Spring into the New Year!

Spring into the New Year!

Spring is just around the corner, and we are excited about what is blooming in the coming days. We hope this letter finds you in good health, well rested from the holidays, and looking forward to all that 2024 has in store. It is in times like these that we can step back and truly show gratitude for our clients, vendors, associates, family, and friends like you who make our jobs enjoyable and impactful – every single day. We would like to extend thanks to you who have worked with us and made our lives so fulfilling over the last 15 years of business (TODAY). It is this level of community collaboration that makes us so successful.

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Keep your energy use from spiking while things heat up this winter.

Keep your energy use from spiking while things heat up this winter.

Winter is a great time to spread (clean energy) cheer with friends and family. Whether you host people for the holidays or travel to see friends and family, it’s a special time of year – even when it comes to your energy use.

For most of us, our energy consumption increases dramatically during the winter season, most of which is attributed to increased kitchen use. Wondering what you can do to keep your energy use from spiking while things heat up in the kitchen this holiday season? Consider upgrading to an Induction Stove.

Induction’s efficiency, cleanliness, functionality, and growing market make it a good option for households to consider. Here are a few of the benefits of Induction Cooking:

Energy Efficient.
Because induction appliances only create heat through pots and pans on their surfaces, they are much more efficient than traditional cooktop appliances. Induction appliances are up to three times more efficient than gas stoves and up to 10% more efficient than conventional smooth top electric ranges. Induction also runs cooler and cleaner than gas, lowering the load on ventilation and on heating and cooling systems in your home.

Food Cooks Faster.
Induction stoves eliminate the intermediate step of heating an element and transferring the heat to the pot. Compared with electric or gas stoves, they cook more quickly when you turn up the heat and respond faster when you dial it back down.

Easier to Clean.
Induction cooktops are easy to clean because their radius of heat is much smaller than that of gas or electric cooktops. If something spills over, it’s less likely to melt and stick to the surface.

Safer Cooking.
Induction cooktops and ranges are inherently safer than gas or radiant-electric models because they don’t involve flames or direct heat. Only your pots heat up when you cook—the surface of the stovetop remains cool.

Precision Temperature Control.
Induction cooktops can boil water 20-40% faster than tested gas and traditional electric cooktops. The electromagnetic field also provides more precise, even heating compared to traditional cooktops.

Improved Indoor Air Quality.
Induction stoves are also free of the indoor air pollutants that come from gas stoves: burning gas for cooking produces nitrous oxides (NOX), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO), which can have negative health effects and exacerbate respiratory conditions.

Aging-in-Place and ADA Compliant.
Because the surface of an induction appliance doesn’t heat up without a pan, it’s safer for those who have issues with hearing, vision, or mobility.

Back To School Fall Maintenance Tips

Back To School Fall Maintenance Tips

Shorter days and cooler nights bring forth sweaters and pumpkin-spice lattes. All indicators that it’s time to prep your home for the coming stormier seasons.

Too often we meet someone excited about a remodel only to discover that deferred maintenance is going to evaporate the larger chunk of there. Budget. Keeping atop these annual maintenance tips (and more!), will help make your bigger ideas become a reality.

Inspect your roof. Replace missing, worn, loose, shingles. Gently clean mildew and moss to allow free flow of water off your roof shingles. If you aren’t sure how to properly clean your roof that is safe for it’s longevity and the health of your surrounding yard and ground/stormwater, please ask us for a referral to someone who does. [ProTip: YouTubers don’t all have it right! Some suggestions will harm your roof’s longevity.]

Clean gutters and downspouts. Clear leaves, twigs, and other items out from your gutters. Afterwards, run water through them to ensure water is draining properly to, down, and out of the downspouts. [ProTip: Avoid calling us for an unplanned basement remodel by ensuring ALL water drains away from your home’s foundation (and not towards your neighbor’s foundation either!).]

Prepare your fireplace. Have your chimney thoroughly cleaned and inspected by a professional each year. Not only will it help your indoor air quality and ensure your fire burns efficiently, but having your chimney and fireplace maintained also ensures you equipment is discharging the least amount of particulates possible. Even new, efficient fireplaces only stay as such if maintained properly. [ProTip: if you don’t use your fireplace but aren’t ready to remove it, use a chimney balloon to seal up the flue.]

Batten down the hatches. Reduce air leaks and potential water intrusion by weather stripping or caulking the doors and windows. While you are poking around, check that your siding joints are also properly caulked and that there is a solid 6”-12” of space between the ground and your siding around your entire home. [ProTip: Not all caulks are appropriate for all situations/materials. Do your research.]

Schedule an HVAC system checkup. Maintaining your heat pump or furnace ensures your system stays as efficient as possible. Gas furnace inspections often include a carbon monoxide test as well. [ProTip: recent years building codes have required a carbon monoxide detector – if you have lived in your home a long time, you might check that you have one and that it is functioning – there are easy plug-in options if needed.]

Detector Tests. While you are testing your carbon monoxide detector, check on your smoke detectors too. Smoke detectors can last up to 10 years, while carbon monoxide detectors usually last about six. [ProTip: write the date of installation on your detector so that you don’t have to remember if you installed it the year your son broke his arm or your niece won the state championship.]

Feed your garden. Apply compost and natural fertilizer to your grass and gardens in the fall to prevent winter damage.

Protect outdoor furniture. Yes, outdoor furniture is built to be outdoors. However, our winter rain, wind, and freeze can be really harsh and cause your furniture to loose it’s luster sooner than you’d like. Protect your furniture by placing it under a covered patio or underneath a sturdy waterproof cover.  [ProTip: If you use a waterproof cover, ensure it has vents so that condensation and moisture will evaporate]

Create a clean energy plan. In the Northwest, our biggest consumption is energy. Insulation is your first line of defense against high energy consumption. When the power goes out, it will help keep your home warm longer by creating a barrier against the cold elements outside and keeping the warm air inside – inside!. It also happens to keep the hot days of summer weather out, reducing the need (or desire) for air conditioning. We have solutions for all styles and conditions of homes – so don’t listen to the naysayers – reach out to us! If you can’t change out your heating system to a high efficiency one or offset with solar panels – at minimum, create a family plan for how to keep your energy needs as lite as possible. [ProTip: also plan for what heating system or hot water heater will be your next best step – that way if/when one falls, you will have a better system conceptualized to implement at your fingertips rather than making a knee-jerk decision in the moment.]

Protect Yourself: Hiring a Licensed Contractor is Important for Homeowner Liability

Protect Yourself: Hiring a Licensed Contractor is Important for Homeowner Liability

Summer is here and before you jump into that long list of home renovations and updates, be sure to think about who you will hire to do the work. Many people prefer money-saving options of handling home repairs themselves or hiring unlicensed contractors. But when it comes to home enhancements, the cheapest routes are not always the safest routes and can end up costing your much more in the long run.

Here are just a couple of reason why you should hire a licensed contractor for all of your home maintenance and project needs:

A licensed contractor offers insurance.

Home remodeling is a risky occupation – ladders, saws, drills, nail guns… lots of opportunities for injury. If that person is a licensed contractor, by WA State law, that also means they are required to pay into worker’s comp (owners can waive it, but then take on the liability for themselves) – meaning the contractor’s license covers the injury. Unlicensed contractors, on the other hand, can bill (or even pursue legal action) homeowners for the injury stating unsafe conditions.

Additionally, all licensed contractors are required to have active liability insurance and bond to cover the unthinkable. Unlicensed contractors are quite often uninsured.

Of course, licensed contractors often cost more, because, well, we have more costs to run a fully legitimate business. While we don’t advocate hiring an unlicensed contractor, we do recognize that a risk assessment of an injury or damage occurring with a piece of work, may pencil out in some situations. Anyone can verify a contractor’s status.

A licensed contractor ensure that building codes are followed and met. 

Licensed contractors are often more experienced in how meet all requirements set by the appropriate zoning jurisdictions. They will schedule inspections to verify their and their partners’ is of quality craftsmanship and passes applicable inspections.

Contact us today to go over your summer list of to-dos and leave the worry to us!

Homemade Lawn Fertilizers That Are Safe From Hazardous Chemicals

Homemade Lawn Fertilizers That Are Safe From Hazardous Chemicals

Many homeowner love their lawn – even just a little patch of lawn. It is tough in the PNW to keeping a lush, full, and healthy green lawn. This summer try these effective and easy-to-make homemade lawn fertilizers! From coffee grounds to molasses and much more!

* Pro Tip: if you want the look of grass but with less hassle and encourage positivity in the environment, plant clover instead. Even Bob Villa agrees!

Coffee Grounds
Mix half a pound of coffee grounds with 5 gallons of water and spray your lawn with it. Sprinkle the coffee grounds on the lawn and rake into the soil. It is one of the best Homemade Lawn Fertilizers.

Epsom Salt & Ammonia
Mix one cup each of Epsom salt and ammonia in a bottle. Add two-three tablespoons of this mixture in a watering can and spread it over 200 square feet of grass. Alternatively, you can mix it with equal parts water to make a liquid fertilizer for covering your entire lawn.

Compost Tea
Take a clean 5-gallon bucket and fill it with 4 gallons of chlorine-free water. You can use a well or rainwater too. Add one cup of compost per gallon of water in a fine mesh bag or pantyhose. Tie the bag, put it in a bucket, and squeeze it to infiltrate the water. Brew the compost tea for 24-36 hours, and stir and rearrange the bubbler a couple of times every day. During the hours of completing the brew, apply the tea with a pump sprayer, and reapply the fertilizer every two to four weeks in the early morning during the growing season.

Epsom Salt & Molasses
Mix Epsom salt and molasses in a 1:2 ratio. Let the components dissolve and then dilute them in 5 gallons of water. Spray this solution on the lawn and repeat in 2-3 months.

Let’s Talk About Siding!

Let’s Talk About Siding!

MHC Siding Option - Shou Sugi Ban

Shou Sugi Ban solution detail on the front entry.

The clouds parted and we collectively opened our doors and cautiously stepped outside. As excitement continues to brew for the amazing PNW seasons ahead, we’ve started spending more time on the outside of our homes and scrutinizing a number of things about our homes and gardens — which might include our siding. Some of you may find as you look a little closer that your siding could use a little love. Maybe sections show wear and tear (or worse)… but how to proceed – repair, cover, or replace?

1. Repair: Is it a small amount of damage? Then repair is likely doable, depending on if you need new material and if it is available anywhere. You will want to take note if the existing material has asbestos in it. While the amount of potential asbestos dust is minimal in many repairs. Rules for contractors working with asbestos materials are much more strict than you as a homeowner.

corten steel andrepurposed barn wood

A mix of corten steel and
repurposed barn wood.

2. Cover: it was super popular mid- and later last century to cover wood siding with aluminum or vinyl siding. Sometimes the wood was damaged, sometimes the homeowner was wooed by the lack of maintenance. Depending on a whole slew of things, sometimes the “cover-up” trapped moisture and made matters much worse. It’s one of the reasons we are not fans of just covering problems. If you’re going to replace siding, we recommend demo’ing the existing and taking the opportunity to improve your insulation, shear walls, and weather-resistant barriers.

3. Replace: Replacement can be a full overhaul or partial. Think about what angles you and others see two sides of your home together – it may be possible to lessen the cost impact and just repair one or two sides. Sometimes the effort for repair isn’t worth the difference in cost between that and replace, given a variety of circumstances. Plus, there are some pretty cool, eco-friendly options out there that can also give your house a simple face-lift.

All in all, there are some pretty incredible sustainable, functional, and aesthetic solutions that can stand-alone or be combined with other new and old solutions. From cement board and trim made with concrete waste (called fly ash) to recycled compressed paper, thermally-treated hardwoods that don’t need any maintenance, and even siding made from rice husks (a by-product of the rice industry)! They all come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to meet a plethora of aesthetic needs. To view more projects, visit our Project page .