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Of Bathrooms And Home Improvement

When people think of home improvement, most think of remodeling or drastic renovation that costs a lot. Contrary to these ideas, improving the quality of your home starts with a single concept according to most interior decorators: increasing space. As simple as those two words sound, they are probably the most difficult to accomplish in terms of house design and decorating. However, there are ways to make this home improvement goal possible with the least amount of cash and effort. Starting with the most visited room in your house sets the tone for your project.

The bathroom is the most overlooked place in the house in terms of design. The common excuse of homeowners is that visitors do not really see the inside of the bathroom unless they ask to use it. But design experts argue that this should not be the case. The use of the bathroom is gradually changing from being functional to aesthetic. It is not only for bathing and other bodily functions but also for relaxation and de-stressing. It is important to keep the dual nature of the bathroom’s function in mind as you go about your home improvement project.

Increasing bathroom space has a lot to do with ceiling and wall dimensions. However, you do not have to remove walls or reconstruct your ceiling as part of home improvement. Simply placing borders along the conjunction of your ceiling and walls is often enough to “increase” their dimensions. The color provided by the border tricks the eyes into perceiving more space. Using wallpapers or tiles with vertical stripes or dainty prints also makes the room appear taller. If you are not using tiles or wallpapers, painting the bathroom ceiling and walls with a neutral shade illuminates and broadens the space. Plain white looks boring, and designers advise the use of other shades like ecru, beige, and oyster to update your bathroom’s color.

As much as bathroom space relies on walls and ceilings, floor space is just as important. Uncluttered floor widens visual space so keep this in mind in furnishing your bathroom. Instead of standing cabinets which interrupt floor space, install floating cabinets and storage spaces. Mount vanities in walls and choose claw-footed tubs instead of flat-bottomed tubs. These maximizes visible floor space which is an essential in any home improvement project. Painting floors in neutral shades or getting them a woodwork finish is best to increase space. Using light-colored tiles need more cleaning but gives your bathroom the illusion of being wide and spacious.

A home improvement project is not complete without furniture. In choosing bathroom fixtures and furniture, go for those that are slim and sleek. Go for the modern fixtures in chrome or silver. Installing mirrors also add to room dimension by giving the illusion of space. Put in a window to let natural light in. Not only does natural lighting make everything look fresher, it also illuminates spaces better. No matter what path you choose to take in the crossroads of home improvement, it is imperative that the room’s function is not hindered by its aesthetics.

Preliminary Notices and Mechanics Liens – A Contractor’s Right Can Be a Homeowner’s Plight

Every homeowner who embarks on a home remodeling or building project looks forward to their dream home beginning to take shape. They anticipate a flurry of activity at the beginning, first with demolition followed by the arrival of materials and subcontractors ready to work.

Shortly thereafter, certified letters requiring their signature arrive in the mail from suppliers and subcontractors. When they anxiously open the letters to read the words “Preliminary Notice” stating that someone is asserting lien rights against their property – they panic! But they shouldn’t – at least not at this point. The homeowner is simply being alerted to a commonly used legal instrument in construction that ensures payment for services, labor and materials provided for a home remodeling or building project.

The purpose of a Preliminary Notice, also know as “Right To Lien”, “Pre-Lien” or “20 days Notice”, is to notify the owner of the property that if the party providing the Preliminary Notice is not paid, then that party will have the right to record a Mechanics Lien against the owners’ property. The time frame within which the notices must be sent to the property owner varies from state to state. Some must be sent to the homeowner within 20 days the sub contractor begins work on the project or when a supplier delivers materials. Other States have less than 20 days and still others have up to 90 or 120 days.

As a general rule, every subcontractor and materials supplier furnishing labor, services, equipment or materials to a construction project without a direct contract with the owner of the project, must give a written Preliminary Notice to the property owner if they want to retain their lien rights. Accuracy is essential for a valid preliminary notice. Notices should be served by certified or registered mail or if delivered in person, proper documentation and signatures must accompany the preliminary notice. Finally, receiving a preliminary notice does not mean someone is going to file a Mechanics Lien against you. It simply ensures their right to lien you if the contractor doesn’t pay them.

It is the responsibility of any homeowner who remodels or builds a home to educate him or her self about the construction laws in their state. Understanding lien laws and pre-lien rights and learning how to protect yourself from having a Mechanics Lien filed against your property are key to having greater control over the project and your money. Obtaining Lien Releases and Waivers after each payment to the contractor is something homeowners need to educate themselves about. Once you understand this, you’ll avoid the surprise and justified anger that the money given to the contractor to pay the subs and suppliers never transpired, despite the fact that it is his/her responsibility to do so. A homeowner typically finds this out when they get slapped with a Mechanics Lien against their property for non-payment from a supplier or sub contractor.

So just what is a Mechanics Lien and what should a homeowner to do at this point?

A Mechanics Lien is a legal claim to real property until a debt has been paid. If you employ a trades person or contractor to work on your home and a dispute arises wherein you refuse to pay, the worker has a right to file a lien thus making the property responsible for payment. Mechanics’ Liens must be recorded with the County recorder where the property is located. Liens must be enforced by a lawsuit to foreclose on the property within a specific time frame (varies from state to state -usually 90 up to 180 days) of the date of recording or they automatically become null, void and unenforceable. If this time has elapsed and the contractor has not filed a lawsuit within the time period allowed, then demand that he execute a release of lien in writing. If he refuses to cooperate then the homeowner can petition the courts for a decree to release the lien. This usually requires hiring an attorney, as the process can be somewhat complicated.

It’s important to note that unethical contractors file the majority of liens and usually the liens become null and void based on the fact that the burden of proof lies with them. It’s costly, requires legal representation, proper documentation but more importantly they have to be 100% correct to win their case. Moreover, these contractors never intend to perfect the lien but instead use it as a tactic to either scare the homeowner into paying them more money, or to get back at the homeowner who has filed a legitimate complaint against the contractor. Ethical contractors use it only as a last resort and know they have a legitimate case.

Good contractors strive to maintain excellent customer relationships by working with their clients to resolve problems, perform quality work, always pay their subs, and conduct themselves professionally with the goal of building a successful business. Finding an ethical contractor takes some work on the part of the homeowner but by doing so ensures having less problems and a more positive outcome for both parties.

Energy Saving Tips – 6 Conservation Ideas For Home Lighting

Consider these home energy saving tips and conservation ideas and lower your lighting costs and save electricity. According to the U.S department of Energy, the electricity used just for home lighting on average accounts for over 10% of the total household energy used. With a combination of proper techniques and new lighting technologies, any homeowner can make significant improvements and increase the energy efficiency of their indoor home lighting.

The most cost efficient way to reduce the amount of electricity used to light your home is to simply increase and maximize the amount of natural light that enters your home. The new age of home construction and interior design is maximizing natural lighting by placing heavy focus on spacious living spaces coupled with the right furnishing and the right window treatments.

With that said, you don’t have to take on an expensive remodel or hire a professional interior designer to get started. Maximizing natural light coupled with new energy efficient lighting will significantly reduce the cost of lighting in any home. Here are some home energy saving tips and conservation ideas that are sure to reduce your home lighting costs.  

Energy Saving Tips And Conservation Ideas For Home Lighting

  1. First and foremost, keep your windows as clean and clear as possible. Just cleaning your windows can improve transparency by as much as 20%.
  2. When decorating a room, take into consideration the direction of the room. South and west facing rooms receive plenty of natural light. So if you’re decorative taste calls for darker colored window treatments, paints and furnishings, consider these rooms first. Use lighter and more transparent colors in east and north facing rooms to further maximize on the limited amount of natural light these rooms receive. 
  3. In general avoid using dark and heavy curtains and drapes. Instead consider energy saving window treatments such as cellular or honeycomb shades. These treatments actually reduce costly heat loss and heat gain better and there considerably more transparent than dark curtains and drapes.
  4. Switch to energy star certified CFL light bulbs. Start with the most used light fixtures through out the house. Bedroom lamps and living room lamps generally make good choices.
  5. CFLs are not all the same. They come in different shapes and sizes, some types are designed for certain type of light fixtures. Knowing these differences will maximize the energy efficiency of your home lighting.
  6. CFL light bulbs are efficient because there designed to use considerably less electricity (measured in watts) to produce the same amount of light (measured in lumens). When making the switch this must be considered. In short replace a 60 watt traditional bulb with about a 13 watt CFL bulb.