Penn Valley Guest Room Reveal: Celebrating Clients’ Hobbies & Passions

The inspiration for this guest room project was the homeowners’ love of books and travel. In addition to reading 100+ titles per year, writing reviews, and participating in book clubs, they cherish time spent globetrotting and learning about the cultures and architecture of the places they visit.

In approaching their guest room renovation, the homeowners wanted the furnishings and objects chosen for their new space to reflect all of these interests and more. We were honored to be brought in by our frequent collaborator and friend Interior Designer Hannah Dee to help make the celebration of books and travel come to life.

Back in the early ’90s, the room functioned as a child’s bedroom, so it needed some infrastructure updates to transform into a modern guest room. The changes made include:

  • Removing old finishes, carpet, trim, and hollow core doors
  • Removing sections of the floor and exterior wall so we could insulate the space, which previously always felt cold to the homeowner
  • Updating wiring and devices, adding sconces, bedside lighting, and locations for outlets
  • Painting the room and hanging wallpaper – the visually stunning marbled pattern that Hannah chose conjures images of the endpaper or flyleaf you would find on a beautifully bound book.
  • Installing new carpeting
  • Integrating custom features, such as the Asian screens sourced from Material Culture, a retail/auction house in Philadelphia that specializes in global antiques, arts, and crafts. Adding hardware and antiqued mirrors, the pierced wood panels were transformed into closet doors.

In the end, our clients got the guest space they needed while also celebrating the things that they love.

You can see more images from this project here.

How to Use Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report

We often get calls or e-mails from architects, homeowners, or home buyers who are just starting to think about a remodeling project, but they have no idea what it should cost. Instead of guessing or spending dozens of hours of time working up a possible estimate, we send them to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.

This is a really great FREE resource that is updated every year with information collected from professional remodelers and home services companies all over the U.S. Lately, however, we’ve seen that the tool can be confusing to people unfamiliar with it. Let’s take a look and clarify some of the most common questions we receive.


Step 1: First, click this link to find the report and look at the national average for some common home improvement projects listed by name along the left-hand side of your web page.

Step 2: Next, enter your region or click on the map to find it. On this page, you’ll see more refined regional averages for the same projects in your part of the United States.

Step 3: Finally, select the specific city that’s nearest to you for the most refined local average project estimates. At this point, you’ll need to register and click “Download Data for [your city]” to view your report.


Now that you have a list of hyper-local project estimates, you’ll want to find the one that most closely aligns with your project. Keep in mind that none of the projects listed will be an exact match, but you want to click on the entry that feels closest to what you expect your home renovation to be.

Let’s walk through an example using a project description a recent caller provided: he wanted to “redesign and remodel the master bed bath suite and the adjacent guest bath and bedroom.” Choosing from the list provided, we had him click on “bath remodel upscale.”

Looking at the resulting graph [see graph above, at beginning of article], he was able to see that the price will fall in the $75K-$80K range for one higher-end bathroom. Since the client was asking for two bathrooms, we doubled the number to $150K-$160K as a reasonable ballpark budget for his project.

Note that until we actually design this particular project and understand other areas of the house that may be included or affected by it — a service that takes a few meetings and for which we charge — we won’t have an exact price for the client.


We hope you will find the Cost vs Value Report useful as you explore your remodeling options, develop your budget expectations, and arrange your financing. We’re happy to walk through the report with you and further explain how it applies to your next design to build project. Call or email us today to get started.

The Homeowner’s Dilemma: Buy/Build New or Renovate Old?

Image of the front of a red brick house, in dappled sunlight Here at Myers Constructs, we see clients facing this decision a lot right now. In fact, I am feeling it myself!

There seem to be a few forces at play. During COVID, we all felt like our houses shrank around us because we were not only living in them, but also working and schooling in them. Then after COVID, home prices surged significantly. Many of our clients saw their home’s worth reach 1.5-1.75 times what they were pre-COVID, leaving them to wonder whether they should make a move in the hot seller’s market. But, in order to buy a “move up” house, they found they would typically need to spend more than 2.5 times their home’s current value — which means they usually decided that it was wiser to renovate or add onto the house they are in now than to buy or build their “dream house.”

We’re also seeing more of the following trends:

  • Clients are moving from more expensive locations like NYC to Philly because they get far more for their money here.
  • Families are combining their wealth and living together multi-generationally.
  • Renters are paying up to 30% more than in pre-COVID days, making it cheaper to buy a “fixer-upper” now than to rent, even with higher interest rates.

In each of these cases, we help our clients clearly understand the value of investing in upgrades to their homes, and then we create and implement a plan for making those improvements. Our clients are thrilled to find that their old spaces now feel fresh, are aligned with their personal style, and offer all of the amenities their families require — from reorganized modern spaces to larger footprints and beyond.

Does your old space need new life? Contact us to start a conversation today.

How Myers Constructs Can Help You & Your Home in 2021 — Part 3 in a Series

Not Ready to Be Your Own Renovation Project Manager? The Owner’s Rep Solution

You already know that Myers Constructs specializes in the design, build, and general contracting of a wide array of renovation projects for residential and commercial properties. What you may not know is that we can also assist you in working with another general contractor by acting as an “owner’s representative” on your behalf.

In the role of owner’s rep, we take the stress out of managing your home renovation project by putting our decades of expertise to work for you. After all, project management is a profession that you are likely too busy to handle and, more often than not, it doesn’t match your current skillset. In many cases, we find that clients prefer to focus on their day jobs and hand off the responsibility for project management to our team.

What does this type of arrangement look like? In the early stages of your project, you may have an architect and/or contractor already lined up to do the work, or you may still be interviewing them, comparing pricing and personalities. We can help you understand the proposals you’re studying and make an educated decision about whom to hire.

Once that decision is made, we represent you throughout the renovation process to make sure you’re getting the project that was designed for you and receiving the full value of the substantial investment you’ve made in it.

We first meet with you, the architect, the designer, and any major contractors early in the process to establish expectations for working together and to communicate the dynamic that will take place: In other words, that we will be fully acting on your behalf and representing your best interests in this project.

As the project moves along, we oversee quality control, push the schedules forward, and help guide the general contractor and their team through to completion. Throughout the process, we keep a close eye on managing deliveries, communicating any issues with the designer and architect to make sure we have what we need when we need it — because we understand all too well how a missing plumbing part or electrical item can set a project back many weeks! While the architect or contractor is responsible for permits, we’ll stay on top of communicating the status of these items directly to you.

From start to finish, we act as a liaison in communicating with the architect, designer, GC, and you to help solve (and often avoid) problems throughout the project. And we send you daily updates that keep you apprised of progress as we see your new space through to completion in a way that meets your discerning expectations.

If this sounds like a fit for your next project, please reach out to discuss your specific needs. We look forward to assisting you as an owner’s rep.

How Myers Constructs Can Help You & Your Home in 2021 — Part 1 in a Series

The COVID-19 global pandemic has made each of us change how we live. The vast majority of us and our children are spending the bulk of our time at home while learning and working virtually, which has highlighted the ways in which our existing spaces may fall short of meeting our needs.

As a result, we’re seeing an uptick in requests for a wide variety of project types that will help our clients get the most out of their home and enjoy it to its fullest for many years to come:

  • Large-scale additions
  • Impactful project combos like kitchens with laundries and powder rooms
  • Mudrooms and bathrooms
  • Creating privacy within family spaces for home offices, study areas, and creative studios
  • Whole house remodels where we touch every room in the house

We invite you to visit us on the web, Instagram, and Houzz, where you can see the wide variety of “soup to nuts” project solutions we offer that include design, construction, decor, and color — even our own line of Myers Made™ custom cabinetry. As you can see in the photo above of Tam at the pre-COVID 2020 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, we make it a priority to stay on top of new products and industry trends that we incorporate into our signature projects, in contrast to firms that simply execute projects without vital expertise in design and strategy.

After you gather some inspiration, let’s connect and discuss your needs. We’d love to help you achieve the dreams you have for your home in 2021 and beyond.

The Details That Matter

You may recognize this deck image from our Facebook and Instagram accounts last week. It was a popular post that generated a lot of questions and interest, so we thought we’d share the backstory with you.

We came up with this little railing detail maybe 20 years ago, and we now use it on all of our decks because it’s a superior solution. Here’s why.

When you work on older houses, you have to take things apart as a part of renovating. You see what worked and what did not, and how long it lasted. You see how the people who did a section of work maybe 10, 20, or even 100 years ago thought about how to put something together — and they set you up to be able to fix it easily when it finally wore out. We always notice this, and we think about those people, who may no longer be alive, but we hope they hear us thanking them.

You also see what didn’t last or work at all, like renovation “coverups.” Maybe an old plaster wall was peeling a little paint or had a crack in it, and instead of repairing it properly, workers just layered over some paper or paneling. Then that failed a few years later, and they added another layer of something. Finally, we come in and fill a dumpster with all of the layers we need to remove just to get back to the nice plaster so we can finally repair that little crack or missing section. It’s a wasteful use of resources and time.

Inferior materials and quick-fix solutions simply don’t last. We’ve had to pull out almost every 1980s kitchen or bathroom we’ve ever seen because the materials and construction methods were not of good quality during that time. The big box stock cabinets get wet, swell, and deteriorate very quickly — they don’t even get old enough to wear out. Meanwhile we see 100-year-old bathrooms still working. The wall tile might have a thin settling crack, or the lead drain may finally have given up, but for the most part, the fixtures and finishes are still working. That’s pretty remarkable.

In working on decks over the years, we’ve seen that simple 45-degree corners on railings always open up after a certain point. So we came up with our solution that is a combination of a butt joint and a mitered joint that has more attachment surfaces and less area to open up. It’s not much harder to do than a simple 45-degree joint, but it performs substantially better. It has since become a calling card of sorts for us.

Tamara and I want to be like the builders of those 100-year-old bathrooms. We want to build projects right the first time so they last. Sometime in the future, some other carpenter will come along to replace the worn out railing we put in, and they will thank us for making their job easier for them. And in the meantime, our clients will “spend once.” They won’t have to repair that capping anytime soon.

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.

The Wrong Hanger and Why Remodeling Is Very Different Than New Construction

Joist Hangers We are currently working on a split-level rancher in a friendly, quiet neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia near Pennypack Park. This house was inherited by the current owner, who wants to make it more hip and fun. This will involve remodeling the kitchen and three bathrooms, installing new HVAC, and adding lots of pretty mid-century touches.

In this house, the kitchen ceiling does double duty as the floor of the attic space above. The kitchen is about 20 feet long, and the ceiling was framed with 2×6’s that ran the length of the room. Because these joists are very undersized for that span, and they were overloaded with items stored in the attic, the ceiling in the kitchen had drooped quite a lot over time.

To cure this sagging problem, we jacked up the droopy joists, cut them at about midway, and inserted a double-laminated beam across the span. From this, we then hung the now shorter joists.

One of the ends of the new beam stands on a post we created. The other end will hang from another laminated beam we installed to run the span of the divide between the dining room and kitchen — where a wall is being removed to create a more open floor plan.

We ran into a problem when the lumber yard accidentally sent us a hidden fastener hanger for this end of the beam. Whoops!

The backstory on this mistake: Because this is construction in an existing building with walls and a roof already in place, we can’t set this hanger and then drop in the beam. Instead, we have to build the beam up in situ and then install the hanger. Our application calls for an exposed fastener hanger, one with the nailing flanges on the outside where we can get to them.

This is just one small example of how remodeling is very different from new construction. In new construction, things can go much faster because there are no existing conditions to work around — and elements are plumb, level, and square. In an old house, we have droops and sags and things out of level to either correct or work up to. We very often have to work backwards a bit to get things in good shape for the new items we will be installing. We enjoy the challenge that is unique to each remodel, and we find that the effort to find bespoke solutions for each project is always well worth it in the end.