Category Archives: Tips

Maintenance for a Healthy Home

homeIn addition to all the other areas in life that we need to juggle: Marriage, Children, Health, Finances, Church, Work, Extended Family, Friends, and Vacations, there is another one that is equally as important – your home.

Have you ever driven by an old country road or in some of the inner city streets and seen a house around 100 years old with just a shell remaining? Isn’t it powerful to see what the elements can do to something so structurally sound as a home if left neglected? In addition to exterior elements, we as humans also create interior damage to the home through daily life if not maintained!

The house is a living and do I dare say, ”breathing thing”, that like all the other items on the list needs your love and care. The exterior has several parts that need to work together to make it function together well. The roof, gutter & gutter covers, downspouts, under ground down spout extensions, proper grading, siding, windows, paint, front porch and sunroom or covered patio all work together to create the first line of defense against rain, wind, sun, hail, snow, heat and cold. If one of these parts aren’t working or aren’t maintained, then harmful elements such as mold, mildew, moisture, and even water can enter your home causing health risks.

And within the interior, time keeps marching on and with it, designing elements change. Don’t wait until you need to sell your home to create the necessary updates that keep your home current. If a time comes when you decide to sell, the comparable prices in the neighborhood might not best represent what your home can earn in the market. Your neglected interior home might be classified as a fixer upper. In today’s fast paced world, many people want a move in ready home; they do not want to deal with the hassle to fix it up before they move in.

Finally, a stay cation is becoming more and more popular. Why not invest in your home to finish out the unfinished basement or add a sunroom, covered patio or a large deck to increase the home’s capacity and ability to host additional guests, offering special moments. These spaces will create many fine memories for your family. If and when you are ready to move on and sell your home, it has more attractive features for the real estate agent and potential buyer to consider.

Our homes are important like all areas in our life. They provide our shelter and are where we find peace and solace. We must maintain them to ensure that they withstand nature’s elements and prove to be a solid investment for the future.

To obtain a quote or for additional advice, feel free to contact me at 770-983-4698 or visit our website at www.CresBuilders.com.

Five Benefits of Basement Remodeling

A remodeled basement is a great addition to any home. The lowest (and often unused) floor in your home has lots of potential.

basement remodeling cumming gaRemodeling your basement can increase the value of your property and square footage of your living space.

Finishing your basement is a great alternative to adding on to your home and doesn’t require as much financial investment.

Here are a few reasons to consider turning your under-utilized storage space into a comfy living area that your family wants to spend time in!

  • Finishing your basement increases the value of your property and adds square footage to your home.
  • The additional living space gives your family breathing room and more room to enjoy for entertaining and guests.
  • You can personalize the additional basement space to your family’s needs. Do you need an entertainment room, kitchen or in-law suite?
  • You have the ability to completely customize your personal basement space whereas in many cases when you purchase a home you just get to choose a small selection of finishes or take it as it is with a built home.
  • Include your family in the planning of the finished basement and they will enjoy being a part of creating the newest space of the home.

See some of CRES Builders’ North Atlanta basement remodeling projects here:

We offer a wide variety of services in North Atlanta so that our clients never have to worry about going through multiple companies to make their homes perfect!
  • Custom Home Building
  • Room & Garage Additions
  • Basement / Kitchen / Bathroom Remodeling
  • Garage Conversions
  • Screened Porches
  • Pavilions
  • Siding & Window Replacement
  • Interior & Exterior Painting
  • Gutter, Down Spouts & Gutter Cover Installations
  • Roof Replacement
  • Hardscape & Landscaping (Retaining walls, Pavers & Walkways)
  • Driveway Replacements
  • Deck Remodels
  • Hardwood Refinishing

To obtain a quote or for additional advice, feel free to contact CRES Builders in Cumming, GA at 770-983-4698 or visit our website at www.CresBuilders.com.

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Winterize Your Home for $100 or Less

Sure, it’s December and temperatures have been resting close to 70 for the past week; however, it’s safe to say that we will eventually experience weather that tentatively resembles winter, so it’s probably a good idea to be prepared.

While no one likes the chill that comes from drafty doors and windows, securing your home against winter is about more than discomfort. Plain and simple, as warm air leaves your house, money leaves your wallet, so taking steps to keep the cold air out will go a long way towards protecting your investment.

While most people groan at the idea of home maintenance tasks—due to the effort and money that’s often required—most DIY winterization projects involve very little.

CAULK: As the go-to for keeping “bought air” in, your basic caulk gun and tubes of caulk shouldn’t cost much more than $50 and will help fill in all those gaps in your siding, windows, and door. When sealing drafty windows and door; however, don’t forget to take care of spaces on the inside, as well as the outside.

PLASTIC FILM WINDOW INSULATING KIT: While this may not be the most beautiful fix, covering your windows will go a long way towards saving on your heating bill while still allowing light into your home. Most kits only cost about $20, but if you’re really feeling industrious, bubble wrap also does a great job!

WEATHER STRIPPING: As its name suggests, weather stripping is great at keeping weather out. Take some time to examine your windows and make a point to replace old weather stripping that is cracked or pulling away from the frame. A 17-foot roll should only cost about $5.

FURNACE FILTER: Making a point to replace your furnace filter on a regular basis will go a long way towards maintaining your home’s heating efficiency. Clogged filters will not only reduce your furnace’s ability to heat your home, but may negatively impact its overall lifespan. Most filters only cost about $10-20.

DOOR THRESHOLD/SWEEP STRIP: While you can buy these in store, it’s also possible to make them out of old towels, blankets, or even pillow cases filled with sand or kitty litter. Again, while they may not be the most pleasing things to look at, they help fill air leaks beneath doors.

For additional advice, especially if you have a bit more room in your budget, feel free to contact me.

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

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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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DIY Projects to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

Home maintenance is obviously important, which is why I frequently promote the idea of creating a monthly checklist of tasks that should be completed throughout the year.  However, while it’s tempting to bask in what little is left of the summer sun, it’s important to take advantage of the lower humidity levels and cooler temperatures before winter really sets in.

CREATE A MUDROOM

If your home is missing a special place where the kids can stash their muddy shoes and hang wet coats, fall is a great time to create one.  While some homes comes equipped with mud rooms off the garage, making them user-friendly may still require a bit of work.  To get started, consider adding a large standalone piece of furniture with a bench seat, along with organizational items such as shelves, cubbies, and hooks.

If space is limited or you simply don’t have an actual mud room, you may want to place a console table in the hallway with baskets underneath for things like footwear, hats, and bags, while also adding a coat rack for those discarded layers.

TACKLE YOUR GARAGE

No, spring cleaning is not just for spring.  When it comes to your garage, chances are good that it’s not nearly as organized or tidy as you would like it to be.  If we look to the statistics which state that approximately 70% of homeowners don’t actually park their vehicles in the garage, it’s easy to assume that most people are dealing with an abundance of unneeded clutter.

Consider setting aside some time this weekend to go through the things you haven’t used in two years and get rid of them.  If something has been outgrown, is irreparable, or has expired, it’s time for it to go.

GRAB THE PAINT BRUSH

Don’t just think about painting—do it!  If you’ve been going through color swatches for months, yet have found yourself putting off the actual act of adding a new coat of paint to your walls, now is the time to get started.

Since painting requires good ventilation, fall is the optimal season to do it because the temperatures will allow for open windows and low humidity levels will help everything dry faster.

BRIGHTEN UP THOSE WINDOWS

You’ve probably noticed that the days are getting shorter, which will only get worse when we turn the clocks back in November.  In an effort to allow as much natural light into your home as possible, make a point to give your windows a thorough washing.  Feel free to use a commercial cleaner or utilize a solution of vinegar and water to get professional-looking results.

GIVE YOUR PATIO FURNITURE A BREAK

In an effort to make your patio gear last longer, it’s always good to give it a solid rubdown to remove any leftover pollen, grime, and bugs, and consider packing some items away for the winter.  For furniture cushions, the goal is to reduce the chances that you’ll allow mold and mildew to occur, so make sure everything is completely dry before covering it or placing it in storage.

If you have any home maintenance questions or would like to inquire about our home building and remodeling services, please contact me.

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

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How to Cool That Chronically Hot Room in Your Home

Keeping your home cool can be a challenge, especially here in the South where 90+ degree temperatures become the norm for months on end.  With that being said, it seems that every home has that one room where temperatures sit five to ten degrees warmer than the rest of the house.  To deal with this dilemma, many homeowners simply close off the overly heated room; however, this creates a situation where you’re left with unusable space four to five months out of the year.  Sure, it’s always possible to install a window air conditioner, but such appliances are generally less-than-pleasing to the eye and are often expensive to run.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a lasting solution, consider the following possibilities.

UTILIZE LANDSCAPING.  While great for curb appeal and overall home value, the right landscaping can be extremely effective when attempting to cool and shade your home.  Consider using dense-canopied trees on the southern portion of your property and deflect the afternoon sun with tall shrubs, planted trelliswork, and short trees to the west.

INSTALL AWNINGS.  While landscaping can go a long way towards cooling your surroundings, it’s important to remember that trees and shrubs take a long time to mature.  If money is no object, you’re probably in a better position to purchase plants that are already on their way to being fully mature; however, if your landscaping is still in its infancy, consider using awnings instead.  Sure, they may be an acquired taste for many homeowners, but their effectiveness is generally unquestioned.  When placed over a west-facing window, awnings can reduce heat penetration by as much as 77%.

WINDOW TINTING.  Much like the addition of window tint in a car, consider applying a heat-control film to your home’s windows.  This film, which is made up of multiple UV-blocking layers, limits the amount of sunshine which can heat up your room and is extremely easy to apply.

FANS.  Luckily, most southern homes come pre-equipped with ceiling fans in their main rooms; however, for areas without similar air circulation features—especially those on upper floors and in sunny rooms— consider situating standing fans that will blow out toward open windows.  For parts of the home situated in the shade and generally on lower floors, orient fans to blow in toward the room.  In addition, set ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise during the summer months so that cool air gets drawn up from the floor.

In the end, temperature differences in your house can be a pain, which makes it that much more important to consider the layout of the HVAC system when purchasing or building a home.  If you’d like some advice or are even considering revamping your current system, please feel free to give me a call.

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

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Easy Steps to Save Money on Your Kitchen Remodel

If you’re looking to increase the value of your home, chances are good that you’ve considered having some work done on your kitchen.  However, it’s no secret that, no matter how you look at it, most kitchen remodeling projects don’t come cheap.  According to national data, minor updates generally cost about $18,500, while total renovations may reach as high as $54,000.

Still, while either of those numbers may be enough to make you cringe, it’s important to remember that—as with anything in life—if you make a point to control your spending, stay in touch with your priorities, and remain flexible, it’s entirely possible to stick to a reasonable budget.

REMEMBER YOUR BOUNDARIES.  To start, if saving money is your main priority, then stick to design changes that refrain from modifying the actual structure of your home.  Sure, expanding your floorplan or knocking out a spare wall may seem enticing, but it’s worth remembering that these types of changes generally require expensive plumbing and electrical work.

CHOOSE YOUR CABINETS WISELY.  Luckily, cabinets come in a variety of makes, colors, sizes, and materials, which helps customers cut costs when necessary.  Instead of opting for custom cabinetry, consider standard cabinets or a combination of custom and standard to make things more wallet friendly.  Other money-saving alternatives include selecting cabinets without trim molding, single-height wall cabinets, or simply rehabbing what’s already there.  The refacing process is relatively simple and can go a long way towards making your entire kitchen look brand new.

THERE’S MORE TO COUNTERTOPS THAN GRANITE.  Yes, granite and quartz countertops can add a certain sort of elegance to your home but if you’re working with a limited budget, tile, laminate, and concrete can make your space look just as nice.

Plain and simple, today’s tile and laminates have advanced to the point that they can easily mimic granite and stone without the nauseating price tag.  Both come in a wide variety of natural hues that allow you to add your own flair with a variety of patterns, accents, and trim.

FLOORING.  Hardwoods are beautiful and they go a long way towards improving your home’s resale value but again, if your main focus is creating something lovely on a fixed budget, then my advice regarding countertops can apply here as well.

Today’s laminate and vinyl can easily mimic high quality tile or wood, and it’s generally easy to install and even easier to maintain.

OPT FOR ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY APPLIANCES.  Sigh.  New appliances are expensive and there’s really no way to get around the upfront cost if you absolutely have to put them in.  However, when it comes to things like dishwashers and refrigerators, you’ll wind up recouping some of your money if you make a point to select high-efficiency machines.  Over a single appliance’s lifetime, The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that you can save anywhere from $200 to $1,100, which is money worth considering.

In the end, when selecting a contractor to complete your remodel, make sure you choose someone who is fully aware of your budget constraints and is willing to work with you.  A great contractor should understand your goals and make every effort to help you achieve them.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can save money on your kitchen remodel, please contact me.  I’d love to hear from you.

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

 

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

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How to Landscape on a Budget

Whether you’ve recently bought a new home or are looking to spruce up your current property, landscaping can make a big difference. Still, it’s no secret that making your yard look beautiful can cost a pretty penny, but it truly doesn’t have to be something that breaks the bank.

With continuous warm weather right around the corner, it’s the perfect time break some ground. However, if you’re on a serious budget, start by taking stock of how much money you have to spend and make a few decisions about what you’d like to use it for.

Set Your Boundaries.  To start, sit down and list your goals. Are you looking to make some changes to your whole property, or just the front or back yard? Have you accounted for the amount of regular maintenance it will take once the installation is complete? Are you going for something that’s purely aesthetic or functional? Once you can answer these types of logistical questions, you’ll be in a better position to solidify your budget and, should you find yourself getting a bit too carried away, prioritize your spending if need be.

Do You Really Need to Start From Scratch?  If your main goal is to avoid overspending, then your best bet is to make simple improvements to your current landscaping. Start by taking stock of your yard and examine which parts you like and which areas may need a bit of TLC. If you can accomplish a lot by simply cleaning up messy flowerbeds or trimming your existing shrubs, there’s really no need to spend an abundance of money on new plants. If you’re unsure, simply set up a consultation with a professional who can offer some advice and provide you with an estimate. If anything, you’ll at least gain a better idea of how far your money will take you.

Get More Bang for Your Buck.  If you decide that your yard needs a few more plants, be smart and opt for low-maintenance items such as colorful knockout roses or perennials that can be started from bulbs or clippings. With this, if you know of any friends who have hostas or irises in their yard, you’ll really save yourself a good bit of money if you can get them to give you a few clippings. Make sure you think twice about planting any annuals because they generally require yearly replacement, which can turn into a large expense.

Not Everything Has to Go In at Once.  If things are really tight, think of landscaping your yard like slowly furnishing a room—you don’t have to buy everything all at once. Big ticket items such as trees can be costly, so take your time and consider buying younger plants instead of mature plants in larger pots.

In the end, don’t be afraid to get creative and let your senses do a lot of the talking. If you love the look of cherry blossoms in the spring or the smell of lavender outside your window, make those things a priority and adjust the rest of your budget accordingly. A beautifully landscaped yard should make you happy before all else, so make sure it’s something you really want to spend time in.

If you’re feeling stuck and need a bit of advice, please do not hesitate to contact me—I’d love to be of service.

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

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The Advantages of Building a Custom Home

Whether you’ve been saving to build your dream house for several years or you’ve recently found yourself frustrated with the existing homes on the market, there are several advantages to building a house that can make your life much easier in the long-run.

1.) CUSTOMIZATION: When it comes to shopping for a home the conventional way, house hunters wind up visiting dozens of listings in an effort to find a location that best meets their needs; however, one of the greatest benefits of building a house is that it presents the opportunity for complete customization.  From selecting the perfect piece of land to choosing all of the materials and special features, building to suit gives you the ability to truly monitor your budget by picking-and-choosing specific upgrades and amenities.

2.) AFFORDABILITY: While the idea of custom building a home may cause many people to see dollar signs, the truth of the matter is that it can often be cheaper than buying an existing house.  Sure, some people find themselves having a difficult time sticking to a budget during the building process, but by working with a builder who respects your financial limits, it’s entirely possible to create your dream home at a reasonable price.

With this, it’s also important to remember that affordability is about more than upfront costs—it’s also about the amount of money you’ll have to put into yearly home maintenance repairs or future renovations.  With a new home, you’ll also have new wiring, plumbing, roofing, and mechanicals, which means the price of general upkeep will be cheaper.

3.) ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Along with saving money on future maintenance costs, a custom built home gives you the opportunity to select the latest energy saving appliances and building code standards.  With the inclusion of various energy and environmentally efficient features, you get to see the savings roll in every month in the form of lower utility bills.

4.) PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT: Research shows that new homes appreciate in value much more than older homes, so while you may not be thinking of moving anytime in the near future—if at all—it’s important to remember that life changes can happen.  Sure, it would be nice to make a real estate transaction without thinking about shifts in the market or changes in your personal life, but a smart homebuyer knows that paying attention resale value is always a wise idea.  At the end of the day, you automatically increase your home’s worth by building new.

Plain and simple, the decision to construct a new home is not something that should be made without a bit of prior understanding of what it will entail.  Naturally, it will take a bit longer than buying an existing property, but if you’re willing to wait so that your needs and wants are met, building a home can create something you’ve only ever dreamed about.

If you’d like to learn more about how to get the process started, please feel free to contact me.  I’d love to have the opportunity to help you along the way.

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