Recent Topics: An Astounding Mashup!

Recent Topic #1: Appliances

Recent Topics: Whirlpool Appliance, New ColorRecent topics are being revisited in this blog, starting with appliances. I was excited to visit the largest appliance store in Oregon, Standard TV & Appliance, to see the new Whirlpool “Sunset Bronze” appliances. They are elegant! The brushed finish is a warm gray, like nickel. I love the handles, which are a cool stainless steel color, blending the two metals perfectly! For my listeners in the greater Portland area, the Beaverton showroom at  3600 S.W. Hall Boulevard, is selling the floor models of the “Sunset Bronze” appliances at a fantastic price! The suite includes a french-door refrigerator, dual-fuel range and a microwave-hood. It’s difficult to hold my frustration at bay, though.   I really wish manufacturers would listen to professional kitchen designers and discontinue making microwave-hood combinations. They’re not safe, and they don’t provide good suction! Safety has to be the #1 priority in all home remodeling!

While I was there, my new dedicated salesperson, Christi, showed me the Dacor “Modernist” display with clean no-nonsense lines. Oh, it’s gorgeous! Their full line of products is available in black stainless steel or stainless steel. One of the many things I love about the new Dacor products is their Wifi integration. Christi showed me how the hood automatically turns on when she turned on the range. This is a wonderful safety feature!

Exhaust Hoods: Safety Features and Code Requirements

Here are safety tips I share with everyone:

  • Remember to turn on your exhaust before you turn on your cooktop.
  • Your hood should be 6” wider than your cooking surface. This gives you more area to collect steam and grease while you’re cooking, and it protects wall cabinets on both sides of the hood.
  • There should be 30” clear vertical space from the top of your cooking surface to the bottom of the hood.
  • You’ll need make-up air if:
    • You’re interested in a new high-BTU gas cooktop or rangetop
    • If your hood is rated at 400 cfm or more.

Your exhaust hood should be powerful enough to clear the air. But in today’s tight homes, you’ll have to add another source to maintain equal pressure balance inside your home. Your investment in make-up air will add $1,000 or more to your project. Make-up air is a code requirement in most states, and there’s no way to avoid it.

Recent Topics #2.1: Behr Paint Colors

Recent Topics: Behr Color Palettes 2020

Two weeks ago, I talked about color and paint. August is when major paint manufacturers start introducing their new colors for the coming year. Behr and Sherwin-Williams have announced their new color trends for 2020, and Miller Paint has introduced new colors, although they avoid the word “trend.”

The paint giant recently released a trend-driven collection of 15 shades they’re predicting will take over interiors in 2020. The collection is named Restore, Worldhood, and Atmospheric. The colors include a range of balanced neutrals and earthy greens to “lavish oranges.” In a recent press release, Behr said, “The new palette sources inspiration from the desire to engage with the world around us and restore balance in our everyday lives.”

Back to Nature delivers the most literal interpretation of the landscape around us. It includes soothing shades of green and blue, to “provide restorative qualities to encourage balance,” says Behr. Because of their calming, de-stressing effects, the shades within the Restore palette are great choices in a bedroom or home office.

If you’re looking for something a bit bolder, Behr’s Worldhood palette is your best bet that includes warm red, yellow, and burnt orange. The palette is reminiscent of electric sunsets and “natural rugged landscapes.” Try it in a room that sees a lot of guests, as the overall warmth of the shades translates to an inviting environment for hosting.

Behr’s Atmospheric palette delivers “new neutrals” in a collection that’s anything but boring. This palette is perfect for every room in your home, and you can choose colors from the other two palettes for accents.

Here’s a link to Behr’s new 2020 color palette: https://freshome.com/behr-2020-color-trends-palettes

Homes are a living example of the family that occupies them. Each family member -– each room — has its own personality, but every one complements the others, to create a unique, unified environment.

Recent Topics #2.2: Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors

Recent Topics: Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors 2020

On August 13, Sherwin-Williams announced its color palettes for 2020. There are five distinct categories for the new colors: Alive, Haven, Heart, Mantra, and Play. Here’s what Sherwin- Williams says: “The new 2020 Colormix Forecast palettes work to create restorative spaces for relaxing, recharging and inviting creativity. This forecast resonates with designers for its warm and nature-inspired palettes. In nature, it’s always right. The new palettes also bring a sense of joy. Whether your happiness comes from people, nature or spirituality, each palette evokes happiness. It’s about the balance of color and the striking shades of blue and the soft pastels throughout the color story.”

“With so much going on in the world, it’s important that we give ourselves space to escape and recharge. Using colors derived from nature provides us the connectedness and restorative powers that we need to tackle our day-to-day lives. This year’s color trend palettes foster focus and balance for mind, body and spirit — something most of the experts agree is needed in the world right now. 2020 is going to be a big year for everyone. We are starting a new decade, and it’s an election year. All of this change affects us, making us crave balance in our lives, so it makes sense that these palettes offer visual balance for our surroundings.”

It’s interesting that Sherwin-Williams created special mandalas for each color group, and defined each with positive influences:

Alive: Optimism, Authenticity, Glocalization*, New Local

Haven: Simplicity, Wabi-Sabi, Conservation, Material Health

Heart: Bauhaus, Bohemian, Fusion, Humanity

Mantra: Minimalism, Serenity, Scandinese*, Sanctuary

Play: Escapism, Humor, Joy, Energy

I love to learn new words! *Glocalization is the practice of conducting business according to both local and global considerations. *Scandinese (or Japandi) is the fusion between Scandinavian and Japanese design that are based on simplicity with a strong reference to nature, first introduced in 2017.

Here is the link where you can see Sherwin-Williams’ new 2020 color forecast: https://www.swcolorforecast.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SW-Colormix.2020.pdf

Behr and Sherwin-Williams are large companies with big advertising budgets. By contrast, there’s a paint company based in the Northwest that’s my favorite: Miller Paint. The company was formed in 1890 by Ernest Miller, Sr., who purchased a stone mill and began manufacturing his own paint. I just learned that Miller Paint is employee owned. That’s a keystone to their success, and an important element of the company culture that’s both empowering and exciting. Love their logo: “Made here, for here.”

It was interesting to discover that Miller is the only paint company that talks about environmental commitment. They say, “Miller Paint was first in the market to convert our main line of interior products, ‘Acro,’ to a zero VOC product line in 1996. it has received rave reviews for its performance qualities. . . and demonstrate the company’s commitment to being an environmentally responsible manufacturer in the marketplace.” Most recently, Miller Paint started the move to FSC certified recycled content paper for their product literature. In their corporate offices and stores, Miller Paint recycles bottles, paper, cardboard and cans.

Miller Paint currently participates in two utility-based environmental programs: The Green Power program through PGE, which helps to fund renewable energy, and NW Natural’s Smart Energy program – a carbon-offset program that supports projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Miller Paint works directly with Metro, the directly elected regional government that serves more than 1.5 million residents in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, as well as the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, to recycle unused or unwanted latex paint. Metro Paint is sold by Miller Paint. There is a great internal program for recycling and re-purposing latex paints into workable products. WOW!!!

Miller does have a palette of 15 new colors, the “Color Now” collection. They also feature a “color of the month” that’s in their ColorEvolution collection. Other paint companies use flowery marketing words and flashy advertising to sell their paint. But for a local gal whose family always used Miller Paint, this is what I recommend if you are thinking about updating your home’s colors. Here’s a link where you can get more information about Miller Paint colors: https://www.millerpaint.com/color-choice.html

New Topics #1: Homeowner Problems (and how to avoid them!)

Hiring A Contractor Without Checking License and References

I’m so grateful to homeowners for providing me with current topics to talk about! Last week, I had a meeting with a homeowner who told me that her husband hired a contractor to build a deck for them and didn’t bother to check the contractor’s license status or check references. You’re way ahead of me! Yes, the project went sideways, and the homeowners don’t have any way to get the deck fixed other than hire another contractor. She didn’t tell me how much money they paid for a lousy deck, but I’m guessing it was thousands of dollars. The bottom line? Always verify a contractor’s license, bonding, and insurance status. Ask for and check references!

Verbal Change Orders

Recent Topics: Change OrderI received an email from a client, telling me that the contractor verbally told her about change orders that amount to over $1,000. Change orders do happen, unfortunately. There’s at least one mystery story behind the walls in every home. Change orders (even small ones!) need to be detailed in writing before the work is done! Change orders should include:

  • Written description of the work to be done
  • Breakdown for materials with a subtotal
  • Breakdown for labor, including the number of hours
  • The markup or margin
  • Total for the change order

There should be a place for you to sign and date the change order. You should get a copy for your records and the contractor should keep a copy.

These incidents were a motivator for me to add more questions to the “Questions For and About Contractors and Designers” that’s available as a free download. Recently, clients confirmed that having and using the questions was a big help. Experience has proven time and again that honest communication and having up-front information will ultimately make your project go smoother, with fewer hassles and cost overruns.

Do you provide detailed written change orders for extra work before it’s done? (For contractors and designers)

Were detailed, written change orders given to you in writing before the work was done? (About contractors and designers)

New Topics #2: Why Hire A Kitchen Designer?

Last week, I received a link to a wonderful article in Better Homes & Gardens, “Why Hire A Kitchen Designer.” The article doesn’t specify, but the same information is true for bathroom design. If you’re thinking about remodeling your home and you’re on the fence about hiring a professional designer, this article will change your mind! I’ve been saying these same things, and more, for years. So good to read it from a reliable, trusted source!

After reading the article, I signed up to receive more information from BH&G, and learned that they have 11 sweepstakes for you to enter. The prizes are significant! For all of the sweepstakes, there are no purchases necessary, but you may get emails from the companies offering the prizes. That’s the way marketing works in today’s world!

In Conclusion:

Doing this “recent topics mashup” was fun! I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and hope that it will help you.  Did you catch the difference in emphasis between Miller Paint and the other two companies?  Behr and Sherwin-Williams use sales-oriented words and phrases in advertising to evoke an emotional response to nature, relaxation and balance. But Miller actively practices all of these concepts with their commitment to make our world a better place, starting with employee owners who really care.

Podcast: Recent Topics — An Astounding Mashup For Homeowners!

Listen now!

The topics in this blog are all an important to what I do, to help you achieve a successful building or remodeling project. I’m here to help! Call me today to talk about your goals: 503-632-8801.

Kitchen Remodeling Expectations: Honest, Reliable Input

Kitchen Remodeling Expectations: Honest, Reliable Input

Kitchen remodeling expectations is a subject I talk about with homeowners at every first meeting with them. It’s not uncommon to hear this comment, “We’ve called several contractors about our kitchen, but they’re all busy right now.” The logical follow-up question is, “When do you want to start your project, and when do you want it finished?”

“When Do You Want Your Kitchen Remodeling Project Finished?”

Often, I hear this reply, “We want to start immediately, because we want our kitchen finished by the Holidays,” which usually means Thanksgiving. If you’ve just started on the journey to a remodeled kitchen and want your kitchen completed by Thanksgiving 2019, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s too late to be contacting contractors. Why?

How Long Does a Standard Kitchen Remodeling Project Take?

From start to finish, a standard kitchen remodeling project takes about 8 weeks to complete, if there are no structural changes, special features, or unforeseen challenges to overcome. To finish your kitchen the week before Thanksgiving, the contractor has to begin construction no later than October 3. If you’ve hired your design professional and contractor, and start planning today, August 6, you have less than a month to make hundreds of decisions about your kitchen remodeling for your designer to complete the plans before September 3 to allow time for plan check.

Here is a list of what happens before construction:

  1. Decide what you want, how much you want to invest, and when you want your remodeling project completed.
  2. Interview kitchen design professionals to find the best match for your needs.
  3. Make decisions about the scope of work and products that will be included in your kitchen remodeling.
  4. Interview contractors to find the best match for your needs.
  5. Prepare plans for estimates, permits, and construction.
  6. Get permits.

The Value of a Professional Kitchen Designer

Why should you hire a professional kitchen designer first? When you call contractors, they’ll ask if you have plans. Contractors know that you’ll expect an estimate. They also know that plans will help them prepare the estimate with more accuracy. Without plans, all they can give you is a “guesstimate,” a wide range of investment based on their experience, or the “Cost vs. Value” report. A kitchen designer has the training and experience to help you with all of your decisions and prepare the necessary plans, and much more, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). I’ll write and talk more about this in the very near future.

Realistic Time Allowances

Assuming that you’ve already hired a kitchen design professional who’s working on your plans, how long do you think it takes to hire a contractor? The quickest turnaround time I’ve ever experienced is three weeks from the first meeting until my clients hired the contractor who I recommended. We gave him a set of the preliminary plans, then he gave copies of the plans to his electrician, plumber, cabinet maker, and countertop fabricator for reliable numbers. Then he compiled the information into a detailed written estimate. If you’re interviewing multiple contractors, this step could stretch to several months.

It can take as little as one month to finalize the plans for permits and construction, but it can take longer than six months. Why? This relates to the amount of time you need to make decisions about all of the products for your kitchen remodeling project. The final plans should reflect every decision you’ve made. This assures that you’ll get the results you expect from your remodeling team. Here’s a list of your major decisions that should be included in the plans that are submitted for permits and construction:

  • Scope of your project (what you want to achieve, your goals)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights
  • Appliances
  • Cabinets
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Countertops and backsplash
  • Flooring and other surface finishes
  • Lighting
  • Special details

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Bottom line, you need to make decisions about all of the products, and the products should be ordered as soon as possible. Everything should be at the jobsite the day your contractor arrives with sledgehammer in hand to start demolition.

Everyone makes decisions in their own way. Only you know how easy or difficult it is for you to make decisions. This isn’t going to change. It’s part of your nature, and it’s okay. Do you like to take time to think about and investigate all options before making a decision? Or do you know that you want “Option A” the minute you see it? The amount of time required to make decisions directly impacts how long it takes to finalize your plans.

Allow Time For Plan Check

After your plans are completed, the Building Department has to check the plans so they can issue permits. It takes them about one month to review plans for “standard” projects. If your contractor is going to start construction on October 3, your plans must be submitted to the Building Department before September 3. If you can bear to read/hear this, I highly recommend that you take time to plan ahead for your home remodeling, and really be ready to “rock and roll” after the first of the year, or even into the springtime when the weather will be more cooperative.

Current Kitchen Remodeling Project

I just went through this process with current clients who decided to wait until spring to remodel their kitchen. It’s a good thing they did, because we ran into a challenge that caused delays in their appliance decision. In our first meeting, they expressed the desire for white appliances, including an induction range and a 33” wide french door refrigerator without ice and water in the door. After two weeks of searching and shopping, trying to find a white induction range, they decided to switch to stainless steel appliances. They finalized their decision about the range, hood, dishwasher, and the microwave oven, but the refrigerator became our next hurdle. The wife took on the monumental task of making a detailed spreadsheet of all the refrigerators available in their preferred style and size. Her spreadsheet included:

  • Dimensions
  • Storage area (cubic feet)
  • Fingerprint shield, yes or no
  • Consumer Report rating
  • Number of buyer reviews and overall rating

This is the type of research that I gladly do for my clients, to help them make informed decisions. It’s wonderful when clients take on a proactive task like this, but many homeowners don’t have the time or inclination, and prefer to pay me to do the research.

Kitchen Remodeling Schedule Setbacks

The timelines I’ve used assumes that construction will proceed smoothly. It might, but it might not. There are many unforeseen challenges that can affect a project at any time. Working within such a tight schedule, under pressure, important details can fall through the cracks, especially as we approach the holidays.

My award-winning book, “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling,” contains a multitude of stories about clients’ remodeling projects. I’m reminded of one kitchen in particular, that was scheduled to be finished before Thanksgiving: Homeowners made decisions about all of the products for their new kitchen. They hired a contractor and ordered all of the products. I finished the plans and the Building Department took only two weeks to issue permits. The contractor started work the week after Labor Day. Everything was going smoothly, until one of the subcontractors came to work although he wasn’t feeling well. He had the flu. Everyone involved with the project, including yours truly and the homeowners, got the bug. Of course, this set the project back about three weeks. The homeowners and their son celebrated Thanksgiving with the husband’s family.

Summary: Kitchen Remodeling Requires Realistic Expectations

In conclusion, it’s very important to plan ahead for your kitchen remodeling project, to follow logical steps I’ve outlined from the day you decide that you want to remodel. Allow yourself valuable time to make all your decisions. If you do this, you’re increasing your chances for successful results without hassles and regrets.

8/6/19 Podcast: Kitchen Remodeling Expectations: Honest, Reliable Input

I’m available to personally walk you through all of the steps of your kitchen remodeling project! Call me today! Let’s chat about what you want, when you want it, and how much you want to invest.

Conversation: Professional Contractor and Designer

Conversation: Professional Contractor and Designer

The Conversation Begins

The conversation between Larry Mock, a professional contractor, began over 13 years ago. I met him at a local NKBA meeting where we discovered that our attitude, experience and goals were similar. I knew that there would be opportunities for us to work together in the future.

Parallel Paths Reconnect

Larry and I worked together on projects, then our individual paths led in different directions for several years. Most of my new clients had already hired a contractor, and I did my best to work with them. But a good percentage of the contractors had undesirable business practices that led to problems during construction. I was working with contractors who would promise the earth and the stars, but their follow-through was severly lacking. Additionally, most of the contractors were bad communicators with my clients and me, which made the home remodeling experience frustrating for everyone. I vowed not to refer clients to these contractors. Then the opportunity to reconnect with Larry arose, when I was hired by wonderful homeowners in Hillsboro. I felt they deserved the best, so I contacted Larry. Fortunately, he was available. Our paths again connected.

With confidence, I referred Larry to the homeowners. He gave them  a detailed preliminary estimate based on the plans I provided him, and he prepared a comprehensive schedule for my clients and all of the subcontractors. They told me later that during their first conversation with Larry, he guaranteed transparency. This meant that there would be no surprises during their construction. He promised a lot, and he delivered everything he promised. Our clients were happy with the entire process, and they achieved the home remodeling results they wanted.

Podcast Interview: A Natural Progression of Ongoing Conversation

When I decided to re-launch the “Today’s Home” podcast several months ago, I sent Larry an email asking if he’d be interested in doing an interview. I was excited when he agreed to do it. It has been over four years since the last interview.  I was nervous about the technology involved in recording a phone interview with good sound quality. The conversation with Larry went well, but there’s room for improvement. Fortunately, I have Jay (my business and life partner), who is the best sound and technology resource.  We’ll work together to improve the “Today’s Home” interviews. For me, everything is about improvement, personally and professionally!

Interview Take-aways for Homeowners

This is why Larry and I feel that this interview is important, because it informs homeowners about important

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Summary

During the interview, Larry told us about his career and experience. He’s been a contractor for 45 years, starting out in Morgan Hill as a project manager for a company that built multi-million-dollar homes. He plans to turn his company over to his new employee when he retires, so he’ll have more time to volunteer with the SPCA. One particularly refreshing aspect of Larry’s personality is that he doesn’t let the drama of politics and the negative influences of our world de-focus his commitment to excellence. His professional goals are consistent: Provide the best service to all of his clients. This includes transparency, honesty, and excellent communication. Here is how you can contact Larry:

WEBSITE: Cascade Custom Remodel & Construction

PHONE: 503-473-5253

7/30/19 Podcast: Interview With Larry Mock

 

 

Contact me today, if you’re planning to remodel your home. I promise to provide honest, reliable information about your project, based on 35+ years as a professional designer.

Remodeling Questions and Answers

Kitchen After Remodeling

Two important remodeling questions happen  during first meetings with homeowners. They’re great questions! Sometimes I have to do research to answer a remodeling question specifically, but I love to do research because it provides information and builds confidence. For the two important remodeling questions,  I have answers that I’ve already researched and proved to be accurate.

REMODELING QUESTION #1:

“How long will it take to complete our project?”

There are two parts to the answer. The answer to the first part of the “how long will it take?” remodeling question focuses on how long it will take to complete the design phase of a project. There is no pat answer for this question, because it depends totally on the following four reasons:

Reason #1: How long it takes for homeowners to make decisions.

I’ve had clients who made decisions at lightning speed, and other clients who needed to think about every aspect of a decision. It’s totally personal. If you’re the type of person who needs all available information before you make a decision, then the design process will take longer, which will ultimately affect the start and finish dates for construction.

Reason #2: Meeting schedules.

In the perfect world, homeowners and their design professional should have regular meetings to stay on track. I like to meet with my clients weekly, but sometimes it’s not possible. I remember one couple who had very busy career schedules that involved a lot of travel. We were lucky to have one meeting a month! Unfortunately, a good percentage of the time was spent recapping what we’d discussed at the last meeting before we could proceed talking about other aspects of their project.

Reason #3: Building the “team.”

I like to get a contractor involved in the process as early as possible, so he or she can offer valuable information about the project. Scheduling meetings with contractors can consume a significant amount of time, but it’s necessary to help homeowners select who they’re going to hire.

Reason #4: Financing.

If you need or want to finance your project, start talking with financial institutions as soon as possible. Getting approved for a home equity loan can take a month or more, as current clients are discovering.

Specific Answers to Remodeling Question #1:

How long construction will take depends upon the size of your project. Allow at least:

  • 6 weeks for a guest bathroom or a powder room.
  • 8 weeks (minimum) for a master bathroom.
  • 8 – 10 weeks for a kitchen without an addition.
  • 12- 16 weeks for a kitchen with an addition.
  • 6 – 10 months for a major whole-house remodel with an addition.

Variables That Affect How Long Construction Will Take

Weather conditions

Unseasonable storms can play havoc with a project schedule. Weather in other parts of the country (or world) can affect transport of a particular product.

Product availability

Order all products well in advance of the construction start date and store them at the jobsite or get a definite delivery date for appliances, cabinets, and large plumbing fixtures. This is advice that many homeowners take lightly. Several times in my career, clients delayed their project because they neglected to select and order products. For some reason,  light fixtures cause a lot of anxiety.

When a supplier tells you that a product is “in stock,” it’s important to find out where it’s stocked and how long it will take to get the product to your home.

Unforeseen emergencies

All of the contractor’s employees and subcontractors got the flu. This delayed clients’ project for almost two months. The HVAC contractor caused delay of new home construction when his employee forgot to renew his boiler license.

Unforeseen framing problems

During demolition, discovering things like dry rot, termites, and poor framing can seriously affect the schedule, depending on the severity of the problem.

“While you’re here . . .”

When homeowners change their minds or add to the project scope, it can seriously affect the finish date. Contractors can also delay the project when they make recommendations that they know will increase the homeowners’ investment. Several years ago, my client’s contractor said to him,  “We can easily add a rooftop deck so you can enjoy the sunsets.” Fortunately, I learned about the conversation and asked the contractor to provide a written change order for the additional materials and labor plus an estimate of how much time it would add to the project completion. After seeing the change order, my client decided not to go ahead with the roof deck.

REMODELING QUESTION #2:
“How much will our project cost?”

The second important remodeling question that homeowners ask at the first meeting is, “How much will my project cost?” I recommend a shift in thinking from “cost” to “investment.” You are, after all, making an investment to  improve your home, and improve your lifestyle. That’s a worthwhile investment!

While I’m on the subject of changing your mindset, I’d like to recommend that you think of financial numbers you get from a contractor as an estimate, not a bid. There is a lot of competition among contractors who want you to hire them, but it should never become a bidding war.

Specific Answer to Remodeling Question #2 — A Great Tool

We’re fortunate to have a wonderful tool available to all of us, called the Cost vs. Value Report that’s been produced yearly since around 2001.  Why is it such a valuable tool? It provides:

  • A complete list of different home improvement projects, large and small.
  • Valuable investment and return-on-investment information for every region, and major cities within that region. You can see how your investment compares in your city to other cities in the region, and how your investment compares to national averages.
  • A description of the materials that are included and the square footage of the project. You can then derive a reasonable square footage investment for your project and do some basic math to help you define your budget.

When you click on the link to access the Cost vs. Value Report, after you select the city, the website will divert you to a page that requests demographic information. In all the years I’ve been using this report and referring it to hundreds of homeowners, no one has ever complained about ending up in  a “sales cycle” by sponsors of the report. If you do get unwanted sales contacts from any of the advertisers, please let me know and I’ll intercede on your behalf.

Remodeling Questions and Answers: A True Story

What follows is a true story about one project that was as good as it can get from beginning to end.

I met with homeowners in early April two years ago. They’d been thinking about and talking about remodeling their 1970s kitchen for several years and were prepared to get started immediately. After telling me how they wanted their new kitchen to function and look, they asked the two important remodeling questions that I’m accustomed to hearing.

When the wife asked remodeling question #1, “How long is it going to take to remodel our kitchen?” I had to preface my answer with a warning. Most contractors I knew were already scheduling projects to start in the fall and later, so they may not achieve their new kitchen until the following year. Their facial expressions clearly showed their disappointment, but the husband’s follow-up comment was optimistic, “I’m sure the right contractor is out there.” This motivated me to work hard and find the right contractor for them. Because their project also included updating the rest of  their home, I told them that their project would probably take three to four months instead of the normal eight to ten weeks. We agreed that it would be great to find an available contractor who was also a good project manager.

Then the husband asked remodeling question #2, “How much will we pay for all of this?,”  I shared what I knew from the “Cost vs. Value” report, that their kitchen remodeling project would be around $70,000, but the investment in the additional updating would bring the total to $130,000 or more. They were surprised that the number was so high, but took this information graciously. Honestly, at the end of the meeting, I wasn’t sure whether they would proceed with their project or not, but I really wanted to help them.

For the next several days, I contacted every contractor who had worked with me on projects in the past ten years, except the ones who I vowed to never work with again. You may know the type; they don’t:

  • Provide accurate investment estimates.
  • Know how to schedule a project and keep it on track.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Have employees or subs that work on all their projects.
  • Follow the details in design plans.
  • Respect homeowners’ property.

Yes, it’s true that I’ve worked with the best and the worst. The best will take the most challenging project and turn it into a dream-come-true. The worst will take any project they touch into a nightmare.

Found: A Great Contractor!

One of the contractors I contacted, Larry Mock, the principal of Cascade Custom Remodeling, had a large project fall through at the last minute because his clients got transferred to Southern California. He was available! Not only that, but I rediscovered what a professional he is. I was so excited, I called the homeowners. The wife answered and immediately said, “I was just about to call you and schedule our next appointment so you can take measurements of our home!” Talk about pieces of a puzzle falling together!

Larry met with the homeowners three weeks later, after I finished the preliminary plan, elevations, and perspectives. He prepared a detailed eight-page breakdown of their investment, and gave them a preliminary schedule.

The Project: On Time, Within A Reasonable Budget

In the three weeks that followed, I worked with the homeowners to select all of the products for their home. It was a real joy working with them! They were always upbeat and optimistic about everything! And they made quick decisions! At the same time, I finalized the design plans that included several virtual-reality perspectives. Here’s one of the perspectives I prepared:

Virtual-Reality Perspective

Larry finalized his estimate. Construction proceeded smoothly. Larry stayed on top of the schedule and communicated with everyone daily. It looked as if the project would be completed on schedule, in late September, until one of the fabricator’s employees dropped the table top. This meant that  the fabricator had to re-make the table top using a new slab. The fabricator squeezed new the table into their schedule and installed the replacement slab in less than a week.

The design phase for this remodeling project took only six weeks from the day I took measurements until I gave the final plans to the homeowners and Larry. Construction started on July 7 and final inspection happened on October 5, three months from beginning to completion. The homeowners’ total investment was $135,350.00.

Remember The Results

It’s gratifying when a project finishes on time within a reasonable budget, and gives homeowners the results they want. I’m happiest when I provide honest, reliable information that helps homeowners make informed decisions. This was one of the projects that I’ll always remember as an achievable goal when all of the stars align. It started with two important remodeling questions about “When?” and “How much?”

–oOo–

See the before and after photos of this project in my Portfolio.

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“Today’s Home” Podcast: Remodeling Questions and Answers

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Whole-House Remodeling Project

Homeowners’ Wishes Become My Goals

My clients were a couple who bought a new home in the location they wanted. They knew the whole house needed remodeling. Their blended family includes six adult children. They wanted to achieve a large addition for a dining room, enlarge the kitchen, and possibly enlarge the master suite above the kitchen. Shortly after they bought the home, they called me to design their whole-house remodeling project with major additions.

Homeowners’ Wish List:

  • A smart home, controlled by phones and pads
  • A dining room that would easily seat 16-18 people;
  • A larger kitchen with a dedicated coffee bar and more storage, and more usable countertop space
  • A larger deck for entertaining and a hot tub for the family
  • An updated living room with stacking doors
  • A home office for the wife
  • An updated master bathroom with a two-person shower and a separate makeup area
  • A multi-purpose guest bedroom and bathroom
  • A laundry room that’s accessible by everyone
  • More storage
  • A dedicated playroom with a large projector TV and theater seats
  • A storage area above the husband’s workshop in the garage

Challenges to Prevent The Whole-House Remodeling

I learned years ago to check with the building and planning departments before starting to design an addition. The planning official said that this home was close to a floodplain, and he’d need to see two things before giving us the go-ahead with the major additions:

◊ Preliminary plans of the proposed addition and deck;

◊ A positive report from a soils engineer that the proposed addition was okay.

It’s human to go ahead and assume that everything will be okay. But in this case, it wasn’t. The 760 square-foot addition came too close to the floodplain. The planning official said that he definitely needed to see a soil report. The homeowners weren’t happy with the situation, but they hired a soil engineer. The engineer drilled several holes down to 50 feet in the proposed addition area and discovered that the “soil” was mostly sand. The homeowners were devastated. They had bought a home, thinking it would be everything they always wanted. They had two choices: To resell the home, find another home, stay in this home, and make the best of it.

Challenges Overcome!

The Whole-House Remodeling Project Forged Ahead!

They took several weeks to talk about their alternatives and make a decision. I received an email telling me that they wanted to proceed but scale back their whole-house remodeling project severely. After getting that message, the first part of the meeting was uncomfortable for all of us, like trying to speak and understand a foreign language to build a strong bridge of communication. I felt the anguish they had experienced and listened to their story to gather information about our direction moving forward. By the end of the meeting, we had achieved a new level of understanding and compassion.

I went back to work to see how we could achieve what they wanted, using the original wish list we had compiled. The smart home and the workshop with a storage mezzanine above weren’t a problem, but the rest of the list was challenging.

Whole-House Remodeling Project Details Room By Room:

DINING ROOM: There was no way that the existing dining room would comfortably seat 16-18 people because it was landlocked. When I asked the homeowners if they would ever seat that many friends at the dining table, they responded that the only reason for needing a large dining room was for family gatherings. I widened the doorway between the adjacent entry hall. If two tables were placed next to each other and extended to the maximum possible into the entry hall, it would seat 18 people. A custom cantilevered cabinet is a beautiful display hutch with a granite countertop.

LARGER KITCHEN: The kitchen was expanded to be on the same plane as the garage, approximately five feet. We achieved this by cantilevering the floor joists and creatively framing a new roof over the kitchen so that the ceiling could be extended at the same height. This additional space gave the homeowners what they wanted. They chose custom gray cabinets, granite countertops, and porcelain tile with glass tile accents. A bonus in the kitchen is the heated countertop where they can sit for casual meals.

LARGER DECK: The planning department didn’t balk when we submitted the plans that included a new deck three times larger than the original deck because a structural engineer designed it for stability on unstable soil. The new deck has two sets of stairs: The large main stairway leads to the rear garden, and a side stairway leads to a concrete pad for the family hot tub.

LIVING ROOM: The homeowners found a manufacturer of stacking patio doors that met their requirements. They selected a new fireplace, and we designed the surround, mantel, and recessed AV controls that would be hidden by the flat-screen TV mounted on heavy-duty swing-arm support.

WIFE’S OFFICE: The original den, adjacent to the entry hall, became the wife’s office. She requested a larger side window so she could see the floodplain and the wildlife.

MASTER BATHROOM: New cabinets, countertops, plumbing, and lighting was designed to replace the existing double lavatories. A two-person shower replaced the existing 6-foot whirlpool tub. We replaced the double doors with a single 3-foot wide door that allowed the master shower to be amply deep. The existing window remained, and a new window was installed adjacent to the wife’s new generous makeup area.

WASTED SPACE CONVERTED TO A GUEST BEDROOM AND BATHROOM: This home had a large open area on the second floor, about 170 square feet, that was useless wasted space. The laundry room was adjacent to this room. I designed a wall along the upstairs hallway to enclose the room and converted the laundry room to a bathroom with a neo-angle shower.

LAUNDRY ROOM: Borrowing about 10 feet from the large room allowed enough space for a laundry room accessible from the hallway. It has storage cabinets, a large single sink, a built-in ironing center, and pull-down rods for air drying clothes.

PLAYROOM: The perfect location for this was a large corner bedroom separated from other bedrooms. A state-of-the-art ceiling projector and built-in speakers are the heart of the environment. We added a platform for two levels of comfy theater seats to watch TV, movies, and play video games on the humongous screen.

MORE STORAGE: One storage area is a cabinet that’s cantilevered into the garage for bulk purchases. It’s high enough so no one will bump their head. Another storage area was achieved by redesigning the upstairs hallway to allow the addition of two deep closets. The loft above the husband’s garage workshop will also provide a lot of storage for seasonal accessories, luggage, and more.

Success!

We worked on this whole-house remodeling project for 15 months. The plans I prepared totaled 26 pages on 24” x 36” paper. The plans included 40 interior elevations, four exterior elevations, and eight virtual-reality perspectives. The general contractor called me the day he went to the building department to talk with the building inspector. He said with excitement, “The plans were approved with no comments and no red marks!” He told me this is the first time in over 40 years that plans were approved quickly without requiring additional information or revisions. I was happy to hear this, but this has happened with my plans many times. Details are important!

It was a joy to attend the housewarming party, see the homeowners enjoying their new home, and witness the transformation’s guests’ reaction. One of the guests was the agent who helped the couple find this home. He told us he couldn’t believe that it was the same home. It was a major transformation that the couple will love and enjoy for years. This is what makes me happy when I know we’ve achieved my clients’ goals.

See all of the virtual-reality renderings I prepared for the project.

“See the Possibilities. Create a Positive Difference.”

If you have an existing or new home that you’d like to transform, I can help you! I listen and give honest feedback. I prepare detailed plans to help everyone involved in your project help you achieve your goals. Call me today to chat about your home remodeling desires!

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.

© 10/2016 D. P. Design – All Rights Reserved; Rev. 1/2021

 

Remodeled Kitchen For Empty-Nester Foodies

With their children enjoying successful careers after college, this couple could finally invest money in the remodeled kitchen they’ve wanted for a long time. The wife is a superior cook with a great sense of humor. While we worked together, I’d refer to her as an “Empty-nester Foodie.”

The Design Process

The couple knew it was time to remodel when their appliances died, starting with the refrigerator. The wife fell in love with a black stainless french-door refrigerator made by Samsung. The has a plethora of baking and cooking vessels, as well as numerous small appliances. Meetings at their home have been mouth-watering, hunger-making experiences. There was always something being cooked or baked, and I’ve often left our meeting with a full container of irresistible nibbles.

When the couple was looking for a new refrigerator, two years before they called me, the wife fell in love with black stainless steel, and decided that all of her new appliances would be that finish. These appliances look striking and the manufacturer, Samsung, has figured out how to make the finish impervious to fingerprints.

I helped them with the layout, and suggested installing the cooktop, hood, and below-counter oven on a 45-degree angle across the corner, which gave more room for cabinets and countertops on both sides. I also suggested moving the refrigerator to an opposite wall, so a microwave could be placed next to the refrigerator enclosure panels, to minimize the depth of the microwave cabinet. Here are challenges and solutions that transformed the kitchen:

Challenges and Solutions Exclusively for Empty-Nester Foodies

#1: The existing builder-grade oak cabinets had useless base corners, and the wall cabinets were dropped down from the ceiling 12”. Both features wasted potential storage.

The wife selected natural Forest Service Certified* Lyptus for the cabinets. The new wall cabinets and tall cabinets will go to the ceiling, providing more storage. The custom cabinets have soft-close doors and drawers and include:

◊  A pantry with rollout shelves for food and small appliances

◊  An angled pantry with a special area for key storage and electricity to charge phones and pads

◊  A standard-depth drawer with two layers for multiple sets of utensils

◊  A heavy-duty pop-up shelf for a stand mixer

◊  Dividers for serving trays, cookie sheets, muffin tins, etc.

◊  Rollout shelves in every base cabinet that isn’t a stack of drawers

◊  A swing-glide half lazy susan for accessible corner storage

◊  Two dedicated spice drawers (holding approx. 40 containers each)

#2: The existing countertop was “Pepto-Bismal” pink laminate.

The homeowners chose an off-white quartzite countertop that will allow the kitchen sink to be mounted below the countertop. Quartzite is natural stone that’s harder and more impervious to stains than granite. It’s also more expensive than other natural or man-made stones.

#3: A 42” table with four chairs was always in the way, especially if the wife needed to access small appliances she stored on a bookshelf adjacent to the back of the peninsula.

A built in “table” made of the countertop material was attached to the back of the peninsula, allowing the peninsula to be moved toward existing windows approximately 12” – this gave more area for storage, and more countertops for preparation and cleanup.

#4: Kitchen lighting was one surface-mounted fluorescent strip which led to shadows where the family needed to work on the countertops.

The new kitchen was improved with dimmable LED self-adhesive strip lighting to light the countertops and provide indirect lighting. There are three dimmable LED pendant fixtures over the peninsula, and six dimmable LED recessed fixtures, in addition to a new dimmable LED chandelier in the eating area.

Products Chosen

All the appliances are black stainless steel, except the dishwasher, which will have a custom panel to match the cabinets. Here’s a list of what they selected:

36″ Magnetic Induction Cooktop

42″ Hood

30″ Oven (installed below the cooktop)

Microwave-convection Oven

Dishwasher

Success for a Deserving Couple!

The couple made sacrifices to educate their children. They provided the best meals possible in a dysfunctional, outdated kitchen. It was finally time to do something for themselves, so they can prepare five-star meals for their family and friends without hassles. It’s a unique remodeled kitchen for empty-nester foodies!

*DESIGN TIP: Many wood species, especially exotic imported ones, are grown in controlled forests so they don’t deplete the trees growing in rain forests. If you are interested in using an exotic wood for cabinets and furniture, please verify that it has the authentic Forest Service Certified (FSC) designation, and verification of where the trees are grown.

If you’re finally ready to remodel your kitchen and want to maximize every inch of space, call me today to talk about your project and hear how I can help you!