by Robert Wright
There are many, many products, services and gadgets that can make the running and maintaining of your home easier. However, many of these are expensive, complicated, and may not live up to the billing.
The best “stuff” is usually comparatively inexpensive and easy to install when your home is being built or renovated.
Some of this stuff could also be the thought process that goes into your home’s design and/or selection of materials. It can also be the care taken during the installation.
If you install wood exterior trim, it is inexpensive to install and paint, but it can become an annual painting chore. When this maintenance is neglected, then you have to replace it at a cost.
If a pre-painted metal and/or a “plastic” material is selected, it may be more expensive to supply and install, but you no longer have to paint it on a regular basis. In addition, it will outlast the wood. This is why most homes today have metal soffits and fascia, PVC windows and door brick moulds.
Another example is your roof. If you select a basic 25yr 3 tab asphalt shingle for your home it will work. However metal, stone, or composite roofing will last 2, 3 or more times longer than the asphalt roofing. In addition, these types will resist weather, vegetation, and wildlife damage to a greater degree. The metal and composite roofing will also be recyclable when replaced instead of being buried in a landfill site.
The heating and air conditioning equipment installed in your home can also make your life easier and less expensive. Many of the HVAC and HRV installations today are of the least expensive products and materials, and use the easiest installation method or route for the installer. This results in a home that has heat and a/c but is still uncomfortable due to drafts, cold and hot spots, and inaccessible maintenance points. With a little more thought, you can have equipment and an installation that will last longer, run cheaper, and make you more comfortable.
Today, many trades rely on caulking to keep your home warm and dry. The problem with caulking is that it will fail — there’s no if. The vast majority of leaks and drafts are a result of failed caulking. These failures are usually the result of an incorrect installation method or the incorrect caulking was used in the location. If the various parts of your home are assembled correctly, caulking isn’t actually necessary in most places that it is still being used in today. Besides, who wants to climb a ladder to caulk a gap at the window and brick joint on the second floor?
So where do these problems come from? Some of them come from the desire to keep the construction budget low when building. There are smarter places to save money than others; this should be discussed fully with your contractor. Another one is the designer of the building. Many, but not all designers are more concerned with the “look” of the project instead of what would perform better and suit the owner. The designer may also be unaware of some of the potential maintenance problems some selections can create. The contractor would know these issues, as he has had to deal with the warranty or repair issue in the past.
Only a couple of examples are discussed here, but most parts of your home will have similar trade offs and choices. You should understand the cause and affects of any decisions you make when building, renovating, or repairing your home. An added benefit of this process is that you are contributing to a greener environment, a greener wallet, and a smaller carbon footprint.
About the Author
Rob Wright has grown up around construction and in the mid 1990’s, Rob joined and took over Citadel Renovations in Ottawa. Rob has presented seminars at the local home shows on various renovations subjects and is a contributor to the Home Renovation Guide. Rob has been active in the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association for many years and previously served as the Renovation Council Chair. For more information, visit CitadelRenovations.com.