Thinking about Remodeling Your Home? Let’s Talk Whole House Redesign!

Before you panic or click away for fear of sticker shock, let me explain that a whole house redesign doesn’t necessarily mean knocking down all walls and starting from scratch. The basic structure of your home will remain intact, but we will redesign certain rooms, remodel the kitchen and bathrooms if you wish, and make whatever other changes you want. Some rooms, the family room for instance, may only require new paint, new windows, or updated flooring. Other rooms may only require paint, or nothing at all.

Build a New Home vs. Redesign and Remodel
One of the primary questions you need to ask your self is – should you remodel your existing home or build a new custom home? That choice is, of course, entirely yours. Several key factors need to be taken into consideration. Let’s take a look at a few of the big ones:
Building a new home requires the acquisition of land, footers to be dug, foundation to be poured, and every stage of construction leading up to the completed home. Remodeling your existing home requires none of those additional costs. Your basic structure, the foundation, plumbing, and electric wires are already in place.

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Plan for Now and Later
Planning your whole house remodel will take time. You will likely need to consult an architect as well as a contractor. Your existing home has specific support beams and support walls that simply cannot be removed and replaced without ensuring that the support remains in place. Removing areas of support without replacing them all but guarantees that your home will become structurally unsafe.

While planning your remodel, keep in mind that you’re planning for now and for the future as well. Many people live in their homes through their retirement years, and well into their 80s. Mobility issues will likely arise in your later years, so plan ahead and include handrails, grab bars, wide hallways and doorways, and accessible showers and tubs.
Planning your remodel to include your senior years will increase the value of your home and make life much easier on you in the future. Adding a doorway to adjoin your bedroom to your baby’s bedroom may be a great idea for now, but think about what the teen years are going to bring.

Up to Code
This would be the perfect time to make sure all of the wiring and plumbing in your home is up to code. Replace any damaged or worn wiring with new, and replace all light switches and electrical sockets while you’re into it.

Go Solar
The Federal Tax Credit for installing solar panels expires at the end of 2016. Why not take advantage of it before it’s too late? Solar panels are a great investment for the future because they effectively reduce energy bills. The initial investment will be offset by tax credits and they will continue to pay for themselves through reduced energy costs.

Need More Ideas? Ask Us.
Contractors and architects are always full of great remodeling ideas! Feel free to ask questions like, “If it were your house, and you needed this functionality, what would you do?” You may be surprised at some of the answers you receive once you ask the architect, designer, or contractor to use their imagination.

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Remodel a Bit at a Time or Take Care of the Whole Project at Once?

Undergoing an Atlanta home improvement or renovation project involves a lot of decisions. What work needs to be done? How will my family’s life be affected? How much can I spend? Should I do the work all at once or complete it one project at a time? Understanding the scope of your project can help you determine the best decisions for you and your family.

Renewal Design-Build, Atlanta RemodelerDeciding between one large renovation project or several smaller projects should be based on your family’s current lifestyle and needs. There are benefits to completing the renovation project all at once, including:

  • You are only inconvenienced once and you won’t have to put up with ongoing work on your home.
  • The work will be approached as a whole and the encompassing project will benefit from consistent materials, labor, and attention to detail.
  • You may save money by doing the project all at once. Instead of paying over time for similar projects you can align the work to maximize your investment.

If you decide to break the work up into smaller projects, there are certain guidelines we recommend:

  • Have a plan. Work with your design-build firm to map out a long-term strategy for completing the work.
  • Start with the most urgent needs. Take care of any repairs or renovations that have an immediate impact on your home comfort and safety.
  • Group similar projects together. For example, if you’re planning to tile floors in several rooms, you should do this work at one time to reduce labor costs and the impact on your daily life.

Renewal Design Build is proud to serve as a premier provider of Atlanta home improvement and renovation projects. Contact us today to view our portfolio, meet our talented team, and learn more about the services we provide.

Remember the Details When Planning a Second Story Addition

There are many factors to determine when adding on to your present home, but the number one concern is lot size. Many homes that can benefit from an addition are located in urban areas where space is limited, making building up the most practical solution.

Home Addition by Renewal Design-Build

Stairs

You will need them even if you plan on installing an elevator. A major consideration is location, since a new staircase will take up existing floor space. Some homeowners enjoy making a gorgeous architecturally detailed staircase the focal point of a room while others prefer it to be out of the normal traffic pattern. Working closely with a design-build firm in Decatur who listens to your needs and expectations can help make this placement decision much easier.

Insulation 

A new roof and walls will all require insulation, and this is the perfect time to increase the amount in other areas of your home. Great strides have been made in insulating materials over the years and, considering many older homes are sorely lacking when it comes to sufficient insulation, installing blown or fiberglass insulation in existing walls and between floor and ceiling joists can definitely increase your home’s energy efficiency.

Exterior 

New windows will have to be installed and just like with your insulation now is a good time to replace existing windows if needed. Is the exterior finish going to match? Over years siding fades and brick color can be hard to match. This is a major consideration and one that needs to be decided early in the design process. And what about that masonry chimney? If you never use your wood burning fireplace then consider removing it and installing a new ventless gas unit.

For more information about remodeling your home in Atlanta, contact us at Renewal Design-Build.

How Your Ceiling Can Be Renovated for Energy Efficiency

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Renewal Design Build

Everyone knows the basic steps to make your home more energy efficient. Replacing old single paned windows, caulking and weather-stripping cracks, installing new Energy Star appliances and scheduling regular maintenance on your HVAC system all reduce your monthly energy costs. But have you ever looked up? Consider how your ceilings and attic space can be made more energy efficient.

  • The perfect time to increase the insulation levels in your attic, ensure there is adequate ventilation, and correct any areas where air leakage is detected is when you begin your Atlanta home renovations. Taking care of these three critical areas at the beginning quite possibly can allow you to reduce the size of your HVAC system since your overall insulation rating will be increased.
  • The first step is to eliminate air leakage. While this sounds like a fairly easy straightforward project, care must be taken to ensure that hot water heaters, furnaces, piping and chimneys are still vented properly to avoid a build up of dangerous gases. One area of concern for air leakage is at the ceiling and the top of walls. Warm air rises and settles at the bottom of the ceiling; if the insulation level is inadequate on the floor of the attic then the chance for moisture buildup is greater.
  • There are many different insulation options, including blown, batten, spray foam, foam board, airtight drywall and structural insulating panels. All offer good moisture resistance and reduced air leakage. They have different R levels, installation methods and some are even designated for specific areas of the attic and ceiling.

Today since most home’s roof lines don’t fit a cookie-cutter mold, it’s important to enlist the services of a knowledgeable and reputable firm when you begin your Atlanta home renovations. Contact us at Renewal Design-Build for more information.

Tips for Heating Your Historical Home

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Renewal Design Build

Heating an older historical home certainly comes with its own unique challenges. Many times to keep a residence listed as a historical property, construction changes must be kept to a minimum, causing it to be less energy efficient.

 

  • A great deal of a home’s climate controlled air is lost through poorly insulated windows and doors. But this often becomes a huge catch-22 situation since many homes can lose historical designation if the windows aren’t authentically reproduced. This is why we recommend working with a firm who specializes in historic renovation in Decatur and the surrounding Atlanta area and has the renovation expertise so that air loss is controlled and historical authenticity isn’t compromised.
  • The best way to identify air leaks in your home is to conduct a whole-house assessment which is a comprehensive set of tests that pinpoint exactly where your home is wasting energy. Your home’s results are then compiled for you; along with a diagnosis and cost-effective improvement plan that follows the standards of the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program. After making these improvements, Renewal will retest your home to confirm the expected energy savings. These improvements can give you a quieter, more comfortable living environment, lower energy bills, and a healthier home for you and your family. In addition, you could qualify for tax incentives and multiple rebates.
  • Most people assume the best way to fix heating problems is to replace the HVAC system. Unfortunately in a historical home, many times that is easier said than done. Many of these homes don’t have a suitable ductwork system nor do they have a mechanical room or space to add the necessary equipment. When the decision has been made to install a new system, care must be taken to limit any damage to the existing interior and exterior architecture. Different levels and areas of the home may also require separate systems because of architectural limitations and moisture levels.
  • Consider adding or improving non-mechanical components such as historically accurate porches, awnings and adding heavy draperies on windows to minimize the heat gain from the sun. For long term solutions it may be necessary to add additional insulation in the attic, walls and crawl space and reconfigure landscaping to maximize the advantage of shade trees and towering shrubs.

Historic renovation in Atlanta can be difficult without the right firm to advise you in matters which affect you and your family’s safety and comfort. Contact us at Renewal Design-Build to learn more.

Signs That Your Atlanta Home Could use an Energy Audit

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Renewal Design Build

With the increasing heat of Georgia’s summer, you may be seeing a significant spike in your energy bills. If your most recent power bill caused a brief moment of panic, it might be a good idea to schedule an energy audit.

Older homes, like the majority of homes located in intown Atlanta, will typically benefit the most from an audit, but almost every home is not as efficient as it can be. If you are unsure whether your home would benefit from an energy audit, here are some signs that your home is a good candidate for one:

  • Cold or Hot Spots – Leaky windows or inadequate insulation will allow certain rooms to be more exposed to outside temperatures. The solution to this problem is not space heaters and fans, but better insulation.
  • Increasing Utility Bills – If your utility bills are increasing every year, aspects of your home’s envelope may be deteriorating over time. Insulation gets wet and moldy, doors and windows loosen and appliances lose their efficiency. An audit will help you decide which to fix first.
  • Continually Running Air Conditioning– If your air conditioning seems like it’s running constantly, there may be gaps in your home through which cool air is escaping and warm air is entering, forcing the system to run at a too-frequent rate.

Each of these issues is part of larger energy picture that a home audit can help address. At Renewal Design-Build, we perform full house energy audits as well as the renovations to address any problems.  If you want to see where your home is losing energy, feel free to contact us at 404-378-6962.

Keeping Comfortable with Foam Board Insulation

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Renewal Design Build

Georgia’s weather is once again working its way up to the extreme heat we are known for in summer.  Whether it’s warm or cold outside, good insulation is vital to keeping your home a comfortable temperature without spending a fortune on your utility bills.  In winter, good insulation in your walls keeps heat from escaping from your home, and in summer it keeps the heat from entering, allowing your heating and air conditioning to work more efficiently.

One of the most efficient forms of insulation available is foam board insulation, which provides incredible insulation with far less thickness than other types. Rigid foam board can be used in nearly every part of the home, from the foundation to the attic. There are some great reasons to use this type of insulation:

  • Foam board is easy to install. Unlike fiberglass batting, it’s simple to cut the rigid sheets with a small handsaw or utility knife. It’s also safer to your health; there are no irritating fibers to cause sinus congestion and itching. It can be easily cut to any size or shape, and nailed or glued rather than stapled, which makes installation a lot quicker and easier.
  • Foam board comes in a variety of R-values and thicknesses. It can be installed on the exterior of the building under new siding, over concrete basement walls, ceilings, and between studs on interior walls. The extremely dense, extruded-expanded polystyrene foam board is more resistant to moisture and can be used for low walls and roofs where other types of insulation won’t suffice.
  • Foam board insulation serves year-around: In hot and humid Atlanta summers, it’s the most cost-effective way to provide excellent thermal resistance, preventing heat conduction through the structural elements like wood or steel studs. Rigid foam board is also much more resistant to mildew and mold growth than fiberglass.
  • Less material goes a lot further: Polyisocyanurate foam board (polyiso) Is used for both residential and commercial construction applications. It has a reflective foil facing and a high insulating R-value of 7.0 to 8.0 per inch of thickness. It’s also easy to seal with foil-faced tapes.

If you want to renovate your Atlanta home with insulating foam board, we can help.  Just contact Renewal Design-Build by calling 404-378-6962.

The Wonders of an ENERGY STAR Certified Refrigerator

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Renewal Design-Build

When we work with homeowners on green home renovations in Atlanta, one of our first suggestions is to replace old appliances with Energy Star Certified counterparts. Something as simple as replacing your old refrigerator with an Energy Star certified refrigerator can save as much as $1,100 over the refrigerator’s lifetime. This is just one of the wonders of a refrigerator that meets Energy Star certification requirements.

A Positive Return on Your Investment

While Energy Star certified refrigerators may cost more initially, you’re guaranteed to receive a return on your investment. Energy Star promises homeowners will recoup the extra money spent – and then some – within a reasonable amount of time through energy savings.

 

Out with the Old

Did you know 61% of Atlanta homes were built prior to 1960? Many homes have been passed down to newer generations with well-maintained infrastructures and appliances intact. However, appliances were considerably less energy efficient prior to the 1990’s. If you own a refrigerator that’s more than ten years old, you’re spending a minimum of $200 more on energy than you need to.

Reduce Energy Consumption

Energy Star certified refrigerators are guaranteed to use 15% less energy than models that aren’t certified. They use 20% less energy than standard refrigerator models that meet minimum government requirements for energy efficiency. That is a significant difference in energy usage and therefore energy costs.

To maximize energy savings and minimize your carbon footprint, consider the following:

  • Read the EnergyGuide label carefully to compare energy use with other models.
  • Top-mounted freezer models are 10%-25% more efficient than other models.
  • The biggest savings are gained by refrigerators in the 16-20 cubic feet range, so don’t buy more fridge than you need.
  • Ice makers and door dispensers use 14%-20% more energy.

Green home renovations are a great way to update your home and reduce your carbon footprint. Make an appointment for a Renewal System Solutions energy assessment to learn more ways your home will benefit from energy efficient modifications.

 

You've Got the (Georgia) Power!

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With the right thermostat, you can cut down on energy usage

Energy costs can get quite expensive, especially when heating your home during the winter months and cooling it during the summer months. Not only does this cause your heating and cooling bills to rise, but it’s also not very environmentally friendly. It is for these reasons that you should have a programmable thermostat installed.

Now don’t be fooled – having a programmable thermostat does not automatically equal energy savings. In fact, most models are so complicated that homeowners don’t bother trying to program them, thus paying more for heating and cooling costs.

Have you heard about Nest? What’s cool about this sleek newcomer is that all you have to do is set the temperature for a few days – this will train your Nest thermostat. Nest automatically gets a feel for your home and its temperature needs and it will activate various features on its own without you having to lift a finger. You can even control Nest from your smartphone! Check out more at Nest.com!

In general, programmable thermostats have a number of advantages over using normal thermostats. They help to save energy, save money and of course, increase the level of comfort in your home. A programmable thermostat allows you to program the temperature of your home during any time of the day. When that time comes, the programmable thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature to what you programmed it to be.

This is especially helpful when no one is at home. If no one’s home, what’s the point of running the thermostat so that your home is cool or warm? You can program the thermometer to automatically adjust the temperature to a level that you’ll save the most amount of money once you’ve left home. You’ll even be able to set it to switch back to your desired temperature right before you get back home.

There are a number of different models that allow you different types of flexibility in programming. A 7-day model will allow you to set the temperature schedule on a day to day basis. A 5+2-day model lets you use the same schedule during the week and a different one on the weekend. A 5+1+1 model lets you schedule Saturdays and Sundays separately.

Install a programmable thermostat from Georgia Power and save up to $100 a year on energy costs. Be sure to check out their special $100 rebate as well. For more information about sustainable, cost saving home design, contact a design build firm in Atlanta such as Renewal Design Build.

What's Involved in a Home Energy Assessment?

In recent years, it has become exceedingly more popular among homeowners to alter the way we utilize energy in our homes. Having an energy-efficient home is not only beneficial to the environment, and your finances but is also more comfortable for the homeowners.  Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of households are not energy-efficient… yet. This is particularly true for those that were built decades ago.

But how exactly can you determine your home’s energy needs? A home energy assessment, sometimes called a home energy audit, will tell you everything you need to know. The Building Performance Institute is a certifying body for energy assessment contractors and provides standard and quality assurance for the energy retrofit industry.

Home energy assessments are a valuable tool to see where your home is losing valuable energy so that you can address the problem and make your home more efficient overall. A comprehensive assessment will usually involve lots of different facets.

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Renewal Design-Build

Insulation inspection

Insulation inspection is crucial to a thorough home energy assessment. It involves an evaluation of insulation levels in different areas and recommendations for improvement tailored to the specific house.

Heating and cooling system inspection

This portion of the assessment will assess all of the heating and cooling equipment as well as the duct system(s).  Duct leakage is often one the greatest areas of energy loss in homes.  An assessment will include combustion safety testing for gas-fired equipment and result in recommendations for maintenance of existing equipment, as well as planning for eventual replacement.

Lighting inspection

Professional home energy assessments will take into consideration the energy spent on lighting your home. This will include examining the currently installed lighting, and recommendations for more energy efficient options such as compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs.

Air leaks

Most homes have a lot of gaps or cracks that can allow air from the outside to enter your house and conditioned air to leak out, especially if the house is older. Such leaks can contribute to high energy bills, discomfort and poor indoor air quality throughout the year. The right tools can detect these leaks so that they can be sealed appropriately, cutting down on expensive energy loss.

While there are a few things you can do around your house to get some energy savings, a comprehensive assessment will always be your best bet. It’ll save you time, money and the headaches that come along with taking care of repairs yourself. For an energy assessment of your home in Atlanta as well as all of the improvement services, contact Renewal System Solutions at 404-378-6962.