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Going Green — Sounds good

As an ex-home builder, construction engineer and owner of 2 homes in Israel I have seen, designed and witnessed a verity of construction designs in both the US and Israel, many of which are less than energy efficient. This article will focus on residential homes in Israel as the focal point.

A standard Israeli home (120 Sq meters) will spend 2000 to 3000 NIS ($550-800) or more for a heating each month and approximately ½ this amount for cooling. Solid and concrete block walls are very heat pours thus most of the homes surfaces are inherently cold in winter and hot in summer due to the fast heat transfer of the materials used.

New homes can take on a comfortable warmer feel from the start if consideration is invested. Owners can benefit from simple framed cloth coverings on walls to new gypsum surfaces on both wall and ceiling with insulation inside a closed cell frame work which can easily be incorporated into the design. This solution adds value without a significant cost increase. These layers keep heat in or out of the home much longer saving thousands in the short term. Floors can benefit drastically with either cold joint separation on exterior connections (designed properly) or the use of alternate materials for the floor. By doing this the heat which is transferred through concrete surfaces are kept to a minimum.

In existing homes walls can be fitted with a 5 cm Gypsum layer which can lower costs significantly. Floors are almost always cold. Much time, consideration and expense will be spent to upgrade and heat this surface. Throw-rugs or carpeting are a simple solution but the low cool breezes are always present.

After upgrades or properly designed structures are designed and in place minimal outlays for independent room or central Air Conditioners / heaters / heat pumps can be considered due to the lower heat loss / gain. This can be considered due to insulating materials used during design keeping the cost for these systems to a minimum and making your home more energy efficient, thus Greener in Israel.

 

More can be read at:
www.qa-israel.com or
http://www.treehugger.com

 

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Dynamic kitchen Designs or Following the Crowd

During the course of any house or apartment construction lifecycle there are certain milestones. One of the biggest and by far the most extensive and expensive is that of kitchen design and construction (or lack-there-of). This simple room takes up easily 40% of the workload and can make or break the look and feel of any home. Modern kitchen or The Hospital Look

Sadly most designers in Israel over the last 3 years have chosen the “look” of minimalist, Spartan or even “The Hospital” look when it comes to “designing” the kitchen. Gone are the worm colors, true textured solid hardwoods and furnishings that truly make a kitchen a place where you can spend evenings or indeed you life. Wallpapers have become a form of disease, which must be which must be eradicated and wood paneling comes in either pine-strips or pine-strips, your choice If you have a designer/architect you can not even choose the color.

Remember the solid wood furniture and sometimes flooring that made grandma’s kitchen an inviting, warm interesting room where real food was created, lovingly prepared and savored? Look at the creations being displayed in today’s advertisements, many looking like overwrought hamster cages of steel and Formica leaving everything to the imagination, I have personally see kitchens resembling industrial waste disposal units and CAT scanners recently published in the national news papers.

And now for the best (or worst): Advertisements, which are masquerading as journalistic reporting recently seen in national newspapers! Writers giving tips and leading the vulnerable uninitiated down the road to the construction consultants and service centers which belong to the “UNION”, not in Israel friends. The only unions in Israel are governmental conglomerates as the Histradrut. All others are phony’s created to entice westerners with “official titles” hiding the fact that Israel wouldn’t know a union it if bit them on the ax! Even Taf-Teken speaks of “minimum quality” but doesn’t address all parts or issues connected to quality and reliability.

Don’t be fooled, be in touch with 3 architects, engineers or other types of real consultants in the construction field whose experience is spotting phonies. Large fancy showrooms hide the fact that most if not all of the merchandize is way over priced and may not even work together correctly. Even the construction supervisor’s of yore are vulnerable and must be watched to see that he performs as his contract stipulates.

You deserve the best, buy it then assure it with Quality Assurance Services.

Good hunting,
David W Stiebel
Quality Assurance Inspector
http://www.qa-israel.com

David W Stiebel is a qualified Civil Inspector with over 18 years experience in building and evaluating homes in Israel. See his web site at: www.qa-israel.com for more information.

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The Newest Scam: Real-estate Sales Suplied Inspectors

Recent phone conversations have shed light onto a new and disturbing phenomena in Israeli real-estate dealings. Realtors with their own list of “authorized INSPECTORS” from which you request an inspector for your real-estate review before beginning the closing process. inspectors? Ha!

Many of these people are nothing but appraisers, trained to evaluate the residence for value not quality or defects in construction. 

They are not qualified engineers who are trained with years of experience in construction to see behind the new paint and find defective foundations, windows, doors and other items which may end up costing the purchaser many times the price of the inspection.

In the US this is not unheard of but it has also been found to be unacceptable from an ethical standpoint. Many realtors have been found to use their brother-in-law or similar with inspections taking virtually no time at all which only shows that the agent has neither the knowledge or use unwise business practices.

To date in Israel there are but 2 known inspection agencies that are not just "in it for the money", but see this as a community service and an aid in the confusing maze of home acquisitions.

Insist on your own inspector who has the knowledge, expertise, capability, history and integrity to review each home as though it were his own. If your real-estate agent balks at the notion of you bringing in a 3rd party inspector? walk away, if he is honorable he will consider your request as a sign you are truly interested in the home and will consent to your request. Remember the ties you break may save you a fortune in undue repair bills.

Good hunting,
David Stiebel
Quality Assurance Inspector
http://www.qa-israel.com

David Stiebel is a qualified Civil Engineer with over 25 years experience in building and evaluating homes in Israel and the US. See his web site at: www.qa-israel.com for more information.

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