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Archive for the Remodeling Category

Should I stay or should I go when remodeling my home?

Should I stay or should I go when remodeling my home?

As an architect for over 37 years and a contractor for over 33 years, I have continually been asked this question.  My quick answer is that it is always desirable from the contractor end to have the Homeowners away from the house while the project is going on. There are a number of benefits to this decision: One reason for the homeowner to leave, for me as the contractor, is that I do not have to factor in major dust containment for set up and tear down each day.  I can just install containment once at the beginning of the job and one teardown at the end.  The next reason is that the workers do not need to do a major cleanup each day for their work.  This normally involves allowing for 2 to 3 man hours of savings each day.  Over the course of the job, that can equate to big savings that I can pass on to the Homeowners. Probably the biggest reason for the Homeowners to leave is dust.  I can truly say I speak from experience on this one.  I recently did some work at my home.  My crews put up what I considered a very […]

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Matching the right Contractor to your Remodeling Project

Matching the right Contractor to your Remodeling Project

I have often told my clients that you would not go to a foot doctor if you needed brain surgery. Both are “Doctors” but obviously do totally different things and require very different skills to professionally do their jobs. It is very much the same in remodeling. The most common misconception is that new home builders can be remodelers. Nothing can be further from the truth and the people that choose home builders usually find out the hard way that their decision was a bad one. Home builders generally subcontract out all aspects of a project. This is historically why home builders have lower profit margins when pricing a remodeling project. They are used to having a client that lives away from the project. When you start with a piece of dirt with nothing to worry about damaging, you can afford to hire people that have no concern for the client’s day to day activity. When you are a home builder you also don’t feel you need the control over your subcontractors so that the job runs smoothly. It is very easy for a home builder to cover his/her mistakes without a client ever being aware of a problem until […]

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How to deal with your Insurance Company on a property loss to your home

How to deal with your Insurance Company on a property loss to your home

This is a follow up on my blog on how to deal with your Insurance Company on a fire loss. (See May 25th 2011 Stan Better’s Blog). I received a huge response on my previous blog on how to deal with your Insurance Company, especially after hurricane Sandy.  I hope it was helpful and informative to my readers.  I now want to expand on some issues I left out of the previous article: Water mitigation and mold This issue is becoming increasingly important and one that the Insurance Companies have tried to back away from.  Let’s assume from your fire, or your flood that you have lots of water inside your house.  The emergency people are now gone and your home is soaked.  The initial amount of money the Insurance Company will pay for on your behalf is what is referred to as “emergency services”.  This means that a 24 hour contractor service can be secured immediately to not only protect the home from vandalism, but also from water being allowed to sit and cause even more damage.  Virtually all insurance companies have this in their policies because they want to protect the home from further damage while the process […]

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What is an Architectural Feasibility Study for a residential remodeling project?

What is an Architectural Feasibility Study for a residential remodeling project?

Stan Better Architects is a part of the Stan Better Family of Companies which also includes Stan Better Construction.  As a Design Build firm our approach to the design build process is unique.  Many times I have been asked “What does an Architectural Feasibility Study include and not include?”  My hope is that this article will answer these questions. When someone initially calls me about some remodeling they want to do to their house I first determine the scope of work the person is asking me to do.  If the project is comprehensive enough that it would require the services of a design professional like myself, then I schedule a meeting at no cost or obligation to go out and meet with the Owners and see the actual existing conditions.  At this initial meeting I discuss the wants and needs of the Owners; observe the existing conditions affecting those wants and needs such as zoning issues, structural issues, budget constraints  etc..; and determine if this project is a candidate for an Architectural Feasibility Study. The difference between offering an Architectural Feasibility Study versus a full service Architectural contract is that full service contracts require much more comprehensive Architectural details and […]

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Basement Water Leakage Problems

Basement Water Leakage Problems

I am sure everyone has been experiencing our historic amounts of rain for this April.  As a consequence of all this water, we have been getting numerous inquiries about water in basements.  I thought I would dedicate my discussion in this newsletter about this topic. Most people see water in their basement and immediately blame the foundation construction.  This sometimes is justified, but in many cases it is not.  Here are some helpful hints to stop and analyze what problem you actually have and how to go about solving the problem.  First, identify where exactly the water is coming from.  This can be very difficult sometimes.  You may look and see water on the floor and immediately assume that is where it came in when in fact it may have been a number of system failures.  Here are some possible candidates you can use as a check list: The roof gutters:  If you have gutters that are stopped up due to leaves or other things, this could be where the water in the basement originates.  Clean your gutters so they are free flowing to the downspouts. The gutter downspouts:  The downspouts channel water to a particular pipe in the ground […]

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Testing for Lead in Home Remodeling

Testing for Lead in Home Remodeling

Today’s main topic is lead.  Recently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to make lead a major priority when it comes to home remodeling.  As of April 22, 2010 any house built prior to 1978 and is having renovation performed greater than 6 square feet MUST be tested for lead before work can commence.  Moreover, an EPA Certified Renovator is required to test.  If the test is positive only an EPA Certified Renovator is allowed to do the demolition work necessary and apply the proper protections in the home to avoid lead poisoning.  Also beyond that, only an EPA Certified Renovator is allowed to “clean up” after the demolition has occurred.  Rick Boyle my associate and I are both licensed EPA Certified Renovators and are qualified to perform this work.  This legislation will have a major cost impact on our industry, and the consumer.  So if you are thinking about doing some additional work in your home, or if you know someone that is planning some remodeling, please let them know about this.  Rick or I would be happy to guide them through this process.

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How to deal with your Insurance Co. on a fire damage loss

How to deal with your Insurance Co. on a fire damage loss

One of the most horrific things that can happen to a Homeowner is fire damage.   Equally horrific is after the fire, the ordeal that a Homeowner is put through to get their home and life back together.  Unfortunately, there are more horror stories on this subject than all other aspects of home ownership.  After over 30+ years in this business, I have had my share of dealing with good and bad Insurance Companies when it comes to these types of losses.  I have even set up a separate company “SBC Restoration “ to specifically deal with these kinds of insurance issues.  So sit back, relax, and let me tell you what you are in store for if you are the victim of a fire loss. I will use, as an example, a project I did a few years back.  The names are not important, but their story is very typical of what can, and generally does happen.  The Homeowners were out of town when a lightning bolt hit their two story home and caused the second floor to catch fire.  A neighbor called the fire department, and after the firemen flooded their second floor with water, were successful in saving […]

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Home Remodeling Permits

Home Remodeling Permits

The last time we talked we discussed the new EPA Lead Safety rules that went into effect on April 22, 2010.  These rules have been a big pain for the contractors and the Owners.  They have added, in most cases where they apply, significant cost to projects.  There is legislation that has been recently passed by the Senate to delay implementation of the program (even though it is currently in effect) until next year due to the fact there is so much confusion about the new rules and given the fact that there are so very few contractors that are licensed to do this work.  Stay tuned for updates.  If you want further into go to the EPA web site  www.epa.gov. Today’s topic is permits.  There is so much confusion about when a permit is required and when it is not.  In the past, each municipality was free to choose which building standard they wanted.  This created a mess because I would have to review different building codes depending on the place and code that was approved for that district.  As of April 2009 the State of Ohio said enough is enough and created one residential code for the entire […]

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LVL Beams

LVL Beams

Hi Everyone My last newsletter was on the business side of remodeling as it related to the state of our economy. This time, I would like to get back to some of the nuts and bolts issues of remodeling. If you were to ask me…Stan-what has been the greatest technological advancement you have seen in your thirty years in the remodeling industry? My answer would be simple and to the point, “LVL”. What the heck is LVL? LVL stands for laminated veneer lumber. What is laminated veneer lumber? Well…let me explain. In the past, we contractors and architects used to only have two alternatives when structurally designing for a remodel job. Our choices were either steel beams or dimensional lumber (meaning 2X solid wood). Both of these alternatives are still very much being used today. The problem was that if you wanted to keep prices down you would choose wood, but wood had a significant drawback. It was very difficult to use to span large distances (say over 10 feet) without getting a very sizable beam or even worse you would need to sandwich multiple beams together to achieve the strength you needed the beam to carry. Also you didn’t […]

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