PREmier Homes and Neighborhoods PREmier Homes and Neighborhoods is a program designed to help preserve, renew and enhance the existing homes and neighborhoods in Virginia Beach. Page Content PREmier Homes and Neighborhoods provides a variety of free resources and tools about home maintenance and improvements you can access so that: Help to assist you to develop a schedule for general home maintenance You can develop home improvement plans easier You can enhance your home while maintaining neighborhood character and design Preservation efforts, such as the reinvestment of resources into neighborhood activities as a whole, improve the neighborhood's physical condition and its residents' quality of life Any city’s success and vitality depends on its homes and neighborhoods. Vibrant neighborhoods with well-maintained homes are a key part of our high quality of life.Since almost all of the land in Virginia Beach is already developed, preserving our existing housing stock is very important if the city is to remain a "Community for a Lifetime". With half of the city’s existing housing units more than 25 years old, we must maintain and preserve our homes and neighborhoods for current and future homeowners.Many of the city’s homes are in good repair. Proactively preserving our homes and neighborhoods will help keep them this way. If we don’t, we risk having a city with homes that are irrelevant for future generations, deteriorating and blighted homes that lead to costly repairs, and a low quality of life.Each Virginia Beach neighborhood has distinct qualities that make it unique. We need to preserve these characteristics that make your neighborhood special.Specialty Design Considerations Accessibility In order to transform your home into a structure that is easy to navigate for all, there are some specific guidelines that facilitate mobility, comfort and the ability to complete everyday tasks.EntryWhen the entry into a building is not level with the ground outside, a ramp should replace or accompany stairs that lead up from the ground to the entry. Ramps should have a grade no steeper than 1:16 to 1:20.RestroomsBathrooms must be large enough for a wheelchair to enter and exit efficiently. An accessible bathroom should have an open 5 foot radius unobstructed by walls, toilet and cabinet bases and shelving. Showers and tubs should not include steps and should be easily accessible as well.Doorways and PassagewaysPaths and walkways through the home must be consistently 32 inches wide. While open, doorways must allow 32 inches of open space between the face of the door and the opposite frame to allow for the passage of wheelchairs.CountertopsCountertops and tables should be no higher than 36 inches from the ground. All people should be able to both see and reach across these surfaces. Green Building The construction and life cycle of a building greatly effects the environment in which we live. Building requires large amounts of energy and raw materials and produces large quantities of waste. Green building and design works to reduce waste and use energy, water and materials more efficiently to decrease the negative impact of the built environment on the earth and human health. This type of building and design initiative aims to create built environments that are livable, safe, productive and comfortable. By making your home more sustainable, the livability and marketability of the home is increased while the negative impacts to the environment are reduced. This section provides information about how to incorporate green, or sustainable, tactics into their home improvement project. Green building, homeownership and economic development will all be discussed. Going green can help with the new construction and rehabilitation of residential and commercial buildings. This is a key element in the economy and housing markets. Buildings become less costly to operate and maintain by making them more energy and resource efficient. What is Green Design? Green building is an approach to design and construction that minimizes or eliminates the negative effects of buildings on the environment and the people who occupy them. It focuses on a broad spectrum of concepts, including sustainable site planning; energy efficiency; water; material; and resource conservation and indoor air quality. Green building considers the entire life cycle of a structure and its components. Green buildings can look the same as a traditionally‐built building but use different methods to achieve their goal. Green buildings may have metal or vegetation‐covered roofs to reduce heat gain, walls and floors made of recycled or locally harvested materials, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that rely on natural systems, such as solar or wind energy. Sustainable buildings also make use of natural light to reduce electricity needs. The buildings are also oriented to maximize use of the sun throughout the year. Do Green Buildings Cost More? Not necessarily. In the past going green was not always practical for the average American home buyer, but as green practices have become more widespread, specialized material prices are falling and designers and developers are learning how to apply green principles in cost‐effective ways. In addition, it is commonly found that going green will save homeowners more money in the long run in terms of energy costs. Why Build Green? Green buildings can lead to a cleaner environment, better health and a stronger economy. Buildings consume two-thirds of all electricity used in the United States. Green buildings can reduce energy consumption of an individual structure by up to 40%. Building construction and demolition create 136 million tons of waster per year. Green buildings encourage recycling and reuse of materials to reduce waste in our landfills. Most people spend hours in buildings where the air inside can be worse than outdoors. Green buildings make interiors cleaner, healthier and more comfortable. The benefits of green building are numerous and together they create a convincing case for changing the way buildings in the United States are constructed and renovated. Six Reasons to Go Green Reduced energy and water consumption Lower initial construction cost Higher building valuation Increased local economic growth Improved occupant health Improved environmental health Green Renovations Five Areas of Concentration Environmental Considerations (Health, Air Quality, Waste Water, Storm Water Management) Waste Reduction Pollution Prevention Water Conservation Energy Conservation Green building/products focuses on energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, resource efficiency, site management, and water conservation. Quick TipsThis list provides basic suggestions and recommendations for homeowners who are interested in incorporating sustainable techniques into their desired project. Research ways to recycle, reduce, and reuse where possible Explore ways to reduce energy usage, waste, and water consumption Reduce exposure of hazardous materials (chemicals/waste products that cannot be recycled/disposed of without special handling procedures) Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs Program thermostat settings Plug air leaks Choose energy star appliances Explore solar opportunities Water use reduction Identify green power opportunities Choose low-voc products Use wood alternatives or wood products certified by Forrest Stewardship Council (FSC) Provide shade and wind protection by planting trees Use native plantings Research how green building can save costs Home Automation As society becomes more technologically advanced, technology plays an ever‐growing role in our personal lives and even our homes. Around the world, home automation is becoming a common practice, as more and more people are using home automation to control the systems that make their homes more comfortable. Home automation works by controlling multiple systems in our homes that do the jobs that we would normally do manually. Home automation takes care of a number of activities in the house. For example, home automation can be used to turn lighting and HVAC systems on and off on a timer. Home security and sprinkler systems can also be automated. More advanced operations can be carried out as well, like sensing the presence of a person in a room or adjusting the volume of the music according to the day of the week and the time.In many ways, it is much more efficient and cost‐effective to install home automation in a house during construction as many systems require room above ceilings and behind wall in order to save space. However, homes that have already been built can still incorporate home automation in a less intrusive way through wireless systems. Energy Efficiency Energy efficiency is the key to reducing electricity and gas usage and saving money. By making a number of preparations and adjustments to your home, you can help improve both the state of the environment and even your finances.Energy efficient windowsIncorporate low-E glass coatings, glass filler between layers and composite framing materials; Energy Star products (windows, doors, skylight)Keep temperature of home consistent; comfortableLower energy bills and saves moneyReduce green house gas emissionsEnergy Star appliances and bathroom fixtures that save waterReplace faucets and toilets with fixtures that use less water Electronics such as televisions, radios, telephones and computers use less electricity than traditional appliancesAppliances such as washers and dryers can save both energy and waterInsulationSealing and insulating basements and attics help reduce the amount of energy needed to cool or heat your homeInsulating walls and sealing openings, such as doorways, windows and garage doors, prevent drafts which increase energy useLightingReplace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbsUnplug any and all appliances that are not in use; even when they are off, appliances can still use electricity Childproofing In every home, children are exposed to a number of dangers that often go unnoticed by adults. Even though parents and guardians do their best to protect their children, it is important that they do their best to make the home environment the safest environment possible, no matter the age of the child.Below are some quick topics that can help you decide what strategies you can you use to protect the children in your home. Attach safety catches to drawers, doors and cabinets that hold dangerous items such as knives, chemicals and medications.Install smoke alarms in every room of the house. Develop fire escape methods and instruct children on how to follow them in the case of an emergency.Replace blinds that have parts that are choking hazards with those that do not. Long, looped cords can be cut and replaced with tassels.Door knob covers and safety gates are a must to keep children from roaming into dangerous spaces, onto stairs or out of the adult's line of sight. Pressure gates are less effective than attached gates, and gates with large openings can be a danger to small children if their heads can fit through them.Latches and safety guards and safety netting can be used on windows, balconies, patios and decks to prevent falling. Make sure that at least one window of a child's bedroom is operable in case of a fire.All sharp or rough corners and edges of doors, walls and furniture should be covered to prevent injury. Corner guards are inexpensive and can match the decor of almost any home. Seniors Tips for Adaptive Home Improvement As we age, our needs change and so, too, must our living environments. This is particularly the case for the elderly population, whether they live alone or with the help of another person. As a result, the homes of our senior citizens must be altered to make living safer and more comfortable for both our elderly family and friends and any caretakers. Below is a list of home improvements that can make this life transition a smooth one.Pathways and areas where medication is dispensed or administered must be well lit, whether they are used by senior citizens or their caretakers. A variety of lighting can be used, including, but not limited to, ceiling lights or night lights.Level changes and travel up and down stairs should be minimal. Primary living spaces (including bedrooms and bathrooms) should be on the main floor. Necessary changes in level should not occur throughout the day and floors should prevent slipping.First aid kits, a phone and all emergency phone numbers to police, medical assistance and fire control should be posted in a place that is easy to reach. Emergency call systems may be a useful addition as well. Pathways should be clear and without carpet or loose wires.Railings, grab bars and ramps should be installed throughout the home to aid in both day‐to‐day circulation and emergency evacuation. A plan for disaster and fire escape should be developed and communicated to both the elderly person(s) and his or her caretaker. If care providers are to live in the home, a room for sleeping and desk space for administrative duties are necessary so that the patient and his or her paperwork can be well taken care of. Door knobs may be replaced with levers to facilitate the opening and closing of doors. In addition, appliances and furniture should be both easy to use and low-maintenance.Source: Top 10 Home Improvement Tips for Senior Citizens Contact InformationPREmier Homes and Neighborhoods(757) firstname.lastname@example.org Virginia Beach Pattern Book If you're looking to renovate, remodel or update your home, the Virginia Beach Pattern Book is your guide to help make your project a success. Use the Pattern Book to find remodeling tips, "greening" suggestions and other important information specific to your home and neighborhood. Whether you're an experienced professional, preparing for your first home renovation, or interested in the city's housing styles and architectural culture, the Virginia Beach Pattern Book is your resource.