Monthly Archives: February 2014

HOW TO BUILD THE PERFECT HOME OFFICE

Whether the majority of your time is spent working from a home office or you just need a place to escape and pay the bills, a dedicated home office can be an excellent space to get work done. Building the perfect home office is always easiest with custom home construction, however if you’re considering home renovations, or building a home addition, the same ideas can apply. Following are a few things to consider when planning how to most effectively build your home office.

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Privacy
You’re going to need privacy for phone calls and to concentrate on work. If possible, plan for your home office to be as separated from the busiest part of the house as possible. Ideally your office would not be located by the kitchen or family room. Also, consider the option of completely isolating your space from the rest of the home. Don’t use part of an open floor to set up a desk. Instead, build or repurpose an existing room with a seperate door. Another option is to construct a separate home office that’s detached from the main house. In this case you’ll want to consult with town zoning, as building regulations will vary from town to town. Greenwich will have different zoning laws than Westport, for example.

Temperature Control
If you’re going to be the only person in the home for a good portion of each day then you’ll want to consider the value of zoned heating. When building out your home office it would be ideal to have a separate heat zone that can be activated, along with select key parts of the house, for daily working.

Electronic Needs
When laying out your home office with a home builder or architect, you’ll want to consider the placement of your desk and equipment. Power sources and cable hookups (for web) should be placed to provide easy access to your workstation. Skip the television connections, however. Although tempting, a TV can provide major distractions. You’ll also want to consider a customized lighting scheme. The appropriate lighting scheme has the ability to provide enough light in the right spots to augment natural sunlight and provide sufficient light in the evening.

Storage and Workspace
Clutter can effect productivity and make you feel cramped, especially in a home office. Plan ahead to determine how much storage, filing and workspace you’ll need to accommodate your equipment, literature and supplies. Custom bookshelves and storage cabinets look great and are often a popular resale item.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company

WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING RAW LAND

Building a custom home provides an excellent opportunity to control every aspect of the finished product, from floor plan to amenities. But before you can begin construction of your custom dream home, you’ll need the right parcel of land. The winter months actually provide a good opportunity to shop for land, as the parcel will be more visible without foliage. You’ll have an unobstructed view of the land’s contours and be able to get a better sense of proximity to abutting properties. Following are a few items to keep in mind as you shop for the perfect piece of land for your new home construction project.

Meadow

Feasibility for Building
Several factors need to be considered when you’re determining the feasibility of homebuilding on raw land. You’ll want to establish the limitations that come with wetlands, setbacks, land contours and soil conditions. In addition, there may be certain restrictions related to building size. Some factors can be worked around with the right technology and engineering; however, other factors may require significant planning and strategy or may limit the scope of your intended homebuilding plans. An experienced homebuilder can help you here.

Restrictive Covenants
Restrictive covenants are typically associated with developments. They can carry certain deeded legal restrictions that dictate the type of homebuilding materials that you can use, paint colors, types of fencing, etc. They can also be used to dictate the type of activities that take place in the home, such as home office use or renting the home.

Access to Utilities
Utility access is something that can easily be overlooked. Land buyers often consider it a given that there will be access to fundamental utilities. However, there are several factors to consider regarding the installation of utilities when building a new home. For example, if the property contains a significant quantity of ledge just below the surface, it might be difficult or prohibitive to run underground power, water, sewage and/or gas lines to the home. The same issue has the potential to restrict or limit well and septic size and installment.

Easements
If you find the right piece of land to build your dream custom home, but it does not have proper access to public roads, then you’ll likely need an easement to access the land across a neighboring lot. Easements provide limited use of property for essentials such as utility access and driveways.

Your dream homebuilding process starts with the right piece of land. Beginning the process with accurate information can help you avoid surprises down the line and make things move along quicker.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company

THE PROPANE SHORTAGE AND ALTERNATE FUEL OPTIONS AND COSTS

The recent rise in propane costs has some of us considering fuel alternatives. Are we better off with natural gas here in Fairfield County and across CT? And for those without access to natural gas, how do today’s propane costs compare to oil? If you’re considering a new home building project or renovation, or just considering updating your heating system, the propane shortage is probably on your mind.

Fuel Types

Record cold temperatures, mainly in the Midwest and Northeast, have caused high demand for the supply of propane, causing prices to rise as demand increases. Keeping up with this demand works a little differently from the supply and demand of oil, mainly due to the way propane is stored. In Fairfield and Westchester Counties and the Northeast states, we have a limited storage capacity. In addition, local dealers have had trouble receiving delivery by rail as a result of the harsh weather conditions.

So how do oil, propane and natural gas prices compare? As of February 3, 2014 residential propane in Connecticut costs about $3.80 per gallon. Residential heating oil is at $4.35 per gallon.  Natural gas is measured and priced by cubic feet, not gallon; however, natural gas is significantly less costly — upwards of 80% cheaper than oil, on average.

If you have the option to switch to natural gas, fuel costs, of course, are not the only factor to consider. The cost of new equipment and maintenance must be taken into account as well. These costs can range dramatically depending on the type of systems involved and the maintenance needs.

If you’re undergoing a new home construction project and have access to natural gas, the savings can be significant. If you’re looking to convert as part of a renovation, or just a straight conversion, then you’ll want to factor in the equipment and maintenance costs as well.  Either way, I think we’re all looking forward to the spring.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company

UNDERSTANDING YOUR ROOFING MATERIAL OPTIONS

Building or renovating a home entails a variety of practical and aesthetic decisions. Whether you’re considering new home construction or just the addition of a new roof to an existing house, the roof material that you choose will have a significant visual impact.  Proper installation will ensure that it holds up to our unpredictable Fairfield County shoreline weather. Following are a few of the more popular materials that are available.

Wood Roof

Asphalt Shingles
The majority of roofs in the U.S. are covered by asphalt shingles. Today the standard three-tab variety is most common and comes in about 12 colors – both solid and blended.  This type of shingle is popular due to its value and respectable durability. Most brands are guaranteed for 20 – 30 years. The next step up from the standard three-tab variety is the architectural style shingle. This style is typically about double the thickness and provides a more sophisticated finished look.

Wood Shingles & Shakes
The aesthetic value of a wood roof is hard to beat and is a popular choice in Fairfield and Westchester Counties. Over time wood shingles weather naturally and provide a warm, natural look that blends with the New England landscape.  Wood Shingles are typically smooth and cut uniformly, while shakes are rougher and less uniform. Installation of a wood roof requires proper air circulation beneath the shingles. The product should be laid over a substrate of either wood lattice or composite material that raises the shingles just a bit. A wood roof will require some regular maintenance including removal of mildew that tends to build up. A properly installed wood roof has a life expectancy of about 30 – 50 years.

Clay Tile
Clay tiles were traditionally formed by hand. Today they’re molded using forms and then kiln fired. Installation involves either overlapping or interlocking one to another. The clay tile roof is one of the most durable, and therefore longest lasting. Clay is considered a lifetime roof and will often outlive the base material beneath it.  Tiles can be curved or flat and come in a range of textures and colors. Although clay tile is one of the more expensive roofing options, it provides an unmatched natural aesthetic and has a very long lifespan. Additional support often needs to be constructed to handle the additional weight of tile.

Metal
In a renovation situation metal can be installed directly over your existing roof. This is just one of the benefits. Metal will typically last two to three times longer than an asphalt roof and can be installed in a variety of finishes.  Options include straight seem or formed styles that mimic shakes or shingles. Metal roofs are most commonly made with steel or aluminum, although copper, zinc and titanium are also available. It is often assumed that metal roofs are louder in rain and weather events, however this is not the case. They are just as quite as a shingle roof would be.

Slate
Although slate is one of the most costly options it provides one of the most durable and uniquely attractive finishes available. Slate will provide a 100 – 150 year lifespan. The high weight of slate requires proper installation and the structure needs to be supported properly to hold the product. Slate can weigh between 800 – 1,500 pounds per square 100 feet. Using an experienced builder with this type of material is critical.

These are just a few of the more popular roofing material options available. Others include composites, concrete tiles and even thatch.  Today’s materials are better made and provide us with a nice range to choose from.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company