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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

5 Critical Facts to Get A Higher Return on Your Remodeling Dollars Now

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

5 critical facts to get higher returns on your remodeling based on the 2016 Cost to Value Study | Innovate Building Solutions

Do you struggle with where to start first when it comes to remodeling or fixing up your home? Does your home resemble The Money Pit from the 1986 movie with Tom Hanks and Shelly Long? If you were taking a multiple-choice quiz about what need to be done at your home would you click the box that says “all of the above?”

Knowing where to put your hard-earned remodeling dollars can be confusing. Is it best to fix the broken windows, doors or poorly insulated walls or do a major addition to gain more space? Do you get bigger returns from a kitchen or bathroom remodel? If you redesign and remodel your bathroom to “age in place” will this improvement hurt you when you go to sell your home?

It’s easy to come up with these questions – the answers, though, are not so obvious. So, this brings us back to the question where should you put your remodeling dollars to get the biggest bang for your buck (or conversely should you even give a hoot about return on investment?).

Every year an extensive research team puts together the Remodeling Cost/Value Study to dig into these questions and provide you and I with the answers. My goal in this article is to not bore you with stats. I say this even though I will confess to being a bit of a stats geek. I’m so strange I took 3 statistics courses while majoring in Business at Carnegie-Mellon University. You’ve got to be a bit touched to do that (ha! ha!).

In this article, I’m going to focus on 5 critical facts (which don’t require you to like statistics) so you can get the best return on your remodeling dollars. At the end of this article I’m going to share with you my IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) how I look at return on remodeling personally (my opinion as a financially conservative building material supplier and contractor may surprise you). Let’s check out these 5 critical facts.

5 Little Known Tips About Custom Shower Wall Panels

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

5 little known tips about custom shower wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions

Custom shower wall panels are like a mysterious medical problem (note- I’m living this mystery right now as I’m in an Emergency Room Observation area while writing this post!). You’ve got to research, to poke around for the best options (while not necessarily accepting the first theory or product espoused from an “expert”). You want to find out not only what’s not good about your current custom shower (so you don’t repeat the same mistakes), but also what shower panel system will look nice and last down the road. You need to determine what options will fit your style and budget so you don’t have to deal with nasty tile grout or ugly, yellowed, and cheap fiberglass shower panels ever again. This research process can be painful. You’ll have to sift through the “baloney-ish” (not sure this is a word) sales pitches on company product web sites to find what’s right for you – not just what others want to sell you.

My goal with this article is to help you focus your research and  find the right custom shower wall panels. I want to tell you simple untold truths to save you time and money. At the end of this article let me know how I did. Without further delay let’s check out the 5 things nobody tells you about custom shower wall panels.

Glass blocks and glass bricks – what’s hot and what’s not today

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

Glass blocks and glass bricks what's hot and what's not about them - Innovate Building Solutions

Controversy and debate seems to follow glass blocks and glass bricks like a bad rash. Some people give them an enthusiastic Siskel and Ebert inspired two thumbs up. Others say – yuck – I wouldn’t put those 80’s glass blocks in my home if you gave them to me! As someone whose been in the glass block biz since 1985 (yes – I’m dating myself here but I like to tell people I started at the age of 11 – a BIT of an exaggeration but I’m going with it) it’s easy to see that building material trends are changing constantly and that has impacted how people feel about glass blocks.

You see some stuff which was hot in the 80’s not being used any more. With glass blocks there are styles, product and installation systems which are popular today most people don’t even know exist. Most people think of glass blocks as one wavy 8” x 8” unit stacked on top of another.

So, before you say whether glass blocks or hot, or not, read on to see what k options others are finding to be inspired ….and also what products and systems are just “old-school.” At the end of the article I’d love to know whether this post has changed your opinion or not.

How to remodel an odd shaped custom shower enclosure

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

How to remodel an odd shaped custom shower enclosure - Tips and tricks to make any shaped shower work for you! | Innovate Building Solutions

As your kids might have phrased it when they were younger (if they talked about shower enclosures…which would have been kind of strange), “Do you have the odd shaped shower from “H-E-double hockey sticks?” Do you think the person who designed this “gem” must have been on something because custom shaped doesn’t even do it justice! It’s cramped and dark and the old tile grout joints look horrendous. You’d like to just throw your hands up and say HELP – but that strategy alone won’t be enough to create a new shower you’ll actually want to use and won’t kill your budget. So how can you tackle this mysterious odd-shaped shower puzzle you’ve got?

In the article below I’d like to take you through a 5-step process to remodel your crazy custom shower into a space you WILL want to use. I wish I could tell you you’ll also be able to get this shower done as cost effectively as a standard alcove 60 x 36 kit you see at your local home center store – but that’s a pipe dream (sorry to burst your bubble here – but I need to give it to you straight!).

Without further delay let’s dig into these 5 steps.

5 non-sexy tips to make sure your shower enclosure won’t fail

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

5 non sexy tips to make sure your shower enclosure won't fail | Innovate Building Solutions

Maybe I’ve been in the bathroom remodeling business too long but I actually think shower enclosures can be sexy. I might have looked into a few too many multi-functioning spa-shower heads, sleek deluxe wall panels and even drains with LED lights and my brain has gotten mushy with visions of stylish new showers. Even though I am more than a bit passionate (OK – maybe a bit touched) about shower enclosures, there is nothing sexy about a shower enclosure which has failed!

Does your existing shower resemble these remarks?

  • A cracked and yellowed fiberglass pan which even after calling on a higher power you can’t get clean.
  • A tile grout job which is failing so miserably you may have to resort to begging the grout doctor to come back and repair it one more time.
  • A drain which well – just won’t drain. Now you’re even thinking about buying stock in Draino because it has to go up in price from all the bottles you’ve bought at your local grocery store.

Yes – a newly designed sleek shower can be sexy – but your old shower may be so “un-sexy” you feel the need to (pun-intended) “throw in the towel” on it! If you’ve gotten to the breaking point with your existing shower,  don’t only look at what’s sexy and new in shower products (although that’s a lot of fun). You need to take a look at the nuts and bolts of why showers fail so you won’t go down this “bad shower road” again.

In this article I’m going to challenge you to take a look at 5 “non-sexy” tips to make sure your next bathroom remodeling project doesn’t lead down failure lane. So let’s roll up our sleeves and look at these tips so you can (as Larry the Cable Guy would say) get ‘er done right the first time.

7 ½ Crystal-Cool Ways to Use Glass in a Contemporary Bathroom

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

7 crystal-cool was to use glass in a contemporary bathroom | Innovate Building Solutions

I’m a big fan of glass. Maybe it’s because I’ve been involved with various products in the glass business since 1985 (wow – that makes me sound old!). The more familiar (and knowledgeable) I become about uses and properties of glass the more I love it. I am not alone in being a glass lover.

So why do we love glass? How does glass make our bathrooms not only functionally better – but provide a cooler design look as well? Most importantly how can you use glass in a bathroom to not only “live better” but “live cooler” – providing you with a sense of style to live to your fullest? In this article, we’ll first take a quick peek into 5 benefits of glass in a bathroom. Then let’s have some fun and check out 7 1/2 “crystal-cool” ways you can use glass to add some wow factor to your next bathroom remodeling project.

5 benefits of glass products in a bathroom

Glass has distinct advantages all its own. Here are some reasons people incorporate glass into bathroom designs:

  • It can move light and provide sight. A dark room, a dark shower is not only depressing – it can be downright dangerous. Walls isolate us, where glass opens spaces up. Transparent glass also offers expansive views through rooms and offers a “window” (yes – pun intended) to our outside world.
  • Its reflective properties can make a room “live” bigger. When light can literally bounce off the walls the space feels more open and lively.
  • Glass can give you energy. Just think how you feel on long, cold and dark days? If you’re like me – more tired. A light filled space created by a glass shower, a partition wall or skylight (even with the light from the moon at night) can improve your mood. A brick wall just feels like – a brick wall.
  • It provides privacy and light. Just think about it. There are not many materials like translucent glass which give you the “BOGO” special (buy one, get one benefit free) of moving light through a space and providing privacy. In a bathroom -where we are showing our “hot” (or maybe not as hot as we’d like) bodies the idea of privacy with light is appealing.
  • Cool colors, textures, and illumination all in one material. Whether you want to live in a cool, clean minimalist world of simplicity and function – or in a bright colorful bohemian chic setting where patterns and colors collide decorative glass offers the opportunity to wow your world!

Now let’s have some fun and check out ways to wow with glass in your bathroom. I’m warning you – some of these uses may surprise you, some may wow you and others you may say there is no way I’m using that! At the end of the article let me know which glass uses you’re giving two thumbs up to, and which are definite downers.

Our top 10 remodeling blog posts of 2016 – Innovate Building Solutions

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

Our top 10 remodeling blog posts of 2016 - Innovate Building Solutions

Thank you for reading our remodeling blog this year! Your support has resulted in the blog growing over 2x what it was in 2015 – and I can’t thank you enough.

Before writing posts for next year I wanted to give you a glimpse into those articles you liked the best and some input about trends and happenings in the remodeling industry. You’ll see from the list below your interest in showers (walk in showers, shower design, shower kits and even shower accessories) was through the roof. For the articles written about glass blocks you showed most interest in the “secrets nobody tells you about glass block windows” and the unfortunate departure of Pittsburgh Corning as a manufacturer (it’s always disappointing to see a US manufacture decide to exit an industry and take jobs with it!). Lastly – although I only wrote two articles on a cool tiny home project you were all over it. If you missed any of these blog posts, please go back and take a look by clicking on the article title links below.

Without further delay let’s get to the top 10 remodeling blog posts for 2016! I will tell you the top story was completely surprising to me (I never would have “thunk” it).

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy DIY Shower & Tub Panels at a Home Center (and 3 Reasons You Should)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

 

 

5 reasons you shouldn't (and 3 reasons you shouldn't) buy DIY shower and tub wall panels from a home center | Innovate Building Solutions

I’m going to “keep it real” as Randy Jackson used to say on American Idol about this topic on where to buy DIY shower and tub wall panels. I’m biased. I’m a passionate nationwide wholesaler of bathroom wall panels who “competes” with Home Centers (actually, Home Depot, Lowes and Menards don’t even know who I am) on a daily basis. One division of our business works with DIY’ers who want to install their own (or buy their own) shower and tub wall panels. The #1 reasons homeowners want to DIY (or BIY – Buy It Yourself) is to save money in the remodeling process – and for most people, remodeling projects end up more expensive than they originally thought.

While buying anything from an independent entrepreneurial company can make you “feel good” to support the small business community vs. the big box stores, “feeling good” is not a reason enough to shell over your hard-earned money to any business. If buying from the guy or gal in the orange, green or blue smock is the smartest decision for you – by all means – do it!

But before you rush out to your local home center store and start purchasing the first set of DIY shower wall panels off the shelf you can find, my goal is to give you a more thorough way to make the best decision for you (note – for your reference I have personally sold thousands of different types of wall panels to consumers across the country since the inception of our company in 1977. I’ve learned a few things along the way I’m looking forward to sharing in this article).

In this article my goal is to give it to you straight. 5 reasons you shouldn’t buy DIY shower and tub wall panels from a Home Center and 3 reasons you should (ouch – it hurts me to say that!). Let’s dig in.

4 critical questions to find a progressive bathroom remodeling contractor

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

4 critical questions you need to find a bathroom remodeling contractor from the Cleveland Design Remodeling division of Innovate Building Solutions

Phyllis just got done firing her second (ouch) remodeling contractor when she called me in tears! She said, “Mike these guys were as dumb as rocks. They (incorrectly) built half the wall you supplied and then asked me for the directions. All they care about is getting paid – not about delivering a quality job with the materials I want to use!”

As a nationwide bathroom building material supplier and a local bathroom remodeler (in Cleveland and Columbus Ohio) I wish I could tell you there was anything unique about the frustration Phyllis tearfully expressed above. Construction is often a process you must “endure” to get a stylish and better functioning bathroom. But should bathroom remodeling be a process you need to be “drug through” (and you may feel like you need drugs – just kidding – to get you through) when you’re spending so much money???

IMHO (in my humble opinion) these bad bathroom remodeler experiences have to stop. Bathroom remodeling should not be the following:

  • A “one day process” where a high-pressure franchise salesperson sells a one-day bathroom system with an offer “you must sign today” or it will be gone forever. Why should you be uncomfortable and feel like your arms (and every other limb) are being twisted in the sales process?
  • A contractor driven project where they are telling you, “Lady this is how I’m going to build your shower.” Aren’t you the one paying to get this done after all? It should be about what you want.
  • A one size fits all “solution.” You have different members of your family with unique needs. Shouldn’t your bathroom be designed with everyone’s needs (both today and tomorrow) in mind?

It’s simple to spew out frustration about bathroom remodeling. The challenge is to know the right questions to ask in the research and contractor selection process. With the right questions, you won’t get a dud you then need to figure out how to get rid of in the middle of the job without getting tangled up in a huge lawsuit.

How can you find a progressive bathroom remodeling contractor (yes there are actually a few these companies out there) who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated? Ask these 4 critical questions so you don’t have to suffer through the contractor from hell!

A contemporary “wow” vacation home designed to inspire a prince….and you

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

A contemporary vacation home designed to even inspire a prince - Innovate Building Solutions

Imagine after a long, tumultuous, stress-filled year you could leave all the anxiety behind, spending a work and social media free week relaxing in a hot tub in a contemporary vacation home. You’ll be looking out over one of the top 10 beaches in the world and putting your mind to rest with the love of your life. Does this sound like a wow experience to you? It certainly does to me, and I’m betting I could convince my wife Rose and kids Grant, Parker and Jade to come along as well without too much effort. This experience is possible in the Sand Dollar Hideaway vacation home in St. Thomas.

This home, owned by Suzanne and Steve Levine, was not designed to be “just any old vacation house.” It was designed and inspired by a not-too-flattering comment made by an Arabian prince to Suzanne 16 years ago. As the prince was getting ready to leave their original vacation home (see all 3 properties which are on this 2.5-acre property below) Suzanne asked the prince what he thought about his stay at their property (note – this home has been used by the likes of Hillary and Bill Clinton to Al and Tipper Gore) and he said simply to Suzanne, “It’s not a wow.” Ouch. For Suzanne, this comment really hurt. Imagine you’ve invested millions of dollars in a luxury property and someone would not think it was a wow experience!

Fast forward 16 years. Suzanne and Steve decided to design and build a contemporary style vacation home on the balance of their cliffside land. The goal was to design this home to not only be enjoyed by their family, but could also to be used by previous guests of their other 2 properties (see an aerial view of all 3 properties below) and for special wedding and corporate events.

An aerial view of a luxury St. Thomas vacation properties Sand Dollar Hideaway and Sand Dollar Estates - @InnovateBuild

 

But this would be no ordinary house. Suzanne and Steve not only invested millions more in this house – but more importantly they poured their heart, soul and design tastes into what they call the “new home.” They were determined this design would be a “wow”…. even for a prince with discerning tastes who could afford to come to the island and this property with his 2 private jets!

Luxury contemporary living and family rooms in St. Thomas Vacation Home Sand Dollar Hideaway - Innovate Building Solutions

In this article let’s take a behind the scenes look at 5 design and construction features which IMHO (in my humble opinion) you would be crazy not to say is a WOW! Let’s dig in.

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