Plumbing Upgrades to Save you Money

custom home construction, new bathroom

Looking to find ways to save money on a custom home build or even your current home? Have you thought of upgrading or replacing plumbing fixtures as a way to add immediate value to your home, save money, provide ease of use, keep the kitchen and bathroom more sanitary, and reduce your impact on the environment? The latest advances in water-saving technologies can do all of this and more.

There is no need to wait for Cal Tech’s award-winning solar-powered toilet design that can “turn human waste into hydrogen, water, and electricity” to come on the market before you can build your new home or retrofit your existing home with innovative plumbing designs that are available today including:

  • Hands-free technology
  • Tankless water heaters
  • Low flow toilets
  • High-efficiency faucets
  • Gray water systems

Hands-free technology
A healthy home can be accomplished in a variety of ways, especially with hands-free fixtures. Hands-free faucets are designed for both bathrooms and kitchens, significantly reduce germ contamination and are very well-loved by parents with children who’ve been known to get distracted while the water’s running.  In the bathroom, the installation of a touchless toilet kit enables the user to wave their hand above the toilet tank to flush it. With some kits, the toilet lid will automatically close without slamming shut.  You can round out your kitchen and bath décor with soap or lotion dispensers that are also hands-free.

Tankless Water Heaters

The Best of 2017: Tankless Water Heaters

More and more homeowners are replacing their hot water storage tanks with the newest tankless water heaters.  Tankless water heaters supply hot water on demand and save the homeowner both the time and expense of storing hot water and constantly reheating it.  Unlike a storage tank with a limited supply of available hot water, the heat exchanger technology can provide you with an endless supply of hot water no matter the number of tasks.

Low Flow Toilets
High-efficiency, low-flow toilets are one of the easiest ways to cut down on household water consumption.  All home improvement stores and plumbing suppliers stock these high-efficiency toilets.  If the toilets in your household were installed before 1994 or if they use more than 1.6 gallons of water with each flush, there are better options today with toilets using about 1.28 gallons per flush.  Dual Flush toilets using even less water for liquid waste!  A family of four could save more than 15,000 gallons of water per year by replacing an inefficient toilet with a 1.6 gpf (gallon per flush unit) and even more with a toilet rated 1.28 gpf.

High-Efficiency Faucets
To save the average family more than 700 gallons of water year, simply replace old fixtures for new high-efficiency WaterSense labeled fixtures.  High-efficiency faucets and showerheads not only reduce water use but save energy by reducing the demand for water heaters.  WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories reduce water use without reducing performance. They are not the low flow products of a generation ago.  Today’s high-efficiency showerheads combine water savings with high performance.

Gray Water Systems

Not everything requires potable water.  Being able to reuse water is important to not only the environment but your budget and since no one can recall the last time the cost of water ever decreased, reducing water use is even more important.  You can reduce your non-potable water use with the implementation of a gray water system.  The State of Colorado allows water from bathtubs, showers, washing machines, as well as water from bathroom and laundry room sinks to be harvested for gray water systems.   If you are considering a new home, please talk to your Builder about integrating a gray water system into your design and make the most of every drop of water.

What is WaterSense?

The Federal Government EPA’s WaterSense program labels plumbing fixtures for efficiency and performance.  The labels indicate whether low-flow fixtures perform as well or better than similar counterparts.   Their website has tools that allow you to search for WaterSense labeled products.  WaterSense labeled products are certified to meet EPA criteria for water efficiency and performance.  Ask your local plumber or homebuilder about WaterSense labeled products.

WaterSense logos will show up on certified WaterSense products.

Plumbing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about technology and its impact but these innovations can immediately impact your home’s aesthetic and impact and your budget and comfort.  Talk to your local plumber or homebuilder today.  And best of all, updating your plumbing fixtures or building with the latest technology provides you the opportunity to take advantage of multiple rebates that may be available from your local utility companies and local and state government.

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Outdoor Kitchen Inspiration: Ideas for the Colder Climates

There is something so delightful about eating your food outside.  Why stop there?  Have you ever given much thought to bringing the whole kitchen experience outdoors?  You may remember we talked about how you can create a dynamic outdoor space, but an outdoor kitchen may be just what you need to live a more relaxed life outdoors.

If you live in a colder part of the country, you may have thought a grill was as close as you were ever going to get to an outdoor kitchen, but not so!  While outdoor kitchens are certainly more common in some parts of the country like Arizona, New Mexico, and California, you can certainly have your own right here in Colorado!  Yes, Durango has plenty of freezes and snow, but we also enjoy very desirable weather from April through October. We don’t know about you, but the 60-80-degree weather is just about perfect weather for preparing a meal outside.  Much more suitable than 100+ degree weather!

Simple or Complete Outdoor Kitchen?

To start, you must first decide whether a simple or complete kitchen is right for you.  Your needs, desires, available space, and budget are some things to be considered when making this decision.  If there are space or budget limitations, a simple kitchen may be for you. A simple grill and counter top may be enough for you to prepare and enjoy a meal outside.  If you want to maximize your time outdoors, consider a complete outdoor kitchen.  This means a space for meal prep, cooking, and eating.  This will allow you to interact with your guests outside while you prepare food!

Some unique ideas for your kitchen might include:

Flower/Wine Sink

The bonus compartment in the sink can serve as a vase for flowers or can double as an ice bucket to keep adult beverages cold!

Wood-fired Oven

Wood-fired ovens aren’t just for pizza.  You can cook practically anything in one!  The high heat allows food to cook more quickly and if you live in Durango, you know this is a requirement of high-altitude cooking anyway.  The open flame is also a great addition to the atmosphere of your outdoor kitchen and serves as a great source of heat on those cooler nights.

Outdoor Bar

An outdoor bar complements an outdoor kitchen perfectly.  The countertop and bar stools are a great way to add seating.  Add in some open shelves and some cocktails and you are ready to play bartender!  If you’re really ambitious, you can repurpose your bar into an ice bar once the snow starts flying!

Fire Pit

This is not essential for an outdoor kitchen, but makes a great addition to an outdoor Kitchen – especially one in Colorado!  A fire pit allows you to spend more time outdoors in the Winter and provides a great centerpiece for your kitchen!  Plus, who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire after dinner?

Choose a Location

Now that you have an idea of what you’d like your outdoor kitchen to look like, think about best locations to put it!  With colder climates, you may choose an area that has more sun exposure in the Winter so it stays warmer and snow is less likely to pile up.  Think about your roof and where snow falls off.  Consider whether you must combat prevailing winds, overhead powerlines, and trees.  Do you have enough privacy?  Is the soil stable?  Are there low-hanging trees that pose a higher risk for fire?  Also, consider how smoke from your new grill may affect your neighbor.

Other considerations: If your outdoor kitchen does not include a fridge or sink, you may want to place it near your indoor kitchen to provide easy access to the refrigerator and sink while cooking.

Coverings

Though coverings are not necessary for your outdoor kitchen, they may extend your kitchen’s use and allow you to cook outdoors year-round!  If you don’t already have an extended roof line or a semi-enclosed space dedicated to your kitchen, here’s some inspiration for you.

Louvered Roofs

It is amazing the technology that is available to us these days.  Picture a roof with the ability to keep out rain and snow, but also the ability to open like shutters on sunny days.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Pergolas

We know what you’re thinking – how can a pergola be a good choice for an area that gets snow?  When built tough, pergolas can withstand a heavy snow load.  Pergolas are not only beautiful, but they are great for providing shade in the Summer and allowing in light during Winter.  If you plan on using your outdoor kitchen during snow season, a canvas or tarp can be a good seasonal solution to keep out rain or snow.  A corrugated fiberglass top is also an option when you’re looking for a solution that still lets the light in.

Best Materials for an Outdoor Kitchen

You may already have the perfect spot in mind for your outdoor kitchen, but materials for the kitchen itself are usually last on everyone’s list.  Here are some suggestions to help you decide.

Plumbing

Plumbing, probably the least exciting thing you can talk about when designing your outdoor kitchen, but it can be one of the most problematic!  If you want your outdoor kitchen to survive more than a year in Durango, be sure to use stainless steel, plastic, or solid copper.  If it does not fall into one of these categories, be sure it is approved for outdoor use.

Countertops

You may not have given much thought to countertops and their ability to hold up in weather, but it’s so important!  Living in the mountains, we experience huge temperature fluctuations.  We must prioritize function over fashion.  That means ensuring the proper thickness and using a material that will withstand freezes and thaws.  And temperature changes are not even the half of it!  Given the sheer expense of countertops, consider using a material the holds up to UV rays, doesn’t absorb stains and odors (bears!), and cleans up well.  Some suggestions would be granite, stainless steel, glazed-ceramic tile and stain-resistant stone.

Cabinets

Don’t let your cabinet material be an after-thought.  Most are a large investment and if not chosen carefully and super susceptible to the elements.  Best cabinets for an outdoor kitchen would be stainless steel, reclaimed lumber, bamboo, and even waterproof polymer.

If not built properly, an outdoor kitchen can deteriorate quickly!  Outdoor kitchens are an investment so don’t let it go up in smoke!  Talk to us – we would be happy to build you one that will last!

 

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6 Custom Kitchen Ideas

We know that you can plan an extraordinary master bedroom, an elegant living room, and a welcoming outdoor space, but for most people the soul of their home is in their kitchen. Of course, choosing beautiful appliances that fit your needs will be a big part of your finished custom kitchen, but there are plenty of other ways you can make a unique statement in your kitchen that fits your style. Below, we’ve outlined some of the latest, trending custom kitchen ideas and designs so that you can start picking out the

  • Open It Up

If you love to entertain you likely hate when you have to leave the fun of the moment to work on something in the kitchen. With an open kitchen design, you can put the last touches on your signature dish or pour a fresh round of drinks without missing out on any conversation. A bar or an island is a great way to maintain the definition of kitchen space from dining and entertaining spaces while allowing for an easy flow of conversation and adding bonus counter/storage space. Also, if you have young children you know how valuable it is to be able to work on dinner without having to leave the kitchen every time you hear a suspicious noise.

The gorgeous beams and pendant lights add more space to this custom kitchen.
  • Shelving

Everyone knows that cabinets can make or break the style and feel of a kitchen, but to really set your kitchen apart consider ditching the cabinets. Wrap-around shelving can bring a fun bohemian feel to your kitchen and allows you to show off all of the styles of your glassware and dish sets. Couple the open shelves with below counter cabinets to store appliances and other unsightly objects.

  • Counters, Backsplash, Flooring

There are nearly endless options to choose from when deciding on what types of counters, flooring, and backsplashes to put in your kitchen. Your personal style will be the biggest deciding factor in which color and textures will work best. Although nowhere else is it more important that style does not take priority over function than in the kitchen; it’s important to choose durable surfaces that are easy to clean and won’t easily stain. Luckily, there are so many options out there that you should have no issue in finding materials that are both reliable and great looking.

  • Lighting, Fixtures, and Hardware

Whether your style is elegant, bold, abstract or anything in between it’s the little touches that will bring the look of your kitchen together. Introduce a touch of fun to a kitchen in which you chose an overall subdued design, or, in a kitchen of sleek design, round things out with your choices of lighting, fixtures, and hardware.

When it comes to lighting, you truly can’t have too much. Natural light is a must, but having plenty of options for artificial light is going to be so important as you cook into the night. Consider hidden under cabinet lights to not only assist in prep but to bring a clean, dramatic accent to your kitchen.

  • Walk-in Pantry

Keeping things organized is important in a kitchen. What better way to have the room you need to keep your pantry organized than to create a dedicated walk-in space? No more digging through cabinets or dancing on tip-toes to find the one item you know you have, but isn’t in immediate view.

Optimize your space by having your walk-in pantry act as just another place to get more prepwork done.
If you’re limited in space or have a smaller kitchen you’re remodeling, make your walk-in pantry a little shallower.
Barn doors can add that rustic charm and make your pantry more of a feature, than just storage.
  • Built-in Wine Storage

If you love wine and always keep a few bottles on hand why not graduate from your standard wine stand to built-in wine storage as you plan your home? Whether a custom built-in wine rack fits your needs or the control of a climate cabinet is in your plans, you can keep your favorite wine easily and stylishly within reach. Some really clever ideas:

Custom built wine storage that can also double as pantry storage.
Creating a separate space above your bar just for wine and wine glasses – that’s something we can get behind!
Working with a small space? Get creative with unique wine storage solutions!

Outside of the usual ample storage and counter space that is a must in any custom kitchen design, there are countless ways in which you can bring your own style and flair to your kitchen. These suggestions are just a few options available to you for making the center of your home as unique as you are. Make sure that when you are thinking about designing your own custom kitchen – whether during a remodel or a custom home build – you enlist the help of professionals to help you make the most of your layout.

 

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