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Stuff You Didn’t Know About Insulation

Insulation is the solution for air escaping in or out of your home. Hot air in summer months seaping into your home and warm air you’re paying for in winter months escaping out of your home are both costly problems to have. 10% or more of your energy bill can be recovered by sealing all air leaks in your home with inexpensive products such as caulk, seal, and weatherstrips.

The most common air leaks are occurring as a result of drop ceilings, recessed and other lighting, the entrance to the attic, where electric wires and boxes are located, plumbing and furnace cavities, air ducts, doors and their frames, chimneys, and electric outlets and switches.

The most important placement of insulation is going to be in your attic. Adding or replacing insulation in your attic is the most cost-effective way to increase the energy efficiency of your home. To measure whether you have enough insulation, measure its thickness and if it is any less than R-19 (the most recommended value for new construction in the United States), you should add more. R-value is how all insulation is measured and although new construction is recommended to have R-19, it can go all the way up to R-49. The region in which you live will have its own specific recommendations for R-value, so be sure to research the recommendations, codes, and policies of your area.

If after you’ve added insulation to your home’s attic or elsewhere and you still feel a draft in the winter, or sweat in the summer, you might have to take the more expensive measure of adding insulation to the exterior walls. This measure will require a contractor and although it may cost you, it will be worth the investment in energy bills if you live in an extreme weather climate, whether hot or cold.

One way to test your home for air escape is to light an incense stick and carry it around the home on a windy day. Walk near all the previously mentioned common places of air leak (windows, doorways, electric boxes, plumbing cavities, around lighting, the chimney, etc) and notice the way the smoke from your stick travels. The stick smokes vertically naturally, so if it begins to smoke horizontally in front of any of these spaces, you have an air leak in need of caulking, sealing, weatherstripping, or insulating.

Only 20% of home built prior to 1980 were insulated as much as they should have been.

There are 4 material types and they are meant for different parts of your home: batts, rolls, loose-fill and rigid foam boards. One by one, batts are meant to fit between the studs in your wall or between the sections of your ceilings/floors. The second type, rolls (or sometimes called blankets), are laid on the floor of an unfinished attic. The loose-fill type insulation is blown into the attics or walls with a device. Rigid foam boards are another form of insulation that gets installed into the walls of the home. All types of insulation are made of different materials, some made of recycled materials, treated with fire retardant chemicals, fiber glass, wool, and more.

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Adding Architectural Interest To Your Roof

There are a few very important details to consider when adding additions to your roof to add interest to the design. Roof extensions, shed roofs, gable roofs, and dormers are all types of architecture that add interest to the home, but they aren’t create equal in cost and effectiveness.

Cost/Effectiveness

Adding additional roof peaks and masses will only complicate your design and cost you more to install and maintain it in the future. You can add interest with minimal additions, so edit and simplify as much as you can to get the effect you want without jeopardizing the efficiency of your roof. You will want as big of roof masses as possible, for the point of having a cost effective, quality roof.

Design

Some design elements are better than others in general and even the way they are executed matters. To discuss this matter, its pertinent to look at each of the design concepts for further information to consider.

Roof extensions can be effective at adding interest to the roof or home, and add space as well. Roof extensions are usually added because an addition of space has been made to the home. The visual appeal is only an added bonus. It doesn’t take much consideration when the addition is made to the front or back of the home. Adding a roof extension to the front or back is pretty easy and visually may look natural, like it was part of the original design. A roof extension added to the sides of the home is where the design gets tricky and may look re-worked, not ideal for re-sale.

A shed roof is roofing that is attached to a high point of the existing roof and slants downward, covering additional space added to the home. Unfortunately, this design element looks less natural and usually looks like there’s obviously been a modification to the home. Submitting your design to your city or homeowners association is a must. Some places have included a shed roof ban because of its perceived tackiness, but in all honesty, the element can “dressed up” and look quite modern. Using the same siding, roofing materials, gutters, and finishes will assist in making the whole picture look uniform.

Roof gables are roofs that run in the opposite direction of the current two sloped roof. One gable can add a ton of interest, but more than one gable are able to be installed. It’s common to see a gable or two facing the front of a home with a window. The original sloped roof then faces front and back, rather than a traditional home which has a roof that slopes on either side. Gables can be as large as the top floor of the home, just additions to the attic space, or other small storage additions in rooms of the home on the top level. This is a natural looking element that easily adds value and interest to the roof.

A roof dormer is like a roof gable except that instead of being an additional space, its much smaller. It usually is just a structure that fits only a window. Like the roof gable, it typically looks natural and adds value to the home.