Solar Technology Updates On House & Home Plans

Data Shows State-by-State Impacts of MID on Middle Class

As debate over tax reform ramps up in Congress, NAHB is emphasizing the critical importance of the mortgage interest deduction (MID) to American families nationwide, and the many reasons that lawmakers should leave this key homeownership incentive intact.

To help further NAHB’s efforts in this direction, our economists recently took a look at IRS data that helps illustrate the importance of the MID to the middle class in individual states across the country. It’s understandable that MID claims will vary across different states, depending on such factors as house prices and other costs of living, household incomes and tax items such as property taxes or state income/sales taxes – all of which help determine whether a home owner claims the standard deduction. And indeed, the IRS data shows that the share of taxpayers who both claimed the MID on their 2010 federal income tax return and reported less than $200,000 in adjusted gross income was somewhat smaller in high cost states such as New York and California, where incomes tend to be higher. Even so, compared to the 91% of taxpayers nationwide who had adjusted gross incomes of less than $200,000 and claimed the MID in 2010, states with the lowest percentage of such taxpayers were still in the 87%-and-above range.

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April Webinars Spotlight Green Building/Green Remodeling

2012 NGBS: An Overview of What’s New
April 3, 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET

In its first four years, the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS) has been transforming the residential marketplace by providing single- and multifamily builders, remodelers and land developers with ANSI-approved guidance on going green. The 2012 version of the NGBS promises to have an even greater impact. This webinar will look in-depth at the changes that affect the single-family portion of the rating system.

Speakers: Vladimir Kochkin, director of applied engineering, Home Innovation Research Labs; Matt Belcher, Verdatek Solutions, LLC

Presented by NAHBGreen


Building Green with Structural Insulated Panels
April 10, 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET

Energy conservation plays a major role in designing and building sustainable homes. Builders can achieve the most energy savings through a high-performance building envelope, such as structural insulated panels (SIPs). SIPs are an advanced prefab building system allowing builders to meet the energy, resource efficiency and indoor air quality metrics of today’s green building rating systems at less cost. This webinar covers the basics of SIP construction’s sustainable attributes, such as thermal performance, resource efficiency and life-cycle analysis.

Speakers: Frank Baker, director, PFB Corp/Insulspan; Bill Wachtler, director, Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA)

Presented by NAHB Building Systems Councils


2012 National Green Building Standard: Remodeling Provision Defined
April 17, 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET

The 2012 edition of the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS) includes expanded options exclusively for remodelers to certify bath, kitchen and basement remodels and additions as well as whole-house remodels. In this session, the speakers will discuss the ins and outs for certifying remodels. The speakers will also explain how the NGBS’s new streamlined format will be simpler for remodelers and home owners to understand and use.

Speakers: Michelle Desiderio, Home Innovation Research Labs; Paul Sullivan, CGR, CAPS, CGP, The Sullivan Company, Inc.

Presented by NAHB Remodelers

Today’s House Design Photo is that of Archival Designs’ Aspen Creek.


Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 14,814 sf, and the Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 500o sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

New-Home Sales Held Steady in August

Following a substantial gain in July, the pace of new-home sales fell by a statistically insignificant three-tenths of one percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 373,000 units in August, according to figures released by HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau on Sept. 26. Sales gained in every part of the country except the South, which is the largest housing market. While that region posted a 4.9% decline, the Northeast posted a 20% gain, the Midwest showed a 1.8% gain and the West registered a meager, 0.9% gain. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale held at an historic low of just 141,000 units in August, which is a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace. In NAHB’s press release analyzing the latest data, NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg noted, “New-home sales in August effectively tied the pace they set in the previous month, when they were the strongest we’ve seen in more than two years — so this is really a continuation of the good news we’ve been getting on the housing front.” NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe added that this latest report “indicates that new-home sales continue to run at a steady pace that’s well ahead of what we were seeing this time last year, and at this rate, the third quarter of 2012 is going to be well ahead of the second quarter.” Dave also observed that the share of new homes sold in the higher price ranges ($400,000 and above) rose significantly in August, and said “This reflects the fact that people who are able to buy homes right now are those in higher-income ranges who have cash and equity on hand, while first-time buyers are having a tougher time getting qualified for a mortgage.”

NAHB Provides Builder Views at White House Conference on Green Infrastructure

One hundred employees of federal government agencies, states, municipalities, research centers, professional associations and environmental groups met at the White House on Sept. 20 to discuss ways to promote green infrastructure solutions for addressing storm water issues. Importantly, NAHB was the only organization in the crowd that represented private enterprise ─ that is, the home building and construction industry – and used a pre-conference survey distributed to all attendees to advocate for flexibility and a range of choices when it comes to low-impact development and other green infrastructure solutions. Our representation at the conference allowed NAHB to express builders’ views that, while rain gardens, narrower streets, pervious pavements and other green infrastructure techniques can help reduce discharge into municipal sewer systems, recharge groundwater and often save money for the builder, they aren’t necessarily the right way to address all storm water problems. Instead, we noted, practices chosen will be dependent on soil, slope conditions or local weather factors, but the goal should be pollution reduction and storm water infiltration in the most cost-efficient manner. Going forward, conference organizers are expected to produce a white paper as a result of the consensus documents that were developed during the meeting. That paper will be posted on the conference website.

Choose from more than 400 house designs and house plans. We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf.  Our Newport Classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 square feet.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

Going Green in Ohio – Part II – The Log Cabin & Stained Glass

Last Thursday I shared Cheryl and Jim’s straw bale gardening and their wind turbine.  As a follow up, they informed me they will be participating in this year’s 2012 Green Energy Ohio Tour next week. Congratulations!

Jim built his cozy log cabin in 2001, and Lok-N-Logs was the supplier.  He told me, “The original design was the Sierra and we adapted it to exactly what we wanted and needed. The fella who helped rough in the house eventually started his own company ten years ago and uses our house as a model home once in awhile, which is always a blast for us because we turn it into a party! There were about 50 couples at the last one, and we had steaks, sangria, the whole enchilada! It took us nine months to complete, but are always upgrading and changing it. It’s the love of our life and we haven’t had one bad day living here.”

While Jerry tends to constantly upgrading the house, Cheryl stays busy designing and assembling stained glass windows. She  explains, “The first window is 69 inches at the base and 41 inches high and is in the living area. I titled the pattern ‘Evolution’ but enjoy hearing what others see in it. I just finished it and Jerry & his friend Ken installed it  (about 30 feet high.)”

The other two pictures are of the window in the upstairs bedroom which is 52 inches at the base, made by Cheryl about two years ago.

Cheryl added, “The windows in the kitchen cabinet wall section are stained glass with lots of bevels and catch the ambient light so beautifully. I also made the knobs for the cabinets in my kiln.”

It was so much fun to stumble across such an interesting homestead and share it with you. Thank you to Cheryl and Jim for all the useful information. We would love to get stories from others of you to share in our blog!

Choose from more than 400 house plans. We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf.  Our Newport Classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes  in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

Going Green in Northeast Ohio!

September 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco, Solar Technology

A few months ago I was driving in Lake County looking for an address, when a gentleman named Jerry, offered to help me.  He suggested I continue into his driveway and go down to his log cabin home while he looked for the information I needed in the phone book.  As I approached the home, I noticed an active turbine windmill, a straw bale garden, and a log cabin.  Jerry offered to give me a tour of the log cabin, which he had built himself.  He added stained glass windows that his wife, Cheryl, designed.  I was quite taken with everything I saw that day, and knew I wanted to share some of it with you.


Let’s start with the straw bale gardens, also called, “SBG”.  The straw bales used to produce their garden, were of particular interest to me. Although I can tell you a little bit about it, and that I saw first-hand how it works, I cannot print the entire set of instructions for you due to copyright infringement laws.  If you are interested in obtaining the .pdf explaining all the ins and outs and how-to’s of this alternative choice in gardening, it is available for $9.99 from www.strawbalegardens.com.  It is 18 pages (eight chapters) of necessary, worthwhile material.  I have read it, and it is well worth the small investment to take advantage of such an innovative method of gardening. It’s so easy; anyone should be able to do it.

Below are some highlights, but the .pdf goes into greater detail explaining in an easy-to-understand manner, the entire process:

  • Preparing the bales for planting is quick and can be done in 12 days or less.  The process can be started in late winter or very early spring.
  • An SBG can be positioned on almost any surface. The surface underneath the bales will not play a role in the process, and will only act as a drain for water that filters out of the straw bales.  Slight sloping can be advantageous.
  • The site will need full sun exposure for a minimum of 6-8 hours necessary each day.
  • A 24” space between rows is recommended.
  • It’s important to use the cut side positioned upward to allow for water and fertilizer penetration.

Above photos are those of Cheryl and Jim’s SBG and below is the wind turbine.

On August 2, 2012, Cheryl and Jim erected their wind turbine, with the hope of becoming totally energy self-sufficient.  It has computer software displaying exactly what the turbine is doing, which Cheryl finds interesting. It’s 45 feet tall and each blade is about six feet long.  Cheryl and Jim are eagerly waiting to see just how much energy they produce, and will keep us updated. Cheryl stated, “We are trying our best to do what we can to help support green energy.”  I would say so.

Next Thursday, I will share the photos of the log cabin Jerry built, and the beautiful stained glass windows designed and made by Cheryl.

Choose from more than 400 house designs and house plans.  We offer house designs in a wide rante of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf.  Our Newport Classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

Outdoor Lighting

It’s that time of year again when we love to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather.  What better way to light up your evenings, than with elegant outdoor lighting.  I have found some very interesting ideas on the web, and will share them here.

Have you ever felt that you have to rush and go indoors instead of enjoying the beautiful breezy outdoors during late evenings just because it is dark and you don’t have sufficient lighting? Or do you and your guests often struggle along your walkway while it is dark? Light is very important in all forms whether it is during the day or evening, or whether it is indoors or outdoors. All homes usually have sufficient indoor lighting, but it is the outdoor lighting that needs to be improved because your beautiful outdoors will otherwise just be day time attractions and useless once it is dark. For this one must make efforts to match the correct type of light to elevate your outdoors.

Artificial light these days comes in different forms, glows, colors and quality. It is necessary to determine the correct quantity and quality of light to project the beauty of specific areas and most of modern lights are designed to give best results. Besides, a good modern outdoor lighting enhances the mood whether it is in a residential setup or office. Not only will lighting up your exteriors help you elevate them with a modern touchof elegance, but you can also plan a special get together with friends and family outdoors. Your lawns will thus become the perfect party place where you can enjoy the fresh air rather than sitting indoors.

There are many different types of modern outdoor lighting to choose from. There are lamp posts or the walkways, wall hanging lights and lamps for gardens or porches, outdoor ceiling lights, pendant type lights, LED lights and solar lightings, string lights and various lanterns available. You can also choose the underwater modern lights for your swimming pools to attract lot of visitors and make it look unique. The modern lights are available in many different price ranges and they will blend perfectly with any type of ambience from cottages to castles.

The modern lights are not always wall mounted or like posts, you can also choose from the many small table lamps or corner lights and make an aesthetic arrangement to add elegance to the outdoor ambience. You could also choose from the small bar lights, cocktail lights for pool sides, candle chandeliers, torch anchors, floating candles or solar lights for ponds or bird baths etc which are a part of modern outdoor lighting. Outdoor lights are usually very helpful for many reasons other than just adding to the luxurious decor.

They help light the pathway to provide safety while walking through it. There are some modern lights that help keep insects away. This designer modern outdoor lighting can focus on prime areas in your outdoors so that the beauty of your furniture piece or a specific area can be accentuated. The sizes also can be selected as per the size and requirement of light in the outdoors. Thus with so many wonderful features and such a huge variety, these modern lights are sure to set your mood right and coax you to spend more evenings outdoors.

The type of lights you choose is completely up to you and, because there are so many options available, you can easily find one that matches your family’s taste, personality, and style. Imagine how much more convenient it will be to not only have the convenience of modern outdoor lighting, but also how much more aesthetically appealing they will make the area. Most of them are very versatile and will go with any type of furniture and décor your home has—even if you decide to change it up. Take a look around to explore the abundance of options available to you. You won’t be disappointed.

Deckorators Recessed Lighting Kit

These compact, ultrabright, low voltage LED lights make decks both appealing and accessible after dusk. They mount flush to any surface and are ideal for pathways, stairs, doorways, and step-downs. Versatile and easy to install, recessed lighting is a simple way to add a dramatic effect to your deck.

Lights come eight to a package with transformer and light sensor included. Additional two-pack add-on kits and extension wire are available separately. Lights can be spliced into a low voltage system using a cable connector.

To learn more about installation, check out the video or download the installation instructions by clicking here.

Outdoor Floor Lamps

The B.Lux line-up of fixtures are produced by young, creative, distinguished professionals who share common goals of providing coherent and innovative products. The Kanpazar 80 outdoor floor lamp by B.Lux is designed by Jon Santacoloma and made in Spain. The Kanpazar 80 outdoor floor lamps are UL listed and have a smooth white frosted finish and made from vandal-proof UV resistant polyethylene.

Pool Lights

The newest idea from Spain. These floating pool lamps are rechargable and a highlight on every pool party. The light is waterproof and can be dived.

Blow Outdoor Lamp

The Blow Outdoor Lamp light by Almerich was designed by Estudio Almerich.  This outdoor table lamp is portable with a molded polymer diffuser.  Blow complies with outdoor requirements for luminaries and may be put in a garden or on a terrace.  The metal parts are aluminium with a black epoxy finish.

Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer. Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

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