Monday, October 29, 2012

What is Sustainability?

          Sustainability may be defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. By consuming fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources, by building in sprawling urban patterns that cover extensive areas of prime agricultural land, by using wood from forests that are not replanted, by allowing topsoil to be eroded by wind and water, and by generating substances that pollute water, soil, and air, we have been building in a manner that will make it increasingly difficult for our children and grandchildren to meet their needs for buildings and healthy lives.
          On the other hand, if we reduce building energy usage and utilize sunlight and wind as energy sources for our buildings, we avoid depletion of fossil fuels. If we reuse existing buildings imaginatively and arrange our new buildings in compact patterns on land of marginal value, we minimize the waste of valuable land. If we harvest wood from forests that are managed in such a way that they can supply wood at a sustained level for the foreseeable future, we maintain wood construction as a viable option for centuries to come. If we protect soil and water through sound design and construction practices, we retain these irreplaceable resources for our successors. If we systematically reduce or eliminate the various forms of pollution emitted in the processes of producing and operating buildings, we keep the environment clean in perpetuity. It is often possible to do these things without increasing the monetary costs of constructing and operating buildings, and in some cases actually to reduce these costs.
          Realization to these goals is dependent on our awareness of the environmental problems created by building activities, knowledge of how to avoid these problems, and skill in designing and constructing buildings that harness this knowledge. Sustainable design and construction, also called "green" building, is steadily becoming the goal of more and more building owners, architectural and engineering firms, contractors, and building operators, among them some of the largest organizations in each field.
          Sustainability must be addressed on a life-cycle basis, from the origins of the materials for a building, through the manufacture and installation of these materials and their useful lifetime in the building, to their eventual disposal when the building's life is ended.

Considerations of sustainability:
       in Site Work, Excavations, and Foundations
       in Brick Masonry Construction 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Strategy for Remodeling Bathrooms

You dream about a bathroom that’s high on comfort and personal style, but you also want materials, fixtures, and amenities with lasting value. Wake up! You can have both.

A mid-range bathroom remodel is a solid investment, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. An average bath remodel of $16,500 will recoup about 62% of those costs when it’s time to sell your home, and a more extensive $52,200 job returns about 55.5%. In addition, you can maximize the value of your investment by using these smart strategies, which will create a stylish yet budget-friendly bathroom.


1. Stick to a plan

You can afford that Italian tile you love if you can live with the total square footage you already have.

Keeping the same footprint, and locating new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, saves demolition and reconstruction dollars. You’ll also cut down on the dust and debris that make remodeling so hard to live with.

Make the most of the space you have. Glass doors on showers and tubs open up the area. A pedestal sink takes up less room than a vanity. If you miss the storage, replace a mirror with a deep medicine cabinet.

2. Keep the same footprint

You can afford that Italian tile you love if you can live with the total square footage you already have.

Keeping the same footprint, and locating new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, saves demolition and reconstruction dollars. You’ll also cut down on the dust and debris that make remodeling so hard to live with.

Make the most of the space you have. Glass doors on showers and tubs open up the area. A pedestal sink takes up less room than a vanity. If you miss the storage, replace a mirror with a deep medicine cabinet.

3. Make lighting a priority

Multiple shower heads and radiant heat floors are fabulous adds to a bathroom remodel. But few items make a bathroom more satisfying than lighting designed for everyday grooming. You can install lighting for a fraction of the cost of pricier amenities.

Well-designed bathroom task lighting surrounds vanity mirrors and eliminates shadows on faces: You look better already. The scheme includes two ceiling- or soffit-mounted fixtures with 60 to 75 watts each, and side fixtures or sconces providing at least 150 watts each, distributed vertically across 24 inches (to account for people of various heights). Four-bulb lighting fixtures work well for side lighting.

4. Clear the air

Bathroom ventilation systems may be out of sight, but they shouldn’t be out of mind during a bathroom remodel.

Bathroom ventilation is essential for removing excess humidity that fogs mirrors, makes bathroom floors slippery, and contributes to the growth of mildew and mold. Controlling mold and humidity is especially important for maintaining healthy indoor air quality and protecting the value of your home—mold remediation is expensive, and excess humidity can damage cabinets and painted finishes.

A bathroom vent and water closet fan should exhaust air to the outside—not simply to the space between ceiling joists. Better models have whisper-quiet exhaust fans and humidity-controlled switches that activate when a sensor detects excess moisture in the air.

5. Think storage

Bathroom storage is a challenge: By the time you’ve installed the toilet, shower, and sink, there’s often little space left to store towels, toilet paper, and hair and body products. Here are some ways to find storage in hidden places.

• Think vertically: Upper wall space in a bathroom is often underused. Freestanding, multi-tiered shelf units designed to fit over toilet tanks turn unused wall area into found storage. Spaces between wall studs create attractive and useful niches for holding soaps and toiletries. Install shelves over towel bars to use blank wall space.

• Think moveable: Inexpensive woven baskets set on the floor are stylish towel holders. A floor-stand coat rack holds wet towels, bath robes, and clothes.

• Think utility: Adding a slide-out tray to vanity cabinet compartments provides full access to stored items and prevents lesser-used items from being lost or forgotten.
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~ Visit our web site at C & E General Contractors, Inc.  ~