In the course of a year, we use a host of building and smart home products. Since we often follow through with a product, from installation to actual usage, we have a unique insight into how products perform and applications where cost saving techniques can be applied, without the fall-out of choosing a less than stellar product. Below you will find short commentary on a host of products implemented by DCL HomeWorks.
Awair smart air quality monitor:
Many modern HV/AC systems come with onboard air purification. This can be as simple as a HEPA filter air flows through before entering the home, or as complex as an air handler that both purifies and dehumidifies incoming air. While any air purification enhances the quality of air within the home, often home-owners are left wondering how effective the system is. Is the built-in system providing adequate results throughout the home, or is additional air purification needed?
That is where Awair really shines. Simply put, Awair is a full-service air quality monitor, that uses a wireless internet connection to communicate with the cloud. This communication gives home-owners the ability to determine the quality of their air from anywhere. The Awair device itself looks traditional yet high tech and displays a host of information right on the device’s native screen.
Awair monitors temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and dust. VOCs are minute particles within the air, such as a mist of cleaning spray or vaporized impurities. Using this data, the Awair scores the quality of the home’s air, from 0-100. Using your phone, an Awair account can be accessed giving you helpful insights into the home’s air quality.
Overall, the Awair is easy to install and very helpful when determining when to change air-purification filters. It can also aid home-owners when deciding if additional air purification is needed.
Canary smart security device:
Traditional security devices usually require an installation visit from a company installer. Worse, they require various components, like touch pads, alarm panels, motional detectors and more. Also, the homeowner can expect to pay a monthly service charge, which over time can become quite expensive. Cloud connection, along with “internet of things” style products have greatly reduced the need for all-inclusive security systems, which have multiple components and require complex installation.
Canary is one of those devices. It’s smart, in that the device can recognize and remember faces and events. This feature ensures it won’t notify you each time the home’s occupants come and go. It can also realize when you’ve left your home, and arm itself when needed.
If Canary senses motion that isn’t within its range of memorized inhabitants, it notifies the homeowner via text message. You can watch live footage of the house, or watch the specific event that triggered Canary’s message. From here, the homeowner can sound a 900 DB alarm from the Canary device or notify authorities.
In addition, Canary also monitors temperature, humidity, and overall air quality. It can notify the homeowner if any of those parameters fall outside accepted levels.
The only thing worth note about Canary is that while it’s a cloud-connected device and advertised to be easy to install, anyone without experience installing similar devices is likely to get stumped. Canary uses special security protocols during set-up and can be tricky to connect to a host of routers and connections. For this reason, it may be appropriate to have the device installed. DCL HomeWorks offers a full range of smart-home installation services and can ensure your Canary is online and working perfectly in no time.
Engineered hardwood flooring:
Today, when choosing hardwood flooring, homeowners are presented with multiple options. There is traditional hardwood flooring, which is composed of planks of wood (with visual appeal based on the specific wood used) which is installed and often finished on-site. Pre-finished hardwood flooring is also available. It’s arguable that traditional hardwood creates the most aesthetically pleasing finished product, but it’s labor intensive to install and finish, making it an expensive option. Like other wood (or laminate) based options, traditional hardwood is prone to scratches and often needs a surface re-finish every few years. This re-finish is not only expensive but can be quite messy as it generates dust and debris, making the floor entirely unusable until the re-finish is complete.
Engineered hardwood is an option that falls in the middle, between traditional hardwood and laminate. It’s more authentic and aesthetically pleasing than laminate, but more cost efficient than traditional hardwood. Engineered hardwood is composed of a thin wood veneer, which is then combined with a synthetic material (not unlike a laminate) to create complete planks of flooring. The planks are factory finished, meaning there is no concern about on-site finishing. Since engineered wood flooring often uses a floating installation (meaning the flooring doesn’t attach to anything) the installation cost pales in comparison to traditional hardwood. Then end result is an authentic wood floor for a fraction of the cost.
While engineered hardwood holds up well against everyday usage, it’s susceptible to both water damage and scratches from pets. Water can seep in between the cracks in the flooring planks and disfigure the engineered material beneath the wood veneer. This causing bowing, which disfigures the floor and often requires replacement of damaged planks.
Dog or cat claws can mark the finish of engineered hardwood and since it’s not possible to re-finish the wood veneers (because it’s so thin) the homeowner has limited options when repairing these scratches. The only real effective option is using one of the wood floor polishes or scratch reducers on the market, which temporarily add enough sheen to the floor in order to reduce the appearance of scratches.
Faux wood tile:
Sometimes a homeowner wants the look of a traditional wood floor but doesn’t want to deal with scratches or water damage. Also, the application for flooring may require something stronger than wood, that can’t be damaged due to heavy use. This is especially true in homes that serve as vacation rentals, where guests may be using the lake or skiing/snowboarding, putting a flooring’s resilience to the test.
Faux wood tile combines the resilience of tile with the warm and inviting look of wood flooring. In some cases, a faux wood tile floor is visually indistinguishable from real hardwood flooring. Often grooves and rustic markings are added to faux wood tile, enhancing the appearance and authenticity.
Faux wood flooring installs like traditional tile and can be paired to an appropriate grout color to enhance the finished appearance. The downside to such an inviting and strong floor is that like tile, faux wood tile is cold to the touch and also so strong any object dropped on it is likely to break. A heat mat installed under the flooring can solve the problem of a cold tile floor, but items such as cell-phones, drinking glasses, or even eye-glasses are likely to break on contact.
CST Versa Lok block and pavers:
CST is actually America’s leading supplier of VERSA-LOK block for retaining wall construction and high quality pavers. CST works closely with VERSA-LOK brand to create blocks that are compatible with VERSA-LOK hardscape designs. What makes CST unique is their Mono-Cast one piece paver and block system. When making block or pavers, CST adds the coloration into a specially formulated mixture with the cement. This creates aesthetics that flow throughout the block or paver and only requires one block, or paver, for complete installation. In addition, CST offers full-service engineering so that any hardscape design can be generated by a CST engineer.
Retaining walls are common in the Deep Creek area, largely due to homes built along steep slopes. The wall acts as a protection for the home, from the weight of a slope that has been altered to make room for construction. Using CST VERSA-LOK, a mandatory necessity can become a creative project that enhances a properties’ appeal.
Using CST’s product, along with their complementary engineering service, we are able to construct efficient, unique designs while minimizing material waste. The image below depicts a wall designed and built by DCL HomeWorks that uses CST’s product, and offers enhanced features above simply retaining the slope behind the home.
Trex Transcend composite decking:
Trex is a world leader in the manufacturing of utilizing recycled materials to create high quality, long-lasting wood-alternative decking material. Trex is widely considered one of the original inventors of composite decking material and continues to be an industry leader and innovator. With manufacturing facilities in Virginia and Nevada, much of Trex’s product is American made and exported to over 28 countries. Since 1999, Trex has been a publically traded and fast growing corporation.
We like Trex brand composite decking for many reasons. One, as an original industry innovator, Trex is often on the cutting edge of making their product better, more efficient and maintaining a competitive cost. Also, Trex has made environmental stewardship part of their company philosophy. No trees are cut down to produce Trex’s product line, and their manufacturing plants use vegetable based oils instead of traditional petrol based lubricants and recycles all manufacturing waste back into their product line. Environmental responsibility has allied Trex with the Green Building Council and their products are LEED (Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design) approved.
We’ve found Trex to be a durable product, with a suite of colors that blend well with design and appeal of homes around Deep Creek Lake.While composite decking carries a higher initial cost than traditional pressure treated lumber, it doesn’t require finishing, re-staining and outlasts wood by an impressive margin.
Andersen windows and doors:
In 1903 Danish immigrant Hans Andersen started what is now Andersen Corporation, the parent company that produces Andersen Windows. Originally, pine logs harvested in Canada were floated down the St. Croix river to Andersen’s original lumberyard in Hudson, WI. In the beginning, Andersen used a “two-bundle” window construction process which streamlined window construction and also allowed for designs that minimized air leakage and offered thermal protection.
In 1932 the Andersen casement window became the first completely assembled casement window ever offered to the construction industry. During World War II, Anderson reduced the amount of metal needed to make their products by 97%, greatly aiding the war effort. They also constructed high quality, wooden ammunition boxes for the U.S. military.
Today, Andersen remains one of the premiere window and door producers in North America and they often lead the charge when it comes to innovation. Their products include some of the most energy efficient windows ever produced, which can greatly enhance comfort within the home, while also reducing heating and cooling costs.
From their basic 400 series on up to their A (architectural) series, Andersen offers the best of the best in high quality windows and doors. With their Eagle series, Andersen offers top-quality aluminum clad windows and doors, suitable for all types of all-weather construction.