Saturday, August 7, 2010

News Flash!!

News Flash!!!!! BOOMERS.....Woodstock is gone, not coming back. No matter how you wish the "what, me worry" carefree days, think about tomorrow, tomorrow, times would last for ever.....they didn't. Yup, you try to ignore "tomorrow" w/HGH, high potency vitamins, botox, etc. You still believe you can go rock climbing, surfing, mountain biking, run a marathon, etc. But not for long. Soon thoughts of climbing up a ladder to paint the house will not be so appealing. Just getting around, bending over, getting up from a sofa, is going to be an effort. What about that super eye sight. One thing is are going to age. Well, of course you might not, but that's not a good solution!!!

It's like our current economic situation, no one really saw it coming. Thought the "good times" would just keep on going.......DIDN'T.
Never envisioned the effects of it......Just like aging.

The time to plan for a potential house fire is NOT while it is burning. Not the time to start thinking about escape routs. Not the time to wish you had expanded your insurance coverage. You need FORWARD planning....Just like aging.

Adult "children" of Boomers......With out proper/adequate preparation, your parents future path is set.......YOU ARE IT!!!

PLAN...........PREPARE.......NOW. Don't be caught in a crisis.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

thinking the "green" of your home

Home Improvement/modifications
thinking the "green" of your home (pun intended)

Seems people are of the opinion that since we had decent rain this past season (actually only back to normal) that the drought is over!! Nope.
People must still be "water wise". Are you doing your part???

You all have seen/heard the spots on TV/radio regarding water conservation so we'll not address those. But; watering your YARD is a topic needing attention. Why do I mention this.....I see far too much miss-use, miss-application, and far too much over watering. Let's start right at the beginning: Sprinklers.

If you are still using a system that is more than 10 years old, you are probably wasting water.....Esp. if you are using those ole round, broadcast heads that are spaced about every five to ten feet apart all over your yard. These broadcast types are more soakers than sprinklers. Change these to rotors. Yes, the rotors are more expensive at initial purchase (why the "gardeners" don't use them) but; they are 10 times more efficient and save 100s of gals. of water per year. Main benefit: these spray intermittently allowing for the water to soak-in, and by adjusting the run times, provides your yard w/the moisture it needs and not just become a soaked sponge.

Being water conscious applies to your choice of grass and plants. Shift to drought tolerant types. For instance; drought tolerant tall fescue only needs watering every other day. The length of time for watering depends upon your system. To establish the time, need to do a "test." Place a wide -mouthed can in the yard. Turn on the system. Watch the time it takes to accumulate an inch and half of water in the can. Stop. That is your run time. For a continuing "test", step on the grass, press down. If the grass springs back, it's ok. If not, slightly increase your watering time. Demand will very from "winter" to hot, dry summer.

Note: drought tolerant plantings does NOT mean "desert landscaping". there are lots of choices.

Different plants require different amounts of water. Place like plants together so they can be watered appropriately, don't mix together. This way you do not over/under water causing some plants to fail. In planting beds, use drip and/or soaking lines where ever possible (usually everywhere!!). Do not use the broadcast types. Put the water only where it is needed.

Are you spraying your house, fence, sidewalk/street....why? No matter how much you water 'em, they are not going to grow....!!! Not only does this waste water, such shall cause damage to wood and to stucco. Yes, you may need to relocate some lines, but that is a small effort for the benefit gained.

Water early in the morning: best is between 5-8. Contrary to what you may hear, do not water your grass in the evening nor at night. Plants and soil will "surface" hold the water until day time drying. This causes root rot and mold/mildew...esp. w/roses. If additional watering is deemed necessary water again round 2pm. NO, there is no evidence to support that watering in the day time only creates evaporation.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Part II

Continuing with our informational series on home improvements for a more livable, supportive home environment.

The underlying premise continues to be: having your home adapted to you rather than you having to adapt to your home. As this is an "age-in-place journal", the information is targeted to Seniors wishing to live out their years in their current home. However, with the above stated direction, living spaces can be easily used, enjoyed by everyone of all ages, of all physical capabilities.

It should also be mentioned that this information should be applied to new homes as well.

We have been directing out initial attention to the kitchen and asking some "whys". We have established the fact that in reality there is no established paradigm. You can have your kitchen assembled any way you want and need it to be.

Now we are going to get more specific.

Those counter tops, cabinet heights; can (should) be set at different heights (four such actually) depending on the use.
  • 30" height. Great for seated persons, i.e.; wheelchairs. Great for kids snack/home work areas. Sinks for person under 5'-8".
  • 36" height. The traditional height for standard work spaces.
  • 40" height. Great for raising that dishwasher. Be amazed what the extra height does for that bending/lifting (45" even better!!). Excellent for under-counter trash and recycle bins. Also allows for deep roll-out drawers.
  • 45" height. For serving and eating counters. Works well for extended height base cabinets allowing for additional shelf depth for those cooking pots and specialty appliances.

That oven? Oh yes; that oven. What height should that be? First, determine who is most likely to be the primary user. The center of the oven should be at the height of their horizontally out stretched arms. Lifting/placing should not vary from 6 to 12 inches up or down. Placing the bottom of the oven at 36" height and having a roll-out table underneath at 30" greatly increases the working space and provides support for placing/removing.

What's with the oven-over-oven, double oven bit? Certainly can't meet the height specification. I'm 6'-5", I would have a difficult time with the upper unit that high. With today's combination ovens: conventional, convection, radiant all in one unit; is the double oven really needed. And esp. with micro-waves that can double as ovens. If determined that two units are needed, then place them side-by-side vs. above/below.

Consider side-opening units rather than drop-down unless you are used to using the doorway as a working shelf (see above comment). Side-opening units are much easier to access, esp. from a seated position. Even from standing position one doesn't have to reach over the oven front.

Grouping the cabinets together from floor to ceiling (or there about) works very well. Thank you very much!! These areas are great for roll-out pantries and bulk storage.

An other roll-out; how about having a step roll out from under the cabinet in the toe-kick space for getting to those "out-of-reach" areas. This is much safer than those fold-up step stools.

Previously in Part I as one of the "whys"...wall cabinets at a certain height above the counter. Don't have to be. Nothing says you can't set them right on the counter. There are "hutch type" cabinets for just this purpose.

Granted, in some areas you do need about 18" of clearance for work space, but that does not have to apply every where.

In the cabinets that are above the counter, consider drop-down, spring loaded shelf inserts. These are easy to grasp and lower, lock into place. Release the lock and they slowly return on their own back into the cabinet!! What will "they" think of next??!! about motorized cabinets that raise/lower at the touch of a button!! Great for wall units and sink faces. Easy access and can be set at any one's workable height, sitting or standing. No bending, stretching...and no step stool required. Now there you go!!!!

A note on the refrigerator. If you are set on having cabinets above, pull them out flush with the face of the refrig., and you can use shallow depth cabinets. Consider using a "built-in" style unit. These are flush with the line of the cabinets. Then can use full depth cabinets. Makes getting to the overheads easier as well as provides more floor space. Consider side-by-side units vs. over/under compartments.

To be comprehensive, need to at least mention faucets and electrical outlets. Faucets should be of the single lever style so they are functional for everyone. If it is difficult for some one to reach faucets mounted on the rear of the sink, they can be made to operate from the face of the cabinets.

Electrical outlets do not have to be only located on the wall. These can also be mounted on the face of the cabinets. Again, makes them accessible to everyone.

There are more things we can discuss about the kitchen, but enough for now.....Well, do, however, need to at east mention lighting, and proper lighting in a kitchen IS NOT a ceiling full of recessed can spite of what you hear,see. 1. Such does NOT do any thing for "workability" in the kitchen. 2. Just adds clutter, cost, NO benefit. 3. They are just down right tacky and UGLY.

As lighting is a whole subject in its self, especially kitchen lighting, guess have to leave that for up-coming topic. Suffice it to say at the moment: Rule #1. Lighting needs to be adequate but NOT dominating. Rule #2. Lighting needs to be placed where it does the most good for the purpose intended. Rule #3. Proper lighting is a combination of different lighting techniques working together to provide a unified result. We shall discuss in detail at that up-coming part of the series.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting back on the informational series on home improvement/home modifications. Gads, found it is probably easier to write a book than shorten things up for a blog!!!! But here goes!!!

PART I Home improvements/home modification for a more livable, supportive home environment.

Let's think realistically about home design; homes you've lived in, homes you have visited and model homes you have seen. Observation: aren't most "reworks" (even new homes) focused mostly on: providing space, adding/subtracting square footage, &/or updating furnishing, fixtures, appliances?

The focus is on the style, configuration, appearance of the STRUCTURE, isn't it. Even that "curb appeal" thing. Little, if any, focus is directed to LIFE-STYLE. How you (some one) function in a home; how you interact w/others. How best to compose the various elements, arrangements to assist you in your day-to-day living.

How many homes are designed with these governing principles in mind:
  • mobility and interaction
  • ergonomic usability
  • safety
  • functionality
  • adaptability
  • comfort

Why not???? Aren't the "design principles" simply focusing on such as room arrangements, fireplaces, fancy kitchens (heard some designers say just put in granite tops and SS appliances, some one will go for it) big bathrooms (need?). And don't most of these "principles" follow good ole "conventions"; designing one home after another just the "way it has always been done"? Seen one, seen 'em all. What's with that? Are we all that identical that one "fits all"?

If that's the case, why are there so many different vehicles on the road. All designed/built with different people, different uses in mind. Shouldn't that also apply to homes, esp. custom homes, custom remodels.

Let's focus on the kitchen. There is a particular national association that has put forth established "design standards" for how one is to put together a kitchen. Is that the paradigm from which not to deviate? Do you figure you use your kitchen exactly like everyone else does? THOUGHTS:

Why do counter tops all have to be set at certain height, and all AT that same height?

Why do wall cabinets have to be a certain height above the counter and in a certain place? And so high on the wall. How about that above the refer cabinet..(.how many of you know what's in yours!!! When is the last time you used it!!!)

Why can't wall cabinets be grouped together from the floor up?

Why do dishwasher have to be set way down on the floor (is that convenient to reach)?

Why do ovens,especially if double ovens, cook tops have to be set so high (low), or the sink for that matter.

Why do designers think a ceiling blasted full of can lights is so great (certainly not essential..just expensive)

Why put the refer in the middle of the kitchen so every one must walk through to even get a drink.

Are "kitchen offices" necessary with today's laptops/phones?

How's this for starters!!!! Fact is: NONE of these things have to be a certain way. You actually can have your kitchen assembled, configured any way you want, need it to be!! How would you figure a physically challenged person could use a "standards" conventionally defined kitchen?

Stay tuned!!!! we have the rest of the house to go yet!!!! (TBC)

Friday, April 2, 2010

home improvement

Home improvement/home modifications. Notice of up-coming five part informational series which shall cover how home modifications, improvements can/should compliment, assist your living. How to have your home "work" for you to better your lifestyle and usage; adjusting it to your needs vs. the normal conditions of: here is your house, you adapt to it as best you can.

This series is especially applicable to seniors, but boomers, young adults; actually any homeowner can benefit from this approach.

Part I introduces some home modifications that do create a more livable, supportive home environment. Addresses how modifying existing elements in your home can (1) make it easier to perform day-to-day tasks (2)provide a more flexible, adaptable home (3) improve ingress, egress constraints, hazards (4) Improve ambient, task lighting (5) bathroom and kitchen adjustments for better movement, accessibility (6) stairway issues (7) safe transition thru your home.......just to mention some things for starters!!!!

Part II introduces the first of four "hurdles" which must be over come for people to achieve this supportive environment. Parts III, IV,V shall deal independently with each of the other hurdles.

The series concludes with the Epilogue: putting things into actyion.

Stay tuned-in; it shall be a valuable excursion.

Monday, February 22, 2010

HOME IMPROVEMENT....Boomers.....Seniors
Are you wanting, in need of, improvements but are afraid, scared stiff about doing anything? The uncertainty of the economy, value of your home, lack of cash you stymied???

Well....take heart!!!!

FDR's comment after Peral Harbor:
"the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself" was made, of course, to bolster peoples feelings. Alto this is not WWII, the statement is very applicable today concerning your home improvements.

The sky is really not falling, Chicken Little; well, not all of it anyway, and not necessarily your part folks. What is required in overcoming these "fears" is a redirection in one's thinking. Yup...the "rules" got changed on us and no one bothered to tell us, but now knowing these new rules, they can be dealt with. The "home improvement game" is still safe, fair, and worthy of playing.

New Rule #1: A redirection of assessing home improvements from the traditional "value-base" of increasing the resale value of your home. With this new rule of home valuation, this approach no longer applies. What ever you might do to increase your homes value is not going to pay dividends any time soon. Lenders are not going to give you additional credit for such. Yes, doing such might increase the likely hood of a sale, but you are probably not going to recover the cost. You are stuck in a bottoming, depressed value market that is not going to change in the foreseeable future.

New rule #2: You can't just figure that you can sell and get something different; move up/down as necessary.
a) If your home would sell, it's going to take quite a bit of time to do so if you want to get your price. The problem here is that you are stuck in an auction/short-sale driven market in which you can't win. People are wanting a "steal".
b) You have no doubt lost a TON of equity. This cuts heavily into your re-investment capability.
c) Finding exactly what you need w/o having to make alterations/improvement any way is doubtful.

SO.....What do you do.....

New rule #3: The "value-base" of your home now need to be directed to maximizing its livability for you; meeting your life-stlye requirements. You need to adjust your home to one that works for you in meeting your day-to-day and future needs. Further, such actions will greatly enhance your ability for living independently and aging in your current home

Also: things become more valuable if increased benefits can be acheived through incremental modification to the same base element. Such can be the case with your home. Subtle home improvements can gain benefits greater than their cost, especially if directed to "essentials" vs. "luxuries".

By understanding and applying these new rules, you can overcome the fear. And as I said.....Take Heart!!!!.....You do not have to tackle these by yourself. I can walk you through this new direction and assist in your "due-diligence"; show you where and how to acheive this new "value-base"

So...Alice!! Step through the looking glass. DO step through the fear. Obtain a new confidence. Feel good about your home.
CALL ME!!!! 714-731-3567

Sunday, February 14, 2010


For your 2-story (3?)'s not just about stairs, or adjustments to your stairs anymore. Personal elevators are IN!!....and HIP!!! Ya, seriously!!!!

Significant innovations in their looks and operation...and cost..have made home elevators a viable addition to your livability. Don't over look them. They can fit-in bettetr than you might expect. They can be hidden in a closet-type enclosure, or be free-standing. Varrious ingress/egress arrangements are available as well as sizes. They can be inside your home or, if necessary, installed outside.

Wheither you have a traditional, modern, contemporary, or "classic" home, there is a style to fit. We have installed them for other people, we can install one for you......CALL US!!!! 714.731.3567

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Further Bonus Coverage....Energy Efficient Homes 2

In the previous "bonus", EEH-1, talked abut the Attic. Before we leave the Attic...another component: your heating ducts. Need to check these for air leaking connections. "Tons" of heating can be lost thru these causing your heating unit to run far more than necessary.

In older homes your ducting is prob. either metal or asbestos. If it is the "A" word stuff...just LEAVE IT ALONE. Not causing any probs. unless it gets disturbed. Metal ducting, check the seams. They should be wrapped in insulation at the transitions and at the vents. Straight runs are often taped with "duct tape". Yup, that's where the name comes from. HOWEVER, "duct tape" has become as generic as referring to a spa as a "Jacuzzi". The "grey stuff" is not actually duct tape, and it comes in several grades. Manufactures just ref err to all of it as "duct tape". Actual
tape use for heating ducts is SILVER tape. The difference: the grey stuff will deteriorate over time, silver won't.

Therefore, if you find your ducting in wrapped in the grey stuff; pull it off and replace it w/silver. Yes, it really is worth it.

If the insulation is frayed, or missing, re wrap it. Note, this is NOT wall/ceiling insulation. It is actual insulation for wrapping ducts. Goes on w/spray adhesive. And, again, YES, it is worth it.

Related to the ducting is of course the furnace itself. If your unit is more than 10 years old, prob. only around 50% efficient; means it has to run twice as long to do its job. New one's often are 80% or better (and about 1/2 the size!) Clean and service it!!! at least at the start of the heating season....and that many of your actually replace it? Should be replace twice during heating season, once during AC. If not, it gets blocked, and not only does that impact your air quality, the fan hast to run longer to push the air through. All of these issues contribute to consumption of more energy.

In conjunction with the furnace, the thermostat. Most areas now require programmable units...but they are of no value unless USED. Makes sense, right. But how many of you have 'em, don't make full use of 'em? These are great for being more energy efficient. Set the timer to reduce, even turn off, the unit at night or when you are gone. Can be set to restart so home is "warm again" when it actually needs to be. Same applies to your AC usage.

For more Energy Efficient Home tips....stay tuned it!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Energy Efficient Homes 1

BONUS COVERAGE!!! Energy Efficient Homes. From time-2-time here on the Journal Blog expanded topics shall be covered relating to living-at-home not only for seniors, but germane to everyone. This is one of those.

In his SOTU address Obama made reference to the need for energy effieicint homes. However it might seem, this is NOT a new subject. This issue really came to the forefront back during the Arab Oil Embargo in the 70s. The prevailing thought became, OMG, we're not going to have sufficient energy producing sources for the future. Sell the Winabago!!! Buy a compact car (horse!!). How are we going to heat buildings/houses??? Conserve!!! Conserve!!!

Passive heating and energy efficient home construction became the "talk" and the "way of the future." Super insulated homes, upgraded window and door protection, need heat pumbs and wood burning area heaters, seal-up those air-drafts!!! Gonna have to have smaller homes!!!!!.......AHHH;

What's that....what happened?????

Now it's GREEN!!!! Different?? I think not. Will this "now fad" have any legs???? Remains to be seen. But perhaps. Now it's not just dollars (supply/demand)'s not just some country(s) turning off the tap, but the world dimishing resource and its insatiable demand.

I guess energy efficiency is like men's ties and suit-coats; keep 'em long enought...back in favor!!!

HOWEVER... I believed in the 70s ideas for conservation re homes then; designed and built that way, and have never departed from it. Has alway just seemed common sence to me even tho I have often been viewed as having fallen out of touch.....Even professed how to design effective smaller home way before Ms Susanka wrote her book.......Yup, guess I'm like those ties!!!

But; with Obama's comments, what ever reality is about energy efficient homes, one thing is certain......the window/door and solar products people are really gonna be singing their songs!!!!

Suffice it for now just to mention solar, shall deal w/this topic in later journal, but windows....yes. Windows are the number one culprit for consideration regarding energy efficiency. More heat/cold is exchanged through windows than any other element. And, of course, the bigger they are, more you have, the worse it gets.

But there are several other Energy Efficient elements to consider. Number two is insulation....or lack thereof!! Most homes esp here in S.Cal., built prior to the 80s do not have enough of this vital component. Homes built prior to the 70s may very well have none at all.

It is difficult and expensive to add insulation to exterior walls, however, again here in SoCal, the cost to install does not warrent the gain. Much like a person wearing a hat to counter heat/cold, same applies to your home.....the attic. An R-30 rated insulation protection is a min to have...w/R-36 being the best cost/benefit. Whether to add bats or blown-in, in part depends on how much clearance there is up there. What type: fiberglass, foam, cellulose and how best to install it, probably depends on which sales person you are talking to!!!!

While we are in the attic....there is another component worthy of mention:Radiant Barrier Foil. Don't over look its benefits. It helps dramatically in reflecting the sun's impact into the attic. If it can be installed w/o to much dificulty it is worth it.

For numbers 3...4..etc.....STAY TUNED IN!!!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Study & Planning Part I

Ok, then. What is SIGNIFICANT study and planning?
Well; significant means important, of consequence..and herein, esp. the "of consequence". The normal life-function of ageing brings on several issues "of consequence" (an effect/result) from "minor" to "major", not withstanding crisis issues i.e.; heart attack, stroke,etc.

Part I: Let's start with the "minor"; such as changing eyesight, hearing, and mobility, all which impact your living at home. One needs to study lighting, natural and artifical; sound and noise transmission; mobility, ingress/egress, doorways, stairs, hallways.

Lighting:  As we age there is a corresponding necessity for more/better lighting. The "visual" ability must be enhanced. Elements such as size, placement of windows (natural light) and lighting fixtures (artificial) which at one point in time seemed sufficient; now become inadequate. Determinations must be made to the best efficient/effective way to make adjustments. Most cases, it's a combination of both components.

Kitchens, baths, reading areas must be reviewed in terms of TASK (focused) lighting. Ambient lighting requirements are also important. The ability to "see" and move safelyy throughout your home, esp. hallways and stairs.

Hearing:  Phones, smoke detectors, doorbells; even the base "accoustical footprint" (speaking, sound, noise) shall require mitigations/enhancements.

Mobility:  The natural ageing process changes one's dexterity. More space is nescssary in which to maneuver.   Balance will increasingly be a concern.  Geting "up-down" and bending over become aggravating if not troublesome

And what about ARTHRITIS??  We're not talking about that difficulty in opening fruit jars (do these still exist!!) nor twist-off beverage caps.  Rotation of door knobs, fumbling for toggle light switches, opening cabinet doors, getting things off shelves...these are what come into play, just to mention a few.

These "issues" should be addressed during the "Boomer" - not wait until the "Golden" years. Besides, adapting your home for these adds greatly to your useability and comfort.

These issues, as all, are best addressed in combinations of solutions; not items addressed separately.  Everything starts w/a "situatiion analysis" of your existing conditions.

Another component of SIGNIFICANT study and planning is HEREDITY.
No, not the "if your parents didn't have kids you prob. won't have either" bit; but the genetic characteristics of your family history.  Specifically, concerns for health conditions.  How did their health effect their living.  Are there chances you may follow similarly.  What changes, modifications to your home would then be necessary to age-at-home.

As I shall say over-over:  don't wait until a crisis happens before doing prepared.  My grandmother used to say ...a few ounces of fore-thought are worth pounds and pounds of cure.