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Bamboo Flooring   Building Permits   The Art of Negotiation   Paint Color Schemes   A Lead Free Home   Design Ideas  

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring awaiting installBamboo flooring is available on the web for about half the cost that the local flooring company was willing to offer us. We decided to use bamboo because I was tracking down a friend from college who it turned out was working for a company called Eco-Timber (see sidebar). I was quite taken by the beautiful floors and the idea that we could have hardwood floors without undue chemical residue or destroying a forest. Though I realize those aren't the only choices, bamboo is a terrific choice. It comes in vertical or horizontal boards and in multiple colors depending on whether it has been carbonized. To see more color and style choices, visit

Building Permits

Certificate of OccupancyBe good, get your permits, and call ahead for your inspections. Permits are designed for public safety and they serve as a good guideline to make sure you aren't forgetting anything! For us, permitting was done through the City of Hagerstown. Check out Washington County, Maryland's Frequently Asked Questions page for some basic info on how the permitting process typically works Do permitting research first; you don't want to be caught unawares...

The Art of Negotiating

Hand shake graphic Here's a great website about negotiating from Angela Smircic, one of my classmates at Drexel Most people who undertake large, or small, home renovation projects will need professional help at some point in the process. In our case, we hired out the foundation, plumbing, plaster, HVAC (heating/cooling/ducting), and the electric service hook-up. If you're acting as your own general contractor, you may need a crash course in negotiating to get you on the right track as you line up folks to do work for you!

Paint Color Schemes

sample paint swatchPaint colors... What a decision! Do you paint your whole house cream? Or do you figure out what colors you really want in each room and commit yourself to the work and potential added expense of multiple colors? If you're going with different colors, or want to play with the possibilities, Behr has a neat site that lets you play with color combinations.

A Lead Free Home

lead inspection certificate Ah yes, if your house was built before 1978, it is likely that there may be lead paint lurking about. You may also have lead in your pipes. If you have any doubt, get your water tested and have a lead inspector come check your paint. In our case, we had to have a lead inspection because my parents are the home owners and are renting the property to us; lead inspection is a requisite part of the rental process in Maryland.

Design ideas

book coverDesign ideas are a critical part of the process when one has the freedom to start from scratch with a house. One of the authors my Mom and I liked looking at is Sarah Susanka author of The Not So Big House. We have a "not so big house" but were also dealing with a not so big budget, so many of Sarah's ideas were nice, but impractical. However, it never hurts to dream and she has great ideas for good storage which is vital, especially in a small house. For more info check out Susanka's website

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More on Bamboo Flooring...

carbonized horizontal bamboo flooring

Bamboo flooring comes in both vertical and horizontal patterns. You can get either style in a carbonized finish as in this sample of horizontal bamboo flooring.

Vertical bamboo flooring

For a nice description of bamboo flooring and why it is a good choice, check out Eco-Timber's website.

If you want to learn more about how bamboo is grown and harvested for flooring, this article provides good basic info.