Tips on Working Through the Design Stage With Your Deck Builder

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Building a deck requires many different steps, from dreaming and planning, through to design and installation. Your deck builder brings their expertise and experience to the table in the design stage, and the partnership between homeowner and contractor is what separates the amazing backyard living space from your average deck. Find out how to work through this vital step to transform your outdoor area into a comfortable, valuable space.

Communication Is Key

Besides looking at their credentials and examining their craftsmanship, homeowners need to rate potential deck builders on their communication skills. Your contractor needs to understand your vision for the project, and be able to translate that dream into a workable design that suits your house and property.

Good communication skills are a must.

Plan to have several meetings or conversations with your contractor before the final design is hammered out. Some of these interactions can be done via email, with electronic designs and documents passing between homeowner and contractor with mark ups and comments. But at least one or two of the meetings must be onsite, in order to properly address concerns about grading, exposure and access.

Respect Experience

Most homeowners have little experience in deck building or outdoor construction. Remember to acknowledge and respect the experience your Northern Virginia deck builder brings to the table.

An expert contractor can listen to the initial description of your dream deck with an open mind. They will take that vision and apply it to the realities of your property. Several factors affect the design and construction aspects, yet have little to do with the overall appearance of your deck. Experienced contractors will take care of those aspects for you, but if alterations to the design are required, the homeowner needs to trust that expertise.

Some common examples include:

  • Railings – depending on the grade of your yard, railings may or may not be required, despite your initial vision
  • Stairs – again, depending on your grade, the number and placement of deck stairs may have to be altered in order to create a safe, comfortable deck
  • Posts and Framing – this changes based on the contractor’s preferred style of framing and the local building codes. The contractor should let you know the location of posts (this is especially important in a walkout deck) and style of framing. Odd sizes and shapes affect the framing design, which might alter your view from certain angles.
  • Skirting – this feature encloses the underside of your deck to keep out critters and create a tidier appearance, but when your deck is more than 24-inches off of the ground, skirting costs sky-rocket. Depending on the grading and location of the skirting, this design feature might need to be altered.

Northern Virginia homeowners need to hire an experienced deck builder with excellent communication skills. Expect to have several meetings and discussions about the design and respect the contractor’s expertise with structural elements. When all parties work together to create a quality built outdoor living space, the final result is something everyone can be proud of.

Top Five Budget Tips for Virginia Bathroom Remodeling Projects

Filed Under: Bathroom    by: Steve Kayhill

Budgeting is the very first step in your Virginia bathroom remodeling project, and helps to direct the décor theme and scope of the renovation. These budget tips offer simple advice that pertains to any type of bathroom project. So whether you’re creating a powder room on the main floor, re-doing the master bath or ripping out the family bathroom for a complete overhaul, these budget tips help you to start off well.

Tip # 1 – Know What You Can Afford

Decide on a basic price range. This amount should include any savings you might have earmarked for this bathroom renovation, as well as any credit currently available. Consider all of your options, but try not to spread yourself too thin. An impressive bathroom remodel can be done with limited funds, and you don’t necessarily want to sacrifice on other areas of your lifestyle just to pay for a stylish update.

Tip # 2 – Make a List of Priorities

Keeping the entire household in mind and considering the next five to ten years, what are your priorities for the bathroom? Do you need more space or are you dreaming of a style makeover? Does the tub need to be replaced or would you prefer to add a window or skylight?

Consider how you use the space and what kind of changes could improve efficiency, atmosphere and function. Aesthetics come last; once you have decided on your priorities for the space, making it look good is easy.

Tip # 3 – Shop Around In Person and Online

You can find plumbing retailers in major cities and across the Internet. Shopping both sources for sales and clearance items makes the most sense, as it more than doubles your chances of snagging a good deal.

If your Virginia bathroom remodeling contractor is purchasing the fixtures and furniture, you’ll likely pay an up-charge for the middleman’s administration. Talk to your contractor about sourcing the items directly. It may be more work for you, but the substantial cost savings add up.

Tip # 4 – Be Realistic About DIY

Many homeowners assume that DIY options will help them shave down the bathroom renovation budget, but the reality can end up very different. When you need to hire a contractor to fix DIY mistakes or repair the damage resulting from shoddy work, all of those savings go out the window.
Be honest with yourself about DIY and do not make assumptions for the sake of your budget. If you cannot complete the work up to professional standards, it’s wise to recognize the value of hiring a real pro.

Tip # 5 – Write It All Down

The easiest way to blow your bathroom renovation budget is by spending without keeping an accurate record. Keep a notebook or computer document that contains all of the original budgeted information. Use this to remind you of the limitations set in place when shopping or making decisions with your contractor.

Many budgeting apps work on your mobile device and keep all of this vital information close at hand. Input your actual spending or ask for detailed billing from the contractor to compare once the project is complete.

Although the finished product plays the most important role in a Virginia bathroom remodeling project, budgeting helps to start the renovation off well and keeps costs in line for the duration. Take the time to budget and your home improvement project will turn out well.

How to Design Functional Garages with Northern Virginia Additions

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

attribution - flickr/jayeb333

A single-family dwelling holds its value in the marketplace and provides a comfortable home for your family. But your property will be more functional and valuable with a garage, and well-designed Northern Virginia additions help you to create this important space. Check out these design and construction tips to ensure your garage addition works well for your family.

The Mechanics of a Garage

Garages play a unique role on any property, and must be designed to suit that role. A professional home addition contractor handles all special considerations and safety factors must be handled in the design stage.

Certain building materials must be used in the construction process, mainly due to the items typically stored in a garage, including vehicles and lawn equipment. Self-closing doors and a gas-tight wall and ceiling help to contain odors and dangerous gases, such as carbon monoxide. Insulation also helps to keep the balance of your home warm and quiet.

Many garage Northern Virginia additions are built on a concrete slab, which provides a stable and functional surface. Be sure the slab slopes away from your house for drainage purposes, and grade around the garage addition to help maintain that concrete over the long-term.

Questions to Ask During the Planning Stage

Unlike a standard home addition that includes living space, garage additions can be designed to different standards. The size and use of this space determines whether to include heat, and dictates the location of lighting and electrical outlets. Talk to your contractor and answer the following questions to get a better grip on optimum design:

  • Do you want a Detached or Attached Garage? – One of the most important questions, this depends on your preferences and the available land on your property. Find out about local bylaws regarding setbacks and driveway access before deciding one way or the other.
  • What Size of Garage would you like? – Property limitations may have an effect on the size, but the choice between single garage, double garage or car-and-a-half should be addressed from the beginning. Think about height as well, and account for higher garage ceilings and doors if larger trucks and recreational equipment will be stored in this space.
  • What will you Store in the Garage? – Many homes include a workshop in the garage, complete with tool storage, while others use this space for overflow storage of household items, sporting equipment and gardening tools. Think about what you will keep in the garage and include storage solutions that work. Cabinets, workbenches, overhead shelving and other options will keep this area neat and tidy long after the home addition contractor finishes up.

Once you have answered these questions, you’ll need to decide on the exterior finish and roofing. Match the existing materials or choose a complementary style—neutral vinyl siding matches most types of exterior finish. On attached garage additions, roofing must blend into the existing structure. In some cases a large-scale roof replacement is required.

Designing functional garages with Northern Virginia additions takes careful consideration. Plan well and hire an experienced contractor to be sure this addition adds value to your property. Your family will enjoy the convenience of a new garage, and appreciate the benefits on a daily basis.

Architectural Details for Basement Remodeling Northern Virginia Homeowners

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Many Northern Virginia residents use architectural details to provide an upscale design in their finished basement. But many others miss the opportunity to create drama and add personal touches with various architectural elements. For basement remodeling Northern Virginia homeowners will truly value, be sure to include these elements.

Crown Molding and Ceiling Details

Basements often have lower ceilings, and your basement renovation may require drop ceilings. Add crown moldings to any ceiling design for extra depth and character. This reverse trim—the thicker portion rests against the ceiling, with a thinner profile below—creates the look of a higher ceiling by drawing the eye up.

Molding can also be used to accentuate certain parts of the ceiling, or create a decorative feature. Are you including an accent wall or art niche? Use crown molding to dress up the area, along with other trim to frame special wall space. Other ceiling details include medallions, paint effects and decorative shapes.

Beadboard and Paneling

Wood paneling has long been a mainstay in finished basements, but modern paneling provides so much more. Consider using beadboard on walls and ceilings to create a beach theme or cover the bottom of your walls in paneling for an attractive, low maintenance finish.

Paneling can also be used to create texture on expansive walls, or draw visual lines between different spaces. Many basement remodeling Northern Virginia projects include open rooms designed for a variety of functions. Set one area apart with painted out paneling or beadboard, such as a craft corner or reading nook in a larger games room. This type of detail makes your basement living space look coordinated and well designed, adding greater value to your home.


Almost every room in your home includes baseboards, and many homeowners miss the importance of this particular detail. Skimping on baseboards or installing standard styles may save you a few bucks on the basement renovation budget, but larger, more substantial baseboards will truly set off your downstairs living space.

Look at the baseboard offerings at your local building materials supply store. Many offer double and triple profiles, transforming this simple detail into something dramatic. Think about the color as well—white baseboards work well with many different paint colors and finishes, while stained wood trim and baseboard add a sense of style when paired with light, neutral walls. Remember to be consistent across all trim, including those on the doors and windows.

Baseboards also help to cover gaps necessary for engineered wood flooring applications. Use baseboards along the stairs to connect your finished basement with the upper floors, and carry the same or similar trim through the balance of your home for continuity.

Architectural details create the ideal levels of comfort and design for basement remodeling Northern Virginia homeowners love to live in. Be sure to include crown molding, paneling and/or beadboard and unique baseboards in your finished basement. These small touches make a big impression for your family and increase the value of your property in the long run.