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The People’s Choice Awards
(By The Cavalcade of Homes)

 

Northern Illinois Home Builders Association, host of the Cavalcade of Homes, announce the Cavalcade People’s Choice Winners.

 

The Cavalcade gives the public a chance to get a first-hand look at the current trends in home styles and decoration in their buying market.

 

Participating builders construct models that reflect the newest trends and compete to see what the public will think about these new innovations.

 

Persons who attend the show are given an opportunity to vote for their favorite homes.

 

The two categories are Best Home Design and Best Interior Decoration. Each participant could vote for only one home per category.

 

The winners, listed by the award, house name followed by builder name, are as follows:

Best Home Design
Diamond - The Jamie Lynn II
by Oak Hill Builders

 

Best Interior Decoration
Platinum - The Jamie Lynn II
by Oak Hill Builders

 

 

Home Schooling
(By The Chicago Tribune)

 

“Tell it like it is”, says Nick Stanitz, president of Oak Hill Builders and Developers in Naperville, who builds 40 homes a year. “Builders have to take this attitude, or we lose out to other builders who will.”

 

Stanitz gives his buyers a handout called “Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Home,” then supplements it with videos, brochures and newspaper articles that explain products and certain aspects of construction.

 

“I tell people they know more about the cars they buy than the houses, and they laugh.”

 

“Then they say, ‘You know, you’re right.’ ”

 

Stanitz makes sure his buyers know the difference between six and eight pound carpet pads and OSB and plywood, and that an air conditioner’s “SEER” has nothing to do with its spiritual insight.

 

“A lot of the new products are things buyers have never heard of, so I explain how they work and why they should have them, such as the new ultraviolet filters that are a godsend for people with allergies,” says Stanitz.

 

 

Getting a Lift, Without Envy, Amid Luxury
(By Genevieve Buck, The House Hunter)

 

Back in August ‘99, when House Hunter was just six months old, I wrote that I’d become ‘intrigued by a very practical question involving design: Who changes the light bulbs and washes the windows in the two-story foyers, great rooms and family rooms that are becoming so popular?’

 

Since then I’ve seen hundreds of chandeliers hanging from second-floor ceilings and they still make me wonder. Yes, I know about those long, skinny light-bulb changers and have heard about rigs and pulleys.

 

But not until I happened upon a model by Oak Hill Builders & Developers Inc. of Naperville did I see a two-story foyer with a chandelier that was motorized to descend and ascend via a simple turn of a key inside the foyer’s guest closet.

 

This little miracle, the chandelier lift, happens to be a standard feature of every Oak Hill home with a two-story hanging light fixture. That’s standard, meaning it’s part of the total price, not a costly option, according to Jim Stanitz Jr., of Oak Hill, brother of the firm’s president, Nick Stanitz.

 

I’d stopped at the Oak Hill model in Naperville’s South Pointe development for directions. I looked around, commented on the detailed cabinetry (”standard” said Jim), hardwood floors (”standard”), the crown moldings (”standard”).

 

He demonstrated the chandelier lift, then handed me two, single-space typed lists of standard features, including sound-insulated bathroom and bedroom walls. Heaven.

 

 

Waterproof your Basement Before the House is Built
(By Tim Carter)

 

If you like bargain prices, you’ll want a basement in your new home. Basement space is some of the least expensive living space you can get in a new house.

 

But a basement that turns into a swimming pool or has several small streams flowing through it every time it rains is virtually useless. If you want your new basement to be bone dry, like my 15-year-old basement, it must be waterproofed early in the construction process.

 

If you are like many homeowners I talk with, you think the thin black substance sprayed on foundation walls is waterproofing. In almost all cases, it isn’t. Commonly the builder is applying an unmodified, asphalt-based, damp-proofing product. Damp-proofing is a low cost method of retarding water infiltration; it is by no means a true waterproofing membrane.

 

Damp-proofing products are generally asphalt - or tar - based compounds sprayed onto foundations prior to backfilling. Concrete and other masonry products will easily transmit water vapor, so these products are designed to block water vapor transmission. This, basically, is the extent of their capabilities. Damp-proofing compounds generally become brittle after they dry. They also do not have the ability to bridge cracks, and groundwater can actually dissolve the compounds over time.

 

Waterproofing membranes have several distinct characteristics: Groundwater has little or no long-term effect on them; they can bridge small foundation cracks; they usually retain their elasticity; and some actually have self-sealing properties.

 

There are many things that you can do to help insure that your basement stays dry. First, be sure your foundations is constructed as strongly as possible. Install as much reinforcing steel as practical to insure that in the event a crack occurs, it will not widen or displace. Consider increasing the thickness of your foundation walls. Remember, no waterproofing compound can bridge a major structural crack. Your first line of defense is a strong, crack-free foundation.

 

Install an excellent foundation drainage system. Use plenty of large, washed gravel over the foundation drain tile. Two feet is the minimum thickness, but 3 feet would be better. Make sure your builder covers the gravel with 4 inches of straw or tarpaper before backfilling. This is a commonly overlooked step. These materials prevent silt from the fluffed backfill dirt from clogging the gravel and the drain tile system. Geo-textile fabrics are available for this same purpose, but straw or tarpaper will work just fine if installed correctly.

Be sure the ground slopes away from all points of the foundation at least 6 inches in vertical height for the first 10 feet of horizontal distance. Pipe down spouts and sump discharge pipes away from the house. Do not let this water collect or discharge at the base of the foundation.

 

Check with your building department for local code requirements. Many building codes accept damp-proofing if the basement will have no finished living space at the time the house is complete. But if you decide to finish your basement at a later date, it’s virtually impossible to properly waterproof the foundation.

 

 

What’s Your New Window E.Q.?
(By Tim Carter)

 

If you are getting ready to shop for windows for your new home, you may want to get prepared. Fortunately, glass and window companies have made vast improvements in the glass itself that help to reduce condensation buildup, uncomfortable cold drafts, and fabric fading.

 

Low-E glass works by reflecting heat back to its source. It does this by utilizing an ultra thin metallic coating on or in the glass.

 

Among other things, sunlight contains visible light, UV light, and infrared (IR) light. Visible light enables us to see things. Ultraviolet light damages your skin, wood, fabrics, and causes colors to fade. Infrared light is basically heat. Low-E glass has the ability to allow visible light to pass while blocking certain amounts of UV light and IR light.

 

The infrared light in sunlight is powerful. When it strikes an object it heats up. These objects can be your tile floors, furniture, sidewalks, patio furniture, etc. As these objects cool off, they emit a low-powered form of IR light. Low-E glass reflects this form of energy. In the summer this helps to keep your house cooler, as the heat from objects outside is kept outside. All objects in your home are heated (by either the sun or your furnace). This heat is also bounced back into your house by Low-E glass.

 

There are two types of Low-E glass: hard coat and soft coat. Tin is applied directly to the molten glass to make hard coat Low-E glass. It is “hard” to scratch the tin off the glass. The soft coat process commonly involves the application of a thin layer of silver while the glass is in a vacuum. This coating is delicate. Soft coat low-E glass is always sandwiched with another piece of glass. It can also oxidize if exposed to air. Argon gas is sometimes used to prevent this oxidation. This gas also acts as an additional insulator.

 

Low-E glass helps to reduce condensation on the glass. The inside surface temperature of the glass is warmer. The differences can be dramatic. Imagine a cold night with an outside temperature of 0 degrees and a 15 m.p.h. wind. The inside temperatures of different glass are as follows: single pane, 26 degrees; regular double pane, 35 degrees; hard coat, 49 degrees; soft coat, 62 degrees; with Argon gas, mid 70 degrees.

 

Low-E glass is worth the price, especially since one quarter of a house’s heat can be lost through windows. Purchase the highest quality low-E glass you can afford.