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Is your home falling short on providing you with the space you need to live comfortably? What can you do? Some people will start searching Zillow for a new home and will need to visit many houses taking away all of their weekends to find just the right fit, that charming neighborhood, the right price and the ideal town that makes them happy. Guess what… it might not exist! If you love your current location, then there is obviously another option! Call an architect and start talking about what you want to achieve and how you can find the proper path to getting to that final destination. Architects who specialize in house addition projects can help you discover hidden spaces and where to add more!

Identify Your Needs This house ran out of room. Solution house addition!

First thing is to identify what you are lacking. In the photo above it was obvious that this family needed more storage space. But everyone’s circumstance is different… has your family grown and you need more bathrooms, bedrooms or do you just need that space to escape to? Are your parent aging and thinking of moving in with you? Have you always wanted a big kitchen to entertain? After all this is where everyone gathers these days. Whatever the reason an architect can help you generate a design solution.

Identify Location Where should that house addition take place?

Where does it make sense to create this expansion of your house? There are many options depending on your existing home. For instance, is your home a ranch style (single story)? Then perhaps going up is your solution. How is that even possible? It will take some reconfiguration of your existing floor plan because now you will require a stair to get up to the second floor and a stair takes up quite a bit of room. Do you have a two story house and maybe just an attached garage with no living space above? Voila, here is an ideal spot to create some more space. Of course if you are looking to make a bigger kitchen neither of these two suggestions are ideal but maybe all it takes is opening up some rooms and add a little bit to the first floor. Or maybe you are looking for an entire new in-law suite on the first floor so it might be feasible to convert your existing garage and building a new garage. The possibilities are endless… sometimes.

Impact

So you decide on the idea of a house addition, how is this going to impact your life and what is the impact of the project? Will the location of the work displace you during construction? If so you’ll need to make alternative living plans. Does your property have room for what you want to do? There is this pesky thing called zoning ordinances that could slow you down. Setbacks, lot coverage, habitable floor area, impervious coverage are just a few items to be considered when you identify the location of the project. An architect is going to guide you through this and if you want to avoid the costly delay of seeking a variance this will be a priority in determining how the project will go forward.

Integration

Once you have determined the best plan of action then the integration of the addition to the existing house is key. It is important to understand what adjacencies are important to you and how spaces are going to flow from room to room. A typical house addition will impact one to several rooms to accommodate new circulation patterns. For instance, if you built out over your garage in a typical center hall colonial you would end up eliminating a bedroom or decreasing it in size to get a hallway to the addition. Or if you are just adding on to the rear of your house an existing room may grow or be designated as something else.

Individuality

From my experience every project is different and every client is unique in what they want to accomplish. I have been creating solutions for house additions for over twenty-five years and of course not one project is the same. Some have similarities such as a second floor addition or bi-level house may have parallel solutions but in reality they are all different as are clients’ visions.

Inspiration

Modern Yankee Builders - Great Room Addition Timelapse - YouTube

Modern Yankee Builders – Great Room Addition Timelapse a great house addition in progress

I tell my clients to think about what it is they are trying to achieve by having long discussions and making a list of their priorities as well as seeking out inspirational photos of how they envision their ideal house. Great resources for photos are Google and Houzz. Take a look at this great timelapse video to see how an addition  to this home manifests itself!

Interpretation

The approach to the solution is a team effort. An architect is going to listen to your needs and interpret them to best of his/her ability. The process is a back and forth discussion. I believe a good architect doesn’t want to insist on being the final say but wants to incorporate your vision into his/her design and figure out the best way to get there in this wonderful journey! So call an architect today and see how thank can help you on an amazing house addition adventure!

The post The House Addition – Your Solution to Living appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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The Start

When you start thinking about expanding or altering your home what is one of the first things you are going to Google search? I hope you will be searching for an architect, but what will you put in the search bar? Will it be architect nearby, residential architect, great architect, I need an architect, best architect or will you type in cheap architect? Cheap architect, what does that even mean? Perhaps the correct term would be economical architect. If you do not want to sacrifice quality, but you are looking to save some money, there are options out there.

The Easy Way Out

Some people will go right to HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, Porch, Architects-Today, Improvenet and the list goes on and on. These potential clients seem to be looking for the path of least resistance to get a bunch of quotes (many sites sending you 4 professionals) without any work on their end. When the reality is that you are just getting random architects calling you desperate for work and perhaps their quality is not that great. When the lead comes through to the architect he/she is required to pay for it so they are most likely going to contact you. I’m not sure I understand the incentive because it would be my impression if you are reaching out solely for quotes you must be looking for a good deal or possibly a cheap architect.

The Ideal Way

I think a better approach might be to actually go on Google and search residential architects nearby and start looking at architects’ profiles, reviews, what kind of work they do. In other words do they sound like someone you are looking for. Google is not the only way to search you can go on the popular site Houzz and also do a search. Houzz also is a great resource for photos and reviews. Once you have read some profiles give the architects a call and discuss your project and if they are able to help you in an economical manner.

The Difference

Some architects have extremely high fees because they will cater to a client’s every need, which includes going to a tile store with them and helping with a kitchen design. Their construction documents, for instance, consist of an incredible amount of details down to the trim around a doorway to the hinges on the door to your closet. When they are done designing your home they will help you pick out a general contractor and then come to your project every week during construction and be your advocate. So justifiably those fees get pretty high some as much as 18% the construction cost. Do you need all of that attention to get yourself an addition to your home? Of course not.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that approach. However, I know many people do not want that much. They do not want to spend that much money. So are they looking for a cheap architect? I hope not, because when I hear that term “cheap” I think of inferior quality or worth. It also sounds like a service lacking any redeeming qualities. I think they are looking for an economical architect. An architect who cares about his work and also is sensitive to his client’s needs and budget.

Is It Luxury?

People consider an architect a luxury item but it does not have to be that way. I worked in several design firms and took the lead role in those firms as a designer. These firms benefited from wealthy clients. This allows me to take that past knowledge and incorporate it into my current work but on a scaled down version. I always provide my clients with a high quality product, but you can be sure it will not contain a coat hook detail. My clients understand this and are happy to create these little details on their own.

If a client is creating an addition with a new kitchen I send them to a kitchen design store. After all a kitchen is such a specialized space why not go to someone who has their pulse on the most current trends. Above all an architect charging you the larger fees is taking care of this for you as well as all of the finishes. I prefer to have my clients create their own palette of finishes, either on their own or with an interior designer. Being a sole practitioner I only have so many hours in my day. Keeping each client happy is a juggling act. This is why I have this business model.

Put In The Work

In addition, a homeowner is also going to save money by supervising their own project. They will work closely with their general contractor. Of course this is not for everyone but this happen to be my business model. My clients are always able to call and ask a question. If something arises that needs my attention during construction, I am available. This service is handled on an hourly basis. So instead of an architect coming out weekly, writing up a report, noting things the contractor needs to do and charging for this service a homeowner can forego this service.

The Conclusion

I have had my practice for over 25 years. My record has proven that you can get a quality product at an economical fee. However, you are going to need to be involved. In other words less work for the architect and more work for the homeowner. Therefore, I do believe you get what you pay for, which you can read about in an old blog.

The post Are You Searching for A Cheap Architect? appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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Is your home falling short on providing you with the space you need to live comfortably? What can you do? Some people will start searching Zillow for a new home and will need to visit many houses taking away all of their weekends to find just the right fit, that charming neighborhood, the right price and the ideal town that makes them happy. Guess what… it might not exist! If you love your current location, then there is obviously another option! Call an architect and start talking about what you want to achieve and how you can find the proper path to getting to that final destination. Architects who specialize in house addition projects can help you discover hidden spaces and where to add more!

Identify Your Needs

First thing is to identify what you are lacking. In the photo above it was obvious that this family needed more storage space. But everyone’s circumstance is different… has your family grown and you need more bathrooms, bedrooms or do you just need that space to escape to? Are your parent aging and thinking of moving in with you? Have you always wanted a big kitchen to entertain? After all this is where everyone gathers these days. Whatever the reason an architect can help you generate a design solution.

Identify Location

Where does it make sense to create this expansion of your house? There are many options depending on your existing home. For instance, is your home a ranch style (single story)? Then perhaps going up is your solution. How is that even possible? It will take some reconfiguration of your existing floor plan because now you will require a stair to get up to the second floor and a stair takes up quite a bit of room. Do you have a two story house and maybe just an attached garage with no living space above? Voila, here is an ideal spot to create some more space. Of course if you are looking to make a bigger kitchen neither of these two suggestions are ideal but maybe all it takes is opening up some rooms and add a little bit to the first floor. Or maybe you are looking for an entire new in-law suite on the first floor so it might be feasible to convert your existing garage and building a new garage. The possibilities are endless… sometimes.

Impact

So you decide on the idea of a house addition, how is this going to impact your life and what is the impact of the project? Will the location of the work displace you during construction? If so you’ll need to make alternative living plans. Does your property have room for what you want to do? There is this pesky thing called zoning ordinances that could slow you down. Setbacks, lot coverage, habitable floor area, impervious coverage are just a few items to be considered when you identify the location of the project. An architect is going to guide you through this and if you want to avoid the costly delay of seeking a variance this will be a priority in determining how the project will go forward.

Integration

Once you have determined the best plan of action then the integration of the addition to the existing house is key. It is important to understand what adjacencies are important to you and how spaces are going to flow from room to room. A typical house addition will impact one to several rooms to accommodate new circulation patterns. For instance, if you built out over your garage in a typical center hall colonial you would end up eliminating a bedroom or decreasing it in size to get a hallway to the addition. Or if you are just adding on to the rear of your house an existing room may grow or be designated as something else.

Individuality

From my experience every project is different and every client is unique in what they want to accomplish. I have been creating solutions for house additions for over twenty-five years and of course not one project is the same. Some have similarities such as a second floor addition or bi-level house may have parallel solutions but in reality they are all different as are clients’ visions.

Inspiration

Modern Yankee Builders - Great Room Addition Timelapse - YouTube

Modern Yankee Builders – Great Room Addition Timelapse

I tell my clients to think about what it is they are trying to achieve by having long discussions and making a list of their priorities as well as seeking out inspirational photos of how they envision their ideal house. Great resources for photos are Google and Houzz. Take a look at this great timelapse video to see how an addition  to this home manifests itself!

Interpretation

The approach to the solution is a team effort. An architect is going to listen to your needs and interpret them to best of his/her ability. The process is a back and forth discussion. I believe a good architect doesn’t want to insist on being the final say but wants to incorporate your vision into his/her design and figure out the best way to get there in this wonderful journey! So call an architect today and see how thank can help you on an amazing house addition adventure!

The post House Additions – Your Solution to Living… The 7 I’s appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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Obviously residential architect work on house designs for clients, but in reality this is broken down into subsets to conform with the New Jersey building codes. The most desirable project is a new one or two family residential structure (townhouses also fall into this category) for a client which is required to conform to local ordinances, such as zoning, as well as the 2015 International Residential Code New Jersey Edition, (at least for architects doing work in New Jersey which is where I perform all of my service). I have to believe every architect would love to start from scratch on creating a house design for a client, but this is not always the project that comes along.

The other project types are as follows; renovations, alterations, reconstruction and additions. How are these different types of project defined and what makes them unique? The following definitions are provided by New Jersey Division of Codes and Standards in their Rehabilitation Subcode:

Renovation:

This category is for work that is generally restorative in nature such as the replacement of interior finish, trim, doors, or equipment, but renovation involves the use of different materials. There is no reconfiguration of space. The regulations (NJAC 5:23-6.3) define renovation as “the removal and replacement or covering of existing interior or exterior finish, trim, doors, windows or other materials with new materials that serve the same purpose and do not change the configuration of space. Renovation shall include the replacement of equipment or fixtures.” In general, the materials used and the methods of installation must conform to the requirements found in the materials and methods section (NJAC 5:23-6). When renovation work is undertaken, then, there are two Sets of Requirements that apply: products and practices and materials and methods.

Alteration:

This category of work involves a change in the layout of interior space while other portions of the space remain without rearrangement. Alteration is defined in the regulations as “the rearrangement of any space by the construction of walls or partitions, the addition or elimination of any door or window, the extension or rearrangement of any system, the installation of any additional equipment or fixtures, and any work which affects a primary structural component.” There is a short list of materials that may not be used, as well as products or practices which must be used when alteration work is undertaken. The materials and methods requirements also apply to alteration work. To address the possibility that the reconfiguration of space could create a safety hazard, there are some additional requirements for alteration work, which specify that the work undertaken cannot create a nonconformity with the basic requirements that did not exist before the alteration began.

This is a key issue to understand. In an alteration, the portion of the building being worked on does not need to be brought up to the standard established in the basic requirements. The basic requirements are used as a measuring stick. The work being done cannot make the building less conforming with the basic requirements than it was before the work was undertaken.

So, there are three Sets of Requirements that apply to an alteration project: products and practices, materials and methods, and basic requirements.

Reconstruction:

This category involves extensive work to the interior of a building, floor, or tenant space. It is commonly referred to as a “gut rehab”. The regulations define reconstruction as “any project where the extent and nature of the work is such that the work area cannot be occupied while the work is in progress and where a new certificate of occupancy is required before the work area can be reoccupied.” Reconstruction includes repair, renovation, alteration in any combination. Reconstruction does not include projects comprised only of floor finish replacement, painting or wall-papering, or the replacement of equipment or furnishings. Asbestos hazard abatement and lead hazard abatement projects are not classified as reconstruction although occupancy of the work area is not permitted.

A reconstruction project has a delineated work area. A reconstruction project involves an entire use, primary function space, or tenancy; projects that do not involve an entire use, primary function space, or tenancy are not reconstruction projects.

Where the work area is an entire use, primary function space, or tenancy, a project becomes reconstruction when two conditions are met: 1) the area where the project is taking place cannot be occupied while the work is in progress; and 2) when a new certificate of occupancy is required before the area can be reoccupied.

Repair, renovation, and alteration work that make up a reconstruction project must comply with the requirements for the applicable category of work. The entire area must comply with basic requirements. Certain reconstruction projects must also meet the supplemental requirements, which apply only when the work area for a reconstruction project exceeds a specific size. Each supplemental requirement has its own threshold of applicability. The basic requirements and the supplemental requirements are arranged by use group.

A reconstruction project includes three of the Sets of Requirements, products and practices, materials and methods, and basic requirements. It may also include a fourth set of requirements, supplemental requirements, depending on the size of the reconstruction project, and it could include new building elements, depending on the scope of work.

Additions:

Additions are required to comply with the provisions of the technical subcodes for new construction of the Uniform Construction Code. Work in the existing building which is related to the addition must comply with the requirements for repair, renovation, alteration, and reconstruction, as applicable, where such work is undertaken.

There are also some requirements that apply to additions. For example, the addition cannot extend the height or area of the building beyond the limits established by the rehab subcode.

 

There are times when a client comes to an Architect and requests that the basement remain or one wall of their house remain to take advantage of using the Rehabilitation Code, however this becomes a gray area. The reality is that building on an existing foundation does not qualify as an addition or reconstruction. You can do this however you must be cautious that the foundation is sound and is able to support any new imposed loads. This house will also be considered new construction. In regards to structures being partly removed to get around conforming to the International Residential Code it will be at the discretion of the local building department as to how the project shall perceived. Recently I worked on a project where the home had a fire and half of the house was destroyed. Zoning decided this was new construction however the building department considered the project as reconstruction/addition/alteration and allowed the project to be reviewed under the Rehabilitation Code.

Aric Gitomer Architect LLC specializes in residential construction in all five types mentioned above and we have been creating solutions and following the codes for over thirty years.

 

The post What Are the Five Types of Projects Residential Architects Work On? appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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Þingvellir National Park

What does Tennessee, Nepal and the Philippines have in common this week? They are all recovering from earthquakes with the Philippines suffering the most devastation and fatalities.

Every day close to 70,000 earthquakes a day throughout the world. They are not usually mentioned because they are considered microearthquakes, which are rarely felt and register as a 2 or less on the intensity scale. Tennessee, Nepal and the Philippines all felt tremors of 3.6 to 6.4! These numbers represent the magnitude that is referred to as the Richter scale, which was developed from an earlier scale know as the Mercalli Intensity Scale which was subjective and measured intensity by actual visual impact. The Richter scale is a more quantifiable measurement.

Architects in New Jersey are always thinking of earthquakes in regards to designing structures since New Jersey is considered to be in a “B” Seismic Design Category, (categories range from A to E), according to the International Residential Code 2015, New Jersey Edition Figure R301.2(2). In accordance with Section R301.2.2 this zone exempts residential structures such as detached 1 and 2 family houses as well as townhouses from seismic design. Wait, what? My house is not designed for an earthquake? Maybe I should move to an apartment building.

Scientists are predicting a major event is imminent. New Jersey is considered overdue for a moderate earthquake of a magnitude of 5 or greater. A DEP study says intense earthquakes are likely to happen every 100 years or less. The east coast is harder to predict such an event relative to the west coast due to the geological make up of the region. In the east an earthquake’s movement is transmitted much greater distances therefore impacts a larger area. An earthquake in 1783 had a magnitude of 4.9 was located just west of New York City and as recent as 1927 Asbury Park/Long Branch had an event measuring 3.9. Luckily no one was hurt on either of these occasions but had someone been standing near a chimney it could have been a different story!

New Jersey is home to the Ramapo Fault which is an ancient crack in the earth’s crust (my daughter loves pie but we are talking about a different kind of crust here). It is the longest fault in the northeast running from Pennsylvania through New Jersey and ends up in Westchester County, New York. It even runs right through my home county of Morris! Scientists believe it is approximately 200 million years old and extends up to 9 miles deeps! Another interesting fact is that New Jersey is made up of four geological regions; the Valley and Ridge, the Coastal Plain, the Highlands and the Piedmont (home of Morris County). Going back before I was born those last two regions where connected to Africa so you could have had an exit off the Garden State Parkway take you directly to Morocco! One of the cracks that eventually made this exit just a past dream is the Ramapo Fault.

Even though New Jersey’s Residential Code does not require seismic design for certain residential structures the IBC NJ Edition which covers all the other building types will keep you safe!

So the next time you are out for a walk in the neighborhood stay clear of anyone’s brick chimney, you never know when the next big one is going to hit. If you need to have that extra protection in your house be sure to ask your architect about what features can be designed into the structure to give you a little more security.

The post If The Earth is a Rockin’ Don’t Come a Knockin’! appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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Aric Gitomer Architect Blog by Aric Gitomer - 2M ago

The Atlantic hurricane season of 2018 is almost over with the official end date of November 30th. After seeing the devastation of Michael, are you concerned about your own safety in your home? Does New Jersey concern itself with such intense wind speeds? Well yes and no. No one can predict the power of Mother Nature and mom seems to have a mind of her own in recent years. The International Residential Code 2015, New Jersey Edition contains the section R301.2.1 Wind design criteria which references wind speed charts and discusses how this impacts materials on your home. You can find your own home’s winds speed design requirements at Windspeed Website. If you are in Morris County that design is for 115 miles per hour for a house which is considered risk category II. In addition a wind speed of 115 mph is considered to be a category 3 hurricane based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and one can expect the following damage based on this assessment: homes with well-built frames may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes. So even though your home is built to that wind speed you may still suffer damage. The following is a breakdown of the different structures in different risk categories;

Risk Category I
Buildings and other structures that represent a low hazard to human life in the event of failure,
including but not limited to:
* Minor Storage facilities
* Screen Enclosures.
Risk Category II (your home)
* Building and other structures except those listed in Occupancy Categories, I, III, and IV
Risk Category III
Buildings and other structures that represent a substantial hazard to human life in the event of
failure, including but not limited to:
* Building and other structures with elementary school, secondary school, or day care facilities
with an occupant load greater than 250.
* Health care facilities with an occupant load greater than 250.
Risk Category IV
Buildings and other structures designated as essential facilities, including but not limited to:
* Hospitals and other health care facilities having surgery or emergency treatment facilities.
* Fire, rescue and police stations and emergency vehicle garages.
* Designated hurricane and other emergency shelters.
* Aviation control towers, air traffic control centers and emergency aircraft hangars.
* Water treatment facilities required to maintain water pressure for fire suppression.

In addition to the wind speed charts your home’s design also considers uplift resistance which is found in Section R802.11.1 Uplift resistance for exposure category B which is for regions that do not exceed 115 mph winds. This section refers to the type of connections required for your roof rafters so your roof does not blow off!

Keep in mind the IRC is designing to the minimum requirements and if your architect designs a little over the requirements your general contractor will complain and say he has never done that before! Does that make it wrong? Absolutely not but that is a financial question that only you as a homeowner needs to ultimately decide. Always remember your architect is looking out for your health, welfare and life safety. So when you decide to construct your home do not be afraid to discuss how to keep your family safe with your architect!

The post A Windy Topic appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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Every once in awhile I will go into an older home and notice the lack of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. It is a little frightening to see the absence of this minor fire prevention device that can save you and your family. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has statistic from 2009 thru 2013 which found that 3 out of every 5 home fire deaths occurred in homes without smoke detectors and 1 out of every 5 homes that had a nonfunctioning detector and almost half of those were due to disconnected batteries or dead batteries. When you hear that annoying chirping sound don’t just disconnect the wires and batteries! Replace the battery it could end up saving your life. The actual death rate per 100 is doubled for those in homes without detectors. The average death rate because of this comes in around 940/year and 510/year for homes with non-functioning devices. Some people discover their smoke detector is too close to the kitchen and will go off every time they cook. This doesn’t mean you should just disconnect it! You can relocate it or get a different type of smoke detector such as a photoelectric alarm or one with a hush button.

What do these devices actually do? There are two types of detectors; ionization and photoelectric detectors. The ionization detector has a pair of plates inside that have a constant current acting within them. When smoke infiltrates the plates it disrupts the current causing the alarm to sound. The photoelectric detector has a beam of light and when that gets interrupted it disperses the light and this activates the alarm. The photoelectric type is not as sensitive as the ionization type and is designed to go off during slow smokier, smoldering types of fires. The International Residential Code requires ionization smoke detectors to be a minimum of twenty feet from a cooking appliance and only six feet for photoelectric detectors.

Construction Codes that cover the requirements of such detectors can be found in NFPA72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code which require all new single-family homes to have a smoke detector in each bedroom, outside of each sleeping area and on every level of the home. The most effective system will have all the devices interconnected so that when one sounds they all sound. This can be accomplished with battery operated wireless devices as well as hardwired devices. The code has changed in recent years allowing for technology to play its role, however, the primary source of power for these devices must come from the house wiring. In addition, you can combine smoke and carbon monoxide detectors into one combo unit as long as they are an approved device as per Underwriters Laboratories requirements UL 268 and UL 2075. The Uniform Fire Code (UFC) requires all homes that contain a fuel-fired appliance or have an attached garage, have a carbon monoxide alarm in the vicinity of the bedrooms and all rooms adjacent to such appliances.

Final notes: The United States Fire Administration (USFA) recommends for homeowners to test their detectors once a month and change your batteries once a year. In addition, once your unit is ten years old it is time to replace it. Keep your loved ones safe! I am not blowing smoke up your ***.

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Is your home running out of space? Are your little ones leaving their toys all over the house making it a hazard to walk barefoot in your own home? Are your coat closets overflowing with all different seasonal wear? Do you wish you had more useable space to make home life more joyful? Maybe the answer has been right under your nose the whole time or more precisely right under your feet. That’s right, the basement. Many people have unfinished basements in their homes and neglect to take advantage of this wonderful resource! Your basement might not be ideal due to head room or lack of natural light but it still can be turned into some functional space as long as you do not need to crouch down to walk around. Give your local architect a call and see what he/she can come up with to give you the finished basement you deserve! Take a look at some of the wonderful uses people have come up with to increase the value of their home, get additional living space and not spend nearly as much as an addition would cost.

The Craft Area Basement Idea:

Tired of seeing your children’s art projects throughout the house? Has your kitchen table been taken over by crayons and glue? Or worse yet have you stepped on a roll of scotch tape as walking barefoot through your home? Well how about creating a designated area for your precious ones down in the basement. Kids certainly don’t need a lot of head room and that mess (well I know your little ones creations are works of art and should not be referred to as “mess”) will be out of sight when visitors show up at your door. The craft area should include a sink, table and plenty of storage areas.

The Coveted Media room:

Need to escape the noise of the house so you watch a movie without rewinding every five minutes? Are you getting frustrated as you try to watch your favorite television show as someone else is cleaning up in the kitchen? Where is a great place to view your show in complete silence? In your newly refinished basement! You can create an open area or a closed off area. This can be set up with oversized comfortable chairs and tiered seating or it can just be a simple space to escape and watch your shows.

The Exercise Room:

This is a space everyone needs! Whether you are an exercise fanatic or just like to get on a treadmill for a half hour the basement is a great place to put that exercise equipment. You don’t need to worry about the weight of the equipment because it’s sitting on a concrete subsurface. Set up a television in this space to make the time go quickly as you burn those calories.

The Spare Office:

Need a place to go do some paperwork? The basement offer large open spaces to spread out all of your paperwork and store large heavy files. It’s a quiet area of your home to concentrate on what you are ready and making it an efficient use of your time.

The Cedar Closet:

Need storage space for the winter clothes during the nice weather? What a great place to construct a cedar closet. What’s a cedar closet? It is a closet that is lined on all walls with eastern red cedar planks. The scent of the cedar deters bugs from infiltrating your clothes especially moths. In addition the oils contained within the cedar also prevent the spread of mold and mildew leaving you with a clean smelling closet for storage for years to come. And if that was enough it just smells damn good!

The Second Kitchen:

Some folks like to have a second kitchen where the real mess is made! Or they like to have a second kitchen for religious purposes. But it is a function that would not be used daily but allows for the option to go down there and take advantage of this unique use.

An Extra Family Room:

Is your home small and needing a large gathering space for your upcoming party? The basement is wide open with limited columns. You can create your own great room down there allowing for ease of movement and no walls to get in your way!

The Spare Guest Room:

This is a little trickier because you want to make sure you have a second means of egress of this room to keep your guests safe. If you have a walk-out basement locate the room on that side of the basement and construct a new opening as required by the building code. If it is not a walk-out then you would be required to put in an egress window well. This gets involved but it is certainly a viable option!

The Man Cave/She Shelter:

Want some quiet time just for yourself? A place to meditate without any interruptions then a room just for you is an ideal use of some of that unused basement.

The Wine Cellar:

Well it’s right in the name! Have affection for wine and want to create an area for your collection? The basement is a perfect spot. You can even design a tasting area to bring your friends to and share the love.

The Game room:

Want to bring your buddies home for an evening of card, billiards and loud bodily noises? Well get away from the rest of the folks living in your home so they can enjoy their evening as well. You can even set up a bar and a little kitchenette along with a spare bathroom and never need to come up again!

Check out this great time lapse video of some guys finishing a basement, it may inspire you!

Basement Finishing - Time Lapse - YouTube

The possibilities are endless so don’t ignore this sunken treasure. It might be just the answer to some of your spatial needs. Reach out to an architect and see what incredible ideas they can come up with for you unique needs.

The post 11 Great Finished Basement Ideas appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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So you have decided your current living space is not allowing you to entertain as you would like or your family has grown and your home is becoming too small. What are your choices? You could start looking for a larger house, but you say to yourselves we like where we live. We like our neighbors, we like the school our children attend and the park down the street is where we have met all of our close friends. Therefore your only real option is to alter your home or put on an addition. So many clients know exactly what they need but to accomplish it is another story.

I visit many potential clients who initially went to a general contractor thinking I’ll go right to the builder and get this job done. What happens? The builder tells the homeowner drawings prepared by an architect will be required before he/she can even think about what you want and what it will cost! So what’s a homeowner to do… call an architect! You typically want to go to a residential architect who specializes in alterations and additions. These projects have their own unique problems and in order to solve these problems the architect will walk you through the process and get you that end result you are looking for. Many clients think they have it all figured out and then the architect comes along and offers a completely different solution that you may have not even considered. A typical scenario is a homeowner requesting an addition off to the side not anticipating all the disruption it may cause and the reconfiguration of rooms. An architect has a keen sense of spatial relationships and how to create appropriate adjacencies of rooms. The architect will ask key questions making you think harder about what you want to accomplish and how to reach that goal. He/she may point out things that you had not considered initially that would create minimal impact and make your home so much more livable!

Are you on a budget? Have you considered just creating more living space in your basement? Or how about grabbing some space out of your attic or over the garage? Should you go up or go out? Your architect will help you decide what makes the most sense.

Before you call the architect make a list of what works in your home and what does not. Create a wish list of major haves, and minor haves and make sure your significant other is on the same page in regard to what you want to achieve.

Every home and homeowner is unique; there is no typical way to do anything. If you can dream it then most likely it can be done! Communication is the most important ingredient in the process of home renovations. A good architect is going to listen to you and give input based on what you presented as your concerns and hopes. All architects are not like you see in the movies who are only concerned about their own ego and what they think is right. After all who is going to live in this house? The architect is a professional that is there for you to accomplish a home that will suit your individual needs.

When seeking out an architect to help with your next project look online at their work and what past clients have said about them. Reviews can give you insight as to how the architect works or if they are good listeners. If an architect’s website is just showing you mansions, upscale homes or commercial work and you are thinking of just opening up a couple of rooms and building a small addition that architect may not be an appropriate fit for your project.

Interested in creating an idea book to get your project started? Many clients create a file folder with images they print out from the internet or drive by homes and see elements they like and take a quick photo with their phone. Another great resource is Houzz.com where there are countless images that you can download to your own personal library at no cost. You can search anything and thousands of images will come up. And if your architect is on Houzz you can share that image library directly with them.

As you go through the process with your architect you may want to get a contractor on board after the scope of the project has been vetted to make sure you are not biting off more than you can chew. If you find you are way over budget this would be an ideal time to scale back the project. Once an architect starts creating construction documents any little change can snowball into hours of revisions to the drawings, especially if a new structural analysis is required.

When you are provided with drawings make sure you understand them. If you have questions do not hesitate to ask. The architect is there for you and he/she want a happy client in the end! Are you unsure of how big a space is? Compare it to an existing space in your home. You will have a set of existing drawings most likely drawn to the same scale as the schematics so you will be able to trace rooms or hold up two drawing and compare sizes to give you an idea of what works and what does not.

Some items to think about if you are creating an addition… will the siding match? Most likely not, so are you going to take on the expense of residing your home? Same issue applies to the roofing and while you are at it are the windows in your addition going to look funny next to your existing windows? Unexpected costs are the nature of renovation. The main reason is because you are never 100% sure of what is behind your existing walls. An architect can make a very good assumption but until thing are opened up or footings in your basement are explored… it’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get!

Ultimately it is a stressful task but in the end you will be in a house that will fulfill your needs and give you enjoyment for years to come.

The post What Everyone Should Know about Home Renovation (but afraid to ask?) appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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According to Google Trends the search term kitchen is the most popular overall in regards to room names in your home and believe it or not garage comes in second. Where does the term “kitchen” derive from? It is pretty obvious room names such as bedroom, family room, dining room and bathroom are directly related to the activities taking place in these spaces however the term kitchen adds a little mystery. Over time this interesting room that has become the core of any house and a place for gathering may end up changing its name to the “ultimate family room”.

The word kitchen derives originally from the Latin term coquere defined as “to cook” it evolved into various terms depending on the region… cycene, kichene, cucina and then ultimately kitchen.

Historically the kitchen was a place to cook so the original kitchen was outdoors over an open fire and then someone came up with a masonry solution to bring the warmth and light indoors as a place to gather and eat. It wasn’t until the 12th century when people realized they could eliminate the smoke and soot by creating a chimney which is seen in castles from that period. It was during this time the kitchen did not even have a sink! This essential feature of today’s kitchen had its own room which was the scullery.

One hundred and fifty years ago (happy anniversary!) two sisters; Catharine Esther Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe (this is the same Harriet Beecher Stowe who penned the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”) authored “The American Woman’s Home” Principle of Domestic Science and gave their own spin on the kitchen. It was a unique perspective on the working kitchen and its planning. It recommended specific work areas such as built in cupboards and shelving which we take for granted today but 150 years ago it was ingenious! It created a guide for the servantless home and techniques on adapting to new inventions such as the refrigerator and stove. They created an independent stove room at the center of a home which doubled as a heat source for the home and contained the smells from cooking.

Today’s kitchen has evolved into a place of gathering with large islands for laying out food for guests as well as doubling as sitting areas. Clients of mine install music as well as media into these spaces to make it a virtual one stop shop for eating and living and life’s enjoyment. I do not think the bed will ever make into the kitchen but people have completely opened up their homes to have an uninterrupted flow directly to a comfortable couch for lounging in the adjacent space. It is truly the center of today’s home but not for the purpose of heating but for the purpose of the warmth of one’s company.

Contact AGA  to help with your next project to turn your home’s kitchen into the heart of your house!

The post The Kitchen Evolution appeared first on aricgitomerarchitect.

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