Bring Along a Pool Builder Checklist

July 12th, 2007

By: Rob Traugott

Indoor swimming pool

Shopping for a pool is like shopping for anything: a computer, a pair of runners, the latest GPS or a bag of beans. Fundamental rules apply, and while we’re not too keen on laying down too many rules, we’ll share a few tips to help you negotiate with swimming pool builders. After all, your banker was willing to lend you a princely sum for that fancy pool you’ve always wanted since you moved into your private estate up in the mountains.

If you live atop a mountain, you have to make sure that your builder can haul up his materials. Don’t laugh. We heard of one story where a pool builder was forced to cancel out of a sales contract because he wasn’t aware that his client lived not only outside city limits but at an elevation of a few thousand feet above ground level.

“Oh gosh, my men won’t be able to make it that high, sir. Besides, I got an antiquated truck.”

Tip # 1: Go for more than one bid. Two to three are ideal.

It’s the same principles that apply to re-doing your entire basement. You want an expert who understands basements and how to position the air ducts so that the heat spreads evenly.

As in a pool, your builder has to observe the standards for excavation protocol so that the pool surface is even and stands on good foundation. Building a swimming pool is a specialized activity and experience is always the best teacher.

Your builder should have many years of experence building the kind of pool you’re interested in; you also want someone who can provide an all-in-one package in case you decide to throw in accessories. Read the fine print and do a comparison of the three to four bids.

Price is an important consideration, but if the other man has a better delivery schedule or uses better materials, then price shouldn’t be your only consideration. Be flexible when evaluating the bids. The idea is to get bang for the buck, but not to the point where you have to sacrifice quality.

If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask!

Tip # 2: Look out for incentives

Some pool builders will offer bonuses to get your business. They know that homeowners like freebies. You may be offered a pool filter, a replacement pump, a vacuum or a pool cover. It would be nice if they can state these bonuses on their bids, to save you the embarrassment of having to ask.

Big swimming pool

Tip # 3: Ask for testimonials

An honest and reputable pool builder will give you the names and numbers of people he has served in the past so you can call them for references. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing strategy and good pool builders know what makes business sizzle or fizzle: reputation. They just don’t build concrete, they also build long term relationships because they believe that customers are their bread and butter.

Tip # 4: License with a capital L!

You’ve heard the horror stories of pools that were structurally weak because they were not built up to code. Swimming pool builders have to be licensed in some states and some states have web sites that will post complaints filed against contractors and builders. Your family’s safety is your # 1 priority.

Tip # 5: No need to pay cash upfront

Many homeowners are not aware that certain states set maximum percentages for down payments on in ground swimming pool projects. Look up your state’s recommended amount and pay only that amount when you sign the contract. A pool builder who asks for more should be viewed with suspicion.

Tip # 6: Set up project milestones

Building an in ground pool involves a whole network of workers: contractors, plumbers, equipment and chemical suppliers and special workers. Discuss and finalize payment schedules so the project is not delayed. There’s a difference between holding back payment unreasonably and a justified delayed payment. You only make the final payment when the pool is 100% finished and you’re 110% satisfied with the work.

Tip # 7: Keep all documents and receipts

Should a dispute arise in the future and you have to resort to legal action, your pool receipts and documents will be required as proof.

Outdoor swimming pool

Tip # 8: Maintain honest communications with your builder at all times

You’ll want to know who to call if a problem comes up. You need to tell your builder if you’ve built any additions to the pool after it was completed. He has to respect his guarantees and you should follow his instructions regarding care and maintenance. Your pool builder will have to brief you on when NOT to use your pool (e.g. after a sandstorm or when dangerous chemicals have been accidentally spilled).

Author Resource:  Tim Dillard is currently the host of Tops In Texas (http://www.topsintexas.com) and president of Dillard Local Branding (http://www.dlbllc.com), a Houston-based web design, Internet marketing and search engine marketing firm.

Article From Article Emporium

Modular home

June 29th, 2007

Modular homes are houses that are manufactured in a remote facility and then delivered to their intended site of use.

Typically, modular dwellings of the US are built to local code, so dwellings built in a given manufacturing facility may have differing construction standards depending on the final destination of the modules. Steel and wood framing are options that can provide clients with many solid choices. For example, homes built for final assembly on the Southeast coast of the United States may have additional bracing built-in to meet local hurricane codes.

Modular home

Modular components are typically constructed within a large indoor facility on assembly lines much like Henry Ford originally instituted with his automobile company. Such facilities use an assembly line track to move the modules from one workstation to the next. Independent building inspectors are on site to supervise the construction and ensure that all building codes are adhered to during assembly.

Such dwellings are often priced substantially lower than their site-built counterparts and are typically more cost-effective to builders and consumers. These new homes can be constructed in a fraction of the time it takes to build a home “on-site” and they’re built to higher standards as well. Manufacturers cite the following reasons for the typically lower cost/price of these dwellings:

  • Indoor construction. Assembly is independent of weather which often leads to cost overruns on site-built dwellings.
  • Favorable pricing from suppliers. Large-scale manufacturers can effectively bargain with suppliers for discounts on materials.
  • Low waste. With the same plans being constantly built, the manufacturer has records of exactly what quantity of materials are needed for a given job. While waste from a site-built dwelling may typically fill several large dumpsters, waste from a modular dwelling generates much less waste.

Off-frame modular dwellings differ from mobile homes largely in their absence of axles or a frame, meaning that they are typically transported to their site by means of flat-bed trucks; however, some modular dwellings are built on a steel frame (on-frame modular), which can be used for transportation to the homesite. Many modular homes are of multi-level design, and are often set in place using a crane.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Circular Kitchen – Compact Concepts

June 26th, 2007

After decades of the conventional modular kitchens the circular kitchen represents now the latest innovation in kitchen technology. The subject matter of this concept is the open placement of a kitchen within a room, in nooks and within wall cavities, saving space and through a central open style to enable the working in the kitchen without doing one step. In addition the following conceptional advantages are evident: No walls are necessary for the placement of the kitchen.

Circular Compact Kitchen

The kitchen island as a decorative independent unit can be closed off and is fitted with a lockable slatted door and creates an ideal highlight in every apartment, office, foyer or retirement residence.   
This clever kitchen is space saving constructed to use up less than 1.8 sqm, but offering as much bench and storage space as a conventional kitchen equipped with 12 cupboards.

As this is a 180º rotating kitchen, the complete work area may be reached from a sitting or standing position.

Circular Compact Kitchen

Through open style this kitchen concept is extremely user friendly. Deep cupboards and annoying doors in the way whilst working belong to the past. Appliances and kitchen contents are clearly visible.

Cost intensive work such as planning, fitting and installation, expensive tiling and electrical work is reduced to a minimum or does not occur at all.

Get more information at www.compact-concepts.com

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Your Modern Home

June 25th, 2007

In the years following World War II, Americans embraced modern architecture. The style’s clean lines and open spaces reflected the hope and optimism of the era, and it was the style of choice for many of the new homes being built in Southern California during this period. Today, these homes are back in fashion and well worth preserving.

Modern Residences in a Nutshell

Modern home

Image from www.dreamhomedesignusa.com 

The rise of modern architecture can be traced to the International Style in Europe, which developed in the late 1920s. During this period, most European urban residential modern architecture was constructed as multi-unit buildings.

After World War II, improved communication and transportation in Southern California encouraged residents to live a more suburban life than their pre-war European counterparts. The American version of modern homes, typically a single-family residence, offered homeowners flexible living space along with the latest in home appliances.

An increased accessibility to new building materials (plastic, fiberglass, foam rubber, aluminum, steel, Lucite™, fluorescent lighting, vinyl, rayon, Formica™ and reinforced concrete) also propelled modern design into the mainstream.

Modern in the Mainstream

Modern Home

Image from www.onehomedesign.com

Often people focus on the big-name modernists working in our area, but many lesser-known architects were also creating excellent examples of this style. By the mid-’60s, modernism had decreased in popularity, and architects had begun to experiment with new styles. But during the last few decades its timeless quality and clean lines have begun to appeal to homeowners once again.

Today mid-century modern design principles are recognized as elegant, innovative and versatile. This style’s clutter0free approach can make your home environment a refuge from stress in these days of Internet superhighways, congested freeways and high-pressure jobs.

Is Your Home Modern?

Exterior

Flat stucco and exposed brick, stone and wood were all used as exterior finishes in modern homes. Color contrasts were subtle, often incorporating many neutral colors found in nature (don’t be discouraged if you don’t see these colors – repainting happens often!). Often the landscape plan flows with the exterior of the home, and sometimes planters located underneath breezeways and inside walls also reduce the division between indoor and outdoor spaces. Expansive glass panels and sliding glass doors were used throughout to bring the beauty of the California landscape into the home. A pronounced roof overhang often provides cooling shade to the modern home. Most modern homes were built with a flat or slightly sloped roof with no shingles. The exterior of a modern home lacks ornamentation, such as shutters, ironwork or fancy carpentry. Overall, the modern style offers a clean, simple exterior balanced with a bold geometric building shape.

Interior

The interior of a modern home usually has a unified central area. This includes a living room, dining room and kitchen sometimes separated by fold-away walls, which allow the homeowner to divide or join rooms as desired. Exposed wooden or steel posts and beams often trick the eye into believing a modern home is more spacious than it actually is.

Modern Home Interior

Image from Trendir

Hygiene and convenience were important to contemporary modern homeowners. Many of the new building materials encouraged the practice of good hygiene, such as easy-to-clean slick surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen. And don’t forget the self-cleaning oven! In a modern home, the kitchen’s dirty dishes were isolated from the eyesight of guests through serving islands. Some homes even featured a Shoji sliding screen covered with synthetic plastic rice-like paper cabinets that slid open from both sides to return and take dishes and flatware. Beneath the screen, drop-down banquet tabletops allowed the hostess to serve a dinner party without having to make multiple trips through the kitchen,

Instead of a traditional dark hallway, many modern homes offered a luminous sky-lighted ceiling of corrugated plastic panels that brought in natural sunlight from above.

Look under your carpeting! It was rarely found in modern homes because easy maintenance was a high priority for the modern homemaker. Natural materials such as hardwood, cork and linoleum were used as flooring material as well as newer synthetic vinyl tile flooring.

Today’s Valuable Modern Home

Why maintain the originality of a Modern home?

Modern architecture’s popularity has been increasing. This style has been recently featured in popular home magazines such as Architectural Digest, Sunset, Garden Design, Wallpaper and House & Garden.
It is truly a sound investment. Prospective homebuyers will pay a premium for homes that have intact, authentic modern features.

Some municipal governments in California offer the benefits of the Mills Act. In cities that have cooperated with the state to recognize the value of historical property restoration, this provision has reduced property tax by up to 60 percent for homeowners that agree to preserve their architecturally significant home for a contractual period. Movie scouts are constantly locating modern homes that match the vision of current film scripts for studios, which pay to film or photograph on location.

Restoring Your Modern Home

When considering a restoration of your modern home, celebrate the unique design elements of its architecture rather than permanently erasing its character with a renovation that is insensitive to its true value.

We understand that many of the “new” materials used in modern homes have not withstood the tests of time. However, many similar and compatible building materials have been designed since then that withstand relentless exposure to sun, wind, temperature extremes, rain and pollution. These latest building materials may enhance life in the modern home without destroying its overall property value.

Before beginning any restoration to a modern home, try to locate the home’s original building specifications and determine when the home was constructed and whether any renovations followed. Then you should contact a consultant who can advise you on any planned restoration of original elements. Upon request, the Los Angeles Conservancy will provide a list of qualified designers and guide you in finding local resources to maintain your modern home.

The best features of modern-era homes are originality, sophistication and relevance to contemporary living. Once you have made a commitment to maintain your modern home, you will own a unique architectural showpiece like no other in the world.

From Laconservancy.org

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Mobile home

June 25th, 2007

Mobile homes (or manufactured homes) are housing units built in factories, rather than on site, and then taken to the place where they will be occupied. They are usually transported by semi-trucks over public highways. They are less expensive per square foot than site-built homes, and are often associated with rural areas and high-density developments, sometimes referred to as trailer parks. In the UK and USA they are referred to as “mobile home parks.”

The term “manufactured home” specifically refers to a home built entirely in a protected environment under a federal code set by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Contrary to popular belief, manufactured homes are not mobile homes. The term “mobile home” describes factory-built homes produced prior to the 1976 HUD Code enactment.

Mobile home

Image from www.coastviewholidays.co.uk

These houses are usually placed in one location, often a rented lot, and left there permanently. However, they do retain the ability to be moved, as this is a requirement in many areas. Behind the cosmetic work fitted at installation to hide the base, there are strong trailer frames, axles, wheels and tow-hitches.

Manufactured homes are not large recreational vehicles. The latter are more properly called travel trailers, motor homes or RVs, and they are usually parked at facilities called trailer parks, trailer courts, or RV parks for short terms.

Mobile home inside

Image from www.camping-meursault.com

The two major forms of manufactured homes are single-wides and double-wides. Single-wides are sixteen feet or less in width and can be towed to their site as a single unit. Double-wides are twenty feet or more wide and are towed to their site in two separate units, which are then joined together. Triple-wides and even homes with four, five, or more units are also manufactured, although not as commonly.

In the U.S., manufactured homes are regulated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), via the Federal National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974. It is this national regulation that has allowed many manufacturers to distribute nationwide, since they are immune to the jurisdiction of local building authorities. By contrast, producers of modular homes must abide by state and local building codes. There are, however, windzones adopted by HUD that manufactured home builders must follow. For example, state-wide, Florida is at least windzone 2. South Florida is windzone 3, the strongest windzone. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, new standards were adopted for manufactured home construction. The codes for building within these windzones were significantly amended, which has greatly increased their durability. During the 2004 hurricanes in Florida, these standards were put to the test, with great success.

However, older models continue to face the exposed risk to high winds due to the attachments applied such as carports, porch and screen room additions. These areas are exposed to “Wind Capture” which apply extreme force to the underside of the integrated roof panel systems, ripping the fasteners through the roof pan causing a series of events which destroys the main roof system and the home. 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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