annual water savings.
All toilets have two basic functions the intake of water from the toilet tank and the discharge of waste. There are three basic toilet designs to consider before installing a new toilet:
Gravity feed tank
This is the most common type of toilet. It relies on the weight and the volume of water in the tank to flush waste. This type is also relatively inexpensive.
Two button flush
This is a gravity fed tank with two amounts of water. One is a half-flush (.8 gallons per flush) for liquid and the other is a full-flush (1.6 gallons per flush) for solids.
Power assist or pressure assisted
This system uses compressed air to force the water to flush the waste. There is no freestanding water in the bowl as the water is held in a pressure tank which is inside the toilet tank. This system gives a powerful flush but it is more expensive and noisier than a gravity fed system.
C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville,Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains. Feel free to contact C&H Construction with any questions you may have about installing a new low flow toilet in your home.
Shopping for a new countertop?
Choosing the right material for your counter top is a extremely important decision after all your counter top will be used every day not to mention your counter top can have a great impact on the value of your home as well. With so many choices it can be quite confusing as to which type of material is best for your home. In this article we will discuss the most popular countertop materials being used today to help assist you and your general contractor make a decision.
Butcher block countertops are made from wood pieces of different colors to form a complementary and attractive pattern. The wood is glued together, sanded and sealed to form a smooth and unified countertop. Butcher block countertops and other wooden countertops are a popular choice in kitchens although some woods are used on bathroom countertops too. Butcher block countertops can be used in conjunction with other surfaces such as quartz, granite and laminate. For example a work island might have a butcher block countertop while the tops around the appliances and sink are made from a different material. When considering butcher block many environment conscious buyers will also look at Eco friendly countertops like reclaimed wood as wood of all types is warm and inviting when used in a kitchen or bathroom.
Pros: The warmth and beauty of butcher block is very inviting. Butcher block countertops are ideal for those who enjoy baking and other types of food preparation as they handle cutting very well and do a good job of hiding cuts and scratches. In fact the scars they accumulate give them character and can be part of their appeal. After years of use the countertops are able to be sanded and resealed to make them look brand new again. Butcher block goes well with a wide variety of cabinetry, flooring and appliances. They are easy to clean and they don’t suffer from some of the weaknesses of harder countertops such as cracking or chipping.
Cons: Butcher block countertops need to be sealed when produced or first installed and they require periodic sealing over the years. If they are not sealed water can penetrate the butcher block and warp wood pieces causing them to separate as well as harbor germs. Long term exposure to water is not good for the wood so it is essential that you clean up water and wipe butcher block and wood countertops dry after cleaning them. If the surface is scratched below the level of the finish oiling the area is needed. In fact some manufacturers recommend that you oil butcher block countertops every 1-3 months with linseed oil to keep out the harmful effects of water.
Concrete countertops are one of the newest types countertops offered. New innovations have been made in the way concrete is formulated which means that modern concrete countertops are relatively light and can be produced in an array of colors while still maintaining there strength. Concrete is more of a custom material and countertops are often framed and poured right in the kitchen or bathroom although many are made offsite as well. Homeowners are also able to utilize various stamping and staining techniques to add personalized touches for their concrete countertops.
Pros: Strength is definitely one of the top reasons for choosing concrete. It is very hard, durable and not easily chipped. These countertops can be custom formed on site so that they fit even oddly sized or shaped areas. Concrete can be pigmented to achieve just about any color you want and can be personalized in hundreds of ways. You can customize concrete surfaces by embedding shells, tiles, pieces of colored glass, and stones. They also can be textured as well.
Cons: Concrete countertops are expensive so they may not be an option for everyone. Concrete also requires a level of maintenance about the same as a granite countertop would. They need to be sealed regularly in order to make the surfaces easier to clean. Even then they are susceptible to being stained by coffee or juice and putting a lot of weight on a corner may also cause it to crack.
Granite countertops are some of the most elegant available. They are also one of the most expensive. Granite is a natural stone with great strength and has a natural beauty that few other stones can match. Every granite countertop is unique because the natural shading and tone differences within the stone are never exactly the same sometimes even within the same piece. In wood or a solid surface countertop this would be viewed as a defect however in granite countertops the varying shades and colors are greatly appreciated for the individuality they give to each top. Granite is an elite material for kitchen and bathroom countertops and it is an great option for those who have high-end cabinets, appliances, flooring and other top of the line products. As beautiful as it is granite may look out of place with items that don’t match in it’s quality.
Pros: Granite is stunningly beautiful and will provide an attractive complement to many types and colors of cabinets. Granite is extremely strong and durable. It is highly resistant to scratches and heat making it an asset in your kitchen work , especially near a stove top. If you use a hair straightener or curling iron in the bathroom you can also set them down without worrying about burning your countertop. When it is properly sealed granite also has good resistance to stains.
Cons: Granite kitchen and countertops need to be sealed because granite is a porous stone and will absorb fluids, which may stain. Being porous could also harbor bacteria if it is not sealed. Some granite countertops need to be sealed annually while others can be pre treated prior to being installed and can last 10 to 15 years before needing to be sealed again. There are about 20 different colors of granite compared to other types of counter tops, which offer hundreds of colors. If granite countertops have a heavy object dropped they can chip or crack. Granite countertops are also among the most expensive on the market and not every budget will accommodate them.
Laminate countertops are a very popular option for many kitchens and bathrooms because they are affordable and come in the widest range of colors and patterns. Laminate countertops offer excellent versatility and value as well. Many countertops are made to mimic the look of more expensive surfaces like marble or granite and are one of the best choices for those with a limited budget. Laminate countertops sometimes called plastic laminate contain a hard particle board with layers of plastic laminate bonded over the top of it. The plastic laminate is tough and fairly durable as well as easy to clean. Laminate does not harbor harmful germs like porous surfaces do and they are great if you have kids where they can be quickly sanitized with a disinfectant wipe.
Pros: Laminate countertops are being made with a higher quality than ever before. The process has been refined to make them even more durable. They also remain one of the most affordable types of countertops available. Laminates come in the widest selection of colors, hundreds of patterns and designs, and textured surfaces too. For cleanup there’s nothing easier than laminate countertops. The surface is solid without pores so a soapy washcloth or sponge is usually all that is needed. Laminate seams can be also be hidden better then other countertop seams.
Cons: Laminate countertops can be more easily scratched than most surfaces so it is best to do any cutting in the kitchen on a cutting board. Laminate is also not as heat resistant as other surfaces so items such as hot pans or curling irons should not be placed on laminate countertops. In the event that the laminate surface is scratched, burned or chipped it is very difficult to repair.
Lava countertops are very unique, beautiful and highly functional. They are durable and extremely heat resistant. These countertops are made from lava stone that is quarried from sites of ancient volcano eruptions. Most of the lava stone countertops currently being produced come from stone extracted from craters in Auvergne France but other sources are being developed as these countertops grow in demand. Once the stone is mined it is then custom cut for each order. Then the lava countertop is glazed with enamel at heat in excess of 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit. The glazing gives it a smooth non-porous finish that is completely water-resistant. As the countertop cools small cracks form in the glazing giving every countertop a completely unique appearance.
Pros: This is a extremely strong and durable material that resists chipping and cracking. The glazed non-porous surface withstands heat, staining, acids from cleaners and foods and it will not fade. Lava countertops can be glazed in a wide array of colors to match every type of kitchen decor and the finish can be made glossy or matte. Lava countertops also nicely integrate with contemporary, traditional, country and eclectic kitchen design.
Cons: Lava countertops are extremely expensive easily surpassing other pricey countertop materials like granite and marble. Most of the cost is due to shipping since all lava stone currently being used is imported. Another drawback is that lava countertops cannot be easily refinished. They last around a 50 years so if you plan to install them make sure you love the color you choose.
Marble is a beautiful addition for a countertop and one of the most elegant materials you can choose for any home. Marble countertops are mined from metamorphic rock consisting of crystallized carbon. The hued rock is then cut into slabs of the proper thickness for countertops. When shopping for marble the customer is shown various slabs of the material in the general color that they want. Some of the slabs will be fairly solid in color with slight variations and hues while other slabs will display characteristics known as veining which are streams of minerals that run through the stone. Veining may be thick or thin it can dominate the marble countertop or just add a nice accent to an otherwise solid piece.
Pros: Countertops made from marble are some of the most beautiful countertops of any kind. Marble comes in many different shades and varieties including whites, grays, black, yellows, pinks, green and more. Marble is waterproof and is also very resistant to heat, which makes it a good choice near a stove or cooktop.
Cons: Aside from being one of the most expensive materials for countertops marble is very porous and therefore can trap dirt and germs. It can also be somewhat fragile and possibly chip or crack when stressed. Because marble countertops are so porous they can be stained quite easily and the stains can be very difficult to get rid of. Acidic liquids such as wine, vinegar and some juices will also cause staining and etching. Etching is where the polish is eaten away and the marble is marred. Marble countertops should be sealed immediately and will need to be resealed every 2-10 years depending on the type of marble. Keeping it well sealed and polished is key to keeping it from being stained.
Quartz countertops also known as Engineered stone countertops are mostly made from a high concentration (93%) of quartz crystals which is a natural substance but they are fabricated instead of cut from a solid piece of stone. These stones are designed to look like natural stone and make up the biggest percentage of engineered stone countertops. Quartz counter tops have about 7% non-quartz material including a binder to hold them together, other ingredients to strengthen the material, and added color.
Pros: Quartz countertops have all the advantages of natural stone including durability, hardness and beauty, plus, they overcome natural stone’s weaknesses. Engineered stone and quartz countertops are easier to maintain than natural stone because they are not porous so they won’t harbor bacteria and they don’t need to be sealed like granite countertops do. You’ll find engineered stone and quartz countertops in a wider range of colors than granite including many that offer more affordability.
Cons: Quartz counter tops have very few weaknesses since they are engineered. They don’t have quite the same level of natural beauty that granite countertops do but they are still quite attractive. Their seams are about as visible as other stones where as solid surface and laminate countertops offer better seam control. Because these countertops have an advanced manufacturing process, there high quality and have long lasting durability they are fairly expensive as well.
Resin countertops have a lot to offer in beauty and durability. These countertops can be produced any standard length with a seamless finish. They offer many color and style options as well. Resin countertops are crafted from cured epoxy, acrylic or polyester resin, which is a synthetic material used in a wide variety of applications. The countertops are cut to order and can be customized for unusual or unique countertop designs. The epoxy can be tinted slightly or completely colored to produce the exact look desired. Keep in mind though that acrylic resin is generally regarded to be of higher quality than polyester resin.
Pros: The two necessities in quality countertops are attractive appearance and durability. Resin countertops excel in both categories. Acrylic resin countertops are resistant to impact, staining, UV rays, scratches and heat. Most resist damage from the types of acids found in wine, tomato products and other foods. Resin countertops are non porous so they don’t support the growth of bacteria or fungus and they clean up quickly and easily with common household cleaners. In terms of appearance the coloration in the resin can produce a variety of effects and hundreds of color choices are available. Solid colors are very popular but many homeowners opt for resin countertops with less pigment, which produces a semi-translucent effect that can be very attractive. When a countertop is not fully opaque backlighting that shines into and through the material can be used to produce a very unique appearance.
Cons: The biggest drawback to resin countertops is the lack of consistency amongst products as not all resin countertops are created equal. Resin countertops are also not as heat resistant as stone countertops are and can be easily scratched. However many scratches may be able to be removed.
As the name implies solid surface countertops are made from solid synthetic materials. They have quickly become a popular choice for many homes offering the advantages of laminate countertops but with greater quality and without the main disadvantages. Popularized by leading brands such as Corian and Swanstone they offer versatility and very good durability in a wide range of colors.
Pros: Solid surface countertops are very hard and very durable countertops. Corian countertops are available in over 100 different colors as well as many patterns. Many of the looks are patterned after more expensive materials like granite, stone or quartz. Because of the variety these countertops can be used in virtually any style of kitchen or bathroom and they work well in both traditional and contemporary homes. The surfaces are solid, tough and non-porous making them very easy to clean and maintain. When custom made solid surface countertops can present a seamless look in any kitchen or bathroom.
Cons: Solid surface countertops are not as resistant to heat as stone or quartz countertops are and can also be scratched, but since they are solid in color many scratches can be removed with careful sanding. In terms of cost, solid surface countertops are on the upper end of the price spectrum but are not as costly as quartz, concrete, granite or other stone countertops.
Stainless steel countertops combine elegant beauty with outstanding practical benefits. With so many large kitchen appliances now featuring stainless steel finishes, you can select countertops to blend seamlessly with your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and more. While everyone is familiar with stainless steal you might not have considered it for use as a countertop. Stainless steel countertops are good to consider using when one of two design schemes is being sought: Retro or contemporary. Stainless steel sinks were introduced in the 1940s and became all the rage in the 1950s along with stainless backsplashes. Stainless steel tiles are now being produced for use in backslashes and countertops that are clearly inspired by past decades. Contemporary kitchens are the second ideal choice for this countertop material. Stainless produces a clean and efficient yet beautiful appearance. It blends well with contemporary accents, lighting and fixtures.
Pros: Stainless steel looks gorgeous on any surface. It complements materials such as wood and natural stone and stainless steal comes in a number of different finishes so you can select one that works well with your overall design. Stainless is also very durable and should give you 15-25 years of dependable service at a minimum. Stainless steel is one of the most sanitary materials you can use. Unlike wood, concrete or natural stone it is not porous so bacteria and viruses are easily removed. Cleanliness and durability are among the top reason stainless is used in so many professional kitchens.
Cons: Stainless steel isn’t cheap at least for a quality countertop. Avoid thin material and choose a thinker grade that will hold its shape better.
Tile countertops can use either ceramic tile, glass tile or porcelain tile. Tile is one of the most versatile materials because it comes in a vast variety of styles, sizes, shapes and color. For this reason it has never gone out of style as a material for use in countertops. Ceramic tile is the most popular because it is affordable and comes in the greatest array of style options. Porcelain tile is a wonderful choice for countertops and backsplashes as well because it is easy to clean and resistant to moisture. Glass tiles are also easy to clean and they offer exciting options when installed over LED lighting.
Pros: Tile countertops offer unlimited opportunities to create a look that is tailor made for your home. Tile used for countertops range in sizes from about a 1 inch square to a 12 inch square or greater. Tile is versatile enough to go with any decor from very traditional to retro to contemporary. All types of tile are generally easy to clean but you will need to make sure that grout is sealed every few years in order to keep it from harboring bacteria and becoming stained. Tile is very durable and can last at least 50 years or more.
Cons: Besides the need to seal the grout every few years tile can also be expensive to install. The tile itself is one of the more cost effective countertop materials but the installation is very labor intensive. This is especially true if you want an elaborate design for your countertop.
Eco friendly countertops are growing in popularity because they do as much for the beauty of your home as they do for the environment. Several choices are available that are made from sustainable materials like bamboo and post-consumer materials like recycled glass, paper and wood. Below we will discuss the two most popular eco friendly options reclaimed wood and recycled glass:
Reclaimed wood countertops will provide rich and stunning beauty to your home, but you are also helping the environment by keeping the wood out of the waste stream. This natural material is found in a wide variety of styles and colors. It is a perfect choice for traditional, country, old world, and even eclectically styled homes. Reclaimed wood comes from many different sources and most of it was once building material in barns, warehouses and other commercial buildings. Wall boards, floor boards and beams are used to produce reclaimed wood countertops that can add a warm organic element to your countertops. The marks of history and the natural imperfections of the lumber give it character that many find very appealing. The countertops are created through careful selection of wood and it almost every case, the boards or beams will all come from the same building in order to achieve consistency of quality and appearance.
Pros: If you love the look of natural wood especially wood that has character or a stressed appearance then reclaimed wood countertops should be a top consideration. They offer beauty and warmth wherever they are installed. The wood is also quite durable and should give you many years of service. Last but not least reclaimed wood countertops are a green building material.
Cons: Reclaimed wood countertops can be expensive. There is a limited supply of material and turning the wood into countertops is very labor intensive. Wood counter tops are very porous and if not properly sealed they can hold bacteria and viruses. They should also be resealed every few years. Finally wood countertops don’t handle heat very well and can burn when very hot items are placed on them.
Recycled glass countertops have a unique and beautiful appearance that goes very well with a wide variety of designs. Depending on how the glass is used recycled glass countertops can look very modern and contemporary or they can be made to look antique and almost traditional. Be careful when selecting glass countertops though as they are not right for every situation especially if you have small children in the home. In rare cases a piece of glass may come loose. Most recycled glass countertops are 80% to 90% post-consumer glass. The glass comes from both commercial and domestic sources. Recycled glass countertops feature pieces of glass held together with a cement binder. They are popular with eco-friendly consumers but because of their unique design and beauty are chosen by a wide variety of homeowners to produce a customized looked to their countertops. Recycled glass can also be made into tiles and backsplashes that can be installed along with the countertops.
Pros: Recycled glass countertops are very durable and strong. The binder is very hard and the countertops are not very prone to chipping or cracking. The countertops are non-porous and therefor easier to clean and maintain. They are also heat resistant and stain resistant. Every recycled glass countertop is a unique creation and no two are alike. Recycled glass countertops differ in their design through the use of different colors and pieces giving them a custom look. Even recycled glass tiles are unique from one another. Last but not least recycled glass countertops are good for the environment because they keep waste glass out of landfills.
Cons: While recycled glass countertops are fairly strong they can crack or chip if installation creates stress points and depending on the design some of them can show water spots or fingerprints. In some cases, acidic foods or cleaning products might mar the surface. Recycled glass countertops can come in a range of prices but most of them are fairly expensive.
C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville,Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains. Feel free to contact C&H Construction with any questions you may have about countertop materials.
We are living in a time of abundant choices. Paint comes in thousands of colors and even buying wood can be challenging as there are several different varieties. So it shouldn’t be surprising that decking options have grown dramatically over the past several years. It wasn’t that long ago that the only choice you had for your deck was wood, which perhaps came in two or three types. However due to an explosion of composite lumber, plastic decking and hardwood imports there’s now a dizzying array of decking available. In this article we will discuss each options pros, cons, and recommendations in order to help you determine which material is best to fit your decking needs.
Pros: It is economical and plentiful. PT wood can last around 15 years when properly treated with a water repellent every two years.
Cons: If you use southern yellow pine it will crack and splinter as it dries. If Left untreated some PT wood turns muddy grey. In addition PT preservative chemical residue may cause health problems.
Recommendations: Consider PT wood that is factory-treated with water repellent such as Hickson’s Thompsonized PT and Osmose’s Armor All PT. You can also get prestained PT such as Osmose’s Woodshades which comes in three colors. If you want less toxic alternatives ACQ Preserve with UltraWood water repellent and Kodiak lumber are both good choices as they are preserved without arsenate, and are backed for life against termites, decay and fungi.
Redwood and Cedar
Pros: Redwood and cedar has glowing color, attractive straight grains and a natural resistance to decay and insects. The wood can also be left untreated to weather naturally and the life span is more than 20 years.
Cons: Both options are expensive. Redwood sapwood which is the newer wood closer to the bark rots when exposed for sustained periods to moisture and cedar sapwood breaks down quickly in moist conditions.
Recommendations: Clear heart, clear, B heart and B grade redwood are all fine for lower budgets. If you want to go with cedar clear all heart is the premium choice. Good lower cost alternatives include appearance grade and No. 1 select tight knot (STK).
Pros: Now more widely available, ipe (E-pay) is a durable teaklike tropical hardwood sold as Ironwood or Pau Lope (pow LOW-pay). It is twice as strong as oak and is more durable than redwood and cedar. It has a life span of at least 40 years and is resistant to insects and decay. Ironwood is backed by a 25-year transferable warranty, while Pau Lope comes with a 20-year limited warranty. All grades are virtually knot-free and have tight grain patterns which make this wood resistant to water. Another tropical hardwood option is cambara it is less durable than ipe but is also knot-free.
Cons: It is an expensive choice And requires predrilling for fasteners.
Recommendations: Ipe (E-pay) is the most durable choice but costs about $2 more per square foot then cambara.
Pros: It is virtually indestructible. It has skid resistance, sustainability, it’s low-maintenance, resists decay, and repels insects and UV rays. It is also splinter free and easy to work with. Trex, TimberTech and DuraWood EX come with 10-year warranties, while ChoiceDek and DuraWood PE are backed for 20 years.
Cons: Some composite decking has a plastic appearance and some times colors can fade over time. Some building codes also don’t allow composite lumber so check before you order it.
Recommendations: Typical choices are plain deck boards such as Trex and ChoiceDek, and shaped tongue and groove deck boards, such as TimberTech and SmartDeck’s DuraWood EX. SmartDeck also offers a 100 percent plastic product called DuraWood PE. If you’re going to be wiring the deck consider ChoiceDek and DuraWood as both of these deck and rail systems are formed to allow running wires within posts or deck boards.
Vinyl Deck Systems
Pros: Vinyl deck systems typically include deck boards, rails, spindles and fascia. They create a low maintenance deck that does not need sealers or finishes and is free of splinters and cracks. They also resist UV rays if treated at the factory. The three major manufacturers of vinyl deck systems Kroy, DreamDeck and EZ Deck offer limited lifetime warranties.
Cons: These systems can be very expensive. Vinyl can also fade and get brittle with age unless specially treated at the factory and all vinyl eventually loses its gloss.
Recommendations: Skid resistant planks are available in a variety of colors from Kroy, DreamDeck and EZ Deck. Also opt for color-fast, no-fade treatments like the one used by EZ Deck.
C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville,Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains. Feel free to contact C&H Construction with any questions you may have about your decking options, redoing your current deck or installing a new one.
What does having a low ACH (Air Change Per Hour) mean for you?
-You can reduce energy consumption due to air leakage.
-You can avoid moisture condensation problems.
-You can avoid uncomfortable drafts caused by cold air leaking in from the outdoors.
-You can save up to 30% on your energy bill just by making necessary upgrades following a home energy assessment.
The current Georgia building code requires a new home to have a air tightness test performed and be at 7 ACH or lower to receive a Certificate of Occupancy (C/O). This same code also requires duck tightness testing under certain circumstances but this article will discuss the air tightness only.
To measure the amount of air leakage in a home we use a tool called a blower door and a manometer which measures pressure. Let’s first start off by talking a little bit about what a blower door is. A blower door is a powerful fan that mounts into the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the home lowering the air pressure inside. The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all the unsealed cracks and openings.
Blower door tests are done to find the air infiltration rate of a building to determine how airtight your home is and to help find leaks. In addition to finding air infiltration a blower door test can also help find defects especially in conjunction with an infrared camera. The blower door will intensify the natural infiltration occurring in a house while the air outside that is forcing its way in shows up as a different color on the infrared camera. There are two types of blower doors calibrated and uncalibrated. It is important that when testing you use a calibrated door. The calibrated blower door has several gauges that measure the amount of air pulled out of the house by the fan. Uncalibrated blower doors can only locate leaks in homes and they provide no method for determining the overall tightness of a building. The calibrated blower door’s data allows the auditor to quantify the amount of air leakage and the effectiveness of any air-sealing job.
Blower door results can be expressed in a few different metrics. The most common one is air changes per hour (ACH), or how many times a house’s air is completely replaced in a given hour. Because we take our blower door measurement at 50 Pascal, most codes and standards reference the air changes at that elevated pressure, but we can also calculate the air changes under natural conditions as well. For example a code-built new home with decent air sealing might have 7 air changes per hour at 50 Pascal that means if we kept the blower door running for an hour it would pump in enough air to completely replace the home’s air 7 times. The math and metrics can get a little bit complicated so let’s put them in context. Here is a rough scale to compare your blower door test number to other standards: 10-20 ACH50 – Older homes with almost no air sealing 7-10 ACH50 – Average new home with some air sealing 7 ACH50 – OK infiltration level and the 2009 IECC energy code requirement 3-5 ACH50 – Good and achievable target for most new homes. 3 ACH50 and lower – Tight home with great air sealing, and required by the 2012 energy code first adopted in MD and coming to other jurisdictions soon. .6 ACH50 – Super tight home and the Passive House standard.
Preparing for testing:
– If you heat with wood be sure all fires are completely out this also includes hot coals before the auditor arrives.
– Remove any ashes from open fireplaces.
– Plan for a walk through of your home with the auditor.
– Be prepared to point out areas that you know are drafty.
– Expect the auditor to request access to all areas of your home this can include closets, built-in cabinets, attics, crawl spaces, and any unused rooms.
– Expect the auditor to set controls on all fossil fuel appliances to ensure that they do not fire during the test. This can include stoves, water heaters, etc.
– Expect the test to take up to an hour or more depending on the complexity of your home.
C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home Builder located in Blairsville,Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains is certified in air tightness testing. We can advise you on any changes you may need to make in order to achieve a lower ACH. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule a test.