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Until the turbulent US economy stops spiraling and starts rebounding, every dollar counts. When it comes to putting your money where your home is, I want to share some ideal ways to get started recouping the most on your investments – both today and in the future.
Your home is a system that’s really just as good as the sum of its parts. Not unlike an auto made up of interacting components, a house also needs to be in sync and tuned up for efficiency. Potential areas of concern comprise costly energy bills, uneven temperatures from room-to-room, drafts, moisture, mold, mildew, poor indoor air quality, ice dams, pest infestations, seemingly uncontrollable humidity levels, and even premature deterioration of building materials. These can all result from a breakdown in the relationship between the house systems: the actual building, heating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, and you, the occupant.
The process-of-elimination approach may wear on your nerves as you try solution after solution, investing more time, money and energy – with undue stress, without resolution.

Properly diagnosing and fixing the root cause requires a house-as-a-system approach based on building science. This is where it pays to call in a certified professional and/or accredited contracting company; these pros are trained to conduct comprehensive, whole-home assessments to find the real problems, then prescribe and prioritize improvements that make the system as a whole function at its best, turning your home into a finely tuned machine. For improved efficiency, an energy assessment is a must to spot a home’s deficiencies.
Getting More for your Money
Most home-performance retrofit projects will pay for themselves over time in reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills. But, remember, to accelerate that return on investment there are numerous incentive programs, including many funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

  • ENERGY STAR is a national flagship initiative from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which offers a comprehensive, whole-house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort at home while helping to protect the environment. BPI is deeply involved in the ongoing development and deployment of this key program.
  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the NC Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Again, there are some requirements for the work to be performed by BPI-credentialed professionals.
  • The Weatherization Assistance Programs enables low-income families to permanently reduce energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. During the last 32 years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program has provided services to more than 6.2 million low-income families. Many weatherization assistance programs use the services of BPI certified professionals. Check to find out if you qualify.

Armed with this newfound knowledge, make it worth your while – and dollars – to do some investigating to make your home truly high performance in all areas.

For more information contact Advanced Renovations at 704-799-3999 or visit their website at  Advanced Renovations is located at 3914 Miriam Drive, Charlotte, NC 28205.

Writing collaborated by Duane Johns (Advanced Renovations, Inc.) and Ginger Sprinkle @ nine dots branding & marketing company @ 704.998.8797

The time has come yet again to get out your extension ladder and perilously teeter on the top rung struggling to reach your clogged gutters. The stench of that which comes out makes you crinkle your nose, and the mess left in the wake of your cleaning extravaganza can be seen on the ground below your feet. Wouldn’t it be nice to wave farewell to such a dangerous and unpleasant task, without having to pay someone else to do it? LeafGuard by Beldon, Inc. has the perfect solution.  Having chosen LeafGuard as the best gutter system on the market in 1995, Beldon carries the only patented one-piece, seamless gutter system that is guaranteed not to clog.

Gutters are a necessary evil for your home. They were created to capture rainwater and carry it safely into a downspout before it has a chance to eat away at your soffit, fascia and foundation. The problem is, ordinary gutters not only capture water, but they also collect leaves, twigs and other debris that can cause them to clog during a heavy rainstorm. LeafGuard by Beldon has come up with a design to allow rainwater to travel down and around its curved hood and into the gutter, while at the same time deflecting debris. Pat Franks, Chief Operating Officer at LeafGuard by Beldon, says, “A one-piece gutter system is better because it only allows one outlet for water to go into. With two-piece systems, there’s a second opening where debris can enter.”

LeafGuard was invented in the early 1990’s by a retired policeman in New Jersey who was frustrated by his gutters being pulled down every winter due to snow and ice. A one-piece gutter system was the answer. He then brought his creation to Englert Manufacturing, who works with dealers around the globe. LeafGuard by Beldon Inc. is the largest dealer by far, with 15 branch operations active today.

The question is, how does the system work? According to Franks, the gutter system works using the scientific principle called “liquid adhesion.” The hood, which deflects the leaves and twigs attempting to invade your gutter, is not a gutter add-on, but is instead attached to the system. Made from one continuous piece of O32-aluminum, the thickest aluminum on the market at 20 percent heavier than ordinary gutters, it’s shaped into a seamless gutter bottom and hood, which makes it unique in the marketplace. Each gutter is custom fit, durable and is available in a variety of colors. The attractive design also blends in with every style home.

The best part? With clog-free gutters, you no longer have to give any thought to water damage or surface erosion. But if you somehow still end up with a clogged gutter, the installing dealer will clean your gutters for free. That means no more dangerous climbs on your extension ladder!

To get an estimate or to find a dealer near you, visit LeafGuard by Beldon’s website at or call them in Austin at 512.351.7710 or San Antonio at 210.852.2023.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see what your house would look like with new windows, doors and garage doors before you buy them? Now you can, with the national debut of The Design Center, featuring JELD-WEN Windows & Doors and based right across the border in Fort Mill, SC. Prior to an appointment at The Design Center showroom, you can upload a photo of your home at, then work with a consultant to digitally add new windows and doors for a preview of how different colors and styles will work on your home.For more information on The Design Center, call 800-276-0411. You may also visit 9484 Old Bailes Road, Fort Mill, SC, or where you can schedule an appointment for your complimentary in-store or in-home consultation. Showroom hours are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and closed Sunday.

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about The Design Center.

It’s been a decade coming, but there’s good news if you’re looking for real stone for home accents in lieu of the man-made stone/pre-cast concrete of recent years that was more popular due to pricing and availability. The time is now to get the real thing – and often for less of an investment than faux stones.

“Real dimensional-cut limestone was specifi ed 20 years ago before it became so costly,” LC Lynch, owner of Stone by Lynch, says. “Homeowners locally started using pre-cast concrete made to look like real stone – sometimes delivering a real appearance and sometimes not because it’s concrete. Now dimension stones have returned to the marketplace due to more attractive scheduling and pricing…”

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about Stone by Lynch, LLC, and Stonehenge Stone Supply, Inc.

For more information on Stone by Lynch, LLC, and Stonehenge Stone Supply, Inc., visit and, or email or stonebylynch@windstream. net. Locations are Stonehenge at 715 Oakridge Farm Hwy. 150, Mooresville, 704-799-0750, and 10535 Nations Ford Rd., 704-714-1588; and Stone by Lynch at 134 Plantation Drive, Mooresville, 704-663-4208.

New words have crept into our vernacular since the green movement began: socially responsible, sustainable design, eco-friendly and right-size living, to name a few. Now a well-known builder of custom homes in the Lake Wylie area is introducing a new phrase to the Charlotte housing market: organic contemporary architecture. But this is much more than a buzzword to Doug McSpadden; it’s his passion.

T he term organic architecture was first coined in 1908 by Frank Llyod Wright to describe his idea that a home should be built inrelationship with its natural surroundings, and carefully thought out as if it were a unified organism.

For today’s homeowner, Doug McSpadden describes his enhanced architectural philosophy as mature, well-educated design that is more integrated with nature, features smaller square footage and makes more efficient use of space. “We’ve all heard ‘form follows function.’ In this case form and function are one,” he says….

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about McSpadden Custom Homes.

To learn more about McSpadden Custom Homes, visit them online at or call 704-825-7324.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but the exception to the rule just might be your home’s curb appeal. Does getting high aesthetics mean high maintenance? For example, cedar siding is a classic style common in the Carolinas and especially prized by Charlotte homeowners.

“But wood siding can cause mold, and it needs to be repainted or stained on a regular basis,” points out Austin Crawford of Norandex Building Materials Distribution in Charlotte, “and vinyl siding just can’t achieve the look.”

Building material suppliers such as Norandex are offering new technologies to provide the appearance of cedar without the maintenance. “If you want the look and feel of fresh cut cedar that doesn’t retain moisture like wood does,” continues Crawford, “Everlast Polymeric Cladding is a new composite material that’s low maintenance,
doesn’t swell and never needs painting. It’s made of natural polymers and inorganic minerals, so it’s 100 percent recyclable…”

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about the Norandex Building Materials.

For quality and environmentally friendly exterior building products, visit or have your builder or contractor contact Norandex Building Materials at 704-377-5443

Have you thought of building a custom home but been overwhelmed by the looming process? What if you could work with a builder with every service you need under one roof? Ah, a glimmer of hope.

“One of the challenges of custom building is always managing the building process for the client so it’s not overwhelming,” says Jocelyn Dienst, managing partner of Dienst Custom Homes. “We aim to make it enjoyable ending in a sense of fulfillment for the owner.”

This detail-oriented builder offers more than 23 years of experience; Dienst is unique in offering everything from design to construction services and selection services for the process; they also offer landscaping hand-in-hand with one of their valued contractors. Many builders leave the selection of items such as cabinets, tile, and all elements up to the client to go out and choose. Not Dienst.

“We feel our job is to manage everything for our client, and the day when their house is done and we go to the closing table they know exactly where each penny has gone. No surprises!” Jocelyn says. “By designating the designer to be owner’s eyes and ears we can design a home that stays in line for design and costs, as well as being as distinct and unique as the owner. We are the reality check for clients to keep them on point.”

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about Dienst Custom Homes.

For more information on Dienst Custom Homes, call 704-892-8426, email Jocelyn at, or visit them at 9606-A Caldwell Commons Circle in Cornelius or at

Before a Charlotte couple became homeowners with a 2009 awardwinning Contractor of the Year (COT Y) project, they were living in the right location but not in an ideal house. “In their minds, they wanted to build their dream home without leaving the neighborhood and school system they loved,” says Mike DiFabion, who teams up with his son, Michael, as co-owners of DiFabion Remodeling based in Indian Trail, N.C.

T he plan called for an extensive endeavor. “The scope of the project was an entire house transformation in all areas of the home—while the family was still living there,” DiFabion relates. Careful planning generated a detailed schedule. While one area of the home was under construction,another was preserved so the home remained habitable.

B efore signing a contract, “homeowners should be certain the company has a system in place that ensures a well-run project that produces the quality they expect,” DiFabion advises. A certified remodeler by the National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI), the award-winning company assigns a full-time production manager to each job. “It’s important to have not only accurate estimates but also anticipatory scheduling throughout the project, so the homeowner isn’t left with any surprises,” he says…

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about Difabion Remodeling, Inc.

Find out more about the “DiFabion Difference” by calling 704-882-7738 or visiting DiFabion Remodeling on the web at

Finding a balance between price, style and being environmentally conscious, can be difficult when selecting high-end building materials.

But recently the ECO™ line by Cosentino, a revolutionary new line of sustainable countertop and surfacing materials, was the beneficiary of multiple industry awards in innovation and sustainability.

Selected by a distinguished panel of judges, editors, industry leaders, and consumers, ECO™ by Cosentino has won the 2009 Building Products Green Product Awards, Multi-Housing News Green Initiative Awards, Interiors & Sources R eaders Choice Awards. Additionally, it was awarded the Innovative Product of the Year at the 2009 Stone Expo and was recognized as the Best Product at CONSTRUMAT, the leading international construction fair in Barcelona, Spain. The product is carried locally by Stone Systems of North Carolina.

We are thrilled by the industry’s overwhelmingly positive response and are proud to deliver a categorically innovative and beautiful product, said Lorenzo Marquez, vice president of marketing of Cosentino North America. These industry awards and recognition are an important indication that this countertop line is helping to fill a void in the market by providing a sustainable surfacing material that does not sacrifice design or performance…

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about Stone Systems of NC .

For more information, visit With 11 manufacturing lines, Cosentino is the largest manufacturer of natural quartz surfaces in the world. It is available locally through Stone Systems of North Carolina. Call them at 704-238-1659.

Once a Client, Always a Client– Unveiling a new home or completed renovation is like Christmas morning. The homeowners are excited about their finished project. But what about later, when regular maintenance and warranty repairs are needed? Or you decide to add another bedroom for a growing family? Homes are dynamic environments subject to the elements, daily usage, and your own changing lifestyle.

 That’s why my company, Hubert Whitlock Builders, operates on a “Builder for Life”concept. Our intimate knowledge of your home is a continuing benefit that will sustain your home long into the future. To guide maintenance and plan any subsequent additions, who knows your house better than the builder? To complete warranty work, who has more leverage over the contractors who installed your systems and appliances than the builder who hired them?

 “Your builder should be for your house, like your trusted mechanic is for your car.” That advice comes from Tyler Mahan, our vice president of production. “When you hear a noise in your car, you take it to the mechanic who really knows your vehicle. And when you have an issue with your house, it’s the builder who understands the ramifications.”

Scott Whitlock is the president of Hubert Whitlock Builders. Established in 1957, they are known as one of the Charlotte area’s premier builders and can be reached at 704-364-9577 or

Visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to view the entire article.

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