Category Archives: My Posts

Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Custom Home

aBuilding your dream home can be a lifelong goal that, when finally realized, is nothing short of exciting.  However, while it’s important to go into the project with a positive outlook, it’s still vital to maintain a level head throughout the process in order to protect yourself from future frustration.

Therefore, when making the decision to build, there are several common mistakes worth avoiding if you’d like to live in the best version of your dream home.

1.  DO NOT ACT AS YOUR OWN GENERAL CONTRACTOR.  This point is extremely important because, no matter what you may hear about saving money or how organized you think you are, you have not had the time to form the same industry relationships as a contractor.  While this may seem like a small thing, especially since foraging relationships would appear to be a moot point during the building process, the truth of the matter is that everyone from roofers to electricians make their living through repeat business with general contractors.

Therefore, if one of your plumbers has to make the choice between working on your home or completing a rush job for one of their regular contractors, who do you think they’ll choose?  Long-story-short, the subcontractor knows that he/she will never be working for you again, so your level of importance will always rank below the general contractors they already have a relationship with.

2.  THINK AHEAD.  If you regularly follow my blogs, you’ll know that this is a step I frequently emphasize because it comes into play when considering everything from kitchen and bath remodels to custom builds.  Plain and simple, building a home is a large financial investment, so you’ll want to make sure it’s something you can grow into.  If you’re younger in age and having children is even a remote possibility, you’ll want to factor that possibility into the design process.  On the other hand, if you’re entering your later years and the kids have all moved out, you may want to consider living in less space or building something without a second floor.

3. ENGAGE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGNER THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS.  If you’re planning on utilizing the services of an interior designer once the build is complete, you’ll actually want to hire them early in the process.  While this may seem silly since the decorating is akin to a cherry on top of the sundae, many décor options require very specific building instructions to support the design.  For example, if your designer is considering an especially large chandelier, the builder will need to make sure there’s a safe way to attach it to the ceiling.

4.  BE AWARE OF YOUR HVAC SYSTEM.  This aspect is extremely important, especially here in the South where the summers get hot and humid.  Poor HVAC planning can lead to moisture issues which may contribute to terrible mold growth, as well as a general loss of funds due to efficiency problems.  If your HVAC models are too small, they will underperform and fail to heat or cool your home effectively; however, overly large models will utilize too much energy and therefore, too much money.

5.  STORAGE. STORAGE. STORAGE.  At one time or another, most of us have lived in a home or apartment that lacked any semblance of storage.  While it may seem easy to resent certain areas such as closets or cupboards, which may detract from potential living or aesthetic space, it would be a mistake to underestimate the amount of square footage you’ll need to store your belongings.

6. POOR LIGHTING.  Plain and simple, light fixtures, outlets, and windows should be plentiful.  Light awakens the senses and helps homes feel more open, so make sure large windows are present in every room.  With this, consider adding skylights and stylistic touches such as recessed or pendent lighting.  The mood of your home will take a hit if you make the mistake of forgetting this step.

7. UNUSED ROOMS.  Sure, your ego may get a boost every time you tell someone that you have your own personal gym or game room; however, while things like multipurpose areas sound enticing, you’ll want to make sure that what you’re building actually gets used.  All-too-often, under-utilized rooms turn into dumping grounds for things like Christmas decorations and off-season clothing, so if you plan on adding a spare room, make sure it is capable of having multiple uses (i.e. sewing room/guest room, office/gym).

8.  LETTING OTHER PEOPLE TELL YOU WHAT YOU NEED.  You are the one who will be living in YOUR house and you are also the one who is in the best position to understand your family’s day-to-day needs.  While it’s important to heed the advice of experts and professionals in regards to safety features and building codes, you’ll still want to exercise prudence when it comes to making decisions about the various features and upgrades at your disposal.  While these specialists may be able to make suggestions, the ultimate decision still rests with your judgement.

If you’re considering a custom build and would like to learn more about the building process or would simply like some advice about a current or future project, please contact me.

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

DIY Stair Makeover

ombre-stair-rails1In the grand scheme of things, stairs have never the most exciting aspect of any home.  Sure, there’s nothing like entering a beautiful foyer and viewing a luxurious, classically accented double-staircase, but for most of us—stairs are just…stairs.

In general, they tend to take up a good amount of space and regularly become stopping grounds for collections of dust, toys, and laundry baskets; however, truth-be-told, transforming your stairs can actually be relatively easy and incredibly effective.

For the most part, the upgrade possibilities are pretty much endless—decals, paint, carpet runners, etc.—with projects varying by levels of commitment and skill level.  Still, revamping your stairs into a statement piece within your home is an extremely do-able DIY project, which can turn even the most boring entryway into something interesting.

DecalRisersStaircase1.) PAINTED RAILINGS: If you’re looking to add a bit of color but feel that painting the actual stairs might be more than you’re ready for, there’s nothing wrong with giving your railings a makeover instead.  Easily a day project, revitalizing your railings only requires a bit of paint and some extra patience.

2.) DECALS: Perhaps you’ve used them on the walls in one of your children’s bedrooms; however, temporary decals come in a wide array of designs and colors that allow you to get creative without giving the same commitment that’s required from paint.  Consider placing them on the riser of each step, which creates a full picture as you ascend the stairs.

3.) GO GEOMETRIC: If you have the time and knack for painters tape, you can make a fantastic statement by painting geometric patterns on your stairs risers.

4.) CARPET RUNNERS: Yes, you may have seen them in your grandmother’s house; however, carpet runners can be exciting if you opt for something with a bold pattern or bright colors.  Installing them yourself is a relatively quick project, so a few simple tutorials should get you on your way.

ombre-stairs

5.) OMBRE EFFECT: If you’re up for painting, why not create an ombre effect by painting each stair a slightly different shade of your favorite color from dark (bottom) to light (top).

6.) WALLPAPER: Yes, wallpaper is clearly for walls, but there’s nothing wrong with using it on your stairs!  If the rest of your room is somewhat neutral, utilize a vibrant pattern with bold colors.

In the end, remember that these options are in no way permanent.  Yes, you may have spent an afternoon applying paint, but if it seems that your creative vision isn’t turning out as planned, don’t get too stressed out about it.  The beauty of these projects is that they give you the freedom to change things as you see fit, so have fun!

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders Corp. | 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

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

Remodeling for the Future

home-renovations-cover

While the housing market is certainly starting to recover, many homeowners are still choosing to invest in updates rather than move; however, simply because they’re choosing to stay put at the moment, doesn’t mean they won’t consider packing up in the future.

Therefore, if you’re considering a remodel, it’s important to make sure you invest your money in a way that will yield an increase in your resale value later.

OPTIONS TO CONSIDER

1.) ENERGY IMPROVEMENTS—With increases in energy costs, overall improvements to the way your home handles gas, electric, and water consumption can be extremely beneficial (i.e. high-efficiency insulation & windows).  In general, improving the quality of your home through technological and design improvements can be a boon when looking to differentiate your property through annual energy savings.

2.) BEWARE OF “TRENDY”—Yes, it may seem exciting now, but be careful with renovations that are “so now” that they rapidly become “so-two-years-ago” within moments.  Instead, consider quality materials, lines, and themes that can be considered timeless and classic.

3.) OPEN THINGS UP—One of the marks of an older home are separate, closed-off rooms; however, today’s buyer generally wants an open floor plan with an abundance of natural light.  If you’re considering a remodel, you might want to consider opening some of those sightlines for a free feeling.

4.) THE OBLIGATORY KITCHEN AND BATH REMODEL—It’s no secret that one of the best ways to improve your resale value is to focus your energy on kitchen and master bath updates.  In terms of biggest bang for your buck, even minor renovations can make a great deal of difference.

5.) DON’T NEGLECT YOUR FLOORS!—In general, there’s basically no going wrong with installing hardwood floors (or refinishing existing ones).  While many people are fine with carpet, hardwood floors are not only easier to maintain, but are more resistant to everyday wear-and-tear.