Top Four Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Challenges to Conquer

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Wise investors gaze into the future and assess bumps and bends in the road. Your home improvement investment should be no different, and understanding the top four Northern Virginia basement remodeling challenges allows you to prepare for reality and navigate the renovation process well.

Get ready to tackle this home reno and come out with a fabulous, comfortable and valuable basement living space.

Challenge # 1 – Lighting

The proper lighting ensures your below grade living space is welcoming and functional. But the structural design of a basement often limits the location of your preferred light fixtures and may dictate the size and type of fixture.

Recessed lighting provides good coverage without eating up valuable space at the ceiling. Wall sconces reflect light up a smooth wall and into the room, and many fixtures appear almost flush to the wall, making them ideal for hallways and stairways.

New and larger windows help to enhance natural light in this area. Talk to your Virginia basement renovation contractor about the possibility of adding windows or enlarging the existing window frames.

Choose bulbs and fixtures that deliver excellent coverage with minimal fuss. This is not the place for a showpiece or chandelier. Focus on durable, low profile lighting fitted with long lasting bulbs. Add a floor lamp or table lamp for visual interest and pizzazz, if you feel the space needs it.

Challenge # 2 – Air Quality

Moisture and mold cause serious problems in the basement and lower the air quality in your entire home, which in turn affects the health of your family. Take care of any moisture issues before the Northern Virginia basement remodeling project starts.

Have your home assessed for mold and inspect the property both inside and out for moisture problems. Repairs and waterproofing solutions may push the cost of your home improvement project higher, but you do not want to deal with water damage in your brand new basement living space. Be proactive and take care of moisture problems beforehand.

Ventilation is another important issue in your basement remodel. Talk to a heating and cooling expert about how to ensure adequate air flow throughout each season. Both your heating and cooling systems should include the basement, although some people opt for alternative heating solutions such as a gas fireplace or wood stove to keep the basement cozy in winter. Consider all of the possibilities and assess how each one affects the overall air quality in your space.

Challenge # 3 – Energy Efficiency

Adding living space in the basement will increase your electrical and utility bills, mainly due to the additional lighting, outlets, and area. But you can ensure these costs are limited and create a more energy efficient home by taking some things into consideration during the planning stages.

Insulate the basement against heat loss. Ask your contractor about the different types of insulation available, and consider the structural elements of your space when deciding which to use. Blow-in products make sense for attic spaces, but may be a messy solution for the basement. Some pre-manufactured basement panels include insulation that reaches the required R-value for residential living spaces. Find out about all of your options and choose the type that provides optimum efficiency and reliability. It will provide a better payback than the option with the lowest initial price tag.

Challenge # 4 – Security

Your basement renovation design may add another entrance point into your home. Installing expensive entertainment systems and computer equipment in the basement also presents a temptation for burglars. Ensure your home remains secure by investing in good quality window treatments to keep your valuables out of casual viewing.

Install commercial grade locks on any patio doors or entrance doors and consider putting wood blocks in the windows for added security. Treat your basement as a part of your home and take the necessary precautions to maintain security.

Prepare to deal with many challenges while planning your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project. Cover all the details and depend on the expert advice of your Virginia contractor to ensure your new living space turns out well.

Top Four Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Northern Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Investing in your outdoor living space provides an area for relaxation and seasonal fun. If you want to make sure that your Northern Virginia deck is designed properly and built with longevity in mind, avoid these top four common mistakes and create a true backyard paradise.

Do Think Long Term

Design your deck to meet current needs, including size, shape and desired maintenance levels, but remember to consider the future. You may want to incorporate a children’s play area with a sandbox, swing or other play equipment. Or perhaps you dream of a hot tub or outdoor kitchen. Think about how well these features will age and whether or not you’ll be using them in a few years time.

Consider the balance of your yard as well. Do you plan to install a swimming pool in the future, expand your gardens or build a patio? How does the deck design fit into these plans, and how can your Virginia deck builder ensure that your long term goals are accounted for, without sacrificing the comfort of today.

Do Not Over Design

Deck features add style, beauty and function, but including too many to your Northern Virginia deck results in chaos and busyness in an area designated for relaxation. Think about what you hope to do on the deck (suntan, eat, read, nap, etc.) and focus on features that complement those activities.

Remember to consider other members of your family. Although you may never use it, a hammock hanging in one corner may be appreciated.

Certain features add value to any deck, including:

  • lighting
  • shade structures
  • built in seating

But be careful not to over design the space. Find a balance that accounts for the size and shape of your new deck.

Do Expect Disruption

Deck construction is a messy job. From digging post holes to hammering nails and cutting stair stringers, your deck builder will tackle plenty of tasks that create noise, mess and disruption. That’s not to say that your home will be turned upside down during the construction phase, but you must have realistic expectations about the process.

Deck piers require heavy equipment, which is often driven over your grass and gardens. Avoid laying fresh sod or planting new material until the deck crew finishes your project. You’ll also need to provide a space for lumber storage; conscientious contractors often tarp an area of the lawn or driveway for this purpose. Be prepared to share your space with workers and materials during the course of construction.

Do Not Forget to Contact the Local Building Department

Your local Virginia state building department offers guidance on building codes and requirements involved in residential construction. Consult with them before and during the deck design phase and take their valuable direction into consideration.

Contractors know the code and should build a deck to suit it, but wise homeowners familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of building codes in order to make better design decisions.

Avoid these four mistakes and build your Northern Virginia deck with confidence. The project will add value to your property and plenty of space to enjoy the warm season.

Top Four Apps to Help With Your Virginia Bathroom Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Bathroom    by: Steve Kayhill

Tackling a Virginia bathroom remodeling project can be hard work. You have countless decisions ahead of you, along with several to-do lists, receipts to pay and schedules to coordinate. Whether you’re embarking on the DIY route or hiring a Virginia contractor to handle the work bathroom remodeling requires dedication.

These top four smart phone and tablet apps are designed to make the job easier, and include essential tips, tricks and tools for all things involved in a bathroom renovation.

Evernote — For Overall Project Organization

Used by people around the world, this handy, free app provides access from almost any device (smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop) and syncs automatically. Use it to make notes about the project, keep track of your budget and even organize clippings from your favorite web pages.

Evernote allows you to share notes, making communication between homeowner and contractor a breeze. Store copies of emails, receipts, bill of ladings and any other paperwork in digital format for quick reference. This app does it all and comes with a seamless, easy to follow interface. It’s the mother of all organization apps and can be used for everything from bathroom remodeling projects to trip planning and taxes.

Houzz — For Design Ideas and Decorating offers a plethora of design ideas for any style and budget. With high res images and stats from manufacturers and designers, this one-stop quick link to the popular website is indispensable during the design stage.

Browse the free app in your spare time and create an “ideabook” specifically targeted on your Virginia bathroom remodeling project. This virtual scrapbook allows you to store images of plumbing fixtures, flooring, vanities, room layouts, window treatments and paint colors that suit your tastes.

Having the Houzz app on your smart phone or tablet allows you to bring those images along while shopping, making sure you get exactly what you want every time.

Wunderlist — For Keeping Track of Your Lists

You may not be a natural list-taker, but renovation projects bring out the maniacal lister in all of us. Use Wunderlist to keep all of these handy reminders in one place, and revel in the cross-platform design and instant syncing across multiple devices.

Wunderlists allows you to create countless lists, crossing off each item as it’s done and rearranging things as priorities change. Print off the list to tack on your fridge or keep the app open on your desktop for fast access. Share your Wunderlist files with anyone, including the contractor, supplier and all others who need to be kept accountable during the renovation project.

Home Design 3D — For Creating the Ideal Room Layout

You’ll find a selection of home design apps suitable for your device, and many of them are free. Home Design 3D comes with a small price tag, but this app allows for eye-catching 3D viewing that surpasses the competition.

Design your new bathroom layout, including fixtures and furniture, and then view. This feature makes it simple to experiment with different layouts, and allows you to share the overall vision with your contractor once the final design has been hammered out.

Use your smart phone and tablet, along with these four essential apps to enjoy a smoother Virginia bathroom remodeling project. Organization, accountability, design ideas and layout are simple with the help of technology and the creative minds behind these apps.

Tips on Building Sustainable Home Additions Virginia Families Love

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

Wise homeowners plan out major home improvement projects, looking to enhance their home and increase property value without breaking the budget. But many consumers want to include healthy, environmentally friendly materials and construction methods, creating sustainable home additions Virginia families love today and for tomorrow. Consider these tips and aim for a well thought out, green home addition.

Consider Your Needs First

Many factors come into play during the planning stages of Virginia home additions. You’ll dream big and bring plenty of ideas to the table, allowing your architect and contractor to come up with the ideal design. In order to achieve your vision of a sustainable home addition, focus on your needs.

This includes the needs for today (more space, additional storage, an upgraded kitchen or bathroom, etc.), as well as forecasted needs for the future.

Talk it over with your family members and consider various scenarios to get a better feel for the needs of your entire family. Avoid investing in unnecessary details and focus your dollars on the home addition your family truly requires.

Hire the Right Contractor

Look long and hard for the ideal contractor, ensuring you choose a reputable experienced company you can trust. But remember to ask about green building ideas, methods and designs during the contractor interview stage.

Do some research first to familiarize yourself with industry terminology and environmental movements spreading across the eastern states. Plan to talk to each contractor about what a sustainable home addition means and what steps will help you to achieve that goal.

Make your final hiring decision based on several factors (trust level, experience and expertise, warranties, price, etc.) and be sure to include the contractor’s knowledge and comfort level with green building materials and practices.

Focus on Both Sustainable Design and Building Materials

A sustainable design includes efficiencies and takes advantage of passive design strategies to lessen the environmental impact. That may mean designing a low, bungalow-style home in hotter areas of the country or including larger windows for natural light and heat in other parts of America.

Much of these decisions are laid out in the opening stages of your project, creating home additions Virginia families can look forward to living in.

Using sustainable building materials allows you to take that design one step further. Flooring choices like bamboo and cork come from renewable resources. Opt for flooring products with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to improve air quality and overall health. Aim for paint products with low VOCs, or better yet no VOCs.

Include adequate insulation to reduce strain on your heating and cooling systems, and install energy efficient windows and doors. Any new appliances should be Energy Star rated, as well, to help control electricity costs and create a more sustainable household.

By considering your family’s needs, hiring the right contractor, focusing on sustainable design and using green building materials, you can create sustainable home additions Virginia families love to live in today and far into the future.