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Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

Should you move or improve? A Spring Guide to the right Home Improvement or Renovation Project

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Kitchen Remodeling, Windows

Spring Guide to the Right Home Imrpovement or Renovation Project | Innovate Building Solutions | #HomeRemodeling #SpringHomeImprovement #ClevelandRemodeling

I was looking forward to a quiet – yet quick – dish of twice cooked pork from Billie Lee’s (my favorite Chinese restaurant in Columbus Ohio). It wasn’t as quiet as I expected this night (even though it was a slow night). 3 tables over I could hear loud and clear (and I wouldn’t describe myself as a “Snoop Doggy-Dog either!) an upper 60-year old couple describing to friends their recent home sales experience. They described how their home sold in less than 2 weeks. EVERY offer was above the asking price. They accepted a full cash bid. I thought to myself – wow – housing markets sure can change from year to year.

I’m not sure why this couple was selling or where they were moving to, but what I could figure out (and a crack detective I’m not) is their home was a hot. Also, I came to the conclusion if you’re buying a home in Columbus Ohio you’d better act quick – and don’t plan on finding big bargains either.

You may be in a stage in life where you’re kicking around, should I move or improve?

Perhaps you have to move because your existing home is too expensive, too big, has a bad layout or you’re being relocated.

Perhaps you want to move because your home is too small, or neighborhood safety is a problem, or the school system is going down the tubes.

Perhaps you never want to move. Even though your home doesn’t ‘live’ due to your mobility challenges you’ve told your family they’ll have to roll you out of here.

Whether you decide to move or improve isn’t a question I’m smart enough to chime in on (it’s one you’ll need to discuss with family, friends and a sharp realtor), but what I would like to discuss is what home improvements make sense if you (A) decide to move or (B) decide to improve and stay put.

The list of what you could do to improve your home is longer than you have time or money for. The list of what you should do to improv your home will be different if you decide to stay put or you decide to run, run as fast as you can. Below I’ll look at 5 smaller-scale, yet smart, home improvement projects should you decide to move, and 4 larger-scale projects if you decide to stay and improve. Note, I’m only looking at 4 because these ones will require a decent chunk out of your wallet to do.

At the end of the article I’d love your ideas on which projects should (or shouldn’t) be on your list. My ‘lists are purposely incomplete.’ Let’s face it – these lists could go on and on. Please add to your recommended project ‘to do list’ at the end of the article.

6 Truly Remarkable Things about Glass Floors and Stairs

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Flooring, Glass Floors

6 remarkable things about glass floors and stair treads | Innovate Building Solutions

You’ve reached the stage of life where you’re not afraid to express yourself.

You’ve reached the stage of life where you’re not going to put up with bad design.

You’ve reached the stage of life where you can finally spend some money on you, your wife or significant other (not just the kids anymore).

These qualities of expressing yourself, demanding remarkable design and having a few dollars to splurge on yourself, fit homeowners who use glass flooring and glass stairs to a tee. If they were looking for cheap, boring and run of the mill they WOULD NOT be installing a horizontal glass feature.

Yes – owners of glass floors will use glass bridges and decks for ordinary reasons (moving light from one level to another)– but usually they are installing this product to create an extraordinary experience. And when you look at it– shouldn’t life be about creating extraordinary experiences anyway?

If you’ve ever walked on the glass floors at the CN Tower or the Tinamen Mountain in China, you’d know ‘pedestrian’ would not describe that experience!  Wild, wow – (or, it could make me pee my pants) would be more fitting – depending on your perspective.

While glass flooring is a remarkable product, many people are confused by them.  IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)– they are a ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not” flooring system if there ever was one.

In this article I’d like to take you on a ‘glass floor and stairs’ walking journey. You’ll learn 6 things which are truly remarkable about glass floors and stair treads. At the end there will be a quiz. No, it won’t be the dreaded ‘pop quiz’ you sweated over in Junior High math class. In this quiz, I simply want you to tell me which of these 6 points is most remarkable to you. Now – let’s step out onto the glass floor ledge (sounds exhilarating and scary – doesn’t it?) and see what’s so cool about these floors.

 

5 Surprising Reasons You Shouldn’t Listen to Your Remodeler (and five strategies for your project to go smoother)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Basement Remodeling, Bathroom Remodeling, Exterior Remodeling, Home Organization & Storage, Kitchen Remodeling

5 Surprising Reasons You Shouldn't Listen to Your Remodeler with 5 Strategies for Your Project to Go Smoother | Innovate Building Solutions

This article isn’t written to dis(respect) remodeling contractors and companies. Hey – the reality is I’m earning a living in this world. I’m a guy who designs, sells, wholesales and launches new remodeling products into the market – and I’ve been doing this since 1985 (man – that makes me sound O-L-D!).

Remodelers and remodeling companies (mine included) are simply a group of people. We each have our own strengths, weaknesses, points of view and depth of knowledge. We have been brought together with the goal of successfully completing (and supplying) jobs for you. We want to minimize problems along the way – and make a few bucks while we’re at it. Perfect we’re not -just ask our wives, husbands, significant others and fellow employees. The only person who ‘may’ think we can do no wrong is Mom – but even she wonders from time to time.

It’s because of our humanity (our imperfections) that I would tell you there are times you shouldn’t listen to us. Crazy – huh? Yes, you heard that right, I said it, don’t listen to us (I hope my kids aren’t reading this now).

There are times you shouldn’t take our word for it.

There are times you need to challenge us.

There are times you need to check us out to make sure we’re ‘legit’ (or in the words of the infamous hip-hop artist MC Hammer – ‘too legit to quit….your job.’

You need to make sure you find a good remodeler (there is no such thing as a perfect remodeler). One who will work with you. One who won’t dictate the terms, conditions and products you’ll use on your job (it is your job, now isn’t it?). Before entering into a remodeling contract, you need to know the strengths (and limitations) of your contractor, when you should listen to them, and when you shouldn’t.

The goal of this article is simple. It’s not to slam contractors (we’re an easy enough mark as it is). It is to give you a realistic perspective on how to choose, and work with your contractor so your project goes smoother and – most importantly – you get what you want.

Let’s look at 5 reasons you shouldn’t listen to your contractor and 5 simple strategies for your project to go smoother.

5 Fashion-Forward Glass Block Designs You Need to Try Right Now

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

 

5 Fashion Forward Glass Block Designs You Need to Try | Innovate Building Solutions | #GlassBlockDesign #ColorGlassBlock #ShowerGlassBlock

“Glass block designs are BORING, Melissa said to me. Aren’t those the things used in basement and bathroom windows and old commercial buildings for security? Why would you even THINK (she practically shouted out to me) I would put those inside my new loft?”

Melissa has a point. Glass blocks became as boring as sliced white Wonder Bread in a world of artisan inspired French baguettes. They became functional, pedestrian and mundane. Yes – the traditional blocks are useful. However, when you’re designing a sleek, minimalist loft or Boho-chic luxury residence or uber-cool (OK – Uber may have a bad connotation here) commercial office build-out the last thing you want in the same-old, same-old. You want style. You want drama. You want impact.

As styles change product offerings MUST change with them. If not, they will go the way of your Atari game console, Pong arcade game, or bag or cell phone (I remember how cool I was when I spent $895 for my first car phone, but I digress!).

Design must be inspired – the result of late-night creative bursts from fashion designers, architects, interior designers or just regular folks like you and me.

The fashion capitols of the world are the inspiration for many design breakthroughs. Cool dresses you’re drooling to get your hands on – if they won’t break your bank. Fun features or your new home or ‘coming soon’ remodeled bathroom or kitchen. Cities like Milan, Paris, London and New York lead the way.

Given these hubs of fashion-forward designs it’s of no surprise to me the new re-imagined glass blocks have their origins from a Milan designer named Allesandro Mendini. No, he’s not to be confused with escape artist Harry Houdini – but Harry could have been brought in also to help glass blocks free themselves from their boring self.

If you’re like most reading at this point, you’re probably asking, “So what’s so hot about glass blocks. Why should I check out these new designs with a product which feels as dated as a 1980’s mullet?”

Read on to see 5 fashion-forward glass block designs which will change your perspective. If you think these blocks are BORING, then please give my wife a call. Tell her I’m even crazier than she thinks already and get me professional help ASAP!

7 Facts You Need to Know about Custom Solid Surface Shower Pans

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

7 Facts you need to know about custom solid surface pans | Innovate Building Solutions | #SolidSurfacePan #ShowerPan #ShowerBase

If you’ve ever experienced a cracked shower pan which destroyed the ceiling and room below, or a mold-infested concrete tile base which caused eye, throat, skin or nasal irritations and costly doctor visits, you know a ‘cheap’ shower pan can be quite expensive. Ripping out showers, repairing ceilings, putting in new subfloors and doing mold remediation isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time.

If you’re looking to replace a way-too-small yellowed, cracked and creaky fiberglass shower base or a water-saturated mud-set tile shower pan with a custom solid surface shower pan, you have to ‘get it right’ once and for all.  You need the facts. You don’t want to become a victim of replacing a bad shower all over again.

My goal in this article is to give you, as Joe Friday on Dragnet used to say (now I’m showing my age), just the facts ma’am (or sir to be politically correct) about solid surface shower pans. What are the frequently asked questions? What are the not-so-frequently asked questions people should be asking? I want to help you figure out if this pan is right for your next job. Let’s check out these 7 facts to save you research time, cost and aggravation.

The 10 Commandments of Bathroom Remodeling Success

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

10 Commandments of Bathroom Remodeling Success to Save Time, Money, and Get a Stylish Bathroom | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomRemodeling #ShowerTips #BathroomTransformation

You’ve decided to venture out into the harsh-cruel world of bathroom remodeling. You’re no longer willing to be a slave to an outdated, unsafe and flat-out ugly shower, tub, vanity, toilet – you name it. You desire the promised land of a Pinterest and Houzz-inspired bathroom. A space which is relaxing, well-light, safe for your family, with plenty of storage. This bathroom won’t have you on your hands and knees praying for a savior to liberate your hand from your scrub brush.

Making the decision to remodel is easy. Planning and doing the job -whether you hire a ‘professional contractor’ (you may debate if there is such a thing) or rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself – is another thing.

You need guidance and support.

At times you need a savior to bail your butt out. Ouch!

How can you move from the vision of a beautiful spa-inspired bathroom, minimize the trials and tribulations of the construction process and be ‘saved’ from the nastiness which is your current space?

You could go into the Mojave Desert looking for a stone tablet with words of bathroom remodeling wisdom. I doubt you’ll find anything useful. You will locate funky lizards, cougars and tasty prickly pears (if you haven’t tried this fruit, you should – but I digress). Bathroom remodeling inspiration will be in short supply.

A better strategy – crank up your electronic tablet and put into practice the 10 Commandments of bathroom remodeling success below. Will they save you from all trials and tribulations along the way? I doubt it. They will get you a more inspired bathroom with less hassle along the way. Your friends and family may exalt you and your bathroom transformation – and even want to check out your ‘throne’ (I’m getting too flowery here). Let’s check out the 10 Commandments.

5 1/2 ‘Not Butt Ugly’ Shower Ideas for RV’s Mobile & Tiny Homes which (Mostly) Won’t Break the Bank

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

5.5 Stylish Shower Panel & Base Ideas for an RV, Tiny Home or Mobile Home | Innovate Home Org | #ShowerPanels #ShowerBase #Remodeling #TinyShower

My Dad used to tell me, “Mike, you can’t fit 10 lbs. of s*** (insert swear word here) into a 5 lb. bag.” My Dad was quite the creative guy (both in his fun use of words and in business – which was his passion). If he was alive today to experience the tiny home, mobile home, RV and converted bus movements, I could hear him amend his quote to add, “You can, however, fit more than 10 lbs. of coolness into a tiny home bathroom with only 5 pounds of space!”

Owners of tiny homes, mobile homes, converted buses know that ‘great minds DO NOT think alike.’ (note – I love this saying from Lawrence School – a school for kids with learning differences both of my boys attended).

Great minds create, innovate, figure out a way when everyone else says, “No way dude!”

When it comes to tight bathrooms in mobile-friendly vehicles (whether they are on land or ‘sea’) you’ve got to think outside the confines of the boring, white 32” square fiberglass one-piece shower (which will look like 10 lbs. of s*** in a few years anyway).

You need to find creative materials for your shower which will work day in and day out.

You need to think about fun materials which will show your unique sense of style and personality. After all you didn’t get into a mobile-type home just to have a generic place to rest your head at night.

You need to think of products you can install yourself (or pay some buddies with a good steak-dinner to help you install) which won’t break the bank (or if they do break the bank, it will be worth it).

In this article, my goal is to show you 5 ½ ‘not-butt-ugly’ shower ideas which will put the WOW into your tiny mobile-friendly bathroom. These ideas will work whether you’re building a new tiny home, remodeling or retrofitting an existing Airstream, houseboat or even a full-sized bus. Although I’m presenting 5 1/2 ideas here for you –your imagination is limitless – so at the end of the article I’d love to hear your comments about other cool shower ideas you’ve seen. Give me your opinion on whether the ideas I’ve presented deserve an enthusiastic thumbs-up or a rousing thumbs-down.

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Save Time, Money & Aggravation Building a Glass Block Shower

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Save on Building a Glass Block Shower Wall | Innovate Building Solutions | #GlassBlock #ShowerWall #BathroomRemodel

You’ve never done a glass block shower before.

Your contractor has never done a glass block shower before either.

Your local suppliers are clueless about the product.

You’re not really a lazy person, but you only have so much time left in your crazy-busy day to figure out this part of the project. It’s just one (although important) element in your bathroom remodel.

How do you get this shower built without blowing a hole in your budget or pulling out your already-too-thin head of hair?

As crazy as this may sound, when you strive to get lazy (AKA being more efficient), this job will go smoother for you and look nicer at the end. In this article my job (and I’m perfectly cool with accepting it) is to give you practical ideas to get this project done efficiently and effectively. I’ll look to cut your research time and installation frustration (hey- that rhythms). My job is to keep you within budget and eliminate unnecessary errors which can come with being a “first-timer.” At the end (in the comments section) let me know how I’ve done and or any other “blanks” you need me to fill in. Now, let’s get to the tips.

3 Trends and 7 Wild and Wacky Ideas from the 2018 International Builders and Kitchen & Bath Show

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Home Organization & Storage, Kitchen Remodeling

3 Trends and 7 Wild and Wacky Ideas from the 2018 Kitchen and Bath and Builders Show | Innovate Building Solutions #BuildersShow #KitchenBathShow #Remodeling #Bathroom

(note – these are not tile walls – they are grout free laminate wall panels!).

I love attending the International Builders Show and Kitchen and Bath Show for 3 reasons:

  • I see the coolest and hottest building material products from around the world and get an inside look at innovative products being rolled out this year. Some of these products my companies – Innovate Building Solutions and Innovate Home Org – will launch in 2018.

 

  • I get to see new inventions and meet passionate entrepreneurs launching the next wild and wacky construction products. Some of these ideas will fly – some will flame out – but I love thinkers, inventors and doers. It’s one thing which makes business fun (and shouldn’t business be more than just work – a little fun thrown in is a good idea in my book).

 

  • I get to dump my winter coat for shorts. I HATE my huge winter coat I call “Big Red.” Traveling to Orlando Florida and feeling sunshine on my face and breaking out my shorts for a few days is a big-time blessing.

I’ll take you on a journey to explore 3 trends (and 7 wild and wacky products) to renovate, rethink or reimagine your home I saw at these two shows.  These ideas will help revive a tired home out of a fashion time-warp, will simplify your maintenance, ease your daily routine, and keep mess out of sight (in some fun and inventive ways). Some of these ideas you might think are a bit wacky – others you may love. Let’s dig in and see which are which.

7 Crucial Steps for a Stylish Low Maintenance Shower Installation

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Learn 7 Crucial Steps for a Stylish Low Maintenance Shower Installation | Innovate Building Solutions #ShowerRemodel #WallPanels #ShowerInstallation

I took the all-too-familiar call from James and his wife Linda.

Linda started out saying, “Mike – I HATE the ugly white fiberglass stand up shower in our hall bathroom, and the tile shower in the master is a mess. The grout joints are black and nasty. I’ve finally convinced James it’s time to blow up these 2 bathrooms now that the kids are “mostly” grown and out of the house (she mentioned her son Michael was on the 6-year college plan and almost ready to graduate). I am not going to deal with the maintenance or an ugly shower again. I’ve had it.”

James chimed in and said, “Linda and I went to the local big box store only to find the same crap we have right now. Lots of ceramic tiles. Basic cheap fiberglass shower pans and walls in stock sizes which won’t work for our tile shower. I am thinking about installing this job myself. I tried to ask the guy with the orange smock the steps to get this job done. He was clueless. Linda and I need your help with two things. First, what stylish, low maintenance products are out there? Second –I’m not sure what the right installation steps are. Can you help us?”

I understand where Linda and James are coming from. As a homeowner – no matter how handy or construction-savvy you are – you’re not researching shower products or installing a new shower every day (hopefully this will be the first and LAST time you do this). So – if you want a cool shower, which isn’t a pain to clean and maintain and don’t want to screw up the install (or have a contractor you hire mess it up either) you need to know the right steps to “get ‘er done” (as Larry the Cable Guy would say) right the first time.

In the article below I’ll look at 7 crucial installation steps I shared with Linda and James for a stylish low maintenance shower. For this project I would recommend to take your time. Be methodical. When you get this job done using the right steps, you’ll end up with the shower which is cool AND done – once and for all!

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