Beautiful Lighting Tips 101 - A Crash Course in Lighting DesignWritten by Brian Starr
Many people cannot immediately identify why they may like or dislike a particular room or interior. Proper lighting and illumination is single most critical factor in designing a pleasing interior environment. A successful lighting design is pleasing to eye, focuses attention on key room features and eliminates shadows and "hot spots". There are several lighting applications that can be used to meet specific lighting needs or to achieve a desired special effect.
GENERAL or AMBIENT LIGHTING refers to an even overall level of light provided to make a room or space comfortable and safe for its intended use. Recessed lighting is very popular as a general lighting source. Recessed lighting may be in form of 3" to 8" diameter "can" type fixtures consisting of a "trim" and a "housing.” Recessed "trims" are visible portion of recessed light fixture and are available in hundreds of styles and colors to control spread of light, reflect light and/or match a particular decor or theme. The "housing" is actual enclosure that is installed into attic and connected to power system. Different housings are available for new construction and remodel construction where attic access is difficult. Where recessed lighting may be in contact with building insulation, an "IC" rated housing is required to prevent a potential fire hazard. In may office environments, general lighting is provided in form of luminous fluorescent ceiling panels.
TASK LIGHTING typically refers to higher level of light provided on work areas such as kitchen islands, countertops and desks. Additional light is directed to these areas using recessed, track or pendant fixtures. Concealed under-cabinet lighting is also frequently used by lighting designers to provide task illumination without seeing source (fixture). Fixtures with either low or line-voltage halogen or xenon bulbs provide a whiter, warmer light than fluorescent under-cabinet lighting. 5 watt xenon or halogen lamps spaced 6 inches apart are suitable for most task lighting purposes where fixture is within 24" of work surface. Whether recessed, track or under-cabinet style, low voltage halogen or xenon lighting fixtures are smaller than line voltage lighting but require a transformer to change voltage from 120 volt to 12 volt. The transformer is included inside many low voltage fixtures but is also sometimes separate depending on particular fixture and style.
ACCENT LIGHTING. To be effective, accent lighting should be approximately four times level of ambient (background) light in an area. Focusing light on an "accented object" or "area" draws attention to a picture, vase or other focal point. Here again. Halogen lighting type fixtures provide a whiter, brighter appearance than standard incandescent or fluorescent type fixtures. The selected fixture should be directional, either a swivel or gimbal type fixture to aim light exactly where it is needed. Adjustable surface mount fixtures, track fixtures and even recessed style fixtures are available with "aimability" in mind. For a dramatic museum-type effect, some fixtures can include a focusing lens for pinpoint accuracy. The "Lighting Illumination" PDF attached to this file is a good guide for estimating illumination or brightness of various bulb types and wattages.
CONSTRUCTION LOAN BASICSWritten by Mercedes Hayes
It might not be too big of an exaggeration to say that construction loan is one of more daunting aspects of building your custom home. Before we started our project, I had nightmares about trying to pay two full mortgages at same time (our existing mortgage and construction loan), and I didn't see how it was at all possible. However, reality ended up much more reasonable than I dared hope.
COLLATERAL: Many – but not all – mortgage companies require you to own your land first before you apply for construction loan. That way, if borrower defaults, bank has a way to recoup their investment. Some banks will let you roll in land purchase with construction loan, but you may have to pay a premium.
TIMING: Your standard construction loan will be based on one year plan. It's perfectly reasonable to expect to finish within a year, unless you are building a handcrafted log home. The good news is that you aren't obligated for full construction loan amount from day one. You only have to pay interest for amount of money you actually borrow from each draw. So you won't really be carrying full mortgage until end of construction, at which point you will roll construction loan over to a conventional mortgage.
BUDGETING: Before you apply for construction loan, you must get all your quotes in order. Banks are not happy about increasing amount of money you ask for. Be sure to account for all sub-contractors (plumbers, masons, electricians, excavators, landscapers), well and septic, windows and roof, painters, and even grass seed. Your mortgage representative will expect you to have a handle on all your financial needs (see my article BREAKING DOWN THE BUDGET OF YOUR LOG HOME for more specifics). If some of these expenses will be out of pocket, it wouldn't hurt to include them in your construction loan request anyway, so you have a cost overrun buffer. And get more than one quote if possible, then use highest quote in construction loan request. If you go with lower quoted job, you'll have another buffer in your favor.
Before mortgage company agrees on loan, they will require a copy of floor plan, permits, and survey. Then they will send out an appraiser who will inspect your property and determine whether your project will appraise for amount of money they are committing to. Luckily, more and more banks are giving log homes a fair appraisal, but it helps to choose a company that specializes in log homes or your market value may come in too low.
DRAWS: When you've itemized your anticipated expenses, you can share this with your mortgage rep., who will then ask you how you would like to break down disbursements (or "draws" as we commonly know them). This will be your decision (with a little hand-holding). At first, you might want to schedule a couple dozen draws, until you realize that there is a service charge attached to every draw. For instance, every time bank releases a draw, you have to notify them a few days in advance. The bank sends out an inspector to verify that promised work was performed. Then they order a Title Search to verify that you haven't had any liens put on your property since last draw (this costs about $125 each time).