Green products are durable and maintenance saving

Kermit the Frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green…” but with the wide selection of products,  building green becomes easier each year. New homes today are significantly more energy efficient than they were even 10 years ago. And probably 100% more energy efficient than they were in the 1970’s. Green built homes are also safer and healthier because of using non-toxic building materials and products that do not create out-gassing. Special attention is also paid to good ventilation and air quality. (A necessity when constructing a tight building envelope.)

Constructing a green home does come with some additional costs. A better insulated home and energy-efficient appliances will cost more. However, many green building products such as energy efficient windows and doors, geo-thermal heating and cooling systems, long life siding and roofing, and recycled decking material can result in significantly lower operational and maintenance / replacement cost savings. So while building green will cost more up front, you’ll be able to recoup your money by large savings on energy bills. After-all, we all know the answer to this question: “Will energy costs go up or go down in the future?”

Green, at any price point is not accomplished through product selection alone. Some other strategies can cost nothing or very little. For example, depending on the orientation of your home, positioning the majority of your windows on the south side gives you passive solar and natural light gains. Low-flow faucets, shower heads and toilets are widely available so the cost is neutral.

Are you seeking a home that will improve your quality of life? Desiring a home that is durable and easier to maintain? Want to use building  products and practices that are good for the environment? Green building means building smarter and not compromising on the environment or its future. It’s a practical response to a variety of issues that affect all of us.

Man-cave

The idea of a separate zone in the home for guys to hang out is gaining a lot of traction in the homes we build. The earliest know man cave was probably  the cast-off old sofa and battered TV in the basement or a spot in the garage for the Harley or the lovingly restored muscle car. It’s not just about the “stuff”, but a place all your own to hang with your buddies, chill out and bond.  However, just like the garage  – it has evolved. Big time!

How do you start designing your ultimate man-cave? There may be a few nonnegotiable items: A flat screen TV (the bigger the better), a sectional couch (preferably leather) and a well stocked bar. Beyond that, you’re going to need a way to tie it all together.

You can start by picking an object (pool table, poker table, jukebox, sports memorabilia) that you like to begin to create a theme, overall look and colors of your man-cave. For inspiration – there are  great websites devoted to man-cave theme spaces and ideas.

Also, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Builders Association Home Expo (January 11-12-13th)  will have a feature booth dedicated to creating the ultimate man-cave.   Although meant as a guy retreat – don’t be too surprised if the wife and kids also enjoy the “hang-out” ambiance of your man-cave. (Just as long as they respect that no-shades-of pink-allowed rule!)

Luxury Shower

Visiting a luxurious spa isn’t the only way to unwind and recharge.  Homeowners today are seeing the benefits of  enjoying a sensational shower experience everyday.

Roomy showers, clear glass enclosures, steam generators, body sprays, built-in benches and even sound and light systems help create a spa experience at home you can appreciate each morning and at the end of a long tiring day. Custom showering designs are nearly as limitless as your imagination. You can enjoy the cascade of a soft waterfall, soothing raindrops on your head, or an invigorating massage with wall mounted water spray tiles.

Muti-function (and multiple) shower heads have specific massage options from pulsating blasts to gentle mists. Steam showers are not only deeply relaxing, they also help your body  remove toxins and impurities while cleansing your skin and promoting respiratory health.

More custom showering options:

  • Combine a handshower with a slide bar for quick and easy height adjustments to accommodate every member of your family from tall dads to little kids
  • Digital shower controls allow all family members to save their individual showering preferences for temperature, water flow and more
  • Discreet speaker systems designed for wet environments are another great way to personalize your shower experience
  • Grab bars make getting in and out of the shower easier for people of all ages and abilities

Afterall, our bodies are mostly made up of water and we can’t live without it. We have a connection to water that transcends the physical. Our daily communion with water allows us to restore a needed balance to our mind and spirit.

Fireplaces add wamth to your home

There is something about the warmth of a fire that is both mesmerizing and comforting. Today’s fireplaces are inviting and efficient for everyone. Some people feel there is no substitute for a wood burning fireplace.

The advantages are:

  • The sight, sound and smell of real fire burning.
  • They burn a fairly inexpensive and renewable fuel.
  • Today’s wood burning fireplace inserts are  much better at retaining heat and have far fewer emissions that older version fireplaces and use less firewood.
  •  A source of heat in your home in case of  a power outage or furnace failure.

The disadvantages are:

  • You have to buy, stack, and haul wood into your home, and clean up the ashes.
  • You have to spend money maintaining your chimney (The EPA advised you to have your chimney inspected and cleaned every year).

Lifestyle demands and personal taste dictate that wood burning fireplaces are not for everyone. Gas fireplaces get better each year as manufacturers make improvements. Not only are modern gas fireplaces very energy efficient ( You can enjoy a  whole night of a burning fire for about a $1), certain models are so well designed it takes a trained eye to detect that gas is being burned instead of wood. Many are AFUE rated, meaning they are rated as heaters and can operate with a thermostat for zone heating. And it’s very nice to conveniently  enjoy a fire at the flip of a switch too!

Fireplace options go well beyond gas and wood. Multi-sided fireplaces are available in see-through, corner and peninsula designs. Or an indoor-outdoor fireplace can be placed in a screen porch or patio on one side and seen on the living room side as well.

Whether you are building or remodeling your home, take time to fully think about all your fireplace options. Later as you find yourself curled up in front of the fire as the snow falls, you will know you made a sound (and warm) investment.

Carriage style Garage Doors

Carriage Style Garage Doors add a classic look to the home

Love shiny epoxy floors and ample space? Then we’ve found your new hot button!  Imagine the garage in your home: Inviting on the outside, organized on the inside – the garage is an integral part of  your home and we found many ways to show it some love.

Since today’s garage is larger, more attention is placed making them aesthetically pleasing inside and out. Carriage house doors offer character making them very popular in a variety of home styles. While they capture the look of classic garage doors, they take advantage of the convenience of standard sectional garage doors.  Once inside, you’ll find something amazing….space!

When designing your home we take careful consideration of everything that is going to fit into your garage. Not just the cars, but other large items like motorcycles  snowmobiles and lawn tractors. Some of these seasonal items, even your prized vintage automobile can be stored on  off-the-floor lift systems. Other hoist systems can be utilized for everything from bikes to canoes, while slat wall and grid systems can allow customization necessary to provide a place for gardening tools, fishing and golf equipment. Once everything is off the floor, you want the items that won’t be used on a frequent basis out of sight.

That’s where cabinetry with a durable work surface counter-top comes in. You may be looking forward to spending a lot of shop time in your garage too. That’s when we take into consideration your heating and cooling needs to make this a comfortable year round space.

Since you are more likely to enter your home through the garage, having a great looking floor may be on your list.  Epoxy/ polyurethane colors and blends that resemble colored quartz and an amazing variety of colors take your floor from blah to “Wow!”  And for the homeowners who simply cannot get enough garage – meet the sub-garage. Using flexi-core concrete panels, we  can create an economical space below your garage for additional storage of vehicles, lawn equipment and lake toys -or a great space for your own “garage band”.

When you think about it – many corporations like Apple computer and Hewlett Packard got started in the garage. Many legendary rock bands, among them Buddy Holly and Nirvana got their start in the garage. The garage is the final frontier in our homes to become “civilized” It’s about time!