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!




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.












Drywall Texture Finishes


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


Whether you prefer “Old World Tuscan” or “Santa Fe”, the type and style of your drywall texture will greatly affect the look and the feel of your home. To create an even more unique and stunning look, try a combination of drywall texture and a painted faux finish. In determining which of the many styles will work best with your interior, consider the architecture of your home. And don’t forget about the interior design of the room in question. Some textures are thick with deep crevices and high sweeping peaks. Dramatic yes, easy to maintain, not so much. Those very interesting crevices and niches will catch dust particles that are floating around in the air. In addition, these types of drywall texture finishes look great in large, rustic rooms with high ceilings and focal points like wooden beams or fireplaces with tall chimneys. Some examples of this type of finish would be “Old World Tuscan”, “Spanish Trowel” or “Heavy Hawk and Trowel” textures.

Be aware these terms vary greatly across the country.

What is known as “Slapbrush Knockdown” in some parts of the country may be known as “Tiger Skin” or even “Panda Paw Knockdown” in other areas. It is always important to have sample boards made. Both you and drywall installer need to make sure you are both talking about the same finish and style. The person you hire may be more of an artist than installer. Consequently, it may ensure that you like the end result.

“Santa Fe”, “Splat Knockdown”, “Thin Hawk & Trowel”, “Stomp” and “Orange Peel” are examples of other textures. These tend to be thinner with more subtle differences in depth and height. They look especially well in a country or southwestern style home that has low ceiling heights. The lower profile textures create the look of gentle shadows and bright spots in irregular patterns skipping across the ceiling.

Heavy Texture on a wall



Medium texture on a wall

Some textures are applied to the walls or ceiling using thinned drywall compound and a hopper gun. This devise allows the user to cover a good bit of square footage quickly. For that reason, it is extremely popular with home builders, not always with home owners! Examples of sprayed on textures are Splatter Knockdown”, “Orange Peel” and the dreaded “Popcorn” finish.

Brushes are used to create interesting patterns in the drywall compound. “Slapbrush” texture is smoothed with a trowel like knockdown textures, but the initial pattern is created by slapping the wall with a variety of soft-bristled brushes, such as square, round, double-headed, or single-headed brushes, loaded with a thinned joint compound. Other types of textures like “Stomp & Swirl” require drawing patterns like circles or arches into a layer of rolled on joint compound with a brush. The stiffness of the bristles determines the depth and sharpness of the ridges in the compound. In order to accomplish this style, you must sand the walls smooth first, to remove any imperfections.

Knife textures require applying a thick coat of undiluted joint compound, then sliding the knife in different directions to create small ridges. Examples of knife textures include “Spanish Knife” and “Drywall Knife”.

Knockdown finishes are an excellent option for covering dings and dents in walls. Trowels, sponges, brooms and other tools can be used to flatten the surface in different places to create different looks.

How can we help with your next project?

There are many types of drywall texture finishes that you may choose to incorporate into your next home remodeling project.

Call Homework Remodels for a free, in-home consultation regarding drywall texture finishes, or any aspect of home remodeling.

You may reach Steve at 602-478-5102 or email




Why Remodel Your Whole Home?

Sometimes we are called in to remodel a kitchen or a bathroom. Other times, our clients want their entire home remodeled. Why remodel your whole home? Because, as we all know, it will be costly and a remodel will certainly disrupt your life.

There are actually four very good reasons why:

Location, location, location: We’ve all heard that phrase before. In this case, it may be that you bought your home years ago and it suited your needs at that time. Perhaps you were initially attracted to the great school district. After awhile you may have outgrown your home or are in need of a home office. So, should you move your family away from their school and friends or remodel your whole home? If you love your neighborhood but hate your house, don’t move! Let us show you how we can redesign and remodel your home. We can give you everything you want and need and get rid of whatever doesn’t work for your lifestyle. You don’t have to compromise, you can have your dream home.

Safety & Efficiency: If you are in an older home, you may feel the need to take care of potential safety issues and bring your home into code compliance. Houses, just like people, age with time and need a little extra TLC occasionally! You may find a crack in your foundation, outdated electrical wiring, asbestos insulation or a leaky roof. If you are concerned with the safety of your family, it may be time to allow us to look behind those walls. At the very least, you will have piece of mind.

Why Remodel Your Whole Home?

Outdated Features & Finishes: Are you embarrassed when friends and family visit? Do you feel as though yours is the only house in the neighborhood that still has popcorn ceilings and avocado appliances? Our design team will show you how to update your home, coordinate all the new finishes and make your spaces work for you.

Age in Place: Almost all of us would rather stay in our own homes as we age. Our homes are full of cherished memories. We know the neighbors, have our favorite shops and feel comfort in that familiarity. By this time in our lives, we may even be fortunate enough to have that home paid for. Without a mortgage to worry about, it is even more enticing to stay in your own home for as long as possible. Some modifications to your home may be necessary for safety and ease of use. Accessible features such as a walk-in tub and a barrier free shower with a built-in seat will help you stay independent. In addition, halls or doorways may need to be widened or a ramp may be used in place of exterior stairs. And finally, one of the most important changes as far as safety and ease of use is concerned, is to design an accessible master suite on the ground floor.

Why Remodel Your Whole Home? Whatever your reason, we are here for you.

Call us at 602-478-5102 or email for a free in-home consultation.

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