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Design Inspirations  Green Talk
            
 

 

Tuesday
Feb282017

How small is too Small?

Lots of people live in small homes, apartments or condos.  The reasons are many and range from downsizing, to purchasing 2nd homes, to being in a transitional time of your life.  Many people are reducing stress by simplifying their life, getting rid of unnecessary ‘things,’ reducing the burden of a large mortgage payment etc.  Smaller homes mean smaller home payments which allows for independent/alternative employment and/or the freedom to travel. How small is too small and what do you have to sacrifice for this financial freedom?

‘Small’ depends on your perspective. If you are coming from a large home in the suburbs, a small home/apartment/condo can be 1100 sf.  A single wide manufactured home (trailer home) is around 1080 sf.  Homes in this size category give you a full kitchen, living room, bedroom, full bath, stacked washer/dryer and either a 2nd bedroom or a dining area.  If you are moving from a larger home, you need to purchase new furniture, smaller compact sizes and furniture with dual purposes.  Sofas that turn into beds, islands that have a flip up dining counter, etc.

Backyard cottages/DADU’s/ADU’s run a little smaller averaging 632 sf.  Generally, you will have to give up the 2nd bedroom/dining room and reduce your kitchen area.  If you are not following building codes, you can have a ladder to a loft bedroom.  The ADU that I designed for my small lot is 400 sf, very small, but I was still able to squish in a stacking washer/dryer.  General storage is a challenge.  You really have to cut down on your belongings.  How about 2 pairs of shoes one coat and one purse?  Can you do it?  Do you want to?

‘Tiny’ homes are a new craze of an old idea -mobile homes.  These tiny homes are built to be moved, possibly frequently, from location to location. They average 200 sf including a loft bedroom.  They often have composting toilets and solar panels so that you can ‘camp out’ on any piece of land as long as the property owners agree.  This is minimalism taken to a new level.  It looks fun and exciting – but for how long?  These homes are uniquely designed, have lots of charm and style and have interiors that are detailed out to use EVERY inch of space to its maximum, but how small is too small?

 

**Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

Tuesday
Jan102017

ADU's and the Future of Seattle

Heard of the housing crisis in Seattle?  Big employers such as Amazon have been bringing in massive amounts of people into the Seattle area, more than the many new condos can handle.   The cost to rent a one bed room apartment in the city averages $1917.00 month.  The cost to purchase a house has increased 16.7% over the last 12 months.  I was told by a realtor that many home owners are reluctant to sell, even at the high prices and even when they want to downsize, because ‘they are afraid they will not find another place to live.’ (in Seattle of course)

SEATTLE ENCOURAGING mother in laws – After decades of policing illegal mother in law apartments, the city of Seattle decided that adding rental units in existing housing plots is one of the only places left to densify the city. 

Some TYPES of ‘legal’ living spaces that you can add to your home:

a)      ADU is Accessory Dwelling Unit.  This is an independent home with kitchen, bathroom(s) separate electrical panel and separate secure entrance.  This is attached to the existing home and is separated by a fire rated wall

b)      DADU (or a backyard Cottage) is the same except it is detached from your home, often at the far 20’ setback of your lot.  The average size of most ADU/DADUs is 632 sf.  

REACTIONS - There are several reactions to these types of ‘improvements.’  There is the neighbor who does not want ‘transient’ people in the neighborhood taking up parking spaces and having loud parties.  And there is the home owner who has concerns about giving up some privacy in the shared yard and walkways.  Both are valid concerns.  However, an ADU or DADU can supplement a home owner’s income making it easier to pay the mortgage and increasing property taxes.  It can be a retirement nest egg of continuing income. It can also provide a place for someone to live in the city that they work; offering a place to rent.  It can also reduce traffic – the theory being that if people can walk to take mass transit to work, they will not drive, thus decreasing the amount of cars on the road.

RESTRICTIONS – currently the most contested regulations have to do with providing parking and owner occupation both of which have had recent changes.  One off street parking space is required to be provided EXCEPT in designated urban villages and urban centers.  You may be granted a parking waiver if the site’s topography or location of the structure makes it an undue burden.  Owner occupancy is required for at least 6 months of the year and the owner occupant must have at least 50% ownership. HOWEVER, the owner may SUBMIT EVIDENCE to obtain a waiver of this requirement for up to three years for job relocation, illness or similar reasons not to occupy the home.

FINANCING – typically a home owner would need to refinance their existing home to obtain the funds to build an ADU/DADU.  Costs vary but there is a consensus that to build a new adu/dadu structure would cost around $200,000.  How long do you need to rent the space to break even? Eight ½ years?  LET’S RETHINK THIS…

Friday
Jul292016

Where to place water filtering/ionizing systems into an existing home?

Kitchen sinks and bar sinks are the most popular locations.  But will it fit in those locations?First of all, it is important to point out that the ‘faucet’ part of the system fits into any regular faucet hole in your counter.  There are two things to look for: 1) an available faucet hole, or an area available by a sink to create a new faucet hole. 2) space in sink cabinet for the filtering/ionization system.

Faucet holes can be made available by a) removing an existing faucet b) changing the existing faucet that has the spout and handle in separate holes to a newer faucet that has the handle attached to the spout c) removing a soap dispenser d) removing an existing filtered water faucet e) changing the existing faucet that has a separate hole for the spray f) drilling a new hole

The space needed in the sink cabinet is 5 1/2” wide x 14 1/8” long x 14” high. 

A typical sink cabinet has the sink and plumbing located in the center of the cabinet, leaving the sides as potential areas to place this system.  There may be a garbage disposal that is occupying space in the sink cabinet.  Installation of the system is EASY with the clear instructions provided.Box fits in sink cabinet  

Retail price is $4995.00 (call me for discounted pricing.)  Considering that bottled 9.0 alkaline water sells for $3.00 bottle and massages cost around $95 (are you buying large bottled water and carrying it home?) and that this system successfully filters out all contaminants AND has the option of producing Alkaline water, this investment is well worth the money spent.  This is a household ‘appliance’ that has far reaching health benefits for your entire family.

Wednesday
Jun222016

Truths behind the Lies

Lately I feel I have been living a dream.  A dream where water fountains in schools are safe, family members do not steal from each other, government regulations are enacted to protect you, politicians are as honest as they proclaim and Bill Cosby is the ideal father figure.  Boy, have I had a wakeup call – and so has our country.

Last month I heard on the news that Tacoma schools found lead in the drinking fountains.  Seattle Public Utilities immediately said that there was nothing wrong with Seattle drinking water ‘but that all residents should run their water for two minutes before drinking it JUST IN CASE’ (emphasis added).  It turns out that the ‘gooseneck’ fittings are corroding, where there are gooseneck fittings there is lead. 

The TRUTH is, there are many opportunities for LEAD to enter your drinking water and each home/building is unique in its potential liabilities.  Has anyone suggested that it may be in the publics self-interest to test their water at each faucet?  NO, that would cost too much money and the public outcry when they found out how many of their faucets produced water with lead in it would be crazy.  Politicians may lose their jobs!  Let me ask, how many of you run your water 2 minutes before drinking it?

The TRUTH is, that in 1978 the EPA determined the Lead in the paint was extremely dangerous and made it illegal to sell (after 1978).  But did anyone TELL the PUBLIC that every time you hammered a nail into the wall to hang a picture you were exposing yourself and your family to lead poisoning?  (Remember even the smallest minute amount of dust with lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage in children).   NO, the government waited until 2010, 32 years, to regulate/protect the public from remodeling produced lead poisoning.  Have you hung a picture up in your home in the last 32 years?

The TRUTH is that I do not believe anyone any more, and that is a very sad place to be.  Truthfully, Christine

Tuesday
Apr122016

Lead Solutions

What are we doing about LEAD in our homes?  These are the solutions that I am incorporating into my home and into the homes of my clients:

SAFE Drinking Water:  The testing of Drinking water is now a standard benefit of every kitchen and bath design that I work on.

Alkaline Water for HealthHEALTHY Drinking Water:  I have researched and obtained (for my clients) RETTIN Tyent Ionized Water Filters which remove 100% of all LEAD and mercury in the water as well as pesticides, VOC's semi-VOC's, herbicide, disinfectants and non-metallic contaminants, and pharmaceutical contaminants.  This Ionizer has the ability to create Alkaline water (up to 10.0 ph) which has extreme health benefits. It can also create Acid water used for disinfecting and cleaning.  All of this is done through electricity, there are no additives involved.  We are installing these at kitchen sinks and bar sinks; anywhere you would go for drinking water.

LEAD Pipes and Solder:  As we design/remodel, we put into action replacing all lead pipes and all copper pipes that used lead solder.

LEAD in our paint:  IT IS THE LAW (Toxic Substances Control Act section 402(c)(3)), that all firms working in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities must be certified and use lead-safe work practices during renovations.  I am personally trained and certified, and my company, Christine Suzuki Installations Inc is certified as well.  (since 2010)  The intent of this specific training is to contain any chips of paint and lead DUST.  Dust is generally a healthy hazard even if it is not poisonous (as in lead.)  So our SUPER SAFE DUST FREE PRACTICES are generally very good for your family's health safety and welfare.

Please contact me if you have any concerns about the LEAD in your home, we are committed to providing healthy non toxic interiors to all of our friends family and customers.

Namaste, Christine