How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories?

How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories? 1

How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories?

How can you avoid construction horror stories? You can do it! These are not the typical ghost stories you hear around a campfire. But you may have heard your family and acquaintances talk about construction horror stories at social gatherings.  Exceeing the budget. Not meeting the deadline. Contractors not showing up, or doing lousy work. D-I-Y disasters. In 35 years, I’ve heard and read about, and experienced similar horror stories. What makes me sad is that most of the problems encountered could have been avoided.

Avoidable Horror Story: Wallpaper That Ended Up On the Floor, Not The Wall

I worked for a custom cabinet and remodeling company after finishing design school. It was fall and business had slowed down from the peak summertime projects. A couple in Half Moon Bay, California had been saving for years and hired my employer to remodel their master bathroom. I helped them make all the product decisions which included heavily-textured vinyl wallcovering. The husband worked swing shift at the San Francisco Airport, and normally got home between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. Knowing that the project was winding down, he went into the bathroom to see what had been done when he got home from work. Later, I found out that he sat on the toilet for over four hours, watching the wallpaper slide down the walls like a slithering snake. When he called me at 6:00 a.m., it was easy to tell that he had a hard time controlling his anger.  What had happened?

I learned later that my boss had sent two of the cabinet manufacturing employees to install the wallcovering. They assumed that it was prepasted, and soaked it in water then applied it to the walls. The only thing that made the wallpaper stick to the wall was the heavy texture that acted like tiny suction cups! My boss had to replace the wallcovering, and hire a professional wallpaper hanger to redo the job that his employees had botched.  The homeowners were satisfied with the results, but not without frustration and hassles. They had done absolutely nothing wrong, assuming that my employer would take care of them in every way.

How to avoid this nightmare: Unfortunately, there’s no way for homeowners to know who a contractor is hiring, unless they ask for a list of everyone who’s going to be working in their home. The important lesson is — whether it’s a contractor or a homeowner — don’t let the lure of saving money cloud an important decision that has a high probability of negative results.

A Ghoulish Tale About Lack of Communication

With my first client after establishing D. P. Design, I learned the importance of communication among the remodeling team members. The homeowners had a general contractor who they wanted to hire. They demanded to hire an independent electrician for their project instead of letting the general use one of his subs.  I didn’t realize until later what a problem it would create. The G.C. and the electrician refused to communicate. Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly, until a heavy storm system rolled through our area. The day before, the electrician was penetrating the roof and running wires into the kitchen and didn’t tell anyone about the holes he’d created. The contractor called me to report that the new custom cabinets were all wet. He demanded that I call the electrician and the homeowners to report what had happened, to let them know that he wasn’t going to clean up the mess.

The homeowners were caught in the middle of a dog fight.  They demanded that the electrician pay the G.C. for cleaning up the jobsite and repairing the roof. Fortunately, the cabinets weren’t damaged.

How to avoid horror stories like this: Ask questions — lots of them! Discover if the contractor you’re hiring has employees and regular subcontractors. More important, talk with the contractor about tradespeople or suppliers you know. Be especially careful about hiring friends or family members to work on your project. These relationships have a high failure rate.

The Root of Most Construction Horror Stories: D-I-Y

In the past 35-plus years, I’ve heard and read about D-I-Y horror stories, and I’ve lived them firsthand. Often, the decision to tackle a project is driven by the need or desire to save money. But homeowners can also be lulled into a false sense of  “I/we can do this!” — especially after watching how easy a project seems to be on TV or videos on the internet.  My husband and I have had our share of construction horror stories. Most of these nightmares happened because we thought we could save money. We didn’t!

I’ve written about D-I-Y remodeling disasters before! Read this blog for more information! I’ve also written about the problems created by remodeling reality shows setting homeowners up for serious problems.

Floors are a BIG Challenge For D-I-Yers!

We had major problems refinishing the wood floors in our first home.  Looking back on it, we can laugh. But at the time, it was not funny. The first disaster was when we were refinishing the floors in a den adjacent to the entry hall that we intended to convert to a dining room. The oak strip floor had been covered with carpeting and needed to be freshened up. My husband did the sanding around the perimeter of the room. I decided to sand the middle of the room with the drum sander we’d rented, while he was at work.  Everything was going fine until I had to change the sandpaper and didn’t pay attention to how the metal plate held the sandpaper in place. When I turned on the machine again and started moving the sander across the floor, I noticed big chunks of the floor were being spewed out. The screws that held the plate in place were digging and carving the floor with every pass! There was nothing to do but pay a flooring company to extend the parquet from the entry hall into the dining room.  It turned out beautiful, but it was an expensive learning lesson.

Did we learn a lesson? Yes, and no. We didn’t make the same mistake when we refinished the floors in my home office, but that project turned into a horror story, too. After we sanded the floor, we decided to work together to apply the urethane. I was on my hands and knees with a wide brush intended for refinishing floors. My husband stood over my shoulder and carefully poured puddles of urethane that I then spread uniformly. So what was the problem? I noticed that no matter how hard I tried, there were millions of “fuzzies” in the finish. My husband was wearing wooly socks! We had to re-sand the floor and vacuum it thoroughly before applying the urethane. This time, my husband was barefoot! We got the results we wanted, but it cost more for extra days for the drum sander rental, plus more urethane. And it nearly tripled the amount of time we’d allotted to do this project.

A friend of ours had a floor refinishing disaster when he was doing repair and maintenance for his landlord in exchange for a lower rent. He lived in a beautiful Victorian three-story home that had been converted into apartments. Victorian homes are known for rich and ornate woodworking that includes heavily-carved wainscoting and moldings. Everything seemed to be going fine — didn’t we just read this? — until the drum sander stopped working. Dead. Then Ed remembered the age of the building and realized that he’d probably blown a fuse. So he went down to the electrical panel in the basement and verified that he had blown a fuse. Fortunately, there were spare fuses available, so he replaced the bad fuse with a good one. Immediately after the last turn of the fuse, he heard the drum sander come to life over his head. Although he immediately ran up the stairs, he was too late to stop the mess that the sander had created. It had bounced off the walls, tearing up all the beautiful woodwork, and dug a trench in the floor.

“Let’s Take Out This Wall” D-I-Y Near-Disaster

Homeowners called me to help them solve a problem they’d created. Empty-nesters with a five-bedroom home, they decided to convert a bedroom that was adjacent to their master bedroom into a sitting room. They bought or borrowed a sledge hammer, and on a Saturday morning, the husband started swinging the massive tool of destruction at the wall between the two rooms. After removing several studs, he heard the ceiling and roof creaking and groaning, and he could see the ceiling sagging. He realized that he was taking out a bearing wall! He immediately grabbed a hammer and nails and reinstalled the studs to stabilize the structure. When I met with the couple, we talked about what needed to be done: hire a structural engineer and a contractor so they could have the master suite they desired. It was relatively easy, and the end results were wonderful. They didn’t know what they didn’t know, and they hadn’t thought about everything before they started removing the bearing wall. They ended up replacing the carpeting in both rooms, because they didn’t realize that there would be a gap where the wall had been.

Hints, How-To, and Tips for D-I-Yers

How To Avoid D-I-Y Disasters: Yes, it’s difficult. But not impossible! Before tackling  any D-I-Y project, we need to research the logical steps involved and the tools required. We also need to read about other people’s experience with a similar project. The biggest challenge to overcome is our mindset.  What’s really driving the need to do the work instead of hiring a professional? There are many reasons why homeowners get trapped by D-I-Y projects, but the most obvious one is money, or the lack of funds to hire a professional. Before doing the work, think about how much you have for the project, and how much you think you’re going to save. Statistics verify that most D-I-Y projects end up being a higher investment than the budget allotted. Often, the actual investment exceeds what homeowners would pay a professional to do the work. Additionally, it usually takes three to four times as long for homeowners to achieve the results they think they want.

One of my first instructors in design school frequently said, “There are only two ways to pay for anything. You can take it out of your bank account, or take it out of your hide.”  Not all D-I-Y projects are disasters. The successful projects are most often done by people who know their strengths and weaknesses. My husband is an excellent tile setter. Slow, yes. But he takes his time to do it right, and gets  consistently straight grout joints. And he’s a master with a spray gun, whether it’s applying paint to a room or lacquer to cabinets. But I don’t let him lay his hands on rollers and brushes!  He’s also very knowledgeable about anything electrical or electronic. Because of his talents, we’ve saved a bundle of money over the years.

I’m going to be brutally honest. As a D-I-Yer, you’re not likely to achieve the same results that a professional would, in the amount of time it would take a professional to do the job. What is your time worth? Are you willing to live with a daily reminder of a botched job? My husband says this often, mostly in reply to a “honey do” request: “If you want a professional job, hire a professional.” Here’s one of my favorite quotes that applies to virtually all construction horror stories:

The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

In Conclusion

What I shared with you is a very small sampling of construction nightmares that I’ve heard and read about. To satisfy  curiosity before writing this blog, I did an internet search for “construction horror stories” which yielded millions of results. But reviewing the past 35 years in this business, the number of successes that my colleagues and I have achieved exceeds horror stories by a ten-to-one ratio.  To be perfectly honest, I believe that there are very few absolute successes and absolute failures.  The desire, the hope for success is what keeps us all moving forward.

Listen To The Podcast: Construction Horror Stories

I can and will help you with your home building or remodeling project! I truly care about helping you stay within a reasonable budget, and achieve the best results possible. Contact me today! Let’s talk about your goals.

Ten Awesome Remodeling Products For 2019

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Ten Awesome Remodeling Products for 2019

Ten awesome remodeling products are featured in this blog. Pro Remodeler recently listed 100 products, but most of them are for people in the construction industry, or products I’ve written about before. Honestly, the selections were disappointing. Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s a sign of the times. I selected these to help you plan for an upcoming (or future) home improvement project.  There’s everything from appliances to plumbing, exterior products, and flooring.  Every one of these wonderful products will enhance your home and your lifestyle!

Unique Remodeling Product #1: New Color Introduced By Whirlpool Appliances

Whirlpool is touted as the No.1-rated appliance brand and used in three out of four homes, according to independent studies. Whirlpool brands, including Amana, Maytag, KitchenAid, and JennAir, provide a full range of major kitchen appliances. There’s versatility that gives you choice from multiple styles and colors across multiple price points. Many of the products are designed and manufactured to be compatible with other smart home features.

Whirlpool Kitchen Appliances in Sunset BronzeA full suite of Whirlpool kitchen appliances is available in the new Sunset Bronze,  a fingerprint-resistant brushed satin finish with subtle warm undertones that reflect natural light, delivering a soft glow. I hope that this color becomes popular with other manufacturers, just as black stainless steel has. I’m going to visit the local appliance showroom to see how the new Sunset Bronze looks with different woods and colors, and will report my findings to you. Whirlpool has  a wide selection of appliances in  Black Stainless and Stainless Steel, too.

Whirlpool gets an A+ for this new finish, but they get an F for showing a microwave over the cooktop or range. I’ve written about this before; it’s definitely a negative safety and function issue! https://www.whirlpool.com/kitchen.html

 Bosch Oven With Side-opening Door#2: Unusual Side-Opening Oven Improves Accessibility

A complete suite of kitchen appliances from Bosch delivers thoughtful details, such as the Benchmark series’ side-opening oven doors and flush installation. This is perfect for access by people with limited mobility. Various finishes are available for wall ovens, cooktops, refrigerators, and dishwashers, including the popular Black Stainless Steel. Manufacturers have listened to consumers about wanting finishes that guard against scratches and fingerprints. Bosch also offers small-scale appliances for apartments, ADUs, and other tight spaces. https://www.bosch-home.com/us/

Azek Deck Waterproofing ProductsAmazing Product #3: Capture And Use The Space Under A Deck!

Azek’s under-deck water management system definitely qualifies for a marvelously unique product! It’s available in white to help brighten under-deck areas. Ideal for second-story decks, the system channels water under the deck boards to a gutter and downspout. It’s a great idea! The “DrySpace” system can be used with Azek and TimberTech decking. Using it with natural wood decking or other brands of manufactured decking may negate any warranties. It’s best to check with the manufacturer before committing to use this product. Kits are available for 12-inch on-center spans in 12-foot lengths and for 16-inch on-center spans in 12- and 16-foot lengths. https://www.azek.com/

Cabinet-Tronix Exterior TV Lift

Stunning Product #4: Fantastic Exterior TV Lift System

With so many outdoor living spaces being created, it makes sense to have a TV as part of the ambiance.  A patio cover to protect the TV may not be possible, so what do homeowners do? Here’s a wonderfully unique system: a TV lift cabinet that’s meant for ourdoor use! Cabinet Tronix has introduced 10 handmade outdoor TV lift cabinet designs. There are multiple weatherproof material options for both the cabinet top and bottom, to seamlessly incorp­orate into a homeowner’s outdoor space. Materials include porcelain tile that mimics the look of wood, and Honey Natural Stacked Stone. Each cabinet is fitted with a TV lift system and backed by a 10-year warranty. The company also makes lift systems for interior use.  https://www.cabinet-tronix.com/

Strong-Tie Outdoor Accents

Extraordinary Product #5: Enhance A Pergola With Wonderful Accents

A pergola or pavilion can create an outdoor room while it enhances your garden. But the structural connectors have to look good as well as provide the long-lasting strength you need for safety. Simpson Strong-Tie, a longtime leader in structural connectors for contractors and engineers, has developed the “Outdoor Accents” system to provide both beauty and strength for outdoor projects using nominal and rough lumber sizes. The line features an innovative screw and washer combination that has the look of a traditional bolt but doesn’t require pre-drilling to ease installatio. The connectors also meet building codes for high-wind and seismic conditions. Available in a black powder-coated finish. https://www.strongtie.com/products/go/connectors/outdooraccents

Delta Magnificent Product #6: “Tesla” Plumbing

Delta’s “Tesla” Collection is a full line of bath (and kitchen) faucets that draws inspiration from organic forms found in nature. These marvelously unique products have a soft yet modern look that fits users’ hands for maximum control. They incorporate innovations that result in easier installation and better performance. Diamond Seal Technology reduces leak points and lasts twice as long as the industry standard for leak-free operation for the life of the faucet. The “Tesla” collection is available in chrome, polished nickel and stainless steel. https://www.deltafaucet.com/search-results?searchTerm=tesla&searchType=Delta_Products#resultPage=1&offset=0

Kohler Continuous-Clean ToiletsWonderful Product #7: Continuous-Cleaning Toilet Minimizes Your Effort

A housecleaning chore that everyone dislikes is scrubbing the toilet. Kohler has released its ContinuousClean technology, a system housed directly in the toilet tank. It automatically dispenses a consistent amount of toilet bowl cleaner with each flush. A three-step process keeps it simple: (1) Insert two puck-style toilet bowl cleaning tablets; (2) set the dial to the desired dispensing level; and (3) monitor the blue LED indicator light on the back of the tank to ensure the system is working. The light will turn red when it’s time for new tablets. The system houses the tablets in a reservoir separate from other toilet components to ensure that toilet performance is not affected. It operates on two AAA batteries, so no access to outlets is necessary. https://www.us.kohler.com/us/s?Ntt=continuous+clean&Ns=onSale%7C1%7C%7CP_is_AddToCart%7C1%7C%7Cnew_product_s%7C1

Cali Bamboo FlooringSpectacular Product #8: Fantastic Herringbone Bamboo Flooring

Cali Bamboo launched several new bamboo floors, including two—Riverwood (shown) and Outer Banks—made for herringbone-style installations. The other new floors are Savanna, Bordeaux, Bourbon Barrel, and Treehouse. All feature solid Fossilized bamboo construction, Cali’s proprietary manufacturing technique, which the firm says is the world’s hardest floors. Herringbone wood flooring is ideal for formal living rooms and dining rooms. The flooring is backed by a 50-year residential warranty and a 15-year commercial warranty. https://www.calibamboo.com/bamboo-flooring.html

California Faucets Hot-Cold DispenserImpressive Product #9: Cold-Hot Water Dispenser

California Faucets has added the Combination Hot and Cold Water Dispenser to its Kitchen Collection. It sports a single-handle design for a streamlined look. Homeowners may select a traditional or modern faucet body, and choose a handle from nearly a dozen options, ranging from traditional-style Porcelain Lever to contemporary Black Blade and Stick designs. Over 30 artisan finishes are available, one reason why California Faucets has always been a favorite manufacturer for my clients. Dispensers are solid brass and hand-finished at the firm’s U.S. factory. http://www.calfaucets.com/product/traditional-style-single-handle-combo-hot-and-cold-water-dispenser-9623-k10-xx

Elkay Farmhouse SinkImposing Product #10: Farmhouse Sink With Flexible Design

Elkay has unveiled the awesome Crosstown Stainless Steel Farmhouse Sink with Interchangeable Apron (shown). Homeowners may choose from a mix of seven different materials and colors, enabling them to change the apron in minutes for a new look to match the season or their own personal style. The company has also introduced its Quartz Luxe Single and Double Bowl Sink, available in metallic-flecked Silvermist or deep Jubilee colors to enliven any kitchen. http://www.elkay.com/farmhouse

In Conclusion:

I hope these ten awesome remodeling products inspire  and help you as you make product choices for your  home.  If you see any products that you’d like to share, please let me know with a comment (below). You can also send me an email: diane@dp-design.com.

“Today’s Home” Podcast: Ten Awesome Remodeling Products for 2019

Product research is one of the many things I love, to help you make informed decisions. Contact me today! Let’s talk about what you want to achieve!

Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

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Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

Music is the best solutionMusic is a profound and powerful influence in our lives. From birth until death, music is there at every stage to comfort, inspire, motivate us in the most personal expression of who we are.  Music has been the most important part of my life. I started taking piano lessons when I was 8. My first teacher was my godmother, Mama Chinn. She taught me the basics of technique and timing. Her greatest gift, though, was a love of music that has endured. That’s what music is all about. It touches us in ways that nothing else can. It’s a universal language that everyone understands. It’s the loom upon which our individual fibers are woven into the miraculous, colorful tapestry that blankets our precious earth.

Podcast Discussion With Jay Plesset

I asked my husband, Jay, to join me on this week’s podcast, because he’s the most knowledgeable person I know about this subject. Not just music, but how we listen to music. Music is what brought us together! I met Jay after I moved to San Francisco and had problems with my stereo picking up truck drivers’ CB discussions. He was the only one who was able and willing to help me. The rest, as broadcaster Paul Harvey said, is a wonderful story.

Paul McCartney Music

Music is the voiceLast week, Jay and I were fortunate to tune into a rebroadcast CBS program produced by James Corden that featured Paul McCartney. If you’re a Beatles fan, I know you’ll love it. Everywhere they went – okay, they were in Liverpool! – crowds of people gathered around. Paul was so gracious with everyone. Don’t know how word got out when they visited Paul’s childhood home, but the streets were lined with cheering fans of all ages. Yes! And in the local pub where Paul and his band played shortened versions of many Beatles’ hits, the audience included old and young, and every generation in between. Wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the room had four generations of Beatles’ followers. This is a tiny example of music’s influence.

It’s obvious that Paul McCartney loves music. When he talks about it, when he plays it, his inner light shines. Did you know that he’s composed classical music? His first was the “Liverpool Oratorio,” in 1991, followed by “Standing Stone,” recorded in 2001, and “Behold My Heart” that was recorded in 2007. He has a new composition, commissioned by the New York City Ballet, “Oceans Kingdom.” All of his music has been at the top of different charts.

We are lucky to be surrounded by thousands of composers of all genres. We fall in love with music for the way it touches our soul, whether it’s country, rock, blues, jazz, spiritual, cultural, or classical, or a mashup of them. Many composers and performers cross over from one genre to another, like Paul McCartney has over the past 59 years. As the oldest daughter in an alcoholic family, I could tell Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Debussy and Rachmaninoff about everything that burdened me. After hours of conversation with them at my old upright piano, I stepped away feeling and knowing that everything would be all right. Have you had similar experiences in your life, where music has helped you get through tough times?

Mannheim Steamroller Music

Jay and I met because of a shared love of music. When we started dating, he introduced me to Mannheim Steamroller. I’ll never forget our drive through the Sequoias National Park in his convertible, listening to “Fresh Aire,” on a hot day in July. The air was heavy with the aroma of the evergreen trees. We have been avid fans of Mannheim Steamroller to this day. When I decided to launch “Today’s Home,” my internet radio program, they allowed me to use “Wolfgang Amadeus Penguin” as the theme song. Every time I hear it, I’m filled with child-like glee, wanting to get up and march around the room.

Music’s Inspirational Influence

Music can change the worldMusic inspires us, motivates us, connects us in ways that nothing else can. I love this quote from Leopold Stokowski, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” Music is a very personal form of creative self-expression, whether we’re listening to it or playing an instrument. Whether we’re in a large auditorium with 30,000 other people, or riding alone in our car on the way to work. Whether we’re “rockin’ out” to the oldies while we clean our home, or centering ourselves with soft meditation music in the middle of the night.

Several years ago, after I learned about Louise Hay’s positive affirmations, I decided to record them to overcome the anxiety that’s plagued me most of my life. The recordings were okay, but became a listening staple after I added soft background music. Last year, when we had a special dinner, we played the same music. I have made a list of this music for you as a personal gift. All of our guests commented about how the music created an unforgettable ambiance. I’m fortunate that Jay knew how to create this ambiance in our home. One of his first jobs after college was making Infinity speakers, before he went to work at Sound Systems in San Francisco. We have speakers in every room (and outside) that can play from anywhere through a small computer, an “Orange Pi.”

Jay is a member of a worldwide group called D-I-Y Audio. He learned about the “Raspberry Pi” from another member who used this small computer – the size of a deck of cards – to access his massive collection of music. We also have a massive collection of cd’s and vinyl records. It’s fantastic to have everything so easily accessible! Jay tells all about it in our podcast discussion; to listen to the podcast, just click on the link below!

When I’m in the mood for loud music like Blue Man Group, Japanese Taiko drum recordings, or the sound track from “Blast,” all I have to do is turn up the volume and sit in the living room. Jay figured out how to turn four non-structural columns into sub-woofer enclosures, with 10-inch Dayton Audio speakers. Right now, we’re using KEF 101’s as the satellites until Jay finishes building new speakers. Can’t wait to hear it! Jay has provided links to sites where he’s purchased audio parts:

Parts Express

Meniscus Audio

Madisound Portal

The true beauty of musicTechnology has made it possible for more of us to enjoy music anywhere without investing a fortune – unless we want to. Not going to bore you with statistics. You know how you love to listen to music, and you know what to listen to, to help you get through the daily challenges that life presents. The absolutely glorious thing about music in our world today is its universality, its ability to touch the spirits of everyone around the world instantaneously, simultaneously. Music doesn’t care what our cultural heritage is, or what political party we belong to. While we’re listening, we’re connected to everyone else who is, has been, or will be listening to the same music.

Music is the greatest gift we have!

Listen Now!

“Today’s Home” Podcast: Music: Profound, Powerful Influence In Our Lives

 

I care about helping you achieve your home improvement dream! Contact me today to talk about your goals.

The Exciting World of Color Revealed

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The Exciting World Of Color Revealed

Color: we’re surrounded by it every waking moment. Sometimes we dream in color. As I sit here, looking out the window, I see hundreds, maybe thousands of different green hues, and a beautiful blue sky with cotton-ball clouds. Color is something we take for granted, unless we lose our sight. The 1965 movie “A Patch of Blue” had a big impact on me in many ways. It’s about a young woman, Selina D’Arcey, who’d tragically lost her eyesight at the age of five and remembered colors, especially the color of the sky. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend that you rent or buy it.

How We See ColorHow Do We See The Exciting World of Color?

I’m not going to belabor the physics of color. We’ve got a lot of information to cover! As I said during last week’s podcast, it’s impossible to see color without light. In a technical paper, Pantone says, “Light receptors within the eye transmit messages to the brain, which produces the familiar sensations of color. Newton observed that color is not inherent in objects. Rather, the surface of an object reflects some colors and absorbs all the others. We perceive only the reflected colors.” Statistically, 1 in 8 men and 1 in 200 women has color vision deficiency. My husband is red-green deficient, which means he should never try to pick ripe strawberries or raspberries, and I have to help him read the colors on resistors when he’s building electronics.

Experts say that we can see about 1000 levels of light-dark, 100 levels of red-green, and 100 levels of yellow-blue for a single viewing condition in a laboratory. This means that the total number of colors we can see is about 1000 x 100 x 100 = 10,000,000 (10 million).

Color Theory

Amazon lists over 50,000 books about color for all ages plus 25 professions that rely on color. Color theory is the art and science of using color. It includes how colors mix, match, and contrast, as well as what each particular hue communicates. Color is really about perception, and how it’s interpreted by our minds. Most of us have fascination about color, how it can affect us physically and psychologically. We can see a single color and react to it, but it’s different colors and their relationship to each other, color harmonies and the color wheel, that affect us most. Color theory is the basis to find the ideal combinations.

Color WheelThe Color Wheel and Color Harmonies

The color wheel dates back to 1666, when Isaac Newton mapped the color spectrum into a circle. This color wheel is the basis for understanding the relationships between colors.

When colors complement each other well, they are said to be in harmony. Using the rules of color combination, captivating harmonies are established. There are several color combinations that professionals use to create and enhance our built environment, including:

Complementary: Matching two colors on opposites sides of the color wheel for high contrast, allowing each color to seem brighter when used together; red-green, blue-orange, yellow-purple. These combinations are often seen at holidays.
Split Complementary: Matching a color with colors on either side of the complementary color: yellow with red-purple and blue purple.
Monochromatic: Different values of the same color, light to dark.
Analogous: Colors that are side by side on the color wheel; for the best combinations, it’s best to use one dominant color with at least two accents
Triadic: hues evenly spaced on the color wheel for high contrast, but not as intense as complementary; yellow with blue and red, green with purple and orange.
Tetradic: using four shades evenly spaced on the color wheel; again, for the best combinations, choose one dominant and three accents. Example: yellow-orange with red-violet, blue-violet, and yellow-green

Munsell Color TreeProfessional Tools To Create The Exciting World Of Color

The color system I’ve used for over 35 years was developed by Professor Albert H. Munsell in 1912. It’s based on a three-dimensional model depicted in the Munsell color tree. Each color has three qualities or attributes:

Hue – the color name such as red, orange, yellow, etc.
Value – the lightness (tint) or darkness (shade) of a color
Chroma – the saturation or brilliance of a color . When complementary colors are mixed in equal amounts, the resulting color is gray.

An alternative color system is Pantone. I’ve used their graphic system for printed material and my website that cross-reference colors with red-green-blue or hex codes. And I’ve used their fashion system for home interiors, although the selection of pastel and very light colors is severely limited. Fortunately, I can find the Pantone color in a manufacturer’s fan deck that has the darkest shade to the lightest tint of that color.

Every year, Pantone selects one color to be the “color of the year.” For 2019, they chose “Living Coral,” which they describe with superior marketing words so consumers cannot live without its deliciousness. Professionally, I don’t care what color name is given to a color. What really matters is helping my clients find the right colors for their environment.

When I was attending design school, I learned about the Ameritone “Color Key” system that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, the company was bought out and the system was discontinued. But it made a lot of sense at the time. Color Key 1 colors were blue-based. The fan deck contained every color possible except orange. Color Key 2 colors were yellow-based. The fan deck contained every color possible except pink. I still have the fan decks and the paraphernalia, in case anyone ever brings back the Color Key system. They’re now 39 years old!

Colorful Paint CansColor Names Are For Consumers

Picking a paint color to roll onto the walls of your home can be tough—so many hues to choose from! And it’s not just about the color. A paint color’s name matters, too. Years ago, a client asked me, “Can my new master bathroom be painted ‘pongee’?” She knew what she was thinking about, a silk that can vary from almost white to tan with a hint of gray. At that time, none of the paint manufacturers had “pongee” as a specific color. I replied, “Sure, I can come up with colors that blend with ‘pongee,’ but you’ll have to provide me with a sample.” She did, and we found countertops, tile, and wall paint that she loved; it was a monochromatic color scheme.

I’ve always imagined people sitting around a big conference table, looking at paint chips and tossing out the first name that comes to mind. But a lot of thought and deliberation goes into picking the right name to describe each hue. It’s serious business. Paint companies employ color specialists, and review studies and test group results to craft not only the colors they make, but also the names they give to each.

Color names play with our emotions, because these feelings get us to purchase the paint. I try to hide the names on the back of color chips, but my clients always turn the chips over to see the name. I’ve had many clients change their mind, even when I knew a color was perfect for their home, because the name had negative connotations for them. “If you love a color and you connect with the name, then that’s a bonus,” says Dee Schlotter, Pittsburg Paint’s senior color marketing manager.

Color experts are bringing up color associations we all have to things in the world, which trigger a mood. Sales of paint totals an estimated $30 billion annually. Because there are dozens of paint lines to choose from, you can understand how competitive the industry is and why naming paint colors is serious business for manufacturers. “Names can typically be sorted into four descriptive categories: visual, geographical, emotional, and experiential,” says Diana Olvera, Behr’s color marketing manager.

70s Earth Tones Color SchemeThe Exciting World of Color: Trends

We all succumb to the influence of trends, but the most obvious one is color. You can paint your walls with Pantone’s “Living Coral” this year, and Pantone’s new color of the year next year, and so on. Paint is one of the least expensive and most dramatic ways to change your home, inside and out. Choosing the right color is a big challenge for homeowners, because there are thousands of choices from each of the ten major paint manufacturers. This is probably why we give in to color trends, because it makes our decision a little easier.

Can you remember the:

Psychedelic colors of the ’60s?
Earth tones of the ’70s (harvest gold, avocado green and coppertone appliances)?
Southwestern look of the ’80s?
Dirtied colors of Seattle’s “grunge” movement in the early 1990s, or the reactionary lime green and chartreuse in the mid-1990s?
Minimalist movement that began at the end of the 1990s led by “Cerulean Blue”?

The minimalist influence continued into – and past – 2000. Neutral colors, mostly tints and shades of beige, were popular, accented by bright jewel-tone colors. 2010 began the popularity of cool gray that’s still fashionable today. While gray may be with us longer, it’s becoming warmer and more livable as a background color for other more vibrant colors. I’m always concerned when clients choose a trendy color scheme for their kitchens and bathrooms, because trends will change. Gradually, the love they have for their newly-remodeled home will become dissatisfaction, leading to another major renovation. I guess that’s what keeps us in business!

The allure of color has long been a fascination in the home remodeling world. While you may walk into a room and think that the colors were randomly chosen, that’s not the case. Many color choices are made because of personal preference, but when it comes to combining colors, much more thought and care are taken, to align the colors, lighting, and textures with color theory.

Color In Your Home

Color is vital in the design of a space, bringing it to life and telling a story. There are so many opportunities to use color in rooms. While walls offer the most obvious canvas, there are many other ways to demonstrate the power of colors within a space. Color can be added to cabinets, countertops, appliances, fixtures, furniture, accents, and more. Thus, when beginning the design of a space, it’s a good idea to start with a color palette. Most designers agree that starting with three colors is ideal. You can use the 60-30-10 rule to break down how the colors will exist in the space:

Dominant color = 60%

Secondary color = 30%

Accent color = 10%

For contrast and emphasis, consider the blend of both warm and cool hues. For example, choose a warm shade like yellow alongside a cool color like blue, and vice-versa. A good rule of thumb is to use different values of tints and shades, light and dark, balancing the ambiance of a space.

Color has a significant influence on a space and those within it, so choosing just the right colors for a design is critical to its success. Another rule of thumb is to pay attention to the compass direction of a room. Use warm colors sparingly in south- and west-facing rooms, and use cool colors sparingly in north- and east-facing rooms. Adjusting the color for the light conditions is an important part of creating a livable environment.

How color changes visual spaceAccent Walls Change How A Room Looks

From time to time, accent walls return to popularity. This must be done carefully, to achieve the results you want. The apparent proportion of a room can be changed with color, if you keep in mind that warm, dark colors seem to advance while cool, light colors seem to recede. If you have a “bowling alley” room that’s long and slender with a ceiling that’s under 8′, then the end wall could be painted in a warmer, darker color with the side walls painted in a cooler, lighter color. The ceiling should be the lightest, coolest color. To achieve maximum results, indirect up-lighting can make the ceiling feel even taller.

Color Branding and PsychologyColor Is the Top Reason Why People Choose Products

The brain operates rapidly, identifying whether what you see is visually appealing or not within 90 seconds! And in that 90 seconds, much of the focus is based on color. Product and brand designers pay attention to and use colors they know will attract our attention. Yellow and red are the colors you see most often on products that the manufacturers want you to buy now. They’ll also use contrasting complementary colors that seem to vibrate: red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple.

Think about the brands you know. How does the color of their logo (or packaging) impact you?

Color Psychology ChartPsychology: Expanding Our Understanding And Use Of Color

The subject of color psychology could be a topic for several months of podcasts and blogs! Wikipedia defines color psychology as “the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. For example, red or orange pills are generally used as stimulants. Color can indeed influence a person. Factors such as gender, age, and culture can influence how an individual perceives color.”

Color psychology is used to understand why we like and select certain colors and dislike or stay away from others. It’s our reaction to a specific hue that’s the goal of research. It can include what I call psychobabble, that delves into colors and personality types made popular by the “Color Me Beautiful” system. At first, I was enamored with this system, because it seemed to be an extension of the Ameritone Color Key system of cool vs. warm colors. In my opinion, though, it went too far, plugging people into personality types of the seasons. This theory puts us at the edge of a very slippery slope. It’s light entertainment that I don’t take seriously, but will never judge someone or argue with their beliefs.

Although I own 7 books about color psychology, I came across a great article online that everyone can understand, from Very Well Mind. It’s long, with lots of information about color psychology and many links. If this is a subject that interests you, I highly recommend that you read the article.

You may know that correctional institutions and inmates’ clothing is pink. Why? it was discovered several years ago that this color, although a tint of red, has a calming effect on officers and inmates. Here’s an article that will explain it why pink is so popular. Also, there’s a reason why doctors and nurses wear light green or blue scrubs. Here’s an article that explains how and why.

Finally, I came across a research paper that demonstrates how colors were chosen for a university student commons in Nicosia, Cypress. It’s not exactly light reading, but fascinating – especially if you’re interested in color psychology.

In this blog and podcast, I’ve shared 35 years of training and experience so that you understand your wonderful world of color and find the courage to experiment. Are there other subjects you’d like me to explore in depth? Please let me know!

Podcast: The Exciting World of Color Revealed!

If you are anxious about selecting colors as an important part of your home addition, bathroom or kitchen remodel, I can help you! Call me today to talk about your goals!

Great Home Products!

GREAT HOME PRODUCTS!

(#1 of 2)

Great home products is a subject I love to talk and write about.  This week’s blog features 11  of the over 20 great home products I discovered in the past several weeks. Some of them are meant for remodeling and new construction, while others don’t require major changes to your existing home. A couple of the products easily qualify for D-I-Y projects. Of course, I’ll let you know, and I’ll include the suggested retail price if I have it. We’ll complete the journey of product discovery next week.

UNIQUE BATHROOM INVENTION (#1)

Great Home Products Faucet + FountainDo you have a “groaty” glass in your bathroom? Think about all the germs that build up if you don’t sanitize the glass in your dishwasher frequently. Yuck! Have you ever taken a pill only to discover that you can’t find the [BLEEP] glass? Now there’s a great product for you: It’s a bathroom faucet that turns into a water fountain! The Nasoni “Fontain” won the “best of show” award at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. It’s got graceful, minimalist lines to complement all bathroom styles, and it’s available in brushed nickel or blackl, as well as chrome. A perfect retrofit for your bathroom, whether you have a 4” centerset faucet or an 8” widespread faucet. One thing I really like about this faucet: It has an aerator, preventing water from splashing on your mirror and clothes. https://nasoni.com/

STATE-OF-THE-ART SMART-HOME PRODUCT(#2)

Great Home Products -- Leviton Circuit BoxIf you’re building a new home, remodeling your existing home, or want to make your home smarter, a WIFI-enabled circuit breaker is a great product to include! It’s manufactured by Leviton, one of my favorite brands for outlets and switches. They have many models to choose from. I love the fact that this is a great-looking white circuit box, with a glass door. No more industrial tan, hiding in the garage or mechanical room! View real time energy consumption and trends, including total energy cost per month. Get alerts when a circuit breaker trips, or even trip one remotely. It’s the only residential circuit breaker on the market today that exceeds UL requirements for ground-fault protection. It prevents you from resetting the circuit breaker  if ground-fault protection is lost.  This important safety feature helps protect against electric shock and electrocution for a safer living environment.  Of course, the circuit breaker panel must be installed with appropriate permits by a licensed electrician. https://www.leviton.com/en/products/residential/load-centers

FANTASTIC HOME LIGHTING DEVICE (#3)

Great Home Producst 12x12 LED FixtureI started touting LED lighting way back in 2004, when I was the co-host of a local talk show. It’s come a long way, and prices have dropped significantly, so everyone can afford LED lighting. Tresco Lighting has over 25 years of “Innovation Through Illumination.” The company proudly designs and manufactures a full line of superior quality L.E.D. lighting options that are UL listed. One of their fixtures recently caught my eye for its flexible installation: It’s a 12×12 panel that can be broken into 3×3 pieces. This will help you light dark areas in your home, including pantries, closets, cabinets, storage areas under stairways. You need only 1″ – 2″ separation between the front of the fixture and whatever it’s lighting. The possibilities are unlimited!  The dimmable panels are available in four different color temperatures.  I’ve requested more detailed information and will share it with you when I get it. https://www.trescolighting.com/

DIFFERENT HOME TREND REFINEMENT (#4)

Great Home Products Artis Wall ShiplapHave you fallen for the shiplap trend that Joanna Gaines started? Some experts in remodeling and decorating say that it’s still popular, while others say that the “shiplap trend has sailed.” I’ve not been a fan of this product, but do admit that it has its place. This week, while doing research for the “Today’s Home” podcast, I discovered a very interesting shiplap product. It offers you flexibility of choice, and better installation than gluing old wood to your walls. Artis Wall gathers authentic reclaimed wood from old barns and other structures around the US and crafts them into planks. Their patented installation system allows the planks to be easily installed, removed, and reused in any room. One of the things that I really like about this product is the configuration, like the picture I’ve shown (right), which is from a real installation. There appears to be at least five different woods and colors mixed into a great geometric pattern. Yes, it could enhance even our Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home!  https://www.artiswall.com/

BEST HOME INSULATION PRODUCT(#5)

Great Spray Foam InsulationDo you have old insulation, or no insulation in your home? Another product I discovered  has received accolades from the International Builders’ Show for best spray foam insulation: Demilec. Its branding is really catchy, “No Status Quo,” and they mean it. You can insulate with an air barrier in one application.  The foam fills all cracks, gaps, and voids. With insulation, you save money on energy. This foam contains no chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), formaldehyde, or fibrous materials. We’ve heard about  radon, how dangerous it is and how it can get into our homes. Heatlok HFO High Lift and Heatlok Pro are produced in the U.S. from 12.5% post-consumer recycled products. To date, Demilec has recycled more than 360 million large plastic bottles. The installation of this insulation generates no waste, no jobsite trash. There is no packaging. The product is sold in liquid form in returnable recycled containers. It’s recognized by the National Association of Home Builders as a green product. If you’re building a home or remodeling your existing home, tell your contractor about Demilec spray foam products. https://nostatusquo.info/ Demilec

STUPENDOUS HOME LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT (#6)

Great Laundry EquipmentAre you thinking about replacing your washer and dryer? I was pleasantly surprised, being a relatively new fan of Samsung appliances, to learn about the Samsung Flex-wash and Flex-dry laundry equipment. FlexWash combines a 5 cu.ft. lower with a 1 cu.ft. upper washer. The “super speed” cycle can power through laundry in just 30 minutes. You can use the power of steam to remove stains without pre-treating. Innovative design reduces vibration, so heavy loads stay balanced and quiet even at high speeds.

The FlexDry is also two dryers in one, letting you dry delicates and everyday garments at the same time, or independently. It uses the power of steam to freshen and sanitize garments, reduce odors and static, and relax wrinkles, so you spend less time ironing. Sensor dry automatically optimizes the time and temperature of the drying cycle so clothes are always thoroughly dry without being damaged, and you avoid excessive energy use.

You can remotely control your Samsung washer and dryer from anywhere using your mobile devices. You can monitor the remaining cycle time, receive alerts when the cycle is complete, and schedule cycles. Eco-friendly and energy-efficient, the washer and dryer meet the strict EPA standards for EnergyStar® certification. https://www.samsung.com/us/explore/flex-wash/   

https://www.samsung.com/us/explore/flex-dry/

MARVELOUS BATHROOM MIRROR UPDATE (#7)

Great Bathroom Mirror FramesOver the years, I’ve talked with homeowners who want to do a quick facelift to an existing bathroom. One of the problems is their outdated, plain-Jane bathroom mirrors. One company, Precision Frameworks, has come up with an elegant solution, frames that you can attach to the face of your mirror to update your bathroom. There are 28 different frame styles from which to choose, available in a plethora of different colors and finishes. Updating your bathroom mirror will probably lead to updating the over-mirror light fixture, but the good news is that there is a great selection of these fixtures.  Precision Frameworks offers more than instant frames for bathroom mirrors, including custom framed mirrors and mirrors that have integrated LED lighting. Check out their website to learn more. https://www.precisionframeworks.com/

DESIRABLE TUB AND SHOWER DOOR ADVANCEMENT (#8)

Magnetic Gliding Shower DoorThis next product caught my attention! We’ve been living with shower curtains for almost 11 years, and I’m really tired of it! If you’re in the same position, check out the products from Maglev Glide. Imagine, no more ugly tub and shower door tracks that are hard to clean! No more tracks that prevent you from sitting on the edge of your tub to get in, or leaning on the edge of your tub while you bathe your children!  Here are some of the features and benefits of the MagLev Gliding shower doors: The gliding (not sliding!) door floats in the air without supporting rollers or hinges. There’s no friction, no noise, no moving or mechanical parts. It’s no surprise that this product got top honors in the International Builders’ Show. https://maglevglide.com/

 UNIQUE HOME CONCEALED DOOR (#9)

Concealed DoorSeveral months ago, I had clients who wanted to hide the door to their “safe” room where they keep their guns, ammunition, valuables, and important papers. I designed a custom bookcase on concealed casters that attached to the outside of the solid-core door, but the estimate from the cabinet maker was more than my clients were willing to pay. Too bad that I didn’t know about the Murphy Door Company, which has doors that are disguised. The doors can look like decorative shelving, bookcases, cabinets with drawers, a cue rack, a wine rack, a shoe rack, or a pantry! It’s a big investment, a higher price than a regular 6-panel solid wood door. It gives you a feeling of security, knowing that your possessions are hidden from everyone’s view, yet there’s something great to look at that functions beautifully. They make units for single doors, french doors, and bifold doors, in a wide variety of woods and finishes. They even provide kits for D-I-Yers!  https://murphydoor.com/

FANTASTIC CUTTING-EDGE GROUT (#10)

Grout that glows in the darkTwo grout manufacturers have introduced translucent grout that picks up the color of the tile. Over the years, my clients have labored over the decision about grout colors. From here on, I’m going to recommend the translucent epoxy-based grout that is stain- and mold-resistant. It’s a definite advantage for showers and tubs, and kitchen backsplashes. It is not a D-I-Y product, because the amount of time you have to work with it is limited. Additionally, it must be installed within a specific temperature range. I’ve seen many botched tile installations that homeowners attempted. It takes a lot of skill to learn how to apply grout successfully. But once epoxy-based grout is installed, you’ll never have to get down on your hands and knees, or lean on your countertops, to clean your grout with a toothbrush! I’m particularly intrigued with the grout from Laticrete that offers grout that can glow in the dark, or sparkle! The only requirement is that the tile setter must add the proprietary product, “Dazzle” to the grout before applying it to the joints. Translucent grout: https://www.flooranddecor.com/site-articles/mapei-flexcolor-cq-innovative-new-grout-product.html

Translucent grout: https://cdn.laticrete.com/en/tile-and-stone-installation/grouts/epoxy-grouts/spectralock-pro-premium-translucent-grout

Addative that makes grout sparkle or glow in the dark: https://cdn.laticrete.com/en/tile-and-stone-installation/grouts/epoxy-grouts/spectralock-dazzle

LUXURY FOLDING DOORS AND WINDOWS BRING OUTSIDE IN

Doors-Windows Opening ViewThe next product is in the very expensive category, approximately $1,300 per linear foot for the folding doors. But if you’re interested in a totally open, uninterrupted feeling of inside-out in your home, I recommend the folding doors and windows from Nana Wall. They have a new product that’s particularly interesting.  It creates a pass-through from your kitchen countertops to an adjacent deck or patio, in addition to opening up the space between the inside and outside. Transform fixed walls into flexible openings that invite the outside in and remove visual and physical barriers. Enjoy the expanded sense of space, yet stay comfortable with a transparent barrier that protects you no matter what the climate or seasonal extreme. I believe that they hit a home run with the new product. Check out their website to see details! https://www.nanawall.com/home-owners

TO SUMMARIZE: GREAT HOME PRODUCTS ENHANCE OUR LIVES

I believe that it’s human nature in all capitalist societies like ours to want the best and to be the best, however each of us defines “best.” It’s  my quest, to do my best in some way, every day. When deciding whether or not to re-launch my podcast and create this series of correlating blogs, my objective was — and is — to bring the best, most honest and relevant home remodeling information to my audience. Researching all of these products was a labor of love, and I hope you’ve discovered at least one great home product that will enhance your life for years. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Thank you for listening to my podcasts and reading my blogs, for recommending both to everyone you know. Next week, our journey of discovery will continue. For now, enjoy your week!

THE “TODAY’S HOME” PODCAST: GREAT HOME PRODUCTS

 

 

Remember, I’m available to:

  • Help you find the best products for your home building or remodeling projects.
  • Work with you to achieve the living environment that fits your lifestyle and your budget.
  • Prepare detailed plans that are the building and remodeling GPS from the beginning to the end of your project.

Contact me today!

Remodeling Questions and Answers

Remodeling Questions and AnswersKitchen 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

Also remember that I’m available to help you with your project, from beginning to end! Contact me today to talk about your remodeling (or building) project.