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Solar Power’s Sunny Outlook

Sunlight is a form of electromagnetic radiation, originating from our nearest and dearest star, the Sun. Moving at the speed of light, or about 186,282 miles per second, this hefty dose of radiation travels outward in all directions from our star. A tiny, tiny, tiny percent of the total sunlight reaches the Earth, taking a little over eight minutes to get here after leaving the Sun’s surface. A portion of this percentage is absorbed by the plants and other organisms capable of converting the light into energy, fueling the basis of nature’s food chains. Without this light, plants could not photosynthesize. Likewise, most life would not exist without the solar radiation we all depend upon so much from the Sun.

This near infinite form of energy has been harnessed in one way or another for millenniums, with ancient humans using magnifying glass to ignite fires. The first modern usage of “solar power” came from a French inventor named Augustin Mouchot. He famously demonstrated an invention that could take solar energy and turn it into mechanical steam power. That steam power would then be used by a machine to create ice cream at the 1878 Universal Exhibition, hosted in Paris.

Now, the technology is almost everywhere. Some calculators still have solar cells atop the screen for power, though many are simply there for the look nowadays. On a larger scale, many homeowners around Joplin have made solar panels the next “big” upgrade to their houses. Apartment complexes continue to add more to their solar arrays atop their buildings as well. Local providers of solar panel installation include Solar Masters, Home Pro, Arrow Point Solar, and Sun Solar.

The futuristic-looking additions often sit on a home’s roof and are almost always on the side that receives the most sunlight year-round. Sometimes they’ll appear in tidy rows in a home’s yard or close by on the property. The fancy additions come with multiple benefits: many retailers, including local ones such as Spire Energy and Liberty Utilities, offer rebates to those who make the upgrade. Likewise, states often offer tax credits to homeowners that add solar panels to their homes.

As a cherry on top the Federal Government provides a tax credit of 26% for installing a new solar system on a house. For example, if you were to spend $10,000 on a system installation, you’d pay $2,600 less in taxes the subsequent year. Even if you made the switch in the latter half of the year, the remaining credit rolls over into the next year for usage. These benefits truly make it worthwhile to switch to solar.

With several months remaining of summer, before the Sun regresses in its annual solar cycle, it is best to start now on making the solar switch. If you’re ready to have a solar system installed, give the Home Builder Association of Southwest Missouri a ring at 417-623-5205. We have a network of solar panel installation experts to connect with you, ready to give a helping hand.

Smart Home Tech and You

2020 is not quite the futuristic spectacle writers have depicted via written stories and movies. Some hypothesized we would all be in little pod cars, zipping across the sky above our cities. In the science-fiction monster movie Pacific Rim, the year 2020 features massive monsters that come from the seas. Humans combat these threats with huge mechanical suits called “Jaegers”. Likewise, the science-fiction action movie Edge of Tomorrow shows a world engulfed in space conflict with an alien species known as “Mimics”, a world in which the protagonist is repeatedly set through a loop each time he perishes. Movies are sometimes exaggerated.

The reality is, 2020 isn’t some futuristic world with massive mechanical suits to battle off sea monsters. We’re all stuck at home for the most part, wondering what to do next in the midst of a global pandemic. There is a variety of things someone could do: I know plenty of people who have begun taking walks or riding bikes, likewise, I know plenty of people who have donned their “quarantine fifteen” over the past few months. One thing we always encourage at the Home Builders Association is to do home upgrades when possible.

In recent years, technology around the house has continued to upgrade. TVs have turned from large boxes weighing far too much to extremely thin 4k displays. Doorbells upgraded into Ring Doorbells capable of recording whoever shows up at the door. So why do smart home thermostats get forgotten about?

One reason is the technology’s age. The Nest Thermostat only came out in 2011, less than a decade ago. Now smart thermostats can control humidity throughout the house, adjust the temperature automatically, turn lights on or off depending on if people are in the room or not, and more. You can be across the room (or the world) and turn your air conditioning up or down, it is truly a slice of the future! Brands such as Trane, Ecobee, Honeywell, and Nest dominate much of the smart thermostat market. The installation typically only takes about 30 minutes to a few hours in some cases, and then you’ll be on your way to having your own piece of the future.

If you’re considering a home improvement project over the next few months, I would highly recommend upgrading your thermostat to smart home technology. Not only could it make your home more energy efficient, but you could also save money in the long run by switching sooner rather than later. Some businesses even offer rebates for smart home technology, like solar panels and water heaters.

If you do decide to upgrade your current thermostats, or any other appliance in your home, feel free to give the Home Builder Association of Southwest Missouri a call. We can connect you to a variety of builders, associates, and contractors who are capable of taking care of your upgrades, big or small. The Jetson’s predicted flying cars by 2062, so I suppose technically we do have a bit more time to get to the future; but why wait?

Backyard Makeout

Do you have a backyard oasis? If not, it is the perfect time to make one!

We have all probably spent more time at home lately and that includes our outdoor space. If you have a plain, boring backyard with grass and maybe a deck, it is time for a makeover. Turn your outdoors into an outside living space! We have a list of ideas that vary in cost from a little to a lot!

Let us start with some simple ideas: fire pits, water features, or walkways make great additions in the summer months. The time and money you put into these ideas can vary depending on how far you take it. You can create a fire pit easily, but why not incorporate an outdoor seating space around it? Put down some gravel or river rock and create a cool place to relax, kick back, and make smores in the evenings!

A water feature can range from a simple fountain made of recycled items to a giant wall-sized fountain that easily drowns out road noise. You can also add a stone or paved walkway through your yard to a pergola covered second patio. Along your pathway, you could incorporate a bench and give yourself somewhere to sit and have a quiet moment.

More simple ideas: hang a hammock, add some landscaping and include bright flowers, or put out lawn games in your yard! You could also paint a mural on your fence to add a little something extra or hang twinkling lights. Add some evening entertainment and an outdoor movie theater or portable bar to enhance the experience. You can also add a trellis or grow a vertical garden; herbs can easily grow in planters mounted to a fence too. It will smell beautiful and create a feature wall.

You can go all-out and add on an enclosed sunroom that can be enjoyed year-round! This will cost you, but it can also become a space that your entire family enjoys, no matter the weather. You can also add an outdoor kitchen and dining area. Covering this space will make it easier to use and provide shade for evening meals.

Do you need a kid-friendly space? The trendy item I keep seeing for ponds or a small swimming pool is a stock tank. It is enough room for kids or fish to swim but can also be decorated to fit into the landscape of a backyard.

Another option is to xeriscape. This requires little to no irrigation and can really be a statement piece. This type of yard is seen in the Southwest but can easily be incorporated into your space here in the Midwest. If you are allergic to grass or really do not care for yard work, this is a great option for you.

As always, take your time and do your research before starting any big project. You want to increase the value of your property or add space that will actually be used. If you find yourself overwhelmed with a large project, it might be time to call a professional. We can help with that. Call us or visit our web site, hbabuilders.com.

Creating a Welcoming Entry

You might not have a lot of people visiting your home right now, but it is a good time to upgrade your entryway. We have some ideas for outside and inside updates that can create a cozier and more stylish first impression of your home.

We will start outside. A few of these ideas have been mentioned in other articles because these are great easy ways to update the curb appeal and a perfect way to express your style. It can be as simple as adding new house numbers in a fun font on a creative background. You can also add planters with live flowers lining your walk or a beautiful wreath on or by the front door. Adding high-quality door hardware is another easy way to update the front door. One final simple update is to add and layer doormats. Patterns and colors can be mix-matched and create a very easy way to warm up the front door.

One thing to avoid is going overboard with landscaping. You want great curb appeal, but you also want the house to seem inviting and not intimidating by too many bushes or overgrown trees. Maintain the front landscaping and keep the doorway visible and opened.

Take it up a step further by adding outdoor furniture to your front porch. You can also paint your front door a fun color or add colorful step tiles. Another way to take the entry walk up another notch, is to lay a stone walkway. All of these are more involved but create more of a wow-factor.

When your guests enter your home, what are they walking into? Do you have an inside entry that could use some warmth and welcome? Again, some easy steps area to add an inside rug, a bold lighting feature, or simply hang a mirror. This all makes the space feel more lived in and welcoming to guests. You can go further by painting the walls or adding a decorative wallpaper.  Make sure any storage you add is also stylish and fits with the décor of your home.

If you want to go full-out, then start a complete remodel of your front entry. If you do not have a front porch, create one. If you have tiny steps, extend them into a front porch. Add an arch or covered entry that matches your home’s architecture. This will add to the style of your home and help with its value as well.

No matter whether it is inside or outside, you want your entry to be a well-illuminated and clear path. Create a very visible walkway that will guide new guests to the correct entry. Once inside, it the first impression of your home, so give it some style and let people know they are welcome. Start out with some simple décor changes and work your way up from there. It doesn’t take much to make a house feel like your home.

Is It Time to Renovate?

I have been messaging with friends who are stuck at home. No matter who I am talking with, the conversation turns to all the things they dislike about their home now that they are stuck in it. I think most of us can understand this feeling these days. But, should you renovate or remodel now? Let us ask a few questions:

  1. What projects do you want to do? How big is the project? If you simply want to paint the walls, then this is a great time for that. However, if the project is time intensive and needs professional help, you might want to wait, or at least plan more, before you get started.
  2. Do you have the money? This is a great question no matter what is going on in the world. With many people losing their jobs or temporarily laid off, this is a very important question right now. You always need to consider the cost though. Again, how big is the project?
  3. Do you understand the time commitment? Most people are working from home, but do you truly understand how much time the project will take? What if something goes wrong? Let’s say you are remodeling your bathroom and you only have the one bathroom for the whole family. Do your research before you start to know your water pipes and what to do if one breaks or leaks. Do you know what order you are going to take each step of this project? Painting, flooring, new vanity, etc. Time is important in this example, so make sure you are ready for something to go wrong.
  4. If everyone is home, will they get in the way? Can they help? If you have kids and they are old enough to help, let them! What a great lesson! However, kids and pets can easily get in the way of efficiently taking on a project. It might be best to take advantage of a nice day and put everyone else outside.
  5. Will this add value to my home? Again, this is a question to ask no matter the situation. You want your home to function better for you, but you also want to make sure you are adding value. If you switch out flooring, make sure you are taking it up a notch and not downgrading your flooring. Same with windows. You want to make sure you are putting quality products in your home that will last.
  6. Is now really the best time? If you are unsure, sleep on it. Being in our homes more makes us aware of the things we do not like. It does not mean now is the best time for a project though. Really take some time to think about your expenses and flexibility before you start a big project.

As always, we are here to help if you need a professional for the job. Just give the HBA a call at 417-623-5205 or visit our website, hbabuilders.com. We are helping to connect you to a local professional.

Security Tips from Federal Protection, Inc.

10 Tips To Prevent Crime In Your Home & Neighborhood

  1. Thieves look for homes that appear to be empty, so as a deterrent leave a car parked in the driveway, leave on radios or televisions and ask neighbors to provide surveillance. Most burglaries happen between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  2. Burglars want to spend no more than 60 seconds breaking into a home, so make entry more time-consuming by installing deadbolt locks on doors and bars and locks on windows.
  3. Make a special effort to secure the front door and first-floor windows because those are the two places thieves are most likely to gain entry: Front door 34 percent, first-floor window 23 percent, back door 22 percent, garage 9 percent, basement 4 percent and second floor 2 percent.
  4. Don’t hide valuables in popular places such as dresser drawers, bedroom closets or freezers. Those are the first places burglars look. Use safes for jewelry and weapons. Favorite items to steal are cash, jewelry, electronic equipment and games, silver, guns and items easily sold to pawn shops, second-hand stores or on the street.
  5. Reduce rewards of crime by marking valuables with serial numbers that can make them more difficult to pawn or dispose of in some way.
  6. Trim or clear bushes, hedges, trees and other vegetation that can provide a hiding place for criminals.
  7. Install porch, yard and motion-detector lights to supplement streetlights.
  8. Make sure that privacy fences are not providing concealment for criminals.
  9. Form Neighborhood Watch groups, which involve a partnership between residents and the police.
  10. If you see something, say something.

 

Carlos Rivera

Sr. Security & Technology Consultant

Federal Protection, Inc.

US Central & Midwest Region

Foundation Repairs

The HBA receives many calls about foundation repair. It can be simply needing someone to look at the foundation or that there are obvious signs of severe damage to the foundation of your home. It can be scary to see cracks and shifts but there are solutions.

Sometimes the age of your home is the biggest factor in serious foundation damage. We have quite a few homes in our community built in the 1920s. These homes will most likely need foundation repair due to erosion, tree roots, the amount of moisture over the years, and simply time. Homes were also built with different materials and systems in those times. If you live in an older home, take regular note of any visible signs of foundation damage.

No matter the age of your home, there are several ways that you can get foundation damage: your home was built on improperly compacted fill soils; poor drainage on your property; you experienced a plumbing leak below your home; tree roots are growing too close to your home; or mother nature takes a toll with an earthquake, flood, drought or other natural disaster that affects the foundation. These issues can cause tripping hazards, visible cracks, decrease in value, or structural damage that can turn very costly.

It might seem difficult to tell the difference between your home settling and actual foundation problems. A few signs to look for foundation damage are separation around garage door or windows, large cracks in brick or foundation, displaced moldings, uneven floors, or cracked sheetrock. Hairline cracks should be watched but are not necessarily cause for worry. Larger cracks or cracks that show up quickly are what you want to have checked out.

The good news is that there are many ways to fix your home’s foundation. You will need to call a professional to confirm the issues, find the cause, and then to proceed with a plan of action. There are different ways to repair your foundation whether it is a slab or a basement. Some homes might simply need basement waterproofing while others will need reinforcements. Piers, jacks, anchors, and bracing are different methods and a professional will know what is best for your home. You might also need to change the elevation of your property if it is water/flooding caused damage.

No matter the cause of the foundation damage, you want to make sure it is fixed correctly and that your home is in the best shape. If you have concerns, give our friends at Foundation Recovery Systems a call. As always, your home is an investment. Start with a great foundation and protect it.

What’s Trending: 2020 Style

Looking at predicted design trends in 2020, it is a century throwback to the days of Art Deco. It will highlight modern craftsmanship, soft lines, curves and arches, rich textures, patterns, pops of color, and geometric patterns. However, there is also a push for individuality and uniqueness, so it’s really anything goes!

Furniture and décor will be made with natural materials and be imperfect. You’ll see more cane, jute, rattan, ceramic, stone, and metal. Natural ceramic mugs or vases will have imperfections and be (or at least look) handmade. Items will be round in nature and really feel soft, inviting, and grounding.

Colors will be a mix of natural earth tones and bold, dark, rich shades. Think midnight blue cabinets in the kitchen with a natural wood island. Or, to add a pop of brighter blue, think classic blue built-ins against a desert fortress or creamy mushroom wall.

You might be getting the feeling, but in case you missed it – naturals will be taking over. From earth tones to the materials of the products to green house plants. There is really a growing influence of organic feeling.

To help influence that, get ready for Countryside Chic. Farmhouse Chic has been all the rage, but think less shiplap and more British farmhouse, but not stuffy or dusty. It’s a mix of patterns, antiques, and new. Again, don’t forget to add in the botanicals to complete the look. It really feels like a nostalgic design trend.

To counter all the neutrals and handmade items, you’ll see more color on ceilings with paint or wallpaper. Bold, rich patterns of wallpaper will be popular. Pattern on pattern on pattern will be trending. The best place to try all the fun new peel and stick wallpaper patterns is in your powder room, not a bathroom with a shower of steam. However, the small powder room lets you go wild in a small space and the peek and stick wallpaper lets you easily change the décor when you are ready for something new.

Furniture will also start to look more art deco with bold colors and round design. Think dark green velvet mid-century modern couch with rounded seating and small, wood legs. Again, it seems that nostalgia is taking over design!

The design goal is for the home to feel lived-in and unique. Homes will stress the personality of the owner without abandon. I think most homes accomplish this every day. I can’t wait to see which predictions come true and if any trends take over our area!

2431 S. Range Line Road, Suite B
Joplin, MO 64804

417.623.5205

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