Santa Barbara Remains Strong in Face of Drought

May 11, 15 Santa Barbara Remains Strong in Face of Drought

Posted by in Featured, Home Living

With the crippling drought affecting California, residents are being asked to take as many steps as possible to conserve water. From checking appliances for leaks to taking shorter showers, Californians are altering their lifestyles to reduce their water consumption. Californians have been asked to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 20% since July, but have managed to save only 9%. Because of this, the State Water Resources Control Board has changed wording to make the savings mandatory, and to increase the amount residents should be saving. One of the easiest ways for Californians to decrease water consumption is by replacing their grass lawns with drought-friendly landscaping. In Santa Barbara, a city rebate program is reimbursing homeowners half the cost of converting their lawns to drought-friendly plants. Outdoor water use often accounts for between 50% and 80% of homeowners’ utility bills, and can be reduced by applying mulch and hand-watering instead of using automated sprinklers. Mulch can be made of many different aesthetically-pleasing materials, and is used to regulate temperature and reduce weed growth, in addition to retaining soil moisture. Santa Barbara is currently leading Southern California in terms of most water conserved. The state has asked Santa Barbara to reduce its water usage by 16%, but the city is committed to reducing water consumption by as much as 25%. The city’s water conservation program sends volunteers to inspect homes to help residents program sprinklers and improve irrigation, as well as identifying any interior leaks. While other cities are taking similar precautions as Santa Barbara, the effects have been less pronounced. Some experts theorize that this is because Santa Barbara went through a similar drought in the late 1980s, and is more prepared to deal with this type of weather. While Santa Barbara currently receives water from Northern California, it may reintroduce a lawn-watering ban if the drought continues to...

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Builders Donate Time to Families in Need

Mar 24, 15 Builders Donate Time to Families in Need

Posted by in Home Living

Home renovations are a necessary part of house ownership for many people, but they are often expensive, intrusive, and time consuming. For many homeowners, obtaining the renovations they desperately need seems out of reach, even though their quality of life may decrease without the renovations. Fortunately, many home remodeling companies try to give back to their communities by donating time, supplies, and labor to families in need. One such company is T ‘N G Plumbing, of Austin, Texas. Each year, T ‘N G Plumbing holds a Pay It Forward contest and remodels the bathrooms of families in need. This year’s recipients, Gary and Marsha Wilde, were nominated by their daughter, Katie. Over the past several years, the Wildes have seen more than their share of tragedy, with two children committing suicide in the past, and losing a daughter-in-law to cancer in 2014. When T ‘N G Plumbing stepped in to help, they found the Wildes’ bathroom in rough condition. The floor was in danger of collapse due to severe water damage, and was described as “spongey.” A staggering 36% of remodeling jobs are undertaken to repair property damage. Partnering with other local companies such as Y Waste, Wagner Construction, Austin Electric, and many more, the T ‘N G team completely remodeled the bathroom. They then went above and beyond to replace the home’s plumbing, install a new water softener and furnace, and even paint some of the walls. In addition, they transformed the Wildes’ son’s bedroom into a play area for their grandchildren, re-framed family photos in the living room, and installed three memorial plaques beside the house for lost family members. Other companies are able to help even more people through the power of television. Many shows exist that follow builders through various remodels for needy families, but a new show will be airing soon with a little extra celebrity flair. Called “I Pity the Tool,” the new show airing on the DIY Network will follow demolition worker-turned-actor Mr. T as he moves...

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Wounded Veteran to Receive New Custom Home in San Angelo, Texas

Feb 27, 15 Wounded Veteran to Receive New Custom Home in San Angelo, Texas

Posted by in Featured, Home Living

On Thursday, Feb. 26, construction crews broke ground on a property in a subdivision of San Angelo, TX. Unlike other building projects in the area, however, two organizations are collaborating to help support an important cause: creating a custom home for a decorated veteran and his family. Staff Seargent Chris Campbell joined the United States Air Force in September 1994, becoming a crew chief on a F-16 Fighting Falcon at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Eventually, he also cross-trained into security forces to get closer to the action. During the course of his military career, Campbell completed several tours of duty in West Virginia following the September 11 terrorist attacks before being deployed to Balad Air Force Base in Iraq in 2004. While stationed in Iraq, he was injured during a rocket attack on the base on June 11, 2005. The blast left Campbell with a traumatic brain injury, and he now lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), frequent migraines, insomnia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and hearing loss. Because of these medical problems, he retired from the military in 2012 with several awards, including a Purple Heart, USAF Meritorious Unit Award Ribbon, and a National Defense Service Medal. Following his retirement, Campbell, his wife, and their two sons decided to move to San Angelo, where Campbell had previously worked for the federal civil service at Goodfellow Air Force Base. The choice was a natural one: the family reportedly loves the area’s warm climate and friendly community, and the city features several great schools and leading medical facilities that will be able to aid Campbell’s recovery. Now, thanks to the nonprofit organization Operation FINALLY HOME, the family will be able to enjoy these benefits from the comfort of a custom-built home. Operation FINALLY HOME is a national non-profit organization that partners with home builders and corporate sponsors to create custom, mortgage-free homes for wounded, ill, or injured veterans and surviving families of fallen soldiers. While the foundation was established in 2005, the Campbell...

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Small Outdoor Projects Predicted To Have the Biggest Return on Investment in Home Remodeling Trends for 2015

Feb 10, 15 Small Outdoor Projects Predicted To Have the Biggest Return on Investment in Home Remodeling Trends for 2015

Posted by in Featured, Home Living

When it comes to home remodeling trends, there’s one thing that should always be at the front of your mind: Will the return on investment be worth the cost of this particular project? According to the 17th annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2015, it’s clear that smaller outdoor projects are most likely to product the biggest return on investment. By comparing the construction costs of mid-range and upscale remodeling projects with the resale values of homes with similar remodeling additions, the Cost vs. Value Report analyzes which remodeling trends are most likely to be good investments, regardless of where the house is located. At the top of the list this year were moderately priced roofing replacements, replaced garage doors and entry doors. Energy-efficient replacements, like windows and insulated siding, also offer a high return on investment. Last but not least, outdoor additions like small wooden decks and manufactured stone veneer continue to be popular. Although these slightly bigger outdoor projects are more likely to give a better return on investment in temperate regions where homeowners spend a lot of time outdoors, something like a small wooden deck has the effect of expanding a kitchen or living room, while costing only a fraction of the price of remodeling a full room. While these remodeling project may not seem to make much sense, one recent LA Times article deftly explains the odd change in design trends: in Los Angeles real estate markets (but likely in many markets across the country), homeowners are putting more emphasis on the size of their homes, rather than their yards. Whereas a few decades ago, a backyard was an essential location for family entertainment, the rise of technology-based entertainment has caused families to seek more space indoors. Additionally, as more Americans begin to recover from the Great Recession, many homeowners are finding that they have a small amount of disposable income to spend on exterior projects that focus on a home’s aesthetic...

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Innovative, Home Improvement Startup Raises $65 Million

Jan 21, 15 Innovative, Home Improvement Startup Raises $65 Million

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The U.S. home improvement industry is extremely lucrative — worth about $57.2 billion in total — so it should come as no surprise that an innovative start-up connecting homeowners to home service professionals would be able to garner a ton of fundraising. What is surprising, though, is just how much it was able to get. Just four months ago, the home improvement start-up Porch was able to raise close to $28 million in its first round of fundraising. With its second round complete, Porch was able to raise another $65 million, bringing the 16-month-old company’s total funds to over $100 million. “It’s a big market and we’re trying to grow an enduring company,” Matt Ehrlichman, Porch CEO, told Forbes. “It’s about building competitive advantages or moats. We are willing to capitalize the business in order to win.” Antonio Gracias, the CEO of Valor Equity Partners, who led the latest round of fundraising, will be joining the start’s board of directors. Other investors included Lowe’s and Ty Pennington, the host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The new funding will go towards a national roll-out of the mobile app’s booking feature, which lets users schedule and pay for small maintenance jobs at pre-negotiated prices right from their mobile devices. Currently, it’s only offered to Seattle users as part of Porch’s beta program. According to the company, revenue and membership have climbed more than 1,000% over the past 12 months. Now, its network is made up of 3.2 million service professionals across the country, who pay to have Porch promote their services and link them with homeowners. So far, the reputable service professionals who work with Porch have completed more than $2.5 trillion worth of home improvement work. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re twice our size a year from now,” said Ehrlichman to the New York Times. “We will continue to grow...

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Weather Forecasters Predict Continued Flooding Throughout Northern California and Oregon During Holiday Season

Dec 24, 14 Weather Forecasters Predict Continued Flooding Throughout Northern California and Oregon During Holiday Season

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It’s been 50 years since Oregon and California residents experienced “The Flood of the Century,” as one NewsOK article calls the Christmas Flood of 1964. Where there are now cracked concrete slabs and broken bridges, there once stood vibrant communities that were destroyed within a matter of days by widespread flooding. Homes were filled with nearly 20 feet of water, and every single river in California and Oregon was overflowing with both melting snow and heavy rains. Now, half a century later, Oregon residents are faced with more flooding problems — albeit not as serious as the flood in 1964. The Western Coast of the U.S. was recently hit pretty hard with inclement weather from the Pineapple Express tropical storm, but the National Weather Service is now saying that another storm could hit the region again, just in time for Christmas. Flood warnings and winter storm warnings have already been issued throughout California and Oregon, and according to CNN forecasters, up to eight inches of rain on the coastlines of both states could trigger flash flooding and mudslides. Oregon weather authorities are particularly concerned, CNN notes, because of the widespread forest fires that ravaged the state’s infrastructure earlier in 2014 and burned down acres of vegetation. With fewer obstructions (both manmade and natural) to restrict and redirect excess water, it’s more likely that roads and buildings will be flooded — and that’s exactly what has started happening. The major concern at this point, however, is that many residents in Oregon and California will be unable to travel for the holidays. The region’s concrete retaining walls and dams, built by specialized engineers after the flood of 1964, have already begun leaking and cracking. Unlike modern homes in the area, which are often protected by high-quality epoxy and polyurethane sealants, the retaining walls that protect major highways throughout Oregon and Northern California seem to be less effective at preventing flooding. According to reports on December 21st, U.S. Highway 101 (running through Oregon) had already sunk down...

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