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.

How to Plan the Kitchen You Want with the Functionality You Need

A kitchen remodel, how exciting! But, where do you start? Do you choose the color of the walls first? Or, the color of the countertops or the cabinets? Maybe you should choose your appliances first? Do you really need new appliances?

So much to think about and consider….

We want to help you out with all the questions above and get you on track, so that you can successfully finish your kitchen remodel and have a space that is as functional as it is beautiful.

Here are 5 steps that you will need to take to plan the kitchen you want with the functionality you need:

Create a List

Everything is about making lists, and kitchen remodels are no exception! We recommend making a list of how you want to use this space as well as everything that you want and need in it. Once your list is complete, you can prioritize your needs and then your wants, to see which ones you must fit into your budget.

Create Your Budget

A budget is as important as that notorious list above, and it is necessary to know this number before you go any further. Once you have your budget, subtract at least ten percent for all those unknown problems that always pop up during construction. That will leave you with ninety percent to use for the materials and labor of the space. Don’t be too shocked if your budget is much smaller than all your wants and needs. It happens to everyone!

Determine Your Style

Everyone has their own style when it comes to their homes, and it is important to know if you want your new kitchen modern, traditional, or transitional. A modern kitchen will have clean lines and minimal clutter, while traditional kitchens are cozier and filled with wood and memorabilia. A transitional kitchen has a little of both those options, which makes it popular among many homeowners.

Choose Your Cabinets

Once you know what type of style you want in your new kitchen, it will be time to choose your cabinets. Of course, if your current cabinets are in excellent condition, you may be able to save some money in your budget by simply refacing them with the color or finish of your choice.

Choose Your Countertops

The material that you choose for your countertop needs to be one that matches how you will use this space. Quartz and granite are both excellent choices as they are durable, while small sections of marble are a good option for bakers. Wood and concrete are other popular choices, but you will need to make sure that you have the time available to maintain the material that you choose. If you do not take the time to do some preventative maintenance, you may end up replacing them sooner than you should.

These are the first five steps that you will need to take with your kitchen remodel and once you have these completed, you can relax a little as you finalize the smaller details. Those little details are more fun, as they involve choosing paint colors, drapes, and hardware to make your kitchen look amazing as you use it to its fullest potential.

Discover Your Kitchen Style before the Planning Phase Begins

Are you ready to tackle that kitchen renovation that you have been dreaming of for the last few months or years? That’s great news, but are you ready??

How much planning have you put into this project so far? Have you collected hundreds of pictures of kitchens and narrowed it down at all?

What if we were to tell you that you need to know what style you want for your kitchen before you start choosing cabinets, countertops, flooring, and more?

That would probably put a damper on your major plans, especially if you have no idea what style you want!

To find your style, we recommend pulling out all those pictures that you have been collecting and look at them carefully. You will soon see a pattern between them all, although it will be subtle at first. Separate those pictures into piles, with modern kitchens going into one and traditional, and transitional going into others. Once you have completed those piles, you may realize that you prefer one style over another.

Now is the time to go back through the pictures once again, most likely starting with the pile of your favorite style and pull out the ones that have the features that you love the most. You may realize that you love dark wood floors or large islands or pendant lights. The options are endless, but only you will be able to tell what you love the most.

Plan on seeing unique features in multiple pictures and not loving any of the kitchens in your pictures as a whole. This is common and will allow you to know that you have done everything the way that you should have. After all, you don’t want the same exact kitchen as someone else!

At this point, you will want to use sticky notes or use a notebook to take notes of the features that you love from each photo. You may look at one picture with the small baking nook with marble counters and decide that you need that in your kitchen, while still falling in love with the color of the granite countertops in another photo.

You can even take notes on the items that you don’t love including how the crown molding transitions or how the glass on the cabinets are unfrosted. This is a great way to know what you do not like, which makes it easy to avoid those items when picking out materials and items for your kitchen.

At the end of this process, you will know your style and you will have a good idea of how you are designing your kitchen. Then it will be time to call a designer and a builder and get kitchen renovation moving forward.

How to Choose Materials for Your Phoenix Kitchen Remodeling Project

You have watched all the renovation shows, looked through all the kitchen design magazines, and dreamed about what you want your kitchen to be. Now that the time has come to remodel your kitchen, you are asking yourself where to begin. Here are a few tips to get you started toward a new kitchen.

Decide on a Style

Choosing the style that you want your kitchen to have will give you a theme on which to base all your choices. This will help give your space a uniform and cohesive look. It might be helpful to look at cabinetry that fits with the style of your home.

The style of your kitchen will help you narrow down your choices for cabinets. You can customize your cabinets with color, finish, and hardware. Once you make the choice of cabinet you can move on to countertops.

Should You Choose Granite?

Granite countertops are a popular choice and can look beautiful in your home but you may find that they are not in your budget or the maintenance doesn’t work for your lifestyle. Keep an open mind while choosing your countertops. There are many choices like engineered stone or concrete that can match your cabinet style and fit in your budget.

Now you are ready to pick out the tile backsplash. You will want to compliment your cabinets and counters with tiles that bring your personality into the design. Your backsplash will be the focal point of your kitchen.

Use Samples to Help You Decide

It is helpful to get samples of your choices so you can make sure that all your elements will work well together. Do not get overwhelmed by the choices you need to make. Each choice will lead you to the next until you have the kitchen of your dreams.

Kitchen Remodeling in Phoenix

Phoenix area homeowners are going to have the opportunity to learn about kitchen design from our award-winning design team. Check out the information for our Homeowner Design Seminars, and give us a call at 602-478-5102 to discuss remodeling your kitchen with us.

25 Bathroom Remodeling Expenses that Many Homeowners Overlook

If you plan on renovation your bathroom, you should be aware of all the associated costs. Many homeowners find that they go over budget for the simple reason that they did not consider some of the work that will be done and the costs to do them.

Twenty-five expenses that a bathroom remodeling project will incur and that you should be aware of are:

  1. Building and other permits: most areas require that you get and pay for varying types of permits for renovation work. Depending on the work to be done, you may need a building permit, electrical and plumbing permits. For older building, you may also need to pay to test for lead or asbestos before you can start tearing down and renovating. 
  2. Cost for demolition: Depending on the work to be done, some amount of demolition will be needed.
  3. Unexpected costs associated with wood rot, improper or old electrical wiring and insect infestation are possible.
  4. Plumbing work, especially replacing pipes and fixtures.
  5. Shower curtain rods: these small items often get overlooked when budgeting for renovation.
  6. Robe hook: this may not costs a lot, but it still needs to be budgeted for, especially I the bathroom is used by more than one person.
  7. Grab bars (for bathroom or toilet): you may not need them now, but budgeting for or making plans for them is important.
  8. Tissue roll holder: you need to find the type you want and budget accordingly. 
  9. Windows (if needed): You may need a new window or window treatment, such as molding or curtain rods.
  10. Electrical plugs and sockets: make sure you plan for enough of these.
  11. Grout for shower floor and floor: you need different types
  12. Labor costs: even if you are doing most of the work, put aside some money for labor as you will more than likely need some help.
  13. Accessories/decorative touches: you may want to include mirrors, a paintng or plants for that special touch.
  14. Clean up costs: You will need to clean up and cart away debris. In most cases, you will need some help to get this done.

The items below need no explanation, but they also add to the overall cost of your bathroom renovation.

  1. Door
  2. Exhaust fan
  3. Soap dish
  4. Toothbrush holder
  5. Medicine cabinet
  6. Cupboards
  7. Sinks:
  8. Lighting
  9. Flooring
  10. Paint
  11. Makeup mirror

One way to ensure that you do not miss any expenses is t create a bathroom renovation checklist and budget.

Home Remodeling in Phoenix

Phoenix area homeowners are going to have the opportunity to learn about home design from our award-winning design team. Check out the information for our Homeowner Design Seminars, and give us a call at 602-478-5102 to discuss remodeling your home with us.

7 Questions that Need Answers before Your Kitchen Remodeling Project Begins

Kitchen remodeling in Phoenix requires that a lot of questions be answered. We don’t want you to be overwhelmed during the initial consultation, so we’ve put together a list of 7 questions that need answers before the project begins. These questions will help the process go much more smoothly.

What is the objective of the kitchen remodeling project?

The most common reasons for remodeling the kitchen include:

  • Preparation for selling the home
  • Updating appliances and style
  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Creating a smart kitchen with all the bells and whistles

Be committed to the reason for remodeling your kitchen. The finished product should meet your idea of the perfect kitchen!

How long do you plan to use this kitchen?

Homeowners who remodel the kitchen with the intention of retiring and growing old while living independently should consider the future. Start making changes now that will have a positive impact on your kitchen for when you’re 75 or 80 years old.

Do you have any existing health or mobility issues?

We need to know if you or anyone in the household suffers from allergies before we start recommending materials to install in your home. We also need to know if anyone has mobility issues or other health concerns that need to be taken into consideration.

Will you live in your home during the remodeling process?

Some homeowners prefer to stay in a hotel or go on vacation while we’re remodeling. We often remodel kitchens during the winter months while the homeowners are in their northern homes. Imagine coming back to Phoenix to your summer home and you have a whole new kitchen!

Do you want to modify any walls or doorways?

This is a very important question because some walls help support the roof. We can tell you which walls are support walls and which walls are okay to modify. We can modify support walls, but we have to maintain that structural stability. Sometimes we can find other ways to offer that support while giving you the kitchen you want.

How do you use your kitchen?

We get a lot of strange looks when we ask that simple question. What do you mean, how do I use my kitchen? It’s a kitchen. We understand. But we get a lot of varying answers to that question. Some families use the kitchen only as a spot to grab a quick breakfast on the go then maybe the occasional evening meal. Others have traditional breakfasts and dinners as a family. And some also incorporate a homework area, an arts and crafts area, or even board games.

What’s your remodeling budget?

You knew we had to get there eventually, right? We need to know your budget, because that will help us design the best kitchen for you without breaking the bank. We can show you tricks and tips for splurging on the things you really want while saving in other areas without sacrificing quality. Never sacrifice quality.

7 Finishing Touches that Will Make a Major Difference in the Appearance of Your Kitchen

No kitchen remodeling project is complete without the finishing touches. In fact, the finishing touches are what bring out the best in a great remodeling project regardless of the room in question. But our focus for today is on the kitchen and the things we recommend in order to give your kitchen that highly polished appeal.

  1. Light Fixtures: Lighting styles come and go. We suggest that you purchase light fixtures that you like and that go well with your existing decor and style. You can change them each season or every 2-3 years if you get tired of seeing them in time.
  2. Proper Height for Lighting: The proper distance for a chandelier to hang above the dining room table or for pendant lighting to hang above the countertop or kitchen island is 30 to 34 inches. Raise the fixture another inch for each foot past an 8 foot ceiling.
  3. Faceplates: The faceplates in your kitchen show the room’s age faster than any other part. Older faceplates are often discolored and make the kitchen appear as if it is in need of renovation. Choose decorative faceplates when possible. Metal faceplates add a lot of pizzazz to the room.
  4. Crown Molding: Add a touch of elegance and customization to your kitchen cabinets by installing crown molding. The area where the ceiling meets the wall isn’t the only place that can benefit from crown molding. You can turn plain cabinets into amazing cabinets with just a little crown molding.
  5. Base Trim: Base trim perfectly finishes the bottom of the lower cabinets and creates a finished appearance where the floor meets the wall. It’s an excellent addition to help tie the room together.
  6. Vents: A/C vents rarely get much attention, but when you use decorative vents, people notice because it’s unusual. Decorative vents make a style statement.
  7. Hardware: Hardware is definitely a place we recommend splurging. It can get a little expensive if you decide to use custom pieces of hardware, but it’s a decision that you will not regret any time soon.

Adding the Finishing Touches to Your Kitchen Remodeling Project

Each of these finishing touches can be installed as part of a DIY project. The project will go much more smoothly if you have experience with the required tools. Give us a call if you would like to discuss remodeling your kitchen with us.

15 Kitchen Design Tips for Your Remodeling Project

 

The planning process is the most important part of your kitchen remodel. We can build a great kitchen based on your needs, but it becomes an impressive kitchen design when we really dig into the space available to efficiently plan the design. Here are 15 kitchen design tips that will help transform your kitchen.

  1. Wasted Space: Deep cabinets are a great idea in theory, but they create a lot of wasted space when you can’t reach certain items. Then they just become long-term storage for items you rarely use. Avoid wasted space by designing more efficient storage.
  2. Wasted Steps: We understand that your pedometer pushes you to hit 10,000 steps a day, but they don’t all have to be in the kitchen. Food prep shouldn’t be a chore.
  3. Define Traffic Flow: Your kitchen design should effectively direct traffic without causing chaos.
  4. No Banging Doors: Make sure all appliances and cabinetry can open without banging the door or corner beside it.
  5. Microwave Placement: There is actually a scientific method to placing your microwave in the kitchen. It can cause burns and other injuries if it is too high, too low, too far away, or too enclosed.
  6. Double Appliances: Add a dishwashing drawer in addition to the traditional dishwasher and a mini fridge in addition to the family fridge. These secondary appliances may seem like overkill, but they will be used.
  7. Landing Space: You should ideally have at least 15 inches of space on each side of the range as well as on each side of the kitchen sink. This area is called the landing area because this is where dishes and food land while you’re preparing meals.
  8. Plenty of Counter Space: Create your kitchen with plenty of counter space in mind. Cabinetry will likely be below most of the counter space in your kitchen, so you’re doing yourself a favor in the long run by adding more.
  9. The Importance of the Triangle: We mentioned wasted steps as tip #2, and this tip follows that same idea. The purpose of the kitchen triangle is to have the sink, refrigerator, and range within easy reach. A few steps between each would be a good distance. But you don’t want to leave a boiling pot to walk 15 feet across the kitchen, past the kitchen island, to get something from the refrigerator only to discover that the pot has boiled over and there’s a big mess to clean up before you can continue on with dinner.
  10. Knife Storage: Knives and other dangerously sharp items should always be kept out of reach of children. A metallic strip attached to the backsplash or a knife block are great options.
  11. Eat-in Areas: A breakfast nook, an eat-in kitchen area, or space for eating at the kitchen island are excellent ideas for in-kitchen snacks or meals.
  12. Electronics Charging Center: Create an area for electronics to be safely stored and charged away from food and liquids.
  13. Message Center: Phone messages, medication lists, and grocery lists are common messages for a chalkboard in the kitchen. This allows every member of the family to get creative while leaving messages.
  14. Kids Center: A couple of our previous tips mentioned doubling up on a few appliances. This is a good lead-in for that discussion. You can create a specific area for after-school drinks and snacks that won’t interfere with dinner prep areas when kids come in from school.
  15. Pet Appropriate Areas: 68% of American households have a pet. That means more than half of the people we work with probably have a pet to take into consideration. Pet-safe areas are becoming more common in time.

Kitchen Design and Remodeling in Phoenix

Give us a call if you’re in Phoenix or the surrounding areas and would like to discuss remodeling your kitchen with us. We’ve helped many greater-Phoenix area homeowners improve their kitchen’s functionality and style throughout the years. We also do whole home remodeling on request.

5 Basic Factors to Consider when Remodeling Your Kitchen in Phoenix

 

So you’re considering remodeling your kitchen? You have a lot of decisions to make and plans to create. The planning process can get a bit overwhelming, and material selection can be even more frustrating if you let it. Our goal is to make the process as painless as possible for you. Let’s look at 5 basic factors you need to take into consideration when planning the project.

Storage

You can never go too big with kitchen storage. Obvious storage options include cabinetry, drawers, and a pantry. Also consider open shelving for decorative items or items that are used on a regular basis. Here are a few other kitchen storage ideas:

  • Decorative Baskets
  • Hidden Trash and Recycling Bins
  • Custom Cabinetry for Small Appliances
  • Extra Large Custom Cabinetry for Large Dishes
  • Vertical Storage – Cabinet Doors, Walls, etc…

Flooring

Wood flooring such as hardwood or more sustainable bamboo flooring is an excellent option for the kitchen. Tile looks great, but is often considered too hard and cold, even here in Phoenix. Many homeowners with tile flooring in the kitchen end up using rugs to make it more comfortable. Choose your kitchen flooring based on the way you use your kitchen.

Lighting

Make the most of natural light when possible. We can add a window, transom windows, sidelights to a patio door, or even skylights or a sun tunnel to bring in additional natural light. Here are a few other kitchen lighting ideas:

  • Pendant Lighting
  • Recessed Lighting
  • Task Lighting
  • In-Cabinet and Drawer Lights
  • Toe-Kick Lighting
  • Under-Cabinet Lighting

Sink and Faucet

Sink and faucet options are nearly endless. You can use traditional sinks and faucets that are readily available at your local home improvement store or you can opt to use specialty items. Some homeowners choose to browse second-hand stores or antique stores for this type of item. The choice is entirely yours.

Countertop

This is quite possibly the biggest decision you’ll make during your kitchen remodel. You will see your countertops every single day for the next 7-10 years based on the frequency of which more kitchens are remodeled. Make sure you choose a material that you like in terms of appearance and maintenance as well.

Kitchen Remodeling in Phoenix

Remodeling your kitchen is a big project; make sure you have the right team on your side. We’ve helped many Phoenix area homeowners remodel various parts of their home to improve flow, functionality, and style. Give us a call to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

Take the Time to Customize the Lighting when You Remodel the Kitchen

Lighting is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when remodeling the kitchen, yet so many people tend to overlook it or neglect to properly plan it. Older homes often have a single ceiling mounted light in or near the center of the room. Overhead lighting can be a good thing, but it can’t be the only light in the entire room.

Light Placement

The placement of your kitchen lighting makes more of an impact than you may realize. The traditional center-of-the-room ceiling light creates shadows. A single-light kitchen simply doesn’t work because shadows keep you from being able to properly see what’s going on on the stove or the food prep area. You may not be able to see whether or not all of the dishes are clean if the lighting isn’t up to par.

Make a Design Statement

Nothing in the rulebook says that your kitchen lighting can’t be absolutely fabulous. Choose a huge light fixture that can act as a focal decorative point in the room. You don’t have to go all out on a crystal chandelier, but choose light fixtures that you love and the rest of the decor will fall into place.

Clear, Crisp Light vs. Warm Light

Crisp, bright lighting is the best choice for most areas of the kitchen. You may decide to use a warmer light as the ambient light or as a decorative statement, however. Bright lighting allows you to properly see what you’re doing in the kitchen and makes the room look cleaner.

Light Fixtures

Have you ever just stood in the lighting department at Lowe’s or Home Depot and gazed in awe at the amazing options available? Try visiting both stores and a few other local home decor shops – if you’re brave enough. Choosing fixtures requires that you take several factors into consideration including:

  • How the fixture will direct or spread light.
  • Where the fixture will be installed.
  • The types of metal used in the kitchen – the faucet, for example.
  • The overall appearance you want.
  • Ease of changing the fixture when you’re ready for a change.

Choosing Lighting for Your Remodeled Kitchen

As you can see, several things must be taken into consideration before you embark on a kitchen remodeling project, especially the lighting. Give us a call and we’ll help you design your perfect kitchen with the right amount of lighting for each area. We enjoy helping homeowners choose the materials that go into their remodeling project, because it reflects on our workmanship – and we always strive to provide the best.