Microwave Oven Concerns for Homeowners
Microwave-Hood units are an unsafe and poorly-working option!
Microwave oven options was the topic of several discussions during our former internet radio program, “Today’s Home.” We expressed concern about microwave-hood combinations and drawer microwaves. Both appliances are potentially dangerous. You’ve got someone on your side, to help you make informed decisions about products that can affect your safety.
According to National Kitchen and Bath Association design guidelines, the best (and safest) location for a microwave oven is achieved when the bottom of the unit is 3″ below the main user’s shoulder, or a maximum of 54″ above the floor (whichever is lower). If a microwave oven is placed below a 36″ high countertop, the bottom of the unit must be a minimum of 15″ above the floor. There should be a 15” wide by 16″ deep landing area above, below, and/or adjacent to the handle side of a microwave oven, from the front edge of the adjacent countertop. (more…)
Remodeling Change Orders — The LAST Thing You Want!
Caution: The lowest estimate often comes with change orders.
Remodeling Change Orders. You’re surprised, and feel betrayed. Just when everything seemed to be going well, your contractor says, “We’ve run into a problem,” or, “If you want it, you’re going to have to pay more.” There are (sometimes) valid reasons for Change Orders, but most of the time, they can be avoided. You do not want to feel like your home is being held hostage. Here are five ways to avoid Change Orders:
How to Avoid Remodeling Change Orders
Remodeling Change Orders during a building or remodeling project should be an exception, not the rule. Here are ways that you can avoid them: (more…)
Advocate for Homeowners? Of Course!
“Hello, I’m Diane Plesset.”
What is an Advocate? Many contractors conclude that an advocate always takes the homeowners’ side against them, which is not true. Remodeling is a team effort. If everyone remembers this, and takes their individual responsibility seriously. There’s no need for anyone to take sides in most cases. There have been only five times in several hundred remodeling projects where a dispute arose. There was clear evidence that the contractor had done something very wrong:
- Not providing products and services specified in their agreement without communication.
- Changing the scope of the project without communication.
- Not providing a written change order before extra work began.
- Selling products at an inflated price because “warranty service” was provided, without specifying in writing exactly what is included and excluded.
Building-Remodeling Changes: Santa Claus or Grinch?
“How the Grinch Stole . . . Everything!
History Before 2008:
Building-remodeling professionals were busy, with seasonal ups and downs. Homeowners called design and construction professionals to renovate their home, or build a new home. They had high expectations and positive anticipation about finding someone to help them.They felt it was like waiting for Santa Claus.
The Grinch (aka the economy) stole everything. Anticipation was replaced by anxiety and fear. Americans were just trying to keep their homes, trying to prevent the Grinch from stealing the roof over their heads. People lost jobs as companies downsized or closed their doors. Building and remodeling stopped. People who were thinking about trading up decided to hunker down and stay put. Recovery from such a devastating blow takes a long time. (more…)
Traditional Master Bathroom Remodel for Luxury
Are you planning to remodel a traditional master bathroom? To achieve the luxurious look, feel, and function you desire, I’ve got some great ideas for you, and I’ll share the story about one luxurious master bathroom.
Color Scheme for a Luxurious Master Bathroom
Select a neutral color palette that complements the colors and textures used in the adjacent bedroom. Consider how you feel as you move from one room to another; the transition, especially in a traditional home, should be smooth and non-jarring. It’s best to err on the conservative side for permanent features like plumbing, tile, countertops, and cabinets. Conservative doesn’t have to be boring! Painted walls can be any color you choose, although it’s wise to stay away from jewel tones and highly-saturated colors like burnt orange, daffodil yellow, or kelly green. Consider how easy (or difficult) it will be to coordinate the paint color with decorative tiles and accessories. Paint can be easily changed, but tiles cannot. If you have a favorite painting or framed poster that you want to display in the bathroom, select colors to help you create the scheme.
Homeowners wanted to update their timeless traditional master bathroom with clean lines. They selected a pastel color palette of sage green, beige, and a warm off-white. (more…)
Other Guidelines, Other Choices for Your Kitchen
“Rules are not necessarily sacred. Principles are.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)
“Form Follows Function.” (Louis Sullivan)
Function – Safety – Appearance
Information About The Kitchen Triangle
Did you know that Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the first architects to use the work triangle in his kitchens? During a tour of the Gordon House (the only FLW-designed home in Oregon), I overheard the docent talking with visitors about many of Mr. Wright’s innovations in home design that we still use today, and had to add that tidbit of trivial information. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) describes a work triangle in their guidelines:
“The distances between the three primary work centers (cooking surface, cleanup/prep sink and refrigeration storage) form a work triangle. The sum of the three traveled distances should total no more than 26 feet with no single leg of the triangle measuring less than 4 feet nor more than 9 feet.”
The guidelines also state: “No major traffic patterns should cross through the basic work triangle.”
3 Recommendations To Protect Your Bathroom Investment (And Your Sanity)
Have you heard remodeling nightmare stories shared by family, friends, and neighbors? Was your reaction a vow to never remodel your home? Time has passed, and now you’re considering a major bathroom renovation. Your new vow is, “Those nightmares will never happen to me”. How can you avoid costly, frustrating problems? Let’s follow the “Smiths” and the “Browns” through their bathroom transformations:
The “Smiths” wanted to remodel their master bathroom, but didn’t think about what they really wanted to include, and how they wanted to feel in their new bathroom. This opened the door for unnecessary features that could squeeze them into an over-budget situation. The “Browns” took the time to define exactly what they wanted — the look, feel, and function. They agreed that their #1 priority was a two-person shower with all the bells and whistles (rainhead shower head, body sprays, adjustable personal shower, a large bench seat, and decorative glass tiles). They could talk knowledgeably with professionals they would hire to help them design and build their new bathroom.
♦ Recommendation #1: Define Your Priorities (Money Matters!)
The “Smiths” relied on magazine articles and TV remodeling shows for information, without testing reality. They did no research about
Which Bathroom and Kitchen Countertops are Right for You?
We conclude this pros and cons discussion about bathroom and kitchen countertops, talking about concrete, stone, stainless steel, and lavastone. This information, combined with my previous article about your countertop investment will help you make a choice that will give you years of great service and personal pleasure.
Materials: Concrete, Stone, Stainless Steel, Lavastone
Made popular by Fu Tung Cheng, who has written at least one book about the subject.
Pros: Concrete can be an exquisite, unique countertop, with an unlimited color palette, and the possibility of inlays or relief impressions. Undermount porcelain, cast iron, and metal sinks can be used with concrete bathroom countertops, and it’s possible to have a one-of-a-kind integral concrete sink as a focal point. Cons: Although there are many step-by-step seminars, articles, and videos showing how to create concrete countertops, they are not a beginner-DIY project; they must be manufactured by an expert. Concrete is a very porous substance and a brittle material, prone to cracking and chipping. It must be sealed to prevent bacteria growth and staining. It can be very heavy, and may require extra-sturdy cabinets — and reinforcement of the structure. (Photo Courtesy of Sonoma Cast Stone)
Which Bathroom or Kitchen Countertop Is Right For You?
In the first installment about bathroom (and kitchen) countertops, we shared pros and cons about laminate, tile, and solid-surface materials. This segment will talk about quartz (aka engineered stone), wood, composite materials (glass, metal, and paper), and glass, with links to all of the manufacturers’ websites. Whatever countertop material you choose for your home depends on its durability for the intended use, and your investment. We’ve covered the range of investments for all countertops in a previous blog, ” Bathroom and Kitchen Countertops — An Overview”.
Materials: Quartz, Wood, Composite, Glass
Quartz, aka “Engineered Stone”:
Popular brands include CaesarStone, Cambria, Silestone, DuPont Zodiaq, Avanza, HanStone, Okite, Staron Quartz, Technistone, and Viatera.
Some people confuse quartz with quartzite; the two are not the same. Quartzite is a natural stone; quartz is manmade. Pros: Quartz is a long-lasting material, resistant to scratching, scorching, staining, and resistant to bacteria. It’s available in hundreds of alternative colors and patterns to fit virtually every style. Porcelain, cast iron, and metal sinks can be undermounted, which helps maintenance. Cons: Some people don’t like its “too perfect” appearance, and prefer the look of real stone for the same investment. Although quartz is advertised as a green product, most of the products (except Cambria) have to be shipped to the US by freighter, and then shipped to fabricators all over the US using fossil fuels.
Which Countertop Is Right For You?
There’s more to selecting bathroom countertops than comparing price. To make an informed decision and guarantee years of satisfaction from your investment, this article details the pros and cons for each material, so you’ll get years of satisfaction for your investment. Part 1 of a 3-part series will discuss laminate, tile, and solid surface, with links to manufacturers’ websites.
Countertop Materials: Laminate, Tile, Solid Surface
Popular brands include Formica, Wilsonart, Nevamar, and Pionite.
Pros: Laminate is the least-expensive material for countertops. It includes hundreds of alternative colors and patterns to express personal preference and to blend with every architectural style.
Cons: Laminate is easily damaged by abrasive cleaners, chemical stains, and rough treatment. It requires top-mounted or drop-in sink with extra attention needed when cleaning around the edges of plumbing fixtures. (Photo courtesy of Julie Williams Design)