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3.5 Trends To Get the Biggest Bang for your Remodeling Bucks

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

3 1/2 trends to get the biggest bang for your remodeling bucks from the 2016 cost/value report

Are you unsure if you should spend your money on a home remodeling project – and if you do – what specific project to choose? If you can find yourself in one of the 3 groups below you’re probably struggling with this remodeling decision right now.

  • Group 1 – Overwhelmed new homeowner – You’ve just bought an older home in a nice neighborhood that needs some work (OK – it needs A LOT of work!), but you’re wondering what project should you do and how much should you spend.

 

  • Group 2 – Debating, “Should I get out of here?” – Your current home just isn’t cutting the mustard. Yes – it used to work for you and your family – but the times and the people living in your home just don’t have the same needs. You’re now debating (a) stay and remodel or (b) get the heck out of here.

 

  • Category 3 You love your existing home but know you won’t get your money out of a remodeling project – In this scenario you may think should I even care about getting my money out of this home or just enjoy it and have my heirs worry about how much this home is worth when I’m no longer around?

The challenge becomes how do you make sense of where (or even if) to put any of your hard earned money into remodeling or replacing any of the old features of your home. While this type of decision can be based off your logical (left brain) side, don’t discount the emotional (right brained) side in your decision making either. So how can you make sense of the decision to spend or not on your home? How can you get the biggest bang for your remodeling bucks the Cost/Value study can help?

What is the 2016 Cost/Value Study?

 For the 29th year Remodeling Magazine creates a report (the Cost/Value report) which looks at the changes in home improvement costs (your bucks) with what value (your potential bang) real estate pros think you’ll get back. So if a project has a 80% value it means you can expect to get back $80 resale value for a remodeling or replacement project which cost you $100.

Statistics are boring (to right brained people) – 3 1/2 trends to make sense of the Cost/Value report 

If math class made you nuts you know there is nothing more boring than reading a bunch of dry stats. So – in this article I’m still going to give you a few figures (sorry about that math haters), but I’m also going to provide you the 3 1/2 trends to guide your remodeling decisions no matter which of the 3 groups above you identify yourself with. You may be asking what’s the “half-trend” all about. Sorry I can’t tell you – you’ll have to read the whole article to find out! Read on please.

“Get out as quick as you can!” – The need for basement remodeling

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

The need for basement remodeling in University Heights Ohio

Basements can be scary places! I remember when I was 5 years old and my Mom would send me downstairs to throw out the garbage in our incinerator (anyone else remember having an incinerator for garbage?) and that dark dingy basement would scare the heck out of me. I would run down and back up as fast as I could!

This article isn’t about my scary basement as a kid, it’s about Bridget and Tim O’Callahan’s former cellar (the name some people call their spooky basement). You probably know the type of basement I’m talking about. It had the old, dark paneling and a moldy, musty “basement smell” you just can’t rid of no matter how many air fresheners you jam into the space. Old clay tile walls, a nasty deep window well and outdated plumbing and electrical systems all screamed – yuck! As Tim said when they would get the courage to go into the basement to do laundry all they could think about was, “Get me out of here!”

Before remodeling of a university heights basement

When the existing old knob and tube wiring shorted out it left not so lovely burn marks on the wall. This was the final straw with putting up with the pariah of a basement. Something had to be done. As Tim said, “If we were to go to sell the home down the road there would be no way we could do it with this musty room with burn marks on the wall.” The decision was made to get a basement remodel underway. As the remodeling process unfolded the O’Callahans’ not only made their basement recreation/exercise room/laundry zones functional – they transformed the basement into an area they actually want to entertain in.

Let’s see how Tim and Bridget (with the help of the design and construction team at Cleveland Design and Remodeling) used a three step process to (1) get rid of structural and mechanical problems (2) ramp up the laundry (or business side of the basement) to make it an inviting space and (3) made it special with finishing touches which rival the upper levels of most homes.

How to regain your independence with an accessible bathroom remodel

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

How to regain your independence with a accessible bathroom remodel in Akron

You might have heard the saying “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade.” Sometimes a challenge can happen in our lives which not only affects us physically, but also emotionally. The key is to fight through life’s “lemons” (challenges) and to make some “lemonade” (personal victories).

An excellent example of making some “lemonade” is the story of Karen Lee Gast who suffered a stroke in November 2014. Not only was her physical mobility reduced (she now uses the assistance of a wheelchair) but she endured the mental challenge of seeing her independence reduced as a result of the stroke. Simple daily tasks (like showering on her own) – were no longer simple….and required the assistance of her daughter Julie (Morgan) who is of constant support to Karen.

While Karen is grateful for her daughter’s help (although Karen says she can be a wee-bit overprotective at times!) she wanted to regain more independence in her home and control over her life. This desire for independence led Karen to do an extensive bathroom remodeling in her home in Akron Ohio. Let’s take a look at why this remodel was necessary.

The old bathroom

 After Karen’s stroke the existing master bathroom just didn’t work. Here were some of the problems with the old space:

  • The doorway was too small to comfortably roll the wheelchair in.
  • There were no grab bars to safely transfer from the chair into the shower.
  • The old stand up 3’ x 3’ fiberglass shower with a framed metal pivoting door was way too small and difficult to get into.

3 foot by 3 foot shower to be replaced in an akron remodeling project

With these challenges Karen was not only not able to use the master bathroom (which is conveniently located right off her bedroom). She had to use a smaller bathroom in the home and could only shower on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when her daughter Julie could come over to help her. This showering process in this old bathroom took one hour of each of their time. The bottom line was there was no way to make the convenient master bathroom an accessible space without extensive modifications and a full remodel.

In the article below learn 3 critical steps which transformed Karen’s bathroom into an accessible, low maintenance, safe and stylish room she can use without being dependent on others. This now allows her and Julie to do other things (or just spend quality Mom and daughter time together).

Can a garage window be architectural and elegant?

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

Decorative Glass block garage window in Michigan with an architectural flair

When you think about a garage window does the term elegant come to mind? If I’m a betting man (which I’m not) the answer is no way. The words most often associated with garage windows are nasty, bug-infested, leaky and downright disgusting!

Most garage windows are included in a home to either make the front of the home architecturally correct (and symmetrical) and/or to add natural light (which can be very helpful if you have a workbench in the space) or to provide ventilation.

In most cases the garage window is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of your home windows – it gets no respect and is generally an afterthought. The question is can a garage window become something which actually enhances the look and value of your home – while still providing privacy, light transmission and a secure place for valuable tools and vehicles? The answer is yes if you think “outside the blocks” like Sean Ryan of Farmington Michigan.

In this article I’ll share with you why Sean decided to design a glass block window which was so elegant he would actually choose to use it as a backdrop for his daughters (Leslie and Kelly) prom picture (see above). Learn below why Sean decided do this project and his 5 step process to transform his old garage window.

How to “Future-Proof” Your Bathroom

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

How to future proof your bathroom to be waterproof and assist aging in place

I’m sure you’ve heard terms like kid-proofing, soundproofing, and waterproofing but you might be asking what the heck is “future-proofing” and why do I need to do it for my bathroom? When I had a recent conversation with the Operations Manager of Cleveland Design and Remodeling he said to me, “Mike – the key to a bathroom remodel which is built not only to last, but to work for its owners in the long run, is to future-proof the space.” I wasn’t 100% sure what John meant by “future-proofing” so I looked it up. Here’s the Wikipedia definition.

Futureproofing is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects and shocks and stresses of future events.

OK – you might say – while I’d like to anticipate the future most of us would admit we’re no Nostradamus and we don’t work for the Psychic Friends Hotline either! So how can you and I anticipate the future (and the “shocks” which come from it) to design a bathroom today we don’t have to re-remodel (is that even a word?) tomorrow? The key according to John is to focus on 2 ideas:

1) Learn to use specific construction techniques and products to win the battle vs. the elements (things like water penetration, air infiltration and home movement)

2) Either learn how to reverse the effects of aging (not sure we’re up to tackling the steps to do this) or use ideas to design a bathroom which allows you to stay in your home as you get older.

Let’s take a look at these two areas in more detail below.

A “Marcia Stewart” Special – How to Inject Personality into Your Bathroom Remodel

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

How to Inject Personality into Your Bathroom Remodeling Project

Martha Stewart it’s time to meet your California counterpart “Marcia Stewart”…..I mean Marcia Reed.

OK you’re probably wondering what’s all this stuff about Marcia Stewart (A.K.A. Marcia Reed). When I had the opportunity to talk to Tom and Marcia Reed about their bathroom remodeling project I was blown away with it’s fun, distinctive and passionate styling. I knew I had to write it. When Tom mentioned his nickname for Marcia was “Marcia Stewart” because of her ability to put stylish personality into their projects it completely made sense to me from seeing their finished pictures!

You see when many people remodel the first thing they ask themselves (or their contractor) is “how will this bathroom show when I go to sell it?” While this question can be a valid another question you may ask yourself could be “how can I design this space to fit my personal style?” You see Marcia Reed is not defined by the popular brand Martha Stewart (or any other popular brand for that matter) – she is her own brand!

Would you like to inject more personality and fun into your remodeling projects but aren’t sure how to go about it? If the answer is yes open up your eyes and get ready to strap on your tool belt (as Tom Reed has been known to do a time or two) and start taking action on these 5 ½ “Marcia Stewart” recommended tips.

A Luxury Bathroom without Barriers for Active Adults

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

A luxury bathroom without barriers for active adults

When I told my potential customer Anne I was a “Certified Aging in Place Specialist” (this is an earned certification through the National Association of Home Builders to learn techniques and products to help people stay in their homes longer) she said to me, “Who the heck (I’ve changed the word here to keep it clean) wants to age in place? What do I look like some kind of rock?” I had to laugh and completely agree with Anne. She went on to say, “Mike I want a stylish bathroom which not only works for me today…..but for a good many tomorrows as well!”

I could not have said it better. Whether the aging process causes your abilities (the ability to move, ability to see and ability to sense) to not be what they used to be or a family member has had a challenging life event which has impacted them – everyone should be able to enjoy a luxury bathroom (assuming their budget allows).

The practical question is, how do you make this happen? What product and design considerations are important? In the article below I’ll give you 5 essential tips to get rid of common bathroom product and design barriers so you can get the luxury bathroom you deserve.

A small bathroom becomes big, bright and beautiful

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

A small bathroom in columbus is remodeled to be bigger brighter and more beautiful

It’s easy to have a bathroom which lives big, bright and beautiful when you have tons of space. The question becomes how can you design a small bathroom to create this same sense of beauty, space and function? This was the challenge facing Don Laufersweiler (of Columbus Ohio) when he decided to remodel and convert his poorly functioning existing “Jack and Jill” bathroom into a comfortable luxury master bath.

A small columbus ohio bathroom before an extensive remodel

 

 

As Don said to me, “My goal is to leave this house feet first – and I needed to design a bathroom I would love and would work for me for years to come.” Let’s see how Don (in conjunction with his custom craftsman and contractor Al Barnes) were able to design and build a master bathroom which lives big, shines bright and offers distinctive beauty – all in a 5’ x 8’ space.

9 Clever Storage Tricks from the 2016 Builders and Kitchen & Bath Show

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

9 Clever storage tricks from the 2016 International Builders and Kitchen and Bath Industry show

The trend is clear – we are living “smaller” – whether by design (the tiny home movement) or by necessity (access to money is still hampering home sizes). We are no longer living in the explosion of newly built “McMansions” we saw in the mid 1990’s. Given that many home, apartment or condo sizes are now trending down – the need to effectively reclaim or repurpose space is critical.

Fortunately many building products manufacturers (including those supplying lighting, vanities, hardware, ironing boards, kitchen storage and home organization products) are designing products to fill your need and desire for more thoughtful storage solutions. I want to take you on a journey to see 9 clever storage tricks I thought were hot (and a bit magical) from the 2016 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and the International Builders Show (IBS).

A Zen Minimalist Bathroom is Worth the Wait

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

A Zen Minimalist Bathroom with a Glass Block Shower Wall

“I’m the cheapest guy on the planet,” said Jim Van Huis when I called to talk to him about the completion of his Zen minimalist bathroom in a suburban Chicago home. I would respectfully disagree with Jim about this statement given the high quality materials and finished look of his master bathroom.

What Jim was talking about with his “cheap” comment is he and his wife don’t take on a remodeling project until they know they have the cash on hand to pay for it (I guess you can call him a debt minimalist!). So Jim and his wife Mary Kaye had to wait to do the renovation until the kids where grown and the finances allowed – but the wait was worth it!

The goal with this bathroom was to create a peaceful place which embodied Jim and Mary Kaye’s sense of style, desire for simplicity and effective use of space. The old bathroom – while expansive in size – was a “generic spec builder special.” It had a standard (and cramped) 60” x 32” shower with a cheap gold gaudy framed shower door. In addition Formica countertops and run of the mill beige tile were the “stylish gifts’ of the production builder who cranked out their home 12 years ago.

Before picture of Orland Park bathroom before renovation with framed shower enclosure

Old shower and toilet area

The question was what could be done to transform this non-distinct master bathroom into a tranquil, simplistic and attractive environment which could be as enjoyable as it was functional.

Let’s explore below 5 Zen design concepts Jim and Mary Kaye used in the evolution of their new bathroom design.

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