Author: ddev

Lighting Trends in New Homes

New American homes and remodels are turning to certain lighting trends to transform dark rooms into bright and beautiful. Lighting is no longer just a functional decision, but a way to add personality to a space. With so many lighting designs and fixtures available today, the trend is towards open-space layouts and the following styles.

Sculptural lighting

Sculptural lighting fixtures are usually a combination of unique abstract designs and colors along with functionality. These can be bold lighting fixtures that act as pieces of art and can become a conversation piece while entertaining guests. Small sculptural lighting can add interest to various parts of the room.

Modern elegant fixtures

Many people prefer modern, elegant lighting with clean, geometric lines and luxurious materials. Look for lighting that takes cold, contemporary designs with simple shapes and add a metallic finish, a little interest in the form of contemporary cut crystals or a unique and aesthetic glass shape.

Chrome and nickel lighting

Polished nickel and chrome fixtures are also popular in new or remodeled homes. While chrome and nickel lighting are available in both brushed matte finishes and glossy polished finishes, the latter are more popular with new homeowners.

Layered lighting

Layered lighting is very common in new kitchens and living rooms. This means a combination of recessed lighting and central flush-mounted fixtures or chandeliers to suit the style of the home. Recessed lighting is ideally placed around the room’s perimeter, around 30 inches from the walls. Central lighting could be bold chandeliers over the kitchen island, casual refined rustic lighting with modern shapes and rustic finishes, crystal lighting, or cold and clean modern designs with luxurious metals such as polished chrome or nickel. Layered lighting offers flexibility for a space and makes for a more functional area.

Other functional kitchen lighting trends

Since large, multifunctional open kitchens are popular today, where the family gathers most of the day, popular lighting choices for the kitchen are both aesthetic and functional. In combination with layered lighting, new kitchens are using a variety of lighting including track lighting, LED under-cabinet lights, pendants, wall sconces etc. Cabinets and display areas are typically fitted with LED puck lighting. It is possible to create spots, scallops or pools of light with these instead of even illumination. Flexible LED tape is typical in under-cabinet areas.

LED lighting

The LED deserves a mention here since many new homeowners and those replacing old lights and fixtures are considering LED bulbs and lamps as a replacement. Manufacturers like General Electric offering more than forty styles of LED lamps and bulbs. The warm lighting, energy efficiency, instant lighting and longer life (of as much as fifteen times more than incandescent bulbs) offered by LEDs is very attractive to consumers. Soft contemporary styles and Edison bulbs with sheer glass pendants are very popular.

Whether it is ambient lighting, task lighting, accents or decorative lighting, the new home lighting trends are moving towards modern, clean lines, metallic finishes, and energy-efficient LEDs into an integrated, layered design. Some abstract, futuristic shapes may be used as decorative lighting. But when choosing lighting for your home, it is always important to consider the activities that take place in each room, the mood you’re aiming for, and the objects you would like to highlight.

Flooring Types in Alaska

Custom Cherry and Iron Stair Rail - Anchorage, AK

With the wide array of floor types available in the market, most people find themselves stranded while choosing the best flooring type to install in their homes. Choosing the right floor for your home is a critical issue that should not be underestimated. Different floors rate differently when it comes to durability, cost, ease of cleaning and difficulty of installation.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles come in many sizes, shapes and colors. They are made from hardened clay that has been fired at very high temperatures. One great feature about ceramic tiles is that they are stain and water resistant, hence ideal for indoor use. They are generally strong and durable, with the variations in designs bringing about more aesthetics. Variations in this tile include

– Quarry tile that is basically an unglazed ceramic tile. It’s slightly rough in texture making it slip resistant

– Porcelain tile that even harder since kilned in very high temperatures than quarry tile. It’s therefore more durable, and exists as either glazed or unglazed.

– Glazed ceramic tile that contains a glass-like coating. This coating allows the tile to feature unlimited varieties of textures and colors.

– Terracotta tile that is features rustic appearance with earthly colors. It’s unglazed but less durable.

Laminate

At times it could be difficult to distinguish it from engineering wood because its top finish looks like real hardwood. Laminate flooring is largely known for its low maintenance costs. Apparently, it’s more resistant to scratches and dents, making it the perfect choice for most households. It’s also generally easy to clean.

Carpet

Probably the most versatile floor of them all, boasting more designs and colors than any other type of floor. Carpet flooring exists as either synthetic or natural. Synthetic carpet is made of nylon, polyester or polypropylene, while natural carpet is conventionally made of wool. This floor is generally soft, and absorbs echoes, maintaining a soft and quiet environment. It still manages to maintain a warm environment even in cold seasons.

Hardwood

Hardwood floor is usually made from a piece of hardwood timber from trees such as hickory or Oak. The floor is therefore extremely durable, and can last for over a lifetime. The floor is relatively easy to clean compared to carpet flooring, sturdy and wear resistant. Another advantage of hardwood flooring is that it can be refinished throughout their lifetime.

Vinyl

Vinyl offers a flexible, cost effective and soft floor type. Generally, vinyl products are mostly backed with a felt layer. It comes with a variety of colors and patterns, and can even mimic other floors, including hardwood. It’s durable and easy to clean, resistant to stains and spills, making it a good choice for almost any room.

Engineered wood

Similar to conventional hardwood, but consists of a top veneer of wood backed by cheaper plywood layers. This makes it cheaper than hardwood flooring. New trends have brought about a variation that contains a mixture of recycled wood fiber and stone dust to provide more dimensional stability. It’s ideal for installation in moisturized environments such as basements, since it’s more resistant to moisture effects as compared to hardwood. It can be floated on top of an existing floor, glued or nailed.

Linoleum

Linoleum is a durable yet environmental friendly type of floor that features unique and excellent graphic designs. The floor type is made with biodegradable materials that are renewable, with the most common being cork and linseed. Despite this, they produce no harmful vapor, hence considered one of the most environmental friendly flooring choices.

Wood flooring vs. laminate flooring: Pros and cons

-Have a great resale value compared to laminate flooring

– Can be refinished throughout their entire lifespan

– Extremely durable

– Hard to clean compared to laminate flooring

– More costly

– Hard to install

Laminate flooring vs. wood flooring: Pros and Cons

– Easy to clean

– Less costly compared to wood floors

– Are resistant to both moisture and scratches compared to wood flooring

– Easy to install

– Shorter lifespan

– Hard to repair

Kitchen & Bathroom Trends Affecting Remodels Today

Glam Master Bathroom Remodel - Anchorage, AK

Universal Design

One of the leading kitchen & bathroom trends is universal design. This can be seen in the shift from door knobs to door handles, which can be opened by people with limited hand strength or grip. Kitchen appliances are evolving to use buttons instead of knobs for the same reason. Vancouver is the first major city to essentially ban the doorknob, but others are likely to follow with other universal design mandates.

We will see appliances with larger buttons and displays to accommodate those with limited vision. Kitchens are being designed to put everything in easy reach, instead of requiring someone to stoop down or climb up to get items. Universal design features aid those who are elderly but also the disabled. For example, far more shower remodels include a built in ledge that can double as a seat. Whether used to hold beauty products without the need for a shower caddy or acting as a seat for someone with limited balance or mobility is up to the resident.

Accessibility for the Aging

One of the major kitchen & bathroom trends is accessibility for the aging. For example, many bathroom remodels include an open shower that uses a glass partition to contain the spray and a gradually sloping floor to act as a drain. About half of NKBA respondents stated that no-threshold showers are being specified by customers. This type of shower avoids a door or the need to step into the shower itself, something that improves accessibility for someone with decreased mobility or balance. The trend toward larger showers is another accessibility trend. Instead of only having the space for someone to stand up, the showers are trending larger so that someone can use it while sitting on a comfortable shower stool.

Toilets may or may not remain in a side closet in the bathroom. However, to accommodate an older and often larger population, the toilet seat itself is more likely to have a larger seat and more space around it.

Grab bars built into the bathroom are a popular upgrade. Adding discrete grab bars near toilets, showers and seats in the parlor are easiest to install when remodeling the bathroom. In the kitchen, universal design leads to levers in place of knobs for the kitchen sink. No-touch soap dispensers are popular because of the ease of use as well as the improve sanitation.

Efficiency

Kitchen & bathroom trends toward water and energy savings have been going on for a long time. This has been driven by local, state and federal laws mandating various forms of conservation. Low flow toilets are one example of many. Lower volume shower heads are another.

We are seeing improvements in the effectiveness of the latest generation of efficient appliances. Gone are the days of low flow toilets that have to be flushed twice to eliminate waste. Low flow shower heads now have an array of settings or put out steam as well to make the shower a luxurious steam bath or delicious massage.

The sale of traditional incandescent light bulbs except for industrial applications that can’t use LED and fluorescent lights went into effect on January 1, 2014. The near total ban on the traditional light bulbs has led to a new generation of beautiful yet functional LED lights. From the light bulb in the fridge to the chandelier over the kitchen table, LED lights have evolved to resemble the traditional incandescent they are replacing.

Winter Remodeling Trends

Cherry Shaker Kitchen with Custom Artisan Tiles

Crank Up the Comfort

Poor insulation and drafty windows and doors can leave your home chilly and lead to higher heating bills. Increase comfort by winterizing your home. You can do this by upgrading your insulation or adding it to un-insulated areas of your home, such as your garage or attic. Also, take the time to add some weather-stripping around drafty doors and caulking around drafty windows. These small projects can make a big difference—especially on the most frigid days.

Upgrade Your Heating

Increase efficiency and home value by replacing your existing forced air heating system with a radiant heating option. This type of heating is built into your flooring and is becoming increasingly popular for use in residential spaces. With radiant heating, you’ll enjoy greater comfort and lower heating bills; plus, with no ductwork required, you can also cut down on issues with allergens and poor air quality in your home.

Replace Old Flooring

Speaking of flooring, if you’re going to install a radiant heating system, you might as well replace your flooring while you’re at it! These days, hardwood flooring has become an extremely popular choice among homeowners, and replacing your existing laminate or carpeting with quality hardwood can not only improve the appeal of your home, but increase its potential value as well. Plus, hardwood flooring is a lot more durable and easier to care for (read: no more carpet stains!) than many other flooring types.

Experienced Professionals

If you decide to take on any home remodeling projects this winter, be sure to scope out the right professionals for the job. Experienced residential construction companies like Trailboss Solutions can help you turn your dreams into a reality!

Construction Trends 2017

Residential Construction Companies Latest Trends

As 2016 comes to an end, it’s time to look at what the on-coming year holds in store for the construction industry. The past few years have been rough because of the recent recession, but the industry faces new trends in 2017 that will encourage companies to adopt new construction techniques. Some of the major construction trends likely to be common in 2017 include;

Growth and Advancements in Green Building Practices

As environmental concerns continue to grow in the business sector, more and more businesses are looking to adopt new technologies that encompass green building practices in construction. Many new as well as existing projects have already adopted elements of green building in their construction plans. In 2017, the incorporation of government Energy Star rated designs and products will be a major trend that construction companies will have to adopt to help businesses save on energy costs.

Institutional Projects Continue to Experience the Largest Construction Growth

The healthcare and educational industries continue to experience exponential growth. In the healthcare industry, senior living continues to experience a positive growth that translates to more need for healthcare services. Healthcare construction is expected to double in the year 2017 as more and more baby boomers are now heading into their late 60s and 70s. In the education industry as well, many construction projects are expected to be undertaken if anything like what we have seen this year is something to go by. By the 1st half of 2016 alone, educational construction spending shot up by 6.2% to $41 billion.

After-election Effect

With the 2016 presidential election past us, the economy is likely to jump back on track and focus on growth and future initiatives. The election period tends to bring a lot of uncertainty and many businesses hold back on implementing their large-scale projects. So with the election period now gone, the industry can expect a massive construction period (for all the projects that were held back) come 2017.

Residential Housing

Economists from the National Association of Home Builders, AIA and Associated Builders and Contractors have all forecasted positive growth across the multi-family and single-family residential housing sector. However, the growth will continue to be un-even considering that these sectors were among the hardest hit by the Great Recession. The single-family market is likely to experience a 19% surge as more workers and lots are added. With more buyers pouring in, demand will be higher and residential housing construction will be on the rise in 2017.

These are just but a few of the major trends that will be seen in the construction industry come 2017 in Alaska and the rest of the nation. You can also expect technologies such as drones on construction sites, 3D printing in construction, robot automation, and the use of safety wearable technology to make construction sites safer. Residential construction companies, such as Trailboss, try to keep up with these trends to provide the best and relevant services possible.

How The Internet Is Changing Construction

Casual Modern Living Room Update - Anchorage, AK

In the construction and development industries, possibly the most significant development in project management has been the integration of the Internet and mobile technology: tools that streamline and remove bottlenecks in collaboration in all phases of construction from planning, to designing, to building are readily available on PCs, tablets, smartphones, and mobile hotspots. Residential Construction Companies need their projects to be managed efficiently while minimizing costs. Today, more and more- that means deeply integrated IT tools and communications.

Initializing the Build Site

Project management has benefited from the implementation of the tablet, rapidly becoming a must-have tool. The rich supply of apps and remote “cloud” services allow engineers, supervisors, and builders to draft and share vital documents in real-time. Cloud storage has made workplace IT more practical in many ways, and everything can be password secured allowing only authorized professionals access.

Streamlining Workflow

Speaking of flooring, if you’re going to install a radiant heating system, you might as well replace your flooring while you’re at it! These days, hardwood flooring has become an extremely popular choice among homeowners, and replacing your existing laminate or carpeting with quality hardwood can not only improve the appeal of your home, but increase its potential value as well. Plus, hardwood flooring is a lot more durable and easier to care for (read: no more carpet stains!) than many other flooring types.

Video

Another critical element for construction is video. Not only does video offer remote teams the ability to collaborate more effectively, but using time-lapse photography, video can also be an asset to tracking and surveillance. Mobile video is increasingly more easily available in high-def, making identification and collaboration even easier. Video surveillance gives site managers a multi-screen perspective of the job site, letting them check progress and detect unauthorized activities. The typical construction site is full of expensive tools, vehicles, and other essentials in constant use. Asset tracking apps not only help to manage the machinery but when they are combined with RFID tags, they can reduce loss and waste. In a world where thieves are always looking for free copper and valuable tools, video is key to preventing theft that will delay your project and expand your costs as your team seeks out replacement gear and supplies.

Fleet Metrics

Using machine-to-machine (M2M) communications technology, fleet management systems now play an even more significant role measuring fuel consumption, worker utilization, and regulations compliance. Plus, M2M fleet management delivers accurate measurements of driving habits like hard braking, speeding, and other operator behavior that causes wear and tear on heavy-duty machines and traditional autos used on the site. By using a dashboard view to observe vital daily metrics, you can make your work site more efficient and reduce preventable expenses.

Mobilize Your Work Site

To make your construction even more efficient, make sure your team is well trained and familiar with aspects of mobile and IT technology. The more they know about the vision, plans, and business rationale behind your project- the better your crew will be able to execute your goals faithfully.

Alternative Construction Materials

In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis within the residential and commercial instruction Industries on the usage of alternative materials. Some of this emphasis has been due to a desire to find more environmentally friendly construction materials, while some of these alternate materials have been used simply because they are visually striking. Also, there are some newly popular alternate materials that may offer technical benefits as compared to traditional construction materials. The alternative building materials that will be discussed this article include structural insulated panels, steel framing, polyvinyl chloride, and autoclaved aerated concrete blocks. For more information on these exciting alternative construction materials and how you can use them in your home, read on.

Structural Insulated Panels

One of the most popular alternative construction materials is structural insulated panels. These panels are also called SIPs. They are made of fiberglass foam that has been sandwiched between (you guessed it) structural panels. The main benefit of using this material is that it is very quick to build a structure with SIPs. In fact, a structure built from SIPs can go up in 10% or even less of the time it would take using traditional construction materials. They are also extremely light, and the insulated nature of the material lowers heating and cooling costs. However, structural insulated panels do cost about 10% more than traditional materials.

Steel Framing

As you probably know, houses are usually built with wood framing. You may wonder why more homes aren’t built will steel beams, as steel can be made into the same shape that wood beams are made into, and it is stronger than wood. The main reason the steel framing is not more common is there few contractors that are familiar with using it. However, people who do use steel find that it is stronger and more stable than wooden frames are.

Polyvinyl Chloride

Polyvinyl chloride is better known as PVC. You are probably already familiar with this material. It is often used for pipes in many different homes. Believe it or not, it can also be used to construct the frame of a structure. It is more stable than you might think, and can last for decades without any maintenance. This can save a serious amount of money for homeowners versus the maintenance necessary for a wooden framed house. However, the resale value of PVC homes is frequently significantly less the resale value of wood framed homes.

Autoclaved Aerated Concrete Blocks

Autoclaved aerated concrete blocks have been popular in Europe for a long time, but Americans might not even know what they are. The concrete used in this material is mixed with chemicals that causes it to take on air, so the blocks are much lighter. However, they have nearly the same amount of strength as regular concrete. They are also excellent insulators. The only drawback of this material is that it is quite expensive. It is about 20% more expensive to build a home with autoclaved aerated concrete blocks then is to build a home with traditional materials.

Check out Trailboss Solutions

If you have any Anchorage construction that needs to be completed properly, contact Scott. Even if you simply have a question or concern, we’d be happy to help you out. We at Trailboss Solutions pride ourselves on our customer service. We look forward to hearing from you.

How to Choose the Right Contractor Bid

Choosing the right contractor to manage your home construction or restoration projects is a time-consuming activity. You are going to spend a lot of money and time in ensuring that your project is implemented, so it is important to get things done in the right way. One of the most important considerations is settling for a price range. Studies show that one in every 10 clients get construction bids that are 25% off the estimations of their engineers.

The idea of bidding

Some contractors bid way below what you expected, and this is not always a bad thing. However, you need to step back and evaluate why a bid should be so far below your estimations. Admittedly, a spread of up to 15% would be expected, but there are offers that should trigger the alarm bells in your gut.

So, why do you need to avoid low bidders?

Figures do not lie. You did the Math, and you got a reliable estimate. You may not know the exact cost of the project, but you have a solid idea. This means that the contractor is either wrong or lying. A good percentage of homeowners complain that contractors make an offer but when it is accepted, they start making more demands. The client is forced to pay some additional fee, which now raises the project price to around 5% more than the average put forth by the top bidders. Remember, add-ons are a reality in construction, and unscrupulous contractors use them for leverage.

Cheap rates always have a catch in them

Construction projects are all about the quality of the materials used, and you want yours to make use of top-notch sheets, tiles or concrete in order to increase the lifespan of the property. If the contractor is too cheap, then it means they will use the least-costly materials on your job. By doing that, they do not only rip you off, they proceed to considerably shorten the lifespan of your building.

Low rates hint at a lack of experience

Some contractors are relatively new on the scene and are desperate to land a contract. They will not think through your project, they will just bid low in order to entice you. This miscalculation becomes a disaster somewhere along the way. You end up stuck with someone boasting little experience and even less credibility.

Some bids are hard to turn down because they seem so promising and feasible. However, you need a realistic quote, and you need someone you can trust with such a task. That someone is certainly not going to be the cheapest in the room.

Choosing a Contractor VS. DIY Projects

Hiring a professional in a DIY world

It’s safe to say that we definitely live in a “DIY” world. Everywhere you look on the Internet, you’ll find tons of jobs and projects that used to be done by professionals but have now been crafted into fun Pinterest projects. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with doing projects yourself, it has its ups and downs. There are many instances in which it’d be wise to consider hiring a professional, such as with most large home projects.

For example, if you’re looking to completely replace all the counter tops and cabinets in your kitchen, you may want to hire a professional. While doing this yourself is possible, it may not be the best choice. Consider the costs that will go into this project. You may save on costs of labor for hiring someone; however, the materials needed will be numerous and expensive. You’d also have to work on your own personal time schedule, meaning that your kitchen might not be usable for months. Another risk is damaging your home if you attempt an advanced project on your own.

Contractors often receive discounts on materials for construction projects. Despite the fact that you will pay for labor costs, you may save in the long run with a contractor. You can save in time, hassle of researching the right products, and fixing mistakes that a professional would avoid. Often times fixing mistakes costs more than the cost of hiring a professional in the first place!

Some of the major issues that might exceed your level of knowledge could be electric wiring or plumbing. It requires a tremendous amount of knowledge, skill and materials to perform projects in these two areas. More importantly than the cost or the amount of time it takes is the quality of work that’s completed. When you hire someone who has experience and has been trained to do work you need, you’re more likely to get a finished product that’s exactly what you want. You might think that you understand how to complete a home project, only to find at the end that everything has fallen apart. A professional can help make sure that nothing goes awry in your project.

Why We Love DIY Projects

One of the major reasons why people have been drawn to DIY projects is that is feels good to be able to say that you accomplished something great on your own. It’s impressive, really. Moreover, it’s also a great way to connect with your creative side at times and can be incredibly therapeutic for those who enjoy working with their hands. However, many times the risk is much too high to even consider doing it yourself.

The bottom line is, there are two major components of figuring out when you should hire a contractor or professional:

1. Is the risk of me messing this project up too severe?

2. Will the cost of time and money be too high?

If those answers are a “yes,” then I’d highly suggest looking into hiring a professional rather than starting your own DIY project. At the end of the day, time and quality of work is the most important factor of any project, and a professional can help tremendously in both of those areas.

Replacing Drafty Windows

Did you know that over 44% of homes across the nation were constructed before the year of 1970? While most of these houses consist of beautiful architecture and solid foundations, many of them could benefit from a few upgraded features. Windows are one of the primary features that often benefit from intervention, due to the amount of energy that is lost from various factors surrounding older window models. From moisture-induced cracks to faulty insulation, many outdated windows end up costing homeowners a hefty amount of money each month, due to a substantial amount of lost energy. This epidemic particularly impacts those living in colder climates, such as Alaska, where the average winter temperature ranges from 30 to -30 degrees.

While many individuals find themselves understandably reluctant about facing the costs of newly upgraded windows, the money saved in the long-run due to increased energy efficiency really pays off. Most of these homes that were built before the 1970’s contain single-paned window structures which are known as being very faulty and drafty window types. These drafts are often the result of normal wear and tear in the insulation, sealant, and surrounding materials, and can lead to a dramatic decrease in both heating and cooling efficiency levels. It is estimated that the average household saves anywhere from $27 to upwards of $400 when they convert to newly upgraded windows. This price range varies depending on how extensive and intense the winter seasons are, so Alaskan residents naturally end up saving a sizable amount of money when it comes to their heating and utility costs.

It is typically recommended that windows that are over 15 years of age are replaced, or at least examined for signs of damage. A good rule of thumb is to feel for any excess moisture surrounding the window’s base. If a notable amount of moisture is present, it is often an indicator of condensation due to heating loss, and can be one of the main signs of an outdated and drafty window. This can be especially concerning for window panels that are made of older types of wood, due to most forms of wood being very susceptible to damage caused by the presence of moisture. Even if you chose to purchase similar panel materials, the introduction of a newer wood variety should result in less leaks and cracks in your window panels.

The installation of new windows can also promote higher levels of energy efficiency due to their ability to reflect natural light in a more prominent manner. By installing new windows, especially ones facing in the directions of north and south, your home will appear much brighter from the sun’s natural lighting. Many outdated windows can become dull and drab overtime, not letting an adequate amount of sunshine into your home. New windows will not only provide you with the benefit of beautiful and natural light, but you will also potentially save more on your utility bill due to a decrease in the use of artificial lights in your home.

The installation of new windows may seem like a pricey and time-consuming project, but the rewards really speak for themselves. With so much money saved in heating and cooing costs, as well as added home value, it definitely ends up being a profitable investment.