Buying a Home? We Can Help

Whether you are considering buying a home to live in or a house to invest in, purchasing real estate is a huge investment with many complicated layers. We can help you understand the property you are considering buying through the lens of the necessary fixes, upgrades, and ongoing maintenance items you will face in the future.

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

  1. How is the home built? Looking at important systems and infrastructure features, we can tell a lot about the overall construction quality of the home.
  2. What year was it built? We’re familiar with common issues and concerns associated with certain construction eras that you should look out for.
  3. What are the problems the home inspector found? By evaluating the cost of the fixes, we can help you determine which ones should be considered “deal breakers.”
  4. What are the allowed uses and changes that might be made? Together, we can look at possibilities like future additions or structural upgrades.
  5. How does this property compare to similar in the neighborhood — and how can you maximize your rental or resale potential? By analyzing quantitative data, we can show you whether it’s worth adding that 3rd floor addition or an extra bathroom.
  6. What attracted you to the 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.

The answers to all of these questions will help us provide an overall outlook of what needs to be done for the house in order for it to be perfect for you. Unlike a home inspection, our service addresses not only physical problems with the property — we also help you assess the emotional or quality of life strengths and deficiencies of a house to help you reach the goals and dreams you have for it.

Selling a House? We Can Help

So you’ve lived in and loved your home for a long time. You have fond memories when you look at every single thing in it. And now you’ve made the emotional decision to sell.

The first thing you need to know is buyers don’t want to buy your memories. They want to make their own memories in the home you cared for all of these years. What’s more, they typically don’t want to have to do a single thing when they buy your house. They want it to be perfect and “turnkey.” Some will even walk away from a house that is painted “the wrong color.” I even once met a home buyer who complained about the doorbell chime!

Buyers want that charming older home you’ve loved so long to look like a brand new vintage house fresh off the best shelter magazine presses — but with all the charm and character intact. We can help you take the necessary steps so you can see your home from the buyer’s point of view, as it is now, so we can help you prepare to sell it. We guide you through the changes your home needs to attract its next caretaker, the new owner of your house, the future buyer and custodian.

Many of the changes needed to prepare a home for sale can be small and inexpensive, like cleaning and decluttering. But sometimes it makes sense to put in that new kitchen or add that missing bathroom. Many older homes don’t have a bathroom on the first floor, and this is a “must have” for today’s buyers.

We guide you to find solutions to attract the largest group of buyers at the highest price. Often, this means avoiding personal preferences, which can be very challenging for a homeowner.

We can help you weigh all of the options in making your house look better than its competition: all of the other local houses listed for sale at your price point. We aim to get the best return on what you spend, with a faster home sale at a higher price.

Keep in mind that even after you have an offer on your home, the buyers may ask for some things before making the sale official. Maybe they want more closets, or they need an option for accessing the house via a ramp instead of stairs. Often, we can help you and your agent counter those buyer objections by coming up with creative solutions so you get to closing faster. And sometimes, you don’t have to pay for these changes — the buyer only needs to know a solution can be found.

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.

469 Happy Customers (and Counting!)

Our firm recently marked its 21st anniversary. It’s a substantial milestone, and it got us thinking about the number of older houses we’ve improved over that span of time as well as the people we’ve helped to live better lives as a result. So we tallied up the numbers: to date, we have had 469 happy customers.

Incorporated in 1998, Myers Constructs is now one of the oldest, most trusted design build remodelers in the region — and the only one that is women-owned. And whether the projects we do for clients are large or small, very expensive or rather modest, our goal is always to understand how our clients want to live in their homes. We listen to what clients say, what their houses say, and then we come up with a plan to exceed their expectations about what their homes can be.

We help clients dream and imagine a better life in their home, and then we deliver that. For 21 years and counting.

Are You Emotionally Prepared for a Home Renovation?

Being on the brink of a new home improvement project is an exciting time of life. You’ve spent lots of time working with your design team to lay out plans and make product selections. You’re already envisioning what life will be like when the new space is finished. It’s a great feeling. But before you begin, it’s important to pause and do a few things to get emotionally ready for the experience. Even under the best circumstances, your life is about to get a little strained, and it’s best to be prepare up front.

Here are a few suggestions based on our many years of experience helping clients through the process:

Get comfortable with chaos (temporarily)

With any renovation, there is a certain level of stress, mess, and the unsettled feeling that comes with the disruption to your normal routines and rhythms of life. You’ll need to wrap your head around what’s to come. Consider planning extra time outside of the house doing things that you enjoy that help you recharge your batteries. Take a yoga class, reconnect with friends — or even plan a few days away if you can swing it. We have clients who plan long-term trips or temporarily live off-site so they can avoid the construction phase altogether, and it works out great because we’re in close contact throughout the process.

Edit down your belongings

Living in a home over a number of years, you naturally accumulate lots of “stuff.” While you don’t have to go overboard with purging belongings, it will give you a sense of control and will also be very helpful to the construction team if you “Marie Kondo” any extraneous clutter. Believe us, you’ll be happy you did.

Get in sync with your spouse/partner

It’s probably not a surprise that conflict between partners can be the biggest stress riser when it comes to any remodeling job. Discuss everything from budgets to contingency plans for unexpected events early and often to ensure that you’re both on the same page throughout the process.

Make a plan for pets

On any job site, pet safety should be a top priority. With workers coming in and out and lots of potential hazards lying around, you’ll want to alleviate your concerns by ensuring your pet has a safe place to hang out during the day — a crate or dedicated room is best.

Trust the process

A reputable and experienced design-build team will help you understand all of the steps involved in taking your project from demolition to finishing touches. Have faith that their experience and expertise will come together, and that you’ll be enjoying your new space before you know it.

Above all else, take comfort in the fact that the construction phase is a short span of time in the big scheme of things, and once it’s finished, you’ll get a payoff in terms of quality of life improvement and increased resale value at some point in the future.


Image credit: Dennis Jarvis

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.

Behind the Scenes: What Our Customers Never See

Being a design build general contractor working any given day on a variety of projects throughout the Delaware Valley means that there’s never a dull moment around here. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities to find creative solutions — and that’s one of the things we love about this business!

At Myers Constructs, our clients’ projects receive the attention of both company owners: Tamara and me. At the outset, most of our clients understand that we will design their projects and also manage the construction, as well as the complex processes that are involved. What they don’t know is that when the need arises, Tamara and I go to the job site to personally handle some portion of a project ourselves to ensure great quality control for clients. In fact, there are important things we do on a daily basis that most clients never see. For example, Tamara could recently be found personally installing knobs and pulls in a kitchen and overseeing the project’s demanding tile installation. A month earlier, I was handling the framing and cabinet installation for the same kitchen because it was a tricky execution in a very small space, and our staff was fully scheduled during the peak of our busiest season.

Likewise, it’s not uncommon for either Tamara or I to have to run to a supplier to get a small item that arrives after a backorder and needs to be on site right away just to keep a job on schedule. Case in point: We recently personally rushed to Ambler to pick up a light fixture we needed to install in a Center City project. On yet another project, there was a 600-lb load of tile for two bathrooms in the back of my SUV that I unloaded myself.

We take a lot of personal pride in the results that come from this kind of attention to detail — and the happy reaction from customers when their projects are completed on time, on budget, and exceed their expectations. As the saying goes, “When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.”

In the Works: Glenside Colonial Goes Art Deco

One of our clients recently purchased this lovely large brick Colonial in the quaint and eclectic Philadelphia suburb of Glenside. His goal is to restore the home in a way that showcases his love for Art Deco styling, decor, and an extensive collection of art, ceramics, radios, and other electronics.

The home was built by a local developer in the 1920s, and it represents the best quality workmanship of its era — in fact, even the laundry room floor has the original aqua blue linoleum floor still in very good condition! However, the challenge presented by this home is that some of its previous owners made adjustments over the years that didn’t fit its style. For example, the large pantry and back hall, where you might carry in groceries from the rear parking area, was converted into a wine bar featuring faux stucco and brick accents applied to the plaster walls. The modest-sized kitchen had a dated pickled pink cabinet stain and a sandy-colored commercial tile floor. Throughout much of the house, wall-to-wall carpeting covered beautiful original fir and oak floors, and almost every room had heavy drapes keeping out the beautiful light coming through large multi-paned windows. Finally, updated bathrooms had vanities, tile, and accessories that didn’t mesh well with the home’s look and feel.

Our client, who has a very strong sense of aesthetics, called us in to restore the house to its 1920s style and include some of his preferred Art Deco finishes and selections, as well. In addition to helping him redesign a new kitchen to fit the house, we are helping him tease through what else needs to be changed and make a plan for updating the bathrooms, restoring the hardwood floors, installing new lighting and hardware, selecting new wall finishes, and even choosing window treatments and placing furniture — the “soft stuff,” as we call it in the business. Keeping the focus on his personal style preferences, we’ll also create solutions for displaying his collections.

We love projects like this whole house update that draw not only on our expertise in design build systems, but also on our unique understanding of art and style history.