Home Improvements: When Going the Extra Mile Makes Cents

Spring – ’tis the season for cleaning and sprucing things up before the hot days of summer arrive. This year, you’ve decided to go for it. In addition to spring cleaning, you’re going to tackle some of those home improvements you’ve been meaning to do. That’s good; all houses need some serious sprucing up after awhile. But before you start tearing things up, take some tips from a couple of experts and make sure that the improvements you’re planning to make will be an asset to your house’s value.

The Usual Updates: There are things around a house that need to be updated on a regular basis. Some, like carpets, need to be replaced because they wear out. Others, like bathrooms and kitchens, need it because they become outdated and unappealing. According to the experts, a fresh coat of paint, kitchen and bathroom updates, and energy-efficient windows are improvements that will add value to your house. But when you’re making those updates – especially to the kitchen and bathroom – be sure to keep them in line with the rest of the house. Really fancy bathrooms or kitchens that make the rest of the house feel like a hovel, can be more of a liability than a boost.

Repurposing Space: As life changes, so do things people want in a house. Opening up a house’s interior by creating an open floor plan for the living area, dining area, and the kitchen is a nice touch by today’s entertainment standards. Converting an unused space into a home office makes it easier to work from home. And remodeling an attic or a basement helps satisfy a desire for more living space. Meeting some of these wants can definitely add value to your house; just be sure your “new” rooms don’t become too specialized. The more flexible they are, the better.

Building Additional Space: When people talk about adding onto a house, they’re often talking about adding on an extra room or adding a second story. That can be a good idea if doing so won’t make your house the oddball of the neighborhood – something that can cause problems should you ever decide to sell it. If adding an addition will do that, a better option might be to add a sunroom or an outside deck instead. Both will give you some extra “living space” while keeping the house more in line with your neighbors’.

If you need help with your home improvement plans, contact us. Helping you make your home the best it can be is part of our job.

Why you need a licensed contractor for your remodel

Your decision to renovate your house has come after some serious thought. You have decided which parts of your house are getting the overhaul, what look you are going for, and even your timetable for completion. Now it comes down to hiring your contractor. We know that the budget is a factor for you.

It might be tempting to go for the cheapest estimate that comes through the door. There are many companies out there that might try to lure you in with low prices, but there are reasons why you need to make sure you put your investment into the hands of a licensed contractor.

1. No chance of financial harm

If you employ the services of an unlicensed contractor who does not have worker’s compensation, you could be held liable should they injure themselves on your property. You might not realize this, but your homeowner’s insurance probably won’t cover the claim leaving you stuck with exorbitant medical bills. A licensed contractor comes in with worker’s compensation already in place.

2. Don’t worry about paperwork

Only contractors with a license and homeowners are able to get a building permit in California. If you get the permit as a general contractor, you take on all of the legal liability and your contractor becomes your “employee.” In this situation you become responsible for state and federal tax withholdings, planning, and scheduling of inspections. A licensed contractor is able to handle all of this for you.

3. Protect yourself from job abandonment

The reason that unlicensed contractors are able to give you such a low estimate is because they often do not plan to finish the job. A licensed contractor is held to a standard in order to keep their license. The Contractors State Licensing Board can help you if your job is abandoned or not satisfactory. You don’t get that piece of mind with an unlicensed contractor.

When you consider the real cost of going with somebody who doesn’t have the experience or expertise in order to get state licensed, the answer is obvious.

Save yourself the headache. B&R Construction is Licensed, Bonded, and Insured. CA License #688492.

Contact us about you remodel.

Make a Small Bathroom Look Larger

Many homes have Small Bathroom space, but at first glance it looks cramped.  Too much stuff squeezed into that tiny space.  There is hope, however.  By making minor adjustments to the bathroom it will look larger.  Since looks matter in selling, buying and remodeling take these tips below to heart.

Bathroom color visually makes a room larger or smaller deepening on what you do.  Don’t paint the walls one color and have everything else another color.  This makes the space small.  Make it look larger by painting the whole bathroom the same color—preferably a light color.  The ceiling should have the same paint color as the walls for maximum expansion upward.  Blend tile color and wall color to be the same color.  Paint the tiles the same shade as the bathroom so the shower/tub can unite with the rest of the space instead of looking like a separate space.  The whole space looks larger visually.

Showers and bathtubs take up most of the space in the bathroom.  Just looking at it makes the bathroom small.  By making these changes it will look and feel larger.  Take tiles to the ceiling.  It’s unusual to do that, but it feels more spacey than the way most builders do it:  they stop adding tile one inch or less below the ceiling and add edges.  Attach shower designs throughout the rest of the bathroom.  It makes it look consistent and clean; that makes the space expand.  Tile designs should run outside of the shower and onto the bathroom walls.  Designs on the shower floor should be the same design on the bathroom floor.  Stopping one design and starting a completely different one makes the space choppy.  Clear glass in showers opens up space in the bathroom; it feels like an extra wall.

Big mirrors in a small bathroom are a win-win.  Trim or no trim one large mirror that reaches the ceiling makes the space grow.  Mirrors in the bathroom must be placed in the right area for maximum results.  Placing a mirror across the window expands the wall to makes it seem like there’s two windows in the same space.  Placing a mirror toward the ceiling opens up the bathroom from the top.  Add a few ceiling light fixtures at the top of the mirror, hanging above or across from the mirror makes the scenery complete without any remodeling.

Other information is as follows:

  • Get as much natural light in the bathroom as possible.  Open up the window to let the sunshine in.  Use translucent window shade or stained glass for a mix of natural light and privacy.
  • Add bathroom shelves or the medicine cabinets inside the wall instead of having the shelves stick out.

If you need any home remodeling done to your bathroom, contact us.  We use these tricks and more to make the most out of any small space.

Some Great New Ideas for Shower Renovations

So maybe you’ve got an older home, and you’ve slowly been renovating it, bit by bit. Perhaps you started with those areas of the house that everyone sees, like the living room and the kitchen, and now it’s time for you to focus on yourself. Or maybe you recently bought this lovely old house and you wouldn’t change a thing in the public areas, but you can’t stand the old bathtub where you hit your temple on the short shower head each morning. You’re ready for a shower renovation, but you aren’t sure where to start. Here are some trends that we think are worth exploring as you turn your dream into reality.

  • Larger showers are here to stay. Increasingly we are seeing that renovations are removing the big soaking tubs and small showers and replacing them with large, comfortable showers that include bench seats and handheld or rain shower heads.
  • Turning tub and shower into one unit also gives you more space in the bathroom, which is wise if you expect to spend the rest of your life in this home. Bathrooms are designed these days with accessibility in mind, and being able to easily step into and out of the shower is key to long-term happiness with your new shower.
  • Take this opportunity to think about safety as well, and install slip-resistant tiles on your shower floor.
  • There are a great variety of water-safe lighting fixtures that have been developed for showers, meaning that your shower can also be bright enough to see at any hour of the day.
  • All this concern about accessibility and safety does not need to prevent your shower from being sleek, elegant and tasteful. The hot colors for 2013 are charcoal and emerald, which are elegant enough to last for years, regardless of where trends may go in the future. There are hundreds of stone and ceramic tile finishes to choose from, whether you want sparkle or understated.

So contact us today and let’s discuss how we can turn your ideal shower dream into reality.

Guide to reading blueprints

If you are working on a home remodeling or home building project and you have little or no experience in the construction field, reading a blueprint may be a bit intimidating.  Here is a guide to help ease your frustration, and be able to understand the blueprint.

A blueprint is a birds-eye drawing of the architects or contractor’s plan for the project.  The blueprint will contain information such as the location of all items to be used, definition of the materials that are used, and the dimensions of each item.  Often, there are several different blueprints for one location.  For example, for the first floor of a new building, there may be a separate blueprint to show the electrical, another one for the plumbing, and another one to show the dimensioning of the walls and rooms.  Together, these sheets will comprise a set of plans.

When reading blueprints, look at each page carefully, and pick out similar items on each page to help you understand what you are looking at.   For example, if you want to look at the details in the kitchen, find a wall or unique element of the kitchen on one blueprint sheet, and identify it on all the sheets that pertain to the kitchen.  This will help you understand the relationship between the various elements shown in the kitchen.

On each page of a set of blueprints, there will be a legend that explains what all of the symbols are on that page.  Symbols are used when there are a lot of small items, such as electrical outlets.   If each individual outlet were called out, the plan would get crowded with words and would be more difficult to read.  All symbols used on a page should be shown on the legend.

If you have questions about reading your blueprints, please contact us and we will help you understand.