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.

Split-Level Home Renovation

In 2020, our friend and associate, designer Hannah Dee, called us in to renovate a 1960s split-level ranch in Northeast Philadelphia. This is a great, fun, easy-to-live-in house that is near and dear to Hannah’s heart, as it belongs to one of her close family members.

Generally speaking, the house was in pretty good shape, having been maintained and improved over the years, but it needed some 21st century updates and a great whole house design to pull it all together. With whole house design, we listen to how the homeowner wants to use each space, we observe how the spaces flow together, and we make adjustments to improve them both functionally and aesthetically. Having lived in the house for decades, this family had built many memories and collected pieces of cherished mid-century furniture and artwork. While some items were donated to museums and charities, others were scheduled to return to the house when it was done, so a big part of our task was to create spaces for these beloved items to be used and enjoyed.

Some highlights:

  • In the laundry room, we knew the client wanted a colorful and cheerful space to fold laundry and store supplies for her four large dogs. Tamara designed a high folding table with storage below for the pet items to replace the full height storage closet, letting the light in and helping the laundry room feel bigger. In this same space, Hannah selected bright colors, patterned fabric, and a painted floor inspired by the works of Matisse.
  • We added site-built cabinets at the stairs to the laundry to display other special items.
  • In the colorful kitchen, we opened the wall to the dining room and corrected some structural issues that had caused the ceiling to drop, working hard to design solutions that hid all the structural supports. With the wall open to the dining room, the room is light and airy — a bonus for the display shelves we built to showcase our client’s collectibles.
  • We removed the multiple heating systems and added one new heat and air conditioning system. Removing all the baseboard radiators that were popular when these houses were originally built freed up wall space. We re-wired the house and added new lighting and modern outlets.
  • We remodeled the two baths and powder rooms, making sure each felt open and light with all new fixtures, fittings, and finishes.
  • We updated the master closet with custom storage designed for the client.
  • We removed the hollow doors typically used in these mid-century houses with upgraded shaker-style panel doors that are finished with the black-and-white color theme of the house.
  • Updating all the rooms in the house allowed for custom touches for the client while we brought in all of the behind-the-walls upgrades.

This project, like most, was shut down when COVID hit. As we were allowed to return, we managed the many new working rules, supply chain issues, and other delays, and love seeing the bright and cheerful completed project. We are so happy to finally be able to share finished project photos with you. Tamara and Hannah love collaborating on projects like this for clients. It was nice to work together for family on this one — especially during such trying times!

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 2 in a Series

Your Partner in Property Purchases

Are you considering buying a primary home or an investment property? If so, you already know that there are many complicated layers to this life-changing decision.

Generally speaking, you’ll spend more on a home you plan to live in, and you’ll be there for at least seven years, during which you’ll be looking to build a cushion of appreciation and make it as comfortable and attractive as possible. For most of us, our home not only houses us, shielding us from the elements, but it communicates to us and others what is important to us.

Your goals for a rental property will be much different: you’ll want it to generate positive cash flow, last a long time with minimal maintenance, and hopefully also produce appreciation. Of course, if you’re investing in a unique commercial property situation like adaptive reuse, rezoning property, doing land development, or building new construction, there are even more specific challenges that our experienced team can help with, as well.

Before you make an offer in any of these scenarios, we can help you understand your prospective property through the lens of the necessary construction, zoning, fixes, upgrades, and ongoing maintenance items it will need in the future.

We can even join you on a property visit to gather answers to important questions like:

  • What attracted you to a prospective house? Looking at what you love, we can get a good feel for how it can be made even better — including what that will cost and how long it will take to achieve.
  • How well is the home built? By examining the major systems and infrastructure features, we can tell a lot about the overall construction quality of the property.
  • What year was it built, and what are some common issues and concerns associated with that construction era that you should look out for?
  • How does this property compare to similar ones in the area — and how can you maximize your rental or resale potential? By analyzing quantitative data, we can show you whether it’s worth adding that third-floor addition, new kitchen, or extra bathroom.
  • What are the permitted uses and changes that are possible for a primary home? Together, we can look at options like future additions and other structural upgrades.
  • What are the problems the home inspector found, and what will they cost to fix? Which ones should be considered “deal breakers”?
  • What is the highest and best allowable current and future use for an investment property based on its zoning? For example, you may want to subdivide a single-home property into multiple lots and homes or expand a one-level commercial building into something like a low-rise condo.
  • How can you design an investment property to maximize cash flow, force appreciation, and/or put plans in place now for future payout?

The answers to all of these questions will help us provide an overall outlook on whether a property is the right fit and a smart investment for you. Unlike a home inspection, our home buyer’s service addresses not only physical problems with a property, but it also helps assess the emotional or quality-of-life issues you will face in achieving your dreams for your new home or property. We look forward to discussing the exciting possibilities with you!

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.