What to Expect… When Remodeling

If you are planning a remodeling project soon, the following expectations will help you plan for a smooth running project. The following advice was taken from an article by Seattle remodeler, Anne Higuera. To read the full article click here:

  1. Dust and Noise. There’s no way to avoid it, but there are ways to contain it. Putting up plastic or using a temporary wall to close off the construction area from the rest of the house will greatly reduce dust from spreading and temper the noise. And when it all gets on your nerves, go for a walk or a shopping trip to pick out some new accessories for your new space.
  2. Highs and Lows. Embrace the process and celebrate the joy – whether it’s seeing the old vinyl flooring removed or the installation of the glass tile you agonized over – be happy – your project is finally underway! However, if “remodeling fatigue” sets in because you simply want the project to be done, the workers gone, and your house returned to normal – hang in there and try to focus on how amazing your space will look when it’s all done.
  3. Unexpected Delays. Expecting the unexpected is certainly the adage for remodeling. Count on finding something no one could have anticipated in your budget and time frame, and be resilient when the schedule shifts a bit.
  4. Change Orders. Most often occur because of things that you decide to add or change outside of the original scope of the job. When you absolutely, positively have to make a change, your contractor will document it with a change order and adjust the cost.
  5. Cash Concerns. Sometimes costs increase, especially with change orders, which can cause your anxiety level to rise. Having cash on hand that’s a bare minimum of 10 percent above contract for contingencies will help alleviate that stress. Have 20 percent if you want to worry less.
  6. Outliers. At the end of your project, expect one or two punch-list items that will take longer to resolve than anything else. The important thing is to get the final details right, even if they take a little longer.

2011 Tax Credits Return

From a recent article published in the News & Observer* on January 26, and thanks to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, homeowners are again able to claim tax credits on certain home improvements such as insulation, energy–smart windows and highly efficient furnaces. Additionally, these credits are retroactive; meaning improvements made in both 2012 and 2013 will qualify. The program still has a cap of $500 in total credits so if you’ve already claimed $500 in credits for energy-efficiency improvements; you’re not eligible for more.

To claim a tax credit, you’ll need to file Form 5695 along with your federal tax return for the year the improvement is made. The credit will be subtracted from the amount of tax you owe or added to your tax refund. You are also required to obtain for your records a manufacturer’s certification statement which indicates the product qualifies for a tax credit. Get all the details on how to qualify HERE.

Blue Ribbon Residential Construction can help you make energy efficient investments in your home. Here are some of the credits you can take advantage of:

• 10% of the cost of insulation materials and systems, not including installation.

• 10% of the cost of qualifying exterior doors, windows and skylights, not including installation.  (Credits for windows and skylights are capped at $200.)

• 10% of the cost of metal and asphalt roof’s specially designed to keep buildings cooler, not including installation.

• $50 for a furnace fan called a main air circulating fan

• $150 for a natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hotwater boiler with an annual fuel utilization efficiency rate of 95% or greater.

• $300 for an electric heat pump water heater with an energy factor of at least 2.0

• $300 for a highly efficient electric heat pump

• $300 for a highly efficient central air conditioner

• $300 for a natural gas, propane or oil water heater with an energy factor of at least 0.82 or a thermal efficiency of at least 90%

• $300 for a biomass stove

If Blue Ribbon has helped you with energy efficient projects in 2012, give us a call for the information you need to get your tax credit.

* Original article by Mary Beth Breckenridge, Akron Beacon Journal

Top 10 Design Trends for 2013

Looking to make a major remodeling change this year? Or, maybe just a small ‘sprucing up’ project – then you’ll want to check out the latest and greatest ideas as recently reported by an award-winning remodeling firm.  And, don’t forget to call the Raleigh, NC based Blue Ribbon Residential Construction for projects both small and large.

10.  Kitchen Cabinets: The look is clean, simple and contemporary. For a more cost effective solution – consider re-facing or refinishing… you still get the ‘Wow’ factor but for a lot less money.

9.    Countertops: Move over granite… the new kid in town is quartz composite (i.e. Silestone, Zodiaq). Durable, low maintenance and endless color choices – it’s every homeowner’s dream!

8.    Hardwood Floors:  Pre-finished and engineered wood flooring is gaining popularity… get a hard durable finish that never needs sanding (no dust!) or refinishing.

7.    Glass Backsplashes:  Glass/stone/tile mosaic composites add more texture and visual interest and are ‘key’ to a contemporary, clean-looking kitchen.

6.    Stylishly Simple Sinks:  Say ‘hello’ to deep, single-bowl sinks that now come with accessories like fitted colanders and dish drains. Stainless is still diehard, but quartz composites (again) are quickly taking over.

5.    Color Palette: Charcoal is the new black.  2013 will find this silky color everywhere as it blends the right amount of chocolate, grey and a touch of green.

4.    Bathroom Countertops: Calacatta marble – a rarer stone than Carrara marble – is quarried in the same region and valued for a whiter background and bolder grey veins.

3.    Texture and Sparkle: For a fresh, new looksimply add pops of bold color and elements of sparkle…  glossy glass tile backsplashes and polished nickel fixtures do the trick!

2.    Living In Your Home Longer/Multi-Generational Living: A certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS) can help aging baby boomers safely stay in their homes, for as long as possible. Watch for easy kitchen and bath upgrades to enhance functionality, comfort and safety.

1.    Healthy Home, Healthy Living: The number one trend for 2013 will be to create a healthy living environment, free of toxins and harsh chemicals.  Upgrade trends include the use of low VOC materials to improve indoor air quality, testing combustion safety, and radon mitigation.

Read the full article here.



Announcing….”Not So Big Remodeling”…Now in Paperback

I’m pleased to announce that Not So Big Remodeling has just been released in paperback, featuring a new introduction that’s tailored to the post-recession economy. Although this book has sold well in hardcover, I’ve been convinced for some time that once the economy starts to turn around, there will be a much bigger audience for the ideas that the book contains. I believe that time has come.

I’m hearing from architects, designers and remodelers that their workloads are beginning to increase again, and it appears that things are looking up for many of us involved in the world of house remodeling.  This book is designed to help homeowners understand the possibilities for remodeling in a Not So Big way, either by staying within the home’s existing footprint, or adding on a little if necessary.  It’s about how to do more with less, how to use every dollar available more wisely, how to improve energy efficiency, and how to prepare to work with the professionals needed to help realize a remodeling project.

I’ve loved hearing from homeowners, architects, designers and remodelers about the benefits of using this book in accomplishing their various remodeling projects, and am excited about the potential of the paperback to help even more people save money while improving the quality, character and functionality of their existing homes.

Please help me spread the word. If anyone you know is thinking about remodeling in the not too distant future, they need this book.

And architects, designers, and remodelers, this book is intended to make your job easier by priming your clients and customers ahead of time, so they know what to look for and how to think about their projects in a Not So Big way.


Homeowners personalize their home rather than move…..


Homeowners personalize their home rather than move
NARI reveals new trend during National Home Improvement Month.
Des Plaines, Illinois, April 30, 2012—In honor of National Home Improvement Month this May, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) reveals that homeowners are personalizing their space during a remodel as the tough housing market forces more people to stay, rather than move.
According to a poll on, 26 percent of respondents are planning to stay an additional 16 to 20 years in their homes because their home values have decreased during the recession. Twenty-three percent reported they are going to stay an additional six to 10 years in their homes.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports combined existing and new single family home sales decreased 5 percent in 2010. “This is very telling of what homeowners are experiencing as a result of the recession,” says NARI National President Dean Herriges, MCR, CKBR, of Urban Herriges & Sons in Mukwonago, Wis. “Because many homes have recently decreased in value, people are deciding to stick it out for much longer than they had originally planned.”
This in turn, has sparked a new remodeling trend that centers on making homes better reflect individual lifestyles and tastes as people decide to live in them longer. “Remodeling used to be about increasing resale value—making improvements that are appealing to the majority of buyers in order to boost the value of the home,” Herriges says.
But that is simply not the case anymore.
“More and more people are throwing out the resale theory and making specialized improvements that suit their needs and their needs only,” he says.
And this trend stretches far beyond flashy paint colors and finishes. Homeowners are opting for spas with exercise pools, caterer kitchens, art rooms, yoga studios, motorcycle garages, dog spas, wine cellars and tasting rooms, helicopter pads, 3-D murals, built-in teppanyaki grills, sewing rooms and meditation rooms.
Herriges cautions homeowners, though, that it’s important the customizations make sense to their lifestyle. “Make sure that whatever your adding is going to be something that you really intend to use, otherwise the space will end up being underutilized and make you unhappy,” Herriges says.
The entire poll results are as follows: 13 percent responded they had not planned to stay longer in their homes, 28 percent planned to stay one to five years longer, 23 percent planned to stay six to 10 years, 10 percent planned to stay 11 to 15 years longer and 26 percent planned to stay 16 to 20 years longer.
NARI is the source for homeowners seeking to hire a professional remodeling contractor because members are full-time, dedicated remodelers who follow a strict code of ethics that observes high standards of honesty, integrity and responsibility.
Visit the site to get tips on how to hire a remodeling professional and to search for NARI members in your area.
NARI members represent a select group from the approximately 800,000 companies and individuals in the U.S. identifying themselves as professional remodelers.

Great advice in USA Today

The author hit the mark with this article and especially with the “Before you get started” part.  Great advice for:

1.  Look before you leap

2.  Learn to laugh at the things you cannot control

3. Be liquid

4.  Be safe

5. Plan vacations from renovations

Follow the link to read the article.


I have so much to catch up on ……………..

The Cary remodeling project is finished.  Once the owners get their furniture in place I’ll go back to take some final photos.  They have also gotten a quote on some pretty draperies.  I think that the owners have as much storage in the new attic than they had before and with easier access.  This was a great project for great clients.  I think they will miss us although as with most people right now they are glad we are out of their hair.  And there is a perk for some of the staff.  Some of our people are golfers and will be enjoying the pros at the tournament this weekend from the back deck on this project.

Update on the Cary Bonus Room Project

As the finishes progress on the Cary Bonus Room Project we can see tile, cabinetry and plumbing fixtures installed.  There is light at the end of the tunnel on this project.  Inspections are scheduled for this week, then carpeting, hardware and final finishes next week.  I know the owners will be glad to see this project finished.  There are already friends and family calling to ask about “do you have enough space for us to stay for a while, when can we visit?”  I think the owners will miss us when we finish.

New tile in shower

The owner added this wet bar / kitchenette

Now that tile is finished, the cabinets and plumbing fixtures are installed

Sometimes you just have to share

On my trip I took this fast photo at a stop light.  You’d think that is should be on a car from the south but it was actually on a car with a NY license plate.  Go figure.  Maybe the driver is actually a south to north transplant with deep roots.  More updates on the projects tomorrow, photos pending on those.

Blue Ribbon Renovation, Blue Ribbon Residential, Blue Ribbon Construction, John Sperath, Design Build Remodeling, Remodeling Raleigh, Remodeling triangle