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Site-built, manufactured or modular: What’s the difference and what does it mean?

(BPT) – Sponsored Ad Content by Clayton

When you’re planning to purchase or build a new home, you’ll have to choose what kind of house you want — site-built, manufactured or modular. There are slight differences to each type and all have their own pros and cons.

“A newly constructed home may be any of the following three types: manufactured, modular or traditional site-built,” says Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton home building group. “Whichever type selected will be built to strict state and federal code and can vary by style, custom features available, energy-efficiency, speed of construction and affordability.”

Having a home built for you has many advantages. You have more control over location, and can choose the exact features and design you want. What’s more, if the area you’re interested in has a small market of existing homes, building your own may help you get into a house faster and for less money.

If you’re considering having a new home built, here’s some information you should know about these three types of construction:

Site-built homes

As the name implies, this construction method assembles the house on the site where it will permanently stand when finished. All the materials that go into the house — from wood for the frame to pipes for the plumbing and shingles for the roof — are transported to the site for assembly of the house, which could take several months. Transporting and buying exact measurements of building materials that will be used (versus buying bulk) contributes to the final cost of the house.

During construction, materials may be stored onsite and exposed to weather until construction crews are ready to use them. Similarly, the interior of the home is exposed until the roof, walls and windows are all in place. These homes are subject to various state and local building codes to ensure safety before the home is ready to be sold.

Site-building is a time-tested, traditional way of building homes, and is the most common method of construction. Construction times vary, but can range from less than three months to a year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC). The average price per square foot of a single-family site-built home was just over $100 in 2015, SOC data shows.

Manufactured homes

Instead of being constructed on-site, manufactured homes are built in a controlled factory environment using many of the same building materials used in site-built homes. The entire house is assembled in the factory in sections and then transported by truck to the home site for final installation.

Manufactured homes are subject to internal inspections and must meet building standards defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (or HUD) to receive final certification. Because the house is constructed indoors, the construction schedule is not subject to weather delays, so a manufactured home can be completed and set up on-site in a matter of weeks, rather than months.

Manufactured homebuilders purchase construction materials and appliances in volume, which helps keep the cost of manufactured homes lower than what you would pay for a site-built home. In 2015, the average cost of a manufactured home was just $47.55 per square foot, according to SOC data. In general, a manufactured home can be a much more affordable option and can be customized from the ground up, just like traditional housing.

Modular homes

Modular homebuilding combines elements of site-built and manufactured home construction. In modular home construction, the home may be either 100 percent factory-built or a mix of both factory-built and on-site built. Modular homes can ship to the home site fully complete or with work left to be done. This allows for modular homes to be as fully customizable and unique as their site-built counterparts. Often in modular construction, the home is shipped in sections that are assembled at the site by use of a crane. The home is typically placed onto a permanent foundation and can be multiple stories high. Modular homes can also have basements, garages and unique roof profiles that make them indistinguishable from traditional site-built homes.

All the building codes that apply to site-built homes also govern modular homes. Because much of the construction takes place inside a factory setting with a constant supply of building materials in stock, modular homes can also be completed faster than site-built homes. They also benefit from similar bulk cost-savings as manufactured homes.

More to consider

The type of construction you choose will depend on your needs, budget and preferences. Advances in manufactured and modular homebuilding mean it’s now possible to build one of these homes with the same high-end features you would find in a quality site-built home. What’s more, energy-efficient construction, green features, and available ENERGY STAR upgrades help ensure heating, cooling and lighting your manufactured or modular home will be just as effective as a green site-built home.

Want to know what home best fits your personality? You can take an online quiz to find out.

To learn more about homebuilding options and to find a manufactured home retailer near you, visit www.claytonhomes.com.

ENERGY STAR and the ENERGY STAR mark are registered trademarks owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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5 ways to reinvent your garage

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(BPT) – The garage – it’s that space where you used to just store your car, lawn mower, power tools, bikes, bats and boxes of things you wore in the 90s. But to say a garage is only for storage is like saying a truck is only for hauling dressers and box springs.

From game room to workshop, man cave to hangout — your garage has the potential to be anything you want it to be. So if you’re thinking of redecorating or remodeling your house, don’t spend all your time picking out kitchen tile and arguing over what type of counter looks best — step into your garage and let yourself dream big.

With the right materials, some creativity and a little work, you can turn your garage into the star of the house. How? TV personality and award-winning interior designer Anitra Mecadon offers the following five ideas to get you excited about all the possibilities.

Toughen up your walls

No matter what you want to do with your garage, first make sure your walls can stand up to real life. There’s probably no space in the house more susceptible to scratches, scuffs and accidental holes than the garage — so pick your walls accordingly. Look for PURPLE Hi-Impact XP made by National Gypsum for extra wear and tear to resist everything from car doors opened too close to the wall to the hockey sticks swung a little too hard. This drywall is embedded with fiberglass mesh to make it impact and penetration resistant — and like all PURPLE drywall, it resists moisture, mold and mildew.

Make your garage your hideaway

Sometimes you need to get away from it all — especially from your “honey do” or project list — and the garage can be where you go, your hangout, an extension of yourself and a definite point of pride. Add a snack machine, fridge, swivel chair or two and big screen TV, and you and your friends will have it made.

Lift it up

Most people have a lot of stuff to store in the garage in addition to cars, tools and bikes. And let’s face it, the more available space you have, the more likely you’ll find stuff to fill it. That means you’ll need to get creative with storage. In addition to shelves and cabinets attached to the walls, another way to store your stuff is to use a raised lift system which retracts up into the top levels of your garage and comes down with a push of a button when you need something.

Hang it up

There are some things that just don’t belong in your house but are perfect for the garage. Just like restaurants that have walls crowded with collectibles such as old soda signs, sea anchors and license plates — garages can follow this same design concept and personalize a space even more. Walls also can serve as anchors for storage systems that hold your tools, bikes, boxes and equipment. And you can rest assured that high-performing drywall, like PURPLE Hi-Impact XP, will stand up to the wear and tear of hanging up and taking down your tools, rakes, bikes and more, day after day.

Do more with your floor

Today, garage floors can be anything you want — yellow, red, metallic, acid-washed or made out of heavy-duty vinyl or rubber. And whether you want the grey concrete vintage look of your childhood or something that reflects your more grown-up self, when it comes to garage floors, take a chance and get inventive, because your garage can be your personal and customized sanctuary.

There’s a lot you can do with a modern garage, and no matter how you decide to personalize it, the best garage remodel starts at the studs. The right drywall is as important as the right wrench in the toolbox. To learn more, visit www.askforpurple.com

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How New Buildings are Going Green

(StatePoint) One of the elements that can greatly enhance the value and enjoyment of a home is beautiful landscaping. But with certain parts of the country facing water restrictions, and many others simply wanting to go green, both residential and commercial property owners are finding it increasingly difficult to keep lawns and hedges thick, green and free of dead zones.

“Many builders and decorators have begun incorporating artificial vegetation in their landscaping treatments, both to sidestep new watering regulations and reduce environmental impact,” says Dallas-based real estate developer, Braden Power of Power Properties. “Although most people haven’t yet begun to notice, ‘faux foliage’ is now sprouting up in various renovation projects around the country, including exclusive hotels and country clubs.”

Power says the new trend to use simulated greenery in building projects is about more than just water conservation:

“Simulated plants are very environmentally friendly,” says Power. “Because insects aren’t attracted to them, there is no need to spray pesticides, so there is zero contamination of the soil and groundwater. And because fertilizer is not used, there isn’t a problem with nitrate runoff into nearby streams and lakes. When simulated grass is used, there is no monthly lawn service to pay for, nor is there any pollution from gasoline powered mowers, hedge clippers, or leaf blowers.”

Despite the environmental benefits, Power says most people who hear the term “artificial plants” are at first quite skeptical, especially when “artificial grass” is mentioned.

“People usually conjure an image of the artificial turf they use on football fields, but they don’t realize that there are hundreds of artificial grass options, varying in color, texture, density, and durability — similar to ratings of carpeting,” says Power. “There’s even a line with multi-colors and a ‘dead grass’ look at the base for realism; and it’s very soft on the feet.” 

Power says he acquired a hands-on education in the use of artificial vegetation during the renovation of a courtyard apartment building in east Dallas. 

“We named the building ‘The Greenhouse’, which is ironic, because although it now has the appearance of a lush botanical garden, there are only two live plants on the entire property,” says Power. “The grass, trees, ferns, privacy hedges, vines and leafy ground vegetation are all stunning simulations.”

Power, who has been renovating multi-unit residential properties for 25 years, says through his exterior design service Bel Air Outdoor Living, he is available to consult with architects, developers and builders who are seeking ideas and resources for “going green” in their next construction or renovation project. To learn more visit powerproperties.com or belairoutdoorliving.com.

“With a little imagination and the right materials, it’s easy to create an enchanting eco-friendly, ‘drought-proof’ oasis on virtually any property — one that doesn’t require watering, pesticides, or continual maintenance,” says Power.

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The rise of the basement: Top tips for a better space

(BPT) – With fewer homes for sale and good returns on the remodeling investment, more homeowners are reclaiming their lower levels and remodeling their basements.

Basements are coming out of hiding these days. And they’re doing it in style, with before-and-after transformations featured everywhere from HGTV to Pinterest and YouTube.

What’s driving this trend? A tight housing market, for one thing. With houses at a premium — and a proliferation of DIY how-to’s — more homeowners are inspired to reclaim their unused space and expand their living area.

A smart, affordable upgrade

Updating your lower level is a sound investment in your home. Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report put the average basement remodel at $61,303, with a 70.3 percent payback — a far better investment return than adding a bathroom or garage.

Props for your property value

Depending on local regulations, the additional space can often be added to your home’s total square footage, making your market listing more appealing to buyers and potentially increasing your property value.

To recoup the most from your remodeling efforts, make sure your design and decorating choices are attractive and functional — not too quirky or customized.

Look up, look down: Banish water all around

Before you begin making decorating choices, tackle any needed repairs, including waterproofing your lower level. It’s a good idea to seal your walls and floors first, and important enough to hire a professional if you’re short on time.

And since below-grade spaces are usually cool, humid and prone to water damage, consider investing in a good dehumidifier and choosing moisture-resistant products.

Elevate your ceiling style

Ugly or damaged ceilings can ruin the look of your newly updated basement space, so take steps to repair or replace your ceiling. Plaster any cracks and replace yellowing tiles.

If you’re updating the ceiling, look for products from companies like Armstrong Ceilings that are specially treated to resist the growth of mold and mildew. From there, the sky — or the ceiling — is the limit. Savvy design choices, like coffered ceilings, or wood planks add style and the results are easier to achieve than most people think.

Stuck with an older, 2-foot x 4-foot dropped ceiling grid? There’s no need to suffer without style. Homeowners can take advantage of today’s beautiful new 2-foot x 2-foot ceiling tiles by adding 2-foot cross tees to their existing grid systems.

Flooring: Think warm and dry

Make sure your flooring choices stand up to moisture, too. Patch any cracks in the concrete floor and consider adding a subfloor if the surface slopes or is uneven.

Many homeowners gravitate to the warmth and soundproofing effect of carpeting in basements. Low-pile or Berber carpets resist wear and are inexpensive options. A moisture-barrier pad between the carpet pad and the carpet adds another level of water resistance and reassurance.

Now is a great time to finish your basement. You’ll enjoy the added living space now, and likely realize a healthy return on your investment in the future.

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5 residential design trends in hardwood

(BPT) – Hardwood may be one of the oldest building materials known to man, yet architects, designers and homeowners are always finding fresh ways to use it in the modern home. What’s the appeal? Flexibility and variety, for starters.

“We’re constantly delighted to see how traditional woods like oak and walnut are being employed with renewed flair and imagination,” says Linda Jovanovich, of the American Hardwood Information Center, www.hardwoodinfo.com. “Subtle tweaks can make something familiar, look innovative. The current trend is to take a classic hardwood application, like paneling or flooring, and give it a stylish, up-to-the-minute twist. Here’s a look at what’s trending.”

Wide-plank flooring

Perhaps no recent trend has been more influential than the use of wide-plank hardwood flooring. Traditional plank widths, ranging from 2 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches, are still popular. But today’s homeowners often ask for widths between 5 and 7 inches, and there is even demand for up to 10 or 12 inches. “Wider floorboards can make a space look larger and more modern,” says Melissa Morgan of M Interiors in San Antonio, Texas, who has used the generously proportioned planks in traditional and contemporary homes. “With fewer seams, these floors can be treated like a canvas: ebonized oak or walnut for a sleek, dark look; light woods like ash or maple for a chic, urban vibe; weathered-gray tones for a slightly rustic affect — the possibilities are endless.”

Wood ceilings

It used to be that hardwood planks primarily went on floors or walls, but today they’re appearing on residential ceilings too. “Simple poplar beadboard, painted white or with a light natural stain, looks crisp and airy overhead, adding visual interest while remaining quiet and unassuming,” says Rebecca Ascher, Ascher Davis Architects in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. “For a more assertive affect, I might specify tongue-and-groove walnut or hickory, characterful woods that provide a degree of drama. For that reason, they’re best reserved for large, high-ceilinged rooms that are not easily overwhelmed. In smaller, lower spaces, a ceiling with too much personality can feel oppressive.”

Mix and match

Architects and designers, who once avoided using different varieties of hardwood in a single residential space, now mix and match them with newfound enthusiasm. Clearly contrasting wood tones — blond maple and black walnut, for example — create a striking effect that can work well in both traditional and contemporary settings. This is particularly true in kitchens, where a favorite configuration features upper cabinetry in a light-color wood such as birch, and lower cabinetry in a dark-color wood like cherry. The result is a space that has strong visual interest, and is light and airy, yet solidly grounded.

Gray stains and finishes

Gray is a classic “neutral” that never truly goes out of fashion. It’s currently one of the most popular colors, ranging from pale smoke to deep charcoal, showing up in hardwood flooring, paneling and cabinetry. “Whether light or dark, gray stains bring out any wood’s natural grain and texture,” says New York interior designer Laura Bohn. “Grays are versatile and timeless — quiet and soothing colors that recede into the background without losing personality or becoming faceless. That’s why they work in any style décor, yet always look modern.”

Distressed hardwoods

Homeowners drawn to the popular look of weather-beaten rustic and elegantly timeworn are turning to distressed hardwoods — new product to which scrapes, nail holes, notches, saw marks and other signs of wear and tear have been carefully applied, often by hand. Manufacturers are able to reproduce convincing facsimiles of anything from the burnished walnut floorboards of an 18th century salon to the rugged oak-plank siding of a 19th century Pennsylvania barn. It’s a distinctive look that offers a wide range of aesthetics.

Visit www.hardwoodinfo.com for more about residential design trends and other applications and products using American hardwoods.

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4 DIY projects for your first home

(BPT) – “Where should I start?” It’s a question many homeowners ask themselves.

DIY is a great place to start for new homeowners. DIY projects are very versatile — they can easily be adapted to your skill level, budget and desired project. With a little extra time and creativity, you can transform your home.

Other benefits to choosing a DIY project are that they are typically more cost-effective than the alternative and they offer an added sense of ownership and pride in your home.

Since DIY project ideas are endless, it’s important to choose ones that will improve your home’s value at a reasonable cost. A DIY project should make your life easier and more enjoyable. These are some top recommended DIY projects for first-time homeowners. They won’t break the bank but they will deliver a bang for your buck. 

1. Add crown molding or update casing and trim. The addition of crown molding to the top of interior walls is a subtle change with big impact. Casing, which is the trim around doors and windows, can also make a huge difference. The replacement of dated crown molding, casing or trim can make a room look newly updated. Go one step further with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and you’ll basically have an entirely new room. For more information on how to install crown molding, check out these simple steps.

2. Replace doors. Doors are often forgettable, but don’t have to be. Replace hollow core bedroom, bathroom and closet doors with wood alternatives for an instant dash of richness. And don’t limit yourself to traditionally-styled options. From specialty woods to glass panels, there are plenty of options to choose from.

3. Clean and refinish your wood deck. As long as your wood is in good shape, all you need is deck cleaner and wood stain to turn something dated into the focal point of your backyard. You can buy deck cleaner at your local hardware store. Wood deck stains are available there or at a paint store. You’ll be amazed to see weathered wood look like new again. If you haven’t cleaned or refinished a deck before, here are step-by-step instructions.

4. Update your closets. Add built-in shelving or simply streamline clothes hangers for an organizational boost you’ll thank yourself for every day. Or you can tackle a popular closet upgrade: lining a traditional closet with cedar. Natural cedar looks great, smells great and keeps moths and mildew away. It’s a classic and high-end upgrade that’s not terribly expensive or time-intensive. When your friends or family open your closet, they will be pleasantly surprised.

Use tongue-and-groove cedar to line some or all of an existing closet. You can leave baseboards in place if they’re thicker than the cedar. If not, remove them with a pry bar before the cedar installation. Use nails to attach the cedar to the wall studs, or adhere them with a construction adhesive. Prepare to feel like a bona fide fancy grown-up when it’s done! 

These are just a fraction of the many DIY projects possibilities. The most important piece of advice is to have fun and don’t be afraid to try new things. The more DIY projects you complete, the more confident you’ll feel. To get started, pencil in a dedicated DIY day on your calendar and enjoy the process!

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Tips for creating a virtually self-cleaning bathroom

(BPT) – Americans may be spending less time on housework, but that’s probably not much consolation when you’re scrubbing the toilet for the third time in a week. Meanwhile, hours spent working are taking more of our time, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey. Factor in other time demands like taking care of the kids, your in-laws, your spouse and yourself, and it’s easy to see why products that improve cleanability are gaining ground in bathroom design. 

Fortunately, elbow grease and harsh chemical cleansers are no longer the only ways to keep a bathroom clean. Today, a variety of bathroom fixtures, devices and construction materials can all help contribute to a bathroom that cleans up with less effort from you and stays that way for longer.

Innovative fixtures and faucets

Cleaning the toilet, tub and shower probably doesn’t top anyone’s list of favorite tasks. While it’s still necessary to do regular deep cleaning, when it comes to daily maintenance, a range of new bathroom additions can lend a hand.

* Self-cleaning toilets — Even in the cleanest households, the toilet can be a hotbed for a variety of unpleasantness. The new ActiClean self-cleaning toilet from American Standard can make day-to-day cleaning of the bowl a much easier task. The press of a button releases cleaning solution into the bowl for either a one-minute quick clean or a 10-minute deep clean, while the patented VorMax jetted flushing technology powerfully scours the bowl to remove all splatter, skid marks and clinging waste. At the end of the soak period, the unit automatically siphons away the cleaner and rinses the bowl with clear water. Simply press a button, walk away, and let the toilet do the rest — it’s that easy.

* Smarter showers — Sure, you can find high-tech, high-cost showers that keep shower doors spotless through nano-technology that repels dirt and water droplets. But having an easy-to-clean shower can actually be simpler and less expensive. It starts by choosing the right materials and design. For example, traditional shower doors are notorious for building up mold, mildew and grime in door tracks. Frameless shower doors can eliminate that problem. If you hate mold in tile grout (and who doesn’t?) you have numerous options. Tile your shower with a dark tile and dark grout. Or, opt for tiles made with mildew-resistant coatings. For super-easy cleaning — not to mention leading edge design — you can even choose a concrete shower.

* No-touch faucets — The bathroom faucet is the most touched area in a bathroom, which means it can also have the most germs. After all, everyone touches it right after using the toilet (you hope). Touchless bathroom sink faucets can help reduce the spread of bacteria and germs, since no one needs to touch them to turn them on. Plus, their hands-free operation ensures that the faucet stays free of fingerprints, soap scum and toothpaste splatters.  A wave of the hand starts the faucet -— and you’re on your way to a tidier, maybe even immaculate, bathroom.

Cleaner construction

Of course, if you’ll be renovating a bathroom or building a new home, the best way to ensure a cleaner bathroom at the get-go is to start with construction materials that promote cleanliness. Mildew resistant tiles and grout, mold-resistant paint, and solid surface countertops can all add up to less cleaning time down the road.

One of the most important features to incorporate into a bathroom to help keep it fresher and healthier is an exhaust fan. This will not only remove unpleasant odors from the bathroom, it will also vent moisture out of the room from steamy showers and baths. Excess moisture in a bathroom is one of the leading causes of mold and mildew, which can be unsightly, smelly and unhealthy.

Yes, you can achieve freedom from cleaning. By installing easy-to-clean bathroom fixtures and materials, you can invest less time, effort and energy keeping the room clean. Unexpected guests — drop in unannounced at any time!

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Fall: Best season for planting trees that boost home and community value

(BPT) – Planting a tree is an investment in the future, according to a Greek proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they never expect to sit.” But did you know planting trees around your home is also an investment in your real estate value and the value of your neighborhood? Or, that it’s one best made not in the season of new life, spring, but in the fall as winter approaches?

Most Americans say they would — and in fact do — pay more for a home with trees in the yard, according to a Wakefield Research survey sponsored by the Alliance for Community Trees, a program of the Arbor Day Foundation. On average, Americans pay 18 percent more for a house with trees in the yard, and 79 percent say they feel trees define their neighborhood’s character. Nearly three quarters say they would never move to a neighborhood that didn’t have trees.

“The presence of trees in a neighborhood is as important to homebuyers as proximity to good schools, accessibility to shopping and entertainment, and commutability to work,” says Dana Karcher, Alliance for Community Trees program manager. “But the value of trees goes far beyond beautifying a neighborhood. Planting trees helps on a local and global scale by reducing air pollution, controlling stormwater runoff and even mitigating climate change.”

With 61 percent of Americans saying they would welcome more trees in their neighborhoods, planting one in your home environment is good for your property value and your community. What’s more, fall is a perfect time for planting trees and shrubs. The fall planting season kicks off with NeighborWoods month in October, the annual celebration of trees and green communities that supports local tree planting organizations and their efforts to make neighborhoods cleaner, greener and healthier. This initiative is made possible in part by like minded companies including Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day (R), Double Tree by Hilton and the Aetna Foundation. Visit arborday.org/neighborwoods to learn more.

If you’re considering planting a tree or two this fall, here are some things to keep in mind:

* While spring may be the best time to plant flowers and vegetables, fall is the optimum season for planting trees. In spring, trees don’t have enough time to grow deep roots before summer heat hits. Fall means warm soil, wetter weather and cooler air that promote root growth, helping a newly planted tree get established before the weather turns cold and the ground freezes.

* Mid-August through mid-October is the best time to plant a tree in northern and cooler locations. In warmer areas, like the south, you may be able to plant well into November. Talk to your local nursery or an arborist to determine the best planting window where you live. Planting these types of trees in fall means they’ll be well established when next spring’s growing season arrives.

* Some types of trees need longer to become established, while others need less time. Look for trees that don’t require a lengthy growing period before they can withstand harsher temperatures. Options include ash, crabapple, hawthorn, elm, linden, maple, sycamore, pines and spruces. Not sure what to plant? The Arbor Day Foundation offers an online tree selection tool to help you understand what trees will grow best in your region.

* Trees are prepared for planting in three ways — bare root, containerized and balled and burlap. The best methods for planting trees will be based on how the roots look. Bare root trees have completely exposed roots, and you’ll need to soak the roots before planting. Bare root trees tend to grow faster than those in containers. Plants from nurseries often come in containers that need to be removed before you plant the tree. Root balls are typically wrapped in burlap, which must also be removed when you plant the tree.

To learn more about the benefits of planting trees and how to care for your trees, visit www.arborday.org.