Homes

Most Expensive Home Sales in Phoenix

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Here are the Valley's top home sales from the past week (10.20.14 - 10.26.14).

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Mesa - Guard Gated Golf Course Community of Las Sendas - $2,450,000

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The End of Summer: 5 Outdoor Projects to Tackle While the Weather Permits

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For anyone that has spent a significant amount of time in Arizona, they know that summers can often be quite brutal. An Arizona summer - with temperatures routinely surpassing 100-degrees - is definitely not the time to tackle outdoor projects. Fall, on the other hand, makes a quite pleasant time to get out there and take on that to-do list. 

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Universal Design: One Size Fits All

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You may have heard about Universal Design or Design for All. Our Gilbert-based general contracting company, Arizona Structures, uses many of these concepts in our new homes and remodeling projects. 

Universal Design creates spaces for everyone without changing the look of an average home. 

You, your children, as well and your aging, perhaps physically challenged, parents. 

Accessibility, flexibility and safety are key elements with Universal Design. Spaces should be user friendly for all people, regardless of their age or ability levels.

The renowned architect, Michael Graves, has made significant contributions to Universal Design. An unfortunate illness left him in a wheelchair in 2003, and he has since designed products and public and private buildings which are user friendly. His first day in the wheelchair, for instance, he had difficulty reaching both the hot water and the wall outlet. So, he began designing for everyone. 

photo courtesy Hans Grohe USA for az structures

The bathroom and shower floors are at the same level, which removes the difficulty of moving in and out of the shower in a wheelchair and tripping hazards for everyone. And, the hanging shower curtain makes access to the shower easy and still gives privacy. Photo courtesy Hans Grohe USA.

In addition, barrier-free bathroom design can involve 

  • lowered sinks, countertops and cabinets
  • slip-resistant finishes and textured surfaces
  • no step shower enclosure and rolling shower doors
  • elevated toilets
  • lever-actuated components rather than knobs, which often require tight grasping
  • easy-to-use large flat panel switches or automation controls
  • hand rails

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A large bathroom offers room for a wheelchair and the added space for maneuverability everyone enjoys. Courtesy TOTO.

Other elements to consider for your home: 

  • anti-scald inductive cooking surfaces in the kitchen
  • wide hallways, ample clearances and easy storage access
  • generous pathways lighting

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Incorporating Universal Design, kitchen counters are at the same level for uniform access, allowing for easy access without adding in different heights. To accommodate a cook who uses a wheelchair, space under the sink, cooktop and prep counter is left open. Photo courtesy Cabinets by Design.

Why consider Universal Design in building your new home or renovating your existing space?

For one, Value built into a 21st - century home, these components improve your lifestyle now. Your home is more convenient and comfortable for everyone living there. 

Two, Marketability and Financial Returns. More and more, Universal Design has become a selling point, much as green is now for buyers across the market spectrum. We’ve seen how people, and not just older adults, are asking for components such as hand rails. People like them for their safety, regardless of age. And, today, they are available in a wide variety of styles, from the basic and practical to the more decorative.

When you choose to sell your home 5, 10, 20 years from now, this demand for Universal Design should be even more apparent. Once again, we recall when sustainability was considered by many a trend: It will pass, some said. It hasn’t.

A woman whose home we built a few years back, with many Universal Design features, recently put it on the market and sold immediately. Even though the residential market has somewhat improved recently, she says the buyer bought her home, instead of comparative ones at similar prices, because of Universal Design.

Third, Broad Accessibility: With its flexibility, your home welcomes everyone.

Combining for four decades of experience in building and renovation, Arizona Structures serves the East Valley, Arcadia, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. The first of a multi-part series, this story was assisted by David M. Brown (azwriter.com). Questions? Send them either to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Tom Monte, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

Star Baseball Player to Sell Valley Home

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San Francisco Giant’s starting pitcher Tim Lincecum is hitting a home run off the field with his recently listed 11,000-sq.-ft. Paradise Valley home.

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Arizona Gardening Tips

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Even those with a green thumb can struggle to keep their plants healthy when Phoenix’s summer rolls in. To shed some light on ways to maintain your garden in the heat, AFM talked with Noelle Johnson, horticulturist and field expert for Birds & Blooms Magazine.

 

AFM: Arizona is known for its extreme temperatures. Are there specific times of year that are the best to plant during to ensure the plants’ survival during the summer months?

NJ: The best time of year to add new plants in Arizona landscapes is during the fall months.  The reason for this is that the cooler temperatures give plants a chance to develop their roots before the stress that hot summers bring.  A well-developed root system is often the deciding factor as to whether or not a new plant will make it.  The exception is with frost-tender plants such as bougainvillea and lantana, which do best when planted in spring, once the danger of frost has passed.

 

AFM: Are there certain areas and types of terrain that gardeners should look for when planting? Rocky areas, shaded areas, flat areas, etc.?

NJ: The most difficult spot to grow plants in Arizona are in areas that receive full, afternoon sun—most plants do best when planted in east-, north- or south-facing exposures.  For areas that get hot afternoon sun, select plants that are native to the Southwest, which are adapted to the extreme sun and heat.  Much of the terrain in Arizona is made up of rocky or clay soils.  Most native and arid-adapted plants do best in well-drained soil.  Mixing compost to existing soil at the time of planting, at a ratio of one part compost to one part native soil, will improve drainage. 

 

AFM: How often should gardeners water their plants, and for how long (seconds, minutes, etc.)? Is a “deep water” better than a shallow water, and if so, how can that be accomplished?

NJ: The frequency of watering changes with the seasons—plants need more water in summer and much less in winter.  In general, shrubs/ground covers should be watered every five days in summer, every 10 days in winter and every seven days in spring/fall (for desert adapted plants, you can space out watering even further).  Plants should be watered deeply, which promotes the roots to grow deep into the soil where it is cooler, holds onto moisture longer and helps to flush away the salts that accumulate around the root zone - this can take up to two hours depending on the irrigation system, soil, water pressure, etc. The length of time that you water is determined by how long it takes for water to reach the desired depth, which is twotothree feet for trees, 18 inchesto two feet for shrubs and one foot for ground covers.  You can test the depth of watering by sticking a long screwdriver or a piece of rebar into the soil after watering.  It will penetrate the soil to the depth that the water has reached.  Adjust the length of time of water as needed to achieve the desired depth—once you have determined the length of time to water your plants, you won't have to change it—only the frequency of watering will change with the seasons.  Shallow watering keeps roots near the surface, which dries out quickly and where soil temperatures get very hot, which stresses plants. Shallow water evaporates quickly, leaving salts behind that resemble white powder that can adversely affect plants. The most efficient method for watering plants is via drip irrigation, which slowly releases water, allowing it to permeate the soil without running off.  Soaker hoses can also be used to water plants.  Watering plants using a hose can be inefficient since much of the water is lost to runoff and doesn't penetrate the soil deeply enough.  If using a hose to water plants, turn it on to a slow trickle and allow it to soak into the soil, which can take up to an hour.

 

AFM: Can plants be over-watered in the summer? If so, how can you tell that one has been over-watered?

NJ: Often, there are more problems due to over-watering than under-watering—even in the desert.  Signs of over-watering is soil that is constantly moist and never dries out, young leaves that are yellow or light green, and the younger parts of the plant are wilting.

 

AFM: If a plant is beginning to die in the summer heat, is it salvageable? If so, what can be done to save it?

NJ: Plants that are newly planted and are ill-suited to the hot, arid climate will usually start to show signs of stress when the summer arrives.  In most cases, they should be removed since they are unlikely to do well in the desert climate.  Most native and arid-adapted plants can be saved if a few steps are taken.  First, make sure that they are being watered at the correct frequency and depth (new plants will need to be watered more frequently than established plants). The second step you can take is to provide temporary shade using shade cloth or placing a patio chair to shield it from the afternoon sun.  Next, determine if the plant is located in the wrong place—for example, if it needs a shadier spot to grow in, you may want to try to transplant it in winter, when temperatures are cool.

 

AFM: What other tips are there for enabling plants to have the best chance of survival in these hot summer temperatures? Any special soil or food that can be given to the plants?

NJ: Select plants that are native or adapted to the desert climate.  There are many beautiful plants that thrive despite temperature extremes in the desert.  Don't waste time, money and resources with plants that are ill-suited to the desert.  Avoid fertilizing plants in the summer, which causes them to divert resources that they use to cope with the heat.  Mulching around plants can help keep the soil cooler and prevent water from evaporating quickly.

 

AFM: What are some of the best heat-resistant plants to invest in for the summer months?

NJ: Angelita Daisy (Hymenoxysacaulis), Artichoke Agave (Agave parryi var. truncata'), Blue Bells (Eremophilahygrophana), Bougainvillea, Damianita (Chrysactiniamexicana), Desert Ruellia (Ruelliapeninsularis), Desert Willow (Chilopsislinearis), Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemoneatonii), Murphy Agave (Agave murpheyi), Red Yucca (Hesperaloeparviflora), Texas Sage (Leucophyllumfrutescens) and Valentine (Eremophilamaculata 'Valentine').

 

Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert southwest. Growing up in Southern California, it wasn't until she married and moved to Arizona that she began to try her hand at gardening. She received her degree in urban horticulture and went to work managing landscapes for golf courses and later working as a landscape designer.

To learn some more great gardening tips from Birds & Blooms Magazine, check out: http://www.birdsandblooms.com/.

 

 
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