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A powder room is essentially a secondary or half bathroom that usually contains only a toilet and a vanity or face basin, and is usually located near areas that accommodate guests such as the living room. They are usually smaller than the average bathroom, but despite this, they offer a great deal of convenience and comfort to the entire family and your guests.

Here are a few benefits of including a powder room in your home:

  • By including a powder room, guests can use the toilet or sink without walking through your entire home. For home owners who value their privacy, or for the occasions when you may not have gotten the opportunity to ensure that entire home is spick-and-span, having a powder room can be very convenient.

  • Powder rooms are a great use of space. Given their smaller size, powder rooms can fit into an already established floor plan without taking up too much space. Not only would including a full bathroom take up more space, it would also be more difficult to incorporate into an existing plan.

  • Including a powder room will likely increase your property value as well as its selling potential. Having additional bathrooms are a surefire way to get home buyers to consider purchasing your home. In addition, if a full bath cannot be included, a powder room is the next best option.

  • Including a powder room would help reduce the people to bathroom ratio. For large families, a powder room would be a welcomed addition to the home, as it would provide family members with more convenience since it decreases the foot traffic to the main bathroom.

Keep this additional tip in mind to create the optimal powder room: choose fittings that can easily fit into the room without taking up too much space. For example, using a pedestal sink instead of a cabinet will make the space appear larger and easier to move around.

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In general renovation works can be an exciting process, however, this process can also be challenging and at times overwhelming. There is a lot that has to be considered when undertaking a renovation project. You will need to think about what you would like to / should tackle first. You will need to have an idea of how much you are able and willing to spend. As well as the extent of the work to be done. Would you need the assistance of professionals or are you planning minor changes that you will be able to work on yourself. You should have a general idea of all of this and more before getting started.

In this article, we discuss a few tips that you should keep in mind when planning on renovating your living space into a space that suits your needs, your style and your budget.

Spend time to planning before you begin. A lot of preparation and consideration needs to be taken before renovation works can commence, especially if structural changes have to be implemented or professionals are needed. You will need to know what function you want the room to serve. Ask yourself, ‘What is your goal for the newly renovated space?’ Are you renovating to make the room bigger? Do you want to give the room a more updated look? Are you renovating with the intention to increase the property value with plans to sell later down the line? Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with the renovation you would have a better idea of what needs to be done.

When you are planning it is wise to think long term. Remember that your family and lifestyle is likely to change over the next few years. A newlywed couple planning to have children in a few years would need to ensure that the design of the space is child friendly. If the plan is to live in the home well into the golden years, it would be wise to make the room elder friendly as well. This can also offer immediate benefits if you have parents or grandparents who live with you or visit frequently.

It is important to be able to balance your new needs with the budget that you have for the renovation project.  It is wise to seek advice from an architect regarding how to creatively yet practically convert the existing design to the new and improved one while staying on budget.  

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There are two main ways to create balance with your design. The first is SYMMETRICAL design and the second is ASYMMETRICAL.

Symmetrical design is achieved by placing identical objects on either side of a central point. Also referred to as formal balance, this design creates a quiet and restful feeling and suggests restraint, orderliness and formality.

With symmetrical design, everything is perfectly balanced. There is roughly two of everything or items are mirrored in the room. For instance, one chair is placed exactly opposite another one just like it. Identical light sconces are placed on both sides of a framed picture.

While this creates balance, it can also make a room look static and lacking any visual interest or energy. 

Experienced designers use asymmetry to create this interest. Asymmetrical design is achieved by placing different objects of equal visual weight on either side of a central point.


Objects balance well because they are judged by their visual weight, not pairings. For instance, you have a large sofa on one side of the room that is balanced by two large overstuffed chairs with an accent table in the middle and floor lamp behind. These pieces balance the sofa visually, even though they aren’t equal in size or shape. The design works because there is balance in the asymmetrical layout of the furniture.

Photo Credit: weitkampinteriordesign.com

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Forklifts make the hardest tasks easier, such as moving, lifting or handling loads. Particular attention to safety rules and standards is essential.

Here are some guidelines to follow for the safe operation of forklifts:

  • Only authorized persons should operate forklifts.
  • No riders should be allowed on forklifts. Do not raise people on a forklift.
  • Slow down whenever you approach a ramp and drive slowly up and down the ramp.
  • No one must walk, stand, or work under the elevated portion of a forklift (even if it is not loaded).
  • Ensure that the forklift has an overhead barrier to protect the operator from falling objects.
  • Drivers must be appropriately dressed – the correct safety gear, including hi-visibility jacket, safety shoes and hard-hats (as appropriate) should be worn.
  • Always work within the capacity limits of your forklift. Consult with the manufacturer or a qualified mechanic before modifying the operation or capacity limits of a forklift.
  • Do not operate a forklift in areas deemed hazardous or containing explosive materials.
  • Never lift a load while moving. Wait until you are completely stopped before raising the mast.
  • Be sure the top load sits squarely on the stack. An uneven load could topple.
  • Travel with loads slightly tilted back to provide stability.
  • Travel with loads at the proper height. A stable clearance height is usually 4 to 6 inches at the tips and 2 inches at the heels of fork blades.
  • Lift stacked loads in the same manner as loads on the floor.
  • When preparing to leave the forklift unattended, lower the mast, neutralize the controls, shut the power off, and set the brakes. – The forklift is “unattended” when the operator is more than 25 feet away or the forklift is out of view.
  • When ascending or descending a grade in excess of 10 percent, drive the forklift with the load upgrade.
  • If you cannot see over a load, drive in reverse. Do not try to look around a load and drive forward.
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Glass can be a very useful tool in home décor and design.  Glass can come in several forms from glazing, to counter tops and decorative walls.  Whether you enjoy using glass to bring in the morning sun, or a hundred other purposes, glass can be overlooked when customizing home interiors.  Here are some ways to let glass brighten your home.


Glass furniture: Tables, chairs, mirrors… the list goes on and on of glass furnishings that are available for daily use.  Glass table tops in dining rooms and home offices give a sophisticated and executive styling to your interiors.  Glass can be paired with wood, leather and metals for interesting aesthetics. Glass cabinet doors allow for decorative wares or décor items to be displayed.  Specifically in the kitchen, cupboard doors with glass add a practical touch since finding items being stored is made much easier.



Reflectivity and light: The presence of light. Light makes a room feel larger, more comfortable, and more natural.  Glass brings in light naturally to your home and it can be used to obscure, brighten, and enhance views. Windows with expansive glass takes advantage of picturesque views since glass is a miracle worker for reflecting light and illuminating surfaces.


Use glass as your exterior material: Today, the use of glass in exterior sheathing is popular, especially in high rise commercial buildings.  In your home, if you like to be connected with your exterior, use wide expansive glass to draw the outdoors in.


Partitions: Transparent or translucent glass, even combinations of the two, can be used for internal partitions to seemingly increase the sense of interior space and introduce light into rooms. Depending on the translucency of the glass, a glazed partition can be used to create varying degrees of vision control in a room, even complete privacy if required, without resorting to blinds and curtains. Consider glass as a divider wall between a master bedroom area and a master bathroom. Glass block can let light through, and keep ample privacy at the same time. Try using different glass materials for all rooms in your home.

A design incorporating glass is both practical and of great visual appeal. Also, implementing this design at whatever scale or budget will modernize any room.

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The building materials used when building affects the extent of damage sustained by infrastructure during and after natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.  

Concrete

Reinforced concrete is one of the most practical and preferred building material in the world. Why? Because it has the ability to regulate the strength required at specific points within a structure, and it can be used at a relatively low cost.  Properly designed concrete structures will resist hurricane force winds and can be made to resist earthquakes. Compared to wooden construction, it provides superior fire resistance, and can gain strength over time.  Concrete structures can also stand against sea swells and intense waves along shore lines and floods. It is one of the most durable building materials.  

Timber

Under proper conditions, wood provides excellent, lasting performance.  However, it also faces several potential threats to service life, including fungal activity due to increased levels of moisture. It is also buoyant and this makes timber structures get swept away at high water levels as in floods and sea swells. Albeit timber structures can withstand earthquakes and hurricane force winds once they are well built.  

In earthquakes, timber structures have the ability to permit high levels of displacement in the structure due to its flexible joints.  These joints dampen the horizontal forces generated, while sustaining only minimal damage.  Also, since the forces acting on the structure in an earthquake are directly related to its self-weight, lighter materials like wood would be best.

Steel Frame

The steel framed structure is widely used in the construction industry due to steel’s physical properties such as strength, malleability and its ability to be prefabricated. In terms of the ease of erection and overall durability of such structure, these properties make it one of the best materials for construction, but also one of the most expensive materials and methods in the industry.  Like reinforced concrete, it can be designed to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

These materials can be utilized on their own or in combination to address the weakness of one, to fit within the budgetary allowance, or to make the structure’s design more interesting.

The prevalence and impact of natural hazards means that special attention should be made in building designs and materials and in employing the right technical professional to lessen tragic loss to property and life. 

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It is not economically viable to design an earthquake, hurricane or flood proof building which is guaranteed to resist all possible scenarios.  However, it is possible during your design and construction process to select the appropriate materials (to be discussed in the next article) and to incorporate a number of disaster resistant features by applying engineering techniques, which would increase enormously the chances of survival of both buildings and their occupants.

Let us start with the geometry (shape of configuration) of a building as it is of equal importance as the maintenance of the integrity of the building envelope which we will discuss a little later in this article.  The geometry of a building is a crucial issue that should be addressed at the conceptual stages of a building project since it affects how well the building can resist natural disasters. Of particular concern are hurricanes and earthquakes; earthquakes to a lesser extent.

We therefore make the following recommendations for light weight structures of two stories or less:

A symmetrical building shape and arrangement of openings would result in a more balanced distribution of forces in the structure.

To withstand higher wind forces lightweight roofs should be gently sloping, no less than 20 degrees steep, a hipped shape (sloping in four directions) rather than a gable (sloping in two directions) or a single pitch shape.

Further improvements in wind resistance to lightweight roofs can be achieved with reduced overhangs at the eaves. The total elimination of overhangs to introduce a parapet wall would improve the roofs performance.

Shading of doors and windows from the elements may be achieved by the use of canopies separate from the main roof.

Where existing buildings are of unfavorable shape, making them invulnerable to hurricanes would include protecting windows and external doors. Significant attention should also be given to strengthen the building envelope as a result of the higher wind forces generated by the unfavorable building geometry.

When planning renovation projects, designers should consider opportunities to upgrade both the roof structure and its covering to at least the minimum building regulation standard for safe buildings.

As mentioned above, maintaining the integrity of the building’s envelope, including roofs and windows is very important and can be regarded as the key strategy to protecting a building from high winds caused by hurricanes.  It is imperative that we design structures to withstand the expected lateral and uplift forces. For example,

  • Roof trusses and gables must be braced;
  • Hurricane straps must be used to strengthen the connection between the roof and walls;
  • Doors and windows must be protected by covering and/or bracing.

Further, building designs can be influenced by the level of seismic resistance desired.  This ranges from the prevention of non-structural damage in frequent minor ground shaking to the prevention of structural damage and even avoidance of collapse or serious damage in rare major ground shaking.  These performance objectives can be accomplished through the introduction of structural components such as shear walls, braced frames, movement resisting frames, diaphragms, base isolation and bracing of non-structural components.

Though these suggestions seem to imply limiting creative architectural expressions, advances in technique, equipment and material do permit straying from them safely. This does require the conscious involvement of architects and engineers to achieve beautiful and safe construction which is essential in Dominica.

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Many times paint is not a must for sprucing up an unsightly wall. If you’re otherwise happy with the color and condition of your walls, you don’t have to paint them. Washing walls is by far the cheaper alternative, and with helpful tips, it’s really very easy.



Use a sponge or a white rag. Many rags are dyed and are not color safe which usually results in discoloration of the paint.



To prevent water from running down your arms use a terry cloth wristband or fasten rolled washcloths around your wrist with either a pin or rubber band.



To avoid having to constantly change the water because of excess dirt, use two separate containers for the cleaning solution and another for plain water. 



Do not use any strong or concentrated bleach based solution which may damage the paint. Some dish soap/liquid in some warm water or baking soda applied to the sponge/cloth is sufficient. Be sure to rinse out the wall since most cleaning solutions have chemicals that may streak the paint.



Begin at the top and go down since dirty water from above runs down the wall as you clean.


Place old rags or towels along the base of the wall to avoid the floor getting too wet.

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The traditional approach by home owners to building a home is to develop an idea or plan of what they want their home to look like, then hire a contractor to execute the plan. 

 

Building a home calls for a lot more than just that.  A significant amount of time, financial and material resources go into a construction project.  Considering the scarcity of these resources, their proper management is crucial.

 

The effective management of resources when constructing a home can be a full time, demanding and stressful job, especially with the hectic schedule that governs the lives of homeowners. 

 

A common component of building a home is selecting the right contractors.  Some contractors will provide excellent service and will need little or no supervision while others will need constant supervision and guidance.  How do you know which contractor you can entrust with your project, with minimal stress and little hassle?  Are you familiar with construction terms, documents, processes and materials necessary to   successfully complete a construction project? 

 

The Project/Construction Manager offers a homeowner considerable relief from the stress and hassle of managing their home construction.  Project/Construction Managers, as well as many homeowners today, understand that building a home isn’t just a huge financial investment, it’s also a great investment emotionally and because of that the practice of project management has become very important and indispensible. 

 

The key responsibility of a Project/ Construction Manager is to accomplish the objectives of the project.  He/she understands that no two customer’s expectations are the same but their common concerns are Cost, Time, Quality and Scope.

 

Project Cost – Expenses incurred for labour, material, equipment, services, utilities etc.

 

Project Time –The time frame analyzed and developed for the completion of a project or deliverable.

 

Project Quality – The totality of features and characteristics of the project at completion that satisfies stated or implied client need and is fit for the purpose for which the project was implemented.

 

Project Scope – What the project is supposed to accomplish and the budget of both time and money that has been created to achieve these objectives.

 

As a representative of the owner’s interest Project Managers bear ultimate responsibility for ensuring that key components of the project are efficiently handled. 

 

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from early development to completion.  Although many construction managers work from a main office, they spend a lot of time on the field at the construction site where they monitor the project and make daily decisions about construction activities. 

 

They work in support of the homeowner to reduce total cost and ensure the best quality of work.  If nothing else, they can provide the homeowner with much needed peace of mind.

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The built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity ranging in scale from personal shelters to neighborhoods to the large-scale civic surroundings.  Most of where we live is man-made – from the homes and apartments we live in, to the commercial buildings we work in, to the roads and bridges we traverse on daily.

 

People place a great amount of financial, physical and emotional investments in the maintenance of their heritage and improvement of infrastructure upon which they depend on for a civilized existence.  In order for us to protect and preserve our heritage and investments we must first pride in our local areas and environment.  We should focus on methods which embrace reduction in cost through efficient use of resources (energy, waste, water). We should provide environments that contribute to our physical and mental health and enhance creativity and productivity.  Our built environment also needs to be flexible and adaptable to future uses, and be resilient to cope with local effects of climate change.

 

Because of mounting economic pressures and changing environmental conditions over the years, practices within the built environment have evolved.  Now, great emphasis is placed on creating a sustainable built environment, through design, construction and management, which will enable all people to live well, within environmental limits.

 

Many institutions have been established to give the opportunity to not only construct feasible structures but also create surroundings that will preserve our environment and our way of life.  These organizations provide consulting services which is often free to the built environment market. They also assist in the design and implementation of programs, policies, and strategies to improve building and infrastructure performance for a broad range of clients including individuals, agencies, local governments, and corporate and institutional owners of real estate. They also help individuals and businesses deal with the risks inherent in the built environment activities.

 

We spend all of our lives within the built environment and some of us make no provisions for our generations to come.  Preserving the built environment started with persons before us and should continue with us.  

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