Archive for home improvements

What is LEED?

New Homes Construction:  What is LEED?

frame work boston construction charles countyEmbracing an eco-friendly lifestyle is more than just recycling cans and newspapers or campaigning for endangered species. Smart environmental living also extends to our homes and offices. In recognition of that, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system, often referred to as “LEED,” was established to exemplify green building, maintenance and operation in offices, homes and neighborhoods.

LEED is essentially a rating system for the building and maintenance industry. Established by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED has become an internationally recognized mark of excellence. According to the USGBC, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. Since the system was created in 1998, LEED ratings standards have been applied to more than 7,000 projects in the United States, as well as 30 additional countries, and more than a billion square feet of developed area has been LEED classified.

Various parameters must be met before a building can receive LEED certification. LEED requires a set of prerequisites and credits. Prerequisites include required elements or strategies that must be included in all LEED-certified projects. Credits are extra incentives that can be included in projects to work toward LEED certification. The ratings system generally uses a numeric scale of 110 points for buildings, while LEED for Homes has a scale based on 131 points. Credits are allocated based on the environmental impacts and human benefits of the buildings and operations. Projects can receive basic certification between 40 to 49 points, and Platinum status is reached at 80-plus points. LEED v4 is the next incarnation of the rating system and will focus even more on increasing the lengths to which projects go to employ green goals.

While the rating system was developed through an open, consensus-based process that involved USGBC volunteers and working groups, third parties are responsible for verifying that a building, home or community was created using strategies aimed at high performance in environmental health. These include, but are not limited to, water savings, energy efficiency, sustainable site development, and indoor environmental quality. USGBC says LEED is flexible enough to apply to all project types.

LEED is also internationally known and accepted, and in 2003 the Canada Green Building Council received permission to create LEED Canada-NC v1.0.

Examples of LEED-certified structures include the Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Penn., which has multiple LEED certifications, including the world’s only Platinum-Certified greenhouse. Shearer’s Foods plant in Ohio is the first food manufacturing plant to receive LEED Platinum status. Since 2011, Taipei 101 has been the tallest and largest green LEED Platinum-certified building in the world. Individuals can visit www.usgbc.org and search the USGBC directory of more than 64,000 registered and certified LEED projects to see how each achieved their certification.

Renovating an historic home

historic-home-remodelingHistoric-home renovations require additional planning and a bigger budget than newer homes in Southern Maryland.

Living in an historic home can be a labor of love. The history and the distinct architecture of historic homes draw buyers to such properties, but what historic homes have in regard to history they often lack in the conveniences of modern life, forcing many historic-home owners to make renovations to bring their homes into the 21st century.

Historic-home renovations differ from other types of modifications. According to the Victorian Preservation Association, renovation is getting a home back to where it may have been when originally built, but making concessions for today’s lifestyle. Preservation is the act of maintaining a structure in its current historic state, and restoration is returning a home to its original state. Unless a homeowner plans to use an outhouse or live without electricity, the majority of work done on historic properties is likely to fall into the category of a renovation.

Renovating an aging structure can be fulfilling and help to make a home more functional. But make no mistake, such a renovation is a major undertaking. Before beginning, it pays to hire a professional consultant with expertise in renovating historic properties. He or she can inspect the property to determine which areas of the home are safe and which will need to be upgraded. A professional inspection also can determine if any deficiencies lie hidden in the structure. Potential concerns can be toxic paints and other substances, building code issues, rotting, and structural settling. Professionals will know what to

look for and guide homeowners

accordingly.

Homeowners also may want to consult with a preservation association, community restoration group or general owner-builder group. These people can refer homeowners to the craftspeople and materials that will be needed for a job. Homeowners can request to see other historic properties in the area and learn what those owners did to maintain the integrity of a home when using newer materials.

Before any work is started, homeowners should find out if their home is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. According to the United States National Parks Service, property owners can do whatever they want with their property so long as there are no federal monies attached to the property. However, the property owner should also contact his or her state’s historic preservation office, or SHPO. The SHPO is the state agency that oversees historic preservation efforts in each state, and there may be state or local preservation laws that the owner should be aware of before renovating a historic property.

Craftspeople should have experience with historic homes and a sensitivity and appreciation of renovating older properties. Homeowners always should see examples of a craftsperson’s work and verify references from each contractor before hiring anyone to work on the property.

Homeowners who want to include traditional hardware and other period details in their homes may be able to find quality replicas of historic milling materials, while others may want to scour antique shops or salvage yards for era-appropriate materials.

Historic renovations can be costly and have a tendency to go over budget because of unforseen damage and hazards that have to be repaired so the building is up to code. Going into the project with this in mind can help soften the blow of extra costs down the road.

Historic homes can be beautiful and appeal to buyers who appreciate the one-of-a-kind nature of older properties. Renovating historic homes may take time and money, but the results may be well worth the effort.

5 signs your home insulation is not working

Brought to you by a Southern MD Builder:  Boston Construction Company / Charles County MD…  Some insulations can lose performance over time, sustain damage or simply no longer meet updated building codes.

attic insulation servicesIt’s an issue that can be costly, because if your home’s insulation isn’t doing its job, you could be wasting money and resources. You don’t have to be a trained professional to know you have a problem.

Here are several signs that your insulation is lacking:

1. Energy bills

— High energy bills are the biggest red flag, especially relative to the size, age or condition of the home. If you have a run-away energy bill, your insulation may need to be upgraded. This can be the case, even in a newer home.

2. Drafts

— Do you need to put on a sweater even with the heat on, or does your air conditioner run incessantly without making enough of a difference? That’s a sign of a deficiency in your building envelope.

3. Inconsistent temperatures

— Is it warm in one room, but cold in another? Are your walls or interior closets cold to the touch? It’s possible that while your whole home may not need attention, certain rooms may need to be addressed.

4. Condition of insulating materials

— Consider the age of your insulation. Would it stand up to today’s building codes? Is it in good shape or is it crumbly? If your insulation has degraded or isn’t performing, it’s time for an upgrade. But be careful, as certain types of older insulation, such as Vermiculite insulation, may contain asbestos. If you’re unsure, do not disturb it and hire a professional to conduct testing and/or removal. This should not be a do-it-yourself job.

5. You detect pests and/or moisture

— Insulation — and your building envelope — can be compromised by the presence of pests. Moisture is an even bigger obstacle to optimal thermal performance, as some types of insulation can sag or collapse when damp, leaving voids and causing air to flow in and out of the building envelope.

While some solutions may be more complicated, requiring the opening of the existing wall cavities, others can be addressed more easily. The best way to improve thermal performance and increase energy efficiency is to upgrade attic insulation. Laying Comfortbatt insulation over existing material to achieve a minimum depth of 16 inches, or an R-value of R50, is a simple DIY project that can generate immediate results.

To fully assess your home and explore remediation solutions, consider hiring a professional home energy auditor to evaluate your home’s energy performance. Even in a new home, the results may be surprising.

You probably searched for a home improvement company near me when you  found this page.  We hope it helped you to discover if you were having insulation problems.  For home insulation issues and any home improvement in Calvert County, Charles County or St. Mary’s County call Boston Construction Company.

 

Kitchen Remodeling in Southern MD

Kitchen Remodeling project in Southern Maryland  includes granite countertops!

Boston Construction is  delighted to meet with you to discuss and help plan and undertake any kitchen remodeling project. This beautiful custom kitchen includes a new ceramic tile floor, upgraded cabinetry, custom granite countertops, new appliances and custom tile above the countertops.

View the New Kitchen for Rich and Mary, our friends in Southern Maryland.

Design your kitchen to fit your lifestyle.  We spend a lot of time in the kitchen with friends and family making wonderful memories.  It should be the room you want it to be.  Boston Construction is skilled in designing and remodeling kitchens of all sizes.  If you are looking for a kitchen remodeling company call Boston Construction now.

Contact Boston Construction to make your ordinary kitchen, EXTRAORDINARY today!

Add value to your home with these Southern Maryland renovations

Homeowners throughout Southern Maryland choose renovation projects for a variety of reasons.

southern-maryland-renovationsAlthough many improvements are made to increase functionality and comfort of a home, several others are seen as worthwhile investments. These investments can add up to a higher resale value when the time comes to sell a home.
Certain projects have a history of providing a greater return on homeowners’ investments than others. The following renovation tips can add beauty to your Southern Maryland home and generate great returns when you put the home up for sale.
· Invest in your kitchen. Kitchen remodels in Charles County, St. Mary’s County and Calvert County are a safe bet when it comes to putting money into improving a home. Residents tend to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, but a dated, poorly functioning kitchen can detract from the value of a home, even if the rest of the home is in good shape. It’s possible to recoup between 60 and 120 percent of your kitchen remodel investment, especially if the kitchen matches up well with the rest of your home. Homeowners should know that a deluxe renovation may not be necessary, as relatively moderate improvements can create a whole new look for a kitchen.
· Look to paint. According to most Southern Maryland Remodelers one of the least expensive improvement materials, but one that has a significant impact, is paint. Neutral, modern colors can easily liven up any space. If you paint with low-VOC paint, you also can advertise an eco-friendly home, which is very desireable these days.
· Put in another bathroom. Multiple bathrooms are an attractive selling point, particularly in older homes that may not have been equipped with more than one bathroom. Finding extra space for a bathroom can be tricky, but consider closets, areas under stairs or even taking some space away from another room. Popular home-improvement television channel HGTV advises that half-bathrooms require at least 18 square feet of space, while full baths need 30 to 35 square feet for a stand-up shower or bathtub.
· Renovate the HVAC system. Aesthetic improvements aren’t the only ones that add value to a home. Many home buyers are eager to purchase a home that has a new heating and cooling system, as buyers understand that furnaces and air conditioning units are substantial investments that can last for years. Other improvements, such as adding attic insulation or replacing older windows and doors with more energy efficient options, also are smart bets.
· Add illumination to rooms. A dark home is a dreary home. Adding light can mean including more overhead and accent lighting. Under-cabinet task lighting is a nice touch. Inclusion of skylights and sun tubes can bring natural light into rooms that may not have south- or west-facing windows.
· Put a deck addition outdoors. Outdoor living spaces have become more desirable, especially as the “staycation” has grown in popularity. Decks and patios can make backyards more appealing. The scope of your investment will depend on the size of the deck and design. Doing the work yourself can cut the cost of decks in half, but only if you have the specific tools or experience to tackle such a project.
· Improve curb appeal. Adding attractive landscaping and freshening up the entryway to a home can add considerable value to your home, as buyers judge homes by their exteriors. Completely renovated interiors may never be seen if buyers pass up your home because of a less attractive exterior. Classy, subtle changes, like well-placed shrubbery and a green lawn, can work wonders. An inviting front door and well-lit entryway also add curb appeal to a home.
Before making improvements, Call Boston Construction to help with your home remodeling projects.

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