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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

How to Win Friends and Influence Your Contractor – 4 Tips to get the Home Remodeling Project of Your Dreams

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

 

How to win friends and influence your contractor | Innovate Building Solutions

At midnight, I received the all too familiar email. It said,

“Mike, my general contractor is extremely hesitant to work with the (you fill in the blank) product (in my business I could fill in this blank with unique products like wet room systems, grout free shower wall panels or glass block showers or windows). I desperately want this product in my remodeling project. I’m crushed. How do I convince him to use this new product….to innovate on my project? I’m completely frustrated. I don’t want to have to beg get what I want – but I will if that’s what it takes!”

Have you ever resembled this remark in the middle of a kitchen, basement or bathroom remodeling project? Contractors are not known to be the most progressive ‘tools in the shed’ – and in the busy market of today it’s much easier for them to tell you, “hey lady we don’t know anything about that product.” Asking them to innovate can be as hard as asking the shyest person you know to give a speech about physics to a group of egghead scientists. Neither request is likely to be fulfilled – unless you know how to influence them in a way they want to help you get what you want.

This is not an easy mission, but you’ve got no choice but to accept it if you want to get the home renovation project of your dreams (money alone will not convince your contractor to do a project they are uncomfortable installing). A quality contractor doesn’t want to stick their neck, pocketbook and reputation out if they don’t know what the heck they’re doing. They will be responsible to come back to fix what’s wrong if something goes sideways for you – and they aren’t eager to take the risk.

How do you get your competent (in this article I’m assuming they are competent – if not, you have other bigger problems!) – yet conservative general contractor to go out on a limb and install a cool or important new product you’ve just got to have? To get something new it’s time to turn back to some good old fashioned advice. This timeless advice was adapted (with a twist) from a book originally published in 1936 (and has sold over 30 million copies) from Andrew Carnegie called How to Win Friends and Influence People. In this article let’s look at 4 common sense tips (with a little psychology thrown in) inspired by the work of Andrew Carnegie to influence your contractor (or anyone for that matter) to get what you want.

7 Hot 2017 Bathroom Design Trends You Need to Add Style to Your Space

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Uncategorized

7 hot bathroom design trends for 2017 you need to add style to your space | Innovate Building Solutions

Do you have the June Cleaver throwback bathroom from the 1950’s, or maybe a “modern” 1970’s bathroom straight out of the Brady Bunch which are practically begging you for an update? You know you NEED a bathroom makeover so bad. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the partially rusted tub, pealed wood on the window sills, tired old particle board vanity with a dated laminate top and nasty looking grout in the shower. The challenge is what are you going to do about it? How can you update for a fresh, clean look? How can you create an updated design which takes advantage of the latest trends and keeps maintenance to a minimum? The question is – where do you start?

One excellent place to begin is to take a sneak peek at the products which are hot today and include these elements in your remodeled “bathroom of tomorrow.” In this article, we’ll look at what’s hot now. At the end, I’d love to hear your “Siskel and Ebert” – two thumbs up or thumbs down on these products.

DIY Bathroom Remodeling – 6 Words of Wisdom from Dad You Need to Pull You Through

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

DIY bathroom remodeling 6 words of wisdom from Dad to pull you through | Innovate Building Solutions

George Vickroy said to me, “Mike this was the hardest DIY remodeling project I’ve ever done, but I’m getting so much more than I expected back from it!”

Doing a DIY bathroom remodeling project can be a pain. Plumbing, electrical, drywall, heating, heavy materials you’ve got to lug in and out of the home. The need to get constant input from the people leading you along the way. You have to have so many skills to – as Larry the Cable guy would say “get ‘er done” – it can be downright mind-boggling. The challenge becomes once you’ve decided to bite the bullet and tackle the job how do you pull yourself through it? How do you prevent from leaving a half-done trail of a “job-almost-well-done?” You don’t want your family asking, “So when are you going to finish the bathroom exactly?”

When I visited George and Tena Vickroy’s house to take pictures of their new bathroom (we worked together on the glass block walk in shower and solid surface shower pan in this job) it was amazing how George and I started reflecting on how our Dad’s advice was still ringing in our heads today (and in my case my Dad passed away 28 years ago!) – even while toiling through a bathroom remodel.

Maybe George and I got nostalgic about our Dads because we’re just a tad bit older (I’m 57, but think I can look 37 at any time after I use my magic $9.99 bottle of Miss Clairol for men hair coloring. I also think being “delusional and happy is a good thing- but I digress). Maybe it’s because as you get older you start to realize how much you don’t know. Maybe it’s because Dad had a lot of wisdom – but when we were young we sometimes blew him off and said to ourselves, “What does the old man know anyway?”

In the article below I’m going to show off the DIY bathroom remodeling project George did in conjunction with his wife Tena, his son Clayton, son in law Mike, friend Neil and even a former student KC Weber. We’ll look at this project through 6 thoughtful words of wisdom from our Dad’s. At the end of the article let me know if any of these “Dad-isms” (not sure that’s a word, but it should be) ring true with you. I know Dads can also be wacky (yes, I do resemble that remark – ask any of my 3 kids and they will back that statement up) – but sometimes the “old man” knows a thing or two, or six.

7 Smart Spring Home Improvement Projects to Fall in Love with Your Home Again

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Exterior Remodeling, Glass Block, Home Organization, Home Organization & Storage, Windows

7 smart spring home improvement projects to fall in love with your home again | Innovate Building Solutions

Are you like me and H-A-T-E winter? “Old-Man-Winter” is finally behind us. Spring temperatures are here. I can smell the Lilac and Korean spice bushes outside my home. Everything is just perfect …. except the abuse winter inflicts on our houses.

Now that I’m getting outside raking dead leaves away, getting mulch spread and putting in the screen windows it’s doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a rocket scientist’s husband or wife!) to see your home has gotten a bit (OK maybe more than a bit) tattered and torn from the cold winter season. A front door or window may have rotten wood. Your siding can be showing its age with the paint coming off the boards. Your basement windows might look like they can practically fall out if you blew on them. And the garage – can you saw DISASTER. It’s tough to even get to the rake without stumbling over bikes and excess junk all around the garage floor!

Now that you’re out of your winter hibernation season what can (and should) be done to resurrect the outside of your home? In this article, we’re going to go on a “tour” of 7 smart projects you can tackle this spring to help you fall in love with your home again (and protect it the next time winter comes back again sorry to remind of you of this). We’ll start in the front of the house, go around the sides and finally look at some cool projects for the backyard. At the end of the article let me know project would make the most sense for your home.

5 Secret Tips to Save Time and Money Selecting Shower and Tub Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

5 secret tips to save time and money selecting shower and tub wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions

I was super excited the team in our Cleveland location put in the blood (actual blood in the case of our Accounting Manager, Georgia), sweat and maybe a few tears opening our new bathroom remodeling showroom (which includes multiple lines of grout free shower and tub wall panels). What dawned on me after all the hard work the team put in is how difficult it is for homeowners (whether they live in Cleveland or anywhere around the country) to know where to go (whether they are “virtual shopping or going to a brick and mortar location) to see, price and get advice about shower or tub wall panels.

There are a lot of tile shops to see and learn about tile – but where are the showrooms to experience products to eliminate hassles associated with grouted products like tile and stone? Where are the people to help you so you don’t have to kill yourself and burn up your keyboard trying to get advice (and a good deal) on grout free shower panels? If you don’t “stumble upon” (pun intended) the right company you can (and often do) end up making a less than optimal choice (which ends up being limited by what the contractor tells you he is willing to do or what you can “uncover” with extensive internet research).

This inefficient buying process costs you time, money and aggravation. It can seem shower and tub wall panels are the best kept secret (even though there is a growing number of people who are dying to blow up their tile surrounds). In this article, my goal is to give you practical tips to save time and money in this process (even if you aren’t close enough to visit our Cleveland bathroom remodeling showroom).

At the end of this article let me know if any of these tips surprised (or helped) you. Without further delay let’s get to the 5 tips.

How to select the best shape for a glass block shower wall

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block

How to select the best shape for a glass block shower wall | Innovate Building Solutions

Figuring out a glass block shower can be a pain in the rear! If you’re using a contractor they may be vaguely familiar with this type of wall system – or, if they are not, they will try to steer you to a “standard” shower enclosure since it’s what they know how to do. But, if you have your heart set on the benefits of a low maintenance, high privacy glass block shower and want to make it happen – no matter how difficult it is to figure out – you’ll want to read this article.

Well I’m here to tell you a glass block shower doesn’t require a brain surgeon to design and install (and my wife would agree I’m not a brain surgeon – or at least I don’t have the listening skills of one)! I’ve been working with this product since 1985 (wow- that makes me old) and have learned a few “tricks” along the way about glass block design. In this article, my goal is to help you identify the top 6 glass block wall shapes. Then we’ll look at each shape (I’ll give you some “out-there” names for them) and look at the strengths and weaknesses of each so you can wrap your arms around which is best for you.  Just to let you know I’ve saved the most popular design for last (but don’t jump ahead because the other 5 designs may be better for your project) So let’s get ‘er done and figure this project out!

The Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of a Shower Remodel so You Won’t Pull Your Hair Out!

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Uncategorized

The top 10 do's and don't of a shower remodel | Innovate Building Solutions

Figuring out how to remodel a shower can be tough. What products should you use to have a stylish space which won’t be a pain to clean? Should you hire a remodeling contractor or do it yourself? How do you figure out the best shower pan, wall surround material and type of entry to use? Who you gonna call (it probably won’t be Ghostbusters) for help and guidance so you won’t end up pulling your hair out (if you have any left at the end)?

I wish I could tell you there was one magic formula, a silver bullet, a one-size-fits-all shower remodel recipe. That would be nice, but it’s not reality. What I can (and will) is there are things you absolutely need to ask yourself (the Do’s) and things you’ll want to stay away from (the Don’ts) like the plague which will either lead you to a victorious shower project or down the road to home improvement “h-e-double hockey sticks (as our kids used to say when they were young so they wouldn’t say hell). Without further delay, let’s dig in.

5 Reasons Glass Block Basement Windows are Sexy!

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block, Windows

5 reasons glass block basement windows are sexy | Innovate Building Solutions

You may think I’ve gone nuts. How can glass block basement windows possibly be sexy?? If there is a definition of YUCK it’s got to be basement windows. Most existing metal or wood framed basement windows are nasty. In almost every case when I – or a member of our company – visits someone’s basement to look at a project they say, “Sorry for the mess down there! Do you want me to clean off the dirt and cobwebs from the windows?” Yes – existing basement windows are anything but sexy.

So how can replacing a metal or wood framed basement window with glass blocks add some sex-appeal to your basement (if that’s even possible)? How can they make you happy taking trips to your basement to do the laundry or hang out in the rec room – or at least make it a bit less depressing? Read on and see.

5 Compelling Reasons You Need to Eliminate Your Shower Pan Threshold

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Uncategorized

5 compelling reasons you need to eliminate your shower pan threshold | Innovate Building Solutions

Figuring out the right shower pan to use can be a pain. Do you get a traditional shower base with a 4 to 5” step over curb? Would a low-profile curb (which is 1 ½” tall) be the ticket or would it allow water to spill out onto the bathroom floor? Could you ditch the shower curb entirely and choose a ramped entry or one level wet room?

I’ve talked to thousands of homeowners over the last 20 years (wow – has it been that long?) about shower pan options, and I’ll tell you the case for blowing up the shower curb (having no threshold at all) has never been stronger! In this article I’m determined to lay out 5 compelling reasons you should seriously consider going with a curbless shower for your next bathroom remodeling project. Let me know at the end of the article whether you agree with these reasons or whether I’m all wet (OK – that’s a bad attempt at bathroom humor).

7 Awesome Tips to Accessorize your Solid Surface Shower Kit

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

7 awesome tips to accessorize your solid surface shower kit | Innovate Building Solutions

As Marilyn told me when she stopped into our showroom. “Mike this isn’t my first shower rodeo. When we were younger (yes, my hair was darker) Bill and I bought a fixer-upper special as our first house. The existing shower was a mess. We visited the guy in the orange smock at our local home center store. We settled on a flimsy, generic fiberglass shower kit and installed it ourselves because there was no way we could pay a contractor. Within a couple of years, it looked dingy and yellow.

Now things will be different. We’ve finally got the kids “mostly off the payroll” Not yet in the job of their dreams, but they are working – and we’re not “funding” them. It’s now time to put some enjoyment (and cut down maintenance – BIG TIME) into this bathroom remodeling project.

We want low maintenance just the low-budget shower kit we bought back in the day. Now we’re savvier and aren’t going to settle for junk! We’ve done our research and keep coming back to the solid surface shower kits as the best option for us. Bill likes the 3/8” thick walls and the fact that the shower pan is built like a tank. But I’m looking at different things.

We’ve worked like crazy for years. This time I’m getting style and pizzazz in this shower. We’re going to enjoy our hard-earned money. I’ll be spending less time cleaning the bathroom and more time getting out of “Dodge” and traveling. So, Mike, I want you to show me how I can accessorize this solid surface shower kit to make my bathroom special.”

Can you relate to what Marilyn was telling me? In the article below check out 7 tips I shared with Marilyn to dress up her solid surface shower. I’ll give this warning right up front and apologize to Marilyn’s husband Bill. This shower project will get a bit pricier with these solid surface shower accessory tips I’m going to give!

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