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It’s Remodeling Season. Vet Your Candidates Carefully

It’s Remodeling Season. Vet Your Candidates Carefully!

You’ve been dreaming of that new kitchen makeover, bathroom renovation, or addition for years, and now you’re ready to make it a reality. Selecting the right home remodeling company can be the difference between realizing your dream and ending up in a living nightmare. At first glance, all the candidates may look very similar and tell you what you want to hear. But what happens when you start asking the tough questions. The strong contenders won’t shy away, sweat under the spotlight, or try to redirect your attention to one of their talking points. They’ll welcome the scrutiny and answer your questions directly and thoroughly. Once properly vetted, only the strong will remain, the ones worthy of your vote and your hard earned investment dollars. Here are some key issues to raise as you evaluate the nominees.

What Kind of Track Record Do They Have?

How long have they been in business? What kind of references can they provide? Is it an extensive list where you can call and speak to whoever you want? Or do they just present a list of rather anonymous testimonials? “Steve in McLean, Mary in Alexandria… etc”. When you ask for references does it take days or weeks for them to get back to you? These are signs that they may have a hard time pleasing customers consistently or have something to hide.

Does their Rhetoric Pass Your Fact Check?

Don’t just take their word for it. Do your own investigating and independently verify their claims to be true. Reliable 3rd party sources, such as www.guildquality.com, the nation’s leader in customer satisfaction surveying for the building industry, provide hard data on how companies measure up, as well as reviews from previous clients. Consumer Checkbook is another vetting source. They provide not-for-profit ratings of local service companies. Angie’s List, Yelp and Google are also useful tools. Check them all. Some companies may have a few glowing reviews on one sight and a few scathing digs on another. Opinions vary, but listen for common themes. The reliable metric is a combination of quantity and quality.

Do They Have a Plan?

A renovation is a complex project that requires detailed preplanning and skillful execution. The more through and detailed the plan, the smoother the execution will go. That being said, unforeseen circumstances will occasionally arise. For the unprepared, a minor setback, such as a part damaged in shipping or a weather emergency, could create a bottleneck that delays the overall project. A reliable firm will have a comprehensive plan with built-in contingencies to stay on track.

Do they Have their House in Order?

Do the companies you are considering have a “bricks and mortar” office or showroom you can visit, or do they operate out of a truck with a website and 800-number. Be sure to get a copy of their business license and current certificate of insurance. What does their contract look like. Is it a professional document that is detailed yet easy for a layperson to understand, or is it a cryptic legalese that only a lawyer can decipher. Or worse, is it simplistic and vague. The home improvement industry has suffered many a black eye from shady contractors who disappear after a deposit has been given, or even worse, mid-project. If they do finish your project on time and on budget, what does their warranty cover. Remember, a warranty is only as good as the company providing it. If they go out of business, any warranty they’ve provided goes with them. Make sure the company’s foundation is as stable and secure as the one you’d have them pour for you.

Would You Trust Them to Hold Your Baby?

When you renovate your home, you are essentially inviting a stranger, or group of strangers into your house to tear it apart and put it back together again. Who are these people? How do you know you can trust them? A smart home owner will make sure everyone involved is properly trained, licensed, insured, drug tested and background checked. Taking these extra steps will result not only in peace of mind for the safety of your home and family, but also for the quality of the work being performed. If a problem should arise, those who go through the proper channels have recourse not available to those who gambled on a lower price, faster finish time, or some other carrot dangled to entice an easy victory.

When it comes to improving your home, vetting the candidates is a critical step. After all, once your vote has been cast, you’ll be living with the results for years to come. Choose carefully!

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

written by: Dory Clemens, Design Consultant – Foster Remodeling Solutions, Inc.


 

 

Fireplace Face-Lifts

There’s nothing like the ambiance and warmth of a fireplace on a cold winter night. A fireplace not only creates a cozy and romantic atmosphere, it is also a major architectural element. However, an outdated and unattractive fireplace surround can kill the mood and dampen any hopes of creating a stylish living space. Most Northern Virginia homeowners have either an old outdated 60’s style brick fireplace or an inexpensive builder grade gas insert and surround.

Fear not. There’s hope for the eyesore that is your current fireplace. A makeover can be easily accomplished. But, please remember, it is critical to understand the clearances required by law in relation to the fireplace opening. This is necessary in order to maintain the proper distance between the firebox and combustible materials. So, let Foster Remodeling Solutions help you get it right.

To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few ideas that will give your tired, old fireplace a beautiful new look!

This couple in Annandale, VA was looking for a completely updated look, consider taking the brick down and replacing it with stone.  There are many great textures and shapes in cultured stone.  Cultured stone is a man-made product that looks exactly like stone.  Installing this type of material looks great when it goes all the way to the ceiling, and will make the room feel bigger.  This look can be rustic, traditional or modern, depending on the product.  Cement panels can be used as well, and it can be mixed with glass or stones for a unique look.

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If your brick façade goes wall to wall like this families home in Vienna, VA, you can put a few feet of cabinetry on each side.  Not only will you get more storage space, you will visually change the look of the room with a new texture on the wall.  Accessories on shelves will give even more texture, and glass items will reflect light.  Taking this one step further, you can add tile to the face around the fire box.  If your brick goes to the ceiling, you can drywall right over it as long as you leave a fireproof surface 12” around the firebox.  Drywall from the mantle up will be a dramatic change as well.

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Remodeling a fireplace is a common request at Foster Remodeling Solutions.  Our designers can come to your home and help you work out a design that will work with your décor and style, within your budget.

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If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!


Top Master Bedroom Remodeling Trends

Home remodeling trends in Northern Virginia reflect the changing attitudes that homeowners have about their homes. For most people, the days of remodeling for show and status are over. Improvements designed to make the most out of every square inch of space have become the new norm. Homeowners are interested in custom remodeling solutions that address their specific needs for convenience, privacy and comfort, particularly when it comes to their master bedrooms. These top four master suite design elements are among the hottest renovations trending this year.

1. Flexible Living Space
Homeowners are increasingly viewing their master bedrooms as a home within a home. With the right renovation, a master suite not only provides a space where people can retreat to enjoy some privacy and relaxation, but a place where they can work and play as well. Whether working on the next great American novel, catching up on work from the office or just enjoying the latest movie, homeowners want a living space that can adapt to a variety of uses. Bedroom remodels that include partitioned walls, niches and built-ins like cabinetry, shelves and window seats offer solutions.

2. Walk-In Closets
Banishing clutter is a key design goal of any effective master bedroom remodel, and no feature accomplishes this better than his-and-hers walk-in closets. Moving dressing and grooming tasks out of the bedroom not only helps keep the room tidy, but opens up space for other purposes as well. Expansive master bedroom closets can also increase the market value of your home. According to a survey conducted by a national real estate company, walk-in closets are listed as the second most important feature that homebuyers look for when shopping for homes. Only central air-conditioning was higher on their list of must-have features.

3. Master Bath Luxury
For many Northern Virginia homeowners, no master suite renovation is complete without adding luxury bathroom amenities that give the hard-working room the ambience of a home health spa. Choices for pampering amenities have moved beyond rainshowers and whirlpool bathtubs. The hottest trends in custom remodeling for bathrooms include steam showers, soaking tubs and radiant flooring. Heated towel bars and large, airy walk-in showers are popular options as well.

4. Outdoor Access
Master bedroom remodels providing access to the outdoors are another hot trend. Homeowners want to enjoy the serenity of the natural world from the comfort and privacy of their master suite with an adjoining balcony or deck, a skylight that offers glimpses of the night sky or a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Outdoor spaces equipped with wet bars, fireplaces or even TVs and audio systems blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

Home Renovations: Taking Advantage of Your Basement Space

When you’re planning a Northern Virginia home remodeling project, the basement is always cause for thought. Often unfinished in older homes, the possibilities seem endless, from extra living space to recreational uses. While many basements in the area are enclosed, the walk-out entrance is often found on properties on a hill, adding even more options for how to use the space.

Efficiency
If you have family members moving in or college students who would love to move out but aren’t quite ready, create an efficiency unit. Putting in a kitchenette, a full bathroom, walk-in closets, a bedroom and a TV area would create a home away from home for someone who wants the privacy without the added responsibility and expenses of their own place. Their own entrance creates a feeling of privacy and independence.

Pool
The basement entrance is ideal to accompany a backyard pool. A downstairs bathroom remodel could convert a half bath to a full bathroom, providing a whirlpool or a sauna. Include a convenient place for guests to shower and change. As part of a bathroom remodeling project, an adjoining vanity or dressing room would be ideal. This eliminates guests — or even the kids — from tromping through the upper levels and getting the kitchen floors and hallways wet after a swim. Extending the basement entrance to a pool deck or patio makes a smooth transition from outdoors to indoors.

Fitness Center
The basement is an ideal place for a fitness center. It eliminates the inconvenience of going out to the gym. There are few excuses for missing a workout when all you need to do is change your clothes and walk downstairs. It also eliminates having to coordinate child care and transportation. Sturdy flooring, such as slate, decorative cement or carpeting, can support everything from stationary bikes to treadmills. Add in a media center to make the workout area more interesting. Because the fitness center is in the basement, there are few worries about the strength of the structure or the noise from exercise machines.

7 Pet-Friendly Home Remodeling Ideas

Family members come in different shapes and sizes. Some have more legs than others. When planning a home remodel, you might want to consider built-in features for your pets. Cats and dogs have a certain amount of possessiveness over their homes. They have their favorite spots to sun themselves during the daytime and their favorite places to sleep at night. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are about 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats in homes throughout the U.S. If some of them live at your house, you might want to make your home more pet-friendly while you’re planning a Northern Virginia home remodeling project for your family.

1. Fencing
If your dog likes to go outside, one of the most pet-friendly home additions you can make is a fence. Give your dog full access to the back yard or add a run that provides plenty of room to play and exercise.

2. Flooring
Hard and smooth flooring, like hardwoods and certain types of laminates, can be noisy and sometimes cause pets to slip and lose their traction or balance. Pets with nails and those who aren’t housebroken can be tough on hardwood floors. Carpet, vinyl and ceramic tile are easy to keep clean and are easy to walk on. Warm flooring is another popular feature for pets. Temperatures can range up into the mid-90s.

3. Older Animal Access
Older animals need some extra pampering. Ramps or moving platforms instead of steps can make things easier on aging joints, especially for larger dogs. A pet-sized tub in the laundry room with steps for easy access makes bath time easier for everyone.

4. Food and Water Sources
Set up a custom food and water station. Build it into your kitchen island or the laundry room. An endless fresh water fountain is one way to avoid the concern of dirty water dishes. Water-resistant flooring or a shelf covering for dog dishes is easy to clean and reduces spills and splashes.

5. Windows
Windows can provide hours of entertainment for your pets. A floor-level window with a place to roost can be the perfect place your cats or dogs to watch the birds and other activities outside while they’re safely inside. A sliding window with a screen offers a fresh breeze. Cats might also enjoy a high perch area with a view.

Cat Tunnels and Trees
Built-in tunnels and walkways are a treat for cats. Diagonal walks and cubbyholes both high and low help them to get their exercise and find a cozy place to snooze. Incorporate cat trees and litter-boxes-in-disguise into a design and build home remodeling project for your favorite felines.

Dog Houses
Create an indoor or outdoor place for your favorite canines that is all their own. Start with an indoor space complete with furniture that’s all right for them to sit or lay on without creating a fuss. Provide outdoor access that leads to an outside dog house that provides shade and comfort when they’ve had plenty of time to play.

If you want to incorporate some special features for the family pets in your Northern Virginia custom remodeling project, our Foster Remodeling design and build team can help you add some creature comforts to your house that will make everyone happy.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

A Closer Look at Flooring in Home Remodeling Projects

Flooring is sometimes an afterthought when you’re thinking about a home remodeling project. Space, fixtures, function and colors are usually the first things most homeowners want to change right off the bat, but floors play a prominent part in the look and feel of your home.

Hardwood Floors
Many of the homes in Northern Virginia were built with hardwood floors. Some of them are in wonderful shape and can be refinished as part of your home remodeling project. If they no longer fit your footprint, they can be repurposed if they are still in good condition. Hardwood floors are a strong and suitable option for nearly any room in the house. From wide planks to thin strips, they add sophistication and beauty to bedrooms, hallways, staircases, hobby spaces, and living and dining rooms. For new hardwood flooring, look for modern choices in very hard varieties like mahogany, cypress and teak. Oak, maple and ash are also durable and popular. Engineered wood floors are layered wood, rather than solid planks, but still wood nonetheless. Hardwood flooring is easy to clean, but can pick up divots and scratches under high traffic and vigorous activities. Hardwood flooring is available in a wide range of colors and coordinates well with almost any room decor.

Natural Stone
Natural stone surfaces are popular choices in Northern Virginia kitchen remodeling, bathroom renovations and home additions. They are featured not only in flooring, but for countertops, vanities and other purposes. Natural stone floors are durable and easy to maintain when they are sealed. The distinctive tones and patterns in travertine, granite, slate, marble and quartz add color and depth to any room. Natural stone flooring is especially fitting in the kitchen, hallways and bathrooms. If you’re looking for a sturdy flooring material for your outdoor spaces, sealed natural stone is a great place to start.

Carpeting
While soft and warm on the feet and comfortable to sit on, fewer homeowners are using wall-to-wall carpeting in home remodeling projects. It is hard to clean, tough on those with allergies and provides unique challenges for people with pets and small children. Area rugs are a popular choice for purpose-specific rooms and provide extra protection for floors in high traffic areas, especially entrances and playrooms.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
If you’re looking for a splash of color and distinctively sophisticated patterns, the answer may lie in ceramic tile or its subset of porcelain. While durability isn’t their strong-suit for high traffic areas, porcelain is the stronger of the two and works well in the bathroom, or hallway. Save ceramics for lightly traveled areas. They are both well-suited to mosaics and patterned designs, and are a popular choice in Northern Virginia bathroom remodeling projects.

If you’re interested in seeing what different flooring choices would look like in your home, visit our Foster Remodeling Solutions Design & Selection Center in Lorton. One of our professional designers can walk you through the process with our Design CAD drawings and help you choose flooring options that are suitable in looks, quality, durability and maintenance for your Northern Virginia residential remodeling project.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

Making An Entrance With Home Additions

Building an addition onto the front of your house can balance out other changes in a multi-faceted Northern Virginia home remodeling project. When changing the number of stories or extending the higher floors already in place, adding another dimension to the front is one way to increase square footage and have more space to call your own. An overhang or structure above the front door provides visual sophistication and protection from the weather. Add outdoor lighting along the walkway and the entrance to make your guests feel safe with a warm welcome.

Porches and Porticos
One way to make your house grander is to add an entrance to your front door. Rather than a simple doorstep and a flat front, creating another dimension to your home with a distinctive front walk that ends in a porch or portico – or both — makes a statement. Add furniture to the porch for a cool respite from the hot Northern Virginia sun and perhaps an outdoor ceiling fan for those muggy summer days when you don’t want to be cooped up inside. A wide entryway should blend in well with the front of a two-story or three-story Colonial-style home. A covered front walk over a split-level or split-foyer house is another option.

Welcome Area
Consider features like columns or a veranda along the entryway that turn a flat front door into a grand entrance that lets your guests know that they have arrived. It can give texture and character to the house where matching and coordinating colors and trim are used. The angles of the new roof can mimic the rest of the home’s roof pitch to make it fit in while standing out.

Making Connections
For a ranch-style home where you’re putting a home addition on the back, a wrap-around porch that connects the new addition and opens up near the front door is another way to add depth and grandeur to your home.

Changing your entrance and building a home additions Arlington VA should take into account the shape of your property and the current structure of your house. To learn more about the possibilities for making your home larger and more welcoming to your visitors and guests, contact our office at 703-550-1371.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

Incorporating Natural Lighting Into Home Additions

When planning a residential remodeling project for a Northern Virginia house, some homeowners are interested in adding as much natural light to their homes as possible. There are several ways to do this. From large sliding glass doors to bay window seating to skylights and sunrooms, the addition of natural light can brighten up a room and lessen the need for light fixtures. Also, many modern LED lighting fixtures don’t emit the warmth that incandescent light bulbs have to offer. Natural lighting can add some warmth to a room, and the type of windows and window treatments used will affect just how much.

Skylights
For rooms that have no exterior walls, skylights offer a natural lighting alternative. They also provide added value to your property. Skylights can be installed in nearly any existing room in the home or incorporated into a Northern Virginia home addition project.

Sunrooms
One of the most popular options for adding windows and natural lighting is through a sunroom, or Florida room. If you’re adding extra square footage and you want to feature a scenic area on your property or off in the distance, a sunroom is an excellent choice for a Northern Virginia home addition. This also creates the perfect place for hanging plants and greenery.

Bay Windows
Bay or bow windows add more light than standard windows. They also add extra space and make rooms feel bigger. Incorporate a bay window into your kitchen remodeling project or in a master bedroom addition. Incorporate cushioned seating and extra storage space into the area below a bay window for a cozy place to curl up or add a table in front for a pleasant view from your breakfast nook.

Glass Walls
Some windows can take up an entire wall. This is a great way to appreciate a beautiful view on a lakefront home, a wooded lot or the rolling foothills of the Shenandoah mountains off in the distance. Sliding glass doors leading onto the porch from the living room or dining room are another option.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

Whole Home Remodeling Meets the Changing Family Dynamic

For many Alexandria homeowners, making changes in the house is necessary to meet the needs of the changing family dynamic. For those whose older parents are joining the household, a home remodeling project means more than just converting a nursery into a comfortable bedroom. Instead, the trend is to make several changes to the existing structure and create an in-law addition as well. This allows the family to use the existing space more efficiently while building a safe, close and comfortable place for parents. At the same time, families with young children need room for them to grow. Oftentimes, they will buy a home with the intention of building out the attic or the basement into individual bedrooms when the kids are older. All of these needs of the changing family dynamic can be met through a carefully planned design build remodeling project for the Alexandria home.

Remodeling Versus Moving
There are a number of reasons why homeowners prefer to remodel instead of buying a larger home. One important point is availability. According to Trulia.com, the number of listings on the Alexandria residential housing market has steadily decreased over the past year. The options are simply not there. Rather than relocating and trying to find a larger home that meets the family’s needs, it is more practical to stay in the same neighborhood and make some changes. This is a critical reason for families who love where they live, but just feel a bit cramped with the addition of new members into the household or demand for more space as the children get older. For those new to the area, it may make more sense to buy an Alexandria home that comes close to their preferences and make necessary changes to it before moving in, rather than holding out for something that may never materialize. Changes to flooring, ceilings, lighting, wall structure and appliances can be made to suit the household, customized to the family’s needs and wants.

Home Additions
Adding an in-law suite offers parents of adult children privacy and comfort without compromising their need for independence. They can design a bedroom, living room, kitchen, bath and storage space to meet their individual needs. Mobility features can be designed into the plans for comfort and safety. For Alexandria properties that have space on either side of the present structure, home additions on the opposite side of the house from in-law suites can accommodate garages, additional bedrooms, home offices and entertaining areas. When building on to the rear, second and third stories over the existing structure can offer much-needed bedroom, bathroom and living space. Decks and hardscapes are also options.

When combining all of these projects into one, the structure and style of the home is protected. The grandchildren can have improved space, like their own bedrooms, without feeling neglected or compromised. The seniors can have their independence and privacy without overly concerning their adult children. The parents can have peace of mind.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

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