By SUE MANNING, Associated Press
(Published in the Valley News: Sunday, July 20, 2014)
Los Angeles — These homes are set apart by their amenities — for dogs. Standard Pacific Homes is building and selling these homes in 27 of its 190 developments from Florida to California and is believed to be the first to offer a pet suite as an option in every one. The most lavish suite is a 170-square-foot pet paradise with a step-in wash station, handheld sprayer and leash lead; tile walls and floors; a designated drying area with a commercial sized pet dryer; a water station; automated feeders; a large bunk-style bed; cabinets for toys, treats and food; a stackable washer and dryer; a French door that opens to a puppy run; and a flat-screen television set.
Standard Pacific, based in Irvine, decided to offer pet suites after conducting livability studies with homeowners. Pets were a constant theme, said Jeffrey Lake, vice president and national director of architecture for Standard Pacific. “Devotion to pets is second-to-none,” he added. “They are family.” The American Pet Products Association reports that 68 percent of Americans own pets and contribute to an industry worth more than $55 billion annually. Real estate officials say building homes designed to cater to pets is a new concept, but that remodels for pet owners have been available for some time.
Adam Cowherd Construction in Ozark, Missouri, installs pet-friendly additions to homes. Cowherd said he recently finished a job where there was an open shelf on the end of a kitchen island to hold pet bowls. “Owners want it uniquely functional, very contemporary and something that catches the eye,” Cowherd said. However, only once in the last 10 years has he been asked to build a whole room for a pet, he added.
Melanie Dean lives with her family near Dallas in a Standard Pacific home with a pet package for their dog, Lola. Lola’s room “makes life much easier,” Dean said. “We don’t have to use the kitchen sink to wash yucky stuff anymore.”
Standard Pacific Homes’ newest community, called Avignon at Blackstone in Brea, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, features homes that start at $1.3 million. The pet spa option adds $35,000 to the price, Lake said. Only the largest suite is available in Brea, but in some of the other communities, there are smaller sizes and prices, starting at 60 square feet for $8,000, he said.
During some of the model grand openings at different communities, several potential buyers brought their dogs to look at the homes, said Danielle Tocco, the company’s director of communications. Around 70 percent of those looking for a home have pets, said Mollie Carmichael, principal at the John Burns Real Estate Consulting firm in Irvine. Pet adoptions were also held at some model grand openings, Tocco said, just in case somebody didn’t have a dog but wanted one. For cat owners, things can be rearranged and swapped out, like a scratching post for the dryer. And if no one is using the bath, it can be used for sporting equipment, like golf clubs.
Those looking to sell their homes may find their pet additions to be a benefit. Laundry rooms and mud rooms toward the back of homes are popular, said Amy Bohutinsky, chief marketing officer at Seattle-based Zillow. Pet washrooms can also be used as multipurpose mud rooms, which may attract buyers.
May 13, 2014 photo provided by A.G. Photography shows a Standard Pacific Home’s interior view of a dog-friendly home. Standard Pacific Homes is building and selling 27 new home communities from Florida to California and billing them as the first to offer pet paradise as an option in every one. Fully loaded, paradise is a 170 square-foot pet suite and spa with a step-in wash station, handheld sprayer and leash lead, tile walls and floors, a designated drying area with a commercial sized pet dryer, a water station, automated feeders, cabinets for toys, treats and food, a stackable washer and dryer, a French door that opens to a puppy run, and a flat-screen television set. (AP Photo/ Standard Pacific Homes, A.G. Photography, Anthony Gomez)
“Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.” Ernest Hemingway
There is little that symbolizes our sense of romance more perfectly than a bottle of wine. Wine becomes the embodiment of celebration and merriment as we raise our glasses, make our heartfelt toasts and clink our glasses!
Today, more homeowners are discovering the pleasures of storing wine in their homes. Wine cellars, once considered an indulgence, have become more accessible, convenient and practical. There are a wide variety of options available, ranging from a small under counter cooler to a walk-in wine cellar with an adjacent “grotto” tasting room. Small coolers can store 25 to 100 bottles; larger refrigerated cabinet units can hold up to 500 bottles. With a walk-in cellar the sky is the limit, and it will accommodate the wines that are ready to drink now as well as that special Napa Cabernet or French Bordeaux that will improve over years of cellaring.
For many years, my own “wine cellar” was a spare closet in the basement, a marginal solution at best. I became inspired to design and build my own real wine cellar after Robin and I attended a meeting in the Napa Valley area. We spent an extra five days touring the vineyards and sampling many wonderful wines. After seeing some incredible wine cellars and tasting rooms, our old closet in the basement no longer measured up! However, there was a 6’ by 7’ corner of my basement workshop next to the family room that I really wasn’t using to its potential . . .
I began my education on wine cellar construction. The three enemies of wine are heat, light and vibration. Of these, heat is the major concern. Most experts agree that a constant temperature of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 60 to 70% are ideal for long-term wine storage. Temperature fluxuations can push wine past the cork as it expands and suck air into the bottle as it cools, increasing the ullage and therefore the amount of oxygen. The addition of oxygen can age wine prematurely.
As I started to gather information regarding wine cellars, I mistakenly believed that a basement area would be a suitable place to site a passively cooled cellar. I read the only book that I could find on wine cellar construction and the author convinced me that it is extremely difficult to regulate the temperature in a passively cooled wine cellar. In fact he recommends insulating all walls equally, even the side facing the foundation. The book, “How and Why to Build a Wine Cellar, 3rd Edition” by Richard M. Gold, Ph.D. is available on Amazon.COM and is full of great information. I also gleaned many details for wine racking from racking suppliers on the Internet.
Here are a few of my notes on the construction of my cellar:
Standard 2×4 or 2×6 framing is fine as long as you can fit the required insulation in the walls and ceiling. You may need to “furr-out” existing framing.
A vapor barrier is required if refrigeration is used. The plastic should be applied to the warm side of the wall and ceiling. In this case that would the exterior of the cellar.
The general rule of thumb is “more the better”. Minimum requirements are R-19 in the walls and R-30 in the ceiling. You can use fiberglass batts, Styrofoam or foil-face rigid insulation, sprayed foam or blown-in insulation. Use whatever works in your situation.
AIR INFILTRATION BARRIER:
I used Tyvek on the interior of the walls and ceiling, and taped the joints to further limit any migration of air.
INTERIOR WALLS & CEILING:
You can use a wide variety of wood paneling including cedar, mahogany and redwood. This is generally left without any sealer or finish so that moisture is not trapped under the finish. Drywall can be used if it is the moisture resistant green board type. It can be painted with mildew resistant latex paint.
An exterior grade door must be installed as a cellar door. It is very important to have complete weather-stripping on the jamb and a good quality sweep on the bottom. Any glass inserts must be double-pane insulating glass.
Tile can be used, but a concrete floor can be fine as is or stained with an opaque concrete stain.
Lighting can really enhance the ambience of a cellar. Use dimmers to control the brightness (and the heat!). Rope lighting is easy to install and can be used for display areas.
There are several different types of cooling systems including units that exhaust into an adjacent room and split systems that have condensing units located outside the house. We used a “WhisperCool” through wall unit and it is performing beautifully. Whatever unit you use should be sized for the cubic space that you have.
The possibilities are numerous and range from boards on cement blocks to custom designed racking that looks like it came from the finest furniture craftsman. I used red cedar to match the paneling and left it unfinished.