Reroofing your house is a major investment. The choices you make will affect your family’s comfort and the value of your home as well as your bank balance. When researching roofing materials, take a long-term view. Consider not only the initial costs but also the life span, energy efficiency and environmental impact of your final decision. Metal sheet goods and shingles are very versatile and durable materials that compare favorably to other roofing options over the life cycle of your roof.
The Types of Metal Roofing
The most common types of metal roofing include galvanized steel, aluminum, copper and stainless steel. In general, metal roofing lasts from 35 years to around 200 (Haddock, 2004). In comparison, you may need to replace other materials such as asphalt shingles and wood shakes in as little as 20 years. Metal is fireproof, recyclable and environmentally friendly (Flamholtz, 1984). The primary drawback of metal roofing is its initial expense.
Metal materials are available in rolled sheets, shingles and tiles. Some products feature several color choices. Manufacturers offer stamped and shaped metal materials that resemble cedar shakes, clay tiles or slate as well as the traditional standing-seam panels.
Galvanized Steel Roofing
Galvanized steel roofing is a corrugated sheet metal product that you see on industrial and agricultural buildings as well as on homes. This material typically has a non-corrosive coating, consisting primarily of zinc, that impedes rust (“Corrugated galvanised iron,” 2014).
The pros of corrugated metal roofing include:
• Rust resistant coating
• Lasts 60 years or more
• Lower cost than other metal roofing
The main cons of this roofing material are:
• Industrial-type appearance
• Will rust where coating wears off
• Prone to salt damage in coastal areas
Aluminum roofing, unlike steel, withstands the corrosive challenges of salt water, so it is a better choice for coastal properties. Aluminum is a lightweight yet softer metal that is subject to denting, so it may not be appropriate in high-wind locations (Vandervort, 2013).
The pros of aluminum roofing consist of:
• Naturally non-corrosive
• Requires no painting
The cons of this material include:
• Average life expectancy of 35 years
• Soft metal mars more easily
• Higher cost
Copper roofing is impervious to rust and does not require protective coatings like galvanized steel and aluminum do. Although more expensive than most other roofing metals, copper is economical in terms of low maintenance and longevity. Copper roofing is particularly adaptable to architectural elements like domes and curved dormers because it is soft and flexible. Over time, the bright penny-toned surfaces develop a greenish patina (“Roofing systems,” 2014).
Among the advantages of copper roofing are:
• Low maintenance
The cons include:
• Easily dented
• Loses luster over time
Stainless Steel Roofing
Corrosion resistant and durable, stainless steel roofing tops such edifices such as the Chrysler Building in New York City. Because of its strength, stainless steel roofing is thinner than some other metal roofing and thus relatively light in weight, so it doesn’t put excess stress on your roof’s understructure. Austenitic stainless steel roofing contains approximately 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel. It forms its own protective coating when the chromium reacts with oxygen in the air (“Roofing: the technical guide,” 2014).
The pros of stainless steel roofing include:
• Low maintenance
Among the drawbacks are:
• Oxidation turns the shiny surface to a dull gray
• One color
Climatic Considerations When Choosing Roof Materials
Be sure to consider your regional climate when choosing new roofing materials. If you live in a high temperature zone, reflective metal roofing is a smart decision. It repels the heat of the sun before it can make your house intolerably warm. This saves on air conditioning costs.
Some aluminum and steel roofing with optimal solar reflective properties is Energy Star compliant, cutting down on cooling demand during peak usage periods by 10-15 percent (“Roof products,” 2014). In contrast, standard asphalt composition shingles absorb heat and trap it within the home, adding several degrees to the interior temperature. Composition roofing typically deteriorates faster in hot climates too.
In the winter, snow slides easily off metal roofing, reducing stress on the structure and eliminating buildup that could cause destructive ice dams. While some metal roofs do not have as much insulating power as built-up materials like asphalt shingles, they can perform well in cool conditions with adequate insulation.
Environmental Benefits of Metal Roofing
Most metal roofing contains a minimum of 25 percent recycled material (“Energy efficiency,” 2014). Unlike composite roofing, metal roofing is completely recyclable when removed from your home, so it helps cut down on the volume of solid waste in landfills. Because metal products help deflect the heat of the sun, your indoor living spaces require less cooling, saving on energy. In addition, many metal roof products meet or exceed local energy efficiency building standards.
The Final Factor: The Cost of a New Metal Roof
The cost of the roof is likely to be the decisive factor when you make a final decision. In general, metal roof materials cost between two and three times more than standard composition shingles. However, the life cycle cost, including all roof expenses from installation to demolition, is a more practical way to judge what you will pay.
Roofing installers typically charge per “square,” an area equivalent to 100 square feet. An average cost per square for roofing materials and installation is $350, but this varies according to geographic area. For example, a 50 x 30-foot standing seam metal roof in New England costs about 10 percent more than the national average while the same roof in the South Atlantic region costs about 10 percent less (Roof installation prices, 2013).
Low maintenance, energy savings and longevity may more than balance out initial reroofing costs. In fact, the expected life span of a new roof is more relevant in calculating its life cycle cost than the expense of materials and labor (“Calculating the life cycle cost,” 2012). Additional factors that pare down overall cost include energy savings and any tax credits for qualifying materials.
From a life cycle perspective, metal roofing measures up well compared to other materials. With a life expectancy ranging from decades to centuries, an ability to repel punishing solar rays, very low maintenance and complete recyclability, metal roofing turns out to be a wise choice overall for your home, your budget and your environment.
Calculating the life cycle cost of a roof (2012). Buildings, March 26, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.buildings.com/article-details/articleid/13816/title/calculating-the-life-cycle-cost-of-a-roof.aspx
Corrugated galvanised iron (2014). Wikipedia, April 28, 2014. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrugated_galvanised_iron
Energy efficiency (2014). Metal Roofing Alliance, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.metalroofing.com/v2/content/metal-roofing/energy-efficiency.cfm#recycling
Flamholtz, Cathy J. (1984). Metal roofing pros and cons. Mother Earth News, March/April 1984. Retrieved from http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/metal-roofing-pros-and-cons-zmaz84mazgoe.aspx#axzz35gSpmGMo
Haddock, Rob. Metal roofing from a to z (2004). Interface, May 2004. Retrieved from http://www.rci-online.org/interface/2004-05-haddock.pdf
Roof installation prices guide (2013). Roof Calculator, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.roofcalc.org/roof-installation-prices/
Roof products for consumers (2014). EnergyStar, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.energystar.gov/certified-products/detail/roof_products
Roofing: the technical guide to stainless steel roofing. The European
Stainless Steel Development Association, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.euro-inox.org/htm/p_5_EN.html
Roofing systems (2014). Copper Development Association. Retrieved from http://www.copper.org/applications/architecture/arch_dhb/arch-details/roofing/
Vandervort, Don (2013). “Types of metal roofing materials,” Hometips, July 22, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.hometips.com/buying-guides/metal-roofing-materials.html
In the list of must-have features in modern homes, a long-lasting and efficient HVAC system ranks up there alongside sturdy foundation and dependable roof. The home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system determines the home’s livability regardless of the time of year. Aside from altering indoor climate to cool it down or heat it up, the HVAC system plays an important role in preserving indoor air quality. However, efficiency is an aspect of the HVAC system that more homeowners are paying attention to. In this post, we wanted to spend some time sharing some research we performed on various HVAC efficiency ratings and data.
What an Efficient HVAC System can do for your Home
The primary function of the HVAC system is to maintain thermal comfort inside the home. In warmer climates, homeowners rely on the air conditioning system keep their homes comfortable. During the cold season, the heating system ensures that indoor temperatures can be maintained to comfortable and safe levels.
The ventilation part of the system promotes airflow to preserve air quality. It is also the part responsible for eliminating excess moisture to prevent mold development, the spread of airborne diseases, allergens and unpleasant odors.
Controlling indoor temperature also ensures preservation of heat and moisture-sensitive furnishings and accessories. Air conditioning and proper ventilation promote a healthy indoor environment.
Types of HVAC Systems
The design of the HVAC system will vary from one home to the next, depending on the homeowner’s requirements and preferences.
When space is limited or when the home’s design restricts retrofitting with air ducts, window units provide a solution. This enclosed unit includes an air cooling system, an exterior heat exchange and an interior heat exchange. Window units are practical options for smaller rooms, but these installations can interfere with the architectural style, create noise when operating and cause unsightly leaks.
The Split System
The split system consists of an outdoor unit containing the compressor and the condenser while the inside unit contains the evaporating coil. This centralized setup requires a motor blower to force the air to circulate. Most of today’s homes are designed for central air conditioning using the split design with duct work located in the ceiling, basement or attic.
Packaged Air Conditioning
A packaged HVAC system is a pre-assembled unit that can be used to control temperature and ventilate specific parts of the house but not the entire house. A typical packaged unit will have a capacity of 400 cubic feet per minute of airflow for every ton of refrigerant. A larger tonnage means larger capacity, but it will require the installation of duct work.
How to Choose HVAC Systems
A new HVAC system is a big-ticket purchase: The upfront costs are substantial whether it is an all-new installment or a replacement of an existing system. Choosing the right equipment will depend on many factors.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers defined the standards for determining minimum ventilation rates, humidity and temperature ranges to make sure that enclosed spaces are fit for human occupancy. The HVAC industry uses the ASHRAE standard to recommend the type of equipment suitable to the given space. In residential buildings, the recommended rate of air change to maintain acceptable indoor air quality is .35 air changes per hour but not less than 15 cubic feet per minute for every occupant.
Home Features Affect HVAC Design
Clearly, the size of the home and its design features has an impact on the choice of HVAC system. A report from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy states that the type of HVAC equipment installed will have a significant effect on system efficiency and maintenance costs. The report emphasizes that differences in local climate will affect choice of equipment.
Load calculation takes into consideration the roof style, ceiling heights and type of insulation among other factors. An oversized system wastes energy but will also run inefficiently because the system will not operate at peak performance. Home renovation guru Bob Vila recommends that the capacity of the system should not exceed 25 percent of the calculated heating load.
For HVAC equipment, SEER or seasonal energy efficiency ratio is an indication of how much energy is utilized for cooling. Higher SEER numbers mean more efficient systems with many of the newer models ranging from 10 to 18 SEER. Currently, 13 SEER is the required minimum in most states. The heating seasonal performance factor or HSPF measures heating pump efficiency.
The DOE’s Energy Star Program provides an additional framework for assessing energy efficiency of HVAC and other equipment. The program mandates the inclusion of an Energy Star label on most appliances. It is the bright yellow label attached to the unit that outlines key features, an estimate of annual fuel usage based on normal use and possible savings based on national energy costs.
Investing in Quality pays Off
HVAC systems come in a wide range of designs, features and prices. Opting for a system that offers longer warranties with a track record for durability and dependability may pay off in the long run even if the initial costs are higher. For these systems, energy efficiency, lower maintenance costs and design features such as quiet operations may be worth the extra costs.
According to CNN.com, the average expected life of HVAC equipment are as follows:
HVAC components: 15 to 25 years
Furnace: 15 to 20 years
Heat pumps: 16 years
Air conditioning: 10 – 15 years
Thermostats: replace as the technology changes
Comparing HVAC Units
Choosing the right HVAC system for your home can be complicated given the range of choices available. The following table summarizes some of the essential features of the more popular HVAC brands.
|Lennox Collection||American Standard Platinum||Carrier Infinity Series||Trane||Rheem|
|Noise generated by operation(decibels)||59||55||65||72||71|
|Compressor Parts & Warranty||10-year limited warranty on compressor and other components, but some high-end models offer lifetime warranties.||12-year warranty on compressor and 10 years on other parts.||10-year warranty for the compressor and other parts although premium units may offer lifetime warranties.||12-year warranty for the compressor and 10-year warranty on parts||10-year unit replacement warranty and 10-year parts warranty.|
|Extra Features||Some models offer solar-ready capabilities and Wi-Fi enabled control features.||The AccuComfort technology in American Standard HVAC systems is set up to adjust in fractional increments instead of on and off.||Carrier units are weatherproofed with Weather Armor Ultra Protection to enhance durability and increase life span.||Weatherproofing is standard on outdoor units. Higher-end units offer Comfort Link communications technology that can be configured to optimize performance and provide smartphone management.||An onboard diagnostic system and fault history code is standard on some models. The system can be configured to send problem alerts to the thermostat.|
How HVAC Efficiency Results in Savings
An efficient HVAC system is an investment that pays back over time. The initial costs will be hefty because it will include equipment and installation costs. Installation expenses will vary depending on the type of installation, geographic location and other restrictions. At the outset, it is important to work with a licensed HVAC contractor experienced in installation and replacement.
To understand how a more efficient system results in savings, consider this hypothetical situation:
A homeowner is trying to decide between a 10-SEER unit and a 14-SEER unit. Based on Energy Star information, the 10-SEER that costs 1500 will result in utility bills of $125 per month. The 14-SEER unit will cost $2300, but utility bills will be reduced to $90 monthly. By spending $800 extra on a more efficient system, the monthly bill is reduced by $35, which means the 14-SEER unit pays for itself in about 23 months.
Other factors such as durability and routine maintenance requirements will also affect return on investment. However, the most important decision factor has to do with how the HVAC system enhances the homeowners’ quality of life and enjoyment of their property.
Are you ready to stop dreaming about creating a personal oasis in your outdoor space and make it happen? These 5 spectacular add-ons and build-ins are virtually guaranteed to turn even the drabbest backyard into a resort-quality retreat:
1. Swim-Up Bar with a Sunken Patio
With this design option, there’s no reason for anyone to feel left out of the party just because they can’t bear to get out of the pool. A strategically placed bar allows everyone to enjoy a cool, refreshing drink and a little conversation poolside by integrating underwater seating on one side and a sunken patio on the other. Don’t forget an extra-large market umbrella for shade; it will keep your guests and bartender just as cool as that clear, blue water while it adds to the festive atmosphere.
This sleek, contemporary design option is a smart way to use a rolling landscape to your advantage, but it’s also possible to create a dual-purpose bar on even the most level space with a little excavation and sturdy retaining walls. To stay safe, use break-resistant drinkware.
2. Grottos and Shaded Caves
On the hottest summer days, even the coolest pool water isn’t a match for the unrelenting heat of the sun. Update your pool with a natural-looking grotto complete with a cascading waterfall for a relaxing retreat that will calm your mind while it provides welcome relief from the high temperatures.
Grottos vary from small, cave-like recesses that can shade one or two people from the sun to full caverns with multiple entrances, dramatic lighting and convenient ledges. These areas can provide complete privacy and an exotic atmosphere in addition to protection from the sun.
The most attractive grottos have a natural, seamless appearance that blends in perfectly with the surrounding environment. If your pool area doesn’t incorporate natural or natural-looking stone, you can create this design feature using poured concrete with rock facing paired with complementary boulders and greenery.
3. A Multi-Functional Outdoor Living Space
With today’s modern amenities, there’s absolutely no reason to ever take the party inside. Weather-proof outdoor furniture and carpeting is every bit as attractive and comfortable as anything designed for indoor use, and you can complete your poolside entertainment area with a retractable high-definition TV so that no one has to make a choice between catching the big game or spending time with friends and family around the pool. Position the screen just right and you won’t even have to get out of the pool to view the action.
On cool days or nights, take the chill off with a poolside fireplace or build a fully integrated seating area with a fire pit that extends out into the pool for cozy chats or some quiet contemplation. Even if it’s too cold to swim, this type of add-on allows you to take full advantage of your new outdoor living space.
4. Protective Domes and Enclosures
The clear ceilings and screened walls used in modern pool enclosures protect swimmers from insects and rain without taking away from the natural beauty of a thoughtfully landscaped pool area so that you can fully enjoy your pool even when the weather isn’t picture perfect. Pool enclosure designs range from permanent screened-in structures to fully retractable glass that can turn your outdoor pool into an indoor recreational area at the flip of a switch.
In addition to increasing the time you can use your pool, domes and enclosures protect finishes and prevent leaves and other debris from falling or blowing into the pool to keep your water cleaner and cut down on the time it takes to complete routine maintenance.
5. Waterpark-Quality Slides
Bars, fire pits and grottos are great for the adults, but let’s not forget the young and the young at heart. Nothing’s more fun than sliding into the pool, especially when you consider the many features that are now available. Today’s options deliver waterpark-quality experiences to backyard pools with attractive slides that appear to be carved out of the landscape.
Some of the most sought-after features include free-flowing water inside the slide to reduce friction, waterfalls that drench the slider and curves and drops to add excitement. With carefully-planned lighting, thoughtful placement and a sophisticated design, a waterslide will tempt the biggest thrill seekers in your group while adding to the visual appeal of your modern pool area.
With the arrival of warmer weather, homeowners begin to consider how they would like to care for their lawns during the summer. When they realize that they cannot take care of their lawns on their own and need someone to help them with trimming, watering, landscaping, and weeding their yards, people often think ask themselves what they should be paying for all of these services. A variety of different factors will influence the overall cost that people should be willing to invest in a quality lawn care service. Knowing what these factors are and how they may determine the final price required for lawn care can help homeownerschoose a reliable contractor who is capable of delivering these services.
The first factor that can determine for what price a person should be willing to pay would be the overall size of the lawn that must be maintained. A smaller yard typically requires less care than a lawn that stretches for a half acre or more and thus should not cost as much to mow, water, weed, or landscape. In fact, the website HomeWyse.com reports that the average price for mowing a yard of any size ranges from 6 cents to 31 cents per square foot. As such, the size of a person’s lawn should be one of the main determinations in how much that individual should have to pay for professional lawn care.
Another important aspect to take into consideration centers on a fair wage for the person doing the work in the yard. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that professional lawn care contractors earn on average a wage of $12 an hour. A homeowner should try to match the average wage in his or her area or even pay more if the quality of the contractor’s work warrants this additional compensation.
Along with a fair wage, property owners additionally should consider compensating fairly for additional services, such as tree pruning, planting, weeding, and watering. In fact, many contractors in this industry charge extra for these services to make sure that they are being paid for their additional labor. A person who owns a lawn that is full of trees, flower beds, and gardens can expect to be charged more than a person whose lawn is bare of these additional fixtures.
Contractors in this line of work also take into consideration factors like the weather, the availability of water, and even the timeframe for which the work must be done when formulating a price to charge customers. For example, if the contractor must work during extremely hot weather, that individual may charge more for his or her service. Likewise, if an area is short on water because of drought conditions, the contractor may charge less because of his or her inability to water the lawn due to water use restrictions.
If customers need the work done immediately, contractors in this industry may additionally charge more because of the short notice given before hiring them for the job. Many lawn care professionals schedule their jobs carefully to make sure they meet all of their customers’ demands. However, if a person needs a service done right away, that individual may be charged more, particularly if the contractor must call in other workers to help.
When it comes to hiring professional lawn care services, homeowners often want to know that they are paying a fair price for the services being rendered. These considerations can help them hire a contractor who will meet their lawn care needs without overcharging them. They can also adjust the price as needed by considering variables like the weather and time restrictions.
Most homeowners add a fence to their property for security reasons. However, the landscaping feature can also enhance a home’s exterior appearance. If you are a pet owner or a parent, then a fence will help you keep your loved ones safe and restricted to an area where they’ll be easy to find.
About New Wood Fences
Wood fences are popular because of their aesthetic appeal. In some areas, a wood fence can even increase a home’s value. The cost of installing a wood fence will depend on the type of wood that you select, the size of your property and your residence’s terrain. You can hire a professional contractor to supply the fencing materials and installation crew, or you can buy the materials and complete a do-it-yourself installation. If you purchase the wood personally, then check the lumber for Forest Stewardship Council certification to make sure that the material originates from a properly managed forest site. Responsibly managed forests supply different types of wood including:
Pine is a popular fence material as its composition makes it easy to use. Pine is less likely to swell, warp or shrink. You can expect to pay about $8 to $10 for each linear foot of a pine fence.
Due to its natural makeup, redwood will resist rot and termites. The wood option is durable, and it accepts finishing substances easily. Keep in mind that redwood is pricier than other fence lumber types as it costs about $10 to $12 per linear foot.
If you choose cypress, then you’ll be installing a visually appealing fence. The wood type is sturdy and aromatic. Cypress wood does feature knots, but they are usually small and compact. In addition, the fencing material features a natural preservation oil that increases its resistance to bugs and deterioration. Your cost for cypress will be around $7 to $10 a square foot.
With cedar, you’ll receive a sweet smelling wood that is an appealing reddish color. It is also an easy material to use. The wood type resists decay, and most people find that their cedar fence lasts for many years. The cost of cedar is about $10 to $12 per linear foot.
About Labor Costs
Labor costs for the installation of a privacy wood fence will vary. However, you can expect to pay from $125 to $140 for about 4 hours of labor. When you receive a labor quote, it should include the cost of transporting the equipment and materials to and from your home as well as property preparation before the fence company begins the installation. The estimate will likely include cleanup and debris elimination costs along with setup and minimum hourly fees.
Possible Additional Fees
If you intend to hire a general contractor to organize and oversee the installation of your fence, then you will likely pay about 12 to 19 percent more for the extra service. You’ll also have sales tax on your fencing supplies and materials along with inspection and permit fees. Be sure to check with your area’s local building department regarding certification and construction regulations.
Wood Fence Cost Variations
The cost of adding a fence to your property will depend upon the type of property containment system that you decide to install. For instance, privacy fences are more dense and taller than traditional picket fences. Therefore, you’ll need more wood to complete the installation. Fence enhancements like caps, lattice and decorative gates also increase the cost of new wood fences.
Follow Up Care
Once your fence is installed, be sure to coat it with a weather sealer. Also, consider adding a protective treatment to prevent decay and repel bugs. Keep in mind that your fence will need regular maintenance that involves the reapplication of the substances that protect it. After your fence is installed, you may consider hiring a landscaping professional to finish the look of your home’s exterior spaces. An expert landscaper can also integrate your new fence into your yard’s current design.
Fencing companies make property containment systems in different types of wood. Therefore, you can select a material that will appeal to your budget, style and patience for maintenance tasks.