Category Archives: Additions

Sunrooms Becoming a Second Living Room in Homes

2Home trends show that sunrooms and outdoor living spaces are becoming the second living room in homes. Building a sunroom onto your home adds a place for the family to relax in solitude.

A sunroom provides a peaceful place to sit in the sunlight and read, catch up with a friend or play scrabble.

The sunroom is no longer just for spring and summer – it can be used year round.
Sunrooms also fill the increasing trend to bring the outside in especially if they have smaller outdoor spaces.

The additional space in your home will increase your home value and offers extra space for entertaining and can open out on to the back porch or patio for inside/outside entertaining.

Before moving forward with a sunroom project, make sure the sunroom meets local building codes and is built with the right materials for the region where you live.

Here are a few questions you need to ask when building a sunroom.
• Will the sunroom match the style of your home?
• Do you need to consider shading? Direct sunlight?
• Do you want privacy or lots of windows?
• Do you want to include heating and air conditioning?
• Will you need wiring for TV and electronics?
• Do you want energy efficient windows and other materials?
• Consider using outdoor materials in the sunroom as it extends outside like rugs, furniture, etc.

If you’d are considering adding a sunroom addition, remodel or would simply like a consultation, please feel free to contact me for more information.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders Corp. | www.CRESBuilders.com | 770-983-4698

Outdoor Rooms Extend Your Livable Space

CRES Builders Outdoor PavilionFamilies are welcoming the warmer spring weather where the focus of the family moves from inside to outside.

Creating an outdoor room allows room for entertaining, play, dining alfresco and taking advantage of the longer daytime hours that spring and summer bring.

As more people are opting to have staycations, they are investing in outdoor spaces and creating areas for play, entertainment, cooking, relaxing and reading.Outdoor rooms are extensions of your indoor spaces and can increase your home’s value.

Before you begin designing your space, ask yourself what you want the space to be. A retreat? Kids play space? An entertaining deck? Be sure to create a design layout for your space and incorporate a traffic plan to ensure there is room for visitors to walk around the space.

Here are a fifteen outdoor room ideas from HGTV in the article “Outdoor Rooms Add Livable Space.”

Consider adding a paver patio, deck, outdoor living room, patio in the garden, or outdoor pavilion or gazebo to enhance and create your own backyard oasis. Contact CRES Builders for a free quote and let us help you plan your special outdoor space.

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What You Should Know Before Removing a Wall

Thankfully, most of the newer homes on the market have been designed with open living in mind, which means fewer walls and increased light.  However, whether your floorplan is a bit more closed off than you’d like or you’re looking to expand your surroundings, removing an interior wall is always a decent option.   On the surface, it’s a project that seems simple enough—especially with a sledgehammer and a healthy dose of excitement—but depending upon what’s inside the wall and the extent of its structural importance, removing it may turn out to be somewhat complex.

Therefore, before you make the decision to tackle it on your own, it’s important to think about the following considerations:

What is Your Goal? – If you follow my blogs, then you know that this is a question I ask on a fairly regular basis.  Plain and simple, before starting any remodeling project, it’s worth establishing what your ultimate goal is.  If you’re looking to increase your resale value, your end goal may be very different than if you are simply looking to make your surroundings a bit more comfortable.

With that being said, the goal of most wall removals is to connect rooms or to help better your home’s flow.  Doing this may allow you to increase your seating or counter space, and it may also improve your sight line into other rooms.

Is it Load Bearing? – Removing a wall from a one-story home is much easier than a two-story home since a structural engineer will be needed for the latter—regardless of whether the wall is load bearing or not.  Still, if you’re not a professional, it may be tricky to determine the importance of certain walls since some won’t look the part.

What About the Floor? – When removing a wall, it’s important to plan ahead since something will also need to be done to the floor, as well as the ceiling.  If you already have hardwood floors, it is worth considering the fact that it will be difficult to patch the area and make it blend in.  Carpet is generally an easier fix.

What’s in Your Walls? –  If the wall you are looking to remove contains any form of gas lines, wiring, or HVAC vents, you’ll need to work with professionals who can make sure that they get properly relocated.  You don’t want to get rid of your return vents, only to find out that the functioning of your entire system is impacted.

With that, if your home is older, it’s always wise to be prepared for the possibility of extra expenses since you never know when things like unused gas lines or faulty wiring will be found.

Who to Hire? – While this may vary depending upon what you need done, as well as the location of the wall, you might want to consider working with an architect who can design a new space that won’t completely change the character of your home.  In some instances, keeping portions of the wall may be a better bet than removing the whole thing, so their advice may go a long way towards improving the final project.

Still, depending upon which wall(s) you’d like to remove, a structural engineer may be required, as well as professionals to deal with any plumbing, HVAC, or electrical concerns.  In an effort to streamline this process, it’s worth utilizing the services of a general contractor who can complete your initial consultation, deal with any permit issues, and line up the necessary professionals to finish the work.

If you’d are considering a remodel or would simply like a consultation, please feel free to contact me for more information.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders Corp. | www.CRESBuilders.com | 770-983-4698

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On a Budget? Consider the Versatility of Concrete

concrete kitchenWhen many of us think of concrete, we think of bland grey sidewalks and driveways; however, concrete is an extremely versatile and popular medium which has gained popularity both inside and outside the home.  From patios and garden walkways to kitchen floors and countertops, poured concrete has become one of the most commonly used surface materials in luxury home construction.

With unlimited design options that can be enhanced by stains, stencils, stamps, and integral colors, concrete can not only mimic other popular paving materials such as brick, flagstone, slate, and tile, but it can be done in an extremely cost-effective manner.

As an investment, concrete typically costs less than brick or natural stone because it’s generally less labor-intensive to install, and when it comes to the design process, can easily be formed into any shape.  If laid properly, it’s also extremely low maintenance, especially in harsh weather climates where other materials—such as wood—tend to warp or rot.

As far as its look is concerned, the options are virtually endless:

STENCIL PATTERN CONCRETE: This effect is achieved by applying colors and patterns to freshly-laid wet concrete, which helps it mimic the appearance of things like tile, brick, pavers, and cobbled stone.

STAMPED IMPRESSION CONCRETE: This is a system of adding color, pattern, and texture to a plan concrete slab at the time of pouring so that it takes on the appearance of things like slate, rock, cobbled stone, or timber.

CONCRETE RESURFACING: If you’re looking for a slip-resistant, textured, and decorative surface that has excellent durability and abrasion resistance, this spray on resurface coating helps your space mimic things like exposed aggregate, tile, brick, and pavers.

COLORED CONCRETE: If you’re looking for concrete that matches with the rest of your décor, this option has a high quality pigment blend mixed into the concrete prior to pouring, which allows for even, long-term color performance, even if the surface suffers scuffing or chips.

POLYMER CONCRETE: Perfect for domestic and commercial use, this polymer flooring leaves a durable, seamless gloss finish.

CONCRETE OVERLAY: If your existing concrete surface is suffering from structural imperfections such as minor cracks or chips, overlays present a wonderfully cost-effective option for turning troubled, worn surfaces into something beautiful.  With an abundance of decorative options available, you’re sure to find the right overlay for your project.

In the end, whether you’re considering a remodel or are simply looking to perform a minor make-over, consulting with a knowledgeable contractor can help you select the option that best meets your needs.

If you’d like to learn more, please feel free to contact me.  I’d love to speak with you.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders Corp. | www.CresBuilders.com | 770-983-4698

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Shopping for a New Front Door? Know Your Options

When it comes to first impressions, the front door of your house plays a huge role since it signifies the transition between the outside world and your home’s representation of who you are.  Aesthetically, a beautiful front door will add value to your property through curb appeal; however, greater value can actually be found through the installation of energy-efficient models that may not only help you save as much as 10% on energy bills, but also qualify you for several tax credits.

Still, like selecting a particular flooring material or wall color, there are a myriad of door options to choose from, so it’s all about determining which one fits your needs.  In general, front doors need to be tough so they can withstand the elements, but that doesn’t mean that visual appeal has to go by the wayside.

Generally, most doors come in three popular materials—wood, steel, and fiberglass composite—but all three materials have a variety of pros and cons which may or may not fit into your life.

WOOD

Luxurious and beautiful, wood doors are still an incredibly popular option, especially if you’re looking to add a classic touch to your home.  In an effort to minimize the chances of warping, today’s models tend to consist of a wood veneer skin over a wood core, but that doesn’t mean that upkeep isn’t important.  When looking for pre-finished wood doors, selecting something with a high-gloss finish will help preserve the integrity of the wood, but it’s also a good idea to perform a yearly examination of the door to catch signs of wear and tear in advance.

In particular, take note of things like dullness, a dry touch or white shading to the finish, or dark streaks along the bottom of the door (which may be indicative of moisture being pulled into the wood).  If you notice any of these signs, simply sand, clean, and re-prime each spot.

STEEL

Steel doors tend to be the most popular choice when it comes to replacement doors because, along with the fact that they’re the least expensive option, they also tend to be the most durable.  While wood doors may warp, twist, or crack, steel doors tend to handle rough living a bit better and are filled with an energy-efficient insulating foam that helps with heating and air costs.

Still, while the upfront price may be lower, steel doors tend to have a shorter lifespan than wood or fiberglass, which means you may have to spend a bit more money if rust or general wear-and-tear make a future replacement necessary.

FIBERGLASS COMPOSITE

Frequently chosen for their affordable nature and virtually maintenance-free durability, fiberglass composite doors can last an extremely long time and, like steel doors, are also filled with an energy-efficient insulating foam.  Furthermore, since they’re also resistant to an array of issues that ail wood and steel doors—i.e. denting, warping, rot, and rust—they tend to work well with homes that are in extreme climates.

When it comes to visual appeal, fiberglass composite doors can be painted or stained any way you choose; however, they generally need to be painted every five years or so, which actually makes them a bit higher maintenance than steel doors.

CONCLUSION

It’s amazing the difference that a front door can make in regards to a home’s overall appearance.  Don’t be afraid to play around with different designs and colors, and rest assured that if you’re considering making a few changes to your exterior, upgrading your front door can be a fantastic venture since your return on investment will almost always be positive.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders, Corp | www.CresBuilders.com | 770-983-4698

Love the Look of Hardwoods? Know Your Options

hardwood-floor

As fully carpeted homes have begun to lose their popularity, the shift towards hardwood has become a smart option for homeowners who are looking for flooring that is not only long-lasting, but easily maintained as well.

Still, standard hardwoods can pack a hefty price, so engineered flooring has become an extremely popular alternative, but it’s important to know what you’re buying.

If you’re considering hardwoods, take a look at your options below.

1.) SOLID HARDWOOD FLOOING: Most hardwood flooring is manufactured from the American hardwoods—red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory, or pecan trees—although more exotic woods, such as Brazilian Cherry, Tigerwood, and African Teak, have seen an increase in popularity as well.

Generally considered the standard in wood flooring, traditional solid hardwood floors are comprised of a single piece of wood with tongue and groove sides.  Since this type of wood flooring tends to be sensitive to moisture, it’s typically nailed onto a wood sub-floor instead of a solid slab of concrete.

While somewhat pricey, especially when produced using unblemished clear oak, solid wood floors are great because they can be refinished and recoated multiple times throughout their lifespan—which may span several decades to 100+ years.  Still, it’s important to remember that solid wood floors are a natural product which expand and contract in response to moisture—meaning gaps may actually appear between the boards during the winter months.

2.) ENGINEERED HARDWOOD FLOORING: Since solid hardwoods are not always recommended in many areas of the home, engineered flooring has become a wonderful option because it tends to be much more versatile.

Instead of being made from solid strips, engineered planks are constructed from three or more thin sheets of wood that have been laminated together to form a single plank.  Since each layer is generally laid in an opposite direction during the manufacturing process, the completed floor tends to be dimensionally stable and not affected by temperature variations like traditional solid wood floors.

Furthermore, engineered floors can be installed on top of any surface—to include wood sub-floors and concrete slabs—and can be nailed down, stapled, or glued.

3.) LONGSTRIP HARDWOOD FLOORING: Still considered an engineered floor, Longstrip hardwoods have a finish layer that is comprised of several thinner wood piles that are glued together to make a single plank.  The top layer can be made from virtually any hardwood species, while the center core usually consists of a softer wood material that is used to make the tongue and groove.

Generally designed for floating installation, Longstrip planks typically have between 17 and 35 shorter pieces that make up the top layer of each board and can be glued or stapled onto any subfloor or grade level.

4.) BAMBOO FLOORING: Engineered by gluing strands of bamboo to make a material that can be milled into hardwood-like boards, this option is about as hard as most domestic hardwoods and actually lasts just as long.

Its installation is generally the same as standard hardwood boards; however, since it’s less prone to warpage, it tends to be easier to nail together.

4.) LAMINATE: Developed as a response to the increasing cost of hardwood, laminate boards have a plastic surface that is simply stamped to look like wood and can actually be milled in the same way.

It tends to be incredibly easy to install, needing technicians with less expertise and fewer tools; however, since its thin veneer can only be sanded and refinished once, laminate tends to wear out much quicker than its real wood counterparts.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders | www.cresbuilders.com | 770-983-4698

Build or Renovate Your Dream Home: Interesting Ceiling Options

contemporary-ceiling-design-108As a builder, I love helping my customers add both style and function to their homes—especially when it comes in the form of accents and details that aren’t usually found in mass-produced neighborhoods.  While I’ve already touched upon things like skylights, stair cases, and unique fireplace options, I think there’s something to be said about getting creative with ceilings.

While the most familiar, cheap, and easy option is the standard popcorn ceiling, there are an abundance of options available to homeowners who are looking to add a little something extra to their space.

HAVE A PLAN

When it comes to either building your dream home or renovating what you already have, my first piece of advice always revolves around making a plan.  When you’re imagining what you want the finished product to look like, it’s important to start by considering the ultimate purpose of the room in question.  For example, if you’re looking to add a bit of luxury and class to a formal dining room, a touch of crown molding may be in order; however, if you’re looking to improve on the functionality of the room, then ceiling lighting or skylights may be a better option.

CHOOSE YOUR STYLE

Just like planning, understanding the type of look you’re hoping to achieve will help move the process along.  If you’re going for a rustic, outdoorsy feeling, then exposed wood beams will make for a beautiful addition, just as exposed pipes may bring a bit of architectural intrigue to a modern, urban home.

DON’T BE AFRIAD OF INTERESTING SHAPES

Yes, it might seem odd to state that you should consider alternate, interesting ceiling shapes when most rooms are in the square family; however, if you’re looking to make a few large changes, you might want to put some serious thought into going a different direction.  Enhanced ceiling shapes generally include: vaulted ceilings, cathedral ceilings, tray ceilings, cove ceilings, and a shed (which is similar to a half-cathedral ceiling).

WHO DOESN’T LOVE ACCENTS?

If you’re not looking to go all-out by adding natural wood beams or by directly changing the layout of your ceiling, accents are a great option.  One of the easiest ways to achieve a change without making things too complicated is to paint your ceiling in a color that will add a new dimension to the room—i.e. darker paint shades will bring warmth to a high ceiling.  Additionally, never underestimate the effect of molding and trim, or the variety of available texture options such as wood paneling or stucco.

CONCLUSION

In the end, as you make your plan, don’t forget to set your budget.  While it may seem feasible to pay for the renovation itself, make sure you consider the hidden costs, such as the elevated power bill that may accompany your cathedral ceiling, or the cumbersome task of maintaining a complex lighting system that’s out of your reach.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders, Inc. | www.cresbuilders.com | 770-983-4698

 

Improve Your Home’s Natural Light

34152-1f6dd-7fcfd-cde62-7a8afWhen it comes to remodels and home upgrades, many owners with older houses are looking for ways in which they can update their surroundings.  Yes, there’s something to be said for the unique design of many aging homes that boast a certain level of charm; however, one of their largest complaints generally revolves around closed-off floor plans and a general lack of natural light.

If you’re looking for a quick fix to brighten things up, the easiest solution would be to add recessed lights or sconces, or to paint the interior walls in a light color.  Still, since natural lighting tends to be a quick mood booster—which has been shown to make people happier and more productive— adding sources of extra daylight can produce some wonderful benefits as well.

Daylighting, as it’s called, is the process of using window placement to maximize the natural light in a space.  By making rooms appear larger, it not only reduces electricity bills, but reduces eye strain and boosts energy.  However, while a great choice for any dark home, it’s important to remember that there are varying ways to increase natural light which may vary for each particular house.

1.) WINDOWS:  It’s not surprising that windows tend to be the most utilized way to allow the flow of natural light into the home, but it’s important to remember that a myriad of different glasses can be used in the process.  If glare reduction or privacy is something you’re concerned about, your windows can be tinted or installed with a low-transmittance glass which, even on cloudy days, will still fill your entire room with light.

Another glass option, which should be a consideration if you’re looking to reduce heat flow, is to select low-emissivity windows which are layered with an extremely thin, transparent metal coating.  For these types of windows, specifically ones which are rated with the Energy Star logo, homeowners may even be eligible for a government tax credit of up to $500.

2.) SUN TUNNELS:  Not to be confused with skylights, sun tunnels are an easy option which has become a popular choice for homeowners looking to attain a brighter atmosphere.  In short, they consist of metal tubes which are installed through the ceiling and out the roof, which allows light to flow into the room.  With the possibility of installation on different roof pitches, the top part of the tunnel consists of a low profile dome, which allows light to pass without allowing heat in or out.

Much like the different types of energy efficient windows that are perfect for the walls of your home, these may also qualify you for a tax credit; however, it’s important to note that, since sun tunnels do not have shades, they should only be placed in rooms where you always want light to flow in.

3.) SKYLIGHTS:  In the past, many homeowners with skylights found out the hard way that leaks were and all-too-common occurrence; however, their production and installation has come a long way.  With leak-proof flashing that can now fit any type of roof pitch, homeowners also have the option of selecting single or double pane glass, which can help reduce heat loss.  Additionally, while many people assume that skylights have to be closed off—similar to a picture window—some types can actually be opened to allow ventilation.

While they are usually made in either plastic or glass, most of the plastic options tend to become discolored over time, so glass tends to be what most homeowners select.  With this, many people have some concern about whether their skylights will hold up in storm conditions; however, the glass is usually tempered for impact resistance, and in an effort to avoid an abundance of heat transference in the summer, window placement on the south side of the home is generally preferred.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders Corp. | www.cresbuilders.com | 770-983-4698

Countertop Options for Your New Kitchen

mediterranean-kitchenAs with anything, when it comes to countertops, brand names often hold a lot of appeal; however, if you can look past the well-known designers, your options really involve a relatively small grouping of materials.  While the average kitchen of years past used to consist of a minute prep area set upon worn laminate, today’s choices involve a range of colors, patterns, and textures that come in a wide variety of materials.

While there are definitely creative choices for every individual project, five of the most popular countertop materials include natural stone, solid surfaces, plastic laminate, wood, and concrete.

1.) NATURAL STONE: When people think of luxury countertops, they often think of natural stones such as granite, soapstone, and slate.  Granite, which is by far the most popular of the three, comes in a wide array of colors and is cut into long, thick slabs that require few (if any) seams.  Generally stain and heat resistant—when treated with a special impregnating sealer—the durability and widespread popularity of this stone has helped to stabilize prices and expand the market.

On the other end of the spectrum, soapstone and slate come in a more limited number of colors, but they can be fabricated into sinks which match the countertop, and in the case of slate, remain relatively easy to maintain.

2.) SOLID SURFACES: Generally speaking, while many contractors tend to dismiss solid-surfacing as nothing more than imitation stone, the truth is that these materials have produced incredibly renewable, repairable counters in thousands of kitchens.  Made of 100% acrylic, 100% polyester or a combination of the two, these surfaces are highly resistant to stains and scratches, and can be engineered into almost any design you can dream up.

3.) PLASTIC LAMINATE (FORMICA):  Produced in a wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns, this is a durable material which can stand up in even the toughest kitchens.  Generally found in sheets ranging from 2×4 ft to 4×8 ft, this resilient material can be found in ready-to-install portions which range from approximately $2-$3 per square foot.

4.) WOOD:  While it has lost prominence over the years, wood is still considered a beautiful addition to any kitchen, especially when used for secondary areas such as a baker’s prep area, a dining counters or a food chopping block.  Although it requires a bit more maintenance than many homeowners are willing to put in—mineral oil needs to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks—it’s a great option for those who are looking to install a true chef’s kitchen.  Most wood counters are generally made from rock maple, however, teak, walnut, cheery and oak are also used.

5.) CONCRETE:  These types of counters, which often resemble natural stone, are rapidly finding their way into more kitchens due to their durability and versatility.  The precast molded slabs, which tend to be made from scratch and delivered for installation, are fully cured in a workshop before delivery.  Like several of the other materials listed above, concrete can be found in a variety of colors and is generally sealed to prevent staining.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders | www.cresbuilders.com | 770-983-4698

Choosing the Right Home Builder for Your Project

MartinBuildingGroup-Custom-Home-DesignWhen it comes to large financial decisions, choosing to build a custom home is often one of the largest investments you’ll make.  Clearly, with so much money on the table, there’s a lot at stake.  Problems during the building process can and often do happen; however, you certainly don’t want to encounter hiccups that could easily have been avoided by simply investigating the builder in advance.

Therefore, choosing a great contractor—who is not only well accomplished, but has impeccable integrity—is imperative.  While you will obviously want to secure someone with a high level of know-how and skills, it’s also important to find a builder with the necessary leadership skills to seamlessly manage a team of quality subcontractors.

From here, there’s a solid grouping of pointers which should help you in your quest to choose an exemplary builder.

1.) While it may seem strange, pay attention to whether you actually like your prospect as a person.  At the end of the day, never underestimate the importance of creating a strong working relationship with your home builder.  They need to be someone who you not only trust and respect, but someone with whom you can feel comfortable expressing your wants and needs.

2.) Don’t be afraid to ask for references, as well as all of their licensing and insurance information.  If you find yourself unsure of a builder’s qualifications, feel free to make queries within the state or local licensing body, as well as the Better Business Bureau.

3.) Inspection and building permit records are made public, so request a list of previous projects or visit the local government office where inspection records and permits are maintained.  Specifically, look for evidence of permit violations or failed inspections; however, it’s still important to remember that even the most reputable, established builders will often have a few minor items on record.  Knowing this, repeated violations or large-scale failures should send off warning signals.

4.) As with many professionals, builders have areas of specialty, so make a point to look for a contractor who builds the type of home you’re hoping to erect.

5.) Advertisements are great; however, oftentimes the most accurate information will come from word-of-mouth.  Pay attention to personal referrals and don’t be afraid to contact previous customers for feedback.

6.) Do your homework.  While interviewing potential builders, it helps to come prepared with a design checklist detailing your price range, time frame, location, and necessary materials.  From here, when you finally hire someone, thoroughly read the contract.  It should cover all of the previously discussed facets of your project and make you feel confident in your final decision.  If something in the contract seems off, speak up!

At the end of the day, choosing the right contractor is probably the most important step in building your new home; however, by paying attention to detail and conducting the right amount of research, you should be well on your way to having the house of your dreams.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders Corp. | www.cresbuilders.com | 770-983-4698