AzBusiness LEADERS 2019




We are proud to announce that Steve Shinn  CR is currently featured in AzBusiness Leaders list of 2019’s top businessmen in Arizona.

Steve Shinn leads a talented group of design and construction professionals at Homework Remodels doing home remodels across metro Phoenix.

He is also a local leader of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. He is currently the only remodeler in Arizona recognized by NARI as a Certified Remodeler, Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler, Universal Design Certified Professional and Green Certified Professional. The Greater Phoenix NARI Chapter’s members are a group of the valley’s top quality remodelers and subcontractors.

Change Management During Your Remodel

Continued from our October Newsletter Article.

Post-contract changes need not be a problem, but they absolutely need a well thought-through process

Remodelers who do fantastic work for satisfied customers share some important traits. Two of these are an obsession with details and with clearly communicating those details to the homeowners. Great remodelers are great communicators, and part of being a great communicator is documenting every part of the job.

It takes a lot of work to craft detailed construction documents, but that work pays off by showing the homeowners exactly what they’re getting and by helping the remodeler understand exactly what the homeowners want. They keep everyone working from the same set of expectations and ensure a smoother, more enjoyable project.

Critical documents include the contract, the plans and the specs. They also include change orders.

The usual definition of a change order is anything that alters the scope, schedule, or cost of the work after the homeowner has signed the final contract. Professional remodelers strive to minimize these by supporting clients to make product selections before work starts, and by writing detailed specs (product descriptions) for the homeowners to review and approve.

But while this effort can minimize changes, it can’t eliminate all of them. The building inspector may, after work has already begun on a new kitchen, decide that all the home’s smoke detectors need be brought up to code; the remodeler may find a rotted beam during demolition that needs replacing; the homeowners may decide that they really want an additional window.

Such changes need to be carefully managed. That’s where good change order documents earns their keep.

Know What You’re Getting

It’s hard to overstate the importance of detail here. Vague change orders are notorious for generating bad feelings; lots of homeowners have complained about contractors who present them with a bill for extra work they either didn’t know about or didn’t think was going to raise costs.

To be fair, most of these contractors don’t intentionally mislead homeowners; they simply lack the needed management and communication skills. Take the example of homeowners who want a different master bathroom tile than the one originally specified. If the contractor orders the tile but doesn’t tally the cost until after installation, if it adds an extra $500 the homeowners may feel like they’ve been gouged, even if that wasn’t the intent.

The professionally managed company doesn’t make such mistakes. It quantifies the cost of that tile, as well as its effect on the project timetable, presents the numbers to the homeowners on a standard change order form, and doesn’t order the tile until the homeowners have signed off on it.

Most professional remodelers also add an administrative fee to change orders. This covers the time required for staff to research products and prices, complete the paperwork, and call subcontractors to determine the effect on the schedule. If, for instance, that new tile will take an extra two weeks to get, the staff will have to work with the plumber on rescheduling the toilet installation. If the homeowner cancels the change after the contractor’s staff has done this work, in most cases they still have to pay the administrative fee.

By the way, misunderstandings about products and specs can arise on even the best-managed job with the most detailed documentation. Fortunately, these are usually minor. The homeowners may have expected three coats of exterior paint on that new siding when industry standards call for two, or perhaps they assumed a tile baseboard in the bath, even though it wasn’t in the specs. The sheer number of products and decisions that go into a major remodel make it impossible to foresee every detail.

These issues are easily resolved if there’s mutual trust between the homeowner and the remodeler, which is why it’s so important to and hire a trustworthy pro in the first place. And one trait of such a pro is great communication systems.

Why Choose a NARI Professional?


WHY CHOOSE A NARI PROFESSIONAL?                                

1. What is NARI?

 The acronym NARI stands for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. It is the only association solely dedicated to the remodeling industry. As stated on their website,, “NARI is an organization of high-quality remodeling professionals. Its members are committed to integrity, high-standards, professional education, ethics, and market recognition.” Why Choose a NARI Professional?

2.  How can NARI be of benefit to me?

 NARI can connect you, the homeowner, with a dedicated full-time local professional to ensure you have a positive remodeling experience. NARI certified remodelers will write contracts and warranties that comply with local, state and federal laws. They always take appropriate action to ensure the health and safety of employees, trade contractors, and clients. Why Choose a NARI Professional?

3. Does it really matter if my contractor is not a NARI member?

Every member of NARI has agreed to conduct their business in accordance with the Standards of Practice for the Remodeling Industry. Also, every member has been actively involved with the remodeling industry for at least 2-5 years prior to earning a certificate. Without these certificates, how would you know if you were hiring a qualified remodeler? How can you measure a remodeler’s ethics, if they are not part of an organization that educates, monitors, and certifies their members? NARI has taken all of the guesswork out of hiring a reliable professional contractor who is knowledgeable, informed, resourceful and flexible. Why Choose a NARI Professional?

 4.   What does that mean to me, the homeowner?

 As stated on the NARI website, NARI member are pledged to observe high standards of honesty, integrity and responsibility in the way they conduct business. They are experienced, trusted, qualified, ethical and dependable business owners who will get your project done right. They obtain the proper permits, carry the required insurances, follow local codes and design innovative solutions to renovate your home. By choosing a NARI certified professional, you are getting an expert in their field, a tried and true specialist who will turn your remodel into your dream home. Why Choose a NARI Professional?

5. What do all the different designations mean?

CR – Certified Remodeler

CKBR- Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler

CGHP-Certified Green Home Professional

UDCP-Universal Design Certified Professional


Tanked versus Tankless

Tanked versus Tankless

Thinking about replacing that outdated water heater for a more energy efficient model? Tankless units are very popular right now. In addition, they have many advantages over the standard tanked water heater, but they also have a few drawbacks.

Tankless water heaters

Energy Efficiency- it is estimated that a family of four can save about $100.00 per year on their electric bill. No heat is lost to water being heated and stored when it is not needed. You heat and pay for what is actually being used.

Unlimited Hot Water-any amount of water will be instantly heated using electricity or gas. This unit is perfect for deep, soaking tubs and showers with multiple spray heads. Also, you can pre-program a precise temperature with an easy to use thermostat. Sensors activate when hot eater is needed and water is immediately heated. Then the sensors automatically turn off when hot water is no longer needed. This does not mean that you will have immediate hot water at the sink furthest from the heater. The standing, cooler water in the pipe will still have to run through first.

Smaller Size- tankless water heaters are about the size of a medicine cabinet. Furthermore, they can be installed in many more locations than a tanked unit. You can even put a tankless unit on an exterior wall, out of site!

Life Expectancy- you can expect a tankless model to last 20+ years. Double that of a tanked unit.


Purchase Price- depending on the model you choose, tankless water heaters are at least twice the cost of a tanked unit. But, they will pay for themselves over time with the savings from less electric usage.

Installation Price. You cannot just swap your existing tanked unit for a tankless model. Retrofitting your home may require modifications to the existing water piping, and gas lines. This is the time to call in a professional.

Tanked water heaters


Purchase Price-traditional tanked systems have been around for along time now, and the price is a fraction of what the tankless units cost.

Installation price-MUCH less than tankless. Many appliance showrooms will offer to set-up delivery and installation as an option when purchasing a new tanked water heater.


“There’s no more hot water”-how many times has this happened to you? If you have teenagers, probably a lot! 20-80 gallons of water, depending on the size of your model, is all you get. Then, you have to wait for the tank to refill and reheat. No fun if you are in a hurry. Nobody likes a cold shower when you’re expecting a nice warm one.

Inefficient-water is constantly being reheated, whether you need it or not. Energy is lost when the water cools down over time and energy is wasted by reheating it needlessly.

Tanked Versus Tankless. So, as you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type. Whichever you decide is best for your situation, give us a call when you are ready to get started. Homework Remodels is a trusted, experienced design-build firm.

For a free in-home consultation, call 602-478-5102 or email





Mid Century Modern Homes

We have had the pleasure of remodeling several Mid Century Modern Homes in the greater Phoenix area. Each is as unique as its’ owner, but they do have many attributes in common that make Mid Century Modern Homes.

The movement became popular in the 1950’s and focused on ranch style homes built from the 1940’s to the mid 70’s.  A lot of the architectural styling was inspired by the prairie style home which spoke to the relationship between architecture and the natural environment, wherever the home is located.  the home and family values. A simple, clean look that emphasized a lifestyle striving to put home and family first. Mothers wanted a modern kitchen that included a window over the sink, so that she could keep an eye on the kids in the back yard. Families embraced an open floor plan, allowing them to keep each other in sight, instead of being in separate rooms all the time.

Let Nature In

Glass was used to define spaces within the home. Floor to ceiling windows create drama and allow natural light to permeate through the open floor plan. Exposed beams are another facet of Mid Century Modern Homes. Wood finishes, especially exotic veneers, became extremely popular in these homes. Wood planked ceilings are often used, giving a natural, warm feeling to the spaces.

Colors that POP!

There are several color palettes that work well with Mid Century Modern homes. One of the most popular is the stunning combination of aqua and tangerine. This complementary color scheme is simple, easy to accomplish and adds energy to your spaces. The other popular color schemes all focus on a neutral palette with a pop of vivid contrast. An example would be cool grays with a splash of citrus. Also, you could use neutral tans with a pop of chartreuse or bright pink. In addition, for the more artistic, an overall black and white color palette on the walls, furniture and accessories. Then, the space is energized by a wonderfully colorful area rug. Fun and unexpected!




Home Office Components

More and more us are able to work from home these days. Thanks to computers and cell phones we can instantly be in touch with our business contacts.  Setting up a temporary office on the dining room table may be a cheap and quick solution, but it is not going to make you very effective at your job. Having a dedicated home office will make working from home much more productive. An organized, clean space away from the distractions of daily life at home is what is needed. The following Home office components will help keep you on task.

Home Office Components

There are four main parts of any home office; lighting, flooring, desk or worktable and some sort of organizational unit, like cabinetry and shelving. First of all, lighting, There are only about 12 trillion options for lighting, so don’t get overwhelmed. Do a little homework ahead of time to know what type you need for your space. Full spectrum lighting has been linked to improved productivity. You don’t want to be straining to see your computer screen. Be aware of bright light shining into your office space and get light control through blinds and drapery to get rid of glare. Next, is flooring for your space. Your choice of materials depends on how much you are going to be on your feet or seated. Seated, no problem, use whatever you prefer. But, if you will be standing a lot, you may want to consider a more resilient material, like cork or carpeting.

Furniture Choices

Work tables have gained in popularity lately. Most likely, because it is easier to seat more people when working in conjunction with others. Whether you choose a traditional desk or a work table, don’t forget to provide space for storage. To keep yourself organized and productive, use open or closed shelving, bookcases and cabinetry .

These four home office components will make your space convenient and conducive to working from home.

Homework Remodels can show you how we can convert a bedroom to a home office or add on to your home.





4 Steps to a Perfect Outdoor Space

Paradise Valley AZ upscale home remodel including numerous luxury high-end featuresAs we start to hit those 100 + degree days, it would be great not to have to heat up the house cooking dinner. Sure, outdoor cooking has its’ advantages, but do you ever feel as though you too are cooking, along with the food!!  There is no pleasure in standing in front of a hot grill when its 115 degrees outside and you have no shade, no fan and no misting system.  What a pleasure it would be to have any or all of those devices to keep you and your family more comfortable in your backyard. Why not make this space enjoyable year round? We have spectacular sunsets here in Phoenix. Gathering friends and family to bask in Mother Nature’s beauty make them even more special. Here are 4 steps to a perfect outdoor space…

Step 1. Use a professional.

It is advantageous to work in conjunction with a Certified Kitchen & Bath Designer. We are knowledgeable in all aspects of a home remodel. Important components like budgeting, specifying, space planning and design. We will make the most of your area, working along side you to create a functional, unique space, just for your family. When we are finished, you will have added value and usable square footage to your home.

Step 2. Choose carefully.

Always use appropriate materials and finishes in an exterior setting. Our climate in Phoenix is harsh on fabrics, finishes, equipment and people! Be careful when purchasing products for your backyard space. Use exterior rated fabrics on your seat cushions and curtains. Also, when choosing outdoor furniture, consider the weight of the object. It does get windy here and you don’t want your  furniture to end up in your neighbors pool! Ceiling fans should always be rated for exterior use. No, there are not as many choices, but they are safe. Don’t use real wood for cabinets or countertops, it is just too hard to maintain here. If you love the look, there are many wonderful options that look like real wood, without the added maintenance.

Step 3. Adjusting the Temperature.

Yes, it is possible. With a little planning, we can make your backyard temperature much more comfortable. Shade, whether it comes in the form of a covered roof, shade sail or exterior curtain, will make the air around you feel 10-15 degrees cooler. A breeze from a fan, and these can be ceiling or standing portable fans, will also make the air feel cooler.  Misters, on the other hand, do actually change the air temperature through evaporative cooling. You can expect a 15 degree difference, on average. Conversely, in the winter, you may add a heat source to your yard to make it a little more comfortable on chilly evenings. Fire pits and portable heaters will provide that extra bit of warmth for a truly year round perfect outdoor space.

Step 4. Add Entertainment, Invite Friends.

Decide what you want to do in your new space. How about an outdoor television viewing area where you can invite the neighbors over to watch the game and BBQ? Want to keep the teens occupied? Set up a Jenga game or Pictionary, that will keep them happy, for a few minutes anyway! Add music, maybe a bar area. If you really have the space and the budget, a hot tub or a pool would absolutely complete the picture. Just make sure you have plenty of seating, because your house is about to become THE place to be.



Deciding which type of cooktop to add to your kitchen is ultimately a personal choice. Many people stay with whichever type they learned to cook on, as that is the most familiar. Budding chefs may decide that the precision of a gas cooktop is the only way to go. Parents of young children, and children of aging parents may find the safety of induction cooking to be its’ major attribute.  Electric cooktops are usually less expensive than the other two to purchase and to repair. It really all depends on your personal preferences. Here are some pros and cons of each in:



GAS: Preferred by chefs worldwide for its’ instant heating properties that allow an immediate response to a change in temperature. You are able to char grill and flambe on a gas stove. Attachments are available to accommodate accessories like wok burners and griddles. Gas is usually less expensive to use than electricity, as long as you already have a supply run into your home. Some of the drawbacks include the open flame, which many parents feel is dangerous around children and the potential for carbon monoxide building up. Any time gas is supplied to a home, a carbon monoxide detector is an absolute necessity for safety. And finally, compared to the other two types of cooktops, gas will always be harder to clean because of its’ metal grates and non-flat surface.



INDUCTION: The newer technology of the three, induction works by an alternating current passing through metallic elements under the cooktop surface. Metallic cookware such as, cast iron, steel and ceramic enamel clad must be used. Anything else, including human hands, will not heat up on this surface. The pot or pan itself is heated, not the surrounding surface. Induction cooking is fast and precise, like gas. Also, it is very energy efficient. Induction is more expensive to purchase and more complicated to repair. Additionally, if you do not already own metallic cookware, they would be another expense to consider.


ELECTRIC: The old stand by that many of us grew up with. Electric cooktops are inexpensive to purchase and repair. Versatile, as they will work with any type of cookware. They do a wonderful job at low temperature cooking, like simmering a pot a spaghetti sauce for hours. However, they are extremely inefficient, slow to heat up and slow to change temperature.

As you can see, each type of cooktop has its’ own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, only you can decide which is best for individual style of cooking and budget.



Fireplaces & Alternative Fuel Sources

Phoenix Home & Garden featured Historic home remodel in the Willo neighborhood.

Chandler Arizona Kitchen Remodel with dark brown wood cabinets and quartz counter tops

                                     Fireplaces & Alternatives Fuel Sources

Do you own a wood burning fireplace? No Burn Days can be an inconvenience. We have a solution for you. Take back your right to use your fireplace any time you want by converting it away from burning wood. Homework Remodels can work with you to modify your existing fireplace. Alternative fuel sources each provide different advantages, like fuel efficiency, a cleaner burn or being portable. Your lifestyle and the availability of the fuel sources will make choosing easier.

                                            Benefits of a Gas Fireplace

  • More energy efficient than burning wood
  • Can be used on “No-Burn” days
  • Produces real flames like wood, no other energy source can
  • Cleaner burn = Less by-products
  • No electricity – No problem
  • Reliable, easy to control
  • Increases home value

                               Disadvantage: Gas must be vented


          Direct Vent versus B-Vent

  • Direct Vent has better heat efficiency and volume
  • B-Vent produces a larger, realistic flame and is more cost effective
  • Direct Vent can be vented either vertically or horizontally
  • B-Vent has no fixed glass panels, easier to maintain
  • Direct Vent units are closed and they have 2 pipes, 1 brings in air, the other emits fumes
  • B-Vent units are smaller, uses air in the home for combustion, vents vertically
  • Direct Vent can be difficult to control heat output in smaller rooms
  • B-Vent can be installed anywhere there is room for the vent
  • Direct Vent firewood placement is critical for proper combustion

Benefits of an Electric Fireplace

  • 100% heat output, no heat lost up the chimney
  • Can be used on “No-Burn” days
  • No soot= easy to maintain and clean
  • No chopping, hauling or stacking of wood, simply flip the switch
  • Portable and easy to install
  • No fire danger, no venting or gas lines needed
  • Precise temperature control
  • Can be used for ambience only, without any heat output

Benefits of an Alcohol/Gel Fireplace

  • Vent free and portable
  • Can be used on “No-Burn” days
  • Smoke free and environmentally friendly
  • Sounds like a real wood burning fireplace
  • Does not pop embers, like wood, or emit harmful fumes
  • Lasts longer and provides more warmth than wood


Tile & Stone: The Good, the Bad and the Gorgeous!


Tile & Stone: The Good, the Bad and the Gorgeous!

Let’s start with The Good- Porcelain Tile. Good because, as you can see from the pictures above, it has many different faces. Porcelain tile can look like wood planking, or it can look hand-painted and sometimes it looks exactly like brick. There are thousands of different looks, styles, and finishes of tile in porcelain. It is an excellent product because of it’s strength and ease of maintenance. Floors, especially, take a beating from all the sand we bring in, or is blown in by the wind! Porcelain is dense enough to withstand the scratching of sand. If beauty, durability and easy maintenance are high on your priority list, take a look at porcelain products. They never disappoint.


Tile & Stone: The Good, the Bad and the Gorgeous!

The Bad? Ceramic Tile. Really, this product is only bad when it is improperly used. For example, it is absolutely perfect for shower walls and backsplashes. Neither of those two areas need a dense material, as walls don’t take the abuse that floors do. Ceramic tile will chip and crack easier than a porcelain tile. Often, the under laying clay can be a contrasting color, making the chip even more noticeable. For that reason, I do not recommend using it as flooring material. Even in a bathroom, I would still rather use a porcelain on the floor, plus porcelain can have a more slip-resistant finish, making it a safer choice.




Tile & Stone: The Good, the Bad and the Gorgeous!



Now, the Gorgeous, Stone. I love natural stone, so I may be a little partial here. There is something very special, to me, in the inherent differences between each piece of stone. I love the beauty in the fact that no two pieces are exactly the same. Now, this can drive other people crazy. Any type of stone that has a lot of color and movement through it does have a tendency to look busy. You have to be careful when deciding on a rug, for instance. Whatever sits on top of an active, patterned floor needs to calming. Also, not everyone is cut out for the high maintenance and expense of natural stone.

Travertine, as seen in the first photo, can be calm in its coloring, or it can have a lot of movement and color. It is one of the softer stones, so care must be taken to protect it from sand. Just a little sand under the leg of a sofa, for instance, could cause a noticeable scratch if the furniture is not properly lifted when moved. Travertine has a casual, worn look about it and works well as flooring, shower walls and backsplash material. This stone must be periodically sealed.

Granite, the middle photo, is much more durable than travertine. It can be cut into slabs, as shown, or into more manageable sizes for floor applications. There are hundreds of different types of granite. Some are sedate and others are wild in their colors and patterning. Of course, the more rare = the more expensive. Granite is a perfect countertop material. It does not require a lot of maintenance and adds value to your home. Once, again, care must be taken with sand and natural stone flooring.

Last, but not least, marble. Not as durable as granite, marble has a unique beauty in its’ veining. Used for centuries, marble has an elegance to it. Available in a multitude of colors, marble makes a “wow” entry when used in a medallion, as shown above. Also, black and white checkered marble floors have been popular in some parts of the country for years. They look especially great in older homes. Marble makes a wonderful bathroom countertop material. Bathroom counters do not generally get the use ( or abuse ) that kitchen counters do. It will stain, however, if make-up or nail polish is left on it. Marble should be re-sealed every so often, depending on the amount of use.












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