Friday, June 12, 2009

Lifestyle Suites - Nine Crucial Decisions You Must Make BEFORE You Plan Your Home Addition

Have you always wanted your family close? Are they moving in? Maybe your mind is made up concerning having aging parents or in-laws live with you, but there are considerations everyone needs to be aware of.

In this article I want to list some of the scenarios most commonly faced by those I've worked with over the years. My hope is that at least a few of them will give you reason to pause and reflect. No one should get deep into a major house remodel or home
addition without having these questions answered.

Understanding the "Either-Or" Aspect of In-Law Quarters Home Additions

Preparations for the addition of extra family members can be involved and time consuming. Frankly, I believe they should be. It's not a decision that should be made quickly and, in my opinion, decisions about this that were made years ago need to be revisited.

Done correctly and with proper forethought, the best solutions will be achieved. Otherwise, great intentions can become the worst nightmares. Here's what I mean:

PRIVACY: Yours vs. Theirs

A certain amount of privacy will usually be lost. Knowing exactly what privacy issues are most important to both sides is going to help you with planning and designing. Will you want complete separation? Will there be shared spaces and functions? How will this be arranged and managed over time?

LIVING HABITS: Loners vs. Socialites

People are different. Families are different. Assumptions that everyone will get along because "we're family" is naïve. Who's the loner in your family? Who has to be around others all the time? What provisions can you make to accommodate these differences?

HEALTH ISSUES: Independent vs. Nursing Care

Some people remain independent to the end. Many hold on to their independence longer than they should. Are you in agreement with your loved ones about how this will be now and in the future? Sometimes you have to prepare for one thing now and then be set up to adjust later on. Will there be home nursing care?

LIVING COSTS: They Pay vs. You Pay

It is not wrong to discuss money. A home addition,
remodel, or the addition of an apartment costs money to create and then maintain. It costs money for their care as years go by. By all means, have open and frank discussions about how the money will work and who pays for what. I've seen assumptions sour many good relationships.

HOME VALUE: Equity Creation vs. Functional Addition

Your hearts may be set on assisting your family. This shouldn't preclude using good
design that adds value to your home. Good design also makes living more comfortable. This being said, it is up to you whether your goal is to simply care for your family or focus more on adding value to the home. Sometimes there will be a little give and take there. Address this.

ARRANGEMENTS: Permanent vs. Temporary

What happens when they are no longer around? What will become of your addition? Will you be able to use it for guests? Will you rent it out to others as a source of income? Will you want to turn the area into a completely different use?

EXPANSION: Simple Remodel vs. New Addition

The make-over doesn't have to be a major addition to your home. Depending on decisions you make in accordance with your needs, a simple remodel may be sufficient. It may not even require adding any square footage to the home, separate entrances, or additional
bathrooms or kitchens.

HOW EXTENSIVE: New Addition vs. Separate Apartment

If your current home is not adequate to handle any more people living in it then an addition is required. This can be an extension to the house, a room above the garage, or a completely separate apartment. All these options should be considered and building codes explored. Usually a balance between the advantages and disadvantages of each is required.

PROFESSIONAL HELP: Owner-Builder vs. General Contractor

I'm a proponent of Owner Builder projects. I have guided people through complete Owner-Builder home building projects from scratch. Is this for you? I can't say, but what I can say is that a home addition is major and if you elect to be an owner builder, please utilize the help of a home building coach.

In conclusion, the direction you take should take all these considerations into account. It will likely be a joint decision that can't please everyone completely but offers the best help where it's needed the most. I wis
h you well. Family first!

What your home improvement money will buy What your home improvement money will buy BY KAY BLOUGH Special to Newsday

For many, warm weather means it's time to turn to home improvements and add a new look or refresh the old one.

But what can you get for your hard-earned dollars these days?

It's a no-frills approach in many cases, says Ray Accettella, president of East Meadow-based Jarro Building Industries and chair of the Long Island Builders Institute, an Islandia-based trade association.

Despite the economic downturn, the cost of materials remains high, Accettella and other builders say.

So many homeowners are choosing smaller, lower-cost, maintenance-related projects to enhance the value of the home. "People are doing what they have to do, not what they want to do," says Jerome Burdi of DJ's Home Improvements in Franklin Square. "What they're asking for is less elaborate."

Projects such as adding a new roof, siding and
replacement windows will give payback on lower energy costs, contractors say, while inside the house, detail work such as new baseboards, wainscoting, crown molding and painting will give the house a new look.

Adding a new front door, shutters and maybe a new garage door, fixing the stoop or landscaping the front of the house, are other lower-cost improvements with impact.

"A new front door and shutters will really make it look nice and make a statement," says Sal Ferro, president of Alure Home Improvements in Plainview.

If you're going to be spending more time at home, adding a deck or landscaping with a new patio or outside fireplace are other recession-friendly options.

And larger jobs such as updating the kitchen or
bathroom or adding a basement playroom are projects that offer resale value as well as satisfaction.

Here's a look at what Long Island contractors say they are charging for common jobs in this economy.

What you can get for $5,000
Long Island contractors say that for $5,000 they can do cosmetic repair work such as painting, fixing doors and molding, damaged walls or floors, and address those ever-present eyesores. "Every home has them," says Ferro.

Or you can get a new entranceway and front door, along with new front windows, perhaps a bay or bow window, he says. And you can add shutters and perhaps a new garage door, depending on how extensive the entranceway work is, although the price will start edging up.

Landscaping the front of the house is another option, says Joseph Cerbone, with JLC Landscape Services in Farmingville. Maybe keep a favorite tree, but have everything else taken out and replaced with new plantings and have beds edged and mulched.

That $5,000 will pay for replacement windows on one or even two floors, depending on the grade of window and whether it's vinyl or wood, says Art Donnelly of Legacy Builders and Remodelers of Holbrook and chairman of the Long Island/New York City chapter of the National Association of the
Remodeling Industry. Replacement windows, along with caulking and insulation, will make the house more energy-efficient.

Adding insulation to the attic will run around $500 to $1,000, depending on the size of the house, but it can pay off in reduced heating costs.

A couple who wants to stay in their home as they get older but needs accommodations to do that might want to consider a partial bathroom upgrade -- a "right height" vanity and toilet, grab bars, a pressure balance unit to prevent surges of hot and cold water, a fresh paint job and maybe a drop-down shower seat.

"For less than $5,000, you've created a bathroom with a new look and one that lets you be safer and more comfortable," says Burdi. Or, Ferro says, you could refinish hardwood floors with sanding, staining and polyurethane, for less than $5,000.

What you can get for $10,000
It's possible to do a no-frills bathroom for $10,000 to $15,000 with a 24-inch vanity and limited tile work, says Accettella. And Burdi says $10,000 also will pay for a universal design bathroom, one meant to accommodate all levels of ability, with a hand-held and regular shower head, pull-down seat, grab bars, barrier-free shower and a floor drain, and larger doorways to accommodate a wheelchair.

Ten thousand dollars also will get new vinyl siding, or an architectural roof that includes removal of the old roof, Accettella says.

Outdoors, you also could add a patio of paver stones around the pool for $8,000 to $10,000, depending on the square footage, says Cerbone.

For between $5,000 and $10,000, you could add a hot tub, he says, or a small patio in the backyard, and for between $7,500 and $10,000 you could add a small retaining wall on either side of the front door, a segmented garden wall, or a new walkway from the driveway to the front door, maybe a new stoop, too. Or, Cerbone says, add an outside freestanding fireplace or a built-in barbecue area with space for tables and chairs.

What you can get for $15,000
You can remodel your bathroom with slightly higher-end fixtures and tile around the shower to the ceiling for $15,000 or remodel a small basement, depending on how extensive the work is, says Kevin Wrynn of Kevin Wrynn Carpentry Inc. of East Meadow.

Or you can upgrade your
kitchen if you have decent cabinetry and work around that, says Wrynn. Change the countertops, hardware and color scheme, add tile backsplash and install a laminate floor.

For between $15,000 and $20,000 you can add a composite deck, depending on the size, says Dominick Mupo of Chelsea Home Remodeling of Huntington. Or you can add significant landscaping around a pool area, a waterfall or water slide, or forgo the pool and add a hot tub, landscaping and lighting, Cerbone says.

What you can get for $20,000
Those with $20,000 to spend can get a new kitchen -- not an upscale model, but, if appliances are carefully chosen, one that Accettella calls a good, solid kitchen to open the floor plan so you can watch children in the backyard or in the family room while you cook.

You also could upgrade that basement playroom remodeling job to include a few more bells and whistles, Wrynn says, or add a small sunroom.

David and Michelle Glovinsky of East Northport added a large pantry-mudroom in place of a deck, evening out the look of the house and gaining lots of storage. They've moved their washer and dryer to that room, added a slop sink and a large closet, and there's lots of space on an open wall to play with.

Their contractor, Dominick Mupo of Chelsea Home Remodeling, says it was a cooperative project for which David Glovinsky did some of the work. Mupo says homeowners can do some of the work to save money if they're capable, but they need to be clear on exactly who does what so there's no liability for the contractor whose job it was to handle an item.

Another possibility for your $20,000 is adding a pop-up dormer to an upstairs to make a larger bedroom, Mupo says. Or you can add a front porch
portico with a barrel vault roof, Mupo says.

Contractors urge homeowners to do the following to protect their investments:

  • Check the contractor's references. Look at pictures of completed projects.
  • Get different bids. Make sure each contractor is quoting the same scope and level of quality for the work.
  • Hire contractors who are licensed and insured; verify both are current. Ask for a copy of the remodeler's insurance certificates. Check the licenses with county consumer affairs.
  • Look for the initials CR after their name -- it stands for Certified Remodeler. To earn, contractors must pass a written exam, attend 16 hours of continuing education, have a least five years experience and abide by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry's code of ethics.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

newly remodeled website from the 2009 Remodeler of the Year

visit our newly remodeled website

* enter for $3,000 window or door drawing
* ask the expert
* video project videos and portfolio
* read and listen to extremely satisfied clients

Friday, April 17, 2009

SPA-TASTIC bathroom remodel

Our homeowners wanted a modern, spa-like update for their bath. Our design team selected the materials and created a 3D rendering of the space. The footprint was expanded two feet to allow for the vanity and storage unit. An arched soffit compliments the clean lines of the cabinetry and custom vanity. The two-person tub and shower were combined to save space, while the knee wall and partial glass enclosure provide the openness of separate units. The green glass tile instills a calming effect to the room and the vertical mixed-mesh glass application gives the illusion of rain. Mission Accomplished!

Monday, April 6, 2009

MARK-over My Bathroom! by Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc.

Mark of Excellence takes a 1960's original hall bath and propels it into the 2000's with a new moisture ventilation fan, insulation, moisture-resistant drywall, updated lighting, and a vibrant color.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cape Cod Conversion by Mark of Excellence Remodeling

This project 2,400 square foot design + build addition from Mark of Excellence Remodeling. The project included a two plus car garage, new expanded kitchen, master bedroom suite, mud room and game room over the garage with a terrace and spiral staircase to first floor. The exterior includes vinyl shakes and stone siding, dimensional roof shingles, and Andersen windows. The result is a home that is double in size and the envy of the neighborhood.

A Master Bath Retreat by Mark of Excellence Remodeling

A master bathroom remodel from Mark of Excellence Remodeling. The existing bathroom is in a townhouse. The result is a 2-time national award winner and a spa-like retreat.

Luxurious Master Bath by Mark of Excellence Remodeling

Mark of Excellence Remodeling Re-configures a bathroom and closet space to create a luxury master bathroom. The project features a custom over-sized shower, jetted tub, marble vanity tops, custom detailed molding and bead board

Help! My Basement Needs a Makeover by Mark of Excellence Remodeling

An 800 square foot upscale basement remodel including a powder room. The project features porcelain tile, decorative trimwork and columns, glass French style doors and an abundance of lighting.