Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Talks about Green Flooring Products

No flooring product has zero impact on our planet, but some green materials are better than others. I have listed a few of the eco friendlier options you might use in your home with both the pros and the considerations that need to be pondered. Bamboo is one eco friendly option. Bamboo is a fast growing grass that can be selectively harvested annually. It is extremely durable and harder than red oak and maple, has 50% less contraction and expansion than wood and is a renewable resource. Cork is another eco friendly renewable resource material made out of the bark of the cork oak tree. Only the bark is used so the tree does not have to be cut down. Cork is great because it often contains recycled content, is easy to clean if properly sealed and gives great foot support. Rubber is another new eco friendly flooring material available these days. Virgin rubber is derived from rubber trees, a renewable resource; recycled rubber reduces the environmental burden of discarded tires.

Linoleum uses the same ingredients today as when it was invented in 1863, linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments, all pressed onto a jute backing. The ingredients are renewable items and often are recycled content, which is good for the planet. Stone is another option to consider for the kitchen. It is a natural resource and a very durable material. Stone, however, is a finite resource, can result in using significant embodied energy if the stone is mined or fabricated overseas and, if the stone requires sealing, the sealers can produce potentially harmful VOC emissions. Tile is another eco friendly durable material if you use tiles that contain recycled content. Tiles are durable, easy to clean and can use recycled materials like broken window panes and recycled granite dust. They do use though a significant amount of energy to fire and transport so try to make sure to look for local sources and make sure they use recycled content. Advantage Development Co. is a Custom Home Builder in Asheville NC that believes in using eco friendly building materials. Call us today at 828-215-9064 or visit our website at http://www.advdevco.com/ and learn why we are the local builder of choice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Builds Green and Lives Green

Green buildings reduce the impact on the environment, with innovative design techniques that improve the quality and performance of the buildings. More and more people are increasingly inclined to adopt green values to their old and new homes and are also insisting on the governments incorporating them in public places. One of the primary reasons for this growing awareness is energy saving and thereby reduced energy bills. It also makes safer homes for children and more productive places for employees. For environmentalists, it is reducing global warming or the greenhouse effect on a war footing. Global warming is already making its presence felt by unseasonable rains, the increase in summer temperatures and a decrease in winter temperatures.

In the U.S.A, more than half of the energy is consumed by buildings and constructions. Buildings emit more than one-third of Carbon dioxide, consume one-fourth of the worlds wood harvest and 17% of the worlds freshwater resources. In North America more than one-third of the landfills are occupied by building debris. This type of environment crushing pollution can be mitigated by a large extent with building techniques that provide better bargains and costs.

Home energy costs rank next to mortgage bills. Energy savings are assured throughout the life of a green building. Power companies give energy credits for green buildings and tax benefits are also available. In a recent survey in the U.S, it has been found out that home market value increases by 20 dollars for every dollar decrease in a power utility bill. Advantage Development Co. in Asheville NC is a Certified Green Builder and believes in Living Green. Call us at 828-215-9064 or visit our website at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we are the better builder.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder explains LEED Green Building Certification

When you have built a home or other building using environmentally safe Green Building materials and products, you may be eligible for a LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). This group was created by the United States Green Building Council and the aim is to make all Green Building projects of the highest quality and ensure that all the necessary standards are being met to make it environmentally friendly. The LEED certification that you will receive if your building has a good enough rating comes in the form of a plaque stating that your building is a safe and healthy place to live or work in and that it is profitable and safe to the environment. Green Building is not only about preserving the environment and saving water as well as other resources, but it actually promotes a healthier lifestyle because you and your family will not be breathing in dangerous formaldehyde or other toxic compounds anymore.

The LEED certification is based on 4 levels from (certified), which is the lowest level to (platinum) status which is the highest level. It is easy to register for LEED online and if you think your building has everything that the LEED certification team of experts is looking for then you can benefit financially as well. The main aspects that LEED will look for in a Green Building is its sustainability, if it had low operating costs and a high asset value, if the amount of waste to the landfill was reduced by recycling or reusing certain parts, if it conserves water and energy (perhaps by having solar panels fitted), and whether it reduces harmful toxins and gas emissions. Advantage Development Co. is a custom home builder in Asheville NC and has a LEED Certified Rater that can have your new home LEED Certified. LEED Certification is the U.S. Green Building Council National standard and is the highest level green building rating available. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ or call 828-215-9064 to set-up a free consultation.

Asheville NC Custom Builder helps clients Choose Energy Saving Roofs

Changing just the color of a roof can cool it by 80°F and cut energy bills by up to 40%.

Depending on a roofs color and location, roof temperatures can easily reach 190°F, and dark roofs absorb as much as 95% of the suns heat, which can dramatically jack up cooling costs. Studies by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Florida Solar Energy Center show that cool roofs result in up to 40% energy savings. They estimate that about $750 million in utility-bill savings could be realized each year in the United States through cool-roof technology. A roof is generally considered a (cool roof), if its components and design lower roof temperatures by 50°F to 60°F. The chemical company BASF cites studies showing that when a black roof has a surface temperature of 190°F, an identical white roof in the same setting will be just 110°F. (At the Energy Star site, you can calculate savings by roof type.) But you really do not need a scientific study to know that black roofs are hotter than lighter-colored roofs (or tile roof systems that allow air to flow beneath them).

Yet many builders and contractors will not risk putting a light-colored roof on a spec home (and buyers seem loath to select them as options), because light roofs are not fashionable, and buyers fear difficulty re-selling a home with a roof that sticks out like a sore thumb.But now, with the advance of roofing technology, especially from 3M and BASF, a number of cool-roof options (reflective coatings for metal roofs, reflective granules for three-tab shingles, and reflective cool-roof concrete tile systems) are available that allow you to spec or offer cool roofs sheathed with dark-looking shingles. These technologies join widely available radiant barrier products, like LPs very effective TechShield radiant barrier. So, good-looking, high-performing cool roofs are within reach. They just take some work to spec and source, and they cost more up front, sometimes four times as much as traditional shingle roofs. Therefore, the challenge for builders is to achieve a premium market price for their higher-cost cool roofs, by explaining to home buyers that a return on their investment will be realized through years of lower utility bills. Visit our website at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why Advantage Development Co. is the best builder in Asheville and the surrounding WNC area.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Talks about Energy Tax Credits

Tax credits are now available for home improvements:

They must be "placed in service" from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010. Must be for taxpayer's principal residence. $1,500 is the maximum total amount that can be claimed for all products placed in service in 2009 & 2010 for most home improvements, EXCEPT for geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells, and windmills which are not subject to this cap, and are in effect through 2016. Must have a Manufacturer Certification Statement to qualify. Improvements made in 2009 will be claimed on your 2009 taxes (filed by April 15, 2010), use IRS Tax Form 5695 (2009 version), it will be available late 2009 or early 2010.

If you are building a new home, you can qualify for the tax credit for geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaics, solar water heaters, small wind systems and fuel cells, but not the tax credits for windows, doors, insulation, roofs, HVAC, or non-solar water heaters. Advantage Development Co. in Asheville, NC is a certified green builder and Energy Star partner. Call us today at 828.215.9064 or visit us at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we are the better builder. Need "Green" Certification on that new home? We are a LEED Certified Green Builder.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Helps Homeowners Position Skylights

A variety of skylight shapes exist for sloping or flat roofs. Some skylight shafts exert nearly as much influence over the energy properties as the actual skylight itself. Sky lighting may take the form of general glazed areas such as atria, attached conservatories or sun spaces. In this form roof lights are less likely to be factory-manufactured items and more likely to be constructed on-site. Excellent day lighting is provided by skylights which have the potential to displace much artificial lighting, improving light quality, reducing heat generation and saving on energy costs. Under an unobstructed, overcast sky the amount of light, or luminance, from directly above (the zenith) is about three times as much as from the horizon.

A skylight can admit more than three times as much light as a vertical window of the same size. While this performance differential may be reduced in reality (ex. by a long shaft), in most situations a skylight has the potential to be a very effective day lighting device. Even under overcast conditions use of skylights can result in spaces that can be predominantly daylit with little supplementary artificial lighting required. Additional energy needed for space heating and cooling because of thermal movement through larger window areas will be minimized. The right size of skylight admits just enough light for the job and no more. Several methods exist for helping to decide on the size and spacing of skylights. Advantage Development Co. In Asheville, NC has extensive experience in the sizing & placement of skylights in your new custom home. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we are the better builder.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder explains SEER Ratings

SEER stands for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. The SEER rating is the Btu of cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy. SEER is determined in a laboratory setting to rate the efficiency of the equipment only. It is also important to remember that SEER is only speaking to the efficiency of the cooling capacity of the HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) In the home or small office with a handful of computers, HVAC is more for human comfort than the machines. In large data centers, a humidity-free room with a steady, cool temperature is essential for the trouble-free equipment. There are other components of an HVAC system that also affect the efficiency of the system. Think of it this way: You could buy a Toyota Prius that is rated to get 55mpg, but if you load it down with 5 people, poke a few holes in the gas tank, and never change the fuel filter, you'll be fortunate to get 25mpg.

Duct leakage also results in a large decrease in your system's overall efficiency. What would happen to the system's efficiency if it was pulling thirty percent of its return air from the attic, instead of the living space? Do you think it would cause the efficiency to go down? You bet! What if your supply duct work was losing 25 percent of its air into the attic or crawl space? What would this do to the efficiency of your system? This equates to having a hole in the gas tank of your Toyota Prius--not a good idea. Duct leakage also decreases (IAQ) Indoor Air Quality considerably by pulling in air from unhealthy places.

Studies show that less than two percent of residential HVAC systems have been properly air-balanced. The average residential HVAC system performs at 50 to 65 percent of its rated efficiency, due to the imbalance of airflow, excessive duct leakage, lack of insulation, and improper charge. This means that your brand new 19 SEER unit that is installed onto improperly designed ductwork may be performing at a 9.5 to 12.5 SEER Rating. Advantage Development Co. has third party experts that verify the quality of construction that goes into your new custom home, assuring that every system operates to peak performance thus saving you the most energy. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we should be your next builder in Asheville, NC and surrounding Western North Carolina.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Asheville NC Builder has Mixed Emotions on Bamboo Flooring

The environmental benefits are great, but the flooring itself is awful. We have had mixed experiences with it ourselves and decided to look more closely. Before we look at the environmental issues, let's look at its utility- is it all it is cracked up to be? One of the major benefits touted by vendors is how hard and tough it is, well it is Not. The popular carbonized darker bamboos are comparable to Black Walnut, considered a soft hardwood, and the lighter natural colors test comparable to maple. (Color is achieved not by staining but by heating, and the longer it heats the softer it gets)

It is like any wood floor- it is damaged by dents, scratches and the killer of all wood floors, high heels. Jazzy aluminum oxide finish or not, it is a natural material that should not be marketed as being harder or more durable than conventional wood flooring.

Bamboo flooring can be green. There is no question that bamboo is a renewable resource, it is a grass and grows very quickly. Where oak takes 120 years to grow to maturity, bamboo can be harvested in three. It is recognized as a green material under LEED and as they said in Environmental Building News, Environmentally, it is hard to argue with a wood substitute that matures in three years, regenerates without need for replanting, and requires minimal fertilization or pesticides.

However it is clear that bamboo is not necessarily being managed in a sustainable fashion. It is true that it naturally regenerates, but forests are being cleared to grow it and it is becoming a monoculture. Although it is claimed that fertilizers are not necessary, in fact they are being used to increase yield. Recently, bamboo expansion has come at the expense of natural forests, shrubs, and low-yield mixed plantations . . . It is common practice to cut down existing trees and replace them with bamboo. Advantage Development Co. located in Asheville, N.C. believes in green technology, but neither encourages or discourages the use of bamboo flooring in new home construction. Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ or call us at 828-215-9064, you will be glad you did.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder uses Granite for its Beauty, Durability, and Resale Value

Kitchen granite countertops are created by nature and fashioned by man are a beautiful, durable and cost effective choice for kitchens and baths. The term granite comes from the Latin root word granum, which means "grain." Granite is often imported from Europe, Africa, Brazil and other regions of the world rich in natural stone. Granite is an attractive natural stone that will add color and warmth to your kitchen. Granite is an extremely hard material that will not blister, scratch or crack. The hardness of granite is rivaled only be the hardness of diamonds. In fact diamonds are used to cut and polish granite.

Over the last 10 years kitchen granite countertops have become popular with homeowners, after first being popular with designers for decades. Granite is available in hundreds of colors, from various shades of white to browns, reds, greens, blues, and black. The most popular tones are brown and beige. As well as being hard kitchen granite countertops can take hot items, like pots and pans, and is very stain resistant to hot grease and oil if it is sealed with a silicone-based impregnator. It can easily be cleaned and cut for a basin. Granite has a cool polished surface that makes it an excellent surface for rolling out pastry dough. The polished finish of granite will not wear off.

Kitchen granite countertops are unique because no two pieces of granite are exactly the same; therefore granite provides an interesting design element and adds certain richness and texture to your kitchen not found in other surfaces. Kitchen granite countertops can create a brilliance and elegance that is only found in nature. Granite adds a personality and character to kitchen countertops that is unsurpassed. Kitchen granite countertops have a natural beauty that is capable of complementing any tone of wood or style of cabinets. The investment you make in kitchen granite countertops should pay you back at least three times what you invested. If you are selling your home you will find that home buyers wanting kitchen granite countertops will be willing to pay more for your home than if you have ceramic tile or plastic laminate. Advantage Development Co. in Asheville, NC loves installing granite countertops in all of our custom homes. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ or call us at 828-215-9064 for a free consultation.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Asheville NC Builder Tells Home Owners why Triple Pane Windows are Better

When it comes to saving energy thanks to better home insulation, a triple pane window is among the very best choices. The point is to stop all that heat from transferring to the outside straight through the windows, and a triple pane window can do just that. Remember that three panes of glass, means six surfaces of windowpane. This in turn means more surfaces for low-e coatings that can keep the thermal energy produced indoors where it belongs, and not heating up the air outside your home.

There are also insulation benefits to triple glass windows because of the two internal fill spaces rather than just one as in double paned. These spaces are filled with air, argon or sometimes krypton and work to stop heat transfer, as well as cutting down on noise. A window is only as effective as its frame allows it to be however. So be sure to check yours is being made by a quality manufacturer who provides full information about U values. Advantage Development Co. recommends windows made by Weather Shield, Hurd, Pella, and JELD-WEN. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we are better.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder can build You a "Smart Home"

Use Home Automation Systems to monitor and control lighting, appliances, climate, security, telephones, irrigation, window shades and home entertainment equipment. Then, control the system with your choice of in-wall button controllers, touch screens, wireless remotes, microphones, PDAs, PocketPCs, telephones (voice and touch-tone control) and personal computers. Mix and match any combination of interfaces you like to suit the needs of your family.

Most all home automation systems are web-enabled to allow access to your home while you are away at work or on vacation. Easily keep tabs on your home and family using any web browser from anywhere. Receive emails or calls when things happen at home or people come and go.

Advantage Development Co., Custom Home Builder in Asheville, NC can provide all levels of home automation with your new home so you can finally have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your family is safe and secure and your home is operating at peak efficiency. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we are better.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Likes Engineered Wood

Conventional wood-framing practices consume vast amounts of lumber made out of large pieces of solid wood. More than 95% of the old-growth forests once in the United States are gone, increasing the urgency to save what is remaining. Engineered lumber is a term that refers to an array of new wood products produced with small scraps of wood glued together under intense heat and pressure. These products use half the amount of wood and can have up to twice the strength. Because they are assembled from small pieces of wood from small-diameter trees, engineered lumber is an easy method of saving money as well as wood resources.

Engineered lumber is made by bonding strips, sheets, or particles of wood together with glue. Although the idea of small fragments of wood may sound weak and brittle, the reality of engineered wood is quite different. Strong, stable, and long lasting, engineered wood works seamlessly with your wood-framed home. Using these engineered products will reduce the amount of wood you need to use in building your home by half. In addition, engineered products never warp or split like solid wood. Being a custom home contractor with only degreed engineers as builders, Advantage Development Co. understands why engineered wood products should be used in all new home construction. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ to why we build a better home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder only uses Engineered I-beams

Engineered wood I-beams were first introduced in the late 1960s and were used mainly for high-end home construction. However, today up to half the homes built in the United States now use engineered wood I-beams. Engineered wood I-beams are considered an excellent alternative to sawn lumber for floor joists due to their strength and overall lower installation costs. Wood I-beams look similar to the traditional steel I-beam. They consist of a center section constructed out of a thin layer of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) material that is sandwiched on top and bottom by two wide flange sections made out of finger jointed sawn lumber.

Typically there are cut-out or knock-out sections in the OSB material that can be removed for running electrical wires and heat ducts. Engineered Wood I-beams have several major advantages. First, they are much stronger, straighter and stiffer than conventional sawn lumber. Data indicates that they are 50% stiffer than sawn lumber. Consequently they provide less deflection, which translates into better floor construction.

As a result of their strength, wood I-beams can be used to cover larger spans and can be separated on wider on-center spacings. Because of their unique construction wood I-beams do not warp, shrink, cup or twist and thus they are able to create stiffer floors that have fewer tendencies to settle or squeak. Advantage Development Co. uses TJI engineered I-beams on all new construction, and are a firm believer in engineered wood products for all home construction. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we should be your new custom contract builder.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Likes Low VOC Paints

Because low or no VOC , volatile organic compound paints have a lower odor and less impact on air quality than higher VOC-content paints, they are excellent for use in buildings where it is desirable to maintain good indoor air quality, such as hospitals, schools, homes and workplaces. Recent EPA studies estimate indoor air quality to be 3 to 5 times more toxic than outdoor air largely caused by toxic emissions of paints and finishes. Paint manufacturers realized the need to develop paint that contains lower VOC yet maintain high levels of performance and durability ultimately causing less of an impact on air quality then the higher VOC paints.

The use of low-VOC paint reduces toxins that cause allergy and chemical sensitivities, reduces contaminant concentrations in landfill, groundwater and the ozone, provides easy cleanup with soap and water and produces lower odor. With increased legislation and support from environmentally conscious organizations such as the U.S. Green Buildings Leadership Council in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Green Seal plus advances in paint technology the paint industry has come a long way in developing an array of environmentally responsible products with higher performance levels. New paints have become more durable, cost-effective and less harmful to humans and the environment. Advantage Development Co. is a certified green professional builder, and utilizes low VOC paints in all of their green construction new homes. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why more people choose us to build their dream home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Talks about Low Flow Shower Heads

A low flow shower head is water saving shower head typically rated at 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less. There are two types of low flow shower heads. The most common is the aerating shower head which mixes air with the water. The other is a non-aerating shower head which does not introduce air into the water stream. Shower usage accounts for almost 25% of American water usage by individuals. Low flow shower heads can provide a quality shower with good water pressure while reducing water consumption if designed, and installed properly with correct water valving.

Low-flow showerheads are a tempting proposition for building designers, contractors, and owners looking to boost the efficiency and sustainability of their properties. Install a showerhead with a flow rate of 1.5-2.0 gallons per minute, rather than the conventional low-flow 2.5 gpm, and presto, you have cut water consumption by 20-40% at that outlet. But making the move to enhanced low-flow showerheads is not as cut-and-dried as simply replacing a 2.5-gpm showerhead for a more efficient model. Advantage Development Co. is expert in the design & installation of low flow shower heads, toilets, and appliances in your home. We are a certified green professional here to serve all of your new construction needs. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we are better.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dual Flush Toilets made easy by Asheville NC Custom Builder

Dual flush toilets. These toilets have two different settings, usually 0.8 gallons for liquid removal and 1.6 gallons for full flush solid removal. On the average they use about 2,500 gallons per year, compared to a 1.6 single flush that uses about 4,500 gallons per year. Dual flush toilets handle solid and liquid waste differently from standard American style toilets, giving the user a choice of flushes. It's an interactive toilet design that helps conserve water that has caught on quickly in countries where water is in short supply, like Australia, and in areas where water supply and treatment facilities are older or overtaxed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that by the year 2013, an estimated 36 states will experience water shortages as a result of increased water usage and inefficient water management from aging regional infrastructures. Using less water to flush liquid waste makes sense, but in the United States there may be cultural biases that make accepting a more hands-on approach to personal waste harder to accept [source: Safe Plumbing].

Dual flush toilets may be another defining moment in the development of the American john: the introduction of environmental conservation to the process of elimination. Interest in low flow and dual flush toilets is on the rise in the United States, due in part to increased government regulation and the rising cost of water, and there are incentives for making changes in the way we use the commode. In the next sections, we'll see why change may be a good thing, learn more about the specifics of the dual flush and find out how government and business are coming together to help America flush responsibly. Advantage Development Co. is a certified Green Builder, and ready to assist with installation of low flow shower heads, dual flush toilets, and many other green materials & technologies to have a smaller impact on our environment & carbon footprint. Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see just why we are better.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Talks about Importance of House Wrap

Tyvek is a house wrap building membrane, used to limit air leakage, and still allow breathability. I am sure you have seen it wrapped around the exterior of new homes prior to the final exterior being installed.

It is made from space age polymers, and allows moisture to escape, but resists water penetration from outside. This avoids harmful condensation build-up in the walls. In addition, Tyvek is a fire retardant material that is very strong and durable. House wrap is usually not something that gets much thought when planning a new home, but it should. I believe it is extremely important for house wrap to be used around the walls of your home helping waterproof it. House wrap acts as a second line of defense against water leaking into walls.

Advantage Development Co. uses Tyvek because it has proven performance. It is very important that you use a house wrap you can rely on because it plays a critical role in weatherproofing your home. You will see many builders cut corners and not use Tyvek house wrap or just us a single sheet of foam, or nothing at all. The small cost of using a good vapor barrier house wrap like Tyvek® is insignificant when you consider the benefits. Tyvek was developed by the DuPont Corporation, and is the #1 leading house wrap material in the building industry. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we are the better builder in Western North Carolina.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Helps You Pick The Right Style Fireplace

To burn thoroughly and safely, a wood fire needs a continuous and generous supply of air. Otherwise smoke and deadly carbon monoxide can be drawn back into the home -- an effect called incomplete combustion. This process can also result in mold and severe allergy problems from the moisture produced.

A direct vent fireplace is a healthier solution than a wood burning fireplace. It pulls the exhaust away from the fireplace and uses outside air for combustion. The result is a complete air exchange every 24 hours -- even in the summer. This direct-vent fireplace provides the look of a traditional hearth, but without harmful indoor pollutants. Some Direct vent fireplaces are excellent heaters having efficiency ratings up to 80% plus. Others are meant primarily for "looks" and have low efficiencies. Consumers must be sure to choose a model that suits their priorities.

To make your wood burning fireplace safer and healthier, remember to always burn dry, seasoned hardwood and avoid resinous woods like pine (which leaves dangerous build-up behind). Have your chimney and firebox inspected and cleaned each year by a professional chimney sweep. Install a chimney box damper and remember to close it in off-seasons will keep small animals and rodents from entering. Whether you want a real wood burning firebox, or a direct vent with gas logs, Advantage Development Co. is your local custom home builder here to assist in all of your new home needs. Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see why we are the better builder.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Talks about Hardie Board Siding

What the heck is Hardie board siding? You may not even know when a house is covered in it because it so effortlessly creates the look of wood or vinyl siding. However, this material is in fact constructed of cement fibers. Cement board siding was invented over a century ago by James Hardie who wanted to develop an exterior product that could endure extreme climates while still retaining the beauty of wood siding. It was originally used in Australia, but over the years it has become common place in all regions of the world, especially in areas of intense weather.

Beautiful Protection-
Hardie plank comes in many different colors and shades and closely resembles the look, texture, and grain of wood siding. However, unlike wood, Hardie board siding is impenetrable to any kind of climate-related damage or injury.

Weather: Due its concrete fibers, Hardie plank is impervious to any external elements, such as rain, hail, wind, flying debris, and humidity. Not only will cement board siding not chip because of its strength, it doesn't retain moisture either; therefore it never rots or swells.

Pests: This type of siding defends against most insects, such as termites, that can eat away at wood siding. This is especially helpful in southern climates where moist air and pests thrive all year long.

Fire Prevention: Because it is made of concrete fibers, Hardie board is even fire-resistant, protecting your home from any exterior threat.

Saves Time and Money-
Hardie siding isn't more or less expensive than other forms of siding and it requires almost no maintenance. Since cement board siding is so durable to pests and rot, repair is rarely needed and unlike other siding, Hardie plank will never deteriorate. Advantage Development Co. has been building fine custom homes utilizing Hardie Plank siding for almost two decades, and agrees that it is one of the most durable siding materials available. Visit Advantage Development Co. at http://www.advdevco.com/ and you will instantly understand Why We Are The Better Builder in Asheville and the surrounding areas.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Talks Pros and Cons of Cultured Stone

Cultured stone is becoming more and more popular for both the interior and exterior of homes. Cultured stone is a man made stone that is made up of cement, natural aggregates, and iron oxide pigments. In order to give cultured stones a realistic shape they are often created by using a mold of a natural stone. Using cultured stone in your home has both its advantages and disadvantages.

One of the main benefits of cultured stones versus natural ones is that cultured stones are much more lightweight. This is an advantage because it places less weight on the foundation of your home. This is a particularly important factor if your home is built on unstable ground. In addition, when using cultured stone you are not required to have a brick ledge on your foundation. This is mostly due to the fact that the back of a cultured stone is flat allowing for excellent surface contact. Cultured stone is also faster and less difficult to install than natural stone. It is also easy to find, and simple to replace.

In addition, if cultured stone is not installed properly it becomes obvious that the stone is artificial. This is particularly true if large gaps are left between stones. Since these stones are not as thick as real stones this flaw will be apparent if installation is not done well. Advantage Development Co. has masonry experts with years of experience ready to install high quality cultured or real stone depending on your needs. Visit us today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see just why we should be your local builder of choice.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Talks About The Importance of Your New Home Plans

Choosing a house plan to meet your lifestyle and needs may seem time consuming or overwhelming, but knowing what to look for can help lead you to success when selecting a house plan for your new home.

When choosing your house plan it's important to choose one that not only meets your individual needs but also considers your building lot, natural landscape and whether it will be marketable to future buyers in the event that you choose to sell the house at some point in the future. Make certain that the plans were designed by an architect, or a qualified individual that has a firm understanding of building construction & design considerations. There are so many cut rate, so called plan designers that know nothing about the nuts & bolts of real home construction & when we try to build one of their plans, nothing works out like the drawing & the home must be redesigned on the fly. Avoid saving a few bucks on a poorly designed set of house plans.

It is also important to understand that the total square footage of your new home refers to the finished portion of your house plan. Finished living areas are generally described as covered with sheetrock and wallpaper or paint. A heated area is also a good indicator of finished space. Areas like garages, porches and attics are considered unfinished and are not calculated in the total square footage of your home plan. At Advantage Development we will help you pick the proper plans to assure that you get the most out of that new dream home. We know the pitfalls that many home buyers fall into, and help you avoid them. Visit our website today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see Why We Are The Best Builder In Asheville, Black Mountain, Hendersonville, Mars Hill, Wolf Laurel, and surrounding WNC areas.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Compares Fiberglass Batt Vs. Blown Cellulose Insulation

The thermal protection of a home is essential; controlling durability, cost of operation and homeowner comfort. Fiberglass insulation is the standard bearer. The ubiquitous bales of pink and yellow fiberglass insulate more than 90% of the new homes built in the United States. But homeowners have many good choices. Plastic foams, rock wool, cellulose and even cotton insulation are readily available. Insulation materials come in many forms. They are sprayed, stapled, blown, nailed or simply laid in place. The choices can be difficult to sift, but cellulose insulation passes as a strong contender.

The common standard by which insulation is measured, R-value, is the level of resistance to heat flow. R-value measures the ability of a material to impede the flow of heat along the continuous chain of matter that makes up a solid material. Most of a homes heat is typically lost through conduction. Cellulose is not unusual in this regard. Like many insulation materials, it provides an R-value of approximately R-3.5 per inch of thickness. But, air leakage through cracks, voids, and gaps is important, responsible for approximately 1/3 of a homes heat loss. Cellulose is a superb air-blocker. Heat and comfort are also lost through convection; when drafty currents of air within the house, wall cavities or attics, move heat to other locations. This is technically different from air leakage where the heated air mass is actually expelled from the home. Tightly packed cellulose provides a thermally efficient, cost effective, and comfortable solution.

Cellulose is a green product. It is made of 80% post-consumer recycled newsprint. The fiber is chemically treated with non-toxic borate compounds (20% by weight) to resist fire, insects and mold. The Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association (CIMA) claims that insulating a 1500 ft2 house with cellulose will recycle as much newspaper as an individual will consume in 40 years.

Cellulose insulation provides greater resistance to air leakage and for me this is a biggie. The fiberglass industry points to tests demonstrating air leakage can be controlled with dedicated air-barrier systems. True. Install perfectly continuous sheathing, caulks, gaskets and sealants and you will block air leakage effectively with fiberglass or cellulose. But the simple fact remains: densely packed cellulose blocks air better than fiberglass. Fiberglass relies on trapped air for its insulation value. Cellulose is made from wood fiber and the cellular structure of wood is naturally more resistant to the conduction of heat. When dedicated air-barrier systems are not installed perfectly (which they seldom are), cellulose wins. Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see Why We Are The Better Builder in Asheville & the surrounding Western North Carolina area.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder Explains "Structured Home Wiring"

In one sentence Structured Wiring can be described as combining ALL of the communications wiring in your home and treating it as one wiring system. This can include wiring for a home network, telephone, video, audio, alarms, infrared remote control and anything else you choose to throw in.

One of the main features of structured wiring is having a central location for the termination panel (usually the mechanical room or garage) and how all of the cables from the room outlets go back to the central location. This is commonly called a Home Run configuration. Typically one outlet plate is used for all of the wiring types - phone, video, network or whatever. And the wires are typically run in bundles containing ALL the types of wiring. No splices are used.
The advantages of structured wiring are the following;

Configurability - With all of the cables running back to the Central Wiring Panel you can easily change how and what these individual cables are connected to and what they are used for.

Troubleshooting - Each of the cables can be individually isolated from the rest of them and tested for shorts and opens if need be.

No splices - Splices are taboo here because they are prone to failure and can pickup noise and interference and, quite simply, aren't needed here.

More consistent signal quality - with all cables running back to the Central Wiring Panel they can all be connected to the same source and get the same signal level. You can easily avoid having some outlet passing through more splices or splitters than others.

Did I mention No splices?
Another feature key to structured wiring is the choice of wiring types. The use of high quality cabling is stressed here. For video this means a high quality RG6/U Quad Shielded cable is typically used instead of the older RG59. The RG6 Quad Shield has less signal loss especially at the higher frequencies used for DSS (satellite) and is less susceptible to interference. For the data network this means a high quality CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6 or even fiber optics. For the phone this means the same CATx cable used for data instead of the older 4 conductor phone cable resulting in less noise and interference pickup and the capacity for 4 phone lines instead of 2. The idea here is use the most advanced cabling you can afford. You may not need all the capabilities these advanced cables provide today but with home networking and entertainment evolving so quickly you may find them quite useful sooner than you think. Advantage Development Co. has a degreed electrical engineer on staff that designs the structured wiring layout of every home we build. Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and discover a new era in custom building.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Home Builder Talks About Benefits of a "Tankless Water Heater"

The tankless water heater works by directly heating water on demand, as it is required. Unlike traditional hot water heaters using a storage tank, the tankless units have no storage tank and thereby have no standby heat loss. Standby heat loss is the heat lost and energy wasted by heating water only to store it in a tank and is characteristic of traditional hot water heaters. Avoiding standby heat loss is primarily how tankless water heaters make their claim of being energy efficient.

Whether a tankless water heater is point-of-use or a whole-house unit, they work the same basic way. Cold water enters the unit and is heated by a heating element (heat exchanger) which is turned on by a flow activated switch. The heat exchanger can be electric resistance heating coils or a gas fired burner using natural gas or propane. (Gas units generally have more heating capacity and larger whole-house units are typically gas fired.)

Now here's the rub. There are three variables that have to be considered in sizing the unit.

· The volume of water the unit is required to heat, measured as flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM)
· The temperature of the cold water entering the unit
· The desired temperature of the hot water exiting the unit.

Those three factors, as you will see are what determines the type, size and possibly even the quantity of tankless water heaters you need. Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see Why We Are The Better Builder in Asheville & the surrounding WNC area.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Asheville Builder Explains Hot Water Recirculation Systems

Innovative hot water recirculation systems deliver hot water to fixtures quickly without waiting for the water to get hot. Rather than relying on low water pressure common in most water lines, recirculating systems use a pump to rapidly move water from a water heater to the fixtures.

In this system, a recirculating pump rapidly pulls hot water from a water heater while simultaneously sending cooled-off water from the hot water lines back to the water heater to be reheated. In addition to having the convenience of hot water on-demand, the system conserves water and can save energy.

The system is designed to provide hot water at the most distant fixture and every fixture in series or close to the main line. All cold water fixtures still receive cold water, and the system is designed to not allow hot water to enter cold water lines. Only one pump is necessary to supply hot water to any fixture. Optional wireless remote control units let the user turn on the system from any faucet or fixture in the house. On demand hot water is a great addition to new home construction, however, most builders do not understand this simple concept. Visit Advantage Development Co. at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see Why We Are The Better Builder in Asheville, and the surrounding WNC area.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Asheville Builder Talks About "Outdoor Living Areas"

One of the most popular trend in home accents today is the outdoor living area. Homeowners are making the most of the outdoors by utilizing masonry in Fireplaces, Grill bases, as well as countertops, bars and tables in their patio areas. We can help you custom design and bring reality to your outdoor dreams.

We build all types of patios and walkways offering a variety of choices, such as natural stone, tile, pavers, and brick. Requests for outdoor fireplaces and firepits have steadily increased, so we have been building these on a regular basis. There is nothing quite like visiting with family and friends while sitting around a comfortable fire at night.

For those of you who enjoy entertaining often, an outdoor kitchen and/or bar area is a wonderful addition to a backyard. Whether the occasion is casual or formal, your backyard will quickly turn into the most popular spot in the house.

Water features are both beautiful and soothing. From bubbling stones and urns to larger container ponds and water gardens, the sights and sounds of these features have a relaxing and calming effect.

Our approach is to take your ideas and combine them with our expertise and design your own outdoor living area that will offer many years of excitement & enjoyment for you, family and friends. Visit Advantage Development Co. today at and at http://www.advdevco.com/ see Why We Are The Better Builder in Asheville and surrounding areas.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Asheville NC Builder shares on "Construction Management"

Construction management is a better way to manage construction projects. For years, most people thought the only way they could build was to manage construction projects themselves or hire a general contractor to do the job for them. Recently, however, a third way, construction management, has been gaining in popularity.

Why is construction management gaining in popularity?
For many people, there are drawbacks to traditional general contracting. First, they have no idea what anything is costing them. They have no idea what the general contractor is charging them for overhead and profit. They are putting a huge amount of trust in a general contractor and they are receiving very little information, especially financial information, in return. They have little or no control over quality. There is no ability to relate price to quality so there are often disagreements, or at least confusion, over quality of materials being used or level of workmanship being provided.

How does construction management work?
You are hiring an individual, or a company, to manage your construction projects for you. The construction manager is generally paid a negotiated fee or a percentage of project cost with the mission of completing your project for the lowest possible price, while still maintaining the desired level of quality and performing this within a reasonable period of time. The construction manager engages various contractors as required to perform all work. Often the larger categories of work are put out to bid and contractors are selected based on reputation, quality of work proposed and price.

How does the Advantage Development Co. do it?
We establish a flat fee for management of your project. We enter into a detailed contract which defines scope of work, desired quality level and project budget. The budget is not open ended. Estimates for all major categories of work are obtained and contracts are executed with the contractors we agree offer the best combination of price and quality. You begin construction when you are satisfied with the contractors, the prices and the projected time line.
We work hard to bring your project in under budget. We believe construction management compensation based on a percentage does not motivate the construction manager to bring a project in under budget.

A flat rate does not incent the construction manager to let costs increase, but it still does not particularly motivate the construction manager to come in below budget. Since nearly all clients end up adding in extras, especially if budget permits, our compensation is based on a flat rate for managing the contract work plus either a percentage or a flat rate for any extras you choose to add. We have found this to be a "win - win" because we are motivated to bring your project in below budget so you will add in extras. You win because you can add in the extras you would really like to have when we bring your project in below budget.

Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and "Ask Us Why We Are The Better Builder" in the Asheville & WNC area.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Asheville NC Custom Builder says "Now Is the Time To Build"

With the market the way it is, how can it possibly be a good time to build? Wholesale distributors and mills are not geared to serve the homeowner. Their core business relies on production builders constructing hundreds of homes throughout the country. When the market slows down, the production builders cut back on their productivity. In turn, building material manufacturers must either close up shop or cut prices drastically, and cater to every potential buyer.

Because manufacturers are in business to make money, they have to adapt to ever-changing market conditions. Currently, lumber prices are at their lowest in five years. In other words, a lumber package would cost the same today as it did in 2002. How many other products are the same today as they were in 2002? Not many. Coupled with lower prices, companies are now looking to sell their products and services to homeowners. Large professional suppliers generally cater to contractors – but now that the market has slowed – they are moving into retail. Consumers now have an unending supply of retailers to choose from, and competition is fierce.

A byproduct of a slowing market is unemployment. A year ago, it took a miracle for a sub-contractor to call you back for a bid. Now, that same sub-contractor is desperate for work and probably won't stop calling you. A slowing market allows you to receive more competitive bids because sub-contractors are hungry for work. This translates into less costs associated with building or remodeling a home. Another result of current conditions is a reduction in the number of shoddy sub-contractors. When things are booming, people flock to the construction trades hoping to make a quick dollar. In a tight market, those same individuals are forced out of the trades, thus leaving the true professionals to pick up the slack. You will find a more abundant pool of qualified sub-contractors, eager to bid your project, now than ever before.

Visit Advantage Development Co. at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see "Why We Are The Better Builder". Read our testimonials, watch our videos, and call us for a free consultation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Asheville NC Builder Shares - Steps To Build A Home

Building a new home begins long before the foundation is poured. To avoid costly mistakes during the construction process, start with these five important steps.

1. Plan Your Budget-
Begin now to think about how much you can afford to spend and how much building your new home is likely to cost. Chances are you will need a construction loan and a mortgage. It's not too early to find out what size loan you qualify for. Also, knowing the approximate costs will help you modify your building plans to meet your budget.

2. Choose Your Lot-
Whether you are building your home in a suburban development or a site with sweeping ocean views, you will almost always need to choose the land before you select floor plans or other details. There are deed restrictions attached to lots that outline home sizes, requirements, and setbacks.

3. Choose Your Builder-
Your building experience can be a joy, or a nightmare depending upon the builder you choose. Ask for references, and do some research about his reputation in the community. Is the builder a member of NAHB? Does the builder hold certifications and qualifications? Is the builder an "Unlimited" Licensed Contractor?

4. Pick A Plan-
Many new homes are built using stock plans from a catalog. The builder or a home designer may make minor modifications in room size, window style or other details. A custom-designed home, on the other hand, is created specifically for the family which will live there. In most cases, custom-designed homes require the services of a licensed architect. Whether you opt for a stock or a custom design, you will be wise to choose a plan that will meet your needs for many years to come.

5. Negotiate A Contract-
Be sure to get a written contract which has been signed and dated by the builder. A contract for new home construction will describe the project in detail. Discuss the change order policy/procedure to accommodate any changes in the contract that occur during the construction phase.

Visit the professionals of Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see "Why We Are The Better Builder" in Asheville & Western North Carolina.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Asheville NC Builder Talks About 7 New Home Trends

New homes are the top tier when it comes to home buying because they afford you the option to customize your home to your liking with upgrades and you get to be the first owner of the home. As the real estate market continues on its path to recovery there are many home builders who are now reconsidering what to include in a new home's standard features list.

Many of these newly included standard features previously served as pricey options so new home buyers today are getting the latest in creature comforts without the heavy price tag. Check out seven of the latest new home trends and keep this list handy as you browse new homes to see what's included in the builder's standard features list.

1) Granite Countertops and Undermount Sinks in Kitchen and Baths
2) Living Room Evolution-Updated floor plans and Hi-Tech Features Like A/V Systems
3) Solid Wood Front Doors-Detailed Craftsman Style, reminiscent of the old days
4) Hardwood Floors-Finished off w/ Urethane, these look great & are low maintenance
5) Stone Exteriors and Accents-This styling is arts & crafts and has great curb appeal
6) Solid Interior Doors-These look great & offer a better sound barrier for bedrooms
7) Nine to Ten Foot First Floor Ceilings-Homeowners love the open air atmosphere

Visit Advantage Development Co. today at http://www.advdevco.com/ and see "Why We Are A Better Builder".

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Asheville NC Builder Shares On "Qualifying for a Home Loan"

When a lender makes a decision about a mortgage application, they consider two basic factors: 1) your ability and 2) your willingness to repay the loan.

Ability to repay the mortgage is determined by verifying your current employment and analyzing your total income. Lenders prefer for you to have been employed at the same place for at least two years, or at least be in the same line of work for a few years. Your proposed monthly payment will be compared to your monthly income and debt.

Willingness to repay is influenced by how you have paid previous loans and by examining how the property will be used. Willingness can be gauged by your credit report and previous commitments to pay rent and/or utility bills.

It is important to remember that there are no set rules and each applicant is handled on a case-by-case basis. Many applicants come up a little short in one area but make up for it with other strong points. These compensating factors may include a large down payment, solid employment, extensive educational background or overall financial health.

For applicants who need to make a lower down payment, mortgage insurance is protection for the lender in case you stop making payments. This allows low and moderate income families to become homeowners. Visit Advantage Development Co. at http://www.advdevco.com/ where you can read about "Why We Are A Better Builder" or email us with any questions you may have.