May 21, 2017

Should You Choose a Style for Your New Home?


When you’re thinking about working with your Architect to design a new home, you might think you need to start out by choosing what “style” your new house should be.

That’s not a bad place to begin if you’re in love with a particular architectural style: we can discuss what you love about it, and figure out how to make that style fit your needs.

But choosing a style first isn’t always necessary. In some cases, it might actually might it more difficult to design the home you’ve been dreaming about.

The Briefest Possible History of Home Style (read more about home style here)

Up until the late 19th century, home style was ruled by the fashion of the day. There were only one or two fashionable styles to choose from at a time; today, it’s easy to guess the age of those homes by their style.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries that began to change rather dramatically, as new building methods and the influence of Modern architecture allowed Architects to become more creative in their designs.

And especially in the mid-20th century, American lifestyles became more informal – and that had a big influence on house design.

Apr 12, 2017

How To Avoid The Twin Demons Waiting to Sabotage Your Remodeling Project


Two demons wait for unsuspecting homeowners, hoping for their chance to gobble up time and money on new home and remodeling projects.

The Ripple Effect lurks quietly in the background. Just like the movements on the pond surface for which it’s named, The Ripple Effect starts out small and grows, expanding until it engulfs the entire project.

Project Creep is a silent menace, staying out of sight until it's too late to avoid and putting the whole job at risk.

Pebble In The Pond

The Ripple Effect is the remodeling budget’s worst enemy and can wreak havoc on small and large projects alike.

A window replacement is simple, isolated project, right?. But the interior and exterior trim must be replaced and painted and the exterior siding may have to be reworked, especially if the new window isn’t the same size as the old one.

And that’s just the beginning. Once that window is replaced and the new window trim painted, the rest of the trim in the room looks bad by comparison and so you decide to paint that, too. A pebble’s been dropped in the pond, and the ripples have begun to spread.

What started out as a simple window replacement ends up as the refinishing of an entire room.

In new home projects, the ripple effect is more pronounced in open plan designs. With fewer walls to separate spaces, it’s difficult to make flooring transitions from one room to another so more expensive floorings often cover more of the house. The lack of interior walls also requires a more expensive structural system and makes the placement of ductwork and plumbing more difficult and expensive.

Mar 15, 2017

What Is Quality Construction?


First published on Zillow Blog

A friend of mine put me on the spot a few years ago when she asked me over to take a look at the new home she’d just purchased.

“What do you think?” she asked, “It’s good quality construction, isn’t it?”

For what she paid, sure, it was decent quality; it wasn’t in danger of collapse, the doorknobs weren’t falling off, and water wasn’t dripping through a leaky roof – but it wasn’t a showcase of construction skill either.

Feb 15, 2017

Do These Four Easy Things And Your Basement Will Always Be Dry




Water in all its forms is the enemy of every house. Rain, snow, ice, groundwater, and water vapor will take every available opportunity to find a way to appear where you don't want it and damage your house and your belongings.

Almost everyone is familiar with the dreaded wet basement, but few know the causes or know how easy a wet basement is to prevent! Here are a few simple steps you should take to save yourself big money and big headaches:

Jan 20, 2017

How To Get an Architectural Review Board to Approve Your Home Design or Remodeling Project




If you’re planning on building a custom home in a new development or remodeling a home in an older neighborhood, you’ll likely to find your plans subject to design review.

Design review boards go by different names; ARB (Architectural Review Board), DRC (Design Review Committee), ARC (Architectural Review Committee) and others.

They’ve been called less flattering names, too, by homeowners whose proposals don’t get favorable treatment from the board.

Dec 21, 2016

How to Be Sure You're Getting a Fair Price on Your New Home or Remodeling Project




Earlier this year a gentleman stopped by the house to ask if he could give me a quote on trimming the trees in my yard – a fairly frequent event on my street, which has a lot of older trees.

I've been here 26 years, and I've talked to dozens of tree trimmers. So I pretty much knew what to expect as soon as he pulled in the driveway in his spotless pickup truck. The truck with the custom graphics, the chrome wheels, and the boat hitch on the back.