Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Neighborhood Watch Thrives in Land Park
By Dave O’Toole from the LPCA Fall Newsletter
If you’re wondering why you’re seeing more bright orange
street signs and window stickers warning “We’re Watching
You” around the neighborhood, the reason is that many
neighbors have decided to assert control of their block’s
safety by setting up neighborhood watch groups. A rash
of bogus door-to-door solicitations, brazen home burglaries,
and other crimes have prompted many neighbors to
organize their block by posting signs, setting up phone and
e-mail trees, and meeting occasionally to discuss and respond
to recent crime events.
One neighborhood watch pioneer is Marty Way resident
and founder of Uptown Liz, Ramona Russell, who got her
neighborhood watch started when her block experienced
an unusual uptick in crime including an incident in which she
was approached in her own driveway by individuals who
appeared to be under the influence. Russell recalls, “feeling
like a ‘sitting duck’ in my own neighborhood — where I lived,
worked and ran every day.” Russell also set up a phone and
e-mail contact list and sent out e-mails whenever a crime or
suspicious activity occurred. “This constant communication
has kept the group active and involved,” she said.
Newly empowered neighbors began actively reporting suspicious
activity through the police non-emergency line [(916)
264-5471] which led to a rapid, overwhelming response
when two young men were spotted attempting to break
into a house. When police were asked about the force of
their response, Russell reports, “they said there were notations
on our neighborhood of the past problems we have
Russell is just one of several neighbors who’ve started or restarted
a neighborhood watch program this year. To get one
going on your block, contact Dave O’Toole at davotoole@
yahoo.com or call 346-9045. He’ll provide all of the informationand materials needed, like signs, stickers, and a Vic’s Ice
Cream certificate (for meeting refreshments). A few hours of
your time will have a lasting impact on your block.
In addition to starting neighborhood watch, here are a number
of additional ways neighbors can get engaged in making
Land Park a safer community:
• Learn about recent crime events, suggest solutions,
and discuss issues with public safety professionals(e.g., Sacramento Police Department, Paladin Security)
by attending a Public Safety Committee meeting.
The committee meets on the second Tuesday of every
month at 7 p.m. at the Eskaton Monroe facility (3225
• Join the LPCA Public Safety Listserv to share crime
and safety tips and learn what’s happening crime-wise
in the neighborhood. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to
• And of course, always report crimes in progress (911
or 732-0100 from your cell phone), report crimes after
they’ve occurred (264-5471 or www.sacpd.org/reports/
fileonline) and immediately alert the police to ANY
suspicious activity (264-5471). If you see something,
Residents are encouraged to attend the LPCA Board Meetings 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Eskaton Monroe Lodge located at 3225 Freeport Boulevard. In addition, the LPCA hosts quarterly Membership Meetings to address important neighborhood issues.
The Land Park Safety Listserv is an email “conversation area” where you can share information about crime and safety-related issues with neighbors who want to talk about the same. Email email@example.com to request to be added to the list. You must be a LPCA member to join.
The guidelines for the LPCA Public Safety Listserv can be found here
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Whether you want to update, modernize or go retro, whether your project is small or large, whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself, remodeling can be a fun and exciting way to add a little excitement.
Remodeling is not without its complexities and risks. You will do well to think through every project on a step-by-step basis and analyze the costs before you begin. Then think about what could possibly go wrong and how you can plan to avoid these problems. Remodeling can be either a joy or a nightmare. But if you think it through, plan it carefully, and hire the right people, your remodeling project can be sheer joy!
Land Park Before
Land Park After
Where to start
There are several places to begin to think about and plan a remodeling project. The first way to begin is to think about what you would like to change or what you need to change about your house. Make a list of the things you need to do. Then make a list of the things you want to do. This will help you prioritize the projects. A second way to begin is to consider what renovations or remodeling would increase the value of your house. You can get ideas by viewing new homes, recent remodels, or talking with builders, architects and home decorators. A third way to start is to bring in a home remodeling professional to make recommendations and give advice and cost estimates. A fourth way to begin to think about remodeling is to be aware of the sources of frustration with your house.
The top five reasons given by people who remodel their homes are:
1. Add space or reallocate space
2. Upgrade or modernize
3. Improve energy efficiency
4. Make the home more functional for aging persons, growing families, or for persons with disabilities.
5. Increase the resale value of the home
Remodeling to add or to reallocate space can mean knocking out a wall, building a wall, adding a room, extending a room, or adding a second floor. Trends change in the way space is allocated. Homes built in the 1950s have very large "living rooms" whereas today new homes frequently have very small living rooms, large family rooms and kitchens, or only a great room. If your family is growing, you may need additional bedrooms or a play room or another bathroom. If you find your temper flaring while you wait for a turn in the bathroom, this might be the place to start.
There can be several complexities with additions or expansions, such as the ability of the foundation or the wall supports to bear the additional weight, whether local building and zoning codes allow the kind of change you want to make. Sometimes what appears to be a simple change actually ends up involving more extensive work. There are also risks that your investment will not pay off, or that you won't like the changes, or that your life circumstances will change in ways that require further remodeling, or that you will encounter problems with the contractor or with liability or financing.
Remodeling to upgrade or modernize can take a variety of directions. First, you might want to lighten or brighten the house by adding windows, glass doors or skylights. New houses tend to have more windows and higher ceilings. These are good upgrades to make. The will generally increase the value of your house if done well. You may want to replace appliances with new colors or features. Upgrading kitchens and bathrooms usually brings a good return on the investment. A general clean-up and de-clutter renovation is an excellent investment. While you consider "modernizing" don't forget that everything old is new again.
Renovations that improve energy efficiency tend to pay off both in the short run and in the long run. Some of these improvements are relatively affordable, such as changing windows, adding insulation, or adding heat reflecting linings to the roof. For the most part, these upgrades are not very risky, unless you hire a bad contractor.
Renovations aimed at increasing the value of your home can also make life more comfortable immediately. The best advice in this case is to focus on things that clearly make the house more desirable. Lightening and brightening should pay off, as should de-cluttering and attending to landscaping. It is always possible that you will make changes or improvements now that will come to be considered liabilities later, so be sure you want to live with the changes you make. Unless you plan to sell your house immediately, you might want to concentrate on the kind of remodeling that will make you happier or more comfortable.
Renovations are messy in the short run, but making the changes you want in a home or the changes your lifestyle demands, can be fun and energizing. If you have the itch to renovate, think it through, prioritize your needs and wants, calculate the cost, find a reliable contractor or remodeling expert, and make it happen. Remodeling can make an old home look and feel refreshed.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
For many homeowners, remodeling offers a chance to improve their lifestyle. From bigger bathrooms and kitchens to greener living spaces, take a look at some of the latest trends in home remodeling and design.
Lavishly expanded bathrooms: Master bathrooms are becoming a personal oasis where homeowners can unwind and relax. Standard showeheads are being replaced with oversized rain shower heads, and some are equipping showers with body sprays, steam showers, solid surface shower walls, and heated tile floors. Concrete flooring is again on the rise due to its reasonable cost. Stained concrete maximizes in-floor radiant heat and is a durable, easy-to-clean flooring solution that can refresh and update an entire look.
Larger, more functional kitchens: The kitchen is no longer just a place to prepare meals. Now more than ever, it is a place for gathering, doing homework, crafts, bill paying stations, and more. Kitchen remodels are including the addition of computer desks, comfortable seating areas, fireplaces, and large workable islands. More and more homeowners are opting for commercial-grade stainless steel appliances, Viking stoves and Sub-Zero refrigerators. Cabinetry - maple and hickory are neck and neck with cherry wood in popularity, and the simple, sleek lines of Mission, Asian, and Shaker design can be found in many kitchens. Darker finishes are also a frequent choice for cabinets, with black and deep red/brown showing to be very popular.
Going green: Solar panels are now sleek integrated solar power systems that are capable of handling all the power needs of a house. More homeowners are looking to solar technology as a viable option. Sustainable living is proving to more than pay for itself.
Neutral, down-to-earth colors: Homeowners are looking to their homes as a place of refuge, natural and muted earth shades are being used in the home. The days of highly polished granite or porcelain tile are over, and flooring and countertop choices are also muted. In their place, soapstone and honed granite, as well as quartz countertops with matte finishes, are quickly becoming a popular choice of homeowners.
State-of-the-Art laundry rooms: Isolated laundry rooms in the basement or garage are long gone! Colorful and housing the best appliances, laundry rooms are becoming something of a status symbol. This room is also a place for completing messy chores, crafts, and gardening projects.
Current remodeling projects show heightened emphasis on creating specialty areas to fit individual family members needs. Attractive, high quality materials are the method of choice and high on the priority list for today's consumers.
It is not unusual to find remodeling projects that result in the creation of very specific areas for each member of the household. The home library, media room, craft room, spa area and wine cellar are a few "stand-out" spaces that are growing in popularity. It seems the ultimate luxury consists of more space and homeowners are not willing to sacrifice quality for quantity.
Before you begin any project in which you are unsure of where to start, don’t hesitate to call a professional to give you design tips and construction management services.
Friday, August 7, 2009
For the sheer wealth of its collection, few architecture bookstores in the world can match the Prairie Avenue Bookshop. Architects and architecture lovers can browse thousands of titles at the store, which set up shop on Chicago's Prairie Avenue in 1974 and has been at 418 S. Wabash Ave. since 1995. Unfortunately for the proprietors, Wilbert and Marilyn Hasbrouck, not all of the browsers have been buyers.
“People would come to the bookshop with their notepad, make notes of what they wanted and then go buy it somewhere else," Wilbert Hasbrouck said last week. He blamed the 10.25 percent sales tax for driving buyers to online booksellers like Amazon.com.
Forty-eight years after Marilyn Hasbrouck started the business from the couple's suburban Park Forest home, the Hasbroucks say they will likely close the bookshop, an institution in Chicago's architecture community, on Sept. 1--unless, that is, a buyer can be found. "We're losing a national resource," said Chicago architect John Eifler. "It's very sad."
The bookshop is more like a library than a Barnes & Noble. On the forest-green walls of its 9,000-square-foot, three-level space are gold letters spelling out the names of more than 300 architects, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Helmut Jahn. It's a meeting place, of sorts, for Chicago's notoriously competitive architectural community. "You would run into other architects there--or hide from other architects," Eifler said.
Wilbert Hasbrouck, 77, and Marilyn, 76, decided about a year ago that they would try to sell the bookshop. But finding a buyer has not been easy. The store does not operate in the black and the Hasbroucks have subsidized it ever since the move to Wabash Avenue, Wilbert Hasbrouck said. A buyer would have to assume responsibility for two lines of credit that total at least $650,000.
The Hasbroucks have discussed a sale with book dealers and even the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the non-profit group that runs architectural tours and has a gift shop at its 224 S. Michigan Ave. headquarters. But nothing has jelled. Which raises a broader question: Can architectural book stores succeed in this digital age?
"You just have to realize that it's a different climate and provide something that people can't get elsewhere," said Matt Stromberg of William Stout Architectural Books in San Francisco. "Fifty years ago, you couldn't find normal architectural books anywhere. Now you can find them everywhere--for a discount. ... Why would you buy that $200 book from us when you could get it almost 40 percent off, free shipping and no tax?"
Other architectural bookshops have survived by transforming themselves into museum shops. An example: the former Ginkgo Tree Bookshop next to Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio in Oak Park, which was renamed the Home and Studio Museum Shop about two years ago, according to Joan Mercuri, president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.
In its previous incarnation, she said, the 800-square-foot shop was book-heavy, carrying a multitude of titles on Wright and other Prairie Style architects. It still offers lots of Wright books, but you can also buy everything from puzzles to home decorations to clothing there. "It's just that people are looking for different things now," Mercuri said. "With the economic slowdown, people are looking for things that are less expensive as well."
Wilbert Hasbrouck would love to find a 35-year-old who has the vision and the energy to expand the Prairie Avenue Bookshop's Web presence. If that could happen, he said, "I'm convinced that it would not just be profitable, but would be what it is by reputation--the best architectural bookshop in the world." But without a last-minute miracle, this icon of Chicago's architectural community will continue to sell down its present stock at a deep discount (at a recent sale, customers got 50 percent off if they bought $100 or more worth of books). The jobs of three full-time staff members are at stake, too.
"Most of the changes that happen with technology I'm fine with," Eifler said. "But this loss of publishing is really hard to take. I don't know if some Kindle look-alike will ever replace having a nice book in front of you with photographs."
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Increasing functional living space is probably the number one reason behind a remodel; whether it be a new addition to the family, maybe the parents don't have the energy any longer to care for their own home, maybe you need dedicated office space, maybe there's a new hobby, or you simply need more storage. Either way, more space is a necessity....whether it be a reconditioning of non-functional or unused space, or simply "adding-on". Dependant the floor plan, the age of the house, the lot size, building restrictions and codes, all will potentially influence and impact your decisions for the intended function and size of the new living space.
Another popular reason for remodeling is to improve or modernize existing living space; not add space but simply upgrade it; your kitchen with new lighting, plumbing, cabinets, counter tops, windows, or even change your flooring; maybe you are focusing on enhancing your master bedroom and bath with marble or granite, adding a jetted tub, creating a more elegant and spacious shower; upgrading your family room with French Doors, sky lights, built-in entertainment centers. The opportunities are endless. You don't necessarily have to change the amount of space you have but re-interpreting it could very well increase its functionality.
Remodeling can also be an investment. Some people buy "fixer uppers", remodel them, and sell them in their community, making a very good living doing so, especially now when there are so many homes being forced on the market through Short Sales or Foreclosures. The key to this is to know the market value spread of the neighborhoods of the the subject properties and which improvements to make providing you the best possible return on your investment. Know what sells best in your focus neighborhood, what your financial objectives are, have a strong team (contractor, interior designer, real estate agent, etc.) in place, and how to find the diamond in the rough. Remodeling your existing residence can also be a superb investment. The average buyer is over-whelmed by the home purchasing process. They don't want to have to think about "fixing up". They want something they can move in to immediately....they can visualize a happy, comfortable lifestyle. A remodel will certainly spruce up your home, increase it's first impression appeal, and give buyers less to knit pick in an attempt to negotiate the sales price down. Often times, it does make sense to do a remodel before looking to sell.
Bottom line - remodeling can be fun, very rewarding, and profitable. Often times a remodel will incorporate a reinterpretation of space, an enhancement of space, and adding on to your existing space; all three combined but not all proportionate. Make sure you know and thoroughly understand your motivations, know your goals, know your budget, and get opinions, especially from professionals who are active in your neighborhood; these are the experts who understand the nuances of building and remodeling homes similar to yours, preserving the architectual flavor and community symmetry.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thinking about getting out of town? Well, here's a great reason for a trip to LA!
Dwell On Design '09
10:00am - 8:00pm
Dwell on Design Exhibition - open to Trade only
9:45am - 6:00pm
Dwell on Design Conference - General Admission
6:00pm - 6:30pm
Restaurant Design Awards produced by AIA Los Angeles Chapter
Saturday 27 June
10:00am - 6:00pm
Dwell on Design Exhibition
11:00am - 4:00pm
11:00am - 4:00pm
Design Innovation Forum
Dwell on Design 2009 will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center SOUTH HALL.
1201 S Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90015(213) 741-1151
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Hands on. This 1,200-sq.-ft. net-zero-energy home was built in Chino Valley, Arizona, by students in the Yavapai College Residential Building Technology program, in collaboration with the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Prescott. Construction began October 25, 2008. The home’s net-zero-energy performance is also a first for the project’s principal collaborator, Habitat for Humanity
In addition to its energy efficiency and relatively low cost (one estimate put its value at
"I think this technology is moving from the East Coast to the West Coast," he told the paper. "Arizona residents may not be using as much solar energy as they could be because electricity is a lot cheaper here."
May 29 by Richard Defendorf
Friday, May 29, 2009
What drives New Home Building Supply? They are proud to offer an abundant inventory of building materials for any size project. They have all of the products builders, remodelers, and the do-it-yourselfer could need. They are competitive but don't compromise on quality goods.
- Remodeling allows you to customize your home to meet your needs and desires. The only similar, but much more costly alternative, is to have a brand new custom home designed and built.
- Remodeling means that you don't have to give up a familiar neighborhood and schools.
- Remodeling is a more efficient use of your financial resources. According to the American Homeowner Foundation, selling your home and moving typically costs about 8-10 percent of the value of your current home. And much of this goes into moving expenses, closing costs, and broker commissions - items that have no direct impact on your home's quality.
- Remodeling can be stressful, but few experiences are more stressful than moving.
While there are many reasons that people choose to remodel, the bottom line is that remodeling makes your home a more enjoyable place to live. The intangible value of this pleasure needs to be considered, along with any resale value you hope to gain.
But there is no doubt that, as far as improving the sale of your home, all remodeling projects are not created equal. The general rule of thumb is that any remodeling project that brings your home up to the level of your neighbors' is a worthy investment. But it doesn't pay to be the most expensive house on the block - real estate experts recommend that a remodeling investment should not raise the value of your house to more than 10 to 15 percent above the median sales price in your neighborhood.
Remember that potential buyers will be comparing your home to ones newly built. Therefore, you'll want to look at the design trends and amenities being built into new homes. Great rooms (open kitchen/family room arrangements), master bed and bath suites, and higher ceilings are a few of the features sought by today's home buyers.
Each year, Remodeling magazine conducts its "Cost vs. Value" report to assess which remodeling projects create the greatest return on investment. Not surprisingly, kitchens and baths regularly come out on top. These are two of the most used rooms in the home, and they receive the most scrutiny from potential buyers."
From the National Association of Home Builders web site.
Friday, April 17, 2009
PCBC The Show is held each summer in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Featuring hundreds of exhibiting companies displaying the latest product and service innovations and three days of executive conferences, forums, workshops, and speakers, PCBC The Show is the idea marketplace for leading residential builders, developers, architects, investors, product manufacturers, and advisers in the industry.
PCBC Presents a family of conferences and events at the Moscone Center show and throughout the year, connecting the best in home and community development with a business network and community of practice.
PCBC® is quite simply the best possible forum for inventing and reinventing the future of home and community. It takes creators, leaders, visionaries and vanguards to lead the way. Since its inception, the conference has been host to a distinguished group of diverse and inspiring guest speakers. They challenge us. They make us think. And these extraordinary times demand nothing less.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The Sacramento Green Home Expo will take place on Friday, April 3, 2009 from 10am to 5pm at theSacramento Convention Center.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
A remodel design, predicated on functionality and neutrality, is one that will give you the best combination of comfort and spaciousness and exponentially increase the value of your home.
Let Fugina Construction, a design/build and remodel expert of over 20 years, help you transform your existing living space into one of liberating elegance and style. Make wise choices with your most prized investment.
Make your dream a reality, and let's start prioritizing today!