How to Help Deck Builders Deliver an Accurate Estimate

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Building a deck adds living space and provides your family with the perfect area to relax and play outdoors. Deck builders have an important role in this process and homeowners need to start with an accurate price when designing and budgeting for a new deck.

These tips will help you to prepare the information and make decisions that allow your contractor to price the job well.

Tip # 1 – Think About All of the Possibilities

Spend a decent amount of time dreaming about your deck and the space around it. Many homeowners look at the other decks in the neighborhood and ask for something “just like they have,” without really thinking about their own habits and lifestyle. Your family deserves a custom deck design that suits your property.

Browse the web and look through home and garden magazines to gather ideas. Bring those ideas to experienced Virginia deck builders and find out whether or not the designs will work in your yard and within your budget. Imagine, dream and consider all of the possible deck designs before settling on the ideal layout.

Tip # 2 – Measure Twice

Check the measurements of your house in two different ways.

Find out the actual “lay of the land” by measuring the existing space along your exterior walls. Account for vents, window wells and any other architectural elements that must be avoided or built around when installing a deck. Mark down these measurements and check them against those gathered by the estimator or contractor.

Then, measure and mark out your property lines. In some cases the local building authorities have a setback in place, meaning your deck cannot encroach or approach existing property lines. Use these measurements to consider privacy and access issues. Will your dream deck be in plain view from the neighbor’s yard? Will it provide a vulnerable point of access for thieves? Sometimes deck builders can provide an estimate for a privacy fence, which helps to create a more private atmosphere and enhances security.

Tip # 3 – Choose a Building Material

Homeowners have several options for deck materials, including:

  • standard treated wood
  • cedar wood
  • specialty wood, like exotic hardwoods
  • composite wood
  • vinyl decking

Do some research beforehand to narrow down your preferences. Your deck contractor can give you comparison prices for treated wood versus composite, or any combination of the above materials. But your deck material selection may influence the design.

Consider the railing design as well. Picket railings work well on wood decks, while tempered glass and aluminum picket styles match low maintenance materials like composite and vinyl. Benches and flower pots can also be used for railings.

Although your deck installer can help the decision making process with advice and direction, it helps to be familiar with your choices ahead of time. An accurate deck estimate requires all of the details.

Deck builders offer their design and construction expertise and help homeowners to create the ideal outdoor living space. But in order to deliver an accurate estimate, they need some help from you. Dream big, measure twice and decide on your preferred building material. Your new deck is right around the corner.

Tips on Choosing Mirrors for Your Virginia Bathroom Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Bathroom    by: Steve Kayhill

Small details make a big impression, and more so in well used areas of your home. Using the right mirrors can make or break a bathroom design, creating an open feeling and enhancing the light fixtures. Find out how to decipher your style and discover the best mirrors for your Virginia bathroom remodeling project.

The Ideal Placement

Mirrors span the wall above the vanity, but are not limited to that area. Think about how the natural light pours into this room and consider hanging mirrors across from that space to spread sunlight around. Even a row of small framed mirrors will help to reflect natural light into the balance of this room.

Pay attention to privacy as well. Adding a large mirror could make more of the room visible from the exterior, unless you install frosted privacy glass or adequate window coverings. Be sure that mirrors do not encroach on privacy.

Remember to keep mirrors off of the door for safety. Mount them securely onto the wall with brackets and clips designed for this function. Mirrors are much heavier than artwork, so avoid using a simple picture hook or mount and opt instead for something substantial attached to wall studs.

Light fixtures and storage systems can be mounted onto or through mirrors, creating a built in look. Provide your electrician or contractor with this design up front to ensure that all boxes and mounts are properly installed to suit this attractive design.

The Ideal Size

This depends entirely on your bathroom design. Virginia bathroom remodeling projects that aim for a traditional look often have dual sinks. This set up calls for dual mirrors, large enough to crown each sink, yet not overpowering. More contemporary bathroom designs lean toward larger mirrors that span from corner to corner, transforming an entire wall into a reflective surface. The trick is to find the size that brings balance to your design.

Pay attention to the function of your bathroom as well. Bathrooms that double as dressing rooms should be fitted with taller mirrors and wall-mounted shaving mirrors, while utility bathrooms or main floor powder rooms can get away with minimal mirrors.

The Ideal Shape

Personal taste often dictates the ideal shape. Mirrors come in a myriad of shapes, from the standard square or rectangle to curves, ovals, circles, geometric shapes and free-form mirrors. Designers can combine mirrors of different shapes to create a pattern or accent an architectural feature, ending up with a custom shape that adds beauty and style to your bathroom.

Function plays a role here as well. For mirrors above the vanity sink, you need to choose a shape that offers an adequate view. Installing a long, thin mirror or wavy mirror strips may add to the design, but will present an impractical surface for basic function. Shaving or make-up mirrors are often circular or framed to provide a safe edge for pulling in and out of the wall mount. And winged mirrors boast a larger middle section, with curved side mirrors to provide the wing shape.

Choosing the right mirror for your Virginia bathroom remodeling project may seem like an insignificant detail, but this small element makes a big difference. Find the mirror (or mirrors) that suit your tastes and the function, mount those mirrors in the ideal location and the entire room will be transformed into a bright, stylish space.

Top Five FAQs When Planning Virginia Additions

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

Homeowners have all sorts of questions when planning Virginia additions, from scheduling to costs, design to finishing and dealing with the local building department. These important questions must be discussed during the planning stages in order to ensure a smoother project.

photo credit flickr/Orbital Joe

Check out these top five FAQs and get your home addition questions answered.

# 1 – How Long Does It Take to Build a Home Addition?

This can be difficult to answer, as each project presents unique challenges. Size and location of the addition matter, as a second-storey addition may be completed quicker than a main floor addition that requires an expansion of the foundation or extensive excavation.

In general, a single storey addition measuring around 300 to 320 square feet will take around six weeks to build. Weather conditions affect this schedule, but most Virginia additions of this size require about three weeks of work on the exterior and three weeks of work on the interior portions.

# 2 – Are Estimate Costs Fixed?

The very nature of an estimate allows for costs to change as the project changes. Your Virginia contractor will give you an outline of the project, including details such as size, construction specs, finishing choices and product codes. If these details change over the course of your home improvement, costs may change as a result.

On the other hand, good contractors will stick as closely as possible to the estimate. They will discuss any and all changes before going ahead, which allows you to maintain control of the budget.

# 3 – Will Our Home Addition Fit Into the Balance of Our House?

Good design ensures that a home addition fits seamlessly into your existing floor plan. Take the time to discuss important aspects of your home with the contractor, including traffic patterns, cleaning patterns and how much time your family spends in each room. An architect or contractor takes all of these things into account and designs an addition that suits your lifestyle, as well as the house.

# 4 – Who Takes Care of the Building Permit?

All Virginia home additions require a building permit, but do not be intimidated by the thought. Your contractor should take care of most aspects, ensuring your permit application goes smoothly through the municipal and state systems.

There may be zoning issues to deal with, as well as legal or architectural aspects that involve neighborhood associations, historical societies or other organizations. Homeowners can deal with these people directly or authorize their contractor to handle interactions, but it helps to stay involved and keep on top of things.

# 5 – Does Our Family Need to Move Out During the Construction Phase?

This can also be difficult to answer, since every project and every family have different needs. Depending on the projected length of construction, location of the addition and seasonal weather patterns, you may feel more comfortable relocating for a short period of time. However, many times your family can live happily and safely in the home during construction.

Always be prepared to listen to instructions from the contractor and allow the experts to do their job. They will work hard to provide a safe home for your family. Talk to your insurance company about living arrangements during a home addition; you may find out that you’re covered for alternative housing during this project.

Virginia additions are involved and extensive, and many questions go through your head during the planning phases. Talk to your contractor and have all of your questions and concerns addressed before work starts to ensure your home addition runs smoothly and ends in complete satisfaction.