Posts Tagged ‘ custom home builders in texas ’

Exploring Geothermal Heating and Cooling

With people becoming more conscious of the environment, and wanting their dollars to go further, companies around the world are coming up with new technology to satisfy consumers. Enter Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems. These systems are both environmentally friendly and have lower operating costs.

Geothermal Systems use the Earth to heat and cool air in the home using a series of pipes, called a loop, which is installed below the surface of the ground. During the winter, Earth’s natural heat is collected as fluid circulates through the loop. It is then carried into the house where an electrical compressor and heat exchanger concentrate the Earth’s energy and releases it inside the home at higher temperatures. In summer, the home is not cooled by blowing in cold air, but rather drawing the heat from inside the home and cycles through the loop where it is absorbed by the Earth.

These systems also produce much less greenhouse gases than air conditioners, oil furnaces, and electric heating. The US Environmental Protection Agency has called ground source heat pumps the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available. Further, geothermal heat pumps are durable and require little maintenance. The underground piping for the system is often guaranteed to last 25 to 50 years. And with no outside condensing units like air conditioners, they are quieter to operate.

All in all, geothermal heating and cooling is a good way to go. While the upfront cost may be a little more, the long term benefits make up for it. By using a renewable resource (the Earth’s heat) and lowering greenhouse gas emissions, there is a much smaller environmental footprint left behind.

Thank you for reading.

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Simple Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is critical in maintaining your health.  The source of pollutants can be broad and difficult to identify.  Signs that your home has poor air quality is if you notice a change in your health after moving into your new home or harsh odors can also be an identifier of poor indoor air quality.    When compared to outdoor air quality, indoor air quality can be 2-5 times more polluted which is alarming as people spend a majority of their time indoors.  

There are three categories for improving indoor air quality:

  • Source Control
  • Improved Ventilation, and
  • Air cleaners

Here are some simple steps that can be taken to improve the overall air quality in your home:

1.  Air out all furniture and carpet for 48 hours prior to bringing them indoors.

This is the time where the new items off gas the chemicals that they obtained while being manufactured.  The smell that comes from new furniture or carpet is the slow release of VOCs (Volatile organic compounds), it is best to prevent those chemicals from ever entering your home by letting the toxins escape from the fabric.

2. Install a carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide levels can rise quickly in unventilated areas without anyone noticing as there are no signs of the colorless, odorless, toxic gas.  The carbon monoxide detectors need to be installed close to the bedrooms and there needs to be at least one on every level.  Gasses in a home such a carbon monoxide need to be carefully managed by making sure proper ventilation over stoves and fireplaces is in place to control the potentially hazardous gasses.

3. Prevent any Water From Entering Your Home

Check your roof, foundation and basement or crawlspace once a year to catch leaks or moisture problems and route water away from your home’s foundation.  Leaks need to be fixed in a timely fashion to avoid moisture from spreading and gaining momentum which could potentially lead to mold and other issues compromising the air quality in your home.   Ventilating the bathroom can also help draw out moisture in an otherwise damp environment.  Moisture can be a leading culprit for harboring bacteria, when higher humidity levels are reached your walls are liable to start producing condensation.  Damp environments are harmful as bacterial thrives in a wet environment and ultimately those toxins can be released into the air.

4. Proper selection and maintenance of your air filter

Filters are measured by (MERV) minimum-efficiency reporting value based on their efficiency to remove particles from the air.  It is recommended to start with a MERV 9 rated filter or better.  A general rule of thumb is to change your air filter every 30-60 days depending on the level of occupancy and if you have pets in your home.

We hope this information has been helpful in the quest for breathing clean healthy air in your home!

Thank you for reading.  You can find our website at: www.masterstch.com

Products For Health and Safety in Your Home

Throughout the years of building houses we have come across a few items that help improve health and safety in your home.

1. Kiddie Smoke  Detector

A lithium battery operated smoke detector allows you to never have to worry about replacing batteries as it self charges off the home’s current.  This smoke detector is particularly helpful with houses with high ceilings, making it very difficult to change the batteries.   Kidde 0910 10-Yr Sealed Lithium Battery-Operated Smoke Alarm is made up of a sealed-in lithium energy offer that lasts the lifetime of the unit.  Trusted and straightforward to install, this no-maintenance alarm saves on labor and battery charges in excess of its lifetime.  This smoke detector is standard in all homes built by Masters Touch Custom Homes.

2. Great Ways to Collect Dust In Your Home: 

New Construction Homes commonly have a lot of dust in the air in the initial few weeks.  Taking an air filter and attaching it to a box fan is a great solution to trap some of the dust.  This is also a great device to put in place for people who suffer from dust allergies.  A simple contraption to enhance the air quality in a house with items that are easily accessible.

3. Enviro Coat-Premium Interior Zero VOC Paints:

 

Some paint companies have started manufacturing paint formulas that do not emit VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).  This product will maintain healthy indoor air quality versus using  some of the traditional paints.  This paint also eliminates compounds that affect exterior air quality.  Using zero VOC paints is critical is highly sensitive area where some people are  have low tolerance for irritants that are present in standard paint products.

 

 

Thank you for reading.  Our website can be found at: www.masterstch.com

Passive Cooling–An Efficient Way to Cool your Home

 

Passive Cooling:

 

With the number of 100 degree plus days in Texas, passive cooling can be considered to more easily get the indoor temperature inside the comfort range.  Passive cooling can be described as the use of the sun’s energy for the heating and cooling of living spaces.   The building takes advantage of natural energy characteristics in materials and air created by exposure to the sun. Passive systems are simple, have few moving parts, and need minimal maintenance and free of mechanical systems.  A few critical decisions during the design process could allow a building to be naturally cooled with less burden and to the cooling systems in a building.

Passive Cooling Guidelines:

  • The building should be elongated on an east-west axis.
  • The building’s south face should receive sunlight between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. (sun time) during the heating season.
  • Interior spaces requiring the most light and heating and cooling should be along the south face of the building. Less used spaces should be located on the north.
  • An open floor plan optimizes passive system operation.
  • Use shading to prevent summer sun entering the interior.

Cross Ventilation:

Making a building permeable is the easiest way to encourage cross ventilation.   The building has to have several places where air can enter and exit a building.   For the most effective ventilation, there should be openings on the prevailing wind (windward) side of the building and, likewise, the opposite (leeward) side of the building.  This arrangement will allow the air to be pulled through the building.

Chimney or Stack Ventilation:

Another form of ventilation is through stack ventilation. In this method, the same principles of cross-ventilation apply, except a height factor is included. Since hot air rises, creating a high exit on an upper floor of a multi-story space will be more efficient at exhausting the rising heat. The hot air at the top and cool air at the bottom create a natural convection of air flow, which will also aide in the movement of air through the building. An exhaust fan can also be used if more air flow is desired.

Shading:

The photo (above) is a remodel by Masters Touch Custom Homes, this photo illustrates how both exterior decking and vegetation help to prevent direct sunlight from entering the windows.

Shading devices over windows and doors prevent direct sunlight from entering the home.  Awnings, shutters and blinds will help to minimize a building from over heating.  Quality windows and doors will also prevent the compromise of the exterior envelope of a building.  Trees and other greenery strategically placed can be beneficial in preventing direct sunlight from entering the building.

Thank you for reading.  Visit our website at www.masterstch.com

Hill Country Galleria–Business is on the rise and retail space is at 96% occupancy

After 2 1/2 years, the Hill Country Galleria is on the rise and is almost to full occupancy.  The galleria has come a long way since 2010 when it was only at 60% occupancy.  Since being purchased out of bankruptcy in 2010, The Hill Country Galleria has steadily gained momentum in both sales and occupancy.   The amount of sales tax that is produced by the galleria has increased each year.  In 2011 the amount of sales tax that was generated by the shopping center was 1.63 million dollars.  Whole Foods (35,000 square-feet) has added a significant amount of business to the Mall since its opening on June 19th, 2012.   Some shoppers have even stated that the retail shops have a European flare to them.  Retail store owners were interviewed and overall are pleased with the increase in amount of business this year.

Future Plans: There are plans to add additional office facilities.  Plans are currently going through the city for final approval.  The owners are also interested in adding additional entrances to the mall, one of the entrances would allow patrons to enter the galleria off of RR 620.

The Hill Country Galleria  encourages community interaction and frequently hosts events for the public.  Take a look at their outdoor music schedule every Saturday 7-9PM!

Thank you for reading.  Visit our website: www.masterstch.com

Information courtesy of Community Impact Newspaper

Expanding Living Quarters to the Outdoors

Outdoor Living spaces have become just as essential as the interior rooms in a house.  Particularly in Austin where there are over 300 sunny days, enjoying time outside is part of our lifestyle and can become more than a just a place to BBQ or swim.

In this article Forbes has compiled a gallery of homes that have done some unique features with the exterior spaces of a home Homes Sporting the Most Outrageous Outdoor Amenities.   Some of them include having a lazy river in your pool area to installing fireplaces and T.V.s outside.  The Britannia Manor II, located here in Austin, home of video game developer Richard Garriott  added a telescope-bedecked rooftop observatory, an outdoor track with lighting as well as a water slide that begins at the second floor of the home.

Luxury homes’ transition from the inside to the outside are becoming seamless.  With the amount of detail that is being put into outdoor living spaces, you can fully entertain outdoors with all the needed amenities.  Masters Touch Custom Homes has created many inviting outdoor living spaces that capture relaxation, comfort, quality as well as a design that capitalizes on the property’s views.

Masters Touch Custom Homes Outdoor Living Spaces 

Thank you for reading.

Visit our website: www.masterstch.com

It’s Time To Clean Up Lake Travis! The 18th Annual Lake Travis Underwater and Shoreline Cleanup is near!

If you’ve ever wanted to get involved in community projects to improve Lake Travis now is the time.  It’s unfortunate the lake is so terribly low.  However if there is one positive,  the low levels will allow for a much bigger trash cleanup.  It’s like being able to clean your house without anything in it!  It’s win-win for everyone involved.

This year will be the 18th Annual Lake Travis Underwater and Shoreline Cleanup.  If you are willing and able they are asking for local volunteers;  divers, shoreline cleanup, and event coordinators.   The event is set to take place September 23rd, 2012 , click here to register and for more details.   This event rids Lake Travis of tons of debris each year.  Volunteers collect an average of 5 tons of trash from different dive sites around Lake Travis while also helping to raise public awareness of the importance of Lake Travis and the Highland Lakes.

photo courtesy of Colorado River Foundation

Cleanup Times Include:

  • Cleanup Shoreline: 9:00AM – 11:00AM
  • Cleanup Dive Teams: 8:00 AM- 11:00 AM
  • Volunteer Party: 11:30 AM – 1:00PM

If you enjoy walking the areas of Lake Travis these are the areas they will need Shoreline Volunteers:

Divers, and party volunteers:

  • Dive Volunteers Sites, divers must be provide their own dive gear and tanks 
    • Big & Little Devil’s Cove
    • Arkansas Bend Park
    • Bob Wentz at Windy Point
    • Cypress Creek Wall
    • Starnes Island
    • Mansfield Dam
    • West Point (Sandy Creek)
    • Hippie Hollow (18 and older only)
  • Party Volunteers – make the party happen! Get a free t-shirt, lunch, and the chance to win some great door prizes by volunteering at Carlos’ N Charlie’s.

Get all the info at: Keep Austin Beautiful.com

Then when it’s all said and done  volunteers are invited to enjoy food and fun at the thank-you party at Carlos n Charlie’s, complete with door prizes from our generous sponsors.

I think it’s a great time to cleanup the lake, meet some new, people, and have some awesome food.  I know I’ll be there and I hope to see you there too!

Thank you for reading.

Visit our website at www.masterstch.com