Garden Patios Costs, Plus Pros & Cons in 2017

Patios are traditionally made with natural stone, concrete, or gravel. Pavers are an option composed of concrete and a color additive to form a tile, stone, or brick-like piece. Patios are similar to decks as both provide outdoor space, usually in the rear of a home, for relaxing, dining and entertaining guests.

Decks Vs. Patios

While decks are often elevated structures made from wood or composite materials, patios are routinely installed at a ground level.

Patio Pricing Information – Part 1

Size, of course, is the main cost factor. A small patio, say 7 by 7 feet provides a cozy place for two to share a drink. If desiring a place to dine, at a table with 4 chairs, then a mid-sized patio around 12×12, or larger, is the size to consider. Large patios offer an outdoor living room, coming in at 15 by 15 or larger. Nothing says a patio needs to be square in shape, and rounded edges, or rectangular patios are quite common.

Cambridge Pavers

The price to install is based on material times square footage. On average, patios cost from $1.50 to $30.00 per sq. ft. installed. That’s a huge gap, but the median range is closer to $6.00 to $12.00 per sq. ft. installed. Generally, the least expensive material is a gravel patio, while flagstone fetches the highest prices.

Before any work begins, planning is the first step. In some areas, you may need a building permit and a site plan to provide your local zoning office with the patio design you seek to implement. As approval can sometimes take weeks, other planning considerations include what accessories you may wish to furnish your patio with, along with how each item will lay out. Since everything is at ground level, you might consider laying items on the lawn to get a feel of layout in a three dimensional way that a site plan won’t readily convey.


Continue reading “Garden Patios Costs, Plus Pros & Cons in 2017”

Wood Siding Options, Costs, and Pros and Cons – Wood Siding Cost Estimates

Wood siding has many different options. In this guide, we’ll focus on styles such as Bevel, Board-and-Batten, and Split Log. There is also a more traditional cedar shingles and shakes siding option explained in the following article.

via Real Wood Siding

The many styles and options of wood siding are what other, competing materials such as Vinyl, Fiber Cement, Engineered Wood and other synthetic materials routinely mimic. Wood though, has a natural beauty that is very hard to match, and yet, with that comes the need for ongoing maintenance.

Two decades ago, wood siding used to be the #1 option for residential siding in America, and historically it has ruled over all others. But, not anymore. According to the 2015 U.S. Census data, Stucco and Vinyl are at the top, while wood has declined to just 3% of all new-single family homes having such cladding. Wood still offers much versatility, decent insulation and installation that doesn’t necessarily require as much expertise as some other siding options.

Pricing Information – Part 1

The labor costs for installing wood siding, particularly bevel and board-and-batten planks, is comparatively low (compared to fiber cement siding). A handyman can do the job, as can a do-it-yourselfer. Like all home improvement projects, a professional contractor will handle installation more efficiently and provide warranties on their service.

Wood siding averages between $4.00 and $14.00 per sq. ft. installed. Split log would be on the upper portion of this range, board-and-batten on the lower end with bevel in the middle. Lots of factors impact the costs for wood siding which we’ll address below.

A typical two bedroom sized home will generally cost between $9,000 and $30,000 for wood siding installed by a professional contractor. That’s for all 3 materials included, which is why the range is so great. If we break down the prices by type of style, it helps understand project costs more acutely.


Continue reading “Wood Siding Options, Costs, and Pros and Cons – Wood Siding Cost Estimates”

BIPV Solar Shingles Cost – PV Redux – Solar Roof in 2017

Material Costs plus Labor Costs = Total Installation Charges

The axiom for all home improvement projects. Yet, for the solar shingle market, this helps to remember, especially with what is on the immediate horizon.

Wait, What’s A Solar Shingle?

The technical acronym: BIPV stands for Building Integrated Photovoltaics. Simply put, embedding solar technology into building materials. For our purposes, we stick to roofing materials, or what is known as the solar shingle and/or solar tile. Especially, since these are the type of BIPV products being designed for the residential market.

If needing a quick refresher on solar technology (the PV part of the equation), see our piece on solar panels. There we note that solar tech is moving in a direction to product “enough electricity to power not just a few appliances, but an entire home, including transportation.” Here, we’ll show you how.

Difference between the Solar Shingle and Panel

First key difference is size. Panels are, or can be, huge. This translates into more solar modules (and cells) being installed on the roof than a shingle can currently offer.

Which leads to the next difference, power. A shingle produces around 15 to 60 watts, while a panel, typically 18 sq. ft. generates 185 to 250 watts. In general, this means the panel system will produce more electricity than a shingle system.

Then there’s elegance factor. Not only are panels big and powerful, they’re big and cumbersome. They are adhered to a roof after careful surveying to make sure the structure of the (whole) house can handle the weight. Usually rack mounted, so they stand out above the roof surface. Noticeably stand out. Solar shingles are usually near flush with the existing roof structure and becoming more of an option to be the actual roof structure with a beauty that mimics traditional roofing. At the time of this writing, solar shingles have a metallic finish that is distinguishable from the rest of your roof, but still less noticeable than panels.

The bottom line difference is that currently panels are more efficient and cost effective than shingles. While shingles are more aesthetically pleasing and gaining traction to be the primary way anyone would choose to do solar power generation on their own residence.

Continue reading “BIPV Solar Shingles Cost – PV Redux – Solar Roof in 2017”