What Type of Landscape to Use in Your Brand New Home?

Landscaping has a huge impact on the overall look and feel of your home (and it can improve resale value, too). The landscaping style you choose should allow your yard to be a place where you can go to relax and decompress from the rest of the world.

When choosing a type of landscaping design, keep in mind your ultimate goals, such as designing your yard for children, sustainability, entertaining or relaxation. Be aware of any zoning laws in your neighborhood that may prohibit certain types or sizes of structures and of your climate; not every style of landscaping is conducive to all types of weather.

You don’t have to fly to a remote island to experience tropical vibes. You can recreate them for your own backyard landscaping project with lush greenery and bold colors. If your climate suports it, palm trees, birds of paradise, hibiscus flowers, bougainvillea, orchids and jasmine are all representative of a tropical getaway.

There are also tropical touches you can add in any growing zone. A hammock swaying in the breeze, a swimming pool or hot tub—with a waterfall to really level up—tiki statues and torches, bamboo accents, a fire pit and brightly colored outdoor furniture are functional even in less-than-tropical climates. Making a signature cocktail at a backyard tiki bar is optional.

If your idea of an ideal getaway is a cozy cabin in the woods, consider a woodland landscaping style. This type of landscape design is an excellent choice for a low-maintenance option; forest trees, shrubs and florals can be left to grow in their own time with little human interference.

Hardwood trees (like oak, maple, hickory, walnut and cherry) are traditional choices but do take longer to grow and are a long-term investment. These trees also go dormant in the winter, so consider what the landscape will look like in all seasons. Softwoods (including cedar, Douglas fir, juniper, pine, redwood, spruce and yew) grow more quickly and retain their coverage during the winter.

In terms of structural additions, stone pathways, wooden benches and decorative or functional birdhouses help create a woodland feel.

If tall trees aren’t your style, consider recreating a prairie landscape with tall grasses and herbaceous flowering plants. Switchgrass, which is native to the plains in the southwest U.S., has greens, browns and even a little purple or red

It has evolved to many environments, from cold to warm and shallow to deep soil, so it can be adaptable to most climates. Switchgrass is also drought-resistant, so it’s a good option if you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of rain. It can also be a less expensive option than trees or shrubbery.

English garden, also known as English cottage or English countryside is a popular landscape style that evokes stories about summering at your grandmother’s in Kent, which is nicknamed the “Garden of England.” It was the English garden style of landscaping that actually helped people view nature as something to be appreciated and valued rather than feared. Alongside florals, shrubbery and trees, a body of water is a common English garden feature. Whether manmade or natural, this could be a lake at large scale, or a pond or reflecting pool on the smaller end. A bridge, a bench and a birdbath are classic accompaniments, along with sculptures and a cobblestone path.

Tuscan Gardens. You don’t need 300 acres to recreate your own slice of the Medici gardens in Tuscany, Italy. You can emulate these famous gardens and others in Italy with a Tuscan style of landscaping. The region is known for its rolling hills, verdant vineyards and fragrant olive trees. Even without these exact components, you can achieve a Tuscan look and feel.

Spanish style landscaping is popular in areas of similar climate, hot and dry. Influenced by Islamic, Persian and Moorish gardens but with a flair of its own, this type of design is typically tolerant of drought, meaning that grass is not a central or necessary element. Most structural elements of Spanish landscape design include ceramic: it can be found in benches, reflecting pools, walls, walkways, decorative touches and fountains. In terms of fountains, the Spanish style is not one large centerpiece but multiple smaller pieces. Terracotta pots, urns and bright blue glazed accent decor are also authentic touches

No matter which landscaping style spoke to you, make sure you’re considering the best style for your property. Consider factors like climate, weather, personal preferences and maintenance level before settling on your finalized style. If you are looking for more landscaping ideas and must-knows, our resident general contractor has some advise. SOURCE: FORBES

The Best Kitchen Countertop Material.

Choose the right countertop material for your kitchen.

There are lots of countertop options on the market for kitchen countertops, but 10 materials comprise the majority of countertops in residential kitchens. They include granite, marble, quartz, and more. Each material has its positive and negative aspects. For instance, some are very strong while others can be scratched or marred. And some materials cost a lot more than others.

For some time, granite has been the countertop material of choice when there were no cost issues to consider. Granite defines elegance in a kitchen. Even modest kitchens seem like luxury spaces when flavored by the beauty of granite countertops. 

Historically, granite has been an expensive material, but its cost has come down somewhat as supplies have increased and engineered stone has become more common. 

Soapstone is another natural stone, usually dark gray in color with a smooth, silky feel. It has seen a recent resurgence as an alternative to granite. Soapstone is often seen in historic homes but is also used in modern homes as both a countertop and sink material. Over time, soapstone takes on an antique-like patina that can be very attractive in certain kitchen styles. 

Contrary to expectations, the architectural soapstone used for countertops is actually quite hard and resistant to stain. However, it will scratch over time, although this can add to the antique patina of the stone.

Another natural stone commonly used in kitchen countertops is marble. Because no two sheets of marble are exactly the same, each marble countertop will be entirely unique.

Because of its extremely high price tag, marble is not often seen on the entire expanse of countertops of most kitchens. More often, its luxurious look is limited to use on an island or section of countertop reserved as a baking center.

Although highly prized, marble may not be the best choice for kitchens due to its penchant for staining and scratching. Newer sealers can reduce the upkeep on marble, but this is a considerably more temperamental stone than granite or soapstone.

The countertop material known as “quartz” is actually an engineered stone product that contains as much as 93 percent quartz particles and other minerals, shaped into slabs and bound with resins. These are not solid quartz slabs produced by quarrying.

Sold by companies such as DuPont Zodiaq, LG Viatera, Cambria, and Silestone, quartz was created as a more adaptable and better-performing alternative to granite and marble. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite and has a nonporous surface that resists both scratching and staining. Some types are convincing copies of natural marble, with similar veining. Unlike natural stone, engineered quartz requires no annual sealing.

Similar technology is now being used in so-called glass countertops, which consist of particles of recycled glass blended with resins and shaped into countertop slabs. Consumers keen on being on the cutting edge may want to consider glass as well as quartz countertops. 

Solid-surface material, sold under brands including Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone, is a man-made material consisting of a blend of acrylic particles and resins that are pressed into sheets and other shapes. Solid-surface countertops and sinks have now been around for nearly 50 years, but at the time of introduction, they were regarded as space-age alternatives to natural stone, which they sought to mimic. 

Once regarded as premium, luxury countertops, solid-surface material is now considered somewhat mid-tier, but it is still an excellent choice for mid-range kitchens. It can also be a good material in high-end kitchens with a lot of countertop space that would be prohibitively expensive to cover with granite or quartz. 

Ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean, and it is considerably less expensive than natural stone, quartz, or solid-surface countertops, especially for DIYers willing to do their own work.

Recent innovations in porcelain tiles offer many more design options than ever before, including tiles that look like wood, marble, or even leather or cork. Ceramic and porcelain tiles offer more design options than nearly any other countertop material. 

Laminate counters bear trademarks such as Formica, Nevamar, and Wilsonart. The laminates are plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that’s easy to clean. Countertops are made by bonding the laminate sheets to a particleboard (MDF) core. Laminate countertops can be purchased as pre-formed segments (called “post-form countertops”), or custom-fabricated to specifications, either on-site or in a fabrication shop. 

Although for many years regarded as more ordinary than premium countertop materials, laminates have seen a recent surge in popularity, thanks in part to the thousands of colors, patterns, and styles now available. Laminates are especially popular in retro designs, particularly midcentury modern kitchens.

Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Hardwoods such as maple and oak are the species most often used as countertop woods.

For a really contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is a good choice. Stainless steel countertops are heat-resistant and durable. Because they’re constructed to your specifications, you can have a seamless countertop.

If you have countertops in unusual shapes, or if you want a truly unique kitchen, concrete may be a good choice for your countertops. Due to their heavy weight, concrete countertops are usually cast in forms right in your kitchen. These are not the same kind of concrete slabs used in sidewalks, but highly polished concrete slabs that may even be textured or acid-stained to produce colors. 

Although concrete can be subject to cracking, new treatments can reduce this tendency. The porousness of concrete can be reduced with additives.  SOURCE: THE SPRUCE

Viamar Homes Model Kitchen, call us at ☎786.663.0514 we are available to answer all your questions.

The Difference Between A Wood House and A Masonry Construction.

If you are building a house, a shed, or anything in between, one of the main considerations that you need to keep in mind is what you are actually going to build the main component of it out of. Generally speaking, there are two main ways to construct a building, and these include using a wood frame and masonry construction.

Sure, both result in a sound structure, but the methods used do have different features, benefits, and drawbacks. Let’s figure out what the differences between wood frame construction and masonry construction are, so you can make an informed decision between the two.

Before we get into talking about the similarities shared between the two, as well as the differences between them, let’s first figure out what both of them actually are.

What’s the Difference?

As you might be able to tell by the name of it, a wood frame construction simply involves using wood to create the frame of a house or small building. Generally speaking, high-quality hardwood is used for wood frame constructions, but lower quality wood may also be used at certain times. Wood frame construction has been around for a very long time simply because trees have always been around.

Real wood is an abundant building material that can be found virtually anywhere and is very easy to work with. Sure, wood does have its problems such as insect infestations, susceptibility to moisture, and susceptibility to combustion, but nonetheless, it is still a very popular option, especially for small and medium-sized homes as well, as for other smaller buildings.

On the other hand, the other type of construction that you might want to go with for the frame of your home is masonry construction, which in this case might consist of brick, stone, or concrete. It is important to keep in mind that there are various differences between brick, stone, and concrete masonry construction, but generally speaking, they are all quite similar, especially when compared to wood frame construction.

Masonry is of course heavy and it needs to be joined together by mortar, but that said it does have various advantages such as fire resistance and moisture resistance. This is one of the main reasons why it is often used for large buildings such as apartments complexes and skyscrapers.

Besides the fact that both masonry and wood can be used for the construction of house and building frames, the simple reality is that they really don’t share any similarities.

One of the biggest advantages that masonry has over wood construction is that it’s just not combustible. You just can’t light a brick or a piece of stone on fire like you can a piece of wood and therefore buildings that feature masonry constructions are much more fire-resistant than wood frame construction buildings.

In the other hand wood frame construction suffers from is that wood rots. Now, high-quality wood is moisture resistant and even more so if it has been specially treated, but with that being said, there is no amount of treatment that can stop wood from rotting indefinitely. Eventually, sooner or later, wood will rot. Brick, stone, and concrete just don’t rot. Rocks are not organic and therefore cannot decompose.

Another disadvantage that homes made with wood frame construction suffer from is that insects such as ants and termites can actually eat the wood and cause severe structural damage. Insects do not eat masonry, therefore meaning that masonry construction is not susceptible to insect damage.

When it comes to extreme weather, especially strong winds caused by hurricanes and tornadoes, masonry construction, especially when it has been reinforced, is much more able to withstand those forces of nature than wooden structures are.

When it comes down to it, masonry, no matter if we are talking about brick, stone, concrete, or anything in between, is just much stronger and more durable than wood. Masonry can withstand a lot more pressure and bear much more weight than your average piece of wood, thus making masonry construction buildings much stronger than wood frame buildings.

Viamar Homes Masonry Structure

The simple reality here is that masonry is actually much cheaper than wood frame constructions. Real and solid timber is extremely expensive and the price of it is only going up as time goes on.

Which one is BETTER?

When it comes down to it, masonry is undoubtedly the better building material due to its increased fire resistance, weather resistance, rot resistance, moisture resistance, insect resistance, and overall strength. With that being said, there is just nothing that beats the natural aesthetic and beautiful appearance of real wood. The difference here is functionality versus beauty.

The bottom line here is that both wood and masonry are fine building materials to choose from, but which one you go with really depends on what your primary purposes are, to live in it or for investment? SOURCE: Handyman World.

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Benefits of Using LED Lights for Your Home.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 says that all residential light bulbs have to be 25% more efficient. For regular incandescent bulbs, that’s not possible without making them dimmer.

That makes it more important to find energy-efficient bulbs that fit your needs. LEDs come in strong compared to other options, including compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).

LEDs used to be expensive, but they’re much more affordable now. They also come with plenty of perks that you may not realize.

1. Reduced Energy Use

Compared to incandescent bulbs, LEDs are about 90% more efficient in light production. That energy efficiency means more of the energy the bulb uses goes into producing light rather than heat.

Incandescent bulbs are the opposite. The majority of their energy gets turned into heat instead of light. That heat is wasted energy since it doesn’t serve any purpose, other than to burn your finger if you touch the light bulb

Because the LED bulbs are so much more energy-efficient, you’ll save on your electric bill when you switch. It may not seem like much, but over time it can really help your energy bill.

You can also feel better about using less energy. It’s your little way of helping out the environment by reducing your energy consumption.

2. Longer Bulb Life

Do you feel like you’re constantly changing burnt-out light bulbs? Incandescent bulbs don’t last very long. The typical lifespan is about 1,000 hours.

You can expect about about 1,000 hours the lifespan from LED bulbs compared to incandescent bulbs. They usually last around 25,000 hours. Some are rated to last much longer, such as 50,000 hours.

A CFL bulb lasts longer than an incandescent at about 10,000 hours of use. But it’s still significantly shorter than the lifespan of an LED.

That long lifespan makes less work for you, especially in commercial environments. Your maintenance crew can spend a lot of time replacing traditional light bulbs, especially when you have a large facility.

With LEDs, you won’t have to change light bulbs very often. This lowers the amount of time you put into maintenance.

It can lower your maintenance costs. You’ll spend less money paying your crew to change light bulbs, and you’ll spend less on buying replacement bulbs.

You get those same benefits at home on a smaller scale. You’ll save money on buying light bulbs in the long run even though LEDs cost more initially than incandescents. You also don’t have to waste time changing light bulbs all the time.

3. Cool to the Touch

Have you ever touched an incandescent bulb after it’s been on for a while? You likely ended up with a burn or at least a painful reminder of how hot light bulbs get.

About 90% of the energy of an incandescent bulb turns into heat. With CFLs, it’s about 80% of the energy that turns to heat. That means both of those light bulb types get unnecessarily hot.

LEDs eliminate that pain and the safety issues that come with a hot bulb. The energy efficiency means it can produce light without wasting energy as heat.

They create essentially no heat while running, even if you leave the lights on for hours. That means you can touch it if you need to without getting a severe burn.

It also makes your home a little safer by reducing the risk of a fire. If a soft material comes into contact with the bulb, it won’t catch on fire like it would with a hot incandescent bulb.

4. Durable Construction

Think about how easily a traditional bulb breaks. If you drop an incandescent bulb, it’ll likely shatter.

LED bulbs are made using much stronger materials. Instead of using a delicate filament or neon gas to produce light, an LED uses solid materials. That means it doesn’t need the glass bulb to protect it like traditional filament bulbs.

The construction method and materials make them more durable than other bulb types and better suited for harsher environments.

The lights can typically withstand harsh weather elements. They work even in extreme temperatures when other bulb types may not work or may take longer to work. This allows them to work in refrigerated spaces.

They can also handle shocks and vibrations, so they’re suitable for a variety of places where they might get moved around frequently.

5. Health benefits

LED lights also have abundant health benefits as discovered in use of red light therapy devices. LED red light therapy at the right power and beam angle has proven to be scientifically beneficial in treating over 23 known conditions to do with the skin, deeper tissue healing and even cognitive conditions. Read more at redlighttherapyhome.com or shop for their FDA approved red light therapy devices.

6. No Waiting for Light

Some bulbs take a while to reach their full brightness once you flip on the switch. Fluorescent bulbs are notorious for sometimes taking several minutes to get to maximum brightness.

That’s not the case with LED bulbs. They turn on instantly and are immediately at their full brightness.

That makes LEDs more appealing to use. You don’t have the annoying dim period where the bulb warms up to its full potential. You get instant brightness, so you can get your work done.

When you use LEDs, you use a lot fewer materials and send a lot less waste to the landfill because they last so long. You’re not buying new bulbs all the time, so you’re not consuming as much material.

With fewer bulbs needed, that can reduce manufacturing needs, which reduces the impact on the environment.

When you do have an LED bulb that burns out, you don’t have to toss it in the trash. They’re completely recyclable, so you can reduce the trash you produce.

You can help reduce your overall carbon footprint by switching to LEDs.

For home use, that gives you a good feeling. You know you’re doing your part to protect the environment. SOURCE: RESIDENCE STYLE

How to Safely Child Proof Your Home.

One of the first steps in childproofing your home involves making sure that your kids can’t get out of the house and can’t get into rooms that aren’t childproofed.

Door knob covers make it hard for little hands to get a grip, turn, and open doors. They should be placed on all of the doors leading out of your home and on bathroom doors. It is also a good idea to place them on closet doors and on the doors of any other room that you don’t want your child to get into.

Keep in mind that lever type door handles are much harder to childproof. Lever handle locks are available, but they can only be opened one-way, so are only really good for closets, etc.

Your stove can be a big hazard to your kids, who can get burned by food that is cooking on the stove or turn on the burners and get seriously burned.

In addition to using the back burners when cooking and turning handles away from the front of your stove, a stove guard can make your stove safe.

Similar to the stove guard, plastic guards can keep your kids away from electronics in your home, like your TV, VCR, or DVD player.

Appliances in your home pose their own safety hazards. In addition to opening the oven and getting burned, your kids might open the dishwasher and pull out a knife and get cut, or pull unsafe items out of the refrigerator.

An appliance latch or lock can help you to secure all of these kitchen appliances.

A toilet lid lock is also a good idea so that your kids can’t open the toilet and drown.

Securing the stairs in your home to prevent falls is another essential part of childproofing your home.

Gates should be installed on both the top and bottom of every staircase in your home.

In addition to keeping your kids off the stairs, baby gates can help to keep your kids from entering rooms through wide doorways.

An adjustable, portable mesh gate can also make it easy to set up a temporary barrier when you are visiting friends or family members that don’t have a well-childproofed home.

Installing a window gate or guard is important to prevent falling through the windows. Remember that they should be strong enough to prevent a fall, but also meet the latest standards so that they can be easily opened in case of a fire.

A window guard can be a good idea even if you are on the first floor so that your child can’t get out of the house through a low, open window.

You should not depend on a screen to keep your kids from falling out of a window.

Many homes have fireplaces, and although it is nice to have a fire going on a cold night, it is important to keep your kids safe from the fire.

A fireplace gate is a great way to keep your kids out of your fireplace and at a safe distance when you have a fire going.

Remember to also keep your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected regularly, use a fireplace screen, and don’t leave your kids unattended when a fire is burning.

Keeping your home tightly child proof from cabinet locks and doorknob covers to gates for stairs, you can prevent many accidents and tragedies. SOURCE: VERY WELL FAMILY