Alas, a weekend where Bill can don his dusty work boots, stained jeans, faded T-shirt, and red bandanna as he prepares to convert his finished basement office space into a home multi-purpose audio/video entertainment room. Bill heads to the home improvement warehouse to buy tools and building materials and awaits delivery of his wall soundproofing material. As Bill sweats away all weekend on the construction of his new multi-purpose entertainment room, he may not be aware that he is contributing to a multibillion-dollar industry called Do it yourself, or simply DIY. The industry has been experiencing steady growth over the last few years thanks to the millions of people like him who take on DIY related projects every day.
An American Phenomenon
According to the National Building Museum, this 20th century American phenomenon came of age with the middle-class baby-boomer families of the 1950s and 1960s, as returning GIs and their counterparts at home encountered a host of new products and step-by-step instructions for how to use them. Members of this "can-do" generation-primed by their fathers' basement workbenches and by Uncle Sam's Depression-era push to modernize the nation's housing stock-eagerly embraced the developing "how-to" marketplace. Hobby enthusiasts and amateurs alike transformed themselves into handymen and handywomen as do-it-yourself grew from an acceptable, perhaps even desirable activity into an expected domestic leisure-time pursuit. The next generation pushed the DIY ethos further by focusing on older houses in need of care and repair. Interest in traditional building arts surged and so did a general desire to incorporate the past - or a modern facsimile of it.
DIY Market Still Growing Today
Worldwide, the DIY and home improvement markets are projected to reach US$716.2 billion by 2015, according to a report issued by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. The markets are on the rise still and are expected to maintain steady growth over the next few years.
• a steady rise of the DIY culture
• widespread availability of easy-to-install/use products
• an increase in recession induced cautious spending habits of financially strained customers
• the rapidly increasing number of products and services including books, websites, television programs, tools and accessories that are being designed and served especially for DIY tasks.
• widespread availability of easy-to-use products for home repair, crafts and decorations and gardening activities.
According to Global Industry Analysts, Inc., the home improvement segment of DIY continues to be one of the major end-use markets for DIY solutions, contributing a significant share in the market’s revenues. Media, especially television, has been playing a major role in developing DIY consumer base by telecasting shows on home remodeling and repairs. Market for DIY solutions in the home improvement segment got a major boost during the recent economic recession as cost-wary individuals preferred spending their leisure time at home doing household chores to spare overhead spending, thus increasing their use of DIY tools. Consumers’ focus on renovating their home for enhancing the aesthetic value of the property and sustain its commercial value for a longer period of time will continue to benefit DIY market in this segment. Besides home improvement, the automotive and landscaping markets also generate considerable demand for DIY solutions according to the Global Industry Analysts, Inc. report.
DIY home improvement affords homeowners a way to individualize and reinvent their homes and living spaces. Skills first acquired using tools in hobby projects or for minor repairs empower men and women to tackle increasingly complex projects that can add real value to their investment.
Widespread Availability of Easy-to-Install/Use Products
By the late 1960s in the United States, the burgeoning DIY market was beginning to change the face of the construction industry. The rising cost of buying a home or having one remodeled by a professional led more homeowners to take on construction projects themselves. The popular interest in DIY and the enthusiasm for home remodeling revolutionized not only the sale of power tools but also the design and retailing of building materials and finishing supplies. All were modified for the convenience of do-it-yourselfers. Plywood was cut to more manageable panel sizes, drywall was lightened, concrete mix came in 60-pound bags, insulation was formed into square blocks, aluminum was manufactured in standardized units, hardwood panels came varnished and pre-finished, wallpaper came pre-trimmed and pre-pasted, linoleum and vinyl flooring were cut into small squares, and synthetics were molded into brick and other decorative textures. Today specialty products like soundproofing material, are available pre-cut and ready to hang or can be custom cut to a desired size.
In the DIY family conceived by many editors and advertisers, the handyman husband built things, usually with the aid of power tools, and the intuitive wife took care of surfaces and interior decorating. Previously reserved for hired help, the term "handyman" now referred to suburban husbands. The shift symbolized a larger transformation: DIY was no longer a dabbler's hobby, but an expected domestic pursuit.
Cable Television is Influencing a Generation of DIYers
Cable television is mostly available in North America, Europe, Australia and East Asia, and less so in South America and the Middle East. Each year, more and more people are being influenced and inspired by popular DIY and home improvement reality shows throughout the world and are helping to keep this market strong. In the United States, the 1984 Cable Television Regulation Act established a more favorable regulatory framework for the cable TV industry. This gave rise to new popular cable television “specialty” networks like TLC Network, HGTV, Discovery Channel, and A&E which attract millions of viewers each day.
A TLC Network reality show called Trading Spaces was very popular from 2000 – 2008. It was an hour-long American television reality program where two sets of neighbors redecorated one room in each other's home on a $1,000 budget. The show helped launch the career of the widely popular DIY Trading Spaces carpenter Ty Pennington who went on to be the host of his own reality show called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which aired on ABC.
Over the past decade, there’s been a boom of reality show programming and people are still being influenced by DIY and home improvement related cable television shows such as Design on a Dime (HGTV), Renovation Realities (DIY), Sweat Equity (DIY), Desperate Landscapes (DIY), Gardening By the Yard (HGTV), Flip this House (A&E), Toolbelt Diva ( Discovery) Designing Spaces (TLC), and Fix this Kitchen (A&E).
One of the newest specialty television networks is called the DIY Network. It was the second network to be launched by Scripps, following the success of HGTV. The network is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive. Whether remodeling your kitchen, dreaming of a master bathroom addition or simply repairing a leaky faucet, DIY Network’s experts give viewers a step-by-step instruction on common DIY home projects. Television stations air local versions with local hosts with segments produced by the network. Branded DIY Network programming is also broadcast in Japan and the Philippines. The cable network reaches 50 million households in the US.
Acoustiblok sound proofing products were featured on the DIY Network show called Cool Tools starring Kayleen McCabe (see show clip).
Availability of Products, Tools and Supply Depots
Today, tool manufacturers make DIY increasingly doable by designing tools equipped with the facility and accuracy of a professional, as well as advanced safety features. The establishment and expansion of huge warehouse sized one-stop home improvement specialty retailers like Lowe’s (founded in 1929) and Home Depot (founded in 1985) in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, China, United Kingdom, South America and other countries serve the DIY, consumer durables, and building contractor businesses. Hundreds of millions of consumers purchase home improvement materials from their stores.
Prior to the early 1980’s, getting access to home improvement materials and specialty tools was cumbersome. A person had to wade through original equipment manufacturer’s paper based manufacturing product catalogs which were not easy to come by and was time consuming. In 1982, the concept of an electronic world-wide of networks called the Internet was introduced to the world and grew in popularity quickly. In addition, home computers were just becoming common during this period as well.
A Promising Future
Today, most products and tools produced by companies all over the world for todays DIY and home improvement products can be found online, purchased on a credit card, ordered within minutes and shipped quickly. The struggling economies of the United States and other large countries are still inducing cautious spending habits of financially strained customers. Thus, the DIY and home improvement markets looks promising for years ahead.
As the old saying goes, good fences make good neighbors. Unfortunately, life with noisy neighbors is more complicated than that. Is the fence on the right side of the property line? Are there any overhanging branches or roots sneaking under the fence? Is there a dog barking constantly, or at odd hours behind that fence?
“Neighbors really define your quality of life,” says Emily Doskow, a lawyer and co-author of “Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise” (1991, updated 2011, Nolo). Living with a noisy neighbor can be incredibly wearing and turn a peaceful community into a battleground.
Additionally, with more people working from home today, daytime sounds that may once have gone unnoticed can create high levels of tension.
In most suburban neighborhoods, barking dogs are the worst noise offenders. Craig Mixon, a Northern California homeowner, became so bothered by barking dogs in the neighborhood that he started barkingdogs.net, a web site that offer resources for others who are dealing with the same problem.
Mixon, a master dog trainer, tried talking to neighbors who owned the offending dogs, even offering to train the dogs for them. Nothing worked.
Regulations about barking dogs or other noise from neighbors vary according to town. In some cases, they are covered by noise laws, in others by nuisance laws.
Once-friendly neighbor relationships can be torn apart by noisy dogs. In Mixon’s community, one neighbor put their dogs outside, often all day, in a lawn surrounded by an invisible fence, which offered no noise barrier when the dogs began barking. Several neighbors approached the dog owners gently to ask that something be done, to no avail.
One neighbor did call town officials to see what could be done, but was told that noise laws applied from dusk to dawn, which may work in the winter, but not so well in the summer when days are long and nights are short. And she didn’t feel comfortable complaining because the town would take complaints only from people who gave their names.
“Towns need to have better dog laws,” she said.
In some communities, animal control does not address neighbors’ disputes over barking dogs. Ordinances usually cover only licensing, what type of animals you have (no pigs or roosters, for instance), leash requirements and the like.
While power tools and machinery are allowed on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with the exception of emergencies) barking dogs usually fall under the unnecessary noise regulation in suburban/residential communities. In other words, noise that menaces the health or disturb the peace and quiet are prohibited any time of the day or night.
In some communities, fed-up neighbors are getting creative when it comes to taking matters into their own hands (legally). Barking Dog Atlas, (http://barkingdogatlas.blogspot.com/) for instance, is a website created by one fed up homeowner that invites people all over the U.S. to anonymously post a photo, video link, and the offending neighbor’s name and address
Of course, as the first step in any neighborly problem, it may help to either speak (nicely) to the neighbor or, to avoid discussing it directly, leave a pleasant note. This may seem obvious, but too many people lose their temper right away. Try to give the neighbor the benefit of the doubt, even if it seems ridiculous. Try and assume everyone wants to be as good a neighbor as you are.
The second step would be a note or call stating that the intention is to work the problem out with the neighbor directly. Heavy-handed threats of calling the police or animal control should be last options, when all else fails.
Suggesting mediation is also an option. Community mediators are available in most towns, and often the police know how to contact them.
Finally, if there is still no response from the offenders, a warning should be issued to the neighbor that you will go to small claims court or seek redress elsewhere. The trouble is, it’s often not easy to prove, or get the authorities to resolve the problem.
“Some noise laws are distance-based and some are decibel-based,” says Les Blomberg, director of the nonprofit group Noise Pollution Clearinghouse. “Ideally, noise regulations should set a clear line for neighbors — this is allowed, this isn’t.”
But often that isn’t the case.
Sometimes the best route may be a path of least resistance. A noise barrier fence or sound deadening material strategically placed in the yard or home can save a homeowner months or even years of turmoil with a noisy neighbor, provide the peace and privacy that everyone seeks in their home environment, and maintain some semblance of peace with the neighbors.
A great restaurant provides a retreat, if only for an hour or two, where guests can relax and savor their favorite meals while socializing with friends and family. Customers will return again and again to a restaurant that provides consistently good meals, excellent service, and a pleasant atmosphere.
Let’s face it, the competition for patrons among restaurants is fierce. Only the most hypervigilant restaurateur will succeed in creating and maintaining a loyal customer base.
Restaurant patrons demand the obvious: great tasting meals and attentive and friendly service. They also expect pleasant surroundings, where they can relax, carry on a conversation and savor their meal without irritating distractions. Smoking, a huge spoiler for restaurant patrons in the past, has been banned in almost every U.S. restaurant. And, while it’s easy for most restaurant owners and managers to see to it that diners are not bothered by second hand smoke, the same cannot be said for irritating second-hand noise.
High noise levels in a restaurant can drive business elsewhere, making it imperative for restaurant owners to take measures to minimize unwanted sound throughout their dining areas. Some restaurant owners implement noise reduction strategies during the design phase of their space and install sound deadening material under the drywall, floors and ceilings during construction or renovation. However, not all have built-in sound deadening material in place when they open their doors for business.
Restaurants are particularly vulnerable to annoying noise levels due to a combination of acoustic challenges: multiple groups of guests carrying on conversations, often at accelerated volumes, in order to be heard over the din; echo and reverberation from the abundance of reflective surfaces commonly used in restaurant décor and equipment (tables, countertops, kitchen equipment, walls and floors), intensify sound reverberations throughout the establishment.
Restaurant owners need to make noise reduction a top priority if they are to be able to compete with other restaurants for return customers.
Reverberation, which is a primary culprit in a noisy restaurant due to the multitude of solid surfaces, can be minimized dramatically when the proper sound dampening product is put in place. Although soundproofing materials will not entirely eliminate ambient noise, they will absorb excess sounds and reduce the overall decibel level, thus providing a pleasant environment for diners to socialize and relax in relative peace.
Soundproofing panels and material designed to be wall mounted can be custom fitted for use in specific areas. However, wall panels and acoustical material are often not an option as they may interfere with the restaurant’s décor, or because they require invasive installation methods (tearing out drywall or flooring).
Easy-to-install sound deadening solutions are available and popular for restaurant use. High sound absorbency QuietFiber is a two-inch thick DIY interior noise solution from that can be cut to fit and simply hot glued underneath the bar, cabinets, countertops, tables, chairs, behind a wall tapestry or curtains. Slide a QuietFiber “pillow” on top of cabinets, or anywhere else that noise is a problem and peaceful surroundings are a must. Easily cut to size with a serrated knife, QuietFiber can be concealed almost anywhere
Restaurateurs who have identified a noise problem that may be affecting business adversely would do well to consult a reputable company that specializes in troubleshooting and resolving noise problems. A noise consultant will be able to identify all the variables that combine to create a noise problem, and provide options for effective solutions that can be easily implemented.
Remember, they key to building a repeat customer base is to offer an environment that provides maximum comfort and satisfaction to its patrons. When the customers are happy, they come back -- the key to a restaurant’s long-term success.
Able Walling Solutions, based in Guteng, South Africa has been an official distributor of Acoustiblok soundproofing materials and products since 2008.
Able Wallings Solutions, operating in Guteng for more than 10 years, has has become the industry leader in office screening and fast track demountable walling. Offering quick and easy set-up and demounting of individual panels and doors combined with guaranteed next day service has lead to Able's growth in Africa's large corporate sector, including the tough banking sector, with many of Africa’s blue chip giants opting for Able Walling Solutions's offerings.
In July 2006, Able completed a Management buy-out of the previous financial investors in the business, RMB Corvest and ALCLAD. It was then the first dedicated BEE compliant business, and still maintains a level three BEE certificate. Able's commitment to green solutions within the office environment resolves the ever-increasing demand for tried and tested sustainable construction solutions.
Acoustiblok, a pioneer in soundproofing and thermal technologies for commercial, institutional, and multi-family construction, is a unique, environmentally friendly soundproofing material widely used in the United States and throughout the world to provide serious noise control in new and existing commercial, residential, and institutional buildings.
The thin, 1/8-inch sheet Acoustiblok material, which is added to a wall before drywalling, is engineered not to stop or absorb sound, as others attempt to do, but to actually transform the sound energy into inaudible friction energy as the material flexes from the sound waves. Just one, 1/8-inch layer of Acoustiblok in a standard metal or wood stud wall will result in more sound reduction (and provide more privacy) than 12-inches of poured concrete.