Taking Control of Your Home Reno Experience

When our company begins any new home renovation project with a client, I ask the homeowners what kind of remodeling experience they want to have. They always look at me blankly in response. Whether they’re planning major home overhauls or making minor improvements, they seem to think their renovation experience is out of their hands. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Read more

90% Done, 75% to Go!

When it comes to closing a renovation project, that old saying holds true: the devil is in the details. It’s a time when having logged your 10,000 hours counts, and we’ve even coined a phrase for it: “90% done, 75% to go.” Because while the big, fancy and expensive pieces are installed and complete, there is still a large pile of teeny, tiny details to get done. It’s these details — the last 75% — that make your project look finished.

Here is a snap of some of the things that still need to be installed at this small, whole-house renovation we’re doing for the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The house is in a nice neighborhood in the city’s East Mount Airy section. It’s not a fancy project, but the details still count.

Read more

We’re in The News!

Discussing modern day marketing and how we do it in :

Remodeling Magazine

We are moving to e marketing because it’s more sustainable than snail mail. E marketing doesn’t require little gas powered trucks driving all over to deliver cards with our contact info on them.

But in order for this to work we need your help. When you share our newsletters and other marketing materials with your friends and neighbors, you are helping all of us be more sustainable!

“Plumb Level Square” Does Not Always Apply

Plumb Level Square is a touch stone phrase carpenters and other craftsmen use to be sure their work is tidy. But it doesn’t always apply. Here is the proof. Enjoy the show!

These photos were taken at The Wooden Boat Show hosted by The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton NY. Its a fine museum with many open water slips and covered galleries where they show off amazing wooden craft of the Finger Lakes Region in NY.

Anyone who appreciates wooden construction methods will be blown away by the craftsmanship and engineering of these craft. It’s no easy task to make wood take these shapes!

Choosing a Contractor: The Inside Scoop

At our company, I field all the sales calls. This means I spend time on the phone with potential customers. This is where I learn about the projects they’re interested in. I ask a lot of questions. I ask about their intended project, problems or issues they might be having with their homes. I get general information from callers too, like address and contact information, age and condition of their home. I ask about their budget. Knowing that callers have a reasonable assumption about costs is important because without that, it’s going to be hard to help them. I will also ask if they have worked with another Design to Build general contractor before. I learn a lot about other construction companies and what ticks homeowners off about them from this part of my conversation.

Read more

The Sweet Smell of Home Improvement

Most people don’t know that their houses smell new and much nicer after they renovate. It’s kind of like “new house smell” gets sprayed on their home.

The first week or two of construction is dusty and may not smell very good. In fact, it can uncover many BAD smells, like mildew, rot or sewer gases. It’s icky. No two ways about it.

But after that phase, NEW STUFF is installed. So you smell all the new pine lumber, plywood, drywall, primer and paint, adhesives and polishes. The new cabinets often still smell of varnish or paint. Floors can smell terrible during the varnishing process, but after that they smell fantastic. In fact, two of my favorite scents include new cement and fresh wax — a fine old-time finish.

The experience of finally being able to see, touch — and smell! — so many thousands of dollars of shiny, new, wonderful stuff you ordered 6 weeks or more beforehand can be a little overwhelming. Customers can’t keep from touching and playing with things. They “oooooh” and “aaaaah,” even though they selected the goodies themselves. But the excitement can also cause them to do naughty little things, like put their fingers into wet paint or step on wet tile floors. I myself have been guilty of doing both. It’s like sticking your finger in a birthday cake to taste it. You just can’t help yourself.

Home Changes, Life Changes

Many of our customers of replica handbags have older homes, in which large, complex or expensive projects have been delayed. Sometimes, the needed renovations are really overdue, but we are glad our customers waited until they found us to work on their homes.

Renovating a home is stressful. It costs money — sometimes a lot of it. Just to remind ourselves of these facts, we renovate our own homes from time to time.

Read more

Something Old, Something New… Something Blue

We are completing a renovation project consisting of three older bathrooms in this 1920’s Mount Airy Stone Twin.

We installed this Forbo Marmoleum sheet goods floor in the powder room and the third-floor bathrooms. The color is #3182 Lapponia.

Marmoleum linoleum is a green product that’s been around a long, long time! It has a jute backing, and the sheeting is made from linseed oil, cork and sawdust plus coloring. The color goes all the way through, so it will wear a long time. The linseed oil oxidizes, which means this flooring repels germs! I used to do oil painting restoration, and oxidized linseed oil was one of the hardest substances we ran into.

You can see that we salvaged the original nickel and glass towel bars, too! The bars are made of 1-inch round glass rods.

In the Beginning: The Starting Point for Every Renovation Project

Yesterday, my neighbor asked me about her kitchen. She explained that she hates the one she has, and she was obviously anxious about getting it renovated. But she was completely confused about how to get started or even identify what sort of renovation she wants. She made the mistake that many people do: jumping right into thoughts about cabinets, layouts and other fixtures. I told her what I tell all of our clients — these items are really just a distraction when you are starting to think about your projects. The features come much later during the design phase.

At our company, we do dozens of renovation projects every year, so understanding where to start is second nature for our team. But that means that we sometimes forget to put ourselves in the shoes of people like my neighbor. She really needs some information to help her figure out how to get started.

Here is a simple breakdown of the first three important steps:

Read more

A Look at the 2010 Old House Fair…

This past weekend, we attended the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s (PAGP) Old House Fair, an event that brings together homeowners and aspiring owners of older and historic homes with historic preservation specialists from throughout the Philadelphia area. This is the second year in a row we’ve attended the fair, and we always seem to run into many great folks we’ve known for a long time but haven’t seen in a while.

Our company is excited and honored to be involved with PAGP — and to be receiving one of their 2010 Preservation Awards for our work on an extensive window-renovation project at The Fleisher Art Memorial (link to 3/10/10 press release).

At the Old House Fair, our customer, Carolyn West, was also honored with a Homeowner Award from the Preservation Society! You can see her receiving her award in the photos below (she’s wearing the blue blouse). And our own Tamara Myers hosted a workshop for homeowners who were eager to learn more about window projects in historic homes. Tamara has more than 25 years of experience with window issues in older homes.

Check out some snaps from the event: