A few years ago my rental home experienced what I like to call an “adverse ownership event”. In my book, an AOE is the kind of thing that makes you wish you were a renter and not a homeowner. While I love home ownersihp, there are the occasional incidents that make me wish I could just call a land lord and say “this is your problem”.
Let’s talk smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are missing in 30% of home fires. About two-thirds of the deaths in home fires are in homes that either didn’t have a smoke detector (40%) or didn’t have a working smoke detector (23%) (source).
Things everyone should know about smoke alarms:
There are two types of detectors
Smoke alarms expire
Where should I put them?
Hard wired or battery operated?
The test button doesn’t actually test the detector
What if I can’t afford a
What about Carbon Monoxide (CO)?
As part of our remodel, we get to pick new appliances. We currently have an electric glass top and it’s awful. Slow response time and imprecise heat control. When looking at appliances for the new kitchen I knew I wanted anything other than an electric range. There are two heating technologies worth looking at when picking a new range: Gas and Induction.
|Gas Burner (Wikipedia)|
People have been cooking with gas since the 1820s, it’s about as simple as it gets: gas burns, burning gas makes heat, heat cooks food. Not a whole lot has changed in gas ranges since the 1820s, the mechanics are basically the same: gas flows through a valve into a burner which disperses the gas and burns it in a pattern. Since the 1820s the ranges have gotten more efficient and safer, we have electric igniters, safety valves and smarter burner designs. Gas is also the way most restaurants cook. My last house had a gas range and I really miss it.
|Induction in action (GE)|
Induction heats in a way that’s completely different from the traditional electric or gas range. Induction heats by inducing heat in the cooking vessel rather than transferring heat to the cooking vessel. In induction cooking, the pot itself generates the heat! Induction works by using a high power electromagnet in the hob (the equivalent of a burner on a gas range) induces heat in the pan.
|Inside of an induction hob (Wikipedia)|
Induction is very responsive, heats up quickly, cools down quickly and since it only generates heat in the pan is super efficient. The picture at the top of this section is of an induction hob that’s not melting ice while boiling water. Induction is very popular in Europe and Asia and is developing quite the following in the US. One of the odd limitations of induction is that it requires pans to have some iron content. This is because induction only works with pans that respond to magnets. In my case this isn’t a big deal, all of my pans are either All-Clad or some form of cast iron (I’ll have a future post on cookware).
In looking for a new range, I had a few requirements:
- Responsive – Quick to heat, quick to cool.
- High Heat – We do a lot of searing, so I need to be able to get a pan really hot.
- Reliable – Nobody likes calling a service company.
Induction is clearly more powerful, but I think it’s a moot victory. I’m looking at a high end gas range or a high end induction and I don’t think it matters at that level which is more powerful.
I’ll admit it, I’m a paint snob. I don’t like using cheap paint and I have favorite brands. I enjoy painting, it’s easy mindless work that I find rewarding. Adding color to a room through paint is one of the easiest ways to drastically change the way a room looks and feels. It’s also one of the few remodeling tasks I really don’t mind doing myself.
I hate working with cheap paint, it smells bad, it’s runny and you end up working twice as hard to get the same look. I believe in using nice paint, I think it lasts longer and more importantly it goes on easier. Nicer paint is thicker and adheres to the wall better. When painting a friends house we tried a bucket of Costco paint (once upon a time Costco in Tukwilla sold paint). It was terrible, it would actually run down the walls and we’d have to quickly roll out the drips.
My favorite paint is Devine Color. The paint is thick, doesn’t smell and comes in a great set of colors. It’s also a Zero-VOC paint. The downside: it’s expensive, last time I bought some it was $54 a gallon. They’re also the only company I know of that charges for the color samples. That’s right, they charge $35 for the sample kit, but instead of getting printed samples, you get actual samples of dried paint arranged in color palettes that all match.
When it comes to ceilings, I’m a big fan of Benjamin Moore Muresco Ceiling White. It sounds silly but it makes a difference. The BM Ceiling White is a very flat white that makes the room look bigger and gives the room a nice character. The Ceiling White is a Low VOC paint at less than 50 grams per liter (the max to be “Low VOC” is 250 g/L).
VOC or Volatile Organic Compounds are a family of chemicals that give off fumes which can lead to unpleasant things. I’m not an expert, nor do I pretend to be but you can learn more here: http://greenliving.about.com/od/greenathome/a/voc_paint.htm
The walls of my house are mostly Divine Sand with Divine Green Tea as an accent. The bedrooms are a mix of Divine Buffalo and Divine Siamese. I don’t like white walls so I don’t have any.
I’m a firm believer in a coat of primer and two coats of top coat. Ceilings, walls, trim, doesn’t matter. Everything gets a coat of primer and two coats of paint. Primer is something I don’t care a whole lot about, I generally use one of the nicer grades at the big box stores. Primer is an undercoat that ensures the top coat (the color) adheres well to the wall. Primer also helps hide the color that’s already on the wall.
I’ll talk about how I paint in a later post. The way I see it, I’m saving so much money by doing the painting myself that I’ll happily spend more on supplies if it makes my life easier or the project go faster.