How To Empty Your Nest (With a Little Help)

We get to know our clients pretty well over the weeks, months (and sometimes years) of their design and construction projects. They talk with us about their homes; their hopes and dreams; and tell us the stories of their lives.

Sometimes, we’re a part of their stories.

A few years ago, I was working with a couple designing their retirement home in northeastern Ohio. They’d been imagining this home for years – it was going to be their last, and they wanted it to have everything they’d always dreamed of.

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.

Can Your House Wreck Your Marriage?

Marriage is a complicated thing, what with all that blending of two lives into one.  Differences are resolved, or ignored, or filed away for future reference.

But differences there are - and they're often magnified during the process of designing and building a home.  At our office we've seen it all, I think.  Consider these "true" stories:

John and Cindy

The new, bigger closet he was having built for her would finally allow them to spread out and organize their apparel. His golf shirts wouldn’t be jammed together so tightly that the colors bled. Her skirts wouldn’t be hidden between her dresses and her slacks, and both of them would be able to find their shoes.

He’d get rid of the temporary studs-and-cedar plywood closet he’d built in the basement and bring her out-of-season clothes upstairs. He saw it as an opportunity to give their wardrobe a breather.

She, however, saw all this new, empty space as an opportunity to buy more clothes.

Where NOT to Build a Room Addition

No cats were harmed in the writing
of this article (especially this one)
It’s been six years since it happened…

I like finding creative solutions to tough problems, but this was the one obstacle in twenty-three years of practice that stopped me cold.

I’ve tried not to think about it all this time, but - I’m finally ready to talk about it.

(deep breath...)

Two very nice folks with a lovely condo invited me over to talk about an addition. We had nice chat; they showed me around the place.

Good Looks? Low Maintenance? Or Both? (A story about HOUSES, not SPOUSES)

Stone and Siding – Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

Architects don’t want you putting fake stuff on the outside of your house – faux wood siding, faux stone, faux trim – just because it’s less expensive than the real thing.

We don’t like sacrificing aesthetics or authenticity, when the only benefit is cost savings.

Nope. Architects don’t like that.

There are trade-offs we’d rather you make when you’re trying to save money –size for size’s sake and artificially-complex design are at the top of my list.


We make exceptions to the “no-faux” rule now and then…

The Fuss Over Faux

Generally, I’m skeptical of “artificial” exterior materials – vinyl siding, cultured stone, vinyl windows, "thin brick", aluminum trim, etc. because they’re seen as cheap(er) imitations that don’t compare favorably with the real thing.

The 6 Things You Must Have To Be Sure You’re Getting The Best Price For 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 22 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.