Can Your Home Kill You? 6 Home Improvement Projects to Prevent Disasters

From not hiring the right general contractor to the devastation resulting from natural disasters like the current LA fires, a lot of things can go wrong with the construction of your home. But you can minimize damage done by taking the proper precautions. Here are 6 unglamorous (but totally necessary) home improvement projects for optimizing the safety, structure, and sustainability of your home:


Fireproofing

With the Rye fire blazing in Los Angeles right now, this is a big one on everyone’s minds in Southern California right now: the importance of fire-proofing your home. The key to preventing fire damage is in flame resistant roofing and siding and the use of ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms: flame resistant, inter-locking concrete traditionally used in the construction of commercial properties). If fire safety is a concern, as it pertains to the interior design of your home, work with an interior designer to find flame-resistant fabrics and furnishings. 

Flood-Proofing

Just a few years ago, hillside homes in Southern California were sliding down and those at the bottom were flooding. If your home is one of those at risk for flooding, one of the best ways to prevent such an occurrence is to work with a general contractor to make sure your doors, windows, and walls are sealed properly. Conversely, another method is to minimize the water damage done if any is to get inside by installing electrical outlets higher up the walls and installing a solid, rather than wood flooring. This brings us to our next home improvement project to prevent disasters later on…

Mold Prevention

The process of preventing mold growth prior to or during construction is referred to as “Drying in the walls.” Unfortunately when you mix dry wall and ceiling tiles with heat and water, you get the perfect recipe for mold growth. The best ways to prevent is to have the home properly sealed to keep moisture out and that the construction site is properly dehumidified throughout the process. Another way to preserve the dryness is to stay on schedule as much as possible. When a site has to shut down for any reason, you run the risk of mold growth.  

Electrical Wiring

Strangely, electrical wiring is a project that people feel comfortable often doing themselves, but so many little mistakes can be made: from installing wires too tightly or wires of the wrong size entirely or making too loose of wire connections and overloading outlets, which can easily ignite electrical fires. These are tasks that are easy for your electrician or contractor to do quickly and taking the time to work with a profession is well worth the investment!

Gas Leak Prevention

Gas leaks are another easily preventable problem: They are so often the result of a homeowner who’s improperly installed an appliance and can lead to fires and explosions. This is another instance where having a well-vetted professional install boilers and cookers, and check them regularly, will worth the time and investment for the safety of your home and family.

Earthquake-Proofing

This is something we have to be very careful about here in Southern California. The state has strict build codes, that are updated and improved upon after any devastating earthquake, to help mitigate the effects of an earthquake, but it is worth it for the safety of your family to have a general contractor or design team do a home inspection to make sure everything is built to code, especially if you have an older property that needs to be retrofitted.

4 Major Ways to Transform Productivity in Your Home Office

Workspaces, whether they’re your home study or a commercial office space have to prioritize a few key areas in ways that other rooms do not, namely productivity. Considering many of us spend the majority of our waking hours in our workspaces, they also need to be comfortable, (but not so cozy you fall asleep).

From the flow of the space to the lighting, storage, and technology, a great designer or remodeling company thinks of every little detail to make your workspaces fun and functional.

Flow

Workspaces are often high traffic areas. Think about how you move about in the space: A bustling commercial office may have clients and employees coming and going, by contrast a home office may not have as many people trekking through, but perhaps you pace back and forth on the phone. Clearly define walkways with rugs and be sure to secure with reg mats to prevent slippage.

Lighting

Since you spend a lot of time in an office, you need to include a variety of lighting sources. Consider how the daylight pouring in from outside changes throughout the day, or how tired your eyes may get from staring at a computer screen all day. We always suggest including as much natural lighting as possible and then supplementing with warm-tinted LED bulbs, which are both environmentally friendly and easier on the eyes than bolder alternatives. And op’t for lamps and chandeliers over canned or track lighting with everything on dimmers for maximum customization.  

Seating & Comfort

Ergonomic office chairs are a MUST. If you’re seated behind your desk for hours on end, you want to be sure selecting that seat is one of the items you’re investing in. By contrast, you’re unlikely to spend much time in other seating in the room; an important thing to keep in mind in designing your seating area.

Storage & Technology

We often talk about how nothing ruins a great design quite like unsightly cables sticking out like a sore thumb. Aesthetics aside, they can often be a safety risk, if they’re hanging down in the middle of walkways. We often design built-in’s with the ability to keep electronics and cables safely stowed away or suggest under-table clasps to keep them secured.

For even more tips on creating a stylish and productive home office, read up on these 10 tips from our partners at Lori Dennis Inc.

 

Designing Hygienic & Sustainable Bathrooms

Bathrooms are one of our favorite rooms to renovate and they always result in high returns on investment. Since our designers are LEED AP certified, that means we care a lot about protecting the environment when we design. We wanted to share some tips on designing better bathrooms to meet hygienic and sustainable standards.  

Green Building Materials for Tile & Countertops

Not only is natural stone sustainable but it’s also aesthetically beautiful, especially in a bathroom where you need something that can withstand water and changing temperatures, and want to create a spa-like oasis at home. Delve further in depth about flooring materials and types of tile in this post we wrote here.

Green Bath/Shower Appliances

There are some incredible luxurious shower options you could install including smart shower heads that can be set to particular temperatures and put on timers to conserve water. Low-flow shower heads will use less water with the same amount of pressure.

Green Faucets

Similarly to your shower, you’ll want to find a low-flow option for your sink faucets to cut back on water waste. Another option is to install a motion-sensored faucet. We’ve all left the faucet on while brushing our teeth, and a motion-sensor faucet will fix that!

Green Toilets

More than every other appliance in the home, toilets use the most water so in order to conserve as best you can, you’ll want to install a low-flow toilet, either with automatic flush or multiple settings.

Toto Toilets – Whole Bathroom

Green Lighting for Bathrooms

We love a naturally lit bathroom, preferably with a view from the shower or perhaps a skylight to filter in the sun. But if that’s a non-option, op’t for LED bulbs to conserve energy. Opt for warmer LED bulbs lend that warm, tungsten glow.

Green Paint for Bathrooms

If you’re painting your bathroom, look for low-VOC if not Zero VOC paints. Avoid paints with formaldehyde. Acrylic or water-based paint is great, unless it lists toxic chemicals such as cadmium, cobalt, magnesium, chromium, and, of course, lead.

Green Bathroom Accessories

Now this is the easiest fix! It involves no construction and you can do it today to make your home a little more green: From your soaps to your towels and toothbrushes, shop around for certified organic products from companies that promote zero or no-waste policies.