Energy saving ideas for landscape planning

landscape planningPlanning out the landscape for a construction project isn’t just about making the structure look good. The landscaping can also play a vital role in lowering your energy costs. Even if you are just doing a small renovation project on your own home, it may be a good idea to look at what you can also do with the landscaping in that area to make your home more efficient. This isn’t a high cost project, but with careful consideration you can make the landscaping part of your effort to control utility costs.

Plan for run off

The use of French drains has fallen off in recent years. Many contractors use them just as a means to get rid of runoff water from the roof. If you are smart, you can run the drainage system and use it to irrigate garden and lawn areas. This means that you will be saving money on water costs during the growing season and keeping the roots in good condition.

Address the North and West sides

No matter where you live in the country, the North and West sides of a structure are the sides that are going to be subject to the most winter wind. Your best line of defense against this is to plant windbreakers – such as evergreens along this edge.

Plant cover on the East and South

During the warmer months there will be more direct sun on the East and South sides. This can heat up a house quickly. Plant leafy cover along these walls to help keep things cool. If you then run your French drains to these plants they will be very low maintenance.

Use ground cover where grass would be difficult to grow

Growing grass over septic systems, steep hills or around rocky soil can be difficult. Make things easier by planting ground cover such as pachysandra. The added benefit of this plant is it can also serve to help keep the ground warmer for longer. This can help reduce icing on pipe access and issues with your sewage system too.

Getting materials where they need to be

Getting materials where they need to be

Whether you are a professional contractor or a DIY home pro, getting your materials where they need to be is one of the most difficult parts of any job. It isn’t just the act of lifting pallets to a second floor or shingles to the roof, you also have to know how to stage material on the ground and then move them into place. If you don’t take the time to learn best practices for materials management you could wind up spending more time and money than you planned on your project.

What is staging?

Staging is the term used to describe where material is stored before use. This may be far away from where it will be used, as in a materials yard; or it could be how wood is placed in a spot to allow workers to build with it. As soon as the material is delivered it is staged. Often, material arrives before it is needed and you can’t just put it anywhere. It has to be placed where it won’t get in the way and is protected until you are ready to use it. If you are bringing it directly to the work area you have to make sure that having it there won’t interfere with the actual work action.

Forklifts, cranes and other ways of moving materials

Depending on the type of material and amount of it that is delivered you may have to rent or use heavy equipment to shift it in place. This means you have to have someone who knows how to operate the machine, and you also have to have the correct equipment for securing it for transport. That can include slings, chains and fork attachments. It is vital that you only use equipment designed for transporting the specific type of material or serious accidents can occur.

What about lifting material to the roof?

If you need to get shingles up to a roof the last thing you want to do is carry them up a ladder – that’s unsafe. There are ladder hoists, forks with extending arms and cranes you can use. Make sure that the roof can support the weight of the material in one area before loading it too.

Know when you need a pro, and when you can do it yourself

when you need a proThe key to getting a project done, like kitchen renovations, is to know when you need a pro and when you can do the job yourself. Even on larger commercial projects this is a consideration. There is work that can be done by the main contractor’s crew, and work they need specialized contractors for. Deciding when you need professional help can be tricky; it isn’t just about making sure work that requires a license is done by them. Here are 3 things to consider when deciding what you should do, and when you should call a pro.

1- Does it require a licensed contractor to pass inspection?

Most states regulate that things like plumbing, electrical and even in some states floor registers have to be installed by a licensed professional. That said, there are also some types of plumbing and electrical projects that you are allowed to do without a license. Even if you have the knowledge, skill and experience to do the licensed work – but not the license – don’t do it, just like driving or worse being under the influence while drive, we don’t want to have to be calling our nearest DUI attorney Denver now do we? Not having a licensed professional sign off on the work can negatively impact your home value later.

2- Do you really have the right tools for the job?

Yes, you can put up the stud wall for your new addition but what are you going to do all the cutting and nailing with? There is a reason that contractors have specialized power tools. Renting or buying your own may seem like a good idea, but in the end it could cost you more money than hiring someone with the right tools to do it for you. For example, you can nail into concrete to set a stud with a hammer; but using a power nail gun makes the job go quicker and secures the stud better. If this is the only stud wall you are putting up, renting or buying a nail gun doesn’t make sense.

3- What’s the level of risk?

The best example of this is cleaning gutters or doing any light roof repair. It may not be a technically difficult job, and it may not require specialized tools – but can you afford the risk involved? Professionals have skill and experience. They can keep themselves safe in high risk tasks. If you don’t have the skill, you could wind up with a whole new set of problems if you fall off the roof. Professionals have safety equipment and safety rules that let them do a job well and with minimum risk.

Taping and draping effectively

Whether you are a professional painter or are doing a DIY project for some Winnipeg houses for sale, the key to making it all look good lies in how well you tape the edges and drape the surfaces in the area. If you rush you will have a mess. Fortunately, there are three tips that you can follow to make sure you are taping and draping effectively. This won’t add a lot of time to the project because you won’t have to do endless amounts of touch up or clean up afterwards.

1- Tape with edges out

Taping the edges out means to tape so the cover extends beyond the edge of the surface painted. For instance, when you are taping the edge of a door frame so the wall doesn’t get marked you are better off taping an edge of paper to the surface. Tear strips of paper 6-inches in width, hold them so they overlap into the taping area slightly and apply the tape. You want the tape to attach to the wall and the paper. This prevents any accidental paint marks from getting on the wall, or risking the paint being pulled off the wall by using a wide width tape.

2- Bag and tape protrusions

The wrong way to tape a doorknob is to just run tape around the base and tell yourself that you are going to be careful. The right way to tape a door knob is to bag the whole knob and then tape the bag to the base. Make sure the edge of the tape is flush to the door but that it holds the bag tightly to the shape.

3- Drape everything and pull on the diagonal

As for draping, push what you can away from the surface to be painted and drape it. Your best practice with draping is to always wrap with plastic first, and then cover with a drop cloth. When you are removing the drop cloth, or any tape, always pull on the diagonal away from the painted surface. That way you won’t accidentally wipe wet paint on the area you were trying to protect.