Archive for November, 2007
By Lumber Liquidators
Homeowners with hardwood floors are often concerned about damaging their floors during the winter season. Without proper care, winter’s harsh elements? slush, snow and salt? can dull the varnish of hardwood floors and even cause warping and gapping. Most movement or shifting that occurs in wood flooring is due to moisture and will realistically happen with all wood floors.
Trying to avoid winter elements is almost impossible. After all, what would the season be without building a snow man or sledding until you’re soaked? Rather than missing out on winter fun, here are a couple of simple steps you can take to prevent and protect your floors this winter.
Install floor mats.
Catching slush and snow at the door is the best way to avoid damage. It is important to keep these mats as clean and dry as possible – you may even consider investing in an additional mat that you can alternate while drying the other. If your kids enjoy playing outside, encourage them to remove their wet snow apparel as soon as they come back inside to avoid trekking snow all over the house.
Get creative with everyday, household materials.
Placing a dish-drainer tray mat by the door with a towel underneath can be a nice place for shoes and boots to dry off. Kindly ask your guests to remove their shoes as they enter. Buy inexpensive or disposable slippers to make your guests feel more comfortable.
Train your pets. Pets are the number one offender of tracking snow and slush into the house. Train your pets to patiently wait by the door while you dry their paws with a towel, and then reward them with a treat. Consider placing a bowl of treats by the door as a reminder.
Always keep soft towels or a wet/dry vacuum on hand in case you need to get rid of water right away. While towels can clean up most of the mess, it’s best to invest in a quality floor care kit.
Check the Warranty.
Some companies offer warranties, should snow or other harmful elements damage your floors. Make sure to find out before you purchase your hardwood floors what type of product warranties the company offers.
While winter can be a difficult time for hardwood floors, there is one benefit to this season: It’s one of the best times to install hardwood flooring, according to Sullivan, because indoor moisture levels are at their lowest which helps to prevent gapping.
So enjoy winter this year, and have fun taking care of your floors.
Adding a garage is not only practical – it also increases the resale value of your property. With planning, excavation, foundation, construction, electrical and other costs, a simple garage can easily cost upwards of $10 000. Such an important project requires some serious planning.
WHAT CAN YOU AFFORD?
Budget is the starting point with just about any construction project. A garage is no different. Start by deciding how much you can afford to invest in your new garage.
DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS
How you plan to use the garage is the largest factor influencing design. Will you use the garage for:
- Parking a vehicle or vehicles?
- Additional accommodations?
Will the garage require;
Windows or a service door?
Heating or insulation?
Take time to carefully consider all of the uses you want now and in the future. You may only have one car now, but down the road you might wish you had planned for a two-car garage.
DETERMINE THE SIZE
An unnecessarily large garage will cut the amount of useable space on your property, while one that is too small will limit its uses. When is comes to size, build as large as possible while still being practical and affordable. This will allow maximum flexibility for the future even if all the space is not used right away.
To better visualize the layout of your garage, do a sketch on graph paper including rough size dimensions. This will help when discussing the project with a professional.
DESIGN THE PLANS
Regardless of whether you purchase plans or have them custom designed; you will require them in order to receive the necessary building permits from your town or municipality.
Your plans will need to be approved by local authorities that will issue the appropriate building permits. Often multiple permits are required for electrical, structural, foundation and other work. Check with your local municipality for the complete regulations in your area. Remember that obtaining permits is not optional – it is a legal requirement.
Your final decision is whether to hire a contractor or build it yourself. Although doing it yourself will save on labour, building a garage is a complex project that should not be undertaken by inexperienced individuals.
A contractor can manage every step of construction including permits and working with sub-trades like foundation and electrical. You may spend a little more, but the results will be worth it.
TYPICAL PROJECT COSTS WILL INCLUDE:
Plans and materials estimate
Site preparation, excavating and grading
Foundation / footings
Framing and carpentry
Windows and doors
By André Fauteux
The Canadian Council of Environment Ministers has planned for 2005 a national ban of the sale of non-certified wood-burning appliances for their weak particle emissions. Specialists and consumers alike have been demanding a ban since 1990. But there is a snag : the ministries’ lawyers discovered too late that the present laws do not give this power to the legislator. << We will propose an amendment to the Protection of the Environment law from now to the end of the year, but it could take four or five years before it comes into effect >> Alain Gosselin, team leader for Atmospheric Stakes for Québec at Environment Canada. << I’m a bit discouraged when I talk about it. >> In 1990, the United States imposed certified EPA 1990 wood stoves and fireplaces, which emit only 2 to 4 grams of particles per hour compared to 30-40 gr. /hr for conventional models. These appliances cost around $300 more but their more complete combustion reduces the amount of wood burned. British Columbia is the only province to do the same, by imposing an equivalent Canadian norm, CSA B415.
In 2000, a committee of experts recommended Environnement Québec follow suit, but changing the law keeps being delayed. << It is always a priority and we will attempt to act more rapidly (than Ottawa) while harmonizing with the Federal, >> says the chief of service of Atmospheric Quality at Environnement Québec, Raynald Brulotte. << We must satisfy the new Canadian standard for fine particles, which will be applicable in 2010>>.
But, for the assistant deputy-minister of the same ministry, this is not a high priority. << This would not have such a conclusive effect on the environment >>, said Pierre Baril in a telephone interview. << The regulatory approach is not always the method which has the most impact. We prefer a combination of education and economic incentives.>> Decision which was denounced by Dr. Louis Drouin, responsible for environmental health at Montréal-Center Public Health Center. << I am surprised and deceived that Québec doesn’t act more rapidly, taking into account that we surpass the Canadian standards for breathable particles in the air about 15% of the time in winter. For us Montrealers, this is a priority.>>
Effects on Health
As well as emitting cancer-causing pollutants in exterior air and often also in homes, according to Environment Canada, residential heating with wood generates half the fine particles coming from human activities, even more than all transport sectors. As they penetrate deeply into the lungs, this invisible dust can provoque asthma attacks, cardiac problems and depress the immune system.
<< We do not encourage combustion with wood and we downright discourage it in urban and suburban centers as houses there are closer together >>, explains Alain Gosselin.
He wishes that people will heat in a more responsible manner, for example by burning only very dry wood. Moreover, he hopes that all elected council officials imitate their American colleagues, who impose casting out old wood-burning stoves when a house is sold, or those of certain cities in British Columbia who forbid use of a non-certified appliance during smoggy winter days.
By Marie-France Roger
Increasing the efficiency of buildings and their use of energy, water, and materials, and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal — the complete building life cycle.
What to consider when designing a Green Building:
- The ideal site would be a Brownfield: abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contaminations.
- Conserve water and energy: limit the amount of resources required to operate a building. Installing a self-supporting filtration unit.
- Recycle construction materials: using recycle construction materials limits the amount of resources that must be disturbed. Obtaining locally or manufactured locally reduces the energy in shipping and transporting of these materials.
- Indoor air quality: limit the amount of materials in the building that contain Volatile Organic Compounds(VOC): Compounds that evaporate easily at room temperature and often have a sharp smell. They can come from many products, such as office equipment, adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, paints, solvents, and cleaning products.
- Beneficial Lanscaping: using different landscaping techniques to achieve a variety of benefits (e.g., decrease of maintenance costs, reduction of stormwater runoff, beautification of the landscape, preservation of endangered species) and using plants that require little or no pesticides etc.