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 You may find a crack in your foundation, outdated electrical wiring, asbestos insulation or a leaky roof.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Outdated Features & Finishes: Are you embarrassed when friends and family visit?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 Steve@HomeworkRemodels.com for a free in-home consultation.

Getting your Green Credentials

By Tanja Kern 5/9/2009
Interview with Steve Shinn, GCP, owner of Homework Remodels

Getting Your Green Credentials Today’s homeowners want remodels that improve their quality of life and are eco-conscious. Figuring out what constitutes a green remodel can be confusing, and that’s why so many homeowners rely on contractors to help them navigate the choices. Remodelers who incorporate green building practices into their business have great potential to educate their clients and do something good for the Earth. Going green can also help set your business apart from the competition.

To be a green remodeler, contractors should make energy efficiency a top priority, salvage and reuse building materials whenever possible, specify eco-friendly materials, use low VOC and formaldehyde-free building components, and plan for water conservation. Becoming an expert in sustainable building takes years, and savvy remodelers know that promoting their expertise is a great way to find new clients. Incorporating these building methods into your company’s mission statement, Web site, promotional materials and project estimates will help to get the word out about your company’s eco focus.

Obtaining “green” credentials is another smart way to demonstrate your knowledge in environmentally friendly products and building practices. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry offers a Green Certified Professional (GCP) designation to help recognize remodelers who apply green or sustainable practices to their business.

Laurie Cisowski, project operations manager for Earth Bound Homes [www.myearthboundhome.com] in Santa Clara, Calif., says getting certified was an obvious choice for her business. All of Earth Bound’s projects are designed around increased energy efficiency and the use recycled, renewable and durable building materials. “In this day and age, with green taking off, there are a lot of people out there green washing,” she says. “Our clients come to us because or our knowledge, and our credentials add to our company’s credibility.”

Steve Shinn, owner of the design-build firm Homework Remodels [www.homeworkremodels.com] in Phoenix, Ariz., became the first remodeler in Phoenix to obtain green certification. Shinn works on historic homes, mid-century modern homes, and older homes of all ages said he saw the certification as a way to promote himself as a specialized professional to potential clients. “The people who own these homes care about details and about doing the right thing for the environment,” he says.

While some homeowners view sustainability as using a certain type of recycled countertops or flooring, Shinn teaches his clients to take a whole-house approach: “I pride myself on working with the homeowners during the design phase to get the most bang for their buck. Every remodel has hundreds of choices, and I walk them through them. It’s not an all or nothing thing.”

Josh Bogle, CRA, GCP, owner of Green Remodeling [www.greenrem.com] in Boise, Idaho, helped pilot the Green Certified Professional course for NARI. His work to bring “green” into the construction industry comes from a commitment to living simply, eating locally, and transforming the nation’s existing housing infrastructure to serve the needs of the future. “Our goal is to show customers how to make their home as durable, energy-efficient and healthy as possible,” Bogle says.

In between large remodeling projects, Bogle does readings on the energy efficiency of his customers’ homes. Bogle also will take the client’s energy bills for the year, insert the figures into a spreadsheet and compare them to other homes in the area. “This is a great way to help people figure out what their path toward net zero or close to zero should be,” he adds.

This green remodeling article and numerous others can be viewed at www.greenremodeling.org/consumer/articles.aspx

nari-green 2

Green Remodeling is just one of the remodeling specialties we offer to our clients in Phoenix and the surrounding cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale and Mesa.

The Rise of the Green Remodeler

By M. Power 1/1/2010
Interview with Steve Shinn, GCP, owner of Homework Remodels

The Rise of the Green Remodeler

 Are you thinking about refocusing your marketing energy, your manpower, and your time on green remodeling as a safe haven in these tough times? You’re not alone. But here’s what you should know before (and after) you take the leap.

A lot of research has been done in the last 20 years about what happens to the remodeling industry during a deep recession—much of it by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS).

The record shows that residential remodeling suffers less than new home building during bad economic times. But it still suffers. And here’s a sobering reality: Small remodeling firms—in both good and bad times—have an average survival rate comparable to the typical desktop computer—about five years. Firms that beat the odds traditionally have larger operations, a longer track record, and a good economy to buffer the hard times.

But maybe that’s changing. Now that sustainability is center stage, some (but not all) of today’s green remodelers find themselves in the cat-bird seat. The firms that seem to be doing best have had good timing, the right geographic area, and a bit of luck. They carved out a green niche for themselves early—before the worst of the economic dominoes began to fall.

For example, Steve Shinn, owner of Homework Remodels in Phoenix, has watched many home builders go belly up in his area—at the same time his green-oriented remodeling business is thriving. “We’re four years old,” he says, “and we’ve been really on purpose with what we’re doing. A lot of the companies hurting now benefited from the boom, but they got their increase in business without having to do anything to promote it. I’m not saying they’re not good companies, but they got too comfortable.”

Shinn adds that many home builders in the Phoenix area now advertise green remodeling, but they’re finding the transition tougher than they expected.

“It’s a whole different world from doing a row of houses on an empty site,” Shinn explains. “A builder might quote someone a job and say it will cost X dollars per square foot. But they’re not looking at the real costs—the destruction of the existing structure for example, may be half the cost of the job.”

Who’s Out There?

The 2002 U.S. census listed about 500,000 “home improvement” firms. Of those, about 60% were composed of a single individual. But as the Joint Center points out, while the smallest firms are the ones most likely to fail in a given year (22% of firms with payrolls of $30,000 or less go under each year), both small and large have been slammed by the downturn.

As researchers at the Joint Center explain, “Faced with economic recession and increased competition, even large contracting firms are likely to fail. In 2007, 47% of remodeling contractors that had revenues of $1–$5 million reported revenue declines, up from 31% in 2003. Meanwhile, 33% of firms with revenues above $5 million also posted declines in 2007, up from 23% in 2003.”

The remodeling market tends to parallel the boom and bust of new home construction. When things turn sour, however, shocks to remodeling tend to be less severe. Existing home sales also impact remodeling directly. About 25% of all cosmetic work is triggered by new owners who want to change their digs right after purchase.

Plunging home values have flattened the equity capital available to the middle class. Throw in the banks that have stopped making loans, and you see why many homeowners have put their remodeling plans on hold.

But the loss of home values cuts even deeper. Homeowners know that the remodel they do now may not hold its value like the one they did five years ago. Back then, they might get an 87% return on resale. Now they would get just 67%, according to estimates by the National Association of Realtors.

Back to Maintenance?

Is any place safe for remodelers and would-be remodelers who are just trying to ride out this recession? If you crunch the numbers from past downturns, the only types of construction work to remain relatively stable have been maintenance and repair. But that kind of work is not always a welcome shift, especially for design-oriented contractors.

“I’d do it as a last resort,” notes Grant Manka, a design/build remodeler in Kansas City, Kan., “but it’s not very much fun. There’s no creativity involved, but if it’s that or nothing, you do it.”

But is green remodeling a second alternative in these tough times?
We asked Kevin Park, a researcher at the Joint Center his view. He’s been studying whether contractors can (and will) make a go of green-focused remodeling.

“We did one survey, and the results were intriguing,” he says. “What we found is that smaller companies seem to see green as a workable alternative, more so than large companies. We just sent out another survey to find out if they’re really following through on green products and projects—but unfortunately we don’t have that data yet.”

For some remodelers, however, there’s no gray area about where the industry is headed. Even in hard-hit New England, an area Park describes as “just dead in terms of green remodeling,” some remodelers are looking to the future, laying the groundwork for what they expect will be a green building boom as the economy rebounds.

A New Way

Tom Wells, a contractor from Yardley, Pa., is what you might call a green gambler. Faced with a dire economy in his region, he has single-mindedly focused his remodeling business on sustainability. He takes his knowledge on the road, offering seminars to local churches, real estate offices—anyone who will listen. And Wells has plenty of time on his hands. In November, he lost $300,000 in contracts due to his clients’ economic fears. But he’s using his time to craft a well-rounded message.

“I don’t talk about green,” Wells says. “I talk about sustainability—acting in a way that won’t be detrimental to future generations. I think everybody knows oil is going to rise again. Our utility rates are about to get deregulated. People are aware of global warming and don’t know how they can have an impact.”

Wells is doing everything right. He has teamed with an energy auditor to offer infrared inspections of the homes of potential clients. He writes a green article for the local newspaper. He went through NARI’s green certification program to build his credibility.

Wells says building a reputation for green remodeling isn’t easy, thanks to the lack of licensing requirements. Out-of-work, unqualified “handymen” are leaving a trail of poor workmanship behind.

Should remodelers embrace green? Are the potential rewards worth the risk?

Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House, and more recently, Not So Big Remodeling, says remodelers would be foolhardy not to get into green renovation. She believes that when the downturn ends, we’ll be looking at a green boom time.

“I went to the last IBS show in Vegas, and everywhere I went there was a lot of talk about remodeling. Those companies that keep methodically moving along the sustainable lines are going to do extremely well. I wouldn’t pull back now. No way. Everything green is moving forward.”


This article was published on www.greenbuildermag.com


Kitchen Remodeling is just one of the remodeling specialties we offer to our clients in Phoenix and the surrounding cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale and Mesa.

Make Your Home Healthier

By Tanja Kern 5/6/2009
Interview with Steve Shinn, GCP, owner of Homework Remodels


Your home is your sanctuary, but could it also be a hazard to your health? Dirty air, mold spores and chemicals can contribute to an unhealthy home environment. Thankfully, there are a number of improvements you can make to create a safe shelter for your family, says Steve Shinn, GCP, NARI member and owner of Homework Remodels in Phoenix, Arizona. This Green Certified Professional (GCP) helps homeowners figure out which enhancements promote healthy indoor environments — without breaking their budgets.

“We need to look at the home as a system and not just a bunch of little parts, but you don’t have to do everything at once,” Shinn says. “Do what you can afford now and you can come back and do the more expensive projects later.”

These tips will make your home a safer place to live:

Cut down VOCs: A key way to improve your home’s health is by using products that are labeled low- or no-VOC. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted by a variety of home improvement products, including paints, lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings. VOCs pollute indoor air, and some have short- and long-term adverse health effects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says VOC concentrations are up to 10 times higher indoors than out.

“VOCs are very high on people’s list of concerns,” Shinn says. “Paint is the fist thing they think about, but some other materials, like carpet, can also be a major source of off-gassing.”

Improve flooring: Your choice of flooring can impact your health. For some, carpet is an allergy trigger. “When I bought my home, which is a 50-year old house, it had brand new carpet in it, but after two to three years, I had some real [allergy] problems,” Shinn shares. “I have a history of allergies, and after I removed the carpeting, I felt instantly better.”

There are mixed messages about the cleanliness of carpet. Air quality professionals often say that carpet acts as a dust trap, and the dirt can never be completely removed by vacuuming. In contrast, dust collected on hard surface flooring, such as tile, wood and laminate, can be wiped up easily.

Jeff Bishop, technical adviser for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, says that carpet can improve the indoor environment by trapping dust particles until you vacuum them. If you don’t clean your carpets regularly, however, those dust particles will be released into the air and can trigger respiratory problems.

Seal leaks: Older homes have plenty of air leaks. Seal them and you will prohibit excess dust and allergens from entering your house. Windows, doors and fireplaces are obvious places to look for leaks, but power outlets, light switches and ceiling lights can also contribute to heat and air conditioning loss.

“When you open and close the door, there’s an increase and decrease of air pressure and it can suck the dust right out of your attic,” Shinn says. “They make sealers to seal that stuff up. It will help reduce heating and cooling bill and keep your home cleaner.”

Amp up ventilation: To suck bad air out of a home and bring fresh air in, you need to install adequate ventilation. Add a fan in your kitchen and bathroom and it will help remove odors, bacteria, humidity and cut down mold growth.

“Everybody forgets to switch the bathroom fan off when they leave in the morning, and it runs all day,” Shinn says. “Spend a few extra dollars and install a fan with a timer. You will save your fan’s motor, electricity and a few dollars.”

If your home is sealed tight, you will also need to install a small reverse fan that introduces fresh air into the house. This will improve air circulation and help stop the growth of mold.

Add air filtration: According to the EPA, the air inside your home could be up to five times more polluted than the outside air. But there’s no need to hold your breath—air purifiers can help clean the air by capturing microscopic contaminants. The filters remove irritants like mold spores, pet dander, cigarette soot and dust, making it easier for people with allergies to breathe.

“A lot of new air conditioning manufacturers are providing high efficiency HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration systems that are built into the duct work,” Shinn says.

Drink pure water: Water quality is a precious resource. Instead of drinking water from plastic water bottles, opt for a reverse osmosis water filtration system that will remove sediment and chemicals, like chlorine, from tap water.

This green remodeling article and numerous others can be viewed at www.greenremodeling.org/consumer/articles.aspx

Make Your Home Healthier

Green Remodeling is just one of the remodeling specialties we offer to our clients in Phoenix and the surrounding cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale and Mesa.

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