The Business of Renting Your Vacation Home

lake-shore-homeDepending on the desirability of your vacation property, it could generate enough income to pay the mortgage for much of the year or cover property taxes if you rent it out during peak seasons. Does this sound like an opportunity?

You may want to obtain a copy of IRS Publication 527, which is all about rental income and expenses (including depreciation), and it explains how to report them on your tax return. It also covers casualty losses on rental property and renting out vacation property.

But don’t stop there; consult a tax professional for how renting your vacation house or condo will affect your personal tax situation.

The Forbes.com Real Estate Council has questions to consider before deciding to put your getaway place on the rental market. First, what is your goal? Are you trying to generate income (cash flow), or build equity (as an investment property)?

If not using your retreat year ‘round, it could make sense to turn it into a “hybrid”: a second home you can enjoy and a source of rental income.

Another important consideration is, what are the property/association rules if any? If your lake hideaway is part of a gated community, a condominium or homeowner’s association, pull out your documents. Many limit rentals to only a few weeks a year or may prohibit them entirely.

If leasing is permitted, you need to determine if there’s a market for the rental, and if what lake-houseyou could potentially earn. Realize that you’ll be giving up the option of personal use for a period, and will have extra costs, such as liability insurance, property management fees, and the inconvenience of having to leave it pristine when you vacate, which may mean hiring cleaners. Then there’s New Hampshire’s meals and rooms (rentals) tax. (If doing short-term rentals through Airbnb, they will extract this 9% fee for you.)

A good resource for market potential is a Realtor, and if you plan on having your property managed for you, this is the place to go. They can tell you what luxury rentals go for in the area, market the listing for you, and handle rental contracts (which includes vetting potential renters)—for a fee, of course.

Types of Rentals

Michael Joseph is CEO of InvitedHome.com, which specializes in luxury vacation rentals. “Make no mistake,” he said, “you’re taking on a business.” Managing a vacation property is “a lot more work than people anticipate,” he said, especially since guest expectations are “becoming higher.” Jon Gray of HomeAway.com, which owns VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner), said that “It starts with a commitment to customer service.”

Think you want to go it alone? People expect to be able to use credit cards. Who will screen tenants? Who will clean between guests if doing short-term rentals? Who will market your place? You’ll need great photos. Realtors also have lists of plumbers, electricians, appliance repair people in case of an emergency—such as when your long-term tenant takes a Caribbean vacation mid-winter, turns off the heat, and the pipes burst.

Long-term Tenants

Ready to be a landlord? You’ll need a contract, to check out potential tenants; credit landlord-paperworkrecords, and a set of house rules (smoking? sublet? pets?). Although you will get some money up front for a security deposit, if the renter doesn’t work out the eviction process is lengthy and can get nasty (which is why it’s worth getting a credit and background check). Plus, a lease will probably be a minimum of six months (maybe nine in university or college communities) during which you won’t have the use of your second home.

Short-term Rentals

Companies that help you rent your place for a weekend or week or month do the marketing, money collecting, and in some cases collect security deposits for you. But host versus landlord, the responsibilities are the same, with additional changeover chores in between guests. And, unlike typical landlord/tenant relationships, you as the host and your property will be reviewed, with those reviews prominently displayed on your online listing.

Since you set the price, you can ask more for prime summer or ski months, or holidays such as July 4th or Labor Day weekend. And with online home-sharing companies, there are plenty of opportunities to see what the market will bear plus a lot more flexibility in pricing.

But even with a company like VRBO or Airbnb, there’s a lot to keep abreast of. If you don’t do the cleaning/set up in between guests yourself, you’ll need to furnish extra sets of towels and sheets. You’ll need to pay attention to your phone app when you get inquiries and bookings and set up a calendar to block the dates.

The good news about short-term rentals is that if you find it doesn’t work for you, all you do is take your listing off the market and the place is all yours again.

Personal and Privacy Considerations

country-dining-roomThere are things you’ll want to keep in your second home when you’re not there so you don’t have to haul them all up each time you visit. Linens, extra clothes, personal photos, out-of-season accessories or outerwear, spices, canned goods, liquor, medicine, tools, touch-up paint, laundry detergent, etc. And if you don’t want renters using them, you’ll need to lock certain items away such as electronics, bikes, fishing or boating gear.

If you have a good-size walk-in closet (one under the stairs, for example), put a lock on it and fit what you can in there.  (If you’re very personal about your space and favorite items, renting out your second home is probably not for you. There will eventually be accidental breakage or damage, beyond the extra wear and tear on the furnishings and appliances.)

Fulfilling Expectations

lakefront-rental-with-dockThen there are those expectations and demands consumers have when paying to rent a luxury home. You’ll need fast Wi-Fi, entertainment options including cable TV. Will you share your boat, pool or hot tub? Is there a great golf course nearby?

If you’re a spur-of-the-moment planner or frequent weekender, you probably won’t want to rent your valued retreat to strangers. But there are lots of business options and considerable revenue benefits for those who do—if they’re smart about it and plan accordingly.

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Winter’s Coming. Start Making Your Home Cozier Now!

Jack Frost has just started prowling the pumpkin patches here and there which means now’s the time to prepare for winter’s snow and ice. That includes scheduling any remodeling projects to button your home up tight.

farmhouse-winter

Do you have major projects in mind: new windows, a mudroom or insulation, a new furnace or HVAC system? You may be surprised to know that the cost of these improvements can be significantly offset by the energy savings—even rebates you get from installing brand-new, energy-efficient systems.

The Heat is On!

The heat may be on—but is it going out the window? There are tips below to weather-proof your home and cut down on heating costs. But if your New England colonial, farmhouse or contemporary is still relying on an old oil burner, you should know there are alternatives that may offer greater efficiency at reduced cost.

There may even be a rebate or tax credit available to offset the costs of a replacement HVAC system. Eversource, for example, offers anywhere from $400 to $600 rebate on heat pump technology, such as that used in a ductless “mini-split” unit.

Heat pumps rely on electricity to run, but the newer ones can generate two to three times as much heat as an electric boiler or a baseboard heater, using the same amount of electricity. You may also reduce your oil consumption by upwards of 35%, according to some energy websites.

Even if you’re not ready to replace that behemoth furnace in your basement, a mini-split can extend the season comfortably and efficiently in a three-season room, or at your unheated camp.

A mini-split has benefits year-round, so you can have your heat and enjoy a cool summer too. The same technology that warms your home can also cool it with air conditioning—and these units are smaller and quieter than most air conditioning compressors and unsightly window units.

Let the Sun Shine In!

Not every property is suitable for solar panels but if you’re planning a major remodel and/or a new roof, it could be worth looking into. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission and certain utilities, such as New Hampshire Electric Co-Op, offer significant rebates on solar upgrades. However, you must apply for these programs before installing any solar panels, so investigate your options thoroughly.

When You Do Windows…

If you saw moisture in between your windowpanes last winter, it’s time to replace them. thermal-windowsSeals break over time, letting in cold and letting out heat. There are many options but in New England it pays to get the most energy efficient ones you can afford. New double-paned windows can lower your energy bill by as much as 10%.

Take this opportunity to examine the sills and exterior for wood rot, and, when replacing windows, pack extra insulation around the frames before they’re trimmed and framed in.

HVAC systems, solar energy systems, and windows are major investments in your house’s function, and pay off over a relatively short time in energy savings. But these improvements also visibly impact the appearance of your home. That’s why it’s imperative to work with experienced professionals like the designers and builders at 3W design throughout the process, to avoid expensive and unattractive mistakes.

Tweaks from the outside in:

  • Clean out gutters to prevent freezing and ice dams which can damage the siding and roof.
  • Add more insulation to the attic if needed. (Check also for minute openings that are invitations for critters to come in and get cozy. Seal them.)
  • Block air leaks, including sealing any unused chimneys (cap if permanently unused). Check fireplace dampers for tightness too. Weather-strip doors and caulk windows.
  • Insulate your pipes.
  •  Install digital, programmable thermostats: each degree you lower the thermostat can save you between 1 and 3% of heating costs. The smartest thermostats can be programmed from your phone, so you don’t have to walk into a cold house at the end of the day—or run the heat too high while away.
  • Have your heating system serviced. It’s no picnic losing heat mid-winter, especially if you’re not home and your pipes freeze and burst.
  • Replace central air and heating system filters.
  • Flip direction of ceiling fans to clockwise, to push heated air at ceiling back down.
  • Finally (insert your dad’s voice here), put on a sweater! Every degree raised on the thermostat costs you money.

If you know that your home needs energy upgrades and have decided it’s time, but you’re not sure where to begin, there’s no need to be overwhelmed by all the options. The build-design professionals at 3W design can help guide you to solutions that work, ensuring that your home is cozy and warm all winter, and more beautiful than ever!

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Late Summer is Outdoor Space Planning Time

By now, your garden may be looking a little disheveled, bedraggled, brown or burnt. “The bloom is off the rose,” which makes this a good time to take a thoughtful look at your garden, patio and plantings, and picture how you’d like your outdoor space to look and feel next year.

outdoor-space-planning

Start next year’s outdoor space planning now!

Did you enjoy your outdoor space this summer? If not, why not? Not enough shade or comfortable seating? Too buggy? Maybe there was too much shade, so plants didn’t thrive.

Walk around your entire house and take lots of photos with a “real” camera, so they don’t get forgotten behind family holidays, selfies with your pet, sunsets, and restaurant meals on your phone. These will be helpful to reference as you plan over the winter.

Look at the exterior and all hardscape and plantings with a critical eye. Do the pavers or bricks to the front door need attention? Is the decking in bad shape, or need to be re-sealed? Has the gravel in a walkway wandered all over the lawn?

How about the foundation shrubs? Are they too leggy, or blocking a window? Do they need replacement or just a serious pruning?

When to call in the pros 

Are there any dead trees on your property, or limbs hanging over or touching your roof? These are invitations to disaster and should be dealt with by professionals.

Now take a seat on your patio or deck, wherever you like to relax outside. What is working for you and your family, and what needs work? What is your goal for your outdoor environment: to get sun, to entertain, to attract birds and bees with a garden and water feature, to barbecue, grow herbs or food, play, have a private retreat?

Do you enjoy gardening and the elegance of an old English cutting garden complete with hedges and paths, or do you want a meadow of wildflowers with a rainbow of colors throughout the season?

Perennials reappear, but planting bright annuals lets you change up colors from year to year. Some plants, you’ll discover, aren’t “happy” where planted, but may thrive in another corner of the yard. So, before you toss that flower on the compost heap, transplant it someplace else. Oh, and how’s the drainage? With the rains this summer, did you have screened-porch-deckponding or puddling on the patio or erosion of soil or mulch? Or maybe you need some variable automatic irrigation.

How comfortable are you sitting on your porch or deck? Are there splinters or nails popping out on the decking? Does the patio grout, stone dust or sand need replacement? If you have to drag furniture cushions and/or furniture out of the garage or shed, what about seating or built-ins that double as storage space?

If your plain backyard could use a refresh, you may want to add architectural and functional elements:

  • A pergola
  • An awning
  • An arbor
  • Lighting
  • Benches, table, seating
  • Firepit, barbecue or pizza oven
  • Outdoor covered kitchen

These are just some ideas. And remember, if you want everything to come out according to your expectations, you’ll probably want to hire design professionals for anything major or structural.

Simplify

If you don’t want to spend hours digging in the dirt or perhaps travel frequently, think about a raised bed garden, They’re another way of adding architectural interest, hardscape (stone wall, wood, brick) and a variety of heights for added drama. Even easier are backyard-gardencontainer gardens, where you can add and subtract annuals for quick color through the season.

Lining the beds with newspapers or weed-blocking fabric can cut down or even eliminate weed and keeps groundhogs from digging up from below. Plus, your nutrient-rich soil won’t drain off.

This is a lot of food for thought, so take your time and use your photos for reference. Some programs let you call them up on your computer and redraw and rearrange to show you what changes would look like, including Better Homes & Gardens’ free Plan-a-Garden at www.bhg.com.

The design/build team at 3W design inc. can help your outdoor space dreams take root, so feel free to consult us if you’re planning any outdoor add-ons or structural changes.

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Designed to Be Cool

cool-in-summerMany people escape the steamy South for the cool mountains in the summer, but sometimes, such as this year, even Northern New England feels the heat. It’s especially tough because many Granite Staters don’t have air conditioning.

But you don’t have to sit there and sweat. Here are some tips to help you beat the heat, no matter what style home you have.

Inside Job

When it comes to energy savings and comfort no matter what the temperature, having enough and the proper grade of insulation is very important. It’s also a relatively easy fix. (While you’re in the attic, consider an attic fan to draw heat up and out of the house.)

Our Biggest Fan

Ceiling or paddle fans are a Southern staple, but they are an efficient way to help cool a room and can even help distribute heat in the winter. Today there are styles to suit any décor or era of home. A gently whirring fan can make the room temperature feel as much as 5 degrees cooler than it actually is, according to Green Building Advisor.

Keeping air moving is key to feeling cooler. Ceiling fans that rotate “forward” or counterclockwise circulate hot air upward and create a breeze. (In the winter, reverse direction at a low speed to move heated air back down to keep you warm.) But you’ll need a fan that reverses. Some new fans even have wireless controls including apps for your phone.

Look out!

mountain-lake-view…Especially when you have a mountain or lake view. When it comes to windows, the bigger the better. Southwest-style haciendas that feature smaller windows to prevent heat from baking your house are no good for views. But you can savor your Western sunset without breaking a sweat with a few simple strategies that follow.

First, when building or remodeling and replacing windows, be savvy. Besides choosing the right insulation value, consider UV-blocking glass. Windows that block the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays not only keep your AC from running all day, but prevent fading of furniture, rugs or carpet.

Not getting new windows? There are effective window films that install easily and function in much the same way. Plus, once installed, you’ll forget they’re there. Some films add security or privacy too. One manufacturer says the film can block 99% of UV rays, and can reduce heat by 78%.

Made for the Shade

Shades and blinds—maybe with liners—are another option. That way you can see through the blinds or shades when you wish but block out the sunlight (or cold) as desired. Plantation shutters can be a dramatic addition to large vertical windows.

Speaking of light, compact fluorescent light bulbs put out about 70% less heat than incandescent bulbs. Don’t worry–the light is no longer the sterile blue flicker you think of when you hear fluorescent.

There are many exterior options to tame the sun’s rays, from awnings, pergolas, external blinds (big in Europe—they reflect heat before it enters window glass), to light-colored roofing. Sturdy shade trees (think elms, sycamores and oaks) on the southwest side of your home are a sound investment.

poolsideA water feature can be cooling if only psychologically. Center a fountain within a tile, brick or pavered courtyard for a Mediterranean vibe.

When building your home or putting on an addition, cross-ventilation is key. Situate bedrooms on corners whenever possible so there are a couple of windows to catch a breeze and cool the room at night.

The roof can be designed in a lighter color to reflect heat, with an overhang or eave to shade windows and entrances. (But make sure it has a good pitch; snow lasts longer on light versus dark-colored roofing materials.) Overhangs have the added plus of enabling you to leave the windows open even when a cooling rain squall blows through.

Then there are passive solar basics:

  • Close West-facing window treatments and shades or blinds in the afternoon
  • Take up rugs from hardwood or laminate floors to make it feel cooler
  • Close windows in the morning to keep the house cool during the day
  • Open them at night when it’s cooler.

When contemplating new construction or a remodel, the design-build professionals at 3W design have the know-how you need to do everything right. If heat and high energy bills get you down, there’s no need to lose your cool. Just give us a call and soon you can be chilling out in comfort, all summer long!

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Design Your Commercial Space to Grow Business!

We all know how important first impressions are, and when you own a business or run a company, the stakes are even higher—and potentially more valuable.

commercial-space-design

A welcoming and well-designed corporate headquarters, professional office, retail or manufacturing space is an important extension of your brand. 3W Design’s design/build services can create a commercial environment that’s distinctive, expresses your brand, is functional, and even attracts and helps retain good employees.

Your people come first!

How do want your staff or employees to function or feel at work?

work-spaceAccording to the Labor Department, the average American works 38.7 hours a week, almost 47 weeks a year. Keeping staff (and yourself) comfortable, productive and happy is only one of the reasons why it pays to create a beautiful, efficient workspace. They are your first-line ambassadors.

Clients or customers are next

Back to the first impression, what signals are you sending to your clients or prospective new customers? A distinctive building or interior space that expresses your firm’s personality speaks volumes to potential clientele and customers. It’s another way of setting yourself apart from the competition, making your business singular and memorable.

Think about how you want guests and visitors to feel when they enter your establishment. What does your property say about your company, shop or professional practice? More importantly, what do you want it to say…

  • Trustworthy?
  • Dependable?
  • Distinctive, unique?
  • Fun, friendly, welcoming?
  • Serious or studious or somber?
  • Polished & Professional?
  • Efficient, hard-working?
  • Innovative?
  • Creative?
  • Eclectic?

High tech calls for a sleek, futuristic or industrial vibe, with grays and charcoal as neutrals. Here, soaring ceilings and exposed pipes of an old building can fit right in. For a pop of color, bring in contemporary art and/or paint the ductwork. (Pantone’s color of the year—ultraviolet—would work well with the gray neutrals and contemporary flair.)

A law firm may feature glowing wood paneling, stately built-in bookcases, deep jewel tones and plush carpeting for a quiet setting. Although legal libraries are online now, nothing says professional law office like a library wall of floor-to-ceiling books. Especially if the setting is a renovated mill building (keep some exposed brick), or antique home such as a Victorian.

art-spaceIn an art gallery, a good designer can ensure the artwork takes center stage, while incorporating all the behind-the-scenes details (office, ambient and task lighting, workspace) in an unobtrusive but tasteful manner.

Funky décor focusing on fashion as part of the design is perfect for a trendy boutique; don’t forget the sound system. Because fashion is always moving forward, a shop with movable modular displays and other flexible features can keep it looking fresh in any arrangement. (And draw customers in to see what’s new.)

For a pediatrician’s office, fun, bright, colorful and child-sized is key. The challenge is making medical instruments and gear look nonthreatening. Materials for work surfaces and furnishings must stand up to frequent cleaning and disinfecting, besides being durable.

There is so much more to think about when designing a commercial space versus a residence; considerations are a lot broader. Number-one is function (including safety). For example:

  • Acoustics
  • City and state building codes for commercial buildings
  • Lighting
  • HVAC systems (not just for comfort; for dust and germ control)
  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements
  • Efficiency of work flow
  • Space for guests, clients, visitors (lobby or waiting room)
  • Employees’ comfort, ergonomically at a workstation, and overall culture
  • Warehouse or storage for product
  • Manufacturing space or laboratory
  • Loading dock, distribution center

Do try this at home!

home-office-designRemember your home office—you deserve a beautiful, functional workspace too!

3W design, inc. is an award-winning design/build firm who can plan any commercial workspace or property, efficiently and attractively. We’ll transform each area into a distinctive, branded workspace, whether you’re at home, in a mill loft, downtown shop, industrial park or a strip mall.

We can help you mind your business (keeping your brand top-of-mind) and set it apart from the competition—with flair and distinction. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our design/build experts at 603-226-3399.

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Building on Hope – for and with the Concord Community

shelter-building-expansion

Building on Hope, based in Concord, NH is an organization of volunteers including builders, designers, architects and suppliers who renovate buildings for nonprofits. 3W design, inc. was invited to be a part of the round-the-clock work on the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire (CCCNH) emergency shelter. CCCNH is the only agency exclusively dedicated to working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Merrimack County.

As owner and president of 3W design, inc., Cheryl Tufts, CGR, CAPS, CPG has 30 years’ experience in designing, building, and remodeling commercial and residential properties. But she never imagined being part of a project to completely transform an outdated, 17-room, 100+-year-old building – in only 10 days onsite!

This isn’t the first time 3W design has pitched in to aid the community. As a longtime board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire, Cheryl said, “I really understand the issues that kids, women and some families face in Concord so much better.

“Several years ago, the director of the Concord Crisis Center of NH at that time asked for a donation or help with a bathroom countertop that needed replacing due to water damage. Between our fabricator and 3W design, we donated the counter.

“So, when asked to volunteer with this Building on Hope project, it was an absolute yes for me.”

Cheryl-Tufts-directing-work

3W’s team agreed to take on the largest bedroom on the third floor and third floor bathroom. “During the intensive week, I wondered why I was crazy enough to take on two spaces,” Cheryl said, somewhat wistfully. This of course had to include a bed and bathroom integration with a completely new HVAC system.

Cheryl added, “But to see the faces of the staff and CCCNH’s board of directors, knowing that growing the shelter from 14 to 23 beds means they will not need to turn away so many women and children, and that their environment is so beautiful inside as they help these families, was worth every bit of it.”

seeing the room

The renovation, with $500,000 in community funding, was a labor of love by more than 400 volunteers and hundreds of businesses of all types.

Cheryl noted that the project was extra tough for her and 3W’s designer, Alyssia Zevos, because their workspaces had to be delayed for installation of the new HVAC system. The HVAC was going through a scuttle attic into the attic with a small opening for access—with the only eaves entrance in the bedroom Alyssia was working in.

“Alyssia ended up putting together the entire room between Saturday and Sunday, Shelter Buildingfinishing Sunday a.m. at 11:55—with the big ‘reveal’ happening at noon,” Cheryl said, “truly in the nick of time!” She painted rooms, made 5 beds and a crib, hung drapes, and set up all the furniture to make a fabulous large bedroom that sleeps 6!

The Building on Hope projects’ results are well articulated on their website. “The structures and facilities of service groups are more than just buildings. They are like homes where lives are changed, and hearts are mended or strengthened. By enhancing those ‘homes’ we help these vital organizations in their work and bring renewed hope to their efforts. The benefits are far-ranging, helping not only the people being served by the non-profit, but also empowering and inspiring workers, volunteers of the groups and the communities around them… Building on Hope sees ‘hope’ as more than just a feeling. It is the most essential tool or building supply we have to make our communities, our state and our world into a better, stronger, happier place.”

The project volunteers’ accomplishments over the past two years have been amazing and they include:

  • The building, which featured an inefficient floor plan, was virtually gutted
  • The shelter’s capacity was almost doubled, from 4 bedrooms with 13 beds to 7 bedrooms with 23 beds.
  • Seventeen rooms were renovated
  • New HVAC and a security system were installed
  • There are new windows, flooring, and sidingnew-bath-design
  • There is an ADA-compliant bedroom, bath and kitchen; it’s wheelchair accessible
  • Bedrooms have new bedding, built-in shelves, desks, and storage.

“Living in Pembroke, raising our girls and helping with our five grandkids over the years has maybe sheltered us somewhat. With the Boys & Girls Club, I realized the other side of what some families have to deal with just to survive,” Cheryl said and continued, “It was the same with the CCCNH shelter project. For me and the 3W design team, it was a reminder of how fortunate we are. I feel so grateful that we could contribute our talents and expertise to the community for this cause.”

For more about Building on Hope and this project, see www.BuildingonHope.com. For more about the work of the crisis center, see www.CCCNH.org.

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From 3 Season Camp to Luxury Getaway

Everything old is new again!

vacation-home

One of the real estate trends here in New Hampshire is rehabbing old cabins and cottages on the big lakes and turning them into luxurious all-season getaways. Working with a designer, you can retain the rustic summer camp feel with today’s comforts, whatever your personal style may be.

Whether starting from a rustic cabin, kitschy cottage or ancient A-frame, consider:

  • Will you expand the footprint of the building? (In most cases, it’s yes!)
  • Is the foundation sturdy and stable?
  • Are walls free of dry rot, insect damage or pest infestation?
  • Will the layout remain the same or change? (Think about plumbing and structural rework.)
  • How will you insulate and heat the home?
  • Can the service panel accommodate today’s electricity demands?

The answers to these questions will tell you and your designer/builder whether your project is a teardown, gut job, or major renovation. (If you have enough property, you might also consider rehabbing the camp as a guest house and build your dream year-round vacation home next door.

From the bottom up

Old granite stone foundations are classic, but is the mortar crumbling, or has the cabin settled, leaving cracks? Shoring up an insufficient foundation—especially with today’s demands for multiple bathrooms, or another story above—is critical. And any addition needs its own foundation. If you’re expanding the footprint, you’ll need a current survey showing property lines and a run through the local planning and zoning department.

Changes in layout present their own challenges. Plumbing will need to be added and/or rerouted. The same with the wiring and electrical panel, which will need to be replaced to accommodate today’s household power demands. This includes adding more than the ancient standard of one outlet per room.

Plan for the unexpected.

One of the “charms” of old cottages is discovering that rubber insulation has been chewed off wires, or that there’s aluminum wiring—a hazard. A fun find: pulling out pages from a 70-year-old Sears catalog or newspaper that had been used as insulation in the walls.

That rickety porch that’s starting to sag from wood rot can last ages longer if rebuilt with highly durable decking made of composite material that never needs painting or waterproofing.

Wrap-around porches fan out to include multiple-level decking with a water feature, hot tub, patio, fire pit and outdoor barbecue big enough to handle a pig roast. Maybe with a wood-fired pizza oven on the side. Now you have three-season living and entertaining space outdoors.

Do you really want to fuss with maintaining a lawn? Instead, make the most of natural features such as glacial boulders, ferny groves, and consider care-free xeriscaping. Presto! You have your weekend back for boating, hunting, skiing, entertaining or just plain escaping.

Any re-design calls for new windows. For year-round comfort, replace inefficient and drafty single panes with well-insulated double- or triple-pane Energy-Star rated ones. A-frame-remodel(Newer designs are not only more energy efficient, they’re easy to pop in and out for cleaning.

“Up and out” are the watchwords for transforming a chalet, cottage, A-frame or beachy bungalow into a mountain or seaside showplace. Gone are low ceilings and postage-stamp decks or balconies. Beamed ceilings soar, second stories top a single story, with maybe a loft above that.

Make the heat a treat!

A fireplace—at least one—is a must, and there are so many choices. The simplest is gas, which glows at the touch of a remote, either natural gas if available, or from a propane tank. Wood-burning fireplaces are classic; no other smell says “Welcome to camp” as authentically. (The grandest lodges feature two-sided, see-through fireplaces big enough to stand in.)

A wood stove or wood-stove insert gives the glow, heats more efficiently, and can be loaded at night to burn unattended until morning. But pellet stoves look like wood stoves, without the hassle of splitting, hauling, stacking and storing wood.

In the luxury market, air conditioning is standard, even on a breezy lakefront; on humid nights you’ll appreciate it. But at minimum, ceiling fans move cool and heated air, directing it up or down according to the temperature outside.

Setting the getaway mood    

A simple and effective way to complete the classy cabin or luxury lodge look is with colors: weathered barn red or rust, matte sage to forest greens, mahogany, or dusty gray/blue. Popular metals are copper and pewter, or black wrought iron. Wood is a natural wood-interiorthroughout, whether in warm honey tones, rustic redwood, or gleaming polished golds; big timbers or classic logs, wood is good!

Picture blacksmith-style hardware on a sliding barn door, or a forest green metal roof. Wood, stone and nature’s colors (a green roof or trim) also help integrate your second home into the landscape.

You can have your heated towel racks and sauna while still honoring the original purpose of the property and the integrity of the old cabin. Complementary architectural elements can “echo” gables, timber style and size, or a farmer’s porch. Repurpose weathered boards or siding to preserve the truly rustic look and feel where you want it.

Another way to honor the home’s heritage is with artifacts. A couple ideas would be to create a shadow box with great-grandfather’s fishing lures and hat; mount canoe paddles, skis, or rod and reel over the doorway, or hang a fishing tackle basket on a wall.

One thing you won’t miss when transforming a family cabin into an all-year getaway: the smell of mildew or musty walls. Talk to the experts at 3W design, inc. about making your summer place and all-season getaway space. You’ll have all the comforts of home and go from camping to “glamping” in style.

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Your Life During a Home Renovation

It’s decided. You love where you live, and you want to stay a long time, so you’re going to tackle a major home renovation. All you can think about is the completed result and you can’t wait to start the project! Now pause. Before you write the first check, think about this: should you stay, or should you go during the work?

remodeling-demolition

Demolition and construction cause lots of dust. Even if the renovation is closed off with a plastic zip tent and has its own air handler or filter (highly recommended), anyone coming and going will track fine dust on their shoes. Plus, the dust released every time the area is opened hangs in the air for a long time.

If anyone in the home has lung or breathing issues such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the decision is already made for you: You really need to move out during construction.

Other reasons to plan for a temporary rental or sharing a home with friends or family include installing a new roof or another floor, if baths are being remodeled, or when more than half the house is being done (such as after a disaster like a fire). Having a baby or toddlers is enough reason too, as are pets, for safety reasons.

The 3W Design/build team does our utmost to “zip” construction dust away from the rest of your home. But you’ll still have daily noise to deal with: hammering, sawing and drilling, which can set your teeth on edge and make pets anxious

How long does it take?

After creating a comprehensive plan with you, your contractor coordinates everything: arranging for permits, debris removal (picture a Dumpster in your front yard), subcontractors including licensed plumbers and electricians, material deliveries, construction and inspections. Because of so many factors, any estimate is subject to change.

A kitchen remodel consisting of a full gut and moving/installing plumbing or electrical, could take six to eight weeks. If you decide to stay, there’s a lot to think about. Can you relocate the fridge and set up a kitchen in the garage? It depends on the season, and if the builder needs that space to measure, cut and saw.

Or maybe the refrigerator moves to the dining room. Appliances that will be your best friends may include:

  • Microwave
  • Toaster oven
  • Electric skillet (great for eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese)
  • Crock-Pot

But be careful what surface you have the appliances on. Unlike kitchen counters and a stove top, your dining room table’s hand-rubbed finish can’t stand the heat. Fire up the grill and eat outside when feasible.

Use paper plates and disposable cups whenever practical, but you’ll still need access to a sink for washing—maybe a laundry sink?

Got kids? Make it fun!

When it feels as if the kitchen job is dragging on too long, make it a challenge to eat at or get takeout from a different ethnic restaurant each night for a week: Italian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Mexican, French, Japanese, etc. You may discover a new favorite! Or, hit a diner and have breakfast for dinner once a week. Chances are the kids aren’t as wigged out as you are over the construction chaos.

If we’ve learned nothing else from HGTV, it’s “expect surprises.” Those surprises usually have a price tag accompanying them, and virtually always add extra time to the job.

So, if you’re redoing your living or great room and/or expanding your kitchen and formal dining room for a milestone anniversary party or small wedding, leave a couple of months “wiggle room” in the contracting schedule.

Older Homes with Hidden Surprises

When the dining room of one 1765 colonial was opened to fix water damage from an upstairs bath, the contractor discovered the whole wall was rotted from foundation to rafters. Faced with an unexpected cost, remind yourself that you’re remodeling because this is your home and you hope to live there a long time.

A delightful surprise in an antique farmhouse was discovering stone walls behind the drywall in a bathroom redo. They were left exposed for a unique shower enclosure.

Plan to avoid scope creep.

Beware of “scope creep” and yes, we’re talking to you, the client. Homeowners are notorious for changing plans, adding items that aren’t on the original plan of work, and then wondering why the job comes in late and over budget.

To circumvent this, be prepared to spend plenty of time with 3W design’s team before a single work truck pulls up. For example, you may have your heart set on a Mexican tile, but if it’s back ordered, you may be asked to select something else you like that’s available sooner.

Once it’s in, typically early in the process, plumbing and electrical can’t be moved “a little to the left” or fixtures changed without delaying everything else—and incurring extra cost.

Time to Celebrate!   

Remember the before-during-and-after’s—photos, that is. We like “during” the project pictures to document the progress and provide some architectural history of your home. In a few months you’ll be enjoying your addition, new bathroom or kitchen so much that you’ll forget what it used to look like and wonder how you got along without it.

Waking up in the remodeled home you love is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give to yourself and your family.

 

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What Colors Are You Living Today?

interior-color

We live in a world of color, which has the power to lift our mood, express ourselves, brand our lifestyle and even tell us whether we’re celebrating or commemorating. It’s part of our vocabulary: he’s feeling blue, she turned red, blushing pink with pride, purple with anger and so on.

“When 80% of human experience is filtered through the eyes, we understand that the choice of color is critical,” according to the authority on colors, the Pantone Color Institute (www.pantone.com).

The 2018 Pantone Color of the Year is Ultra Violet. What does this mean? It means you can expect to see ultraviolet in everything from paint colors to furniture and accessories to fashion. (Oddly enough, our eyes can’t see actual ultra violet light.)

Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman describes Pantone 18-3838 as, “A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade,” which communicates “originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking,” Eiseman says.

Founded in 1962, Pantone created the Pantone Matching System (PMS), ensuring consistency of color in printing ink, paint and fabrics. Along the way the company made predicting color trends into an artful science, forecasting and influencing what color dresses, appliances, even cars we’ll be seeing, and creating brand palettes for clients based on color psychology.

Although there was no official color of the year back then, the fact that colors trend in popularity over time explains why you can see an avocado or harvest gold kitchen and immediately think “Sixties.”

Color is universal. Recognize any of these? What do they make you think of?

  • Minion Yellow (yes, it’s a thing!)
  • Fire-engine red
  • Emerald green
  • Tiffany Blue (see Pantone.com for the backstory)

Now picture the institutional green of old hospitals and prisons, and battleship gray.

What is color – really?

It starts with light, which is made up of waves of electromagnetic radiation on a spectrum. light-and-colorIt was Isaac Newton who discovered that focusing light through a prism broke the waves up into separate colors: the seven colors of the rainbow. Of course, he didn’t think of them as waves, but each color is a different wavelength, with violet being the shortest at 380 nanometers.

According to Eiseman, Ultra Violet is complex because purple is a blend of colors from the opposite ends of the spectrum. Red is a warm color, and blue is on the cool end of the spectrum. What’s important is how you want to feel in that room.

When you think neutral, you think of white (in endless variations) and beige (which doesn’t have to be boring, and with a spoonful of cream can be nice and warm). But any HGTV fan knows that gray is the new beige, from dove, to fog, to silvery blue-ish, to sophisticated pewter, dramatic charcoal, and “greige.”

If you’ve ever stared at the bewildering array of 2X2 sample chips in a paint department, you know how frustrating finding the right color can be. That’s where 3W design, inc. can help.

Nurseries and kids’ rooms have run the gamut, from baby blue and rose pink to gender-neutral sunny or butterscotch yellow, to primal primaries. Chalkboard paint comes in assorted colors now, so kids can show their true colors.

Dark typically conveys drama. Chocolate brown had its day; recent saturated colors have included aubergine (the expensive name for eggplant) or cobalt blue. Think twice before rolling an entire room in one of these colors—try an accent wall first.

Houzz.com warns that yellow can be “tricky.” Though you may love it on that paint chip, on the wall it may be too intense. The pros at Houzz recommend selecting a hue that’s paint-colorsalmost beige; it will look much brighter on the wall.

Can you picture your traditional home with ultra violet walls? Maybe not. But as an accent color alongside other jewel tones (magenta, emerald) in fringed silk drapes, it could make for a dramatic late-Victorian parlor.

Thinking spring? For that fresh-as-a-daisy look, consider a spring palette of green (perhaps the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year, Greenery) and white, with a splash of pink or rose, and/or daffodil yellow.

What is color but reflected light? That’s why it’s vital to get a large-sized color sample, put it on the wall, and examine it at various times of day. Small paint jars make it easy to slap on swatches without committing to a gallon. (Be sure to get the sample in the same finish—flat/matte/eggshell or satin or gloss—that you plan on using.)

Just as there are people with an ear for music and those who are tone deaf, some people have an eye for color and others do not. And just as with music, harmony is key. That’s why working with a design professional when building, remodeling and decorating can make all the difference.

Crisp white trim is always in style, for example. But some palettes—khaki and browns– are better suited to off-white with a splash of cream. A cool gray palette needs trim with the slightest dusting of gray. It makes a difference.

Best of all, with paint there’s no fear of commitment. If you made a mistake, or when it’s time for a change, you just paint over it!

Though one person’s puce is another person’s carmine, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: life would be awfully dull without colors!

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Man Cave or She Shed: A Space of One’s Own

open-man-cave

If you’re male and don’t yet have one, you want one: a man cave. Elevated in form and function from the old-fashioned snooze-worthy den, a man cave is an all-out expression of a masculine territory grab, and woe betides the woman who tries to put her stamp on it. In fact, according to psychologist Sam Gosling of the University of Texas, having your own space is psychologically healthy, perhaps especially for guys.

“Space is very important,” Gosling told Houzz editor Mitchell Parker, as a “powerful mechanism for evoking our emotions.” That affects emotional well-being.

Since most homes are decorated by women, and guys wisely defer, the “man of the house” is usually conditioned to live in a feminine influenced space and will go along. Hence, lots of men feel the need for making their own mark with a man cave, whether in the basement, garage or loft.

Themes for Him

A vinyl weight bench, big-screen TV, dorm syle mini-fridge and shelf of dusty trophies in the basement does not make for a legitimate man cave. Think broader and bigger, based specifically around typically masculine interests.

Picture a theme that resonates with you?

  • Wild West saloon or British pub, diner or arcade, billiards parlor
  • Indy 500 or NASCAR with a part of the room for your slot-car track
  • Hunting or fishing theme with mounts, antler chandelier, paneling
  • Sports, trophy case, memorabilia
  • Home theater with horror or sci-fi movie posters
  • Hero characters, memorabilia, collectible books
  • Total geek gamification with virtual reality technology

When the Gang’s All Here

Compared with its female counterpart, which tends to be a quiet space, a man cave is meant to be shared, where nobody’s “shushed” and guys can get rowdy. You’ll need to equip it for entertaining.

 

Consider outfitting your space with these appliances and toys:

  • Refrigerator, wine cooler or Kegerator
  • Pool table, foosball, darts, pinball, ping-pong, putting green
  • Giant TV with surround sound (size matters), theater seating
  • Video games or slot cars

Getting in Gear

The benefits of building your “no girls allowed” space in a garage include bigger toys: ATVs, motorcycles (and an extra engine or two for parts), racing bikes, tools mounted on the wall.

A half bath or one with a shower is helpful if you’ll be lifting more than 12-packs in your home gym, or tinkering with engines in your shop. While you’re configuring extra plumbing, what about a sauna?

Okay boys, so what’s your pleasure? If you need inspiration, take a spin online at Houzz, HGTV or Pinterest for more inspiration. You can even find a Little Rascals’ “He-Man Woman Haters Club” sign, should you desire one!

Her Time – Her Space

Because most of the home is typically her province, the female equivalent of a private space is often a quiet retreat or sacred space, not a place to party with pals.

Consider the “she shed,” which quite literally gets her out of the house into the backyard. Bigger than a gazebo, smaller than a guesthouse (though that would make a great hideout), a she shed can be a greenhouse or cottage-style shed (with windows of course), or a grown-up dollhouse.

 

 

You may desire a potting table for plants or an art studio; with a couch for lazy afternoon naps. They can also be craft spaces for pottery or maybe you’re into natural fibers and knitting. House Beautiful once featured a crystal chandelier for a she shed that included tea lights for lighting the space.

Practically speaking, in Northern New England, a separate space away from the house may not make the most sense, unless you have an old farmhouse with an undercover ell all the way. If your she shed isn’t insulated and electrified, it will only be a seasonal retreat.

Welcome the comeback of the Victorian parlor or sitting room. Today’s home design is big on “open concept,” but older homes were broken up into smaller spaces according to function. The parlor is where you received guests and held formal events, and a sitting room was where women gathered to read or converse; it often functioned as a sewing room.

Many of today’s homes have cozy rooms or nooks without doors that can be easily transformed into an “estrogen room,” as one musician friend dubbed hers. It contains her piano, CD player, a loveseat, books including her devotional reading, a family photo wall, and is decorated around a tea and florals theme—delightfully girly.

Fitted with French or pocket doors for privacy, a parlor can be an island of serenity within the home, where you can read, dream, craft, do yoga, play music, meditate, whatever your heart desires.

Dreaming of a special place in your home to call your own? Stop dreaming and start planning. The design/build team at 3W design, inc. can make that space a reality – for him and for her!

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