Sylvestre Construction, Inc.

In This Issue

•  Home Automation
   Brings New Meaning
   to “Remote” Control

•  Pass It On!

•  What’s the Story?

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Construction, Inc.

7708 5th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55423

Ph: 612-861-0188
Fx:  612-861-0190

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Member, National Association of the Remodeling Industry

GuildQuality Member

Member of Builders Association of the Twin Cities

Member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association


  Members of our staff hold
  the following industry

• NARI Master Certified
• NARI Certified Remodeler
• NARI Certified Lead
• NARI Certified Kitchen and
  Bath Remodeler
• NKBA Certified Kitchen
• NAHB Certified Aging in
  Place Specialist (CAPS)

July 2014

Home Automation Brings New Meaning to “Remote” Control

Nest Smartphone AppIf you're annoyed with having separate remotes for your TV, Blu-ray player, cable box and sound system, you might think that having a "smart" home would be too complicated. But you'd be wrong. Today's home automation innovations allow you to connect, monitor and control multiple systems and appliances from wherever you are, with a Smartphone, tablet device or computer. As long as you can connect to the internet, you can monitor and control your home. So if you're thinking of remodeling, it's a great time to consider integrating whatever level of automation will suit your lifestyle – and make your life easier.

Select a Single Purpose System...

One name that's getting a lot of buzz is Nest, which was acquired by Google. The addition of Google's resources to Nest's technology has created excitement about what's sure to be the next generation of internet-enabled home gadgets. Two systems are currently available: Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect. Every time you adjust the temperature on a Nest Learning Thermostat, you're teaching it your preferences and schedule. Before you know it, it's programmed itself to maintain your comfort. An Auto-Away™ mode for energy efficiency kicks in when it detects no one is home. The Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm units have simple green/yellow/red status lights and send low-battery alerts to your phone (so there's no low-battery chirping in the middle of the night). Plus, if you burn your toast, you'll get a simple "Heads-Up" alert instead of an ear-piercing alarm blast.

Nest Learning Thermoatat

Kwikset offers KEVO smart locks that secure your home not only with traditional metal keys, but auto-style fobs and Smartphone apps. Encrypted controls let you buzz-in your in-laws when they show up early or keep track of when your teenagers come in and go out.

LG's newest line of smart appliances has HomeChat, a service that lets you text with your connected appliances...and get replies. Before you arrive home you can turn on the oven, start a robotic vacuum and tell the washer to start a load of laundry.

...Or Get Totally Connected

Smart home: exterior lighting controlsA significant advance in home tech is the emergence of smart systems which monitor and control multiple devices and systems from different manufacturers with a single app. Lowe's Iris Home Management System is cloud-based and controlled via web, tablet or Smartphone. Lowe's-branded modules are available for controlling your interior and exterior lights, thermostat, garage door, window shades, security cameras, pet door and water heater from afar. Get the basics with no extra fees, or upgrade your services and get monitored security plus extra control features for $10 a month.

Staples Connect starts with a $99 hub made by Linksys and provides a single point of control for compatible devices from partners like Lutron, Philips, Linksys, Honeywell, First Alert, GE, Schlage and Yale, with audio/visual partners in the works. Most of these devices will have a UPC bar code that, when scanned, will take you right to a setup menu. The free Connect app can even detect when a new device is added and recommend other related products to go with your system.

Many new home automation systems are meant for the DIY market, but if you're all thumbs or don't have the time, some manufacturers offer installation services. We can also help with the planning and installation. Just select how much "remote control" you'd like to have in your home and let's get started!

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Moonrise over Northern Ontario

Moonrise over Northern Ontario

What's the Story?

Enjoying the All Star Game with my son Marc
Enjoying the All Star Game with my son Marc

July is upon us and it is a great time to enjoy the summer. It's funny how the warm weather is almost, and note I say "almost" welcome after our cool spring. We still have those warm August days to look forward to.

Last month we talked about rising water levels and I have spent this past month looking at clients' basements that were flooded this spring. If you have not had water in your basement this past month, chances are good that you won't have water in your basement – but you should be prepared! After looking at a number of "basement water problems" here are a few tips to avoid or minimize water in your home.

  • Check Downspouts: The first thing to check is to be sure the downspouts are taking the water "away" from your house. Seems simple but I have heard too many stories of forgetting to put the spout on after mowing the lawn or not cleaning the gutters and having them overflow and run back into your basement.
  • Check Window Wells: I have had clients tell me that the wells fill with enough water that it appears they are looking out a porthole in a sinking Titanic. Get a cover, check where the water is coming from and again, get the water draining away from your basement.
  • Sump Pumps and Baskets: Make sure they are plugged in and working. Do you have a battery back-up? In big storms, the power goes out. Be prepared!
  • I live on a hill, water can't get up this high: There are many areas in Minneapolis and even more in St. Paul that are notorious for high water tables and pour soil conditions. And living on a hill is no indication of not having water. Hydrostatic pressure can push water not only through walls but under floors.

As I write this note, the basement waterproofing companies are booking December for draintile work. So if you have had some problems it may be awhile before they can install a system to keep your basement dry.

In the meantime, grab your fishing rod, pack your tent or hop on your bike and enjoy the rest of the summer. At least we don't have to worry about ice dams.

Until next month,

John Sylvestre