Posts Tagged ‘Home Improvement’

Designing a Home

Porter Rear 2


There’s a lot to designing a new home. Same is true for a remodeling project. There are the inevitable questions of “where do I begin? Can I do it myself? Who should I hire?” Just to name a few.

 First of all, get inspired! Planning your new home is the most critical moment of the process, and the most fun. Capitalize on the magical inspiration every project needs to make a house, a home – yours! Capture the lightning-in-a-bottle that motivates you in the first place to design your own home. Write it all down, keep a scrap book, bookmark pictures in books, take pictures, whatever your preferred method.

Second, get organized. You need documents that contain information you’ve gathered which serves to direct your planning efforts. Accurate documents focus attention on facts. Basic information eliminates “Pie-in-the-Sky” dream scenarios which waste time, effort and people’s patience. Start with a Requirements List. Make a Wish List separately so that you can add it to your design later, as you find you can afford. Spend approximately 30 days to 6 months on this part.

Third, develop the ideas & design. This is the phase of the process where dimensions are added to the drawings. Everything must be made to fit at this phase. You will develop your scheme into a completely dimensioned drawing. With a conceptual design roughed out, scheme chosen, a theme decided upon and problems on the site ironed out, you are fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together in this step. You know you are done here when you have located on paper the location of every door and window in the house. This should take you approximately 2 months.

Finally Let the steady hand of an experienced designer, like myself here at Midcoast Home Designs take over the process of shaping up the prints. If you’ve gotten this far on your own drawing skills, you need to delegate now. You have more important duties involved in managing your dream home.

  • When you’re starting out, put all your materials in folders and keep them in one cardboard box. When you find something, the cardboard box will be the place to put it and find it later on when you need it. Better yet- use Pinterest! The BEST way to share photo’s!
  • Take your time. Think about how you will use each space, the furnishings in the space, the circulation through and around the spaces, and what is most important about each space. Cut out measured paper shapes for furniture and cabinets and try them out to see how they will work with windows, doors and circulation paths through the space.
  • Another idea is to pace out and chalk the rough dimensions of your house, including all rooms, doors and hallways.  Use cardboard as “Paper Dolls” for furniture size. This gives you the opportunity to walk through your prospective home and really feel how the spaces relate to one another.
  • If you are having a difficult time in visualizing a design, not to worry. Here at Midcoast Home Designs we use  a 3D visualization process to show you what your new home or project will look like-realistically with even photo’s of yourself, before construction even begins!

Does Your House Feel Cold? Drafty, cold house. Ideas to find and fix the problems.

Is your home cold even though your windows are closed and locked?

If you feel that your house is always cold even though the thermostat is turned up, the windows are closed and locked but you still need a blanket just to watch TV? Here are some ways to see what to do to find the reason why it’s still cold.

Heat is very “lightweight”, it rises no matter what. If you have a ceiling fan flip the switch to counter-clockwise. It will circulate the heat downward. Then opposite in the warmer months for cool air because it is heavy and it will circulate it upward.

Adequate Attic Insulation

blown insulationYou should also have your insulation quantity in the attic checked. A local building contractor can do this for you. Some of the Big Box stores offer the service as well. If you live in Maine I suggest making sure you have at least 18” to 24” of insulation in your attic. An R-60 is the best for the Northern States. This amount of insulation also helps for the Summer months as well. Keeping the air conditioned cool air in your home from escaping.

Putting plastic window wraps on the interior of your windows in the Fall can help as well windows that maybe 10 years or older. If you have an oil furnace have it checked and cleaned yearly. The best solution which can be a bit costly, is to make sure your windows are energy efficient. With a SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) and U-Factor at least a 0.28 or lower. This number can be calculated and is also found on the sticker of a new window.


windowstickerThe U-factor measures how well a window prevents heat from escaping. The rate of heat loss is indicated in terms of the U-factor (U-value) of a window assembly. A U-factor is the inverse of an R-value. If you divide the U-factor into 1 you get the equivalent R-value. U-factor ratings generally fall between 0.07 and 1.20. The lower the U-value (the higher the R-value), the greater a window’s resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating value.

For example, a U-.33 = R -3 (typical for low-e windows); a U-.50 = R-2 (typically for double-glazed windows).

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

The solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) measures how well glass blocks heat in sunlight. The SHGC is the fraction of solar radiation admitted through a window (both directly transmitted and absorbed) and released inward or how much heat gain is blocked by the window. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower a window’s solar

Benefits to Low SHGC

Windows with low SHGC will help to keep the house from warming due to direct sunlight. There are other benefits for the home owner. Sometimes there are tax incentives for replacing inefficient windows with low-E windows. But within the home, these windows will also help to prevent color fading of furniture and curtains. Condensation will also be reduced. Looking at the big picture, using efficient windows reduces the overall load on utility services and reduces emissions.

heat gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits in the house. The lower the number, the better for east and west windows; the higher the number, the better for south windows.

ceramic heaterPortable Electric Heaters

Portable electric heaters that have auto off when tipped over or reach a certain temperature can also help take the edge off. They area fairly inexpensive and can be moved anywhere in a house.

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