Home Design

10 Home Amenities Contractors Love

Rising numbers of creative artists, freelancers and contractors are working from home. The numbers are expected to increase. Leasing agents, employers and manufacturers of home amenities aren't the only people who have to accommodate for shifts that America's changing workforce will bring. Real estate agents, home builders, mortgage lenders and home buyers may also have to adjust to the changes.

Home amenities must keep up with changing times

The shifts that may have far reaching impact are expected to see half of America's workforce earning income from the contractor and freelancer ranks. According to Forbes, 53 million workers in the United States already freelance. By 2020, that number is expected to double. Many of these workers will work from home.

Add in telecommuters, and don't be surprised if members of the gig and freelance economy start looking for home amenities and home floor layouts that fit their work-from-home needs. Following are 10 home amenities that contractors may start looking for more and more in home designs.

  1. Open floor plan - Houses that are designed with an open floor plan make it easier for contractors to multi-task. Whether they are working from their home office, the living room or the kitchen island, contractors can keep an eye on young children, pets or a meal that's cooking in the oven while they work.
  2. Solar energy - Homes built with solar energy panels help to cut down on utility expenses for work-at-home professionals, and who doesn't love opening a utility bill and seeing that the costs has dropped?
  3. Great outdoor views - Of all home amenities, this one is tops. Great views can keep freelancers from feeling isolated. Outdoor views help contractors feel connected to the world around them, even as contractors work for 8 or more hours a day from home.
  4. Built-in bookcases - Apartment management companies are already designing apartment units with built-in bookcases. Not only are built-in-bookcases visually attractive, they are space savers.
  5. Large home office - A large home office is a contractor's bread and butter. Contractors may start asking real estate agents to only show them houses that have a large home office. These rooms need to be big enough to fit a desk, chair, two filing cabinets, a printer and computer inside. The space shouldn't be cramped.
  6. Indoor exercise space - A large extra room or a basement could serve as an indoor exercise space. Because contractors tend to be independent thinkers, they value and take care of their health.
  7. Wifi access - This is a must when it comes to home amenities. Even houses in the country may need Wifi access to land a sale with freelancers.
  8. Stylish home lighting - Task, accent and general or natural lighting are winners. Home offices should be designed with at least task and general lighting.
  9. Wall computer stands and monitor stands - Similar to built-in bookcases, these home amenities computer and monitor stands are attractive space savers. Houses designed with these two home amenities also keep contractors from having to spend money on separate computer and monitor stands.
  10. Finished basement - Documents, videotapes, artist equipment and supplies and additional filing cabinets can be stored in a finished basement. A portion of a finished basement could also serve as a home office, especially if both people buying the same house are contractors.

Location is also important to contractors and freelancers. Homes that these workers, particularly full-time contractors, live in come with real advantages if the homes are located within walking distance of public train and bus stations. If the houses are not within walking distance, contractors should not have to drive more than 10 to 15 minutes to reach public transportation facilities.

Until the shifts change, these home amenities may seem far fetched. Manufacturers, home builders and real estate agents who see and prepare for these shifts now, may find themselves ahead of the curve now and in the future.

Building An Eco Friendly Home

Are you looking for eco-friendly, money saving methods and materials for building your new home? Do you want a comfortable and stylish home with all the latest smart home gadgets, yet wish to construct it in a way that has as little negative impact on the environment as possible? Not to worry, with planning and a close working relationship with your architects, builder, and interior designer, you can reach your goals of good stewardship of the earth’s assets while knowing you are building an energy-saving home with materials and products that do not negatively impact the environment.

Prevent Frost Heaving With Frost-Protected Foundations Climatic conditions in North America result in high levels of spring frost that settle down on and around the house. Many energy-efficient focused builders follow a practice of installing frost-protected shallow foundations (FPSF) that raise the frost depth by directing heat loss towards the foundation. Talk to your builder and consider the benefit of this practice for your building situation.

Advantages Of Pre-Cast Wall Panels Using pre-cast wall panels is also a financial sound, eco-friendly option. These panels make homes look beautiful and are thermally efficient: made of insulating foam and concrete. Thermal panels deliver superior quality insulation, enhancing thermal efficiency. Additionally, they are resistant to moisture, highly durable, non-combustible, and even provide soundproofing through walls – which means no more worrying about the neighbor’s barking dog! Another option, CarbonCast insulated wall panels and claddings provide stellar insulation, enhance ambiance, and provide decades of energy-efficient sound proofing from outdoor traffic noise. SIPs or Structural Insulated Panels also serve as a highly effective option, replacing conventional framing material and differ forms of insulated wall panels. Sips are pre-assembled and do not contain concrete. They are, in fact, made of polystyrene foam fit between oriented strand board to serve trifold functions of sheathing, insulating and framing – all in one! Mostly used as support for roofs, walls and flooring, SIPs are very energy efficient and offer an R-value improvement of 15-40 percent.

Energy - Efficient Windows For The Home How to plan your house is directly related to how energy efficient and eco-friendly. Placing operational skylights and savvy window panels help improve the natural ventilation, reduce heating and air conditioning use and also trap the sunlight during winters, keeping the house warm. Low-e window coating or low-emissivity window coating employs a thin metal or glass coating that lets the majority of the sun’s light radiation enter the room while blocking the harmful radiation. They boost the R-value and reduce the U-factor. Technological advancements enhance operational skylights, wind turbines, and windows with rooftop monitors – all accessible via an app and functional on the go.

Keep The Pipes From Freezing Heat tape with automated temperature controls installed under sidewalks and driveways eliminate the need for snow removal – saving a lot of time and sparing a lot of labor. If geothermal energy is an option, the pipelines beneath the concrete could heat up the garage floor, basement, and other areas, causing the snow to melt. Again, at the touch of an app: a relatively inexpensive “fix” for a chronic problem.

 

Small Lots Big Design - How Good Design Enhances Small Lots in Northampton, MA

In 2013 the City of Northampton hosted a “Small Lots, Big Design” competition. The purpose was to demonstrate how good design can enhance small lots throughout the city. 

Since the end of the competition, Bruce Volz, of Shop Development LLC has seen his project progress to the point where it is almost complete. 

Bruce is also the co-owner of VCA, custom builders of unique furniture and architectural millwork in Northampton. His passion is in the design and quality of the pieces his company produces. His clients are varied and can mostly be found in New York and California. So it goes to say that this Small Lots, Big Design project has been a labor of love for him. He has never been involved in the construction of buildings. He paid three firms to come up with a design that he could get behind. In the end he chose Jones Whitsett Architects, and construction began in the Spring of 2015. 

Within walking distance to downtown Northampton, each two story building is made up of two single story dwellings, an upper and a lower dwelling. Each is efficiently organized to provide homeowners a spacious two bedroom apartment, including an outdoor deck and covered parking. The dwellings are low maintenance. The construction exceptional. Standards include double glazed windows, air-source mini-split heating/cooling, solar hot water, and LED lighting.

Inside the homes is all Bruce. The wood used in the counter face is reclaimed wood from a barn that previously stood on the property. Same with the barn doors in the home. The counter tops are recycled paper and resin. The floors are natural ash and teak. The cabinets were made in his company, designed by his people, all excited to be a part of the process. The homes have a rustic but polished look. Every pain staking detail is Bruce.

These homes are truly a work of art. Three of the four homes have been sold. There is an open house this weekend (Sunday, November 6, 2016 from 1-3PM) so feel free to stop in and take a tour. Or for a private viewing, please call Dave Ryan of Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont at 413-977-9184 or visit ShopDevelopmentNoho.com for renderings, systems, and more information or http://bit.ly/2dBAyzU for more details.

 

Pamela Sclafani is the Marketing Manager for Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont. She lives in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys everything it has to offer, gorgeous scenery, hills and mountains for hiking, lakes for paddle boarding, the change of seasons, and the close proximity to Boston and New York.

 

Cheap Ways to Update Your Home

Everyone is on a budget nowadays so redecorating your house can seem like its impossible. Yet, with some small, inexpensive updates, you can transform the look of your house.

The most basic way to update the look of a room is color. A new paint color on the walls can transfer a dull room to a stunning room. With a gallon of paint around $25, you can repaint a room for under $75. Top it off with a chair rail (around $9 for a 8ft piece) and you have a completely different room. Not in the mood to paint? How about some throw pillows on the couch? Or a new comforter? A little splash of color can go a long way.

Now let's get creative - have plain knobs or handles on your kitchen cabinets or none at all? Get some decorative knobs for around $1.00 a knob and you have yourself updated cabinets. (Try this on any cabinet in your house!) Add some drama to your dining room or entry way with a new chandelier. For as low as $50.00 you can add a focal point that will wow. And how about that bathroom? Adding a new shower curtain and bath mat can really change the whole look of the room for under $50!

No matter what room you are looking to update, house gutting renovations are not needed. With a little imagination, the smallest updates can create a whole new look for a room. Need some ideas? Take a walk around your local home improvement center and see what catches your eye. You never know what you might find that sparks an idea for a inexpensive update!