Handling the Challenges of a Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Creating the room of your dreams can be challenging downstairs. While a Northern Virginia basement remodeling project adds valuable living space, privacy and extra storage, you may need to overcome a few headaches first. Consider these common problems Virginia homeowners face when finishing a basement.

Is Your Plumbing Set Up for a Basement Bathroom?

Many people want a bathroom installed on the basement level, providing an extra shower or finishing off the guest room area. But your plumbing system may not be set up for this addition, and planning to add a basement bathroom will take a bit more work.

Ask your contractor or builder about the main drain pipe for your home. Depending on grading and other issues, this drain may run below-grade or above-grade. Pipes that run below-grade allow for the connection of an additional bathroom on the basement level. Those running above-grade do not, although a basement bathroom equipped with special plumbing fixtures will work just fine.

If the drain pipe is a problem, budget for a grinder and pump in the plumbing. This equipment allows for a toilet and shower in the basement, but requires extra space behind the wall.

Are the Windows Large Enough to Cast Natural Light and Meet Building Code?

Many Northern Virginia homes have small windows in the basement level. Although those on a walkout lot have patio doors or taller windows, others make do with shallow frames that let in minimum light. Local building codes and insurance requirements may also present a problem with smaller windows, especially if you plan to include bedrooms in the floor plan.

Install larger egress windows to solve this problem, but remember to design them well for longevity and maintenance. Window wells require a drain at the bottom to direct water away from your home and reduce the risk of basement flooding. High quality windows will also keep your energy bills down and security measures may be required if you’re worried about burglary.

Talk to your contractor about the best location for these larger windows, and design your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project to take advantage of window placement.

How Will You Treat the Ceiling in Your Finished Basement?

Drywall ceilings look attractive in a finished basement, but they can be a hassle when water problems arise and repairs create a massive mess in the basement living space. Drop ceilings are a good solution, although many Northern Virginia homeowners find the look less appealing. How can you find a happy medium between the beauty of drywall ceilings and the practicality of drop ceilings?

Have a look at some of the unique building materials available for basement ceilings, including acoustical ceiling tiles and textured or oddly shaped tiles that provide the convenience of a drop ceiling without the industrial look. Some homeowners even opt to paint out the basement ceiling with a bright white paint, allowing full access while creating a uniform color. This works especially well for casual
spaces like a games room or play room.

Consider the location of duct work and plumbing in the basement ceiling. Can you effectively group these mechanical systems to minimize access points? Bulkheads must be installed to go around larger pipes, often cutting off natural light and lowering the ceiling height. Grouping the ductwork should minimize that issue as well.

The best way to handle the challenges of a Northern Virginia basement remodeling project is by enlisting the help of a professional contractor. They will have the expertise and skills to get past issues like plumbing, windows and ceiling design, as well as any other challenges that come your way. Trust their experience and utilize their talents to create an incredible living space downstairs.

Top Five Modern Deck Features to Set Your Virginia Deck Apart

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Sleek shade structures

Building a deck or patio is like adding an outdoor room to your home, and that living space should have the same conveniences and features as your interior rooms. Adding modern deck features to set your Virginia deck apart helps to capture your unique style and makes this space feel more like home.

Check out these top five features that hit the mark for contemporary styling and modern conveniences:

# 1 – Tempered Glass Railing

Modern ground level decks are often designed without a railing, preserving a feeling of openness. But decks more than 24 inches off the ground require a railing for safety purposes. Tempered glass railings provide the ideal solution, maintaining the view while keeping your family and guests safe.

Pair tempered glass panels with wood railings for a rugged look, or opt for aluminum posts, top and bottom rail. This material is maintenance-free and available in a wide range of colors. Some glass railing manufacturers also offer a frameless system, which optimizes your view. Consider tinted or etched glass for a dramatic appearance.

# 2 – Built In Bar or Kitchen

A fabulous addition for those who love to entertain on the deck, outdoor bars and kitchens can be designed to suit your lifestyle. Think about an upscale grill and prep station if backyard barbecues are a common event on your summer schedule. Or opt for an inlaid rock bar with built in sink and bar fridge for cocktails under the stars. The options for this Virginia deck feature are almost endless.

Be sure to plan out the ideal location for your built in bar or kitchen, paying close attention to traffic patterns and access to the main kitchen. Also consider building codes and heat protection for deck board and any vinyl siding nearby.

# 3 – Sleek Shade Structure

Adding shade to the deck extends your enjoyment of the space and provides a comfortable place to rest from the sun’s heat. Modern decks boast sleek shade structures in striking shapes, such as a triangular sun sail for that casual look or a high, heavy-beamed pergola for more traditional appeal.

Incorporate the framing, posts and structure into the deck, carrying on similar themes and shapes throughout the railing and trim.

# 4 – Deck Board Border

Choose your favorite color of composite deck board for the deck surface. Popular tones include browns, grays, tans and reddish hues, available in a range of shades from the biggest brands in the decking industry. But don’t limit your design options there—dress up the space with a contrasting border color. Use stain to achieve the same look in wood.

This deck design works especially well with larger layouts and multilevel decks, where each area is created to standalone as a room in your home would. Using a contrasting color deck board gives that room visual definition, without detracting from the overall design or creating any physical obstructions.

# 5 – Inlaid Patterns

Inlaid patterns provide another option for deck board details. Put a little dramatic splash into any area of your deck by installing the floorboards in a unique manner. Either with different colors or by shifting the direction of the decking, you can easily add spice and character to this space.

Your contractor may need to include extra framing for this option, or charge you more for the labor-intensive installation. But the final effect is well worth the investment, making this outdoor living space truly one of a kind.

Set your Virginia deck apart with any of these five modern deck features. From glass railing to built in bars, shade structures and deck board patterns, these details dress up your deck and help to display your tastes and character.

Differences Between Bathroom Renovations and Bathroom Remodeling in Virginia

Filed Under: Bathroom    by: Steve Kayhill

Planning for major home improvement projects takes time and effort. Following a road map makes the process smoother, more efficient and often less expensive. Understanding the difference between bathroom renovations and bathroom remodeling in Virginia helps you choose the correct road map and makes the whole experience more enjoyable.

Do you know what type of home improvement you’re planning?


Remodel Vs Renovate

Subtle differences can have major influence on your budget and planning. Renovations often involve more extensive work, such as relocation of plumbing, tearing down walls and replacing or installing windows and skylights.

Virginia bathroom remodeling, on the other hand, tends to work within the existing structure. If you want to give your bathroom a facelift, think remodeling. If you want to redesign the space, consider renovations.

While this is not a hard and fast rule for all contractors, the distinctive approaches are worth noting.

Different Ways to Approach the Project

Hire an experienced professional to handle both bathroom renovations and bathroom remodeling in Virginia. Although you may be tempted to head down the DIY path, the combination of plumbing, electrical and a wide range of building materials present several risks for inexperienced hands.

Bathroom renovations often involve work in other areas of the home. Perhaps you are replacing older plumbing or upgrading your electrical services to include GFI receptacles.

This type of work provides the ideal opportunity to expand the bathroom, relocate the fixtures to improve flow or upgrade the existing shower, vanity and toilet with modern models. Talk to your Virginia contractor about expanding a basic renovation into adjacent areas of your home; it may save you money to tackle multiple projects at once.

Budgeting Concerns

The cost of bathroom upgrades varies, depending on the size of your space, as well as the fixtures and building materials used. A bathroom remodeling project may cost less, when compared to a renovation project that involves structural work as well as a facelift. But larger scale remodels can also easily surpass a basic renovation.

Costs for remodeling an older bathroom quickly add up, particularly when putting in new tiling, a modern vanity and sink and walk in shower. Bathroom renovations that transform a powder room into a three-piece or four-piece bath could be more affordable, depending on your vision for the finished project.

Think about which type of project suits your needs. It’s a good idea to discuss those needs with the contractor from the get go, allowing them to gauge whether or not their expertise and skills fit within your needs.

Some contractors have more experience in the renovation aspect and regularly handle full-scale renovations involving several sub-trades. Others specialize in remodeling aspects, such as companies that offer tub surround retrofits or fixture replacement.

The differences are subtle and your home improvement project may blur the lines of distinction, but understanding the scope of work involved helps to make your project move smoothly. Both bathroom renovations and bathroom remodeling in Virginia transform this busy space into an inviting and functional area. Dream it, plan it and build it for a more valuable living space.

Do You Need an Architect for Virginia Additions?

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

When you love your house despite the need for more space, home additions provide the ideal solution. But ensuring that Virginia additions blend seamlessly into the existing structures can be challenging. Do homeowners need to hire an architect to do this project well? Or are the services of an experienced general contractor sufficient to get the job done?

How an Architect Can Help With Home Additions

Large-scale additions, including those that significantly alter the footprint of your home, involve several stages of work. From the demolition and excavation through to finishing touches, home additions on the main floor or second story “raise the roof” projects can get complicated. The advice and direction of an architect may help you to avoid common problems along the way.

Architects provide the design service, which deals with several key elements of your project.

  • How will the existing structure fit into the new building?
  • What changes need to be made to the foundation and landscaping?
  • Will the existing pitch and line of your roof work with the new addition?
  • Do the traffic flow, entrance and stairways work with the addition of more living space?

These types of questions may be above and beyond the expertise of your contractor. Talk to an architect to have questions of this sort handled from the very beginning.

Having detailed blueprints that address each of these vital elements will help to make the addition process faster and smoother. A triangle of open communication between yourself, the architect and your contractor make even the largest problems manageable, and the finished design is likely to be more suited to your lifestyle and tastes.

What Type of Virginia Additions May Not Require an Architect?

Several types of straightforward addition projects may be efficiently and expertly handled without the involvement of an architect. A garage addition can be built right from stock plans and connected to your home with minimal complications. Loft additions do require extensive roof work, but often leave the foundation, entrances and stairways virtually untouched, making the insight of an architect less valuable.

Gauge the experience of your Virginia contractor when considering the value of an architect. Perhaps they regularly work with a local architect or engineering firm and can glean direction and expertise without putting any pressure on the homeowner to hire one. Decide whether your contractor has the resources available to handle all aspects of the design phase and calculate the actual cost of having an architect work for you.

Do Architects Help With Mechanical Design?

Architect firms most often handle the structural designs, floor plans and layout of your new home. They can draw a rendering of the finished product and help you to achieve the desired vision. Architects also handle the task of blending existing architectural elements with new ones, including trim, siding and roof lines.

Your contractor handles all mechanical issues, such as the electrical, plumbing and HVAC work involved in home additions. Licensed plumbers and electricians know how to connect the new space with the current systems, maintaining peak efficiency and ensuring your entire home runs well.

Although architects are not required for all Virginia additions, they may enhance larger projects and add value to your home improvement project. Assess the cost and weigh the value before you decide to hire a local architect.