Blue Ribbon wins the 2013 ‘Guildmaste​r With Distinctio​n’ Award

guildmaster awardThe annual Guildmaster Awards, presented by GuildQuality, celebrate service excellence in the building, remodeling, contracting, and real estate professions. Each year, GuildQuality gives special recognition to the companies that demonstrate an ability to deliver a consistently superior customer experience.

Over the past few months, GuildQuality has reviewed more than 300 applicants for the 2013 Guildmaster Awards. Based on their review of our company’s feedback, we are pleased to announce that Blue Ribbon Residential Construction Company has earned recognition as a “2013 Guildmaster with Distinction“.

The primary requirement for receiving this high honor is exemplary customer service, as demonstrated by an extremely high customer recommendation rate. In the home building, remodeling, and real estate industry, the average customer recommendation rate for businesses is approximately 70%.  In order to receive the award as a member, Blue Ribbon Residential Construction must have achieved a recommendation rate of 90% or greater.  We received 97%!

We take tremendous pride in providing the highest quality work and the highest level of customer service possible.  Because of this, many of our customers return to us for subsequent projects.

Says the company’s owner, John Sperath:

“Over my 25 years in the Professional Remodeling business I have learned to listen carefully to prospective clients and develop solutions to their problems. Oftentimes, we’ll brain storm together regarding their personal likes, needs and wants to drill down to exactly what their mind’s eye is seeing so that I can see it, too.  I solidly believe in renovating people’s homes based on need now, and in the future. Through creative design ideas, my team and I build client confidence throughout the design process so there is full and ultimate trust on the client’s part before the first nail is driven or the first wall taken down.

Remodeling your castle has a definite fear factor. i.e. will it be done right, will they trash my house in the process, have I made the right decisions, will my family be safe while the workmen are in the house, will I get good value for my money, etc.  If we didn’t address the fear factor with each and every client, we would not have the referral base that we do and the extensive list of repeat clients.”

Click the link below to read the actual reviews!



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.

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.



Raleigh Ranks Among Bloomberg’s 50 Best Places to Live

If you are looking for some place awesome to live, Raleigh, North Carolina is a great choice, according to Bloomberg. Whether it’s the 5 colleges and universities, including UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke and NC State, or the wide variety of bars, restaurants and things to do, there is a reason for everyone to love Raleigh.

Raleigh boasts an unemployment rate just below the national average as well as academia, libraries and resources that are second to none. Located between Raleigh and Durham, the Research Triangle Park is home to many cutting edge medical and technology companies.

Additionally, Raleigh is known for many things including the Carolina Hurricanes, its NHL team, gorgeous weather and temperate climates nearly year-round and the annual North Carolina State Fair. For history buffs, old homes, historic districts and museums abound. The revitalized downtown Raleigh area is home to an eclectic mix of history and modern conveniences.

Whether young or old, professional or retired, no matter where you are in life, Raleigh has something you will love. It’s a great place to live, work and place!




Do women really want to join Augusta National? Do we want men joining the Junior Women’s League?


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Female readers speak out on the all-men’s club policy at Augusta National that bars IBM Chief Executive Officer Virginia Rometty from becoming a member and wearing a green jacket at The Masters.

“IBM SHOULD be consistent in their policy about not discriminating even if that means ending a relationship this longstanding. It’s simply the right thing to do.”I am a woman who has more intelligent things to care about. All of those people are such losers.”

So wrote a “proud” IBMer. Her company is one of The Masters’ biggest sponsors.

As the debate heats up about whether IBM should demand its female CEO Virginia Rometty be admitted as a member to the all-male Augusta National as did Chairman/former CEO Sam Palmisano and the three men who preceded him, more readers weigh in on the debate.

“All of those people are such losers,” a Charlotte investment banker added.

Last week,The Skinny said Augusta National’s policy should change.. Readers were asked to respond. Several male readers did – strongly. On Wednesday, Augusta National refused to talk about whether Rometty would be admitted. (read here)

Contacted again by WRAL Tech Wire again Thursday before The Masters opened, a Big Blue spokesperson simply said: “We’re not commenting.”

“Smack in the Glass Ceiling”

But a female writer to The Skinny, saying she is an IBM employee, says Big Blue should demand Rommetty’s admittance.

“As an IBMer I am proud that we have one of the most inclusive anti-discrimination policies in the world – going so far as to mention genetic makeup!” she wrote.

“We ask our suppliers to be socially and environmentally responsible, we continually tout ourselves as having great opportunities for women. And now this. Another not so subtle reminder that you can promote a woman all the way up to CEO of a huge global company, but the fine men at Augusta will lock her out of potential opportunities to socialize and network with other hotshot executives. What a smack in the glass ceiling.

“This is exactly why IBM should announce this is the last year of their Masters sponsorship. We would not tolerate this behavior if you substituted blacks for women, nor would we tolerate this from our suppliers – (of which the Masters really is one, as they are providing a marketing ‘service’) even if they were ‘private’ too. Supporting this kind of discrimination is diametrically opposed to our value system internally.

“We can’t force them to change, nor should we – let them revel in their stubborn and ancient belief system – in all their private glory and watch as sponsors don’t want to be associated with a time in our history where women should be seen and not heard (or maybe even not seen inside the club!).

“Go ahead – perpetuate that “old boy’s club” but don’t be surprised when fewer large companies support your decisions to exclude half of the population.

“IBM SHOULD be consistent in their policy about not discriminating even if that means ending a relationship this longstanding. It’s simply the right thing to do.”

“Such Losers”

An investment banker in Charlotte put a different spin on the dispute:

“I think your article on Augusta is brilliant.

“I so don’t care about this anymore. I am a woman who has more intelligent things to care about.

“All of those people are such losers.

“But I loved your article this morning.

“Thank you for making me laugh.”


I have always said that a can of paint can go a long way in refreshing an otherwise dated home.  Below are some basic painting “Tips from the Divas”:

Painting Tips

Paint not only come in thousands of colors, it’s also available in many finishes…..Flat, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-gloss, Gloss. Remember that the shinier the finish, the harder or more durable the finish.  That is why you will find doors and trim painted in semi-gloss or gloss. Also know that the shinier the finish, the more surface flaws you will see. Avoid this finish on older plaster and damaged sheetrock…you will see every lump and bump.


  •   FLAT, non-reflective finish on ceilings and walls
  •   EGGSHELL, slight sheen on kitchen, bath walls and high-traffic areas.
  •   SEMI-GLOSS, moderate sheen on trim and doors
  •   GLOSS, high sheen on trim and doors

If you want a really great job, use a good painter. If you want the right colors, call a designer. (We can suggest 2 great gals!) There is more to painting than just putting paint on your walls!




The Triangle housing market had its best February in four years as sales increased 35 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

While some increase was expected given the dismal market conditions early last year, the size of the jump offered renewed hope that a key component of the region’s economy is on the mend.

“We know there’s a lot of pent up demand,” said Phyllis Brookshire, a senior vice president with Allen Tate Real Estate. “There’s a lot of inventory that’s come off the market so the supply and demand gap has gotten smaller. When that happens market factors just take over.”

The number of homes on the market has been falling for months, and was 26 percent lower in February than it was during the same period a year ago. The Triangle’s housing inventory increased just 3 percent from January to February – a time in which traditionally many people put their homes up for sale.

Buyers are also being lured back by declining prices. The average price of the homes that sold in February was $216,600, down 3 percent from a year ago.

“Sometimes it’s just a little bit that makes a difference,” Brookshire said.

A better measure of the strength of the housing recovery will come later this year when the sales numbers are benchmarked against numbers that weren’t as heavily influenced by the federal tax credits, said Stacey Anfindsen, a Cary appraiser who analyzes Triangle Multiple Listing Services data for area real-estate agents.

The credits expired at the end of June 2010, but sales were depressed for an extended period afterward.

“The percentage numbers look good because February (2011) was so bad but when we get to July we’ll start to see 1 to 2 percent comparisons,” Anfindsen predicted.

The next few months are traditionally the strongest ones for home sales. February data on pending sales, which were up 30 percent, and showings, which increased 9 percent, offered further evidence of growing momentum in the marketplace.

Still, the housing market has been presumed to be on the road to recovery multiple times in recent years. Previous recoveries have failed to gain traction even though declining prices and historically low interest rates have made owning a home much more affordable.

‘It’s hard to know’

Jane Smith, 30, has been sporadically house hunting in Raleigh for the past few years but only recently got more serious about her search. She believes she’s been renting longer than she should, but gauging where the market is headed has been difficult.

“It’s hard to know,” she said. “I’ve been keeping my eyes open in the real estate market for a couple years now and things haven’t changed much.”

Smith, a financial adviser with Oxford Investment Group, has seen firsthand how recent gains in the stock market and positive economic news has made many people, including her, more willing to consider purchasing a home.

Smith has yet to make offers on any houses, but she’s under no pressure to buy. She’d like to take advantage of interest rates before they rise.

“I think some are a little overpriced right now,” Smith said of the homes she’s looked at. “… We’ll see, I think there’s still some room. Because it’s a buyer’s market there’s some negotiating room.”

The health of the housing market is intrinsically connected to the job market, which only recently has begun to post the kind of gains necessary to make a dent in the unemployment rate. Brookshire said it’s likely the cumulative effect of a gradual drumbeat of better economic news is drawing buyers off the sidelines.

“I think consumer confidence is improving and I think everybody feels like the economy is improving,” she said. “… It was a lot of little things from different places that kind of added up.”

Bracken: 919-829-4548
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Sometimes giving back to your community is right at your back door.

With the economy in the shape it has been non-profits have been hit hard.  Raleigh has seen the YWCA shut its doors this month which provided services for children and their families that were not otherwise affordable.  A lot of parents have lost their childcare options.  However, a hidden treasure “Learning Together” which is located in downtown Raleigh on E. Lenoir Street services children of all abilities.  Their Developmental Day program is an inclusive program of children with developmental delays as well as typically developing children.  Approximately 99% of donations given to Learning Together go directly back into their programs to helping children of all abilities.