Top Five Benefits of Hiring a General Contractor

If you’re ready to build your dream home, one of the first steps is deciding if you should manage the project on your own or hire a general contractor. With books, online videos and articles, you may feel ready to dive right in and construct your own home from the ground up.

Before embarking single-handedly on the adventure of building a home, take some time to consider your decision carefully. While acting as your own general contractor can be an exciting and worthwhile experience, it also can be a complicated, technically demanding and time-consuming commitment. To ensure the end result of your project is a comfortable, well-built home for you and your family, consider the following:

Building Codes. The purpose of residential building codes is to provide minimum standards for the health and safety of the public. A general contractor deals with local building codes on a daily basis and is equipped with the expertise to comply with the rules and requirements.

Legal Issues. What happens if you, your neighbor or someone you’ve hired to work on your home gets injured while your home is under construction? If you’re taking on your own project, obtaining proper liability insurance is essential and may be complicated and expensive. Professional contractors generally carry both workers’ compensation and liability insurance to protect themselves—and you—against any unfortunate events.

Expertise. Building a home is a complex activity. Subcontractors can provide specific expertise but if you act as your own contractor you will need to consider your ability to manage the overall process. Do you know the order in which activities must be completed? A general contractor is familiar with the process from start to finish and has a deep understanding of the smaller details that are essential to constructing a quality home.

Project Management. Juggling everyday demands and family needs while building a home is a challenge. Home building is a full-time job. A general contractor is well-versed in all of the activities of home construction such as finding qualified subcontractors, monitoring their progress, ordering the right materials, securing permits and scheduling inspections.

Troubleshooting. An experienced contractor already knows about the pitfalls involved in building a home and can find solutions more easily because he or she deals with these problems every day. Small setbacks can turn into much larger issues if they are not handled quickly. A qualified contractor also has the expertise to prepare your jobsite for impending heavy rain or high winds. Bad weather can wreak havoc on your schedule and the quality of the construction.

For more information on home building or to find a building professional in your area, contact the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association.

Zack Snell
Valley Renovators

 

 

 

Why I Think Uou Should “Rip off the Bandage” When Redecorating Your Home

We all know how painful it can be to just rip a bandage off. As awful as that moment is – holding your breath, counting to three, and giving a really hard pull while you grit your teeth – it’s the best way to just get the pain over and done. I feel it’s also the best solution when you’re redecorating or remodeling your home. Don’t just patch it up with a bandage – rip it off!
Have a Financial Plan
Before beginning ANY redecorating or remodeling project, you must have a plan for what you can spend. Only you know what you’re comfortable with. You may not be aware of what things cost, but a professional interior decorator or designer (or contractor) will be able to guide you through and explain that quality products will always cost more, but last longer. Hint: it’s probably more than you think it is. If you look at your home as an investment in your lifestyle and family vs. an expense, the bandage is so much easier to remove.Before: boring chandelier and vanilla wallsA previous client was using my Budget Worksheets and marking what she felt would be a good price point to redecorate her living, family, and dining room spaces. When she added up EVERYTHING on the list, she was at almost $100,000. Her comfort level was $60,000. She knew before she started the project where she wanted to be, and I was able to guide her through the process and make the best use of the dollars she had. And just an FYI – she’s the one who inspired this blog post. When we were talking about it later, she said, “We had saved the money and set it aside to do our home. Instead of doing it little by little, we decided to just rip off the bandage. Now we can enjoy our home every day instead of dragging out the process for years.”
Don’t Nitpick the Details
When you’re in the middle of renovations it may be hard to imagine the final space. All of a sudden, you’re second-guessing the choices. When I did this coffee area in Preston Lake, we chose the paint colors based on the furnishings that would be going into the space. Mr. Client HATED the paint color for this area when he saw it. But he was seeing ONLY the paint color (he called it toothpaste) – not a completed space.I promised him that if he still hated it when everything was in place, we’d look at alternatives. In the end, he absolutely loved it. If this client had started second-guessing the design halfway through the process it would have completely changed the space. And cost him more money to select a new color and have it repainted.
Less Interruption to Your Life & Routines
Redecorating & Remodeling can be a difficult process to endure. I often use the phrase “it’s a lot like having a baby”. By planning ahead and then living through it all just ONCE it can make it so much easier on your family & your sanity. Yes, it stinks to lose your kitchen for 6 weeks or so. But it’s easier than doing it in small increments and disrupting your life fewer times to get the space you’ve always dreamed of having. I can tell you from my own experience in this – my parents built the kitchen cabinets I designed.
We lived for 18 months without counter tops – we put down plywood and covered it with contact paper. And we didn’t have a functioning dishwasher for 6 months. We lived without doors on our cabinets for a year. You know the phrase “the cobbler’s children have no shoes”? I had no kitchen. And then they both passed away before it was completed. So now I have to hire someone to finish the details. I’ve never published it before, but here are a few of the “in process” pics. We started this in November of 2014 and as of today (June 2020) it’s not 100% complete.
I can only imagine how much better my life would have been if I’d been able to spend a month or two on this renovation… And sadly, as beautiful as my kitchen is now – it caused me so much pain through the process that I don’t fully appreciate it. We don’t want you to feel that way about your project.
Final Reveal is a Moment to Enjoy
On a happier note – the Final Reveal is always the highlight of any redecorating or remodeling project. It’s a moment when the clients get to see their space. The phrase I hear most often is, “I can’t believe this is our home! It looks like a magazine!” BINGO. We didn’t waste years of your life – it was all pulled together in just a few months. Even the Purple Project – which required removing three walls, gutting the kitchen, and refinishing the floors – was done within six months of the initial Consultation.
Rip off the Bandage and Don’t Suffer Through It
While it may hurt for just a little while, it’s definitely easier in the long run to set the money aside for your project in advance, get professionals to do the design / demo / construction work, and walk in to your newly redecorated or renovated space. Your sanity will thank you in the long run.
Until next time… xoxo Crystal
Crystal Ortiz
Bluestone Decorating

3 Remodeling Projects to Reenergize Your Home

Are the flowers in bloom and warmer weather inspiring you to tackle a few home improvement projects? Remodeling your home can payoff in personal enjoyment and comfort and improve the value of your home. A professional remodeler can provide guidance on home improvement projects that will increase your homes resell value.

 

As the home building and remodeling industry celebrates National Home Remodeling Month in May, many home owners are taking steps to transform their current homes into a personal oasis. High-impact projects that can revamp your home include curb-appeal enhancements, kitchen renovations and bathroom improvements.

Improve Your Home’s Exterior

The color scheme of your home exterior and cleanliness of your yard makes a big impact on curb appeal. If needed, consider purchasing a new garage door to give your home a facelift. Your front door also makes an important first impression. A fresh color of paint, window trim or siding is a simple way to create an inviting look to your home exterior.

Landscape or clean your yard. Garden centers offer information and tips on plants that will thrive in our local climate. Some garden centers offer free design services. A mixture of different colored plants and heights will enrich your yard. If your home walkway is cracked or dated, replace the path with new flagstones or outdoor lighting. Adding a fountain or water feature is another way to take your lawn to the next level.

Renovate Your Kitchen 

A modern kitchen is not only a space for cooking. Kitchens are a central hub for home entertaining and sharing meals. A professional remodeler can make recommendations on finishes that will boost your home resell value. Your remodeler can also provide you with advice on what to consider when replacing countertops, creating custom cabinets, flooring and appliances. For example, energy-efficient appliances are among the popular features home buyers seek out when considering purchasing a new home.

Not all kitchens need a complete overhaul. Replacing dated lighting fixtures, faucets or sinks makes a difference in design. Other design upgrades such as new window treatments, cabinet hardware or a fresh coat of paint can spruce up your kitchen.

Bathroom Improvements

Cosmetic updates to a bathroom can be as simple as replacing dated fixtures and lighting. Freshen up your bathroom by re-grouting tile or removing and replacing caulk around the tub and sink. A white tub, sink and toilet is a popular color choice in bathrooms for home buyers, according to a recent National Association of Home Builders survey. Adding a fresh coat of paint, similar your kitchen or home exterior, makes a difference in brightening up your bathroom. A professional remodeler can also add storage with cabinets or shelves.

To learn more about remodeling or to find a remodeler in your area, contact ValleyBuilders.org or 540.860.181

 

Consider the Benefits of Off-Season Home Improvements

There are considerable benefits to off-season home improvements.  Winter, especially after the holiday season has passed, seems more like a time to hunker down and get cozy. But the professionals who do home improvements and the suppliers who sell the materials are in business year-round. And during their off-seasons, these businesses will often lower prices to attract more customers. That means home owners may find that it’s not only easier to schedule these professionals, but also even get a break on the price.

Here are a few projects to consider during this winter season:

Get a new roof. Depending how severe your winter weather is, replacing your roof in the winter can make sense.  True, winter weather can get in the way of getting the job done quickly. But on the other hand a roofer with a light schedule will have the flexibility to work around the weather and make adjustments to get the job done right. 

Cold temperatures do present challenges. Materials, especially asphalt shingles, require special handling and in some cases alternative adhesives when it’s cold. Icy surfaces, sleet and snow make work out of the question. And some days may be just too cold. Roofers can work around each of these issues using different techniques and given enough leeway in scheduling the work.  

Replace windows. If your windows could use replacing, winter reminds you of it every day. Does the temperature drop when you get close to a window to take a look outside? Why not tackle it now? Window replacement companies frequently offer special pricing during the off-season and can schedule your job on shorter notice. 

Installers may take on windows one at a time, putting up barriers and shutting off rooms to minimize the cold air coming into the house. The process might take longer than it would if letting in outdoor air weren’t such a concern, but you’ll feel the results right away once the job is done.  

 

 

Paint a room. Spending more time indoors might draw your attention to dingy walls or make you wish for an updated room color. With dry winter air, a window open a crack, and maybe even an exhaust fan in the window, should be more than enough ventilation for a fresh new coat of today’s low volatile compound (VOC) paints. If you don’t want to do the painting yourself, you may find a choice of painting contractors with openings in their calendars.

Make sure walls are warm enough for paint to stick well. Paint cans will tell you the temperatures for best adhesion. Even though the room is warm, walls can be cooler. You may need to turn up the heat to be sure they present the best conditions for paint to stick. 

Refinish wood floors. As with painting, you’ll want to ventilate somewhat, but you can minimize the amount of time you’ll need to open a window or door. Finishes with low VOC ingredients don’t require so much airing out, and winter’s low humidity air speeds up the time it takes to dry. 

Especially if you plan to stay in your house during the project, check out refinishers who use sandless techniques. 

For more information on home repairs, view our online directory at ValleyBuilders.org or NAHB.org/forconsumers.

Resolutions for Your Home Ring in Lasting Satisfaction

If you’re like most people when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, you aim for self-improvement goal like exercising daily, getting organized, eating better, reducing personal debt. Things you’ve been putting off for a long time and that require diligence to succeed.

This year instead — or perhaps in addition — you can resolve to improve your home. A completed home improvement project, even a simple one, makes a noticeable difference that lasts the whole year — and beyond — without any further effort from you.

For example, you can resolve to:

Lay the groundwork

Is it all too obvious in your house just where people walk? Maybe it’s time to refinish your wood floors or replace carpet that has seen better days. A refreshed expanse underfoot brightens the whole room.

Throw on some color

Wake up a guest bathroom or a wall of your kitchen with a fresh new paint color, maybe a jewel tone or pastel shade. Add pizzazz with some bold wallpaper in the dining room or along a stairway.  Check out the color palettes from Benjamin Moore

Light it up 

Lower your utility bill and help the planet by replacing some fluorescent bulbs with LEDs. Or light up a shadowy span of countertop with a stick-on LED strip under a cabinet. Replace a dated fixture over your dining table or kitchen island with an engaging pendant light to add new visual charm. 

Lighten up

Clean out a storage space. Maybe start small by clearing off that table right inside the door where mail and papers collect. Empty the “you name it” drawer in the kitchen. Go through a linen closet and take frayed towels and sheets that are worn or no longer fit any bed you use and donate them to the animal shelter for bedding. Get three things out of the basement or garage and donate them to Goodwill, recycle or trash as appropriate. That will lighten your load a little, and might just jumpstart the next project. 

Look ahead

Think about what you’re going to want in the next five to ten years. Will your kids soon be teens? Maybe start fixing up a basement area where they can watch movies with friends. Are there changes you can start now that will make your home more age-friendly as you head toward retirement? It could be as simple as replacing round door knobs with levered handles. Or, more ambitious, re-do a first-floor bathroom with a beautifully tiled no-threshold shower.  

Whether a quick DIY project that takes a few hours or a larger full room renovation, whether you do it yourself or bring in a building professional —home improvements reward you with results you can enjoy all year while you challenge your willpower to keep up your New Year’s self-improvement goals.

Learn more about which improvements are best suited for your home by contacting local SVBA members.  Search our directory now.

Key Steps to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Prepare for colder temperatures. Severe winter storms can also knock out heat, power and other services to your home. That’s why it’s important to take a few steps now to prepare your home for the changing weather ahead.

Here are some tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help you make sure your home is the best shelter possible for you and your family during the colder months ahead.

  • Ensure you are keeping out outside air and moisture. Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows.
  • Clear rain gutters so they don’t fill with water that could freeze and cause damage to the roof due to the added weight.
  • Trim tree branches that could potentially fall on your home during a storm. Hiring a professional is strongly advised, especially if any branches are near power lines.
  • Have your heating equipment and chimney cleaned and inspected every year. Ensure there are no openings in the chimney bricks or mortar or flashing.
  • Insulate water pipes with foam wrap or similar products to help prevent them from freezing.
  • Make sure all your fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, and the vent openings are clear of debris and snow.
  • Learn how to shut off your main water valve in case your pipes do freeze and burst.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural integrity of your roof to sustain the weight of accumulated snow or water.

Important Safety Tips

During the winter, many people use alternate heating and power sources. But doing so can increase the risk of electric shock, house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if the necessary safety precautions are not taken:

  • Keep fire extinguishers around the home, and make sure all family members know how to use them.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawl space or any partially enclosed area. And do not place the unit near a door, window or vent where carbon monoxide could seep indoors.
  • Space heaters should only be placed on a level surface and away from heavy foot traffic when in use, especially if pets or small children are nearby. It’s best to have space heaters that automatically turn off when a room reaches the desired temperature or in the event it is tipped over.

To learn more about routine maintenance, energy efficiency, safety and other tips to protect and properly prepare your home for cold or snowy conditions, contact the SVBA.  Also, we have a wide variety of contractors who can assist you with any home remodel or repair.  Visit our online directory of contractors.

Open Floor Plans Remain a Top Pick for Consumers

Open Floor Plans Remain a Top Pick for Consumers

Whether looking for a new home or revamping a current residence, home owners continue to be drawn to the feelings of spaciousness, easy flow and welcoming togetherness evoked by an open floor plan.

Pioneered in the early 20th century, open floor plans remain popular today, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Home Builders. The survey found that 70 percent of buyers want a kitchen-family room area that is either completely or partially open, with 32 percent wanting it completely open.

And owners of existing homes are choosing to open things up, too.  Remodelers reported that 40 percent of their projects involve opening existing homes’ main floors by removing interior walls entirely or by using countertops, cut-throughs or archways, rather than full walls, to define separate areas in a more open way.

Main floors with few or no interior walls between areas for cooking, eating, relaxing and entertaining allow cooks to chat with family members or guests, provide easy flow for entertaining and enable parents to keep an eye on children from different areas.

Open floor plans not only maximize space and flow, they optimize natural light. Windows serve more than their immediate area, illuminating the entire space.

With the increasing focus on accessible design, open floor plans meet another of today’s needs— with fewer doorways, they are easier to navigate in a wheelchair or with a stroller.

To find a builder or remodeler in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County , contact ValleyBuilders.org or visit nahb.org.

HBAV Installed 2019 Officers

Richmond, VA — The Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBAV) installed its 2019 officers in a ceremony June 23, 2018 at The LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort in Naples, Florida. Robert “Rob” J. Frogale of the Top of Virginia Building Association succeeds Shawn Callahan of the Roanoke
Regional Home Builders Association, Inc., as president. The Home Builders Association of Virginia is a statewide trade association that represents the interest of the home building industry before state and federal lawmakers and regulators. The organization has more than 3,400-member firms.
HBAV’s 2019 senior officers are:

PRESIDENT – Robert J. Frogale has been elected to serve as HBAV President. He serves as President and co-owner of Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corporation in Winchester, VA. Frogale has been an active member of the Top of Virginia Builders Association, which is based in Winchester, VA, where he served as president in 2016; he has served as Associate Vice President and served as Membership Chairman from 2012-2015.  He has served as a 2016 HBAV Regional Vice President. Frogale served as the 2018 Chairman of the Membership Committee.

 

 

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT/TREASURER – Daniel T. Sandoval has been elected to serve as HBAV First Vice President/Treasurer. As President and Owner of Republic Home Builders based in Fredericksburg Virginia, Sandoval currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association (FABA). He was FABA PAC Chairman. He served as President of FABA in 2015 and was named the Fredericksburg Area Builder of the Year in 2013. Sandoval has been a dedicated member of the association and has served on various committees at FABA for 16 years, including chairman of the Membership, Parade of Homes, and Legislative committees. Sandoval served the past three years as HBAV Regional Vice President, Second Vice President and has been a member of the HBAV Legislative Committee for four years. His enduring commitment to the association earned him the 2016 FABA President’s Award.

SECOND VICE PRESIDENT – David O. Owen has been elected to serve as HBAV Second Vice President. As President of Boone Homes in Richmond. David is a past President for the Home Building Association of Richmond (HBAR) and he Currently serves as HBAR’s PAC Chairman. David was named HBAV’s “Builder of the Year” in 2016. David and he has served as HBAV’s Legislative Chairman for the past four years.

 

 

 

ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT/SECRETARY – Skip Eastman has been elected to serve as HBAV Associate Vice President/Secretary. He will serve as Vice Chairman of the Associate Members Committee. He is currently serving on the board of Southside Home Builders and is a member if several other local home building associations. He is a Territory Manager for, Trus Joist a Weyerhaeuser business.

 

 

 

ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT – Ralph L. “Tripp” Costen, III has been elected to serve as HBAV Associate Vice President. He is a member and current trustee of the Home Builders Association of Richmond (HBAR). He is also a former two term member of the Executive Committee on the Board of Directors for HBAR. He was a 2017 Mayo recipient. He currently serves as the 3 rd generation President of Costen Floors, Inc.

 

 

 

Also installed were the seven regional vice presidents:
REGION I VICE PRESIDENT – Cat White (New River Valley) of Tyris Homes has been elected to serve as Region I vice president. He will represent the New River Valley Home Builders Association, the Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association, Inc., and the Home Builders
Association of Central Virginia.
REGION II VICE PRESIDENT – Jill McGlaughlin (Shenandoah Valley) has been elected to serve as Region II vice president. She will represent the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association and the Augusta Home Builders Association.
REGION III VICE PRESIDENT – Robin Newhouse (Blue Ridge) of Dominion Energy has been elected Region III vice president. She will represent the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association and the Piedmont Virginia Building Industry Association.
REGION IV VICE PRESIDENT – Mike Perry (Top of Virginia) of Perry Engineering has been elected Region IV vice president. He will represent the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association and the Top of Virginia Building Association.
REGION V VICE PRESIDENT – Mitchell Bode (Richmond) of Premier Insurance Agency, Ltd.,
has been elected Region V vice president. She will represent the Home Builders Association of Southside Virginia and the Home Building Association of Richmond.
REGION VI VICE PRESIDENT – Drew Ransone (Rappahannock) of Chesapeake Tree Services, LLC has been elected Region VI vice president. He will represent the Home Builders Association of Rappahannock and the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association.
REGION VII VICE PRESIDENT – Ricky Edgerton (Peninsula) of Edgerton Contracting, Inc. has been elected Region VII vice president. He will represent the Peninsula Housing & Builders Association and the Tidewater Builders Association.

AWARDS:
BUILDER OF THE YEAR – John C. Napolitano (Tidewater) of Napolitano Homes, of Virginia Beach, VA was selected as the 2018 Home Builders Association of Virginia “Builder of the Year.” This award is bestowed annually to the HBAV builder member who has offered exceptional service
and dedication to the state association.
ASSOCIATE OF THE YEAR – Jeanie T. Bode (Richmond) of Union First Bank of Henrico, VA was selected as the 2018 Home Builders Association of Virginia “Associate of the Year.” This award is presented annually to an associate member, as an individual or company, which has shown outstanding efforts at the state level of the home builders association.
EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE YEAR – Maria Moore (Fredericksburg) of the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association was selected as the 2018 Home Builders Association of Virginia “Executive Officer of the Year”. This award is bestowed annually to the Local HBA Executive Officer who has offered exceptional service and dedication to the local and state associations.

Add Value To Your Home With a Well-Tended Yard

yard Do you and your family have fun in your yard — or is it just unused space that means you have a long list of chores every weekend?

A well-planned yard gives you extra room to enjoy without adding a tremendous amount of upkeep. If your yard could use a little love, it’s time to make a master plan to add enjoyment and value to your home.

Step 1: Take Inventory

First, walk around your property. Note how your house sits on the lot, where your garage, tool shed, deck, pool or other structure is and what plants you have now.

Think about what you would like to have a year from now in your yard. Is it more trees for shade, more grass to play in, a flower or herb garden for cutting, or just reworking an area that takes too much time to maintain?

Once you know what you want, it’s time to start thinking about the plants you will need.

Step 2: Select the Right Plants

A healthy, lush and vibrant lawn or garden starts with your choice of plants. Choose trees, flowers, shrubs and other plants that grow well in your area. This may sound limiting, but by choosing plants that are native or tested to be tolerant of the weather in your area, your yard will require less work and give you better results.

Visit your local garden center, arboretum or botanical garden for advice and ideas. Look for sections that are like your yard, and choose plants that grow well there whether you want brilliant flowers, ground cover, shrubbery or herbs.

Step 3: Get to Know Your Yard

It is very important to monitor the cycles of light and moisture in your yard. Late summer is a good time to note where the sun is at different times of the day and to record how much water is available naturally. Watch for areas of day-long shade, and do not put sun-loving plants in those spots.

Likewise, don’t put shade plants where they get full sun all day. In addition, take a sample of the dirt in your yard to a county extension agent or garden center, and ask them to determine the pH and chemical composition of your soil. Your soil’s characteristics will have a significant impact on what you will be able to grow successfully.

While you are at the garden center or arboretum, listen for tips such as planting a low water-demand plant at higher elevation. Excess moisture from rain or watering will trickle down from the low water-demand plant to the thirstier plant nearby. In general, selecting disease-resistant, drought-tolerant plants makes sense no matter what you plan to do in your yard.

Step 4: Add Shape and Texture

Two key elements of a beautiful garden are shape and texture. Think of your landscape as a photograph or painting framed by plants. Larger trees and plants belong in the back of your yard, medium-sized shrubs and flowers go in the middle of the visual field and short, smaller plants go in the front.

To give shape to your garden, select a variety of plants with different shapes and sizes.

Texture comes from plants with a variety of leaves — shiny hosta, fuzzy herbs, dull azalea, prickly yucca or aloe. Also, keep architectural details in mind when you choose plants. Rough, textured plants will highlight stucco walls, but a picket fence will look better with soft flowers and gentle vines.

Don’t forget to look at your yard from all angles, including noticing what you’ll see when you look through the windows from inside your home.

By taking the time to think through what you want your yard to look like, and noting what your limitations are, you’ll have greater success with your efforts. In addition, you’ll spend more time enjoying your yard instead of working in it, and you’ll see an added benefit when you sell your home: A well-planned landscape adds value to any piece of property.

The landscape members of the SVBA can handle your every desire.  Scan the directory for a listing of qualified landscapers.