Bob The Builder's Blog

Use Windows to Communicate Your Contemporary Design

Whether building a new home or remodeling an existing one, every homeowner wants to make the most of the space. For today’s lifestyles, that often means multi-functioning spaces throughout the blueprint. Known as “Contemporary,” these home design principles have evolved over the past century from a core belief that a home should be a “machine for the living.”

No opportunity for functionality is overlooked with a contemporary design, and that includes windows. Visible from both inside and out, the size, placement and function of each window is a critical factor in defining the home and its many purposes. It also contributes to the evolving functionality of spaces within a structure. Some guidelines for any new build or remodel that bring contemporary sensibility to your home’s overall style include:

1. Deliver light as far into the space as possible: when utilized correctly, the constantly changing light that flows through windows can transform an interior.  Balancing the placement of windows to deliver natural light as far into a built structure accomplishes one of the primary principles of contemporary design: serve a utilitarian purpose, not a decorative one.

2. Promote indoor air quality: Proper ventilation for a home goes beyond opening a window or two. Stacked ventilation, for example, utilizes roof windows in combination with wall windows, creating updrafts that funnel warm air outdoors and away from living areas. Interior window openings can help channel fresh air to a home’s more remote locations.

 3. Minimize ornamentation to maximize impact: With the right positioning, spectacular scenery can become the focus of a room, even the focus of a home. Whether as a huge picture window or a perfectly aligned group of smaller windows, this reinforces a home’s connection to its surroundings and is commonly referred to as managing the view.

4. Erase the divide between interior and exterior: Walls of windows or patio doors can help connect the interior of a home with the immediate surroundings. Thresholds are minimized, rooflines blend into tree lines, and outdoor spaces become your expanded living space.

5. Knowing which windows match a contemporary style is key to achieving that contemporary look.  To that end, this free site connects home styles and the proper windows based on architectural need.

With the right investment in thought and design, a contemporary home’s open spaces and clean lines become a blank canvas ready to bloom with the colors of the life you live, and remain relevant for your life as it grows and changes.

With more than 30 years of experience in product design and design research, Jay Libby is the Creative Services Manager at Andersen Windows.

Want to learn about the details that go into a great building and remodeling project? Watch our videos!

As you can see on our blog and elsewhere, we are active with recording videos when we are out on our jobsites. Our aim with these videos is to show you the level of detail and planning that needs to go into a new home construction and any home remodeling project.

We invite you to click here and spend some time viewing our videos and learning about the process! Enjoy!

Under Cabinet Eco-light Fixtures

Every homeowner wants to find that one must-have feature – a product for the home that both saves money and increases appeal. If this describes you, perhaps you should look into under cabinet eco-light fixtures.

What are under cabinet eco-light fixtures?

Just as the name implies, these fixtures are placed under cabinets for optimal location and projection of light, and rather than using halogen or fluorescent light, they utilize an eco-friendly LED lighting. You’ll most often notice under the cabinet lighting in the kitchen – where lighting is essential for safety.

What are the advantages of under cabinet eco-light fixtures?
Businesses have been using this type of light fixture for quite some time, but homeowners are quickly realizing the wide range of advantages that can help save money and increase a home's appeal.

·       Low Energy Requirement – Although the cost of LED illumination is roughly the same as other options, these lights require a low amount of energy to own and are, therefore, eco-friendly.

·       Cost Effective –These lights can be used at nominal temperatures.  This low amount of energy use, as illustrated above, translates to a lower cost.

·       Minimal Repair – LED lights are extremely stable, so there is little chance that any kind of repair will need to be done.

·       Aesthetically Pleasing –These eco-friendly fixtures are painstakingly constructed to provide an attractive, welcome addition to any home.

·       Comfort – The LED lighting utilized by these fixtures matches that of sunlight. This natural lighting makes people feel at ease. Just as real sunlight releases pleasurable hormones, so do these fixtures.

·       Sharp Details – Due to the natural white lighting, everything in the surrounding area is illuminated. Unlike other lighting options, such as halogen or fluorescent, this illumination improves the clarity of every object in the room, bringing everything into sharp focus.

As you can see, under cabinet eco-light fixtures offers a lot of appeal and is also a cost efficient ways to improve your home. Contact us today with any questions you have!


Update on a Local Kitchen & Bathroom Remodeling Project

Here's a video of an update on one of our local ktichen and bathroom remodeling projects - see the details and planning that is going into the project:

What Affects Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality is a hot topic. However, it begs the question: Why, after all of these years, is it now becoming a concern? 

It all starts with the construction of a home. Our homes are constructed “tighter” than ever before – to provide a comfortable climate and increased energy efficiency. As a result, our now tightly built homes also trap particles and pollutants indoors – which can cause indoor air quality to be poor – and have an effect on our health.

Poor indoor air quality can be the culprit for itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion, longer cold and flu seasons, headaches and even asthma. It is especially prevalent in the colder months when we don’t have windows open to allow breezes to flow through our homes.

As mentioned, building products are (unfortunately) a common culprit for polluting our indoor air. Formaldehyde is a common chemical used with many building materials such as plywood and particle board – all of which are needed to construct our homes. Carpets, glue and paint are other common culprits of “off-gassing” chemicals into the indoor air. Additionally, appliances and mechanical systems (such as gas stoves, fireplaces and water heaters) that burn fossil fuels can all contribute to the poor quality of indoor air.

Indoor air quality isn’t only a concern to new home construction, though. Benzene is another common pollutant which often decreases indoor air quality. It is found in many common household products such as latex-based paints, detergents, oils and rubber. In addition, many cleaners, carpet shampoos, spot removers and household adhesives contain trichloroethylene, a suppressant of the central nervous system. Further, carbon monoxide is often present in homes where furnaces are old or not properly maintained as well as in homes that use gas stoves. When you combine all of these chemicals with dust, mold and pet dander, you can see why indoor air quality is such a concern.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Because indoor air quality can deteriorate over time and cause discomfort and allergy-type symptoms for you and your family, the first step to improving your indoor air quality is simple: control the source of pollution. For outdoor contaminants (such as pollen and dirt), take off your shoes in the foyer and do not walk with them inside the house. Clean your home regularly, and invest in a vacuum that has a HEPA filter that will trap microscopic particles. If your home contains gas-burning appliances or mechanical systems, work with your contractor to see if you can decrease the amount of emissions.

Other steps you can take include improving your home’s ventilation system so you are bringing fresh air into your home. This can be as simple as cracking a window, or operating window or attic fans to circulate the air. Additionally, since household cleaners are a huge culprit for decreasing indoor air quality, make sure when cleaning with these products that you do so in a well-ventilated space. You may also want to research natural cleaning alternatives.

By making these changes and monitoring the indoor air quality of your home regularly, you will be able to keep your family comfortable and healthy at the same time.


Your Windows: Energy-Saving Options

Our homes can consume a lot of nonrenewable resources, particularly when it comes to keeping comfortable. With the price of fossil fuels rising every year, heat and air conditioning are among every homeowner’s most expensive line-item.

One way to cut down on the costs and improve your efficiency is to install energy-saving windows.

If your home has older windows, the money you are trying to save in other ways, such as installing energy-efficient appliances or buying local produce, is going right out the window – literally. Older windows are single pane, which can be a large source of heat transfer – meaning they allow the warmth out in the winter and the heat in in the summer. This will cause your HVAC system to work overtime just to keep your family comfortable.

Windows are actually the most common place for homes to lose energy. Why? Because glass is an excellent conductor. It quickly moves energy from one side of the window to the other. Think of your car and how warm and steamy the interior gets when it is parked in the sun, even though it is pleasant outside.

Besides replacing your windows with more energy-efficient ones, there are other steps you can take to make your windows more energy efficient and reduce your energy consumption.

·       Seal windows. Sealing the gaps around windows and doors can help reduce drafts (most noticeable in the winter) and heat loss.

·       Use window treatments. To keep your home comfortable all year round, use blinds and drapes that have an insulating lining. When you want the warmth of the sun inside, open up them up, and close them when you want to block the rays. Insulated drapes keep the warmth inside during cold winter months, too.

Keep in mind that although your home may not be terribly old, the windows may still have less-than-ideal energy-efficiency ratings. Check the ratings and compare those to what’s available today.

For homeowners who want to truly improve their home’s energy efficiency, your best bet is to replace inefficient windows with more efficient ones. Look for “Low-E” windows that have krypton or argon gas between the panes. The gases are invisible, but serve as a protective layer of insulation that prevents glass from being a heat conductor.

If you'd like to increase your home's comfort level while spending less on heating and cooling, improving your windows is the answer. Seal cracks, install appropriate window treatments and replace old, inefficient windows, and soon you’ll notice a big difference.

Give us a call if you have any questions! We are here to help.

How Geothermal Heating Works

We had a great feature article in Fine Home Building a few years back - and in it, Geothermal heating was discussed in detail.

You can read the entire article here (be sure to click on the PDF link at the top of the page for graphics and details) and learn more below:

How it works: Heat from the earth
Geothermal heating and cooling are based on the fact that while temperatures above-ground can vary greatly during the year, temperatures belowground remain fairly constant. In winter, when the temperature underground is warmer than the air temperature, tubes carrying water or freeze-resistant liquid bring heat from the ground to a heat pump that extracts the heat and distributes it throughout the house. In cooling mode, the heat pump functions like an air conditioner, extracting heat from the home and releasing it underground. In many systems, like Burnside’s, some of that excess heat is routed through another heat exchanger called a desuperheater to produce domestic hot water.

Not Just for New Homes
Retrofits account for about 70% of the geothermal installations done by Michigan Energy Services, the company that installed Burnside’s system. The easiest retrofits tap into existing forced-air systems, according to vice president Rob Derksen. Costs range from $18,000 to about $30,000, depending on site conditions and the extent of modifications required. Although geothermal is often used in conjunction with radiant-floor heating, the water it produces is not hot enough to make it compatible with hydronic baseboard systems. In that case, forced-air ductwork is usually added.

Have questions or want to know more? Contact us for a quick and informative reply!

Yes! We can help you with the design on your project

We just updated the Design & Architectural section of our website.

It reviews and shows examples of the following design stages:

  • Initial Pencil Sketches
  • Schematic Design Phase
  • Design Development
  • Construction Drawings
  • Optional 3D Walk Thru

Fireside Home Construction has resources to aid in design throughout the process. We work with several designers or architects to assist with this phase. Click here to see some examples of the different phases of the design process along with an example of an optional 3D walk thru that we have completed for many of our projects.

Meadow Retreat - Excavating begins

Meadow Retreat - Excavating begins

Meadow Retreat - Stakes in the yard (And deer!)

Meadow Retreat - Stakes in the yard!

We mention our Architect friends over at Archtectural Resource in this video - they have done wonderful work in designing this new project!

Thank You Friends For Your Referrals

We want to thank everyone who has referred Fireside Home Construction to their friends, family or acquaintances over the last several months. Your kind actions are really what make us a success. If you know someone who is thinking about building or remodeling - whether they are at the very beginning stages of their planning and just have questions or are ready to take action on the project next month - please consider sending them our way.

We also wanted to let you know we have a new Referral Program.

  • Any referral you send to us that becomes a new client, as a thank you, we will donate $100 to the local charity of your choice.

It is our way of showing you our appreciation and to help a cause that is important to you.

Thank you for your help!


Fireside Chat: Complete Dining Room & Kitchen Remodel

Enjoy this 'behind the drywall' tour of a complete Dining Room & Kitchen remodel we are working on in Saline, MI:

Home on the Range Update: Mechanical Room & Backup System

Home on the Range Update: Mechanical Room & Backup System

Home on the Range Update: Painting Progress Upstairs

Home on the Range Update: Painting Progress Upstairs, knockdown ceiling, planning and protection:

Home on the Range Update: Painting Stage

Home on the Range Update: Painting Stage

Preplanning - May make your head spin, but we love it!

While all of the preplanning that Bob reviews in the video below may make your head spin... But here at Fireside Home Construction - we love it!

See the value we bring and deliver to your project through all of the well thought out preplanning that goes into every project we work on:

Home On The Range Siding & Details. Details. Details!

In this video Bob shares a BUNCH of details related to the siding and outside of the Home On The Range.

Too many details to list out here - so go ahead and watch the video! Great information and education on how everything is coming together:

Energy efficient building, R-Value, insulation, etc.

You've heard about energy efficient building, R-Value, insulation - here is what it looks like when it's done right... A 'behind the drywall' look for you!

Fireside Chat: Electrical Wiring

Behind the scenes look at how we achieve proper planning and budgeting related to Electrical Wiring in the home. Details can be seen here:

Our Homeowner Seminars Featured in National Magazine

Coming up on October 15th, we will be hosting a free Kitchen, Bath, or Addition Homeowner Seminar. Learn more and RSVP.

We also wanted you to read a quick article on our Homeowners Seminars that was featured in a national Remodeling Magazine. Click here to read the Remodeling Magazine article.

We look forward to seeing you on October 15th or at one of our future homeowner seminars!

Home On The Range: More Outside Progress & AZEK Trim

In this video Bob reviews with you some of the materials that we are using on the outside of the Home On The Range. Including AZEK Trim and Sherwin Williams Super Paint.

Watch the video below:

Putting in Septic System & Other Outside Progress

Video showing some of the Septic work, preplanning, and some of the additional outside progress:

Interest rates are at historic lows!

As this is being written, 30-year fixed rates are under 5% and 15-year rates are well below that number. Those are the lowest rates in the past 40 years. True, credit is tighter than it was five years ago, but that only affects those with marginal credit. The vast majority of home buyers will not be impacted by more stringent lending standards. Low mortgage rates, combined with the lowest land costs we’re ever likely to see, mean that right now you can build more house for the money than you will when the housing market recovers.

For years, we have worked closely with Todd Philpotts of 1st Place Bank up in Grand Blanc, MI. We have a lot of trust and respect for Todd - don't hesitate to give him a call to learn more about your mortgage and financing options: 810-444-0211.

Laurence Smith Window & Door. One of the keys to our success.

One of the keys to being a successful builder is who you work with.

In the video below Bob tells you about one of our suppliers, Laurence Smith Window & Door. As a homeowner and Fireside client this is important for you to know:

Some New Photos of the 'Home on the Range'

Shingles are on, windows and in, brick work has begun - see a few new photos in the slideshow below:

Why Choose Fireside