Friday, June 30, 2006

House size increasing (link)

New Homes Bigger Than Ever
Average floor area for newly built homes rises to 2,434 square feet in 2005.

The average size of a new home climbed to a record high last year, according to annual data on new-home characteristics released by the U.S. Census Bureau last month, and in terms of amenities the distance between homes built today and homes built 30 years ago continued to widen.  For more info & statistics: News : Trends : New Homes Are Bigger Than Ever :

From HGTVPro News

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flat roof discussion (link)

New Roof on Top of Old
We have a townhouse with a flat tarpaper build-up roof that is approximately 25-35 years old. It has been actively leaking despite multiple attempts to fix the problem....

Link: install new roof on top of old? - Topic Powered by eve community  (FromHGTVPro News)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I'm a scheduled guest on The Idea Boutique:  It's a blog where authors discuss where they get the ideas for their stories.  (My world-building article is scheduled for July 2 and the background on my shared world anthology stories for August 1.) 

My story, Crystal Quest (sequel to Seedlings, which appeared in Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer) will appear in Magistria: Shards of the Goddess, which is scheduled for publication in August.

Taking Tawny Home is online at Story Station: Story Station - Children's Stories & Young Adult Stories


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Design & drafting software

I got some info and a CD for Chief Architect (Professional design & drafting software) recently.  I must have sent for it from a house magazine ad.  Apparently you can do home design, remodeling, kitchen & bath design, 3D models, automatic building tools, landscaping & site planning tools, CAD tools & details, drafting & design, blueprints & layouts, & cost estimating with it.  It looks really useful.  You can print plans on your printer or at a local print house with a flexible print-to-PDF option.  And lots more.  I haven't run the CD yet because I'm not sure I have enough memory.  Here's the link for an in-depth look: Home Design Software by Chief Architect

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Energy-Efficiency ... (link)

Energy-Efficiency is Profitable
Rising utility costs turn energy-saving upgrades into a lucrative business.

A kilowatt saved is a dollar earned

By Anne Balogh

June 14, 2006—As energy costs soar, more homeowners are taking serious measures to rein in their utility bills.

This concern for costs is spurring the market for energy-efficient building products and materials, and energizing business for builders and remodelers who are working to meet their clients’ desire to lower the light bill.

A survey by Lowe’s this year found 90 percent of the nation’s homebuilders are putting into homes products and mechanical systems that can slash utility expenses, ...

Link: Doing Business Best Practices : Home Improvement Remodeling, Building Contractor : HGTV Pro :

From: HGTVPro News

Monday, June 19, 2006

Hurricane Update: Materials, Labor ... (link)

Hurricane Update: Materials, Labor Still Tight
The 2006 hurricane season has begun, but last year's effects are still being felt.

By Marcia Jedd

June 5, 2006—Hurricane season 2006 has begun, but the construction industry has yet to put the effects of last year's catastrophe-ridden season behind it. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged communities throughout the Gulf Coast in August and September 2005, resulting in the largest national disaster in U.S. history. Direct and indirect results of the storms were bottlenecks in labor and materials all over the country. Some were already in short supply before the big hurricanes; ...  For more: News : Hurricanes & Tornadoes : Hurricane Update: Materials, Labor Still Tight :

From HGTVPro e-newsletter

Friday, June 16, 2006

Natural energy

In the July issue of Log Homes Illustrated is a very interesting article about a couple who live in the mountains of Utah far from any power lines and had to develop their own energy sources.  They have solar and wind power, also propane for some things.  They use a solar array, a wind turbine, and a steam generator to charge their batteries, which include marine batteries.  There's much more in the article, including energy efficiency.  There's a sidebar about the book, Got Sun? Go Solar, which is by Rex Ewing, the author of the article, who also lives in a log home powered by the sun and wind in the foothills of Colorado.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Beginning to build (book excerpt)

We closed on the property; we'd been working on the house plans through January. Now we’re waiting for the builder to pull the permits and start. (We had to wait for the final drawings first, and they’re not completely done yet, but we have some plans.) The builder has to get our new address too. On February 9 the builder told us to put a stake where we wanted the right front corner of the house, so we went to the property and put the stake in and measured the perimeter. Because we're building in the middle of five acres, we don't have to worry about setbacks. Our decision is easier because the pond is in front, and there are big oaks we have to consider; we certainly want to keep them. We make sure that we're far enough from the pond and the side and back oaks. Hammering the stake into the ground makes us feel that we're making progress. By the way, stakes come in handy for roping off any area you want protected. The builder of my mother's house really restricted the construction workers. There was a lot less ground to be leveled afterwards.

The horses were still there. (We thought they were gone.) The white horse with speckles met us at the gate. The two brown horses galloped towards us and sniffed at the stakes; they were very curious. I had dropped some stakes (I brought extras just in case) and a hammer on the ground while we were thinking about the site, and one of the horses picked the hammer up. I said sharply--Drop that! And they all scattered. (Years of yelling at dogs pays off.) When we went back a couple days later to see if the stake was still up (stop scratching yourself on that stake, Horse!), there were four stakes. The builder had been there!

From Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook, which is still # 6 on this Barnes &Noble list: Barnes & Books / Home & Garden / House & Home / Home - Do-It-Yourself / Architecture, Domestic->Amateurs' manuals

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fridges and ranges

I got some Sub-Zero and Wolf booklets and flyers in the mail yesterday, which I enjoyed looking at.  Sub-Zero has some lovely refrigerators and drawers.  I sort of like the glass doors, but that's extra cleaning, and I don't want anyone to see what the inside of my fridge looks like.  (Well, uh, that's just some leftovers for the dogs.)  Wolf has quite a variety of stove configurations, plus dual fuel ranges.  I wonder how easy it is to clean a deep fryer that's part of the stove... 

In Home magazine (July/August issue), I saw a new product piece about Perlick's undercounter refrigerators; they come in colors like amethyst and copper, with more to come, because of new technology that forces pigmented gases into stainless steel surfaces (involving electricity and a chamber).  You can use these indoors or out.  Prices start at $3, 050.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Alberto update

Alberto may become a category 1 hurricane tonight.  They didn't think it would strengthen, but they've been predicting a more northward turn for a while.  We got about three inches of rain so far; I'm hoping for more.  We did put all the hoses away during a break tonight; that is a lot of hoses to haul.  I think we're up to about 800 feet of hose now. We separated some and put them in a couple beds.  I coiled up about five or six hoses in one bed; there are possibly three in the azalea bed; and one or two or three run down to the SE flower bed.

Tuesday update: It didn't become a hurricane; and we got some strong rain bands during the night.  We have almost five inches from Alberto, and we're getting occasional small rain bands today.  No water in the ditches, which is significant.

Wednesday update: The front page of the paper had a photo of a manatee in a flooded backyard at Crystal River near Kings Bay.  That is definitely something you don't see every day!  Also in Crystal River, two manatees explored the flooded front yard of an apartment building, which also flooded. 

Thursday update: I believe the remnants of Alberto are in Canada now.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tropical Storm Alberto

Alberto slowly approaches; it has slowed way down.  The west side of Cuba got about 30", but so far it's mostly off shore here except for south Florida and the Keys.  Some boaters had to be rescued.  We got one or two little rain bands and some big wind gusts this afternoon.  There's a Tropical Storm Watch along the west coast.  We need the rain, though the fires weren't as bad as this year as some years, and DisneyWorld is not threatend, they say; and our pond hasn't dried up completely yet.  It's too early to tell how many plants and trees we've lost from this dry period; the drought index is high.  They're not predicting when it'll hit us, which means they're not sure.  This has been a hard storm to predict.  (They often are.)  Some of the sphaghetti strands are all over the map.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Re-roofing (discussion link)

Should New Roof Be Layered Over Original?
We are getting quotes for a new roof and would like opinions: should we remove the existing shingles or overlay them? Code allows....

Lots of helpful info: Roof Question - Topic Powered by eve community

From: HGTVPro News

Thursday, June 8, 2006

More Builders Going Green

More Builders Going Green
Survey shows 30% more builders producing energy-efficient, healthy homes in '06.
New York/June 6, 2006/PRNewswire/—Results of a National Association of Home Builders/ McGraw-Hill Construction survey indicate that 2005 saw a 20 percent increase in the number of home builders producing green, environmentally responsible homes, and that number will grow by another 30 percent this year.

The Residential Green Building SmartMarket Report details these findings as well as additional information on the burgeoning green home movement. Green building applies innovative and environmentally sensitive construction techniques and products to reduce energy and water consumption and improve residential comfort and safety.

After several years of slow but steady growth across the country, green home building is rapidly moving into the mainstream. ...

From HGTVPro News.  For rest of article: News : Trends : 30% More Builders To Go Green in '06, Says NAHB :

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Kitchen sink finder

If you’re looking for a sink or see kitchen renovation in your future, let the Sink Finder help you find the sink that’s right for you. With so many options, it can get overwhelming. The American Standard Sink Finder asks you simple questions and points you in the right direction. Retrieving data on sinks that match your preferences.

> Put the Sink Finder to work for you.

From: The American Standard eNewsletter

I tried their I Know What I'm Looking For questionnaire, but I decided to order their print literature.  It's too hard bouncing from page to page.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Hurricane preparedness

With hurricane season started (though it's quiet and dry here now, on this date in 2001, Tropical Storm Allison was over Texas), we are innundated, so to speak, with hurricane preparedness special sections and giveaways from local papers and organizations.  (The amounts of food and water to have on hand for you and your pets have been increased, btw.) Here's a link to NOAA's DisasterPreparedness kit list: Supply Kit

(Thanks, Lloyd)



Sunday, June 4, 2006

Hurricane Forecasters Lose a Tool


Published Sunday, June 4, 2006

Hurricane Forecasters Lose a Tool  FSU will not give the Hurricane Center free data from its acclaimed system.

LAKELAND -- For the first time this decade, the National Hurricane Center doesn't have one of its best tools in its forecasting toolbox.

Florida State University -- the alma mater of NHC Director Max Mayfield -- will not send data to the NHC from its acclaimed Superensemble computer forecasting model this season because it sold the commercial rights to its patented technology to a North Carolina company called Weather Predict.

The dilemma has pitted scientists against private enterprise and could put a price tag on information used to determine whether millions of people need to be evacuated as a storm approaches.

FSU meteorologists, including T.N. Krishnamurti, who created the forecast method in 1998, say they've been ordered by school administrators not to send Superensemble data to the NHC. 

Saturday, June 3, 2006

New house building idea

On the news last night, I saw a new building concept; they're using those big metal shipping containers.  They have to cut out windows and doors, but when they're finished, they look like a regular house.  They said they make a good hurricane proof home; they anchor them to concrete, I believe.  And one man said that if they ever try to take one by eminent domain, it won't be easy to raze it...  They looked impressive.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Is Your House a Trend Setter? (link with list)

Is the house you live in up-to-date on consumer lifestyle demands?

From The HouseMaster eNewsletter


June 1-November 30: Hurricane season

2006 hurricane forecast: 8-10 storms
The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will be very active, with up to 10 hurricanes, although not as busy as record-breaking 2005, the U.S. government's top climate agency said on Monday.

Atlantic storm names for 2006:

Alberto Beryl Chris Debby Ernesto Florence Gordon Helene Isaac Joyce Kirk Leslie Michael Nadine Oscar Patty Rafael Sandy Tony Valerie William

(Thanks, Lloyd)