Posts Tagged ‘ custom homes built by you ’

Hazardous Waste Collection In Lakeway Without The Lines! The First Steps To Lakeways Own Hazardous Waste Facility!

After reading over numerous articles about hazardous waste collection in Lakeway, TX;  I can see why the city has decided to make some changes.   It’s been a long time coming for so many residents that have been living in the Lakeway area.  Here’s to hoping that waiting in lines are in the past!

Starting with the earliest development in Lakeway in 1971;  when there were 300 homes, and 1,000 acres had been developed.   Now with the population at 11,830 (taken from Census 2011) it is clear there is an eminent  need for hazardous waste collection in Lakeway.   The City began providing local collection of household hazardous waste (HHW) in 2003.  Each year, the City of Lakeway plans a special event for their residents who have hazardous waste to dispose of.  If you are unable to wait for their local annual Household Hazardous Waste Event, you would have to drop off your items at the City of Austin & Travis County Household Hazardous Waste Facility.

In the past the city has been able to handle the collection; well not this year  in May lines of vehicles was overwhelming.  They had to immediately take notice of the rising demand, and  Lakeway officials  turned cars away at an increasingly cost-prohibitive annual event. The event served 677 vehicles this year, 545 in 2011, 730 vehicles in 2010.

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In early July the Lakeway Municipal Utility District agreed to lease a half-acre of its cedar tract on Stewart Road to Lakeway for a recycling center.  Lakeway put $40,000 into the pot and secured a $45,000 Capital Area Council of Governments grant and $50,000 in funding from Water Control Improvement District No. 17 and $10,000 from The Hills and Hurst Creek MUD. Bee Cave and the Lower Colorado River Authority may contribute funds for the construction cost that is estimated at $180,000 for a 1,800 square foot building.

LMUD board member Jerry Hietpas advocated for a full-service collection facility that would allow residents to make one drop off rather than traveling to multiple locations to recycle their household goods.

“Lakeway is about first class, and your plan is not first class,” Hietpas declared to Lakeway finance director Julie Oakley during her presentation to the LMUD board. “Is there any reason why you are backsliding here on the amount of service that’s been provided in the past? What does it take to do a full-service?”

Under the proposed plan, the collection events would accept household cleaning, paint and auto products from residents and customers who live in the partnership’s service areas, but would not take electronics or paper products and would not shred paper.

The city is still open to other ideas but at the moment this is where it sits, Lakeway should finally have one local place to dump their hazardous materials.

Visit our website on how to Recycle Construction Materials!

Research from this article taken from: City of Lakeway , Lake Travis View, and  Travis County agenda notes.


A Story of a Retirement-Ready House

When Ronald Knecht began house hunting two years ago, he had a promise to keep. Before his wife passed away from a battle with cancer, she had asked him to move to Nokesville, Va., to be close to their daughter so that the two could look after each other. But at 73 years old and having just watched his wife go from healthy to a walker to a wheelchair, he wasn’t looking for just anything.

What he found was a whole lot of old mansions, “99% of which were junk,” he says. With too many stairs and maintenance issues that would have been unthinkable. Beyond that, he was looking for efficiency. “The Realtors wanted to show you the granite in the kitchen. I wanted to go to the basement, and when you’re looking at daylight through the band boards, there’s no way you can possibly heat that house.”

After months of searching, Knecht decided to have one built. Working with  a local green builder that had experience with universal design, Knecht spent the next few months extensively researching accessible design. Together, what he and the builders came up with is the equivalent of a super-house. Ultra efficient, universally designed to a T, and virtually maintenance free, evidence of careful research and planning is everywhere.

Driving in, the garage is extra wide, with a 9-foot door to accommodate lift-equipped vehicles. The bumped-out walls provide enough space on either side for someone in a wheelchair to get out comfortably. “That was something my wife always hated,” Knecht says, “when I would have to make her get out in the rain and wheel her inside because the garage was too small.”

Paths leading up to the home are 6-feet across, allowing enough room for a wheelchair and another person to approach the home side-by-side. At the front entry, the plan includes a small shelf for packages, so that it isn’t necessary to bend over to pick parcels up from the ground—one of the many features Knecht insists would be useful to anyone, whether or not they have full mobility. “Who wouldn’t want a shelf by the door when you’re coming home with groceries and kids and you got a purse and keys to deal with?”

And then there is the door itself. “A lot of builders will throw in a 32-inch door and call themselves universal design, but that’s useless if you can’t operate the door handle,” says  the building designer . Beyond using levered handles or specialized knobs, he says, a home’s design needs to include at least 18 inches of clear space on the pull side of the door to ensure that a wheelchair or a person on crutches can get up to the side of the door and make it through comfortably. “I was working with [a universal design specialist], and you wouldn’t believe how many mothers call her saying that their kids with sports injuries can’t get through the front door,” Knecht says.

Inside, the entire kitchen is tailored with accessibility features that encourage mobility without looking institutional. Counters sit at 34 inches, with space underneath so they can be accessed from a seated position. Space is also cutout underneath the cooktop, which features knobs at the front of the unit covered by a panel that prevents children from accessing them. Kickspaces are 9 inches high and 6 inches deep, to accommodate wheelchairs. And all light switches, outlets, and thermostats sit at a 44-inch height.

Bathrooms are fitted with out-turning doors and low-in showers. Counters, set at 34 inches, have free space underneath to make them wheelchair accessible. To make up for the lack of undercounter cabinetry, each bathroom is fitted with a closet accessed through bi-fold doors.

In the bedrooms, closet bars can be set at multiple heights, not only to adjust for someone in a wheelchair, but also so that they can be made available to a child and then adjusted for height as the child grows.

And everywhere in the home, lighting was a top priority. “Shadows cause falls,” Knecht says. So his plan meticulously eliminates them by flooding the home with natural light through windows and sun tunnels, including a sun tunnel in every shower. Path lights illuminate the hallway, and the kitchen is outfitted with undercounter lighting.

Often overlooked as an aspect of universal design, home maintenance was a big priority for Knecht, who not only wants to avoid having to deal with home upkeep as he ages, but also doesn’t want the home to be a bother for his daughter, who will take it over after he’s gone.

“Someone tried to talk me into a black shingled roof,” he says. “They look good, but I said no because of all the heat they absorb. I wanted to use white shingles, but those only had a 30-year warranty. So what, in 30 years I’m dead and my daughter is 70 years old and has to worry about putting in a new roof? I don’t think so.” Instead, the home is outfitted with a white metal roof with a 55-year guarantee.

The windows and doors are all done in maintenance-free fiberglass, and the home itself is clad in cement board, “so it will never rot,” Knecht says.

While the home is 4,000 square feet, Knecht estimates that less than 200 of that was added because of universal design features. And while the home hits a higher price range, Palladino says that is due to the extra energy-efficiency features that are included, such as the geothermal system and top-of-the-line insulation. The universal design features, he says, are accessible at just about any price point. “When you compare the cost difference between a standard door and a 36-inch door, you’re talking a difference of $24.”

The information is this article is from

State of the Art Movie Theater Coming to Four Points

A new luxury theater will be coming soon to The Trails at 620 in the Four Points area.  The development will also provide retail space, a 2 mile running trail, and a play scape.  They don’t plan to have the cookie cutter look to their storefronts they want them to resemble an “Austin” flavor.

The Trails at 620, located across RR 620 from Concordia University and east of the Grandview Hills neighborhood, broke ground Feb. 12 and will be developed in two phases.

The development was originally planned to break ground in summer 2010, but getting a special permit from the City of Austin to have more than one entrance facing RR 620 took 14 months.

Under construction

Phase 1 is 90 percent leased, with a movie theater, national restaurant chains Whataburger, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Schlotzsky’s and locally owned Flores Mexican Restaurant, which serves Tex-Mex food. Flores Mexican Restaurant’s Four Points location is currently north of the shopping center at 7900 N. RR 620.

Paving of the first phase of The Trails at 620 begins in August and vertical building will begin Sept. 1, weather permitting. Businesses in Phase 1 are expected to begin opening in early 2012 and continue throughout the year.

Dinner and a show

On June 20, the developers announced Galaxy Theatre, an upscale traditional cinema and luxury dinner theater, would be the anchor business for Phase 1, with a 1,500-seat theater within 11 auditoriums on the southwest side of the development. Four of the auditoriums are dubbed Director’s Choice, featuring premium dine-in theaters, which include reserved seating, plush recliners and in-theater food and beverage services. The other seven screens will be general admission. Patrons can also order off an extensive wine, beer and cocktail list in Director’s Choice auditoriums.

“We plan to make Galaxy Theatre at the Trails the first choice in movie entertainment in the Austin area,” Speaks said.

Moviegoers can anticipate watching films at Galaxy as soon as June 2012.

Traffic and competition

While the RR 2222/RR 620 intersection is already bogged down with traffic, the developers do not believe they will be adding to it.

“The traffic in this area is congested to say the least,” Sloan said. “Going north on [RR] 620 is time-consuming and not the most convenient for area residents to go out to eat, to shop or to go to movies. We feel like this will be a good location for a large population.”

Instead of increasing traffic, Speaks believes the development will absorb traffic.

“We think we’re going to pull traffic off the road,” Speaks said. “Because instead of everyone having to drive to Lakeline [Mall] to shop or eat, we’ll pull them off five miles sooner.”

Speaks said a Randalls under construction in Steiner Ranch on RR 620, south of RR 2222, has not affected their building plans. There is also a nearby H-E-B at the RR 620 and RR 2222 intersection.

“The Randalls is strictly a Steiner development,” Speaks said. “And we’re actually a development on [RR] 620 that’s going to pull from a different area.”

Because the Galaxy Theatre in The Trails at 620 will be one of the only theaters serving the West Austin area, Sloan believes people will drive farther to visit the shopping center.

The nearest theater is about four miles away at Regal Lakeline Mall with 1890 Ranch Cinemark in Cedar Park about 10 miles away. However, there are no theaters in Austin to the south or west of the planned Trails at 620, and the closest to the east is about a 10-mile drive to the Arboretum area.

“A theater, just by the nature of it, we feel will be more of a regional draw, because there’s not a theater like it offering the large screen, the dinner theater combinations and reserved seating,” Sloan said.

Phase 2

Edge Realty Partners is preleasing for Phase 2, which will begin construction in late fall at the earliest. Sloan said the development will be more traditional retail with a combination of local and chain stores.

Some of the timing, she said, depends on signing an anchor tenant for the project, most likely a grocery store.

“We would love to have a specialty grocer, pet services, office services and some clothing stores,” Sloan said.

Phase 2 is anticipated to open about a year to a year-and-a-half after Phase 1.

Preserving the land

Of the original 169 acres, about 100 of those were given to Travis County for preservation and about nine more acres were sold to the county for additional preserve, leaving about 60 acres for development.

Because the area is in a sensitive environment, with endangered species in the nearby Canyonlands Preserve, construction must be planned carefully.

“We can’t start Phase 2 until after September because of environmental issues with nesting birds,” Sloan said. “We’ve tried to design [The Trails at 620] to save a maximum number of oak trees and take advantage of the natural terrain.”

The article provided from

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The Environmental Benefit of Brick

Homeowners for the first time are being educated about the eco benefit of using brick.   The need for more sustainable homes has opened the door for the latest options in clay brick.  Green benefits of using clay brick can help homeowners save on major household costs.

Clay brick is naturally organic with virtually no waste, brick helps lower energy costs and upkeep through a maintenance-free exterior that offers superior durability, moisture control, termite resistance, proven stability and enduring beauty.  Some brick companies are often incorporating recycled content, brick options including exterior, interior and landscaping features increase sustainability while meeting the highest green building criteria.

The latest options for greater sustainability and savings through brick include:

·         Buying local: like farm to table, brick is made from local resources that reduce the use of fossil fuels; at least two brick plants are located within 500 miles of 49 of the country’s top 50 metropolitan areas

·         Brick exteriors for energy efficiency/savings on fuel bills: brick’s exceptional thermal mass allows it to absorb and store heat to release at a later time, reducing the load on the home’s heating and cooling system

·         Interior brick walls as part of passive solar design/energy harvesting: frequently used in net-zero energy homes, brick walls soak up excess solar energy during the day to retain heat and naturally regulate interior temperatures; integrating structural brick walls and flooring throughout the home

·         Using salvaged brick: a growing trend among builders, brick is one of the few materials that building codes actually allow to be reused in a building application and keeps materials out of landfill

·         Brick landscaping that integrates into natural surroundings: brick patios, archways, garden walls, fountains, pathways, planters and driveways add durable value with low maintenance; light colored pavers can reflect a significant amount of solar energy, reducing the heat island effect

·         Brick paver for efficient water management/drainage: permeable brick walkways and pathways help reduce storm water runoff, puddles and filter pollutants/eliminate contaminates

·         Low-emitting materials: using brick throughout the house that do not require paint or coatings

·         No maintenance: no power washing, no repainting, brick’s beauty endures without added materials or labor

Lohmans Ford Road Improvements

Many residents don’t like the idea of Lohmans Ford Road being improved, nor do they support the building of SH 35 SW.  The residents spoke out in a public hearing with much disdain over the proposed improvements which are to appear on the ballot this November.

The hearing was held by the Travis County Commissioners Court on July 26th to discuss the final project list.  A part of the list may be considered for a part of the bond referendum.  Commissioner Karen Huber noted that SH 45 SW was not among the projects being considered.  To help determine the need and scope of a possible referendum the court appointed a citizens bond advisory committee.

County Judge Samuel Biscoe said the court would decide whether to have a referendum Aug. 9.

In a report last week, the committee endorsed having a referendum and presented 36 projects totaling $205,649,433, including inflation and issuance costs, for the court’s consideration. If approved by voters, the projects would be paid for with bonds.

Twenty-six residents spoke during public comment. Several asked the court not to include Lohmans Ford Road improvements in the referendum.

The original project was to straighten 2.75 miles of Lohmans Ford and add paved shoulders and intersection alterations. The committee later reduced the scope to $500,000 for preliminary engineering costs for a four-lane divided arterial from Boggy Ford Road to Ivean Pearson Road, according to the committee’s final report.

At the hearing, several residents said the road improvements were unwarranted due to a lack of safety concerns. They stated that the project was a poor use of taxpayer funds and would take away the public’s access to a scenic point, among other arguments.

Resident Don Killough estimated that he has driven on the road 2,500 times in the last seven years. He noted that many people stop to enjoy the view.

“If Lohmans Road was moved, the view would be from a private lot. The public would no longer have access to it,” he said. “It would be several hundred feet back. Why would you do that?”

He added that if he felt the road was unsafe, he would be the first to support it.

Cleo Schneider said safety was an issue on Lohmans Ford and encouraged anyone interested in safety to review the emergency service district records.

Others advocated for SH 45 SW, a long-proposed road that would connect SH 45 to FM 1626. Residents argued that the road would alleviate traffic on Brodie Lane.

Resident Vikki Goodwin said that Southwest Austin residents had been promised traffic relief on Brodie Lane in the 1990s. She said there are two schools and a pool along the road, as well as commuter traffic.

Residents also voiced support for parks projects such as the Arkansas Bend/Dick Pearson project and the Onion Creek greenway improvements.

The Solar Financing Program Begins

With all the talk about global warming it’s good to find people looking for solutions to green building.  That’s why MAGE SOLAR and it’s business partners have launched a very comprehensive solar financing program.

Last month MAGE had success with the introduction of their Extended Terms Program for integrators.   The provider of the complete system is now offering advanced financing options for residential customers of MAGE SOLAR business partners.

The program is also supported by a partnership with Renewable energy Equipment Leasing (REEL).  REEL is a financial service specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, throughout the U.S. and Canada.   Goal of the program is to provide MAGE SOLAR’s business partners the ability to offer their customers 100% project financing for complete residential PV systems, compromised of  MAGE SOLAR’s signature high-efficiency POWERTEC Plus modules, innovative mounting systems and brand name inverters.

“A smart residential financing program like this is another integral part of the full system service we provide to our business customers,” says Joe Thomas, President of MAGE SOLAR USA. “This added bonus enables integrators to offer their customers not only the whole array of our quality system solutions, but also a viable financing answer from a solid and experienced partner like REEL.”  More info on REEL click here

The Rise of Personal Income

Data released by The U.S. Commerce Department Bureau of Economic Analysis has show significant growth to personal income.  Their data states that personal income rose 0.3 % in May, slightly below the forecasts of a 0.4% increase.  The largest component of income wages and salaries rose 0.2 % supported by a gain in hourly earnings.

Consumer spending declined 0.1%, while compared to the private sector the expectation of a 0.1% increase was pulled down by a drop in motor vehicle purchase.  Motor vehicle sales dropped in part to the tsunami in Japan siting supply disruptions.

“Today’s personal income data show continued economic growth midway through the second quarter,” U.S. Commerce Department Chief Economist Mark Doms said. “American consumers have benefited from the two percentage point payroll tax cut President Obama instituted in 2010, which has increased the income of the average American household by $245 so far this year. Coupled with falling gasoline prices and job gains, private-sector forecasters anticipate increases in personal income and spending over the remainder of 2011.”