Finally Moving Forward Again

April
16
2014

 

We will be heading to Maryland this weekend and will finally be moving forward with our plans once again.  As you know, the Metal Building took a long while, and we haven’t been down there for a couple of weeks.  Since then, however, Kyle has been fixing up the sides of the building inside as well as outside, and also fixing up the floor inside so we will be able to start bringing our stuff inside. He’s using some kind of composite made with asphalt so it will pack down and eventually become very strong like a road.  So we will bring in the boat trailers, the tractor, the ATV, the crab pots, etc. Then – next week hopefully – we will rent a truck and start moving out all the bins and boxes I’ve been packing up here.  And we have a lot!  It’ll be nice to clear out the garage up here at the house, as well as get part of my living room back.

What a mess!

What a mess!

Last week John had a business trip to Prague, so I went to VA to visit my daughter.  She wants to buy a townhouse soon, so we spent a lot of time looking at them.  I’ve said many times that DIY is for the young – and now I also think townhouses are for the young!  Those stairs!  I guess it’s good exercise but it got tiring going up and down three or four sets of stairs.  But we both love looking at houses, so we really enjoyed ourselves.  Plus, we got to enjoy ourselves eating dinner at Ozzie’s in Fairfax Corner!  Have you heard of them?  They are part of a chain, and yes, sometimes the food is fantastic and sometimes is it so-so.  But it’s a fun place, the wait staff and managers are very friendly, and we always enjoy ourselves there. Plus, they have Ozzie rolls!

Ozzie rolls! Yum!

Ozzie rolls! Yum!

And the perfect Margaritas!

Delicious!

Delicious!

Last year they started a new spring appetizer, hickory grilled artichokes with garlic lemon aioli, and it’s been such a hit they brought it back this year.  We had it last year and loved it, so of course when we heard it was on the menu again we were very, very happy.

Grilled artichokes with garlic aioli

Grilled artichokes with garlic aioli

And, in case you’re wondering what I had for dinner…..  short ribs, with garlic mashed potatoes, carrots and frizzled onions.  Not a dietic dinner I admit.  But yummy!

Short ribs

Short ribs

We will try and take a boat ride also this weekend, if the weather and water cooperate.  But it will mostly be a working weekend, and then we can truly say we are moving forward again, to designing and building our dream home! Stay tuned!

In the Words of Etta James….

April
2
2014

 

AT LAST!

You probably know how many times I’ve mentioned our Metal Building.  Or our lack of Metal Building.  We bought the building back in early October from Diamond Pole Builders in Delaware.  And truly, they have been great.  But because of permits, and surveys, and soil testing and planting plans, oh and yeah,  the weather, our building has been delayed many, many months.  But now, we have a Metal Building.

We had to build up the soil by 2 feet

We had to build up the soil by 2 feet

This is looking towards our gate and entrance way

This is looking towards our gate and entrance way

I know it may seem a little crazy to keep talking about this, after all it is only a metal building.  Practically everyone down this way has one.  And all it will do is house the “toys”, the boats, the tractor, the ATV, etc.  But to us it represents progress.  Moving forward with our plans.  We will move stuff from the garage to this metal building, and then we can move the bins and boxes we’ve packed up here in New Jersey to the garage down there.

They dropped off stuff

They dropped off stuff

And then in snowed again!

And then in snowed again!

After we move the bins and boxes from our garage and living room, we can proceed with fixing up this house to get it ready to sell.  We’ve done quite a bit so far, but we need to fix up the garage, redo some sheet rock and paint it, and paint the outside of the house.

 

They started building on Monday, March 24th

They started building on Monday, March 24th

This is what we saw when we arrived on Thursday, March 27th

This is what we saw when we arrived on Thursday, March 27th

 

So finally, now we can start working again.  We originally thought we’d be able to move down there in May while we put this house up for sale.  How naive we were!  Everything has taken much longer than we thought, especially the permit process!

One cupola

One cupola

 

The other cupola

The other cupola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The company, Diamond Pole Builders, uses the Amish to build their buildings.  And they are working machines!

They arrived before 7 a.m. on Friday

They arrived before 7 a.m. on Friday

They wanted to get as much done as possible on Friday

They wanted to get as much done as possible on Friday

Late afternoon Friday

Late afternoon Friday

And by Friday night, March 28th our building was done!

The side we see when we come out our gate

The side we see when we come out our gate

The inside. We will still add some dirt and rocks on the sides to close it up

The inside. We will still add some dirt and rocks on the sides to close it up

 

 

John is happy it's finished!

John is happy it’s finished!

The front

The front

So now, back to work.  We are ready to move forward.  And our two thoughts, exactly how long is it  going to take to get the permits and soil testing and survey when we want to start the house? And can we get the Amish to build it? They were amazing!

 

 

Keeping Things Cool

March
26
2014

 

This is the story of how crazy I’m making myself trying to decide on a refrigerator.  It’s just so difficult, especially for someone who likes to do a lot of research and comparisons.  And if you start reading the reviews….forget it!  There are as many negative reviews as there are positive for every single brand.

Jenn-Air

Jenn-Air either has the dispenser or the panel overlay, but not both in the 48″

There are a few things I have already decided.   Okay, I already know I want a built-in fridge, and I also know I want a side by side.  I know many people don’t like the side by side, and there are a lot of you who love the freezer on the bottom, what I consider “the new style.”  However, I have that style in the Crab Shack, and as I suspected, I don’t like it.  For me, I don’t like bending down and rummaging through what ultimately becomes a mess of items. My hands get too cold.   I like the entire side to be freezer, plus even though your argument against the side by side is the narrowness of the freezer, we will have a second (albeit cheaper) fridge in the garage for overflow, and that will probably have the old-fashioned freezer on the top.  Or we will have a small stand alone freezer like we have here in our basement and either option will solve that issue.

Dacor

Dacor also has either the panel-ready door or the water dispenser, not both

Okay, so two decisions down, easy, right?  Nope.  Still so much to decide!  You probably remember me saying I don’t like stainless.  And that’s really because of the fingerprints.  I hate looking at them, and I would hate having to clean that giant appliance all the time.  So it would have to be the smudge-proof stainless, and not too many are made in that size. So my number one choice would be to have a “panel ready” fridge that would match the cabinets.  Which is fine because I love that design.  I love it so much I have it now!  I have white cabinets and I have a white cabinet covered KitchenAid Refrigerator.  I’m happy with it, the problem is they don’t make the same one anymore with the front water dispenser.  I actually could live without the dispenser, you could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used it in 20 years. (Not the same fridge we purchased 20 years ago, although yes, the same model.) But John likes it and uses it often.

KitchenAid

KitchenAid

This is the model KitchenAid has now.  The handles are completely different, mine go from top to bottom and are white, and match the cabinets.  That was a big disappointment.  Not that it would have been my first choice maybe.  I probably would have liked something different.  But at least, I figured, I could always go back to this one if I couldn’t find something else.

I ruled out the Viking right off the bat, it had many, many, many terrible reviews, which was surprising for such a high-end appliance. I did give them a peek a while back though, they have a model that has a glass front, and there was one in a Sea Glass color.  It was just beautiful but I see now they don’t even make that color anymore.

There was one I’ve never heard of before, a Marvel.  Then I saw it was made by AGA, and I have heard of them. They can accept the panel, but they don’t have the water and ice dispenser.

 

Marvel by AGA

Marvel by AGA

One that has come pretty highly recommended is the Sub Zero.  I know two people who own them, and although they have had to do  repairs, they still love them.  Also, this brand has the water dispenser and will accept the panel overlay. Of course, with the price tag (let say $10,000 to $12,000 range) I’ll have to skimp somewhere else to afford it!

Sub Zero

Sub Zero

The last one I think I will be considering is the GE Monogram.  This model does accept the panels, and has the dispenser, the main thing I don’t like about it is the handles.  I’d prefer the ones that go from top to bottom, or at least most of the way.  These are a little skimpy looking to me.

GE Monogram

GE Monogram

Okay then, the last feature I would like to have is the Energy Star rating.  We are going a little more green now that we are building, we have a wind turbine, we will incorporate some solar, and having Energy Star appliances fits right in, besides the fact that they will save us money.  The GE is Energy Star rated, but the Sub Zero in that configuration is not!

It looks like from my research, and from laying all the facts out here, the GE Monogram will be the way to go.  However, if you knew me, you’d know I’m not done looking.  I may just start looking at the 42 inch refrigerators now to see what I come up with. See how I drive myself crazy?

If you own any of these brands and want to weigh in, I’d love to hear what you like or dislike about them.  Have you ever had to repair it?  How was it dealing with the customer service department? Do you mind cleaning the stainless, or do you recommend the smudge-proof kind?  Save me from myself and send me some info!  I’d appreciate it!

Modular Construction Part 2

March
12
2014

 

We may, just may, be getting closer to getting our metal building built!  Hooray!  The “pad” is ready now, and a part of the building has been delivered.  They tried to deliver the whole thing, but the truck was too big to make the turn into our driveway and they had to take it back to the main store.  So now they have to deliver it in different loads, but hey, it’s progress!  We’ll be down there over the weekend, and we are hoping they’ll be able to start while we’re there.  We’re very optimistic people.

The "pad" for the metal building

The “pad” for the metal building

 

So, last time I talked about Modular Construction, I included an article explaining what it is, how it’s different from a “stick built” home, and the pros and cons.  You’d think I was working for a modular construction firm.  What I’m really trying to do is figure out of this is a viable alternative to building the entire house from scratch, or if we can incorporate at least “some” modular sections.

Now I’ve heard another term in addition to modular  -  panelized!  It’s similar to modular in that it is built off-site, but according to the National Association of Home Builders, it’s “a construction technique that uses advanced technology, quality materials and a controlled work environment to build floor, wall and roof systems to construct an energy-efficient home in less time.”

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

It sounds like the walls, and floors and the roof are built off-site, just like the modular homes, but instead of being trucked down in “modules” or whole components, it is trucked in “panels”. For now, it seems the most common use of these panelized firms is for the pre-building of floor and roof trusses.  Now that we realize the truck hauling the metal building couldn’t make it down our driveway, we might have to use a panelized construction firm instead of a modular one if we want to do part of our house this way!  I have yet to figure out, however, if they would be able to construct panels according to plans that I have, rather than having to use plans that they offer.  They do say they can customize the plans they offer, but we already have our plans.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

There are panelized firms, according to Design Basics LLC. that will help you through the entire building process, but many whose involvement ends with the delivery of the materials.  Other manufacturers will provide a small crew and a crane to help your general contractor.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

Our previous builder, who, as you know, moved away and left us, would be able to find all this out, as he already dealt with a modular builder and incorporated even just parts of the house the modular way if you wanted.  He was very flexible and I guess he had a good relationship with that company, so he didn’t have to buy the “whole” house.  He would, I know, find out about these panel manufacturers and let us know if this was a viable way to go.  I wish he’d move back to Maryland.

Picture from designbasics.com

Picture from designbasics.com

I’ll be looking more into both these options and will report back.  In the meantime, if anyone has any experience with either the modular or panelized type of building, please let us know!  We’d love to hear anything about it from the consumer’s point of view!

Mistakes to Avoid When Building a House

March
5
2014

 

As you know, we are going to be building our dream home.  It’s also our retirement home.  We are not, however,  following the usual “guidelines” for a retirement home, mostly because it’s going to be bigger than any home we’ve ever lived in.  Most people downsize.  We’re going the other way.  But as you look at the property, you can understand why.  It’s a big piece of land, it’s actually more of a “compound” at this point since the buildings are so spread out.  Most of our family and friends won’t be living nearby, and when people visit they’ll be staying over.  And we wanted to prepare for that.  We also like to have a yearly Bocce Party.  And that includes many, many family members and friends.  So, believe it or not, we also wanted to prepare for that. Plus on holidays we’ll have company that will stay over.  There’s been a lot of planning, and designing, and changing of plans so far, and we haven’t even started on the house yet!

Here's our split level house

Here’s our split level house

I saw an interesting article a while ago on freshome.com.  Have you checked out their site yet?  It’s an amazing site for anyone interested in building, designing or renovating.  It talked about mistakes people make when building a house.  We all spend a lot of time figuring out what we want and need, but do we look at it from the other angle?  What we really don’t need?  Of course budget usually leads the way, the money dictates not only the size of the house, but how upgraded it can be.  So planning for what you need AND what you don’t need is very important.  Here are some examples:

1.  Don’t over build or under build your HVAC system.

You could wind up with moisture and mold growth! Also, if your system is too small it won’t perform properly and your house will be too cold in the winter, and too warm in the summer.  On the other hand, if your system is too large, you will utilize too much energy and waste money when you don’t need to.

This was our house in PA

This was our house in PA

2.  Poor Space Planning and Overall Planning

The design and space planning of a house is very, very important.  You need to look at how you really live. We all need storage space, so you want to have enough, but you don’t want to build in so much that you take away floor space that could be better utilized as living space. Will you primarily come in the back door?  Maybe that’s where the coat closets should be, instead of at the front door. Also, you need to take your lifestyle and habits into consideration.  Will you need safety features as you’re getting older.  Will you have grandchildren often in the house?  Do you need safety features in place for that?  How about stairs, bathrooms?  Will you have guests often?  Placement of bathrooms becomes very important when you think about it this way.

This is the house I grew up in, and the people changed it so much it looks NOTHING like it used to!

This is the house I grew up in, and the people changed it so much it looks NOTHING like it used to! And where did that fire hydrant come from?

3.  Poor lighting

There should be plenty of light fixtures and outlets.  And also plenty of windows!  Natural light should be the main source of light, but having a well-lit home, especially as we age, is also extremely important.

4.  Under utilized rooms

Having a game room or a home-theater room sounds like a fun idea.  But how often will you use it?  If you are buying a home that has a game room or a theater room already -  and we see these often on House Hunters on HGTV – that’s one thing.  But when you are building a home, especially a retirement home, every square foot counts.  And paying $150 to $200 a square foot brings you to the reality that these rooms would be used a few times a year and might not be worth what they cost.  Now maybe for some of you, it will be worth it.  But that’s what you have to decide ahead a time.  I was thinking I’d want an exercise room in our new home.  But the reality is with all the other spaces that I really wanted – a large pantry, a mudroom, a laundry room, an office for John and a separate one for me, and a craft room – the exercise room just became one room too many.

The house John grew up in.  Also looks completely different now.  Better than mine looks though!

The house John grew up in. Also looks completely different now. Better than mine looks though!

5. Placement of your Laundry Room, the Master Bedroom, the Kitchen and the Garage.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but in every house I’ve lived in these rooms were not strategically placed.  I’ve never had a “real” laundry room, and I usually have had to carry laundry up and down several sets of stairs to the basement.  I’m in a split-level right now, so it’s three sets of stairs!

Our bedroom – in the many homes we’ve lived in – has usually been upstairs like ours is right now.  It is also just above the garage, so it is not only frequently noisy if the garage is opened, but it is somewhat  very cold.  In our new home, of course, the master will be on the main floor, but we want to place it as far away from the noise and traffic as possible.

The kitchen/garage placement is extremely important.  These days I’ve mostly seen it placed correctly, the kitchen is off the mudroom and/or off the garage.  That’s how our new one will be.  But yet, there have been places we’ve lived where the kitchen was not near the garage, and carrying groceries in was not all that convenient   a real pain.

This house, by architect Dan Sater, is what we'd like our new house to resemble.

This house, by architect Dan Sater, is what we’d like our new house to resemble.

These are just a few ideas to think about when you are planning to build your dream home.  And while it’s very important to discuss all these issues with the professionals you hire as your “team” – it is more important for you to decide what YOU need and don’t need.

You Can’t Stop Progress

February
27
2014

 

You’ve probably noticed I haven’t written in a while.  Mostly it’s because nothing has been happening on our building!  Whoever coined the phrase, “You Can’t Stop Progress” never tried to get a building built on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  I guess as John would remind me, that’s one of the reasons we are moving there, life goes by at a slower pace, we don’t have to rush, rush, rush all the time.  But still.  Slow is one thing.  Not moving at all is quite another.

As you would imagine, there are quite a few “gotchas” when you are building on the water.  Of course you have to take the weather into consideration.  The house and roof have to be built stronger than an inland home since the storms can be very severe.  Also, you need to build it up off the ground more, either by adding more soil, or adding more foundation, or doing both, as we will do on the house.  So, even though we were going to build up the soil for the metal building, we found out we have to build it up even higher. Resulting in more time lost and more costs!  Another “gotcha” -  if you add a building where there wasn’t one “grandfathered” in, you need to plant trees and bushes equal to the square footage of that building.  And they have to be native Maryland plants to insure they will grow.  Now I guess in the grand scheme of things it’s a good idea.  But I think it’s human nature not to like being told you HAVE to do it and what you can and can’t plant.  So, anyway, after these few hurdles,  slowly but slowly things are kind of moving along.  Sort of.  The company building the metal building is now backed up because of the weather.  So we’re hoping around St. Patty’s day is when we’ll start to see something going on.  (We originally thought we’d have it up before Thanksgiving!)

This is really what has been going around here:

February snowstorm

February snowstorm

 

Back Yard

Back yard

 

A friend of mine

A friend of mine

 

It did melt a little this past weekend, so today it looks like this around here:

 

Front

Front

 

This and That 2014 004

 

Here's my friend again today

Here’s my friend again today

And her friends

And her friends

 

The other day there were a couple of foxes in the back!  The animals  are having a hard time finding food.  And one thing I’ve learned about foxes…. they are very itchy.  Must be dry winter skin.

Little Choptank 2014 B Feb. 21-23 112

Little Choptank 2014 B Feb. 21-23 089

Last weekend we decided to take a quick trip to Maryland, and there’s NO SNOW there!  Another reason why we are moving there.  The winters are shorter because the weather isn’t as severe!

Looking toward the entrance

Looking toward the entrance

 

Our Bocce Court (Just past that little tree on the right is where we will build the house!)

Our Bocce Court
(Just past that little tree on the right is where we will build the house!)

 

 

Looking across the water

Looking across the water

 

 

And of course, our beautiful sunset

And of course, our beautiful sunset

Modular Construction

January
30
2014

 

We are in the middle of construction here at our house in New Jersey.  We’re still shooting for an early May target date to put the house on the market and move to the Crab Shack while it is being shown.  We hope to have most of our belongings packed up and moved to the garage in Maryland, not to leave house empty, but to de-clutter and save ourselves all the packing and moving in a rush when the house is sold.

Then, in the middle of all this mess in the house, and having only one working bathroom, my daughter came home from VA for two days. She took off from work so we could go to “Media Day” on Tuesday and Super Bowl Boulevard on Wednesday!  Did I mention I’m not really a football fan?  But she and John are, and my son is somewhat of a fan, at least more than I am, but three of us are Peyton Manning fans.  (Jackson’s rooting for Seattle. Puh!)

So anyway, I want to start talking about modular construction.  This will probably take up a few posts, and I hope I will hear from you about it — if you have a modular home, or know someone who does,  know nothing about it, or even if you would never consider building this way. I’m very interested to hear all sides of this debate.

Icon Legacy Custom Modular Homes 222.iconlegacy.com

Icon Legacy Custom Modular Homes
www.iconlegacy.com

Here’s an article introducing you to the modular design, originally written on Fresh Home (freshome.com)

10 Basic Facts You Should Know About Modular Homes

What is a Modular Home?

A modular home is one that is built indoors in a factory-like setting. The finished products are covered and transported to their new locations where they will be assembled by a builder. A modular home is not a mobile home; it is simply a home that is built off-site as opposed to on-site. These homes are often called factory-built homes, system-built  or pre-fab homes.  Modular and Manufactured homes are NOT the same. Manufactured homes are not placed on permanent foundations. Manufactured homes, sometimes referred to as mobile homes, but are not always mobile homes, can be moved from one location to another. There are specific laws and regulations regarding these relocations.  Thanks to publications such as Dwell, the popularity of the modular home is growing.

Pinecrest Modular Homes www.pinecrestmodularhomes.com (Long Island Modular Homes)

Pinecrest Modular Homes
www.pinecrestmodularhomes.com
(Long Island Modular Homes)

How do Modular Homes Differ from Houses Built On-Site?

Because modular homes are built indoors they can be completed in a matter of a few weeks as opposed to months. These home constructions do not see the typical on-site delays that are predominantly caused by the weather. Modular homes must conform to specific rules, guidelines and building codes that often surpass those of traditional on-site homes. However, it is important to shop around. Not all companies that make factory-built homes are alike. There can be significant differences in quality, price and service.  As with purchasing or building any home, it is crucial to do your research.

Modular Home Facts

  • Modular homes appraise the same as their on-site built counterparts do. They do not depreciate in value.
  • Modular homes can be customized.
  • Most modular home companies have their own in-house engineering departments that utilize CAD (Computer Aided Design).
  • Modular home designs vary in style and size.
  • Modular construction can also be used for commercial applications including office buildings.
  • Modular homes are permanent structures – “real property.”
  • Modular homes can be built on the following on crawl spaces and basements.
  • Modular homes are considered a form of “Green Building.”
  • Modular homes are faster to build than a 100% site-built home.
  • Home loans for modular are the same as if buying a 100% site-built home.
  • Insuring your modular home is the same as a 100% site-built home.
  • Taxes on a modular home are the same as 100% site-built home.
  • Modular homes can be built to withstand 175 mph winds.
  • Modular homes can be built for accessible living and designed for future conveniences.

 

Do All Modular Homes Look Alike?

Contrary to popular misconception, modular homes do not all look alike. Modular homes have no design limitations. You can create any modular style home you wish from a traditional center hall colonial to one that is Mediterranean in style.  You can add any style window or architectural detail that you desire. Nearly all host plans can be turned into modular homes, and you can therefore create your “dream home.”

How is a Modular Home Assembled?

A factory-built home starts out as sections that have already been built in a climate controlled area. The finished sections are transported to the building site and then assembled with giant cranes. This process quite resembles a child building with Lego blocks. Modular homes cannot be moved after they have been placed and set on to their foundations. It is important to talk to your manufacturer as each manufacturer operates with a different set of guidelines. If you are designing your own home, it is important that you ask very specific questions. Modular homes offer hundreds of personalized features that include but are not limited to: ceramic floors, solid surface countertops, various cabinet styles and wood species, exterior finishes, plumbing fixtures, etc. You can, essentially, customize your own home.

Westchester Modular Homes of Greater Boston, Inc. info.greaterbostonmodulars.com

Westchester Modular Homes of Greater Boston, Inc.
info.greaterbostonmodulars.com

Are Modular Homes More or Less Expensive than Those Built On Site?

Pre-fab homes can typically save you quite a bit of money.  Because they are constructed in a factory they can be built fairly quickly, a matter of weeks as opposed to months, which can be quite significant. The reason for this is that there are no extreme weather delays. Furthermore all inspections are performed at the factories during each phase of construction by a third-party inspector, and are completed before the homes are transported to their new locations.

It is important to note, however, the more complex the design and specs, the more money your home will cost you. Other factors to consider such as electricity, plumbing, duct-work are often not factored into the initial pricing, so your final cost may be 20% more than what the builder is quoting you. You may need to install a septic system, install natural gas or a basement, these too will add to your bottom line.

Quality Crafted Homes (a division of Custom Modular Homes of Long Island) www.qualitycraftedhomesonline.com

Quality Crafted Homes
(a division of Custom Modular Homes of Long Island)
www.qualitycraftedhomesonline.com

What are the Benefits of Owning a Modular Home?

Modular homes can be more affordable. Their shorter build time will save you money on the overall construction. Home inspections are not needed as these are all done in factory. They are much more energy-efficient, therefore your monthly expenses will be substantially less. Modular homes are environmentally friendly due to their efficiency. There are a great variety of homes from which to choose, there are many top architects that specialize in designing modular homes. As with any home, modular homes can be built on to and expanded.

A homeowner must own the land onto which the home will reside. In many cases one may end up spending upwards of $100,000 just for the land. Unlike regular homes, the lots cannot be built on subdivisions. The initial fees can be cost prohibitive for some. When building a modular home the builder must be paid first, and in full, before the process has begun or has been completed. You will need to use your savings or get a special construction loan.

This loan is valid for one year and when the work is completed the dealer will pay the loan, then a traditional mortgage will be issued. It is therefore important that you know your budget and shop around. It is important that the rules I have mentioned here apply to US residents. If you live in Canada or in Europe you will need to check your country’s guidelines.

It’s all very interesting, I think, and definitely something to consider.  I’ll be back to this discussion again, and I hope I’ll hear from you whether you’d consider building this way or not.

 

Kitchen Backsplashes

January
23
2014

 

While there is still nothing going on metal building-wise (formal permit still not received)  – I’ve been thinking about designing my new kitchen.  This is one of my favorite things to do, especially since I do not make decisions quickly.  I like to think about it, make a “faux” decision, live with it for a while, then change my mind.  This method works for me, even if in the past it has sometimes driven John crazy.  He’s learned now, after 30 some years, that this is just the way I’m wired.  I mean really, this is something I’m going to have to live with for a long time.  I certainly don’t want to make the wrong decision.  And you might say there is no “wrong” decision because all the backsplashes that I’m looking at are pretty.  And yes, you would be right.  But I’d still hate to think, “I wish I picked the other one.”  So it’s good I have lots of time to decide. Here are some ideas:

This was the first one I fell in love with

This was the first one I fell in love with

I really like flowers, and I figured, since I can look out the window at a water scene, I’d go with flowers.  And blue hydrangeas are so pretty.  But I’m not really crazy about the basket.  I’m thinking now I’ll have a blue kitchen (with white cabinets) so this would go with it.  But then again…….   (this is the story of my life).

This one also has the basket, but a more neutral white flower:

Same basket though

Maybe not enough color

I do like the “raised” flower, it’s kind of interesting.  But then, will it be harder to clean?  You know how greasy it can get behind the cook top!

These are also pretty:

Backsplash picture5

I like these dogwoods, and it doesn’t have the basket but it is kind of small.  My cook top is going to be big, I’m thinking 48″, so this would look tiny behind it.

I like poppies, and these red flowers would be fun with a blue kitchen. It’s not a mosaic, but it’s not tiles either:

backsplash-Lobel2

It’s also kind of cute with the shutters on the sides.  I like this one a lot!  This one is a real contender.   There is also a picture of poppies in a field, you may have seen it on Pinterest or somewhere.  If I was going to have somebody custom make a backsplash, this might be nice:

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I could go with a blue crab, Maryland is famous for them.  But I think I’d get tired of this pretty quickly.  They did a nice job with it though.

Blue crab

Blue crab

There are other flower types that I gave a little thought to, but I realize now when I look at them, I just don’t see myself choosing them.

backsplash-Fangman1

Backsplash picture3backsplash picture2Backsplash picture1

They are all very pretty, especially that last one, so I still go back and forth about it.

I did a mosaic of a blue heron once.  We have them in our cove occasionally and Jon and I really like them.  But the crab shack has a tile backsplash of herons (not mosaic) and I would need to get somebody to custom make it.  I don’t know how to make a backsplash.

Here's the picture I did

Here’s the picture I did

And here’s the one from the crab shack:

Little Choptank 2013  H August 2 to Sept 4 496

I don’t think I want to go with regular size tiles.  There are a lot more pictures to choose from in tiles though, that’s the plus side.  And truthfully, full size tiles would probably be easier to clean.  Now I’m talking myself into them.  You can see how I go back and forth!  Here’s another one with tile:

backsplash3

It’s kind of pretty, you see a lot of the Italian countryside done up with the regular tiles.  I don’t know if it really goes with a house on the water in Maryland though.

Then I found a picture of a boat on the water.  And like I said before, I do see the water out my window.  But it’s really pretty and if I was going to have to have someone make this, I could put our boat in the picture.  That would be interesting!

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So many choices!  Too many!  It’s good I have a long time to make this decision because this is going to be a hard one to make.  What are your thoughts on this?  Do you have a decorative backsplash?  Tile?  Mosaic?  Is it easy or hard to clean and do you get tired of looking at the same picture all the time?  I’d love to hear your opinions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Housing Trends

January
21
2014

Here’s a good article by the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders).  They say that baby boomers dominate new housing trends.  And if we are any indication – being both baby boomers, and on our way to building our retirement home, then what they are saying is very true!  See if you agree.

The largest American generation is either retired or quickly nearing retirement age. Baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 and who count more than 76 million, may be getting older, but they are definitely not ready to head to an elder care facility! 

I love this design!

I love this design!

The boomer generation is more active than generations past, has a more sophisticated style and wants options and choices in their homes. Whether they are selling the homes where they raised their children and heading to sunnier pastures, or staying put and redesigning to accommodate their retired lifestyle, boomers are making an impact on new housing trends. Some features that home builders and re-modelers are seeing as they begin to cater to the boomers include:

Home Offices – Many, many boomers are continuing to work past the age of 65 either because they love their work, or because their retirement savings lost value in the recession. As they transition from a traditional 9-to-5 job, however, many want home offices for flexibility. A second career or part-time employment often eliminates the hassle of commuting while keeping them active and bringing in supplementary income.   

Technology – The tech-savvy boomer generation wants a home that will support all their personal technology. That can mean structured wiring that can drive a network of services that include lighting controls, a security system or a home media center. And they may want a wireless home network with broadband internet access for laptops, tablets and streaming movies.  

Wider Doors and Hallways – Designing a home that is livable now but can transition and be functional as the occupant ages is important in ensuring that the home will be a good long-term investment. Wider doors and hallways are useful for moving larger furniture today, and will allow the home owners to use mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, should they become necessary.

Better Lighting/Bigger Windows – The need for more lighting increases as we grow older. To accommodate this, builders are adding more windows, making them larger to let in more natural light, and making them more energy-efficient as well. They are also adding more light fixtures in areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and stairways, where dim light can lead to accidental injury. Switches at the top and bottom of a stairwell, and the use of dimmer controls to eliminate glare are other helpful options.

This one from Great Falls Construction is also beautiful!

This one from Great Falls Construction is also beautiful!

First-Floor Bedrooms and Bathrooms – NAHB data shows that 73 percent of buyers aged 55 and up don’t want a second-floor master suite. Boomers wishing to save their joints and avoid stairs have helped fuel this trend. Today’s bedrooms are also bigger, with larger walk-in closets and bathrooms that often have a separate tub and shower and dual sinks.

Easy to Maintain Exteriors/Landscaping Yard work, painting, and other landscaping chores may no longer be enjoyable to aging home owners. People who move to a new home when they retire may opt for a maintenance-free community. Those that choose to stay in their homes might make improvements to exterior surfaces such as installing stucco, brick or low-maintenance siding. Lawns are being replaced with outdoor rooms, decorative landscaping, or flower beds for gardening enthusiasts — either at ground level or raised for seated access.

Our new house will be similar to this design by Dan Sater.

Our new house will be similar to this design by Dan Sater.

Flex Space – Flexible space has become more prevalent in both new homes and remodeling. Flex spaces are rooms that serve the present home owner’s needs but can adjust to changes as they occur. What may have once started out as a child’s bedroom can be redecorated to serve as a hobby room, library or home office, and can be repurposed later for a bedroom for visiting grandchildren or for an in-home caregiver. This flexibility allows home owners to stay in their homes longer, meeting their needs throughout life’s stages.

We will actually be following all of these examples.  We plan on having two home offices, we’ll keep our master on the first floor,  our home will be more technologically advanced, the doorways will be wider, the lighting and amount of windows will be greater, and we plan on keeping the grounds as low maintenance as we possibly can.  I was also planning on adding closets to the room that will be dedicated to storage, qualifying as flex space because it could then be turned into a bedroom if needed one day.  We’ll be going against the tide in a way, since we will not be downsizing, but we will still be following what will be the norm for the baby boomer generation.  Will you be following these guidelines also?

December sky in the backyard.

December sky in the backyard.

Back to Work

January
15
2014

 

I’m thinking it’s about time I get back to blogging.  With the holidays, and packing up for our move, writing has kind of fallen by the wayside.  But now there’s a little bit of progress to report, so hopefully you’ll see consistent articles in the future.

(I write that as if I’m not the one in control.  Hahaha.  Hopefully some blogs will get written, let’s look at the page and see if something magically appears.) 

We always go into the city to see the tree

We always go into the city to see the tree

We had a very nice, if low key holiday. We took our annual trip into New York City.  We went to the Shake Shack for the first time, then to Rockefeller Center, to the store in the N.Y. Public Library, and then to Bryant Park.  The weather was good and the four of us had a great time. 

This year I decided not to take down every single Christmas decoration since we weren’t hosting Christmas and, well, because I just didn’t feel like it.  Our plan over the past few months has been bringing down boxes from the attic, cleaning them out, and then packing them up for the “move” by putting them in the garage.  And our attic was stuffed.  So now it’s the Christmas boxes.  I actually still have them in the living room, some still need to be weeded through.  It’s hard getting rid of some of the old decorations.  They go back a lot of years, and even if I don’t decorate with them anymore, they still bring back memories. It’s not easy letting go. 

St. Patrick's is getting a makeover

St. Patrick’s is getting a makeover

We thought our metal building would be done by now, and we were going to bring down lots of our stuff, so that when we put the house on the market (target date is this May) the house will be somewhat empty, and when the actual move happens, there won’t be that much to take.  I’m not taking a lot of the furniture.  It fit in this house, and I’ve had it for 20 years but we’ll get new stuff for our waterfront house.  Which, you will probably remember, isn’t even built yet.  We will be moving into the “Crab Shack.”  Then, hopefully in the fall, after interviewing builders and finalizing our house plans, we will start to build!  It’s so exciting. It’s THIS YEAR that we’ll be building our new house!  I can hardly believe it!  It’s been 7 years since we bought the property, and the time is almost here!  Of course living in 1000 sq. ft. cabin for a year will be a bit challenging.  Especially because I’ll want to bring a lot of my “stuff” into the Crab Shack with me. (Winter clothes, small kitchen appliances (and I have a lot), all the stuff from my office!)  But I have a feeling most of it will be in bins in the garage.  I plan to mark them well, with “things to leave in front” actually placed in the front of all the other bins.  Will that actually happen? Eh, it’s a toss-up. 

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Skating is FREE!  You can rent skates, but if you have your own, it's totally free!

Skating is FREE! You can rent skates, but if you have your own, it’s totally free!

So, on to the metal building update:  we met with Nick from Diamond State Pole Buildings in October.  That’s OCTOBER, over three months ago!  We thought the building would have been up before Christmas.  And it was no fault of Nick’s.  He sent his guy to our town hall to apply for the permit, a service they provide when you buy a building.  But here’s the catch.  When you are building anything on the water, there are rules and regulations and protocols you must follow before anything gets approved.

The Chrysler Building had just that minute turned on it's lights.

The Chrysler Building had just that minute turned on it’s lights.

So did the Empire State Building

So did the Empire State Building

We needed to get a surveyor down to the property to map out the surrounding area, and presumably to draw in where the building would be.  But, this area has parts that are in the “buffer zone.” Yes, the dreaded “buffer zone.”  You are discouraged from building in the buffer zone, it would be a whole other rigmarole to get approval, and we had enough property that the building could be moved a little to make sure it was in the safe area. (Yes, maybe some of the regulations are warranted, it saves the shoreline from erosion and the Bay from pollution.  We get it.)

The water around the boat froze.

The water around the boat froze.

Brrrrr

Brrrrr

However, we now needed another guy to come down and draw up where the buffer zone actually was, and to test the soil to make sure it could hold the weight of the building.  And this is where we lost track.  That person was unknown to us, it was around the holidays, and nobody but us cared about the time factor.  We lost a month waiting for him to get down to the property and submit his drawings.  When that finally happened (two weeks ago) we realized that we now had to add plantings (trees and shrubs) to the property in the amount of square footage of the building.  You take away with one hand; you have to give back with the other.  So I researched plants native to Maryland (a requirement) and drew up a map of our property placing the trees, large and small, and the shrubs, and we went down to Maryland to our town hall to submit our plan.  After meeting with three different people in two different parts of town, we got verbal approval.  However, the actual permit won’t be issued for two to four weeks, at which time Nick will order the building, taking another two weeks to get delivered.  Seeing the pattern here?  SLOW.  Everything is slower than you want, and you need a lot of patience!  I said to John that when we move down in May we should start applying for our building permit for the house, which we won’t need until October.  And hopefully we will get it in time!  

Lots of geese flying in

Lots of geese flying in

Ice is gone, all is well

Ice is gone, all is well