In the Works at Myers Constructs

In South Philadelphia, we’re busy working on a large-scale renovation creating a 3-story house with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms from an existing 2-bedroom, 1-bath, 2-story house. The plans call for adding a 3-story addition in the back as well as a 3rd floor master suite. The house is currently a shell, so it’s going to need everything, including a lot of masonry. Of course, the house is also vacant — which is a must with such a big project.

Northwest of the city, we’re also working on a high-end bedroom project in a lovely Lower Merion house. We’re turning what is now a simple, boxy bedroom into a luxe retreat featuring custom glass pendant fixtures, handmade wallpaper, custom furniture, upcycled large-scale hand-carved Asian doors for the closets, and many other rich textures and colors. All of the decor was selected by one of our interior design partners, Hannah Dee Interiors, with whom we’ve worked happily and successfully for many years.

With home sales in high gear, we’re also fielding calls for home renovations that people want to do before they move into their new-to-them homes. These projects include kitchens, baths, laundries, bedroom additions with storage spaces, decks, basement renovations, and resolution of various issues found by home inspectors.

Each of our projects presents unique challenges in light of COVID restrictions, but the solutions are mainly an extension of the core values we’ve always adhered to:

Prioritizing Safety — Our teams and homeowners all mask up when we are working in their homes or having meetings. We maintain strict compliance with standards for sanitizing work spaces and maintaining safe social distancing.

Encouraging Client Flexibility — Most homeowners understand our need to do more exploration of their project, budget, and time frame before we schedule time to meet in person — which keeps everyone a bit safer. When working in their homes, clients routinely offer us exclusive use of a bathroom and dedicated work site spaces.

Doing Our Homework — Every township has a different permitting process and requirements: some are online, some are in person with restrictions, and some are closed to new projects. We’re well versed in navigating this process, thanks to decades of experience in doing so.

Contingency Planning — Many materials — like plywood, pressure-treated wood, some plumbing items, flooring, and tiles — remain hard or impossible to get. Clients often happily provide us with second and third options so we can pivot and keep projects rolling. We also encourage adjusting contingency budgets up front for materials like lumber, which has seen a 20-40% price increase.

We’re thankful to be staying busy creating beautiful spaces that make people happy. We find that, as in all things in life, understanding and flexibility go a long way at this time.

Home Renovation Problems & Solutions in the Era of COVID-19

After general contractors were given the green light to resume home renovations in early May, the process has looked and felt a lot different, thanks to COVID-19 — not only for us, but for subcontractors, vendors, and homeowners, too. What does this mean for people who want and need work done on their homes right now? Having a well-organized design build general contractor with solid plans in place and great long-term relationships with their vendors and subs is essential to getting any project done right now.

As we navigate a host of challenges together, here is a top-level look at some of the most common issues we are all currently facing, and how our team is making the process as smooth as possible for our clients.

Problem: Supply chains are being disrupted.

Solution: Starting at the end of 2019, when the coronavirus pandemic hit China, we started seeing delays in products that were normally in stock, including everything from carpets to tile to hardware. Because these disruptions are continuing, we are implementing earlier order schedules and, when possible, “second choice” options so we might pivot in the case of longer delays.

Problem: Vendors are limiting service hours.

Solution: In order to protect their workers, many vendors are limiting their hours of service and discontinuing “walk in” service for the time being. We are working closely with our vendors to make the most efficient use of their time to keep projects moving along smoothly while also keeping a top priority on social distancing, safety, and cleaning measures.

Problem: Subcontractors are backlogged.

Solution: Our subs are working 6+ days per week to catch up on project backlogs. We’re communicating openly and proactively with both subs and homeowners so everyone has a clear picture of their project’s major milestones and completion dates.

Problem: Inspectors are backed up.

Solution: The City of Philadelphia is still closed, so new permits are currently stalled, and other township offices are either limiting hours or closed. We are working to have all paperwork as complete as possible on our end, so we are ready to hit the ground running when these offices reopen.

As a company, Myers Constructs has over 25 years in general contracting experience, with over 50 years combined experience between Tamara and Diane as owners who are personally involved in each of our projects every day. Please reach out to us to discuss your upcoming renovation plans. We’ll walk you through our process of keeping projects on an efficient timeline with a commitment to the highest quality outcomes, keeping you updated regularly so you rest easy and leave the worry to us.

Reflections on New Homeowner Realities in the COVID-19 Era

Wow, what a different world we live in now. After our first week of more normal working conditions, we thought we’d take a few minutes to reflect. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all been spending all of our time in our homes — working, cooking, and watching television — but now that the warmer weather is here, homeowners are finding other ways to unwind and enjoy their outdoor spaces. We have definitely noticed an increase in requests for new beautiful and transformational outside spaces.

Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you?

  • You’re spending more time outdoors, but your porch, deck, or patio are in serious disrepair — or you need better equipped exterior cooking and entertaining spaces.
  • You have a grill outside but wish it was a more complete outdoor kitchen.
  • It’s almost swim season, and you need a cabana room or dedicated powder room and entryway to your pool area.
  • You need more outside storage or dedicated spaces for items related to outdoor hobbies and recreational equipment.

Myers Constructs has been around for a long time. For that reason, you can be assured that we know how to successfully navigate an array of design-to-build projects even during uncertain times, like those we’re currently experiencing. We have a deep bench of highly talented tradespeople that we’ve worked with for decades. So even though the pandemic creates supply chain challenges and complicates scheduling, we know how to manage these problems in order to get your project done efficiently, beautifully — and safely. Tamara and I both have completed our OSHA COVID-19 training as part of our commitment to creating safe environments for our work to continue.

Great News: Home Renovations Resume

We are pleased to announce the news that we’ve all been waiting for: Governor Wolf has cleared the construction industry to resume work starting today, May 1. We are excited to move projects that have been in our design queue into construction — and to take on wonderful new projects for homeowners who have been dreaming about transforming their spaces but waiting to get started.

Of course, our focus will remain on the safety of our clients and our teams going forward. In addition to the typically careful and clean work spaces we maintain, we will follow the stringent new guidelines established by the Governor and the Secretary of Health. They include standards for social distancing, cleanliness, and mask-wearing, limits on the number of people on site at any given time, the appointment of a safety officer, and more. We will also continue to hang signs on our job sites outlining the measures we are taking.

We would love to discuss the changes you’ve been envisioning in your own home and how we can help you achieve your goals for better living through transformed spaces. Click here to get the conversation started. We’re happy to answer any questions you many have, and we look forward to hearing from you!

A Message of Heartfelt Gratitude and Sympathy

Dear Family and Friends of Myers Constructs,

We take great pride in the curated personal service we provide our design-build clients. Our clients know our process includes listening to and reviewing options closely, together. In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we will be monitoring the requirements and recommendations of the CDC, Governor Wolf, and Mayor Kenney, and making adjustments daily and weekly, as needed. We will continue providing our same intimate services, but limiting our communications for now to telephone, email, video sharing, and virtual conferencing.

Reflecting back on some of our favorite projects over the years, we find that the best have always been the ones where we work with clients to make long-term, holistic plans for the improvements that honor the style of their home and the way they hope to live in it. We have been privileged to work on some amazing whole-house projects, additions, and multi-phase renovations that are completed over time, as well as adaptive reuse projects, and even smaller custom commercial projects. Each one brings its own unique challenges and its own satisfying rewards.

In the meantime, we are still working on the scheduling, tracking, logistics of jobs already in progress and on the designing, planning, and specifying of projects that are in the wings ready to pick up once restrictions are lifted. And we are talking to new clients about their future work over email. You can click here to get the conversation started. At this time, we are not scheduling in-person initial meetings until conditions allow for us to do so.

We offer our sympathy to all of the families who have suffered losses during this time and the hardships that this sudden pandemic has brought. We’re deeply grateful for everyone in the medical and emergency fields who are working so hard to keep us safe and move us towards a safer future. And we’re also thankful for our clients, our employees, and our amazing team of trade partners and vendors who have worked so hard these last weeks to keep projects rolling and continue to offer their support.

We invite everyone to reach out to us via email and to check in via Instagram and Facebook for updates.

Stay safe, and we will see you soon!




In the Works: Re-Loving the “Flintstone House”

Our clients affectionately call this home a “Flintstone House,” and that really makes us smile. This charming and well-loved home, which features a schist stone exterior with free-form columns and bluestone front patio — both materials that are native to the Philadelphia area — is located on a quiet street in Chestnut Hill, PA, that is walkable to the quaint and lively center of town. It also has a lot of history, as the homeowners grew up in this house, and they have other family still living on the same street.

While the home has been lovingly maintained over the years, it is currently in need of a new kitchen, pantry, and powder room, as well as some maintenance upgrades — which we were happy to be called in to handle.

In terms of backstory, the current kitchen was installed by our clients’ father decades ago, a project that was clearly handled with a lot of love. Their mother, for instance, sanded and varnished all the pre-existing maple cabinets, and their dad added trim to the old cabinet doors so they looked a little more updated and pretty. He also installed Formica counters and backsplashes that still look pretty good, considering their age. We want to carry forward this same loving, cozy feeling into the brand new spaces we will be creating in this home.

In addition to modernizing the kitchen, we want to direct the layout so that the kitchen maintains views to a nice hidden outdoor patio and garden area, while bringing in more light and making the room feel taller. Adjacent to the kitchen is a room that originally served as the family breakfast room, but more recently became more of a room you pass through. We want to breathe new life into this area to create a welcoming casual eating area that flows right into the kitchen. We will add function by reorienting access to the basement and adding a powder room.

Lots of great ideas on the board — and we love working with our clients to celebrate this Flintstone house and bring it into the next era of its life.

We love projects like these that enhance the passions and integrate the total lifestyle of our homeowners.

Updates From the Art Deco Homefront

Many of you will recall our ongoing project for our client’s lovely 1930s-era Glenside brick Colonial. As we move through various phases of renovating this home, which the client calls his “Art Deco museum,” it continues to be a lot of fun both for us and for him.

In the image above, you can see the home’s newly finished library and a sampling of his vast black, white, and chrome Art Deco picture frame collection — which includes about 170 in all — filled with photos of his favorite actresses from the 1930s-40s, including Ann Sothern, Lauren Bacall, and Myrna Loy.

“I started collecting the frames in the 1990s, not long after I read the book Picture Perfect by Steve Starr, who owned a store in Chicago that specialized in deco frames and other collectibles,” he explains. “I bought quite a few from him and other dealers, mostly at antique shows in New York, Maryland, and other places.”

In addition, he has a vast array of furnishings, radios, lights, and other electrics, and fun figurines from the same era to display.

From a big picture perspective, we helped this client come up with a plan and budget for tackling a series of projects in the house. It includes everything from roofing to gutters, chimney, landscaping drainage problems, refinishing beautiful wood flooring, and unsticking and repairing the great original windows. We are planning the renovation of two of the bathrooms and a future kitchen to Art Deco-style specifications. Our first phase included removal of finishes that didn’t match the original house features, followed by a top notch paint job with a carefully curated group of new paint colors that highlight his collection. Behind the scenes, we updated electric, and then added more finishing details by changing all of the switch and outlet covers and replaced the outdated lighting with Art Deco fixtures the client has collected.

We love projects like these that enhance the passions and integrate the total lifestyle of our homeowners. We hope 2019 is getting off to a great start for you and your home.

P.S. It is not lost on us that the “power ladies” theme represented in this collection is a nice nod to all of the new Congresswomen sworn into office last week. (Rock on, ladies!)

New Year, New Home Resolutions

While you’re likely busy preparing for holiday celebrations, festive entertaining, and winter travel, this is also the perfect time to take a closer look at your home and plan for the repairs, maintenance, and redesign projects that need to be tackled in the coming year.

We don’t know a better way to celebrate the fresh possibilities of a new year than to breathe new life into a space that you use every day. Instant quality-of-life improvement!

We’re grateful for the trust our clients place in us, and we make it our goal to exceed their expectations for reimagining the spaces they share with family and friends all year through.

Call us today to discuss your needs. We’ll be happy to create a 2019 plan for your home.

Holistic Renovation: A Look at the Whole-House Tune Up

When it comes to renovating a home, our solutions are truly always greater when we look at the sum of the individual parts. It allows us and the clients to understand how they will work together over time in the context of an overall home design system. In an ideal scenario, any project we undertake involves looking at big-picture problem solving in a very holistic way. Depending on the project budget and the clients’ vision and needs, we can break projects up into logical sections so we can plan for future needs in the spaces we finish first. We are, in fact, doing this for several customers now. Here are a few examples:

  • A retired client recently purchased a beautiful, large brick Center Hall Colonial in Glenside that needs stylistic upgrades that match his preference for 1930s Art Deco-era styling. The first steps include removing carpets to expose the hardwood floors, updating bathrooms to period-correct fixtures and finishes, replacing some knob and tube wiring, and painting. Plans are in the works for a new kitchen.
  • An engaged couple purchased a newer rowhome in Philadelphia’s Bella Vista neighborhood. While the home was built in the 1980s and well maintained, it was never well planned, so lots of potential in terms of space and features were missed. We’re helping them develop the full potential of their house. For example, their basement level was not well laid out and ended up serving as a large mechanical room with no storage at all. With some good planning and problem-solving from Tamara, we were able to convert the space to include a new laundry room, a mechanical room, and two generously sized closets plus a media/TV room.
  • In addition, their existing modest eat-in kitchen needed some rethinking. The layout, function, and finishes were builder grade, and the kitchen soffit areas housed the HVAC ducting, so we could not change those. We redesigned the layout to include an island that will include a microwave drawer and seating for a new eat-in area, as well as better finishes for the counters and backsplashes. The clients chose a “tuxedo” color scheme of white cabinets on the walls and bases, and a pretty dark blue color on the island cabinets. The floor is a beautiful limed oak flooring that looks great with the color scheme selected. Future plans may include developing the interior master areas on the top floors of the home.
  • We just finished a smaller scale tune up in South Philly on a 2-story, 2-bed/1-bath rental house that was inefficiently renovated over many years. We gave the owners a new, level and sturdy bathroom (the old bathroom was 3” out of level!), new master bedroom closet, new drywall walls and ceilings, updated electrical work, and refinished existing flooring. They plan to continue renting the house as a family wealth-building asset, so the improvements we made will allow them to raise the rental fee, which will pay off for decades to come. Future projects in this home include a potential kitchen renovation and combined dining-living room space.
  • A repeat client of two decades called us to redesign her master bathroom. It’s a long, narrow room with an oversized dark wood vanity, dark blue walk-in shower, outdated tile bathroom floor, and a toilet stall. All of this makes for a tight, uncomfortable space that lacks natural light. We finished tuning up many other major spaces and elements of her Chestnut Hill home last year, so we are happy to return to execute new solutions for this troublesome master bath that mesh well with the ongoing renovations in the home.

Stay tuned to our website and social media for updates on all of these projects and more!

The Myers Constructs Team

A Trinity Renovation With Artistic Vision: The Bathroom — Part 2 in a Series

This week, we’re taking a closer look at the another space in our award-winning historic trinity renovation: the bathroom. The main challenge for this space was rethinking the modest footprint in a way that did not feel small, and our goal was to retain as much floor space as possible.

In planning the design, we created drawings that considered each elevation of the room at an extreme level of detail. Because we were working with older dimensional lumber sizes, we were challenged to square up and level the room to accommodate the tile and other finishes. Framing this bathroom required highly skilled carpentry craftsmanship, using individually ripped pieces of framing material, in both metal and wood of varying dimensions, and correcting compromised floor joists. Our solution allowed for dedicated space for HVAC ducting, an AC line set, a powerful vent fan ducted to the exterior, and other mechanicals — with enough space left over to gain a few inches in either direction.

The concept for the bathroom design was “reflecting water.” We incorporated beautiful mottled blue tile to provide texture and patterns that blend naturally with the crafted overall concept for the house. Custom glass and mirror add reflection, bounce light, and keep the room feeling open. The space now feels clean and welcoming and functions larger than it is.

Other Noteworthy Features

  • A custom vanity features a recessed toilet paper holder and full-size under-counter sink offset to create a large counter space
  • Two pull-out drawers provide access to an internal outlet that allows a hairdryer to stay in the drawer, plugged in, ready to use
  • A custom-cut wooden screen is used in the door panels, repeating the Moroccan screen motif found elsewhere in the house
  • A crisp white quartz base, shower niche, and curb add to the floating water quality
  • Large-format white tiles used for wainscoting add texture, while making the room easy to clean at the same time

About This Home

Our client purchased this pied-à-terre to create a unique second home that she could retreat to in the city. While located in a very walkable area — close to cultural activities, restaurants, and shopping — it is tucked away inside a shared courtyard with no street access and no legal parking adjacent to the site. The project was a true design build renovation that required extensive planning, with final drawing sets running well over 40 pages. We had regular meetings with our client and the decorator to collaborate on the details to make the finished space appear seamless. The result is a blend of our client’s vision, the decorator’s masterful use of color and texture, and our company’s design and construction experience, expertise, and background in fine arts. We were honored to be the team to execute this complex and unique job.

View the slideshow for this bathroom. To learn more about the project, view the kitchen slideshow.