Advantages to Finishing a Basement

Basements are excellent for storage. But that doesn’t mean basements need to remain dark and dingy. Remodeling the lower level of your home increases living space, can add value to your property, and is energy efficient. 

More Living Space

If you love your house but feel cramped, or you want another area where you can get some privacy, a remodeled basement provides more living space. The best part of refinishing a basement is that you can be as creative as you want. Since the essential rooms are already on the upper levels of the home, you can utilize this extra space to create a dream room.

A dream basement might be a playroom for children, so you don’t have to look at toys in the main living room. It could include a fitness area, game room, home theater, or a home office that is secluded from the rest of the house. Whatever you wish you had the room for upstairs can become part of a finished basement. 

Potential to Add Value to Your Property

You may already know that kitchen and bathroom renovations generally have the best return on investment. But a finished basement can also add value to your property. By setting a budget, and working with a contractor who knows zoning laws and regulations for your area, you can create a space that adds value to your house. 

A finished basement may add value if it includes:

  • An additional bedroom. In smaller homes, a third or fourth bedroom in the basement may attract more buyers.
  • Additional bathroom. If your house has just one bathroom, adding another one can be a good return on investment. If the basement provides the space for an additional bathroom, it is a good idea to include in your renovations.
  • Income unit. An in-law suite or rental unit could also be designed for a basement remodel. This would need to follow zoning and safety regulations, so check with your contractor to ensure it is possible for your home. 

Energy Efficiency

Cold air can leak in through the basement, making a house feel drafty. Energy Star recommends sealing air leaks in both the basement and the attic in order to decrease this cold airflow and save on energy bills. When renovating a basement, check to make sure there are no gaps around pipes or electrical lines. This is also the time to make sure the basement is insulated properly. 

When thoughtfully designed, remodeling a basement has many benefits. What does your dream basement include?

 

Signs your Commercial Space is ready for a Remodel

Your office sets the tone for your business. The physical space you work in each day can either add to productivity and climate or detract from it. Just like your home, an office needs to be well-maintained and updated throughout the years. Below are five signs that it’s time to remodel your commercial space. 

Employees are Distracted

Employees spend a large portion of their day inside the office. The work environment should cater to their comfort and productivity. Elements like green space, collaborative meeting areas, and an efficient floor plan can help set the tone for a dynamic office.

If employees are dealing with issues such as poor lighting or a leaky faucet in the bathroom, they will become distracted from the tasks at hand.  In short, the office should assist, rather than get in the way of employees’ work. Even seemingly small issues are a signal to consider remodeling. 

Outdated Technology

If the technology in the office is outdated, chances are everything is obsolete. Any technology being used by employees should keep up with the demands of their work. Determine what is proficient and upgrade the rest. 

No Space

Are you squeezing in more people and furniture into the same space your business started in? Businesses grow over the years. It can get quite uncomfortable working if you feel crowded. Take a look at the current floor plan to determine if you need to rearrange the space, expand, or move into a new office. 

Deterioration of Furniture

Depending on how many people use the furniture in the office will signal how long it will last. From couches to desks to chairs, make a note of the condition of the furniture. 

Meetings take place Outside of the Office

When you schedule meetings with prospective clients or employees, do you invite them to meet you in the office or a nearby coffee shop? If you are not proud to welcome people into your office, it’s time for some upgrades. 

Once you decide it is time for a remodel, the possibilities for a modern and productive work environment are endless. 

 

Steel: A Sustainable Construction Choice

Steel is one of the greenest materials in construction. With a high recycling content and an industry committed to reducing emissions, steel surpasses other construction materials in regards to sustainability. 

Steel in Construction

Steel has always been a popular choice of material. Steel framing is used in Type II-B construction because of its strength and durability. When framing out a building, steel is lighter than a structurally sound wood frame, and because steel is pre-engineered, it cuts down on time needed to build.

In addition, steel is flexible and can be molded into almost any shape. The non-combustible material has a long lifespan, combined with the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any construction material. This gives steel the ability to withstand all types of inclement weather.

Steel Manufacturing

Steel is made of iron, one of the most abundant elements on Earth. Even though iron is plentiful, the steel industry continues to work toward sustainable practices. Manufacturing plants use steel scrap to make new steel, which helps to conserve energy and resources. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, the industry has reduced energy intensity by 31% per ton of steel shipped, and emissions by 36% per ton of steel produced since 1990. 

Recycling Steel

Steel is one of the most widely recycled materials on the planet, with 80 million tons of steel recycled in North America every year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. All steel can be recycled, and because it is magnetic, it is quickly sorted from waste at recycling plants.

Recycling steel does not affect the strength and durability that is crucial to building with the material. This allows steel to be recycled an unlimited number of times without compromising the product. 

Due to its strength and sustainability, steel is a natural choice in our building developments, where we utilize Type II-B construction. 

 

What are energy efficient windows?

Energy efficiency is overwhelmingly important to homeowners, which was made clear in a 2019 study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders. 

For homeowners, installing energy efficient windows is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption.  Consequently, lower energy consumption means lower monthly heating and cooling bills. 

What are energy efficient windows?

Energy efficient windows work with the seasons. In the winter, they keep heat inside the home, while in the summer, they keep the cool air in. The climate zone where you live determines the type of window that is qualified for your location. 

The easiest way to determine if a window is energy efficient is to select ENERGY STAR rated products. ENERGY STAR rated windows are manufactured by an ENERGY STAR partner, tested and certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council, and meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Features of an Energy Efficient Window

For windows to be considered energy efficient, they must meet specific criteria. These include:

 

  • Low-E Glass. A special coating on the windows helps to reflect infrared light and ultraviolet light. This not only increases the insulation, but helps to protect carpet and furniture against fading from the sun.
  • Panes of Glass. Energy efficient windows contain at least two panes of glass, but can have three or more panes for more insulation. 
  • Warm Edge Spacers. Edge spacers keep the panes of glass secure at an equal distance apart. Warm edge spacers are non-metallic, helping to reduce the loss of heat around the edges of the window.
  • Gas Fill. In between the panes of glass, non-toxic, odorless, and colorless gases can be added. These gases help increase insulation. 

 

 

Framing Options

In addition to creating the aesthetic style of the window, window frames are as important as glass when it comes to energy efficiency. There are numerous options for ENERGY STAR rated window frames. All of these framing options are designed to provide optimal insulation:

 

  • Wood 
  • Fiberglass
  • Vinyl
  • Aluminum 
  • Combination: Made of different materials, used separately throughout the frame (such as a wood interior and fiberglass exterior). 
  • Composite: Manufactured with blended materials. 

 

 

We know how important it is to both reduce energy usage and keep the home comfortable. Selecting windows that are energy efficient is an easy way to accomplish both.

More than Location: Why 66 High Street Feels like Home

“Our feeling for Guilford was that is was warm, accessible; and it’s only been reinforced by the people that we’ve experienced here at 66 High Street,” says Tom Conforti, who now lives at The Residences at 66 High Street. 

First drawn to the location of Guilford, after settling into 66 High Street, Tom has noticed it is more than the setting that makes the Residences feel like home. 

Warm and Friendly

A coastal town, Guilford has historical roots and prides itself on community. Residents of 66 High Street can walk to the Guilford Green, where a community event is usually taking place, or pop into one of the shops or restaurants downtown. 

Back home at 66 High Street, people feel engulfed in a beautiful, secluded landscape, with views of the marsh and Long Island Sound. The scenic setting is perfect for quiet evenings on the balcony or when gathering with loved ones. 

In addition to the beautiful landscape and coastal living downtown, the people at 66 High Street have made Tom feel welcome in his new home. Everybody is friendly and willing to help each other out. 

“We’ve been struck at how engaging the embrace was from current residents of 66 High Street,” said Tom. 

Luxury Accommodations

With the beautiful scenery and close proximity to downtown Guilford, The Horton Group knew luxury living was the only option when planning the residences. 

Like the Horton Group, Tom shared the same vision for his next home.

 “We wanted luxury accommodations in a scenic setting; and of course we were able to design the house according to our specifications,” he stated.

The Horton Group works with each resident to make sure their home is ideally situated to their tastes. Each unit begins with top-of-the-line features and attributes, and can be altered to fit the taste of the homeowners. 

Easy Maintenance and Worry-Free Travel

In addition to superior craftsmanship, the Residences at 66 High Street are secure and hassle-free. Whether residents travel for a couple of weeks, or spend months away at a second dwelling, there is nothing to worry about when away from home. 

“When we leave to return to New Jersey,” Tom explained, “we realize we are leaving behind a home that’s secure, easy to maintain for us.”

Security provides peace of mind that cannot be measured. Knowing that when you return home, you will come back to a fully maintained home and property eliminates the stress of travel. 

“We would have not purchased a home that didn’t provide us this level of luxury, convenience, and accessibility like 66 High Street does,” Tom said. 

 

Most (and Least) Wanted Features in a Home

We’ve all thought about our dream home: the features, design, and amenities we would select if there were no limiting factors. 

In What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 Edition), a study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, close to 4,000 home buyers were surveyed to determine the most desirable features when looking for a home.

The survey found that the most desirable features are all about practicality. 

Most Wanted Features

In the survey, participants ranked each feature as Essential, Desirable, Indifferent, or Do Not Want. These were the top ten features buyers look for in a home, according to the survey:

Feature Percentage of People who Rated the Feature ‘Essential’ or ‘Desirable’
Laundry Room 91%
ENERGY STAR rated windows 89%
Patio 87%
ENERGY STAR rated appliances 86%
Ceiling Fan 85%
Garage Storage 85%
Exterior Lighting 85%
Walk-in Pantry 83%
Hardwood Flooring 83%
Double Kitchen Sink 81%

 

A laundry room came in as the most desired feature in a home, with 91% noting this was important in their home search. Having a laundry room in the primary residence is convenient and saves our most valued asset: time. 

The remaining top ten features focus heavily on sensible and sustainable features. Two spots in the top ten show that ENERGY STAR ratings are essential to today’s buyers.

In addition to ENERGY STAR windows and appliances in the top ten, ENERGY STAR for the entire home came in at number 11, with 81% of buyers stating it was essential or desirable in a home. Green construction is important to consider when moving into a new home, and ENERGY STAR features are one of the easiest ways to implement a sustainable lifestyle. 

Storage is another factor homebuyers seriously consider, with both garage storage and a walk-in pantry making the top ten features. 

Least Wanted Features

As far as what buyers are not looking for, here are the most unwanted features in a home:

Feature Percentage of People who Rated the Feature ‘Do Not Want’
Elevator 66%
Wine Cellar 57%
Day Care Center 50%
Plant Covered Roof 50%
Pet Washing Station 49%
Dual Toilets in Master Bath 48%
Cork Flooring 47%
Golf Course Community 47%
Two Story Family Room 47%
High Density Development 46%

 

The top two unwanted features in a home were an elevator, with 66% of home buyers stating they did not want one in a home, and a wine cellar, with 57% of participants stating they do not want one.

Other features that are unwanted by home buyers are focused on community amenities. Ones that made the ‘do not want’ list include a daycare center, plant-covered roof, pet washing station, and golf course community. 

What are your most desired features in a home?

What is Market-Rate Housing?

Market-rate housing is a term that confuses many people. With the announcement of our development project with Davenport Properties, we want to take a look at what this means for the teachers and community of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Housing Affordability

For housing to be considered affordable, it means you spend 30% or less of your total income on housing. This leaves you with 70% of your income to spend on additional bills, food, transportation, and savings.

Many people, especially in larger cities, are spending more than 30% of income on housing. In the case of teachers who work in cities, the cost of housing is often an issue. 

HUD offers affordable housing options throughout the country for people and families who spend more than 30% on housing.

Market-Rate Housing

Market-rate housing means that rent is set at a rate that is comparable to other housing units in the area. New construction is costly, which means that new housing developments frequently come with high rents. 

In the case of Willy’s Overland Redevelopment Housing Initiative, Davenport Properties and partners of the city of Springfield wanted to create market-rate housing catered to teachers and welcoming to millennials and baby boomers. 

As we build 60 new units in this first building, we are focusing heavily on the building amenities and making each unit functional for the people who live there. These brand new housing units will feature the quality and design that The Horton Group is known for. Knowing that the city of Springfield is dedicated to making this market-rate project affordable to those living there makes the project even more meaningful. 

 

A Development for Growth: 151 Chestnut Street

A city committed to growth. A vision to develop affordable housing for teachers. A group of people willing to do the work to make a difference.

Horton Group is excited to partner Davenport Properties in a market rate housing project in Springfield, Massachusetts. Horton Group will complete the construction on a 60-unit building in the former Willy’s Overland Building on 151 Chestnut Street. 

The idea began with Paul Doherty and other members of Springfield Business Leaders for Education when they asked how to support teachers in the Springfield Public School System. 

“Over several meetings, we came to identify an area where we are able to move the needle best was by helping to attract and retain teachers here in the city,” said Tricia Canavan, President and Owner of United Personnel.

After teaming up with Davenport Properties, they searched for the perfect property, and plans started to come to fruition. At the press conference, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno explained that the construction for the $14.5 million investment is beginning this summer, with plans for completion in 2020. 

Willy’s Overland Redevelopment Housing Initiative

The 35,000 square foot building was once home to a car maker before being damaged in a gas blast and abandoned in 2012. Once completed, the renovated building will have a vibrant retail space with a cafe and patio on the ground level, along with 60 apartments and common areas catered toward teachers.

After visiting a housing project with a similar vision in Baltimore and speaking with a teacher group, as well as students at UMASS Amherst, Davenport Properties understood what types of amenities teachers wanted in their community.

The main lobby with offices, computers, and a conference table will be incorporated into common living areas for teacher collaboration. In addition, there will be a common area with a fireplace, big screen TV, and kitchen, as well as a fitness center in the building. 

Just the Beginning

While the development is focused on attracting and retaining teachers, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is expecting the property to draw in “an eclectic mix: the millennials, the baby boomers, empty nesters…but especially teachers,” he stated. 

While this initial development is 60 units, Chuck Irving of Davenport Properties believes this building is going to be a step forward for Springfield.

“We went out and invested in another building and another property for the ability to do several hundred units,” Chuck shared. “Because we think this building is going to be successful, and we think this whole neighborhood is going to turn into something very valuable for the community.”

Learn more about Willy’s Overland Redevelopment Project here:

 

Energy Efficient Offices

Offices are energy-consuming buildings; between heating and cooling, lighting, and technology and equipment required to run a business, the amount of energy used continues to rise. 

With more builders and contractors committing to sustainable building, commercial offices are becoming more green, or environmentally friendly. Green buildings are designed and constructed with sustainable materials that make the building more energy-efficient and reduces energy costs.

Business owners don’t often have control over how the building was built, unless moving into a brand new development. But there are things every office can do to maximize energy conservation and reduce costs. 

HVAC 

Space heating accounts for 25% of energy use in commercial buildings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Ideally, a building will have proper insulation to help maintain a comfortable temperature. In older buildings, this cannot always be achieved. Whether you are leasing office space or own the building, maintaining your HVAC system can help decrease energy use and save money. Here are some ways to make the most of your HVAC:

  • Clean filters. Dirty filters slow down airflow. Check any filters regularly and change as necessary.
  • Program heating and cooling. Program the temperature of the office. After employees leave for the day, the heat (or AC) does not need to be turned up as high. 
  • Equipment tune-up. To make sure all systems are working efficiently, get a tune-up from an HVAC professional. 

Lighting

Lighting is one of the easiest ways to make energy-saving changes to your office space. Because lighting makes up 10% of the total energy use in buildings, it is worth the effort.

  • Motion sensor lights. Motion sensor lights are ideal for areas that are occupied during certain times of the day, including parking lots, stairways, and meeting rooms. 
  • Make the most of natural light. Builders are taking more advantage of natural light. Through a process called daylighting, sunlight illuminates buildings, cutting energy use and costs. This provides an added bonus – sunlight increases positive moods of everyone in the workspace. 
  • LED lights. LED bulbs last longer than fluorescent and incandescent lighting, and reduce the amount of energy used. 

Office Technology and Appliances

Offices are filled with technology and appliances – from computers and copiers to refrigerators and microwaves. Being mindful in your selection of these items can significantly reduce energy usage. 

  • Laptops. Laptops use up to 90% less energy than desktops. Depending on how many people work on computers in your office, this can make a significant difference.
  • ENERGY STAR. ENERGY STAR appliances, computers, copiers, televisions, and even fans and thermostats, are the most efficient equipment for the office. 

Minimizing energy consumption in the workplace is beneficial for both the environment and your business savings. As we take on new developments, we are mindful of sustainable practices and work to make each building as environmentally friendly as possible. 

 

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