A great bathroom does not need TV makeover

July 12, 2011

After visiting the bathroom several times a day, 365 days per year, it’s no wonder homeowners decide to fix up or remodel the room.

Before replacing the first tile or installing a new faucet, two Issaquah contractors advised customers to do their bathroom homework.

“One thing I know we run into a lot is preparation in selections,” Bellaren owner Kyle Curtis said. “It seems that a lot of people aren’t selecting the right fixtures and amenities that go in the bathroom and it ends up costing more.”

Homeowners who buy shinier faucets tend to spend less money, while customers who purchase duller, premium-finish gear typically spend more. By Greg Farrar

Homeowners should shop around, not just at the usual retail stores, but also online, at wholesale outlets or at specialty stores, such as lighting companies. Then, they can bargain with several stores and get a better price, saving 15 percent to 20 percent sometimes.

“You can always ask for a better price and the worst thing they can say is no,” Curtis said. “It never hurts to say you’ve found something for a lesser amount.”

Once the supplies are procured, the cheapest way to redo a bathroom is to do it yourself, Bob Cole, owner of Cole NW Construction, said.

“The most economical way to do a bathroom is to do it yourself, but that takes a lot of proper planning and research,” he said.

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Habitat for Humanity store to open soon on Eastside

July 12, 2011

Habitat for Humanity of East King County plans to open a 10,000-square-foot Habitat Store by late summer.

Profits from the store support Habitat’s mission to build affordable housing. The nonprofit organization is in the midst of construction efforts in the Issaquah Highlands and Renton.

In the meantime, the Bellevue store is accepting donations for resale. Call 351-1186 or go to http://habitatekc.org/store to learn about donation options.

“We’ve been planning this store for a year and feel confident about moving forward after the University of Washington’s Leadership MBA Program completed a comprehensive market study last winter,” Tom Granger, executive director of the local Habitat affiliate, said in a news release.

Habitat homes use environmentally friendly materials and follow “green” practices in design and construction.

Issaquah’s zHome partners share project insights

July 12, 2011

This month’s zHome interview is with Patti Southard, program manager for King County GreenTools, the county’s green building program.

What do you do for your organization?

I provide technical assistance to the county’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and Built Green programming and work with nonprofit organizations, such as the Cascadia Green Building Council and Built Green to institutionalize green building and climate change strategies countywide. As a former business development director for Green Depot (formerly the Environmental Home Center) and Duluth Timber Co., I also have more than 10 years of experience developing markets for green products.

How do you define a green building material?

What makes a product green can vary depending on the material, but it typically has one or more of the following attributes:

  • Is manufactured using recycled material, and/or sustainably managed and renewable resources.
  • Is salvaged, refurbished or remanufactured material.
  • Is manufactured with locally available components, which saves energy and transportation resources.
  • Does not contribute to poor indoor air quality, meaning the material emits few or no carcinogens, toxins or irritants, and have minimal to no emissions of volatile organic compounds.
  • Does not pose health risks to employees during the manufacturing process.
  • Is manufactured to be durable/long-lasting, yet can be easily repurposed or recycled at the end of its useful life.
  • What is unique about zHome’s materials?
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Find inspiration for a glorious garden on tours

July 12, 2011

Many years ago when I began practicing landscape architecture, a friend convinced me that the only way to design or create a really wonderful garden is to visit a lot of gardens.

I was guilty of staying in my comfort zone, protecting myself from the bombardment of too much information. We toured fantastic, unforgettable places in Seattle and beyond. Some of it blew my mind.

I remember an older man with a red house, inside and out, with plants and animals living in every nook and cranny. Maybe that’s not your style, but it certainly made me see that there are other ways to think about design. Getting out and seeing what others are doing is vital. It really opened my eyes years ago, so now I recommend it highly.

If you would like to tour gardens, including orchards, vegetable, native, large, small, contemplative or artful, now is the time. There are many garden tours available in our area in July and August. I checked out some and picked a few that I thought would be helpful and maybe thought provoking.

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Spend less time mowing, more time having fun

June 7, 2011

Getting out on a nice day and giving your lawn a fresh cut can be a peaceful and rewarding experience. But when mowing your lawn begins to cut into your free time, it becomes less of a joy and more of a chore.

t A zero-turn lawn mower offers many advantages to easy lawn care. ARA Conten

The good news is there are ways to decrease the time you spend mowing. By purchasing the right mower for your yard and using certain landscaping techniques to make mowing faster and easier, you’ll spend less time mowing and more time enjoying your freshly cut lawn.

Choosing the right mower

If it takes you much more than an hour to mow your lawn, purchasing a riding lawn mower is probably the best way to cut down that time. However, not all riding lawn mowers are created equal when it comes to the speed of mowing.

Greg Munro, floor manager at the Issaquah Home Depot, said he asks customers several questions before they buy a lawn mower. He asks how big the yard is; whether the yard is hilly or bumpy; whether they prefer an electric, gas, self-propelled or push mower; and what price range is appropriate?

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Issaquah’s zHome partners share project insights

June 7, 2011

This month’s zHome interview is with two key partners on the project — Dennis Rominger, of Puget Sound Energy, and Luke Howard, of the Washington State University Energy Program.

Q: What do you do for your organizations?

Dennis Rominger

Luke Howard

Dennis: My primary role is to manage Puget Sound Energy’s space and water heater rebate programs. I am also the PSE representative for zHome, roles I’ve held since March 2009.

Luke: I work on several residential energy efficiency projects for WSU’s Extension Energy Program, providing technical assistance and training for industry professionals. Additionally, I participate in residential case studies and research projects focused on cutting-edge technologies, design and construction techniques.

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Get the dirt on dirt

June 7, 2011

People on the Eastside have been complaining that their vegetable gardens just aren’t growing.

This year has been one of the coolest, wettest springs on record. Naturally, cool, wet weather is the culprit, but what conditions do we need to grow good vegetables? Can we?

I looked online to see how warm soil has to be to germinate seeds. Of course it’s complicated, and some plants require more than others. Celery, cauliflower, lettuce, snap beans, cucumbers and tomatoes need 60 degrees minimum. Corn has to have 65 degrees.

Our daughter in Virginia is picking melons and has a soil temperature of 80-85 degrees today (June 2). The soil temperature in Pasco and Kennewick (our bread basket) is only 60 degrees today. And even worse, our soil temperature today on the Eastside is approximately 50 degrees. No wonder our seeds and rooted plants are just rotting in the ground.

Don’t give up. Don’t think you will just buy the expensive, tasteless vegetables at the store. You can do something.

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Learn to tackle noxious weeds at local farmers markets

June 7, 2011

King County’s least-wanted offenders can be found in open spaces, and along roads and creeks. The invasive and noxious weeds can damage natural habitats and economic resources.

The county is offering a class and workshops throughout the spring and summer to help property owners find and control the rogue invaders, including displays at the Issaquah Farmers Market at 9 a.m. June 11 and the Sammamish Farmers Market at 4 p.m. June 15. Both local workshops continue during normal market hours.

The county program is part of a statewide effort to detect and respond to noxious weeds. In order to help protect the state’s resources, the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board adopts a statewide noxious weed list each year. Then, each county’s weed board then adopts a list of noxious weeds in need of control by property owners and public agencies.

Spice up the garden — grow salsa ingredients

May 10, 2011

Imagine dipping a chip into a muddled mix of pimiento peppers, Santiago chilies, sweet cayenne, cilantro, white onions and diced tomatoes.

Bill King, Issaquah Lowe’s nursery specialist, shows a seedling starter kit and several pepper and tomato seed packets, materials needed for making homegrown salsa. By Laura Geggel

Next, imagine pointing toward the garden and showing friends where the salsa ingredients grew, giving new meaning to the term “homegrown.”

This spring, ambitious Issaquah gardeners can grow their own salsa, using starter seed kits sold at local hardware and home improvement stores ranging from $5 to $10, or from seed packets, most selling for less than $2.

“If you live in an apartment, you can put it in your window,” Issaquah Lowe’s assistant store manager Eric McPherson said. “If you live in a house, you can do it in your yard.”

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Keep your deck looking like new through this spring and summer

May 10, 2011

As the weather gets warmer, most people search for more outdoor activities in which to take part. Some go to the pool and some head to the mountains, but some just head to the back porch to relax.

No matter what kind of deck you have, there are a few steps you can take to keep your deck looking good for the spring and summer. The first step is to wash away the dirt and grime that built up during the winter.

“It might be as a simple as wetting the deck down and putting a solution on it,” said Chad Amble, general manager at Issaquah Cedar and Lumber.

Amble said the most common wooden decks are cedar, although residents occasionally use redwood, which is popular in California. Alternatively, some will use exotic hardwoods or composite.

For cedar decks, coat the deck with a cleaner — such as Simple Green — and then rinse it off, Amble said. However, one may have to scrub off any algae or mold left from the winter.

For exotic hardwoods — such as ipe, ulin and tigerwood — and composite decks, soap and water will do the trick, he said.

Also, be careful with power washers. Only use a power washer on a cedar or redwood deck once every 10 years, and be sure not to spray too much in one place. Power washers are safe for exotic hardwoods and composite, but they often aren’t necessary.

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