Home remodeling trends enhance health, comfort
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2013
1/19/13 at 6:54 AM
In remodeling, you're not looking to leave your home any time soon, you're simply looking to make it better.
You like the neighbors you have. The local school. The beauty of your neighborhood. No matter the reason, you're not leaving any time soon. But remodeling can keep your home livable and enjoyable for your family.
Paul Kane, CEO and executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, has said previously that homeowners are remodeling to make homes healthier, more convenient, more luxurious and more secure.
Room to move, enjoy
Open floor plans continue to be popular as homes are getting smaller but the need for a casual living experience remains. With fewer walls and hallways, not only is more light let in, but also family members and house guests can navigate and utilize key living spaces easily.
Updating to the latest in appliances won't eliminate everyday chores such as washing clothes, cooking and doing dishes, but it can make tasks more efficient and healthier.
In addition to the high-efficiency models, some can also be a benefit to asthma and allergy sufferers. And forget about the noise your washer and dryer generate. New technologies dampen vibration and reduce the noise you've grown accustomed to hearing.
As more people take efforts to improve the environment, as well as their health, they're paying attention to their indoor environment, too. Find more low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and other building materials with fewer, if any, harsh chemicals and toxins.
Window replacement is not the prettiest project, but it will save your household money and energy. Local window professionals recommend low-E, argon-filled, dual-pane windows. Such windows are designed to help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
If homeowners aren't interested in replacing all of their windows, Justin Liogghio, regional manager of Woodbridge Home Exteriors, said some will opt to have at least the windows in the biggest rooms replaced or in spaces such as the main living room and the bedrooms that are used most.
Improvements to a home's kitchen and bathroom continue to be the quickest and surest way to add value to a home. And they boost the current homeowner's living experience, too.
Hardwood floors offer elegance and value. It's no wonder that people continue to request this flooring be put in or their carpets ripped out to reveal it. To get the most aesthetic value out of hardwood flooring over time, find engineered and prefinished flooring. It can be more durable and low-maintenance. Look for bamboo or porcelain tiles that are meant to look like hardwood.
"Staycations" continue to be popular, and outdoor living spaces are continuing to get more luxurious.
Look for more outdoor kitchens, waterfalls, pools, bar areas and fire pits. If such an expenditure is too much, consider at least putting in pavers, one local remodeler recommended.
Patrick O'Neal of Bullfrog Pest and Lawn management said clients come to the full-service landscaper for a host of improvements. But pavers give a more "closed-in" feeling.
The bottom-line, O'Neal said, is about what you want to invest in: "Would you rather spend $3,000 on a cruise or something you can walk out and enjoy every Friday night?"
Smart and secure
The trend of smart living may take some time to reach Tulsa, but it's on its way. Smartphones and the Internet already allow people to monitor home security systems, control utilities from off-site and check on family members.
On the simpler end of smart and convenient home technology, such features as motorized shades controlled by switches and remotes make tasks easy.
Convenience over a lifetime
Many people, as they age, are trying to stay in their homes.
Remodeling projects can include anything from making kitchen and bathrooms wheelchair accessible to widening doorways and creating ground-floor bedrooms and full bathrooms.
Tulsa remodeling trends for 2013
Local remodelers say renovation activity is stable and expected to grow in Tulsa in 2013, said Valerie Heritage, public relations director for the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa.
"Many homeowners are making the decision to improve, rather than move, in order to stay in the same neighborhood, and/or while they wait for housing values to rebound from the downturn," Heritage said. "Remodeling is a great option for those that have made a decision to stay in their home but also desire upgrades or a new, enhanced living space."
Local remodelers help identify preferred projects from area home-owners.
1. Kitchens and baths: Kitchens and bathrooms remain the two most popular remodeling projects. Trends in these areas are toward granite surfaces and open designs with lighter color schemes. Additionally, many homeowners are opting to renovate by resurfacing or refacing cabinet areas, rather than replacement, and adding new fixtures and finishes.
2. Outdoor living: Perhaps because Tulsans have more time to enjoy them, outdoor remodeling projects remain popular. Homeowners are continuing to invest in outdoor living features such as outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits.
3. Comfort living: Also known to some as "universal design" and "aging-in-place features," this term has been coined by leaders of the Remodelers Council of Greater Tulsa to represent all of the design options being selected today by homeowners who want improved functionality and comfort in their home. There is a trend toward lever doorknobs versus round, better lit rooms, fewer steps, wider doors, non-slip flooring and even higher toilets. Little touches can add up to big improvements when it comes to accessibility and home comfort.
4. Media rooms: With technology in television, sound and home theaters advancing every day, media rooms continue to be a popular option for remodeling projects. Creating a space to house a large projection unit and/or giant TV and premium sound system is a great way to incorporate the latest audio/visual trends into the home, something the whole family can enjoy.
5. Energy-efficient upgrades: With the added incentives of lower utility bills and environmental responsibility, homeowners are still opting for remodeling improvements that add efficiency to their home, such as low-E windows, added insulation to high-efficiency appliances and tankless hot water heaters. PSO has a variety of rebates available to homeowners for improvements.
If you want additional information on this program and others visit tulsaworld.com/electricitybill
For ways to save on your natural gas bill, visit tulsaworld.com/ongsavemoney
PSO changes its rebate program
Starting Feb. 11, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma is offering its customers up to $5,000 in savings to make energy efficiency improvements to their existing homes on such features as insulation, radiant barriers, high-efficiency electric water heater replacements, air infiltration, geothermal systems, HVAC replacement, duct replacement, duct sealing and Solar Screen and Energy Star window and door replacement.
During the month of February, only homeowners making at least three energy efficient home improvements qualify for the rebate.
Beginning in March, however, customers interested in making a la carte improvements - for instance, just on insulation - can qualify for the rebate.
"We're hoping to make it an easier process," said PSO energy efficiency coordinator Lisa Puyear.
Last year, more than 500 of PSO customers participated in the rebate program, which then offered up to $4,000 in savings for energy efficiency improvements. Customers applying for the rebate first had to pay for a whole-home energy audit that typically cost between $250 to $300. After the contractor gave them a report on energy efficiency improvement suggestions, the homeowner would make improvements before paying for a second audit to get approved for the rebate. Starting in February, customers applying for rebates will pay only $100 for the pre-report and $100 for the post energy audit. PSO will cover the rest of the charge, Puyear said.
Also the contractor or contractors making the energy efficiency improvements will be responsible for sending in the rebate application for the homeowner, a change from last year's program.
Puyear said the electric company, which serves more than 450,000 customers, hopes the change to the rebate program will be for the better.
Interested homeowners can visit tulsaword.com/electricitybill now to find out more on how to save on their energy bills. But wait until Feb. 11 to find out more from PSO on the changes to its rebate program.
If you want additional information on this program and others visit, tulsaworld.com/electricitybill
Original Print Headline: Enhanced living
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Open floor plans continue to be popular as homes are getting smaller but the need for a casual living experience remains. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file
Daniel Eng (left), field supervisor of Harrison's Hardscaping, and Kevin Harrison, owner of the company, demonstrate using fire holders during the Tulsa Remodel and Landscape Show, at the Tulsa Convention Center. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Tasha Collier, public relations manager with Woodbridge Home Exteriors, demonstrates using a triple-pane, double-hung, energy efficient window, during the Tulsa Remodel and Landscape Show. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World