10 Ways to increase the value of your home

In a dour housing market, wouldn't it be nice to know that your remodeling project would pay off when you went to sell the property? Remodeling Magazine evaluated the top remodeling projects, how the cost-to-value has changed since the housing market implosion, and which projects are still worth the investment. Using the magazine's "Cost Vs. Value Report for 2008-2009," let's look at some of the best projects you can undertake and recoup the majority of your cost. Siding Replacement With the economic slump, home buyers aren't being dazzled by bells and whistles as much as they are improvements that will ensure lower repair and utility bills. Although replacing current siding with fiber-cement has lost value from 2007, it still nets an astonishing 87% ROI. If you prefer a foam-backed vinyl product replacement instead, you can still look to recoup 80% of your cost.  Got wood?  Dont forget about wood siding and trim applications for the high end applications. Window Replacement (vinyl or wood) Wind ... Read the rest of entry »

Wikipedia - Solar Water Heating

I am not really one to quote from a Tertiary source, but in this case Wikipedia has a great section on Solar Water Heating systems.  I have found the posted info to be quite thorough and accurate.  Read the full article and post your thoughts in the blog. Solar water heating or solar hot water is water heated by the use of solar energy. Solar heating systems are generally composed of solar thermal collectors, a fluid system to move the heat from the collector to its point of usage. The system may use electricity for pumping the fluid, and have a reservoir or tank for heat storage and subsequent use. The systems may be used to heat water for a wide variety of uses, including home, business and industrial uses. Heating swimming pools, underfloor heating or energy input for space heating or cooling are more specific examples. In many climates, a solar hot water system can provide up to 85% of domestic hot water energy.[1] This can include domestic non-electric concentrating solar thermal systems ... Read the rest of entry »

Solar Hot Water Basics

For my fellow construction geeks who have already read this article in  "Home Power Magazine" this may be old news to you... but for those who haven't, this is a great summary on a few different types of Solar Heating Systems. While most people are captivated by the high-tech nature of solar-electric (photovoltaic; PV) systems, in most cases, a solar hot water system will harvest more energy at a substantially lower cost. In fact, compared to PVs, solar hot water (SHW) collectors are more than three times as efficient at producing energy from the sun. Investing in an SHW system is a smart solar solution for most homeowners. This proven and reliable technology offers long-term performance with low maintenance. And with federal, state, and utility incentives available, these systems offer a quick payback-in some cases, only four to eight years. A thoughtfully designed SHW system could provide all, or at least a significant amount, of your household hot water needs for some portion of the year. The ... Read the rest of entry »

Tankless water heaters vs. conventional storage tank systems

This seems to be one of the hot topics we always address when working on mechanical designs.

Hot water is a hot issue for builders, architects, and remodelers these days.  Why?   Many current buyers are interested in homes that are energy efficient and economical to operate, which are factors that can be dramatically affected by a home's hot water usage.  According to the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, water heating is the third-largest expense in most homes, accounting for 14% to 25% of a home's expenses. In some cases, that percentage may even be higher, which means energy-conserving hot water solutions also could result in big cost savings for homeowners in this difficult economy.

Read the full article

New Montana Contract Law to take effect Oct 1, 2009

Long overdue is the standardization for permits, contracts, inspections and licensing in the Montana Building Industry.  The new contract laws are a small step forward in a very needed update.

A new Montana law that requires contracts between builders and customers goes into effect October 1, 2009.    The law, which looks to add a bit of standardization to the building process, will benefit both the consumer and the reputation of the building industry.

Read the new provisions

Black Bull Clubhouse

 The Clubhouse at Black Bull, like the golf course, is designed by one of the country's premier practitioners of his trade-architect Jerry Locati.  Jerry has created a "rustically-elegant" Clubhouse that embodies upscale-yet-casual Western living. As the centerpiece of Black Bull, the Clubhouse will be a tastefully commanding presence, featuring timber and stone accents, and expansive picture windows that enhance the breathtaking 360-degree views of the Gallatin Valley and surrounding Rocky Mountains. The Corral, Black Bull's temporary clubhouse, is open for members and features men's and women's locker rooms, shoeshine area, golf shop, restaurant and bar, and has direct access to the pool and hot tub. Professional-grade tennis courts have been designed to take advantage of the panoramic views that define the community. View a photo gallery Read the rest of entry »

As prices dip - Home sales on the rise

Inevitably as construction and land costs bottom out - new home sales have started rising throughout the country. The term "buyer's market" has been tossed around plenty in recent months. But most home buyers don't grasp the full meaning of the term until they get ready to shop. After a rough second half in 2008 and a devastating spring, the region's housing market has made some gradual improvements in recent months. But while sales are increasing slightly, the selling price of homes remains as low as most real estate agents can recall. "They are still really low, which means it's a good time to buy. I don't think the prices have really moved upwards yet. I'm not sure when they're going to," said Richard Spencer, real estate agent with Ron Spencer Real Estate. Read Full article at Builder Online Read the rest of entry »

Big Sky - Past & Future

With the highs and lows of the national economy - Big Sky continues to grow up as a town & community.

For a couple of decades after Chet Huntley opened Big Sky Resort in 1973, the Southwest Montana ski destination was an odd anomaly - not quite developed enough to compete with the Vails and Aspens of the world, not quite big enough and charming enough to have a strong sense of place, and not quite close enough to anything to be a likely spot for intensive real estate development.

Read the full article on New West.net

Just large enough

This Moonlight Basin cabin is 800 sf, has 2 full bathrooms, full kitchen, and sleeps 6 comfortably.  We recently remodeled this little unit and turned what was a very ordinary cabin into a little gem.  Take a look at the gallery of photos for an inside look.

View a photo gallery

Bids fall to the bottom

Is there a benefit to the Owner as bids fall below cost?  Will the contractor be able to complete the project for the contracted price?

What a difference a year makes.  In the second quarter of 2008, construction starts had moved slightly off the record-run rate of the previous three years.  The economic bloodletting set off by the sub-prime meltdown did not really spill over into construction until the second half of the year.

Read the full artile from ENR