and Design

Where to begin

So you’ve decided to make some home improvements. It is an exciting prospect to upgrade and bring your home closer to the image of your dream home. Begin by considering the changes you want to make. You may already have an idea of the things you want to improve, but now’s the time to fine-tune your ideas.

Think about how your home already supports the way you live, and which existing elements you really like. Write down each item you want to keep, and what you want to change. This will not only help you prioritize the projects you take on first, it will also help you better define the details of each project. No matter how large or small your project, planning is crucial. Developing a detailed plan will insure that your project runs smoothly forward and that your results will be a success. Having a clear image in your mind of what you want to achieve will help guide you in the steps you must take to attain your goal.

Determine your goal

Once you know the project that you want to take on first, you can begin to make decisions about what you want to change. The more clearly you can envision what you want to achieve, the better prepared you’ll be in making necessary decisions;Think about traffic patterns, furniture placement and size, colors, lighting and how you plan to use the remodeled space. Draw out your completed idea to get a clear picture of what you hope to accomplish.

Cost Estimation

You probably have a basic idea of how much you want to invest in your home improvement project, so base your estimate on that budget. Nothing is more disappointing than not having enough money to finish the entire project, so plan well, beginning with the most costly or most important items. To get a good idea of material cost, simply check out your neighborhood home improvement center. If you have any questions or concerns, most of their employees are able to either give you answers or guide you to someone who can. When pricing your necessary materials, remember to include any hardware and finishing products you might need. Don’t forget nails, adhesives, tape, stencils or paint.

Gather your tools

Be sure that you have the proper tools available before you start. If your current toolkit does not have certain specialty tools to do the job properly, you might have to invest in them to complete your project. You could also consider borrowing or renting them. Some jobs might also require two people for safety reasons, so you will need to line up additional help before you work on that part.

Consider Eco Friendly Building

Green remodeling is a sound choice, for both, a healthier life and as an investment in your home. Currently, in traditional construction, indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air, due to various building materials, inadequate lighting, and a variety of other variables. Some eco friendly choices do require purchasing special equipment or materials, but many upgrades are just a matter of knowing the most environmentally conscious choice to make. Using recycled materials where available, (glass, stone, plastics), choosing carpet low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), and installing more efficient, low water plumbing fixtures are a few Green options that cost little or no more than the non-Green.

Anticipate your needs

Most home improvement projects require a variety of different skills. If there is a task that requires more skill than you have and you would feel more comfortable with expert guidance or proficiency, a contractor can usually do just the portion of the job that you are unable to handle for a portion of the cost of the entire project. You might consider hiring a plumber, electrician or heating specialist, or even a general handyman for a job that requires additional manpower.

Hiring a Contractor

If you do plan on hiring a contractor, you must get a written contract. A good contract includes a detailed description of the project, start and expected completion dates, labor and material costs, and any warranties of workmanship. Including a right to cancel clause of three business days is a good idea. The more detailed you make your contract, the less room for problems you will allow.

Building Permits

Before you actually start tearing down walls or running electrical wire, check with your local or state building department to learn if your project requires a building permit. A building permit is a license required by city code that grants legal permission to construct, enlarge, alter, repair or demolish a structure or equipment installed in a building. If you are working with a contractor, find out if his services include obtaining permits.

So now, you know where to begin. Following these guidelines will help insure that your home renovations will advance without any unnecessary hitches or unfortunate surprises, whether you are doing internal remodeling and upgrades, or external maintenance and repair. With the correct preparation, and taking it a step at a time, your dream home will not be just a dream!

Carpet Cleaning Equipment

Carpet cleaning is a billion dollar a year industry in the United States. Many commercial and residential cleaning companies clean carpets as a part of their business. Carpet cleaning equipment can be split into three different categories, truck mount extraction equipment, portable extraction equipment, and residential extraction cleaners. Each category is used for different applications with varying results. When purchasing carpet cleaning equipment it is important to match the machine to the types of carpet you will be doing. For professional carpet cleaners, truck mount cleaning equipment is recommended. The average commercial cleaning company that dabbles in carpet cleaning will usually buy portable equipment that can easily be moved from place to place but will stand up to repeated use. The residential consumer will usually purchase lower costing equipment that is used infrequently and is priced much less that the other two categories.

Commercial truck mount cleaning equipment is a high powered carpet extraction unit that is usually housed in a van or trailer. Truck mount cleaning equipment is usually powered by a van or truck motor or by a portable generator. These types of systems can carry their own water and cleaning solutions making them independent and extremely mobile. Truck mount cleaning equipment is the most powerful of all the types of carpet extractors. The power of carpet equipment is measured by the pounds per square inch or PSI that the water is sprayed into the carpet at. The more powerful of a spray that the piece of carpet equipment emits the cleaner the carpets will get. Another method of carpet cleaning is steam cleaning. Steam cleaning works on the principal of heating water to break down grime and soil, making the carpets cleaner. Most truck mount units have built-in heaters that can super heat the water quickly making them extremely effective. With the combination of heat and PSI truck mount extraction surpasses any other method of carpet cleaning.

Portable carpet cleaning equipment units are small, lightweight and extremely maneuverable. These units can be easily transported in a minivan or truck and can be lifted up and down stairs. Portable carpet extractors have moderate to low PSI capabilities and are used primarily for spot cleaning and touch ups. Some portable units do have the capacity to heat water using electricity but are limited to lower temperatures that truck mount equipment. The two types of portable extractors are push/pull units or units that utilize a carpet extraction wand. In comparison, portable machines are about twenty-five to fifty percent less expensive than truck mount extractors and are very reasonable to operate.

Residential or consumer carpet extractors are more commonly known as steam cleaners. Common steam cleaner manufacturers include Hoover and Eureka. Consumer carpet extractors do a great job at spot cleaning and are usually priced under five hundred dollars. Most types of consumer carpet cleaning equipment work on the principle of agitating the carpet fibers and rinsing them with a water solution. These units do not have the capability to deep clean but do a sufficient job at removing visible debris. Most steam cleaners are based on the upright vacuum cleaner design and resemble these units in many ways. These units are great to have around for removing food and drink spills or if you have pets. Steam cleaners or residential types of cleaning equipment are mostly disposable units that are not meant to be repaired or discarded when they become nonfunctional. Steam cleaners and steam vacs are extremely portable and can be used easily in multi-level homes with most types weighing under thirty pounds. These units can increase the life of carpets by quickly removing debris before it is ground in and becomes a stain.

Picking and Planning Home Improvement Projects

If you’re trying to decide on which home improvement you need to make, it’s important to cover all the angles in your planning.

By finding the most appropriate project, you can make sure that you spend your time and money productively on one that’s going to address an important problem in your household. Frittering away time and money on sundry projects when a home has specific needs is a good way to ensure that you don’t have the resources to take care of the big things when they happen.

When choosing a home improvement project, consider the following criteria:

– Can I do this? Let’s face it, not all of us are Mr. Handy. When choosing a home project, consider your ability in the skills that the project will require. If it’s something bigger than you can handle, you should instead call in a professional – or come back to the project later when your budget allows.

– Budget. Most of us don’t have bottomless bank accounts, so undertaking projects we can afford is important. Make sure you understand all the costs involved before getting involved with a home improvement project.

– Safety. Projects related to home safety should get your first priority. If you’re living in an older home, you may have carcinogens from old asbestos insulation or cladding, or there may be lead-based paint present. Removing the presence of these illness-causing substances is very important, and should be done by a professional.

Less dramatic safety threats include malfunctioning fire safety equipment, unstable steps or stairs, a leaky roof, bad wiring, loose handrails, slippery floors etc. These needs should be at the top of your priority list for home repair.

– Comfort. This is a key concern for homes, as the average Australian spends a large portion of his or her time inside. Making your home as comfortable as possible is an important quality of life issue. So if you have a leaky tap, noisy appliances or flooring that could benefit from carpet, those home projects need to move to the front of the line.

By understanding which home improvement projects need attention first, you can choose a project that isn’t a distraction from more pressing matters, and improve the quality of life at your home. Assess the impact on you, you family and your lifestyle before beginning, and don’t start until you have your desired outcome in mind.