Seven Great Reasons to Remodel During the Great Recession of 2008!
- Get while the gettin is good! There are a glut of remodeling experts looking for your business. Supply is outpacing demand by almost 2 to1 in the housing industry, creating the lowest prices, in 2012 dollars, since the Great Depression. There is not a better time to save money on remodeling or building!
- The best designers and builders are less busy
than ever, which gives everybody prime access to the great minds, usually impossible to reach during better times. Since many of the weaker
players are gone, the average quality of remodeling and professional advice, is better than
- Sales in the housing market are still depressed, with flat prices preventing activity. Take advantage of the slow down to invest in your home and
prepare it for sale next year. If you have to sell now, make your home more attractive to potential buyers and overcome
the competition with upgraded design space and fresh finishes.
Tip: Kitchen remodels add the most to the value of a
- There are excellent new products that will
reduce your long term costs. Whether
you are planning to sell or stay, adding efficient appliances, centralized
controls, and water and energy saving devices will increase the value of
your home and decrease monthly bills. Living more economically
and sustainably contributes to peace of mind. Check with your local remodeler for more details.
- Many young people are moving back home because of the difficult economy. Increasing
space may help alleviate obvious crowding issues, and accomodate a larger family unit. Living together can be a positive experience when
everybody has enough private space to accomodate their unique lifestyle. Kitchens may have to be expanded to handle larger or multiple mealtime preparation, and more cooks.
- Retirement gives people a lot of time to spend at
home. Remodeling projects are a great
way to fill up time while transitioning into a more leisurely lifestyle. Making a home easier to navigate, better lit, and danger free, will extend the independence and mobility of a person or couple over 65 years of age.
- Lastly, almost everybody is spending more time
at home. Give your home a makeover
to improve how you entertain, relax and enjoy your hobbies, while waiting out the end of the Great Recession of 2008!
Have a Happy and Healthy 2012! contact : email@example.com
Enjoy a free lunch and presentation on remodeling by Master Builder, John Wagner at Blue Pearl click for details on Feb 2
Deciding When And Why You Need A Contractor And/Or A
A home improvement project is always complicated, (based on
its size and complexity), but one of the most complicated parts is trying to
decide if you need a Contractor and/or a Designer for your particular
project. The Contractor can be more
important if more than one trade is involved and the Designer can be more
important if the project requires coordination of finishes but only one or a
few trades are involved and the homeowner may be doing some or all the
work. This article will try to clarify
what I think are the necessary criteria for using each one.
A good Contractor can be an invaluable asset to any home
improvement project from a home addition to a vanity replacement. A bad
Contractor can cost you immeasurable time and money and frustrate you beyond
your wildest dreams (or maybe nightmares).
If you do need a Contractor, picking a good one is crucial and a subject
for a whole other article. The reason a
good Contractor is valuable is that they not only understand all the various
trades and what they do, but they know how to coordinate them throughout the
project. Obtaining permits and knowing
local codes are also something they know about and they make sure everything is
done accordingly so you do not have problems with inspections and issues in the
future. If you have not built a new home
and/or gone through the process of a major home renovation before, then I would
strongly suggest that you get a Contractor for your project. When a homeowner takes on a home improvement
project that is more complicated than painting, it almost always results in
extra time and money being spent due to inexperience or lack of knowledge of
the industry and its standards. Even a
small project like a vanity countertop replacement requires, at least, a
Contractor that specializes in that field.
A Designer is someone who can take the specifics and
requirements of a project, as dictated by you the homeowner, and assembles all
the various finishes and colors into an exciting and complete package. If you are good with color and know how to
compose a palette of various finishes that are aesthetically appealing, then
you probably don’t need a Designer.
However, combining more than one color and/or finish in a room (which
could include floors, cabinets, countertops, walls, trim, and more) can be a
daunting task that does not always turn out well. This is something a Designer knows how to do
and they will present and explain their ideas before you have to pay for one
item to be installed. Sometimes their
first idea may not be what you are looking for and that is why it is crucial
that you communicate, as specifically as possible, about what you have in mind
for the completed project. They have
many resources and ideas at their disposal and that is where they create value
for your project.
Not every project requires a Contractor or a Designer, but
before you dive head first into a home improvement project, think very
carefully about what your skills are and how that relates to your particular
project. Do not spend countless hours
and dollars before you realize that either a Contractor or a Designer could
have saved you both!
Ken Redding/ firstname.lastname@example.org
If You Can Stand the Heat-
Surviving a Gut-Wrenching Kitchen Renovation
Renovating a kitchen is like catering a special meal: you have to pore through recipes, consider the ingredients, and imagine how everything will finally come together. You might hire chefs (designer/contractor) and cooks (tradespeople/subtrades) to carry out your vision, but, when you decide to move forward, be prepared for the heat! – namely: dust, sub-par meals, lack of privacy and most of all - stress (all temporary of course)
While I had mentally prepared for loss of dignity and domain while the workmen roamed about the house from 7am to 6pm, my daughter did not. She became stoic and angry after two months of it, and I should have taken more time to explain the process. Months of sharing the place with construction workmen requires discipline and a good attitude, plus the patience to answer important questions on the fly. Dressing and bathing become regulated and covert activities. Cooking and cleaning decend into, well, futility. Washing dishes in the bathtub or shower, I am sorry to say, may be a regrettable fact of life.
Keep in mind that the EPA has started enforcing air quality procedures for home remodels. Contractors are required to seal off areas where they create dust or release chemicals into the air. Many contractors have gone through training in the last year to learn the new EPA requirements and can be fined heavily for not following through. Ask your contractors during the bidding phase whether they have completed the training or, at least, to describe how they will minimize dust and manage the work flow for your safety- and the safety of their workers. Be sure to discuss duration of the project.
A kitchen remodel usually involves budgeting the following items: Cabinets and handles, countertops, backsplashes, wall finishes, flooring, lighting, plumbing, appliances, fixtures, ceiling, windows, walls, doors and related labor. Typically cabinets and countertops are the two top budget items, with the whole project ranging from 15k to sky's the limit.
When budgeting a kitchen remodel, it is prudent to include 15-25% for cost overruns, changes and ad-ons. Budget some funds for eating out more often, extra clean-up in non work areas, and an occasional hotel overnight when things get overwhelming.
Remember, there should be special consideration for children. Grand upheaval in the home can be very upsetting for children. Smaller lung capacity and closeness to the floor make children more susceptible to the dangers of inhalation of toxic construction residue. Take time to keep children’s rooms extra clean and or move them as far away from work areas as possible. Similarly, pets can be easily affected by toxic materials. Move their eating area far away from the construction zone and make sure they have access to fresh air and water at all times.
Use low VOC and green products whenever possible to reduce hazards and protect everyone. (see my article on LEED)
Additionally, the complaint we hear most about renovation projects involves the number of decisions that need to be made on a regular basis. If you are acting as the GC, research every possible item you can think of that may be needed before going out for bid to subs, so that you are not forced to make split decisions during the process. A good general contractor will take you through the decision making process early on and set up manageable appointments to present integrated items for you to choose, based on your budget. He or she will communicate with the sub trades and provide insulation for you from the many day to day questions and problems.
For help with aesthetic decisions, a designer/architect can be well worth the money. I find many people do not know what they want when selecting a countertop, for example. There are thousands of options that often overwhelm the homeowner. If you would like help identifying and coordinating your personal design, a designer will earn his or her keep and build a cohesive look that will stand the test of time. Blue Pearl is also able to offer design assistance if details of the theme and budget of the kitchen are available. Cabinet, floor, wall and appliance information are helpful for us when giving advice.
Lastly, find people you trust to do the work - and trust them as much as possible. Good design and construction people know their stuff and will lead you the right way, with your best interest at heart. Respect them and they will respect you. In the end, your life will be enhanced and the sacrifice of a few, albeit long, months will be forgotten quickly.
Luckily, kitchen remodels pay back significantly in increased home value, which is frosting on the cake!
GRANITE VS. QUARTZ
The Homeowner's Dilemma
Since the advent of "Quartz" and other manufactured stone countertop materials, the battle has raged- Which is better for your kitchen, Granite or Quartz? While they are both countertop materials, it is a little like comparing apples and oranges.
Granite, which has been quarried and fabricated into countertops for many years, is a highly durable surface with unsurpassed natural beauty. No two pieces are exactly alike as Mother Nature has worked her magic in its natural igneous formation. Composed of 50%+ of Feldspar (6 on the Mohs scale of hardness), 35-40% of Quartz (7on the Mohs scale) and a maximum of 10% of Mica (2.5 on the Mohs scale), granites benefit from their unique interlocking mineral structure which is a result of the growth of mineral crystals that occur in its creation. This makes it very hard to determine its exact hardness but the hardest granites are as hard as Quartz materials and a majority are very close. That being said, granite does have some porosity and requires more diligent cleaning with mild soapy water. Many people in and out of the home construction and remodeling industry insist that it must be sealed once a year and, while that certainly helps maintain your granite, I have had three different homes with granite, not sealed any of them and have not suffered one stain or bacteria issue. As for beauty, no material on earth that is this stain, scratch and heat resistant and can handle the rigors of daily use comes remotely close.
Quartz and other engineered stone materials (man made) are extremely durable due to their composition of 93% quartz and 7% other materials including a concrete or epoxy resin binder. These materials are a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale and also are engineered to eliminate the need for sealing as they have almost no porosity. They are highly stain, scratch and heat resistant. Being man made quartz materials also have the unique ability to be pigmented during the manufacturing process. So, while granites are naturally formed and what comes out of the quarry is what you get (and usually contain 3 or more colors including some dark tones), quartz materials can be created that are very neutral, monochromatic and the spectrum of colors available is endless (including some faux granite patterns). The natural beauty of granite has never been duplicated by quartz but if your kitchen is a high traffic and high use area or you need a color that simplifies decorating (especially to an existing color scheme) then this may be the choice for you.
After all that, then, which is the better material? To me, they each offer something unique and different to the potential consumer. If you want one of the hardest, most beautiful and coveted materials (have you ever heard a potential home buyer on HGTV exclaim “Oh, quartz!”) for your kitchen which gives you the most value with just a little bit of maintenance then granite is the answer. If you want the hardest material available for countertops, low maintenance, neutral or controllable tones, and value added to your kitchen then quartz or engineered stone is for you. For me, nothing compares to the combination of beauty, durability and current cost of granite, but I do see the advantages to quartz in different applications.
Ken Redding click here to learn more about Quartz
click here to learn more about Granite