Energy Conservation: 10 Ways to Save Energy

There are many different ways to reduce your household’s energy use, ranging from simple behavioral adjustments to extensive home improvements. The two major motives for conserving energy are to save on utility bills and protect the environment. Here are the ten most common ways to conserve energy in your home, listed from the simplest to the most intensive methods. Continue reading

Flat Roof Considerations

Flat roofs are cheap to install, but may face issues with waterproofing.

What is a flat roof?
A flat roof is installed to sit horizontally on top of a building, with very little or no pitch. A flat roof is ideal in many ways – for example they’re cheap, fast and easy to install. The key problem with flat roofs however, is they can be difficult to waterproof. A pitched roof encourages rain, ice and snow to drain or slide off. Water on a flat roof tends to pool and then soak down into the house. Continue reading

Design with Dormers

One of the best ways to increase the usable floor space of a 11/2-story house is to add a dormer. It increases headroom, it provides daylight and fresh air, it makes previously dead space fully functional, and it doesn’t change the footprint of the house. With its long, simple roof, a shed dormer adds the most floor space and more opportunities for windows than other dormer types. Continue reading

Five Cutting-Edge Building Materials to Watch

The following materials technologies are making significant headway this year. This motley collection of innovations, which includes clothing made from synthesized spider threads, consumer products bio-engineered from discarded shrimp shells, and a bridge built entirely by robots, represents the culmination of years—sometimes decades—of research. Continue reading

Architectural Acoustics

Architectural acoustics (also known as room acoustics and building acoustics) is the science and engineering of achieving a good sound within a building and is a branch of acoustical engineering. The first application of modern scientific methods to architectural acoustics was carried out by Wallace Sabine in the Fogg Museum lecture room who then applied his new found knowledge to the design of Symphony Hall, Boston. Continue reading

Santa Cruz’ “Granny Flat” Program

Like many small cities across the country, Santa Cruz is struggling to maintain its small-town character despite enormous growth pressures.With few new development sites left, the city has turned to its primary asset for help – its single-family neighborhoods, where it is allowing property owners to develop accessory dwelling units, commonly known as a “granny flat.

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7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride. A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. A complete kitchen renovation with a national median cost of $65,000 recovers about 62% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to the National Association of Realtors. Continue reading