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This article first appeared in the PB April 2015 issue of Pro Builder.

Sharp blades flash; flames leap. There’s the roar of high-powered machinery, and there is high-fiving, too. No, we’re not on a jobsite. We’re in an episode of Top Chef, one of many cooking shows that has seized the country’s imagination—not to mention that of the world (spinoffs exist in Greece, Finland, France, Belgium, and Chile, to name a few). Some numbers say that more than three-quarters of adult Americans watch cooking shows, rivaling local TV news.

The kitchen’s power to sell homes and increase resale value lives on. And now, the bath is gaining steam. In its 2014 Trend Report, the National Kitchen & Bath Association says that more than half of its 60,000-some members execute bath projects in the $10,000 to $30,000 range. Again, you can thank (or blame) reality TV. Programs such as Bang for Your Buck show us steam showers, enormous tubs, and expanses of marble, all inspired by deluxe destination getaways.

Sealing the Deal,” our cover story, is packed with information about how to give your kitchens and baths oomph on a production budget. The key is fine-tuning designs so that money and attention go to features that linger in buyers’ minds long after they’ve left the model. We’ll show you what those features are, plus ingenious ways to make them happen.

But if there’s insufficient hot water in the kitchen or in the bath, eye-catching faucets and custom-caliber tile work will quickly lose their magic. According to the Department of Energy, the water heater is the second biggest energy draw in the home. Enter the DOE’s new regulations for water heater efficiency, which go into effect this month. In “The Heat Is On,” Professional Builder contributor Nigel F. Maynard takes you through the DOE’s new rules. Yes, the heaters you’ll need to spec will be bigger. Yes, they’ll cost more, and yes, this will all involve tweaks and changes. No, the rules aren’t voluntary. Luckily, our story examines some of the alternatives.

By now you may have noticed a new face on this page. It’s my great pleasure to have joined the Professional Builder team as editor-in-chief, once again working with an all-time favorite colleague, Denise Dersin.

One of the best parts of being a journalist is that you’re paid to ask questions and to learn—including learning from feedback and leads supplied by those who know best: readers. What are we doing right? What do we need to do more of? What’s a great idea we should know about? Drop us a line—we’d love to hear from you. PB


Amy Albert is the editor-in-chief of Professional Buider., @amyalbertLA

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