Archive for the ‘2014 Winter Newsletter’ Category

by Paul Rose

paul-roseRainwater harvesting covers many applications, from small and simple projects to large, complex ones. The California drought has residents realizing their water needs are demanding their some attention. Cambria residents, with their drastic need for water (and its high cost), have more water collection systems than anywhere else in San Luis Obispo county. Our recent October rainstorm gave most systems just enough water to fill their storage more than half way.

And this brings us to an important concept: Storage is the hardest part. The size of your rainwater harvest system is based on your usage, your available space, and the amount you are willing to pay. Average storage containers cost about a dollar ($1) per gallon.

If you have a sloping property, that will help your rainwater collection system. Consulting a professional experienced with water collection systems is important. If you are installing a smaller system with minimal storage, you could experiment with a design yourself, but an experienced professional can save you time and money.

Permits are required for any system that has over 5000 gallons of storage. If you intend the water for indoor use, a permit and a water treatment system is mandatory, even if it’s just for flushing a toilet. Permits are also needed for sprinkler irrigation use to place the stored water on the ground surface. However, if you are using a drip irrigation system, you won’t need a permit if your storage is less than 5000 gallons. SLO Green Build has created a guide that can help with many of the specifics. This printed guide can be purchased and shipped to you for $13, or downloaded for free. This manual will give you basic guidelines for developing your system, such as how to estimate the amount of water you will harvest per inch of rain.

Water is one of our most precious resources. At Semmes and Co. Builders, Inc. we work on learning the most current technologies that affect the use and development of our systems and resources. Combining these systems into a cohesive package for each individual home is our forte.

For more information about Rainwater Harvesting, contact Paul Rose.


by Turko Semmes

Many of us that are looking back at age 50 are either planning to move into a new home or remodel ours for the chaturko with hatnges taking place in our families and lifestyle. Many folks who move to San Luis Obispo County are not planning to move away. Even if you may relocate in the future, many of us have parents who move in with us to live out their later years. With good planning, a comfortable Aging in Place experience is manageable. It’s appropriate to make these plans when you remodel or build your home.

As of 2000, the US Census reported there were 35 million Americans over the age of 65. According to estimates, there will be approximately 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65 in thirty years. That number is more than twice what it was in 2000 and will represent nearly 20% of the entire projected U.S. population in 2030. Everyone goes through different changes as they get older but there are some basic considerations that are essential to making these changes positive.

First, consider how a person with restricted mobility will livaging-in-place-home-modifications-ideas-bathroom-268x300e in the home. Plan to place the bedroom and bathroom on the same floor as the kitchen and living area. The ground floor is best, but there is equipment that will take people up and down stairs with ease. Next, think about traveling from the bed to the bath to the kitchen to the exterior. Are the hallways large enough? Three feet six inches (3’6”) is the minimum but four feet (4’) is better. Are there any 90-degree turns along the pathway that will be used? If the hall is less than four feet it’s best to clip the inside corner, even if only by six inches. To insure a smooth path, all flooring should be flush with each other. Use a smooth surface such as tile, hard wood, or concrete (although this is hard and gets slippery if wet). Carpet can be used if it has very short pile. Cork is an option, but canes, walkers or chairs can damage it. Are all the doors three feet (3’) wide? No less than two feet six inches (2’6”) is allowed. If you’re using a wheel chair, having the extra width makes mobility easy and safe. And replace your doorknobs with lever handles.

Next, consider how to get from the house to the outside. Having at least one conveniently located exterior flush-sill door, can give access to a popular outdoor location. Now think about your vehicles. Do you have access (without stairs or narrow paths) to get from inside the house to the garage? What about the eventuality of having someone live in your home to care for you? A separate guesthouse isn’t required, as most homes have an extra bedroom. If that bedroom has an attached bath, with possibility to add a small kitchenette in the future, that works as a place for someone to live with you. It’s good to have a private outside access area as well. Also consider your home’s temperature control. If there is one area you’ll be spending most of your time, make sure it’s equipped with one temperature control zone. There are new mini-split heating and cooling units that can be a perfect solution for this. Of course you want to make that living space tightly insulated, but with good ventilation. Many older people like to close up their house, so an air to air-heat exchanger that provides fresh air (without sacrificing temperature control or energy efficiency), is a must. And it’s not too hard to add into an existing house.

Finally, two aging-in-place-kitchen-bath-design-rev-a-shelfof the most important rooms: the bathroom and the kitchen. Roll-in showers, with handle sets that can be adjusted before getting wet, are extremely helpful. The ability to roll a wheelchair up to a vanity or the kitchen sink is recommended. With advance planning, cabinets and plumbing can be laid out so they can be modified as needed with little, if any, extra work. These are just a few items to consider for Aging in Place with your kitchen and bath. Here are some links delving into many other details.

We at Semmes & Co. Builders, Inc. are always here to help you with your Aging in Place plans and concerns. Please contact us any time and we will gladly discuss your plans and ideas.




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Laundry Room

Common Areas

In-Home Mobility

Exterior Home

Joyful Wishes

T4T Newsletter Ad1

This is an occasional blog-post where we ask a Semmes’ client to tell us about a great feature on their house.

Installing the Tapmaster hands-free faucet controller at our kitchen sink was one of Tapmasterthe best decisions we ever made for our custom home.  It simply is a fabulous feature for our family.  Our kids were able to use the faucet at our big kitchen sink long before they were big enough to reach the actual faucet because the controller is conveniently located in the toe kick of the cabinet.  The hands-free feature is also very hygienic.

Besides the convenience, we also appreciate the water it conserves. The savings really added up over the years.  The controls are extremely reliable. No dancing in front of a sensor, or waiting for it to turn on.

We know how much we enjoy it, because we miss it when we vacation in other homes.

Tapmaster really changes the way you use your faucet.site_logo

by Margerie Manning

Semmes & Co. Builders, Inc. Client

by Margie Schuler

On a recent Fall evening, Semmes & Co Builders, Inc. hosted local interior designers to view wallcoverings by Koroseal, including the Arte and Reid Witlin LTD lines. Now, I used to immediately associate “wallcoverings” with period décor of the 1980’s, but not anymore!

Today’s wallcoverings may include corrugated metal, wood veneer (that can even bend and make a 90-degree corner), glass beading, leather looks (that don’t resemble pleather), acoustical treatments, dimensional, dry erase or projection surfaces. This is in addition to the more traditional fabrics, textiles, and grass cloths. With these options available, you can select a designer name wallcovering instead of an art-piece for a focal wall.

Or design your own with by utilizing custom digital printing. The possibilities are vast and I predict more types of wallcoverings to be specked in the future. With looks like these, why not?

Digital Pictures1

Digital Surfaces

Leather Looks

Leather Looks

Intrigue Caisson Acoutiscal

Intrigue Caisson Acoutiscal

Glass Beading

Glass Beading

Digital Surfaces

Digital Surfaces

Corrugate Metal

Corrugate Metal

by Tom Moore

An often-overlooked partner in the home building process is that of the Engineer. Clients understand the need for a reputable Architect and Builder, and usually have a clear understanding of the architects’ process.Their task is to create a form that suits the clients’ every need. Their design is to be aesthetically pleasing, functional and customized to the client. Architects are the rock stars, loved and admired.

As with rock stars, if Architects don’t have roadies and a reliable support crew, their work becomes very difficult. The ability to stay in the public eye becomes close to impossible. You might say Engineers are the roadies to the Architects. A variety of engineers may be associated with a project: civil, structural, mechanical and soils engineers are several that come immediately to mind. These are the ones we work with the most.

The Engineer makes sure the Architect’s beautiful creation doesn’t fall on your head. Or roll down the side of the mountain. Or sink into a quagmire. Engineers spend many dedicated years in college and with continuing education to keep you safe and sound. Things that cannot be explained in numerical equations simply don’t exist in the world of the Engineer. They can put a numerical value to a type of soil, a bolt or a piece of wood.

A Builder’s relationship with an Engineer can sometimes be touch and go. We at Semmes & Co Builders, Inc. have been very fortunate to maintain good relationships with just about every Engineer with whom we’ve worked. We may run into unforeseen problem, then work out a solution with the Engineer. They’ll put a numerical value to it and we are off and running again.

Little known fact: an Engineer invented the bolt. Without bolts, skyscrapers could not be possible since engineers could not place a numerical value upon a hammered rivet.

It takes all kinds of professionals to complete a successful building project. And, I take my hat off to the Engineers.

Architects View