Friday, February 28, 2014

Show, conference put tiny houses in spotlight

Turns out tiny houses are of interest even in this city where McMansions are taking over some of the most sought-after neighborhoods.
Dozens of visitors came to presentations last week during opening weekend for the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show.
Even more visitors stopped by to see a 112-square-foot tiny house exhibit, said Mike Waite, executive director of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, which built the exhibit that continues this weekend.
“I talked to people who had tons of questions – ‘How do I get started’; ‘Where can I see it’; ‘Does it have to be permitted?’ ” Waite said. “I took a big book home. My wife is fascinated by it.”
Those questions are among the topics that will be covered at a Tiny House Conference that’s coming to Charlotte’s McDowell Nature Preserve on April 5-6. At $300 per ticket, it’s an event for people with a serious interest. See details at http://tinyhouse<code_dp>
Small homes are being built as weekend getaways, hunting cabins and even as housing for the homeless, Waite said. Many designs include salvaged materials.
Living in a house that’s less than 500 square feet is not for everyone, he added. But local events help people see compelling alternatives to giant homes.
“People are trying to cut their footprint to something very manageable and eliminate clutter, starting with their living space,” Waite said. “You’d just be amazed at how much can go into a small amount of space.”

Sullivan: and @sullivan_obs on Twitter

Monday, February 24, 2014

College students paint homes for summer internship

Warmer temperatures mean house-painting season is not far off.

The worn and cracked paint on homes around Charlotte is a business opportunity for some local college students.

UNC Charlotte senior Harrison Bonner already has signed up seven students to paint houses this summer through Student Painters summer jobs program, which was launched in 1987 and operates nationally.

There are six other student leaders lining up contracts in the Charlotte area. Bonner, 22, calls his group UNC Charlotte Student Painters.

Students sign on for an entrepreneurial internships through Young Entrepreneurs Across America.

Homeowners pay $1.20 to $1.50 a square foot to have their exteriors, porches or decks prepped and hand-brushed with a fresh coat of paint. A 20 percent deposit reserves a slot.

Sherwin Williams, a program partner, trains the students, who use the company’s paint on job sites. Services also can include pressure washing, scraping, sanding and calking.

The program gives students training in business and customer service while they earn money for living expenses and, sometimes, college costs, Bonner said.

“The painters that we hire are just students who want a good summer job that works with their schedule,” Bonner said.

Reach Student Painters at 888-839-3385 or go to to contact a local group.

; Twitter @sullivan_obs

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Big ideas for tiny houses coming to Charlotte

I'm fascinated with tiny homes. The concept, that is. I'm not sure I'd actually enjoy living in a space that's less than 500 square feet.
But I do like the idea of alternative housing for the many economies linked to it. For some, that means living with a much smaller mortgage or mortgage-free. For others, it means freedom from reporting to work every day – maybe just for a while.
So I'm delighted that Lloyd Kahn will be a guest during the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show's first weekend, Feb. 21-23. Kahn's books, “Shelter” (1973) and “Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter” (2011), have offered generations inspiration and resources for nontraditional homes, many of them built by the owners.
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry will have a small home on display, and tours will be available. Kahn's presentation will be linked to that exhibit.
Kahn said he regularly finds articles about small dwellings in national publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. That tells him there's a sustained interest in alternative homes and products for creating them. “Tiny Homes,” now available for the iPad, offers readers both. 
“For a couple of decades people have been building bigger and bigger houses,” Kahn said. “They're too much in the way of resources and money; they're hard to heat and hard to cool. Maybe for a period of time, you live in a small home. I think it's a wonderful thing for a lot of people.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

How does your master bath rate?

If you had to pick one bathroom in your house to renovate, which one would it be?
Most people, 60 percent, picked the master bath, according to a recent report from Houzz, the home decor website.
That’s not so surprising. The master bath usually is one of the most-used rooms in a house, and the folks who pay the bills are likely the ones who use it.
We’ve had it with played-out fixtures (49 percent), or the rooms fall short on functionality (37 percent). And about one-third wanted a renovation to boost their home’s resale value. Bathrooms are that important.
The powder room was a renovation priority for only 5 percent of the survey takers. More (35 percent) wanted a makeover for their second full bath.
Most homeowners gutted the bathroom and start fresh (58 percent), especially the master bath (61 percent).
When the dust settled, the master baths usually have a swanky shower instead of a tub. Older consumers also prefer two sinks in the master bath. Tubs tend to be for communities with younger residents, so keep that in mind if you plan to sell.
People of all ages apparently agree that the bathroom needs more lighting: new windows (48 percent), a lighted vanity mirror (41 percent) and skylights (12 percent). And here’s a new twist – lights in the shower head (7 percent).
We told you your fixtures were probably outdated.

Sullivan: and @sullivan_obs on Twitter