Make sure to keep yourself covered, if you do employ these money saving tips as suggested in the video above. And by covered I mean, employ yourself and independent building inspector to carry out a certified building inspection report, so that when the time comes to sell you property, your buyer will have the peace of mind knowing that even though you employed some cost saving methods to construct your home, you didn’t cut corners when it came to doing things properly.
The way a building inspector can help you to save money in the long run, is to inspect any work done by contractors or owner builders, who to the untrained eye may have done things incorrectly in order to save themselves some money on materials or processes.
If you are in the Melbourne area, then New Building Inspectors, are your first choice for a qualified builder to provide you with an independent building inspections report.
And once the house is complete you are going to want to celebrate. After all that blood sweat and tears, the new house is now ready to be enjoyed and what better way to do that than to entertain your friends and family.
After the hard work that everyone has contributed to the project it is only fitting that they get to join in on the celebrations too. You can invite the builders, bricklayers, landscapers, interior decorators – in fact invite anyone who has put in their best effort to make your new home the best it could be. You never know when you are going to want to have them come back and do some more work or fix up any mistakes that may eventuate after the warrranty period may be over. If you have returned kind with kind, you will be in a better negotiation spot to get them back to do the work for little or no cost to you.
Make sure you take all the hard work out of the event and hire a quality catering company to handle the food preparation and service of the guests. You know you don’t save much money by trying to do this yourself and it just adds to the enjoyment level when someone else is responsible for the cooking and looking after the mess once the party is over. Companies that can handle corporate events and cocktail parties, such as Chilterns Catering are the people you need to call first.
So whatever you decide to do, just make sure that everyone has a good time at your house warming party.
In keeping with most districts of healthcare, the marketplace has seen a boom in the construction of Behavioral Healthcare facilities. Contributing to this increase is the paradigm shift in the way society views mental illness. Society is placing a heavier value on the need to treat people with serious addictions such as alcohol, prescription and elicit drugs. A large percentage of people suffering from behavioral disorders are afflicted with both mental and addictive behaviors, and most will re-enter communities and either become contributors or violators.
These very specialized facilities do not typically yield the attention from today’s top healthcare designers and their quantity accounts for a small fraction of healthcare construction. However, Behavioral Healthcare projects are increasing in number and are being designed by some very prominent architectural firms such as Cannon Design and Architecture Plus. Many are creating state-of-the-art, award-winning contemporary facilities that defy what most of us believe Behavioral Healthcare design to be.
Changing the Way We Design Behavioral Healthcare Facilities
As with all good planners and designers, A+D (along with facility experts) are reviewing the direct needs of patient and staff while reflecting on how new medicine and modern design can foster patient healing rates, reduce environmental stress, and increase safety. This is changing the face of treatment and outcome by giving the practitioner more time to treat because they require less time and resources to “manage” disruptive patient populations.
The face of Behavioral Healthcare is quickly changing. No longer are these facilities designed to warehouse patients indefinitely. And society’s expectations have changed. Patients are often treated with the belief that they can return to their community and be a contributor to society. According to the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS), depending on the severity of illness, the average length of stay in a Behavioral Healthcare facility is only 9.6 days.
What has changed?
Jaques Laurence Black, AIA, president and principal of New York City-based daSILVA Architects, states that there are two primary reasons for the shortened admission period:
1. Introduction of modern psychotropic drugs that greatly speed recovery
2. Pressures from insurance companies to get patients out of expensive modes of care
To meet these challenges, healthcare professionals are finding it very difficult to effectively treat patients within the walls of antiquated, rapidly deteriorating mental facilities. A great percentage of these facilities were built between 1908 and 1928 and were designed for psychiatric needs that were principled in the belief to “store” not to “rehabilitate.”
Also impacting the need for Behavioral Healthcare construction is the reluctance of acute-care facilities to provide mental health level services for psychiatric or addiction patients. They recognize that patient groups suffering from behavioral disorders have unique health needs, all of which need to be handled and treated only by very experienced healthcare professionals. This patient population also requires a heightened level of security. Self-harm and injuring staff and other patients are major concerns.
The Report of the Surgeon General: “Epidemiology of Mental Illness” also reports that within a given year about 20% of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder and 5.4% suffer from a serious mental illness (SMI ) – defined as bipolar, panic, obsessive-compulsive, personality, and depression disorders and schizophrenia. It is also believed 6% of Americans suffer from addiction disorders, a statistic that is separate from individuals who suffer from both mental and addiction disorders. Within a given year it is believed that over one-quarter of America’s population warrants levels of mental clinical care. Even if these statistics were cut in half, it cannot be denied as a serious societal issue.
With a growing population, effectively designing in accordance with such measures is at the heart of public health.
Understanding the Complexity of Behavioral Healthcare Design
Therefore, like Corrections, leading planners and designers specializing in Behavioral Healthcare are delving deeper to better understand the complexity of issues and to be the activist to design facilities that promote treatment and healing – and a safer community.
The following is a list of key design variables that are being studied and implemented:
1. Right Sizing
2. Humanizing Materials and Color
3. Staff-Focused Amenities and Happiness
4. Security and Safety
5. Therapeutic Design Tenants
Today’s Behavioral Healthcare facilities are often one-story single buildings within a campus size. Often debated by Clients due to costs, this design preference is driven by the demand for natural light, window views to nature for all patient areas, and outdoor open-air gardens “wrapped” within. All of this provides soothing qualities to the patient, reduces their anxieties, counteracts disruptive conduct and helps to reduce staff stress.
“When you look at the program mix in these buildings, there’s a high demand for perimeter because there are a lot of rooms that need natural light. Offices, classrooms, dining areas, community rooms, and patient rooms all demand natural light, so you end up with a tremendous amount of exterior wall, and it forces the building to have a very large footprint.” – James Kent Muirhead, AIA, associate principal at Cannon Design in Baltimore
These design principles are also believed to improve staff work conditions. Unlike a multi-story complex, at any moment staff can walk outdoors and access nature, free from visual barriers, and within a building that more accurately reflects building types that both patients and staff would encounter in their communities.
In addition to right-sizing for the overall building footprint, is right-sizing for internal patient and staff support area. Similar to the move we have seen in Corrections to de-centralize support spaces, Behavioral Healthcare is moving to decentralized nursing/patient units called “neighborhoods.” With mental health facilities there is a large concern with distances and space adjacencies in relation to the patient room and patient support areas such as treatment and social spaces. Frank Pitts, AIA, FACHA, OAA president of Architecture Plus, Troy, NY, advocates neighborhoods that average 24-30 beds arranged in sub-clusters, called “houses”, of 8-10 beds. Thus, each neighborhood consists of three houses. Often these layouts will include a common area where patients congregate and socialize, with a separate quiet room so patients can elect to avoid active, crowded areas. In addition Pitts states, “There’s a move away from central dining facilities. So, while facilities will still have a central kitchen, it’s a whole lot easier moving food than it is patients.” However, it is important for the facility to mimic normal outside daily life routines, so patients are encouraged to frequently leave their neighborhoods to attend treatment sessions, and outdoor courtyards.
Humanizing Materials & Color
In all facilities that play a role in rehabilitation, design strives to create spaces that humanize, calm, and relax. Behavioral Healthcare patients need to feel that they are in familiar surroundings; therefore, the architectural vocabulary should feel comfortable and normal. Since these facilities are about rehabilitation (when possible) and encouraging patients to merge back into society, the facility should feel like an extension of the community. Their spaces should reflect the nature and architecture of the surrounding region and thus so, no two facilities should look too much alike.
“Our approach to designing these facilities is to view the facility as an extension of the community where patients will end up when they’re released. Interior finishes also depend on geography because you want to replicate the environment patients are used to. You want to de-stigmatize the facility as much as possible.” – Tim Rommel, AIA, ACHA, OAA, principal with Cannon Design in Buffalo, NY.
Therefore, materials and colors within these spaces want to feel familiar to one’s region and everyday life. To soothe the psyche and rehabilitate, they want to feel soft and comfortable, yet visually stimulating. An interior that is overly neutral or hard in appearance is not appropriate. Materials should reduce noise, and colors should lift the spirit. This can help to create an environment in which the patient can learn, socialize, and be productive while easing anxieties, delivering dignity, and modifying behavior. As stated previously, behavioral studies advise the use of softer interior materials-like carpeting, wood doors and tile. Doing so translates directly to both patient and staff well-being, particularly staff safety, and makes for a nicer place to work. In addition, staff have more resources to “treat” instead of manage heated situations. When staff experiences are eased and satisfied, morale is boosted and life-saving rules and policies are more likely to be enforced.
Staff-Focused Amenities & Happiness
While reducing staff stress and fatigue through a healing supportive environment seems like an obvious goal, there are relatively few studies that have dealt with this issue in any detail. More attention has been given to patient outcomes. However, many leading hospitals that have adopted therapeutic tenants into their newly built environments have seen vast improvement through their “business matrixes” and financial reporting.
In one example, the Mayo Clinic, a national leader in implementing healing design in its facilities, has reported a reduction of nursing turnover from a national annual average of 20% to an annual 3%-4%. In another example, when Bronson Methodist Hospital incorporated evidence-based design into its new 343-bed hospital, they cited their 19%-20% nurse turnover rate dramatically dropped to 5%.
Now, both the Mayo Clinic and Bronson Methodist Hospital have had to initiate a waiting list for nursing staff seeking positions. This converts to better-trained and qualified staff, and a reduced error rate. Therefore, more health facilities are investing in staff support areas such as lounges, changing rooms, and temporary sleep rooms. Within these staff spaces and in the hospital throughout, facilities are also recognizing the need for upgrade materials, better day lighting, and an interesting use of color: One soon realizes that the need of patients and staff are interwoven, each impacting positively or negatively the other.
Security & Safety
Without debate, self harm and harm to staff is one of the biggest concerns mental health facilities manage. Often the biggest safety and security concern is the damage patients can do to themselves. “There are three rules I had drummed in me,” says Mark Hanchar; Director of Preconstruction Services for Gilbane Building Company, Providence, R.I. “First, there can’t be any way for people to hang themselves. Second, there can be no way for them to create weapons. Third, you must eliminate things that can be thrown.” Hanchar says that the typical facility is, “a hospital with medium-security prison construction.” This means shatter proof glass, solid surface countertops (laminate can be peeled apart), stainless steel toilets and sinks (porcelain can shatter), push pull door latches and furniture that cannot be pulled apart and used as a weapon. These are just to name a few.
Additionally, removing barriers between patients and nursing staff is a safety consideration. Frank Pitts, AIA, FACHA, OAA president of Architecture Plus, says what may be counter-intuitive for safety precautions, “Glass walls around nursing stations just aggravate the patients.” Removing glass or lowering it at nursing stations so patients can feel a more human connection to nurses often calms patients. There is also discussion of removing nursing stations altogether; decentralizing and placing these care needs directly into the clinical neighborhoods and community spaces. Pitt says, “The view is that [nursing staff] need to be out there treating their patients.”
Therapeutic Design Tenants
As medicine is increasingly moving towards “evidence-based” medicine, where clinical choices are informed by research, healthcare design is increasingly guided by research linking the physical environment directly to patient and staff outcomes. Research teams from Texas A&M and Georgia Tech sifted through thousands of scientific articles and identified more than 600 – most from top peer-reviewed journals – to quantify how hospital design can play a direct role in clinical outcomes.
The research teams uncovered a large body of evidence that demonstrates design features such as increased day-lighting, access to nature, reduced noise and increased patient control helped reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase staff effectiveness – all of which promote healing rates and save facilities cost. Therefore, improving physical settings can be a critical tool in making hospitals more safe, more healing, and better places to work.
Today’s therapeutic spaces have been defined to excel in 3 categories:
1. Provide clinical excellence in the treatment of the body
2. Meet the psycho-social needs of patients, families, and staff
3. Produce measurable positive patient outcomes and staff effectiveness
Considering the cost of treating mental illness, which is exceedingly high, and wanting facilities to have effective outcomes, a further practice of incorporating therapeutic design is increasing. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIM H) approximated in 2008 that serious mental illnesses (SMI ), costs the nation $193 billion annually in lost wages. The indirect costs are impossible to estimate.
The estimated direct cost to clinically treat is approximately $70 billion annually and another $12 billion spent towards substance abuse disorders. In addition to the increased need of care and the boom in Behavioral Healthcare construction, it becomes an obligation to make certain that we as facility managers, architects, designers and manufacturers therapeutically plan and design these facilities.
Notably, in 2004, “The Role of the Physical Environment in the Hospital for the 21st Century: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity,” published by Roger Ulrich P.H.D., of Texas A&M University, was released. In a culmination of evidence-based research, research teams found five design principles that contributed significantly to achieving therapeutic design goals.
The report indicates five key factors that are essential for the psychological well-being of patients, families and staff, including:
1. Access to Nature
2. Provide Positive Distractions
3. Provide Social Support Spaces
4. Give a Sense of Control
5. Reduce or eliminate environmental stress
Access to Nature
Studies indicate that nature might have the most powerful impact to help patient outcomes and staff effectiveness. Nature can be literal or figurative – natural light, water walls, views to nature, large prints of botanicals and geography, materials that indicate nature and most importantly, stimulating color that evokes nature. Several studies strongly support that access to nature such as day-lighting and appropriate colorations can improve health outcomes such as depression, agitation, sleep, circadian rest-activity rhythms, as well as length of stay in demented patients and persons with seasonal affective disorders (SAD).
These and related studies continue to affirm the powerful impact of natural elements on patient recovery and stress reduction. Thus, it is clear that interior designs which integrate natural elements can create a more relaxing, therapeutic environment that benefits both patients and staff.
These are a small set of environmental features that provide the patient and family a positive diversion from “the difficult” and, in doing so, also negate an institutional feel. These can be views to nature, water walls, artwork, super imposed graphics, sculpture, music – and ideally all of these want to be focused on nature and, when applicable, an interesting use of color. Therapeutic environments that provide such patient-centered features can empower patients and families, but also increase their confidence in the facility and staff. This helps with open lines of communication between patient and caregiver.
Social Support Spaces
These are spaces designed partially for the patient but mainly for the comfort and socialization of family members and friends of the patient; therefore, family lounges, resource libraries, chapels, sleep rooms and consult rooms all play a role. When family and friends play a key role in a patient’s healing, these spaces encourage families to play an active role in the rehabilitation process.
Sense of Control
In times when patients and family feel out of control, it is very healing for the facility design and staff to provide it back when appropriate. Although, this cannot always be done suitably in mental healthcare facilities. However, when applicable, these design features include optional lighting choices, architectural way-finding, resource libraries, enhanced food menus, private patient rooms and
optional areas to reside in. A few well-appointed studies in psychiatric wards and nursing homes have found that optional choices of moveable seating in dining areas enhanced social interaction and improved eating disorders. When patients feel partially in control of their healing program and that the building features are focused to them, an increased confidence of the quality of care enters and tensions lower.
As with all therapeutic design, this allows the caregiver to use their resources healing in lieu of “managing” patient populations.
Reduce or Eliminate Environmental Stress
Noise level measurements show that hospital wards can be excessively noisy places resulting in negative effects on patient outcomes. The continuous background noise produced by medical equipment and staff voices often exceeds the level of a busy restaurant. Peak noise periods (shift changes, equipment alarms, paging systems, telephones, bedrails, trolleys, and certain medical equipment like portable xray machines are comparable to walking next to a busy highway when a motorcycle or large truck passes.
Several studies have focused on infants in NIC Us, finding that higher noise levels, for example, decrease oxygen saturation (increasing need for oxygen support therapy), elevate blood pressure, increase heart and respiration rate, and worsen sleep. Research on adults and children show that noise is a major cause of awakening and sleep loss.
Architectural design can assist in overcoming these types of obstacle. Whether you are designing a luxury home or care facility, there are certain design aspects that need to be considered. Overall comfort and a sense of peace, are able to be enhanced by a well designed environment. Considering Melbourne designed homes and prestige premises, one could draw the conclusion that choosing the right home builder is going to make all the difference.
In addition to worsening sleep, there is strong evidence that noise increases stress in adult patients, for example, heightening blood pressure and heart rate. Environmental surfaces in hospitals are usually hard and sound-reflecting, not sound-absorbing causing noise to travel down corridors and into patient rooms. Sounds tend to echo, overlap and linger longer.
Interventions that reduce noise have been found to improve sleep and reduce patient stress. Of these, the environmental or design interventions such as changing to sound-absorbing ceiling tiles, are more successful than organizational interventions like establishing “quiet hours.” White noise or noise reducing electronic devices can also help quieten a noisy environment.
Conclusion and Additional Information
The information contained in this excerpted report is intended as a guide for architects, specifiers, designers, facility planners, medical directors, procurers, psychologists and social workers which have a stake in providing improved facilities for behavioral healthcare patients. It is a portion of a report entitled “The Contributions of Color” authored by Tara Hill, of Little Fish Think Tank. Ms. Hill was commissioned by Norix Group Inc., in 2010 to research the role color plays in the safe operation of correctional facilities and behavioral health centers. More in-depth information specifically about the psychological influence of color and behavioral healthcare facility design can be found by reading the full report.
About the Author
Tara Hill is a full-scope, state registered interior designer, and the founder and principle of Little Fish Think Tank. Before founding Little Fish, Ms. Hill was an Associate + Senior Designer at HOK, and the Director of Interiors at Stanley, Beaman & Sears. She has implemented award-winning, innovative design solutions for commercial and institutional interiors.
Ms. Hill also has significant experience regarding the science and theory of color, both as a design tool and a promoter of healing. She has conducted extensive research in evidence-based design regarding color and its profound impact on the human spirit.
Prior to her work with Norix, Ms. Hill developed the Healing Colors Collection for Corian® solid surfaces, by Dupont®, for the healthcare environment. http://www.golittlefish.net
About Norix Group Inc.
For over 25 years, Norix has offered the most complete line of correctional furniture, for use throughout correctional facilities. With their extensive experience in providing secure furniture for prisons and jails, Norix is a trusted resource for every corrections application.
Norix also offers a vast array of furniture for several industries including behavioral healthcare, commercial, higher education, public safety, GSA and shelters. All furniture is designed for safety, security and extreme durability. Norix intensive-use furniture is extraordinary by design, surpassing industry standards for strength, safety and long-term performance.
Whether you’re updating your existing kitchen or adding an extension, there are 10 key steps you will need to follow. Proper planning and preparation will help make sure you the final outcome fulfils your needs. A good kitchen companies Sydney will provide you with a kitchen designer.
Always use the skills of an architect, architectural technician or kitchen designer – they have a wealth of design knowledge and know how to create a room that works perfectly with the rest of your house.
1. Understand the space you have
Before you start choosing units and tiles, you need to understand the space you’re working with. Ask a kitchen company, an architect or architectural technologist for scale drawings. This will enable you to see exactly how much room you have to work with, and you can start planning how to make the most of it.
Think about the location of internal and external doors and windows, so you have the best flow possible between your kitchen, outside space and the rest of your house. Have a clear idea of how much you want to spend before contacting a designer, as this will ensure you end up with a scheme you can afford.
2. Consider the best layout
You need to design the kitchen layout to fit your lifestyle. If you want an open-plan kitchen-living-diner, think about where each zone will work best. It usually makes sense to have the kitchen in the darkest part of the space, with the dining and living areas – where you will spend more time relaxing – closest to windows overlooking the garden.
There’s a growing trend for ‘broken-plan’ living, where the spaces are only partly separated –you may want to include a half wall between the kitchen and living space, or a pocket sliding door that allows you to divide off the dining room for more formal entertaining.
Breakfast bars or islands are a key component of most kitchens these days, so work with your designer to decide the best location for yours. You don’t want it to interrupt the flow of the room, and may want to integrate your sink or hob into the island to allow the chef to interact with people using the rest of the space.
You’ll also need to consider your glazing choices carefully, as this can make or break a design – do you want bi-fold or sliding doors? Would rooflights help bring natural light into the depths of the room? Now is the time to make these major decisions.
Here are some of the items you may want to include in your new kitchen:
Glazed display units
Tap or boiling water tap
Ceiling or downdraught extractor
3. Decide on the style you want
Once you’ve decided on the best layout, you can start finalising the details. Do your research to find out exactly what style of kitchen suits your taste and lifestyle. For instance, if you have young children, smooth, wipe-clean units will be easier to keep clean than painted Shaker-style ones.
You’ll have to live with the design for years, so it’s worth spending time getting it right. Use homes magazines, architectural websites, kitchen company catalogues, design books and Pinterest to pull together a mood board of what you like. Allow yourself a few months to do this and you’ll soon see key themes emerging.
You’ll also need to finalise your budget at this stage to make sure you’re not looking at options out of your price range. Remember that just because you can’t afford high-end design choices like marble work surfaces, it doesn’t mean you can’t get the look with a cheaper alternative, such as a quality laminate. The huge range of kitchens on the market means, if you are willing to shop around, you can get a kitchen you love at a price you can afford.
Follow these tips to manage the cost of your new kitchen:
Remodelling costs less than extending, but as the kitchen is the most important room in the house for most people, it’s worth investing in the space to get it right
If your budget is tight, keep the design simple
A good-quality painted kitchen can be good value, as instead of replacing it, you can change the colour and look when you decide to redecorate
If you have to prioritise, invest in high-quality worktops and taps. High-fashion kitchens can look great, but may date quickly
4. Get the permission you need
If you’re planning to make internal structural changes to your kitchen, such as knocking down the wall between your kitchen and dining room, you won’t usually need planning permission, as this is covered by permitted development.
The majority of single-storey extensions are also covered by permitted development; however, certain exclusions and criteria apply, so always check with your local authority’s planning department before starting work.
Even if you don’t need planning permission, it may be worth applying to your local planning authority for a lawful development certificate, which proves that the work is lawful, and can be useful when you come to sell. If you are planning structural changes, make sure you use the services of an approved structural engineer.
Try our handy quiz, which will tell you instantly whether you’ll need planning permission for your kitchen extension.
5. Find the right team
Once you’ve had your plans drawn up and permissions granted, you’ll need to find tradespeople you trust to carry out any structural work and install your kitchen. This could include a builder, joiner, plumber, electrician and decorator.
For each of the different trades, you should get at least three detailed written quotes. Recommendations are always the best way to find people to work with, so ask friends and family before searching online.
Bear in mind that the cheapest quote may not be the best if it does not meet all your requirements, and you need to feel comfortable with the people you choose to work with.
Some kitchen companies offer a complete design, build and installation package, meaning you won’t need to find individual tradespeople, although this is often more expensive. If you choose this option, again always get quotes from at least three different kitchen companies. Even if you’ve fallen in love with a kitchen offered by one specific company, chances are others will offer something very similar.
6. Finalise the details
Once work starts, making changes can be costly. Agree on all of the final details, including the handles, appliances and other details, and stick to them.
It’s especially important to confirm the location of appliances, lighting and sockets, making sure sockets are in places that will be convenient, such as by the fridge and kettle. You should also consider where to put charging points and whether you’d like USB sockets.
And think carefully about extraction. Will you have a traditional overhead extractor, or could you install a downdraft model, which slots into your kitchen worktop and can pop up at the touch of a button?
When it comes to artificial lighting, make sure you include a combination of task, ambient and accent lighting. By finalising the details and ordering materials now, you’ll help the project run smoothly.
7. Start the building work
Now you have the team you want to work with and quotes agreed, it’s time for construction work to start. If you’re having walls demolished or an extension built, you may want to consider moving out while the work is complete. Alternatively, you could set up a makeshift kitchen – perhaps using your old cooker, sink and couple of units – in a different room. If you decide to stay, be prepared for dust, noise and disruption. If you decide to move out, make sure you visit the site regularly and are available to answer questions.
While knocking down internal walls and stripping out an old kitchen should take a few weeks, building an extension is likely to take three months or more. During this time, walls, floors and ceilings will be constructed, cables inserted for electrics and pipes for water.
8. Decorate the space
Once the walls plastered, you should be able to get a feel for how your new kitchen will look when it’s finished.
Now is the time to decorate the walls and ceiling. By painting before the units are installed, you’ll minimise the risk of drips and spills ruining your new kitchen. Opt for a wall colour that either complements or contrasts with your units. Although a plain white kitchen is timeless as it can easily be updated with accessories, consider going for a bolder wall colour, such as dark grey or petrol blue, for more of a style statement.
9. Install your new kitchen
Now it’s time for the most exciting part of the project – the installation of your new kitchen. Many kitchen companies offer an installation service for around £2,000, although most units can be fitted by a competent DIYer if you’re looking to cut costs. If you do choose this option, your extractor and cooker will need to be installed by an accredited electrician, and you may need a plumber to fit your sink and water-based appliances. Due to the cost of most worktops, it’s always best to ask a professional to fit these for you – mistakes can prove expensive.
10. Complete the tiling and flooring
You could tile, add a splashback to your walls or install your chosen flooring before fitting your units, but you’ll be paying for extra materials that won’t be seen once the kitchen is in place, so it makes sense to complete these tasks afterwards, instead.
Most competent DIYers will be able to tile or fit flooring themselves. Once the walls and floors are complete, it’s time to introduce the furniture, accessories and lighting, and start enjoying your brand-new kitchen.
Introduce daylight from as many directions as possible — including rooflights and high-level or obscure glazed windows where privacy may be an issue.
Prioritise the best quality space – with the best daylight and nicest views – to the functions that are most important to you, usually living and dining.
For complete kitchen designs and costs, click here!
How to design a kitchen? With the kitchen being such a high activity area of the house it’s worth finding out how to design a kitchen – even if you’re using a kitchen designer or architect. Knowing what’s involved in the process will help you design your own kitchen or give a detailed brief to your designer. Kitchen renovation cost depends on the design of your kitchen.
This page makes up part of the kitchen design layout series.
Step 1 – Pick Your Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer
Now usually I’m always encouraging my site visitors to think in terms of how you want a space to function before making interior design or furniture choices but for kitchens it helps to know where you plan to get your kitchen cabinets from.
Most manufacturers have units in various standard sizes but always work with the kitchen cabinet dimensions that the manufacturer provides.
Even if you’re getting a bespoke kitchen made, getting in touch with a maker and finding out if they work in any standard sizes (eg using whole pieces of wood to avoid cutting which reduces waste, need less labor and therefore cost a bit less).
Step 2 – Create a Floor and Wall Plan
The second step of how to design a kitchen is to create a plan of your kitchen ‘space’ – the floor space and the wall space.
First decide if you’re working in feet and inches or m, cm and mm. For example in the United States and Canada kitchens are designed and sold in inches, in the UK and Australia it’s millimetres. Take the lead from the main measurement that your cabinet manufacturer uses.
Time to measure up! Take your time and be accurate and measure using the right measurement for your country. Measure floor dimensions, niches, windows, doors, where the water pipes (and gas supply if applicable) come up from the floor.
Now it’s time to draw up the plan.
You can do this on paper by following the instructions on draw floor plans but just for your kitchen rather than the whole house. Or you can use one of the online kitchen planners or software available (a bit more about that at the bottom of this page).
If you stick to the paper option, it’s a good idea to adjust the scale so that you fit the kitchen onto a sheet of paper rather than the whole house. The scale you can use depends on how big your kitchen is and how big your paper is.
Step 3 – Plan the Outline of Your Kitchen
It might be really obvious what shape your kitchen is going to be. If so, go ahead and have a look at the relevant page below. If not you can take a look at these for inspiration
Also take a look at the kitchen dimensions page that goes through some important kitchen planning guidelines.
Using your paper drawing, online kitchen planner or software plan in the outline of where you will place the base cabinets, wall cabinets, islands and tables in your kitchen in plan view (looking down from above). Don’t worry about where the appliances and fixtures will be placed just yet.
Other Considerations on Kitchen Shape
As well as the shapes above you could also consider incorporating curves in to the kitchen. This introduces challenges of being able to open adjacent cupboards and drawers at the same time without the doors or drawers banging into each other – but leaving a bit of space in between each set of units mitigates this.
If you have a bigger room to work with one of the main things to decide is whether the kitchen will occupy the whole room with an eating area open to the kitchen, or whether you want to try and maintain a bit of privacy to the cooking area – make it a bit like a bar or a coffee shop counter. If you have an accident with dinner you might want to be able to put it right without everyone looking at you!
Step 4 – Place the Appliances and Fixtures
Head on over to the kitchen triangle page.
Then come back here and draw in the the appliances and fixtures onto your plan
Step 5 – Plan Detailed Storage
Head on over to the kitchen storage ideas and kitchen storage solutions pages. Storage is a big part of how to design a kitchen.
You’re back? Phew – that’s kitchen storage done. At this stage you should have the wall plans filled out with all the fixtures you’re planning.
Step 6 – Lighting
At some stage I’ll be writing up a page on kitchen lighting design.
Your cabinet manufacturer may have some integrated lighting options.
Step 7 – Electrical
Plan the electrical points (outlets and switches for appliances) for your kitchen.
There are several options for general outlets.
If you have an appliance garage, a cupboard mounted microwave or want a TV in your kitchen think carefully about the best position for outlets.
Step 8 – Plan for other activities in the kitchen and surrounding spaces
What other activities will happen in your kitchen apart from those related to food? How about a sitting area with a TV or games console? Office type activities such as computer time and paying the bills are also popular in kitchen spaces.
Have a think about how your kitchen will relate to the spaces surrounding it. If it’s open plan to a dining space or living space what kind of view does the people in these areas get of the kitchen?
How to design a kitchen? Click here on how to design your main living space.
Master electricians require some formal education and extensive hands-on training. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you. There are services that electrician Melbourne CBD that are not available on others.
They’re not called ‘master’ electricians for nothing: achieving this rank involves years of work experience and continuing education. You can begin on-the-job training without formal education in some states, while others do require a degree or certificate. No matter where you start, you’ll need to work for several years before you can become licensed as a master electrician.
Master electricians are often in charge of the installation and maintenance of electrical systems in homes, businesses and institutions. Most states license master electricians based on examinations, accrued experience and on-the-job training as a journeyman or apprentice electrician; some states lower the required years of experience for master electrician candidates who have vocational school training, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
Educational Requirements for Master Electricians
Colleges and vocational schools offer certificate, degree and continuing education programs for those seeking a career as a master electrician. Maine mandates a 576-hour vocational training program for electricians, while postsecondary education is optional in other jurisdictions. Some states accept a trade school diploma, associate’s degree or engineering bachelor’s degree in lieu of some of the required practical experience. Most states require electricians to pass the same licensure exam, regardless of their educational background.
Classroom study in an electrical engineering bachelor’s degree program usually consists of applied mathematics, fundamentals of electricity, project management and architectural wiring. Vocational programs cover the National Electrical Code, cabling, OSHA regulations and local building codes.
Most master electricians take continuing education classes throughout their careers to keep their skills up-to-date and maintain licensure. Courses are typically offered by state-approved schools or vocational programs and may be held either online or on-campus.
Training requirements for master electricians vary according to state and union regulations. In most areas, training begins in an approved apprenticeship program following graduation from a degree program. Some apprenticeship programs specialize in residential, commercial or new construction, while others may cover various general contracting jobs.
Apprenticeship programs usually run 3-7 years and typically divide hours between classroom and on-the-job training. Classroom study can include applied circuitry, electronic drafting, digital electronics and electrical instrumentation. Outside training is done under the supervision of a master electrician or journeyman at job sites and projects.
Following completion of an apprenticeship program, most states require that electricians spend time as journeymen before moving up to become master electricians. After earning a state journeyman license, electricians usually spend at least two years acquiring work hours before they can apply for a master electrician license.
Education options vary for those who wish to become master electricians, so often you can combine classroom learning and on-the-job training in a way that works best for you. Apprenticeships overseen by senior members of the profession are a common way to build up the years of experience needed to meet licensing requirements for journeyman and master electricians.
Hiring a professional electrician Melbourne CBD can be very expensive and is often the reason why people try doing their own basic electric wiring themselves.
I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly results of these efforts and I have come to the conclusion that basic electrical wiring is not something anyone should do without proper guidance, tools and confidence.
It is so important that before attempting any of these basic electrical wiring projects that people are aware of how dangerous electricity is and how important safety is for you and for your family and family home.
90 percent of the time I recommend hiring a licensed electrician over doing your basic electrical wiring yourself. Not doing this will usually end up costing even more money than before and increase the risk of bringing your family into danger without even knowing your doing it.
But doing your own basic electric wiring really isn’t that hard to do if you “educate” yourself on the topic.
Licensed electricians had to learn the stuff themselves too. So as a ‘do it yourself person’ this isn’t different. There is no escape possible.
You will see that the more you read about it the easier it will become and the more confidence you will get.
Just to give you an idea, here are 3 questions I recently got from people just like you who tried doing their own electric wiring:
Question 1: I installed a grounding probe in your aquarium and every time anyone in the house turns on or off the lights, the fish jump. What’s going on?
A couple of suggestions:
1. (easiest) Pull out that grounding probe and return it from whence you purchased it.
2. Check the wiring on your outlet. You may actually have ‘Neutral’ instead of ‘Ground’.
3. Check the wiring throughout the rest of the house. There are some people out there that insist on doing their own home repairs, yet don’t understand basic electrical wiring.
Outlets are easy to check by getting a $7.95 outlet tester from the hardware store. Wired-in appliances, lights, heaters, etc. are tougher.
4. Check all your electrical fixtures to make sure they aren’t leaking some voltage to Ground.
Question 2: What is the NEC? Where can I get a copy?
The NEC is a model electrical code devised and published by the National Fire Protection Association, an insurance industry group. It’s revised every three years.
The 1993 version has been released. You can buy a copy at a decent bookstore, or by calling them directly at 800-344-3555.
The code exists in several versions. There’s the full text, which is fairly incomprehensible. There’s an abridged edition, which has only the sections likely to apply to most houses.
And there’s the NEC Handbook, which contains the “authorized commentary” on the code, as well as the full text. That’s the recommended version. Unfortunately, there’s no handbook for the abridged edition. And the full handbook is expensive — US$65 plus shipping and handling.
Question 3: Can I do my own wiring? Extra pointers?
In most places, homeowners are allowed to do their own wiring. In some, they’re not. Check with your local electrical inspector. Most places won’t permit you to do wiring on other’s homes for money without a license. Nor are you permitted to do wiring in “commercial” buildings.
Multiple dwellings (eg: duplexes)are usually considered “semi-commercial” or “commercial”. However, many jurisdictions will permit you to work on semi-commercial wiring if you’re supervised by a licensed electrician – if you can find one willing to supervise.
If you do your own wiring, an important point:
Do it NEAT and WELL! What you really want to aim for is a better job than an electrician will do. After all, it’s your own home, and it’s you or your family that might get killed if you make a mistake.
An electrician has time pressures, has the skills and knows the tricks of the trade to do a fast, safe job. In this FAQ we’ve consciously given a few recommendations that are in excess of code, because we feel that it’s reasonable, and will impress the inspector.
The inspector will know that you’re an amateur. You have to earn his trust. The best way of doing this is to spend your time doing as neat a job as possible. Don’t cut corners. Exceed specifications. Otherwise, the inspector may get extremely picky and fault you on the slightest transgressions.
Don’t try to hide anything from the inspector.
Use the proper tools. Ie: don’t use a bread knife to strip wires, or twist wires with your fingers. The inspector won’t like it, and the results won’t be that safe. And it takes longer. And you’re more likely to stick a hunk of 12ga wire through your hand that way.
Don’t handle house wire when it’s very cold (eg: below -10C or 16F). Thermoplastic house wire, particularly older types become very brittle.
As you can see, getting the right answers to your questions can make the work a lot easier.
You save time by doing it “the right way” from the first time and you save money because you won’t need to hire an electrician to either do the entire job or to fix your screw-ups.
In any case, no matter what you, be very careful when working on electricity! If needed cut down the entire power of your house just to be sure.
Keep It Safe,
Nico De Baere is a licensed electrician with over 10 years of experience with home and industrial electric wiring. He is the author of the ebook Basic Electric Wiring which gives answers to 77 of the most ask questions on basic electric wiring. Visit his site now or click here [http://www.basicelectricwiring.com]
Electricians are responsible for installing new electrical infrastructure, while keeping the wiring and equipment in existing buildings and power grids in top condition. Since modern society depends on electricity to operate, the electrical profession can be very rewarding. According to the US Department of Labor, the average annual wage for electricians in 2016 exceeded $56,000, and in specialized sectors such as oil and gas it is even possible to make a six-figure income. Melbourneemergencyelectricians.com.au is a company with years of experience providing high-quality after hours electrician Melbourne, wiring and cabling for Melbourne homes and businesses alike.
This article will provide an overview of the process required to obtain a master electrician license in the USA. Keep in mind this is a general overview, and there are specific requirements that vary by state.
Step 01 – Meet the Minimum Requirements to Receive Training
The electrical profession requires ample training to learn about its technical aspects and construction practices, while gaining awareness of the risks it involves. However, the following requirements must be met before embarking on the learning process:
A minimum age of 18.
Obtaining a high-school diploma.
Passing an aptitude test.
Passing a substance abuse test.
Step 02 – Receive Training as an Electrician Apprentice
If you meet the minimum requirements you can start receiving training to become an electrician, and generally there are two paths available, which take from 4 to 5 years.
Apprenticeship programs are normally managed by electrician trade unions or the government, and you are trained in the electrical trade by working under the supervision of licensed electricians. This is a “learning by doing” approach with relatively little classroom learning, where you start with basic tasks and are given more responsibility as you acquire knowledge and experience.
Trade schools provide an approach with a higher focus on classroom learning, where you are then required to work for a minimum number of hours that is specified by state.
Of course, a mixed approach is also possible: many electricians start in trade schools and then complete the required work-hours in apprenticeship programs. Keep in mind that there are many sub-fields in the electrical trade; for example, working on residential installations is very different from working on transmission and distribution lines. If you would like to specialize in one area, it is recommended that you look for an apprenticeship with a company that works in that business sector.
Step 03 – Become a Journeyman Electrician
Regardless of whether you entered an apprenticeship or attended a trade school, you will eventually become eligible to take the journeyman electrician test. The requirement is completing an apprenticeship, or the combination of a trade school program and a work-hour quota. You become a Journeyman Electrician after passing the test.
After becoming a Journeyman Electrician, you can legally work in residential, commercial, industrial and utility settings, either as an independent technician or as a contractor’s employee.
Although Journeyman Electricians hold a license, there is a higher qualification available: the Master Electrician License. If you earn one, your professional field broadens and you can also expect a higher income.
Step 04 – Obtain Experience as a Journeyman Electrician
Becoming a Master Electrician just after becoming a Journeyman is not possible, since there are work experience requirements before being eligible for the test. However, Journeyman Electricians have much more options than apprentices with regards to their work, and their license gives them independence.
An Electrical Engineer may also be eligible for the Master Electrician test, depending on the type and amount of experience he or she has accumulated.
Step 05 – Obtain a Master Electrician License
Once you are a highly experienced Journeyman Electrician, you become eligible to take the Master Electrician test. Keep in mind, however, that there may be state-specific requirements to meet. Master Electricians can charge more for their services due to their experience and qualifications, and are also allowed to become contractors, starting their own company and hiring other electricians.
Pink Slime (and its “buddy” White water mold) is a newer problem facing swimming pool owners over the past 10 – 20 years. They are naturally occurring and are caused only by a lack of proper pool maintenance and water chemistry. In fact, even non-pool owners struggle with the pink slime in bathrooms, kitchens, and washrooms. Ever notice that pink ring around the basin? That’s pink slime. With our swimming pool removal Sydney service, we can bring back a garden or play area that once existed in your yard.
Let’s define what pink slime is. Pink slime is a naturally occurring bacterium (of the newly formed genus Methylobacterium). Pink Lime is NOT a form of Algae, it is animal not vegetable. It is pink- or red-pigmented and forms a heavy, protective slime coating which provides the organism with an unusually high level of protection. Pink slime consumes methanol (a waste gas) and it is oftentimes found WITH White Water Mold. This organism is very resilient and resistant against halogen-based (chlorine or bromine) as well as non-halogen sanitizers or germicides and can remain a contaminant even after treatment.
Although initially found in swimming pools being treated with biguanides (Baquacil, Soft Swim, Polyclear, etc.), it is now seen in any and all swimming pool environments. This is NOT a biguanide problem ONLY nor is it CAUSED by the use of biguanides.
The pink slime bacterium has an affinity for the matrix that exists on the surface of PVC plastics; it will attach itself to & inside of the matrix, allowing it to re-contaminate long after it appears that it has been seemingly “destroyed” (includes pool toys, floats, ladders, steps, fountains, automatic pool cleaner parts, skimmer baskets, weirs, directional fittings, garden hoses, etc.). Small quantities of pink slime can lead to a re-establishment of the problem. It is caused by improper water & pool maintenance, environmental factors and poor circulation. Pink slime prefers areas that are “dark” (not exposed to direct sunlight) & with “slow moving” water. In another industry, medical technology, this bacterium occurs regularly in laboratory tubin.
Look for pink slime under ladder treads, behind the skimmer weir, on the undersides skimmer baskets, pool directional returns, underwater pool light niches and light housings. If you find that the pool just isn’t holding chlorine, bromine, or even hydrogen peroxide used in biguanide treated pools, look for pink slime.
After regular tracking of homeowners swimming pools affected by pink slime, here are some commonalities:
Many, but not all, affected pools have “smaller (under) sized” cartridge filters. (i.e. using a 75 sq ft filter on a 24 ft Rnd aboveground pool or a 90 sq ft filter on a 15 x 30 inground pool).
Affected pools get 6 hours or less of direct sunlight on the pool surfaces.
Pool owners always leave the solar blanket on AND don’t chemically clean the blanket the recommended 2 times per year to remove the accumulated biofilm.
“Shocking” or oxidizing of the pool water is not done with the recommended label instructions. For example, rather than shocking the pool every week or two, that task is neglected because the water “looks fine.”
Rainy pool seasons see a dramatic rise in the cases of pink slime.
Customers regularly add fresh water from their tap without letting the hose-water run for a couple of minutes (the pink slime is already present in the garden hose and is transferred to the pool).
Pools with sand filters are not changing the sand every 2 to 3 years AND not chemically cleaning the filter sand 3 times a season (once every 6 to 8 weeks).
Newer observation: Most of the affected seem to use publicly treated drinking water. Pools filled with well water appear to be not as severely affected.
Affected pools are not as fastidiously maintained chemically (water balance, use of borate additives such as BioGuard Optimizer Plus or Proteam Supreme, regular shocking), as clean pools.
Another observation is that many water companies across the country, in partial response to “consumer calls” to “get rid of chlorine in the drinking water” are now using mono-chloramines to treat the water (over the past 15 to 20 years). Mono-chloramines do an essentially good job at treating pathogens in the drinking water, however, some of the non-pathogenic organisms may indeed be getting by. Unfortunately, there is only experiential or anecdotal evidence.
Prevention of “pink slime” is preferred over treatment. Follow these steps to help prevent pink slime:
Physically brush & clean ALL Pool surfaces weekly, including ladder steps (especially underneath each step) & rails
Expose ALL pool surfaces to as much sunlight as possible (sunlight & UV are natural oxidizers)
Remove the lid from the skimmer to allow sunlight into the basket for several hours each day ** INGROUND POOLS MUST USE EXTREME CAUTION in doing this in order to avoid a person falling into or otherwise injuring themselves due to an open skimmer.
Regularly add oxidizing chemicals into the skimmer to purge & clean the filtration lines of any bio-film (use extreme caution if doing this. Add chemicals slowly and remove ANY and ALL objects, including slow dissolving chlorine tablets or sticks, to avoid a potential chemical reaction such as explosion.
When adding make-up water from the garden hose, allow the water to run for 2 to 3 minutes before putting the hose into the pool.
Regularly clean pool toys & floats (use BioGuard Stow Away acting as a mildewcide)
Regularly clean pool solar blanket (use BioGuard Stow Away)
Chemically clean the pool filter every 4 to 6 weeks (use Strip Kwik, Kleen It or Soft Swim® Filter Cleaner). This is a very important step regardless of the filter type; sand, DE or Cartridge.
Add regular Maintenance dosages of “Shock” & Algicide every 1 to 2 weeks as prescribed (3 to 4 weeks in bguanide pools).
Use borate products such as BioGuard Optimizer Plus as a preventative measure (borates, when used properly at a rate of 50 – 80 ppm, allow the sanitizer to sanitize rather than sanitize and prevent algae growth).
Run the filter a minimum of 12 hours daily to prevent “dead spots” in the pool.
Remember to clean & rinse the brushes, hoses & vacuums that you use to clean the pool
Leave as much of your pool equipment exposed to the sun (sunlight is a natural oxidizer)
Keep the water balanced at all times. Recheck after heavy usage or rain or large “top-offs” of new water. Water balance refers to Free Available Sanitizer level, pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness.
Treatment of “pink slime” MUST BE QUICK AND TOTAL! DON’T SKIMP!
Clean all pool & affected surfaces as prescribed above.
Physically clean & remove all visible “pink slime”
Add an initial dosage of algicide to the pool
“Shock” the pool with a triple or quadruple dose
Run filter 24 hours daily until water is clear & halogen or peroxide levels are maintained at a “higher” level
Chemically clean the filter. Simple rinsing or backwashing of the filter will not remove the greases, oils & other accumulated contaminant from the filter and filter tank.
Have the pool water professionally tested & analyzed. Look for a pool company that knows what they are talking about and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth about problem.
Maintain Optimizer Plus (or other borate product) levels
Maintain good water balance of pH, Total Alkalinity & Calcium Hardness
The longer that you allow the pink slime to remain, the more difficult it will be to cure.
Reliability, hiring and termination costs are persistent problems in the electrical contracting industry. Thorough screening, testing and interviewing techniques can help prevent reliability issues. The question is, do you have time to do all of these things and maintain focus on the job site? If you deal with Sphere Electrician Northcote you will be definitely satisfied with the quality of electrician’s work.
First review a list of functions your company must do to hire, maintain and retain an employee. Place a cost on each item using the time value of the person who must handle each separate item. For example and simplification, your office manager earns $15.00/hour and spends a half-hour a day dealing with employee issues. The time value is $7.50 to perform that function. Do this for each item listed below and come up with a daily total amount. Divide the total by 8 and determine if you are performing the functions cheaper than the staffing company can. Most electrical contractors can not because they are set up operationally, not administratively.
If you need a guideline to compare costs, most staffing companies charge a very small amount on top of each hour billed; use 5-7% as a general rule. Keep in mind this includes all labor burden costs including state/federal payroll taxes, worker’s com, liability insurance, payroll processing, etc (see list for the rest).
Outsourcing your human resources function eliminates the need for:
Placing job ads, handling phone calls from ads, processing job applications,checking references,performing criminal background checks, scheduling and paying for drug testing (if required), scheduling and conducting interviews, controlling Worker’s compensation insurance costs, maintaining liability insurance on employees, paying for office staff human resources training,
employee handbook development, safety program development, administration and injury reporting, payroll administration, mailing checks and setting up direct deposit accounts, payroll tax accounting – weekly payroll and annual mailing of W-2’s,
time tracking of field employees (electricians), offering and administering health and savings plans, worker’s compensation claims processing, processing unemployment claims, handling court ordered garnishments, paying attorney’s fees if a suit is filed against your company, addressing and processing NLRB issues, dealing with and paying for other post-employment obligations (wrongful termination suits, HIPPA notifications, etc)…and all of the other time consuming costs not mentioned above that chew into your bottom line!
What many electrical contractors do not take into consideration is the amount of time away from production and the amount of time their office staff devotes to recruiting, hiring and maintaining each employee on the payroll. This is a variable cost outsourcing labor solves.
Going back to the numbers, variable costs are costs that can be varied flexibly as conditions change; like the number of electricians you need to carry on your payroll at any given time. The point made here is that labor is a much more flexible resource than capital investment. Outsourcing labor provides you and your staff with freedom away from time consuming human resource functions. The time you save is better spent marketing, dealing with customers, suppliers, and focusing on the work at your project site.
Spend time to add up the time and cost of the listed functions involved in hiring and retaining electricians. Ask a staffing company to provide you with a cost breakdown of their hourly charge for each electrician’s skill level. Keep in mind staffing companies cover all the costs you would and charge a nominal account administration fee (the fee is normally much less than what companies spend on the list of HR functions). Compare the costs. Remember to consider the intangible benefits of reduced liability, time savings and increased freedom to focus on your customer.
Most contractors will agree that for any given electrical contracting project, outsourcing is cost effective. One key point that must be emphasized is outsourcing labor is not a “one size fits all” solution to controlling variable costs. Businesses that are comfortable where they are do not make good candidates. On the other hand, a business that wants to grow while maintaining tight control over variable costs makes an excellent fit.
We can never predict when an employee will decide to leave a company but, we can control what it will cost to replace that person using effective outsourcing strategies. Keeping the right mix of permanent and temporary employees is the key to controlling the priciest variable costs in our industry – labor. Outsourcing electricians allows you to control variable costs that are discussed in the next few paragraphs.
As you are aware, variable costs are the costs directly linked to the tempo of operations in electrical contracting. They are called variable because they vary with the size and workload of the business. This means that the more projects bid and won; the more labor, material, etc. costs will rise. The more labor costs rise, the more employee-related administration costs go up.
This, of course, is in contrast with fixed or overhead costs. These costs are those that are incurred regardless of whether or not your company works one or ten projects. These costs do not vary as the pace and size of your operations change unless a dramatic change is made. Variable costs are project specific, whereas, fixed costs are associated with the entire company. Office leases/mortgages have to be paid no matter what is produced or in what numbers. Hence rent or a mortgage is a fixed cost.
Consider a situation where you determine your electrical contracting service yields a 25% contribution margin. Your figure can then be used to determine whether variable costs for your project(s) can be reduced. You can choose to bump up the price of materials and/or reduce your labor costs.
Material pricing adjustments is the easy part. Labor costs are not. To attract and retain quality electricians, you must pay more than the competition, offer benefits and training.
Remember your bottom line or net profit is determined by how you decide to spend each penny of your contribution margin on fixed costs. We know you can control your fixed costs by deciding on how much to spend on vehicles, equipment, tools, phone service and all the rest of your business needs
But, what is the true cost to attract, hire, manage and retain a qualified electrician for a three month project and what is the cost to hire a permanent/full-time employee? You probably know the answer, the cost is the same. It is the replacement cost of the employee that will eat into your bottom line after you conduct all of your human resource or human capital management functions in-house. And what price do you place on the expenditure to bring someone new into your company? And what does it really cost to replace that person? The answer is simply the cost of time – your time, your staff’s time and all time removed from project related activities.
Learn more about outsourcing electricians [http://www.strategy-construction.com] at Strategy Construction’s Web Site.
Mike Widner is Director of Strategy Construction Company in Colorado Springs, CO. His background is in manpower management and human resources management in the construction industry. Over eight years, Mike performed several personnel realignment projects for the US Air Force and currently focuses on helping electrical contractors control labor costs using outsourcing techniques.
If you own an older home and are thinking of upgrading your old house’s electrical system so that your house can become more energy efficient and save you money in the long run, then you may want to get some ideas from other people who have pursued such projects to see what is the best course of action. Every old house is different and you may need to do some custom work to make your situation work for you. There are many reasons why you may be considering upgrading the old electrical system in your home. Searching for the right commercial electrician Melbourne to find solutions to your electrical problems can be a daunting and painful task.
Many old homes have electrical systems that have a smaller power capacity than today’s more modern homes require. This can cause many problems in today’s electronic and gadget based world. For this reason many people look to expand the capacity of their home’s electrical system. Some of the symptoms of your home not having enough power are:
You frequently blow fuses or circuit breakers when you use too many appliances like vacuum cleaners, microwaves or space heaters
The lights dim when you turn on an appliance
You don’t have enough electrical receptacles for the number of appliances you use.
You may have many extension cords and adapters to fit more plugs
Think about the new appliances that have become widely available over the last 40 years or so. Vacuum cleaners, space heaters, air conditioners, microwaves, curling irons, hair dryers, big screen televisions, spas, computers etc… Many of these appliances draw significant amounts of electrical power. Some older homes only have 60- 100 amps of power available in their electrical panel. A typical space heater or microwave can draw 15-20 amps alone. Of course you also have to consider the power drawn by the lights, fridge, microwave, etc.
Now you can see why it may be necessary to upgrade your homes electrical system. Upgrading a homes electrical system isn’t an easy job and it’s not recommended to get involved with a project like this unless you are a professional and you know what you’re doing. This is not a job for your handyman, the brand new electrician or your friends brother who “knows how to do electrical work”. If you need to upgrade your electrical system, you should contact a licensed Electrical Contractor in your area. You should consult with them about your project and what you’re trying to accomplish with the new system in your home.
It is important to check the references of any company you are considering working with. Often reviews that can be found on various places on the internet can give some valuable insight about the local residential electricians you will choose to do the job. The cheapest contractor is not necessarily your best bet, neither is the most expensive, however remember that the old adage “you get what you pay for” is often true.
If you live in San Diego and need to upgrade your service, a quick internet search for “Electricians in San Diego” will give you a number of residential electricians to interview for the job. A qualified electrical contractor who has enough experience upgrading older homes can help you expand the power capacity of that old home so that you will have the capacity to power the more modern devices that require higher voltage draws.
Most people today have modern appliances such as dishwashers, washers, dryers, generators and other types of appliances that require more voltage than what some older types of homes have available. To have your old home support your newer and more modern appliances you will most likely have to consult your local electrician or electrical contractor and talk to them about what they can do to expand your home’s capacity. When they come to inspect the home, your local licensed electrician will look at the original electric system that is currently in place. Most of the time these old electrical systems that have been around since the 40s or even earlier are simply do not have the capacity to power the appliances we use everyday in our lives. The licensed electrician will most likely increase the power capacity of your old home by bringing in more power from the street. This is done by replacing your old panel and breaker boxes with a larger electric panel which can handle the requirement of your home. This can be a tricky process so it’s advised to have an experienced electrician handle the task for you to ensure that everything is done safely and to proper specifications.
Some things to be sure to ask are, will you be completely removing the old panel? How many circuits do I need for my home? Will you be using the correct size wires and breakers for every circuit? Will you be switching ALL of the power over? Will you be obtaining all the permits?
These are important questions to ask. It will show that you understand what you are talking about and prevent inexperienced or unscrupulous contractors from taking advantage and not providing you with everything you pay for. We have seen many instances where homeowners paid for what they thought was a professional and complete service upgrade, but they later learn (unfortunately) that the old service is buried inside a wall with the new panel put on top but not all the power switched over.
Your electrical contractor should we willing and able to handle all aspects of your electrical service upgrade including obtaining a permit and dealing with the city and the utility company. Once you have your new power system with an increased capacity, you’ll never have to worry about the safety of your home from an electrical perspective, blowing circuits or having the power you need for all of your appliances.
If you live in or near San Diego and want to speak with a qualified Electrician who specializes in older homes, visit Point Loma Electric. Electrician San Diego [http://pointlomaelectric.net/Upgrading_Your_Electrical_Service.html]
Sooner or later nearly everyone is going to have to know how to replace a blown fuse in a fuse box – fuses don’t last forever and overloads or electrical shorts are always possible with the result always being that changing a fuse is required. As an electrician myself, I have not only replaced more than a few fuses but installed thousands in new construction work – some commercial buildings may have hundreds in just one school or large store. Need a qualified dependable emergency electrician Melbourne, ready to respond quickly to an electrical emergency at your home?
One of the first things that is needed is a replacement fuse, but there are literally thousands of different types of fuses available. It is far beyond any single article to look at every style, type and size of fuse, but some of the more common types of fuses will be covered.
Secondly, the fuse must be replaced with a new fuse. The old one must be removed from the clips holding it in the fuse box and a new one installed. Again, every possibility cannot be covered in one article, but common fuses and how to remove and replace them will be discussed.
Types of Fuses That Might Be Encountered
The first thing in finding a replacement fuse is not necessarily the physical type or size, but the rated ampacity of the fuse – the electrical size in other words. Every fuse has a particular number of amps that it will carry; go beyond that and it will blow. Never replace a fuse with one rated at a higher ampacity to prevent blowing it; the wiring carrying the current is carefully sized to the size of the fuse and requiring it to carry more amps than it is rated for is a majorcause of electrical fires.
Many fuses are of the “time delay” or “slo-blow” type in that they will tolerate a short period of overload without blowing. This is done to accommodate motors of all types with their high current requirements as they come up to speed, but if that high level of current continues the fuse will still blow. In general it is not a bad idea to purchase time delay fuses and in many cases that is all that is available. One of the most common exceptions is for fuses in electronic equipment; quickly blowing a fuse on a circuit board that has been overloaded by a failing component can save the rest of the board.
Commonly used in older homes that were constructed prior to the introduction of circuit breakers,these fuses screw into a socket similar to a light bulb and are easily changed. There are two basic thread sizes; make sure that you have the correct size of thread on the new fuse; take the old one to the store with you when buying. The threads are considerably different and it is easy to distinguish between the two and adapters are available to convert a large socket to the smaller size. Occasionally these fuses may also be found with a switch controlling a remote motor such as an attic ventilation fan.
Some plug fuses are of the “t” type and require an adaptor to use; this is done to prevent tampering with the fuse box. If this is the case, make sure you have the adaptor as well.
These are less common in home use, but are still found in many pieces of outdoor equipment. Appliances such as well pumps, outdoor air conditioner units and even roof top swamp coolers may have a cartridge type fuse in a small electrical box.
More care must be taken here in choosing a new fuse as cartridge fuses come in many, many physical sizes. They can vary from an inch long to a foot or more. They can have a groove at one end that fits into only one of the clamps so that the fuse must be installed in one direction only. Diameter can vary from as little as ¼” to several inches.
Each cartridge fuse will have a number/letter designation stamped on it, along with an ampacity. Matching both is necessary for proper replacement – the same ampacity is absolutely critical and the letter designation indicates the type of fuse, whether it is a time delay or other specialty fuse. Make sure that both match when replacing any cartridge fuse.
Different Cartridge Fuses
Automobiles may have any of three different fuses; a glass tube fuse, and “blade” fuses in both regular and mini sizes. All three are again available in various amperage ratings which must be matched exactly between the blown fuse and it’s replacement.
Blade fuses are typically color coded, with the color indicating amperage; replace one of these with the same color as is being removed. Blade fuses come in two physical sizes, the ATC pictured here and the smaller “mini” size. The fuse box will only accept one size, however, so make sure you have the right physical size. Blade fuses are commonly available in a variety pack such as shown here and this is a perfect way to purchase them for a car, boat or RV. This kit even came with a tester and fuse puller.
Glass tube fuses come in many, many different aperages and physical sizes. Amperages as low as 1/10 of an amp are available as they are common in electronic circuit boards where only very small amperages are used. Automobiles will use a much higher amperage, typically from 15 to 30 amps. These fuses can even be found in some Christmas tree light sets, as an “in line” fuse; a small fuse container that is part of the cord assembly.
It is generally pretty easy to tell if a plug fuse is blown; the glass window will either be blackened or the silver wire inside will be burned in half. If you are unsure, though, the article on how to check a fuse will walk you through checking the fuse.
With the right replacement fuse on hand, changing a plug fuse is a very simple task. Simply unscrew the blown fuse just as you would a light bulb and screw the new one in. In very rare cases, the fuse may be stuck; very careful use of pliers may be required to break it free. Extreme caution is the name of the game here as if you crush the fuse with pliers it is probably time to call an electrician to dig it out of the fuse box.
Changing a Cartridge Fuse
This is a little more difficult as removing the old fuse isn’t quite so easy. A fuse puller is extremely handy here and are quite inexpensive. Examples of some fuse pullers are shown above, available from either Amazon or eBay.
If there is any question that power is still on at the fuse, check with a non contact voltage detector or voltmeter before proceeding. Do not attempt to remove a cartridge fuse that is still has power to it!
If a fuse puller is available, grasp the fuse near the center with the puller and pull the fuse straight out of the clips holding it. If you have waited too long to buy a fuse puller, these fuses can often be removed by prying with a screwdriver or using pliers, but be aware that squeezing too hard will crush the fuse and shatter a glass tube fuse.
Holding the replacement fuse in place, push the bottom end into the clips. A hammer handle can be used for large fuses or other tool for smaller ones if finger pressure won’t do the job. Be sure to press hard on only the metal ends as the fuse can be broken by pressing hard in the center. If the fuse has a groove on one end, make sure it is not upside down as it will not fit the spring clamps if it is. With one end fitted into the clamps, push the top end in as well. The fuse should be centered as well as possible in the clamps, without having one end protruding; many clamps will not accept a fuse that isn’t aligned properly.
Changing a Blade Fuse
A fuse puller is almost a necessity here as these fuses are difficult to grab with pliers and tweezers usually can’t supply the force necessary to remove it. Grasp the center of the fuse with the fuse puller, then, and pull it straight out. The new fuse is simply pushed into place, again making sure that it is aligned reasonably well.
Replacing a Glass Tube Fuse
These fuses will again need a fuse puller unless the ends are very accessible and can be reached with a screwdriver to pry them out. Use of pliers will almost inevitably result in a broken fuse, with broken glass scattered throughout the fuse box.
Grasp the fuse in the center with the fuse puller and pull the entire fuse out. Insert the new fuse into the fuse puller and push it into place in the clamps using the tool. It is often easier to use the fuse puller on these small fuse than fingers.
When you’re looking for an electrician Melbourne, look for someone with whom you can form a long-term relationship. It’s going to save you a lot of time and money if you can find someone whom you trust to get the job right the first time and give you the right price.
Step 1) Find Recommended Companies
You can get recommendations for electricians from friends and neighbors. You can also search on-line for electrician Los Angeles or electrician Burbank, and so on. If you add the word reviews to your search, you can look through company reviews.
Another approach is to search websites that feature reviews. Reviews appear on many websites including Google Places, Yelp.com, AngiesList.com, and CitySearch.com. AngiesList.com is an excellent source of recommendations for contractors but requires a small annual membership fee. On AngiesList, you can see how customers rated their contractors, including electricians, and details of how their jobs went.
When looking at customer reviews, take a look at the big picture. Is there one bad review among the many good ones? Is it just a grumpy customer? Is there a company reply that clears things up or says that it has corrected its employee?
Once you have three or so recommended electricians, take a look at their websites.
Step 2) Check the Electrical Company Website
· Is it presentable and well-maintained?
· Easy to find what you’re looking for?
· Friendly, helpful, and not cluttered with hard-sell advertising?
· How many good testimonials?
If the website checks out, it’s time to interview the electrician.
Step 3) Interview
When you talk with the electrician, pay attention to how comfortable you are, including your trust level. I’ve listed questions that you can ask. If you’ve already gotten glowing recommendations or it’s a small repair job like fixing a broken light switch, you probably wouldn’t want to ask them all. But if you aren’t talking with a recommended electrician and you’re planning a remodel, ask away.
· Experience with your type of work
· Years in business. Most companies which have stayed in business a long time have managed to keep their customers satisfied. They’ve also gathered a lot of useful experience and competence.
· Contractor’s License Number
· Liability Insurance and Workers Comp Insurance. It’s desirable that the company carry at least $1 million in liability insurance to protect your home should their work create property damage. Workers Comp provides for medical care for the electricians should they be injured on your job. Again, this protects you from liability.
· Guarantees. Some companies offer a lifetime guarantee on their work. This wouldn’t generally include the electrical parts that they install – that’s covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee. However, the electrician should give you at least a several-year guarantee on labor. A guarantee up to the life of your home is best.
· Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. Ask for the exact company name that you should look and in which city. Sometimes, the BBB will use a slightly different name, possibly the formal legal name of the company.
· Website address if you don’t already have it
· Names and contact info for five clients
Take notes on all this, particularly the License Number. If you decide to go ahead, you may wish to check some of what the electrician has said. If you decide not to go ahead, no need to proceed any further with this electrician. But save the notes so that you can remind yourself later of which companies you’ve already ruled out.
Step 4) Look and Listen
While you’re gathering this information, listen to what is said but also pay attention to how the electrician acts and makes you feel. If you meet with the electrician, keep your eyes open, too.
· Do you like the electrician?
· Do you feel comfortable and not under pressure?
· Does the electrician inspire your trust?
· Do the electrician and company employees seem to know what they’re doing?
· Do they seem to operate legally and behave ethically? Are they acting the way that you would want them to act towards you?
· Do they return phone calls promptly?
· Are they timely when meeting you for appointments?
· Do they listen to your questions and concerns and answer them in a way that is forthcoming and that you can understand?
· Does the electrician dress neatly and have a vehicle and tools that look well-maintained?
Electricians who are bidding jobs are on their best behavior. If you already notice that an electrician treats you or others in ways that concern you, better to find another with whom you feel more comfortable.
Step 5) Check It Out
· If you haven’t already, check customer reviews. The first section of this article gives details.
· Enter the Contractor’s License Number into the Contractor’s License Board website for your state. See if there are any “black marks.”
· Check the company’s rating at the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/. Ratings run from A+ to F based on customer complaints made to the Bureau. As a note, an “A” reflects the same level of customer satisfaction as an “A+.” The “A+” is earned by an “A” contractor becoming a paying member of the Better Business Bureau, which supports the Bureau in its work.
Step 6) Call References
Don’t hesitate to call references. Customers are usually happy to give a good recommendation to help a deserving electrical contractor. You can return the favor later should a homeowner call you. Ask:
· How did your job go?
· Was your job done right the first time?
· If a return visit was needed, was the electrician easy to work with and prompt?
· Was company pricing competitive?
· Was the electrician within budget and schedule?
· Would you be happy to continue to use this electrical company?
Speak with at least three references. Listen carefully for enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm about the electrician. Clients, past or present, may not feel comfortable saying anything negative. If they express little enthusiasm or say something negative, take this into consideration when making your decision.
A Final Tip: Don’t Automatically Choose the Low Bid
A bid may be too low. How can that be? An electrician may intentionally omit items that the job requires, only to come back later saying that additional work needs to be done. On the other hand, some electricians may unintentionally bid low through inexperience. Either way, the electrician may ask for more money to finish the job or may leave you with an incomplete project.
Price is important, but judge the entire picture an electrician is showing you — character, expertise, the ease of working with him or her, and overall value. A large part of an electrician’s value is that he/she gets the job done right and safely without taking too much of your time and inconveniencing you. A very competent electrician can save you money by suggesting more efficient ways to do a job or to save on electricity. When you enjoy a good relationship with your electrician, it can save you both time and money.
Kim Hopkins has been a Los Angeles electrician since 1979. His company, The Electric Connection at http://www.TheElectricConnection.com, is one of the foremost electrical contracting companies in the L.A. area. Kim has done trainings on electrical safety for home inspectors throughout Los Angeles. For electrical tips and information about home electrical safety, go to http://www.theelectricconnection.com/home-safety.php.