Home Improvement

Mistakes To Avoid When Carrying Out A Luxury Home Remodeling

Data Watch: Renovation Firms Continue Long Optimistic Streak

Renovation professionals feel strongly optimistic about the demand for their services in the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest Renovation Barometer report. The quarterly index tracks optimism among architects, designers, general contractors and remodelers, design-build firms, building and renovation specialty firms, and landscape and outdoor specialty firms.

Renovation industry firms have maintained scores above 50 since started tracking this measure of economic health three years ago. Scores higher than 50 indicate that there are more firms reporting that business activity is higher than firms reporting it is lower in a given quarter compared with the prior quarter.

As the housing supply has tightened and prices have risen in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many people have chosen to remodel their existing homes rather than move to new ones, and that has been an ongoing boon to the renovation industry.

Architects and designers are feeling confident. Architecture firms posted a reading of 62 for the third quarter of 2017; designer firms, 65. Both scores are slightly below the levels for these groups during the second quarter of 2017, but that is to be expected given the shift of the seasons. The scores for architects and designers are close to the levels of one year earlier, indicating fairly stable demand.

General contractors and remodelers posted high scores. General contractors and remodelers posted a reading of 71, and design-build firms 67, in the third quarter of this year. Both scores dipped a bit from the second quarter, but again, that is to be expected with the shift in seasons.

Tile Trends: Styles You Need to Know

Tile is ever-changing, and today’s latest trends, driven in part by new manufacturing methods and printing technologies, are opening up a whole new world of covetable looks. We’re seeing a push toward new and innovative ways of combining different products, using tiles to create bold geometric shapes or to evoke an understated luxury with soft, organic lines and nature-inspired textures.

Thanks to the incredible diversity of products on the market today, decorating with tiles is a much freer exercise than it was 10 to 20 years ago. “There are so many different looks you can bring through with tiles, and everyone’s able to introduce a little bit of their personality to their homes, which is fun,”

It’s hip to be square … and hexagonal and rhomboid. In 2017, tiles are all about shape: Hexagon, rhomboid, rectangle, diamond, fish-scale, round and even wavy tiles are adorning kitchen backsplashes, bathroom walls and floors.

Use grout to dress tiles up or down. For a bold, graphic look, a contrasting grout will highlight the form of the tiles and really bring out the pattern,

And if you love the look of shaped tiles but you’re unsure if you want to take them across a whole wall, consider using them to pick out key architectural features, such as wall recesses or the area around a vanity.

What Lies Beneath That Old Linoleum Kitchen Floor?

Some might say that renovating an old home is like slicing through an onion. It can make you cry, and it reveals itself in layers. The latter is especially true of many kitchen floors in these homes, where layer upon layer of linoleum, vinyl or other resilient flooring material was installed throughout decades of use. Curious homeowners, or those who have remodeled or moved a wall, have likely discovered that wood often lies beneath it all.

Let’s be clear: Turning a subfloor into a finished floor is not for everyone and not suitable for every project. But under the right circumstances, when given the opportunity to expose and enjoy old-growth wood floors, you can end up with something pretty special. “There’s a gratifying experience to pulling something like this off,”

The wood planks, typically 3 to 5 inches wide and three-quarters to 1 inch thick, would be nailed onto the floor joists as tongue-and-groove boards or straight boards, often running on a diagonal to better tie into the structure. Material availability and increased labor costs mean that these plank subfloors are no longer used in home construction.

Where you’ll find a wood-plank subfloor. Your first step in determining your subfloor’s construction is knowing the age of your house. “A home built around or prior to the 1960s is more likely to have a wood-plank subfloor, rather than plywood,”

It’s easy to check for a wood-plank subfloor without tearing up your finished floor. If you have a crawl space or basement without a finished ceiling, you can look up from below the floor. If you have a floor register, you can pull that up for a cross-section of your floor. This is something a professional can help you with. The challenge is assessing your subfloor’s condition, which will determine whether it can be used as a finished floor. You won’t fully know this until you expose the entire subfloor.

Data Watch: How Much Building Permits Cost and How Long They Take

If you’re looking to start a renovation project that may require a building permit, you might be interested to know that more than half of homeowners report paying $500 or less in total fees for their permits, according to the results of a new survey. Of course, we can’t promise that your permit fees will be similar, as a small slice of homeowners report paying more than $5,000 to get their permits.

The numbers come from a survey of 294 users who were either preparing to apply for a building permit or who had applied for one in the last two years and had their application in review or already approved. Read on to find out what else they said about the permit process.

Kitchen and bath projects lead permit requests. Kitchen and bathroom remodels are the most common projects requiring permits, followed by interior remodels and additions. This may come as no surprise given that kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular remodels people undertake

How much does it cost? More than half of homeowners — both first-time applicants and experienced ones — report paying $500 or less in fees for an approved permit. A little less than one-fifth of each group reports paying between $501 and $1,000. And a small minority spends far more: 1 percent of first-time applicants and 3 percent of experienced ones say they pay more than $5,000 in total fees for an approved permit. Let’s hope you fall into the majority on this one.

How long does it take? It’s not the typical experience, but some permits are approved the same day they are submitted, according to the survey results.

How to Make Your Home Safe and Dry After Flooding

have a long road ahead of them. Hopefully that road stays dry. Cleaning, demolition, drying and rebuilding can take months, even years. Right now, two weeks after the start of the tropical storm, Houstonians and others are in the process of removing everything from their homes, demolishing the waterlogged drywall, disinfecting and letting everything dry out as quickly as possible.

Here, he offers tips to homeowners on how to proceed once the waters recede. Be sure to check out his video below for more instructions. We’ve also included advice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Red Cross and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Keep Calm

First, don’t get overanxious. Your house needs time to dry out. Realize that the process of demolition and rebuilding will take time — months, even years — so settle in for a long haul. It can be stressful, so try to prepare for it and seek help or counseling if needed.

Document everything with photos and video for an insurance claim. But says not to wait for an adjuster to show up before you start working on getting your house dry. “If your house is closed up for two to three weeks, mold can start growing everywhere,” he says. Within two to three days of water receding, you should return to your home to remove everything that was touched by water.

Who Can Help?

Most homeowners will tackle the initial stages of clearing out water-soaked furniture, appliances and carpet, as well as removing drywall. This is a pretty straightforward task, easy enough for the average homeowner

The Home Remodeling Trends

Smart Home Improvements to Make Before Selling

Ready to put your home on the market? Whether you’re planning to move now or in the coming years, getting your home ready to sell can be intimidating. Some renovations can be helpful while others may actually turn off potential buyers. The goal of your home renovations should be to make it more livable for yourself and look move-in ready to future buyers. Use this list of home updates to help you attract buyers and speed up the sale of your home.

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint to Sell Your Home

Not sure what to update to sell your home more easily? A simple coat of paint in a neutral shade is a great place to start. This update can be completed without a huge investment of time or money. Spend one weekend removing any bright accent walls or dark colors and buyers will be more interested in your home. Popular color options include:

  • Grey
  • White
  • Beige
  • Charcoal
  • Light blue

Be sure the new colors still go well with your home décor to further appeal to prospective buyers.

Update Your Front Door

The front of your home is the first thing potential buyers see. Improve your first impression by painting your front door or replacing it with a new one. A brightly colored front door will make your home more memorable. If you aren’t interested in a colorful front door, you can also replace it with a sturdy new steel door or simply update your old screen door with a glass version for a fresh look.

Complete a Bathroom Remodel No Matter How Small

Bathrooms are always high on potential buyers’ lists, making an investment here is one of the best options for increased resale value. Before putting your home up for sale, consider making small updates that will excite anyone looking at your house. Some of the best bathroom remodels for resale include small changes likes:

  • Re-caulking the tub.
  • Replacing the vanity.
  • Changing the shower head.
  • Replacing the faucet.

Improving energy efficiency

While most homeowners think upgrades that improve the look of their home will pay off, improving your home’s efficiency may actually make a bigger difference. In fact, a Remodeling.com survey found homeowners can recoup 116% of the costs of attic insulation. And attic insulation is just one of many upgrades that improve efficiency.

While renovating the kitchen and updating the bathrooms are both great improvements that can increase property value, making energy efficient upgrades will give you more bang for your buck. As the number of energy efficient homes continues to rise, first time buyers and renters are beginning to favor these upgraded homes over traditional homes due to the potential long-term savings.

Upgrading HVAC, water heaters, and windows — these changes cost less than solar panels and are more likely to provide a positive return on investment when the time comes to sell. When you sell, you can recoup around 73% of the costs of upgrading 10 old windows with new ones, and your energy bills will be lower in the time before your move.

If you make energy efficient upgrades, make sure your realtor markets your home appropriately. You can even consider providing copies of your utility bills to potential buyers so they can see how low ongoing costs will be. 

Upgrade Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is one of the first things prospective buyers will see when they enter your home (depending on layout, of course). It’s also one of the most exciting rooms for prospective buyers to enter and see themselves in. But before you make the jump on a new kitchen re-do, make sure to compare other homes on the market and price of your home. The cost of the kitchen should be in line with the cost of the rest of the house. A kitchen remodel will run you from $5,000 to $75,000 or more depending on how crazy you want to get. But you can recoup 60% to 120%  of the investment according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, so it may be worth the effort in the right market.

Update Flooring

Hardwood flooring is another great way to increase the resale value of your home, according to Realtor.com. In fact, it can add around 2.5% to the value of your home. Of course, this figure varies depending on the neighborhood and market type, so if you’re the last one on your block to replace your floors, it’s probably a good idea to pull the trigger.

Expensive Landscaping

Landscaping can transform the way your house looks, especially to potential buyers. However, going over the top to create a backyard paradise, while nice, won’t add to your asking price. If you plan to stay in your home for a while, this project can improve your quality of life, especially in the warmer months. If you plan to sell your home, you won’t recoup the cost of expensive landscaping in the sale.

Instead of investing in expensive landscaping, make changes to your lawn to add curb appeal to your home. “Wow” potential buyers with a well-kept lawn, and some well-laced shrubbery or small trees. The Cost vs. Value report states that projects that boost the “wow” value of the front of the house recoup a decent percentage, depending on the changes made. Go for classy, subtle changes to the landscaping to really make your home shine.

The Difference between Investors and Owners

Updating an investment property is generally a sound strategy–if it’s done the right way. Successful advocates of the fix-it-and-flip-it philosophy are investors, with the investor’s mantra of “buy low, sell high.” So they purchase run-down homes at bargain prices and save money on the repairs by doing most of the work themselves. A little sweat equity goes a long way toward making a real estate investment profitable. They carefully choose their remodeling projects, too, focusing on those that will result in the most value for the least amount of effort and cost. Part of the process includes paying attention to the other homes in the neighborhood to avoid over-improving the property. If none of the other houses in the area have crown moldings and Corian countertops, adding these amenities is unlikely to result in a significantly higher selling price.

Owners, on the other hand, often take a less strategic approach when sprucing up their homes. As a result, they can end up putting significantly more money into the project than they will get back out of it when they sell. While it’s certainly a smart move to make a few improvements, don’t overdo it.

Time For Kitchen Remodeling

Questions to Ask Your Kitchen Contractor

You may have 100s of questions for your contractor and that’s great. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you like. But which questions are crucial when comparing and vetting potential contractors? How can you be sure that you are hiring someone trustworthy, transparent, committed, and capable?

That is, someone who won’t keep moving the timeline or surprise you with hidden costs. Someone who won’t leave you in the dark while you wait without a functioning kitchen. Did you know online reviews can be paid for? Did you know contractors’ licenses expire? Were you aware many companies claiming to be “design-builders” are actually well-intended contractors (no real design panache to speak of…) beefing up their descriptors.

Read on to discover the top  questions you need to ask before handing over a deposit or signing on the dotted line.

Can we see proof of your current business license(s)?

Seeing business/builder/etc., license numbers on websites or business cards isn’t enough. You need proper proof. Checking in with your local building department will verify if a local contractor’s license is current.

Are you insured and bonded?

Insurance and bonding is your “insurance” that if they perform shoddy work or leave you high-and-dry, you’ll be covered.

Do you have liability insurance?

If one of their workers is injured on the job, or a neighbor trips on the builder’s poorly flagged scaffolding, the contractor’s liability insurance is liable so your homeowner’s insurance premiums aren’t on the line.

How Long Will the Entire Project Take?

It’s important to have a clear picture of when work will begin and end, and every milestone along the way.

Even if your contractor promises to complete your renovation in under three months, ask them follow up questions to make sure they’ve anticipated potential setbacks and considered every contingency.

  • Are you working — or bidding on — any other projects that might affect our timeline?
  • How will you handle any delays in our schedule?
  • Will you inspect for any structural issues that may impact the renovation before setting a timeframe?

Despite what many contractors claim, it is possible to set and adhere to an accurate timeline. It requires a careful consultation phase, during which your contractor should see your kitchen space, communicate with your architect and/or interior designer, and learn about your needs and preferences during construction.

Ask for a construction schedule that shows what will happen each day, week, and month. That way you can prepare for the inevitable disruptions to your living space and minimize the stress of a kitchen remodel.


When doing a kitchen remodel or gut renovation of your kitchen, keep in mind that it’s more than just aesthetics you’ll be upgrading. If your kitchen layout has been the same for a long while, it could be worth changing the position of the sink or adding a center island with a built-in sink that will open up more possibilities. If you are considering this, be sure to factor in the cost of consulting a professional about moving the plumbing.


Something to account for when remodeling the kitchen is that you have the freedom to make it your own and create a space that flows well aesthetically with the rest of your home. If you are aiming for a particular style and color palette throughout your home, a kitchen remodel is the perfect way to incorporate your chosen decorating style and make the space blend with the other rooms of your home to reflect your personality and lifestyle.

What should I include in my project scope?

Make a list of your absolute “musts” for your kitchen, and then tack on a few “wants.” When making this list, think about who’s using the kitchen and what it’s being used for (i.e. entertaining or preparing family dinners). Using Emprove’s “Cost It!” tool, you can get instant and comprehensive project cost estimates that are uniquely tailored to your design preferences, budget and location. With this tool, you can identify how many of your “wants” you can afford, and can fine-tune each project element to make sure you’re making the most of your budget!

What’s my kitchen style aesthetic?

Whether you’re eclectic or timeless, trendy or simple – identify the type of style you want your kitchen to embody and make sure the materials, hardware and appliances you’re picking fit that aesthetic. Emprove’s “Dream It!” tool makes this easy by guiding you to create and personalize a Styleboard, during which the platform learns your design sensibilities and objectives. All you have to do is click the images you like!

What should I absolutely NOT compromise cost on?

The answer is materials and hardware. The bottom line is that if you don’t have high-quality materials and hardware, nothing else matters. This includes but is not limited to cabinets, flooring, and drawers. There are other elements of a kitchen (the fridge and sink, for instance) where you may have more leeway to customize style to fit your budget.

Am I prepared to manage this project?

From hiring a contractor to securing permits, there will be plenty of moving parts to manage. Are you ready?

that homeowners should, at a minimum, be prepared to get multiple bids and check contractor references, insurance, and licenses. You should track product warranties, invoices, receipts, owners manuals, and more And keep great records because you need to update your home insurance dwelling coverage, be prepared for tax time, and have great records if you decide to sell the house.

Can I comfortably survive it?

Even if you know exactly what you want and have the money to pay for it, you still have to mentally prepare for demolition and potential delays.

So if you want your kitchen perfect before your entire extended family comes over for Christmas, you’d better get cracking now! And of course, problems along the way will just lengthen the timeline.

So pad your time frame (and budget) for unforeseen problems that are bound to crop up, and prepare to eat a whole lot of takeout before this is over. It’s worth it, really!