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Stan Better’s Blog

The Important Differences of Sound Proof and Sound Dampening

The Important Differences of Sound Proof and Sound Dampening

There’s almost no telling how many Zoom meetings were held during the first year of COVID-19. Whether it was for work or catching up with friends, nearly all of us experienced the frustrations of video calls. While some of us are lucky enough to have a home office (or at least now we do!), some had to craft an office at the kitchen table or next to the exercise equipment in the basement. No matter where your new or existing home office is, you probably never noticed how many echoes there were until COVID.  Although the pandemic is getting better, and it seems there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon, working from home seems to be an option that’s sticking around. For those who need quieter space, sound damping or soundproofing options can make life easier.   What is the difference between soundproof and sound dampening? This discussion can quickly get bogged down with physics. To put it simply, soundproofing a room means the room will not allow any noise from the outside in—sound dampening reducing the amount of bouncing or echoes within the room.  Sound dampening means the room could be void of furniture, but there wouldn’t be […]

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How to Keep Your Sink Looking its Best

How to Keep Your Sink Looking its Best

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink; they both take on a lot of dirty work. As a reward for all their hard work, they deserve some TLC. So let’s roll up our sleeves and learn how to care for the six most common sink materials. Stainless Steel It’s vital to keep stainless steel clean, not just for aesthetics but also to preserve the material’s integrity. Keeping it clean will also lessen the chances of the sink getting corrosion damage. One of the strongest and most durable sink material options out there, stainless steel won’t get worn out or damaged by frequent cleaning; in fact, it thrives on it. What to Avoid Because stainless steel is so durable, there aren’t too many products that need to be avoided. However, when using any product that contains chloride, be sure to immediately rinse out the sink after washing. Chloride can corrode stainless steel if not rinsed out thoroughly. The other items to avoid are steel brushes or steel wool. Bits of the brush or wool can get left behind and cause corrosion or rust. Although it is possible to get rust stains out of stainless […]

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Range Hoods and What They Mean for Your Kitchen Remodel

Range Hoods and What They Mean for Your Kitchen Remodel

There are many choices and decisions to be made during a kitchen remodel, and they can quickly become overwhelming. This is especially true for decisions that could affect the health or safety of your home. Ventilation options for the kitchen are one of those choices that can make homeowners feel too inexperienced to make the right decision. You don’t need to know everything about the number of amps required within your range hood in correlation to the heat your stovetop expels. However, it could be beneficial to understand why range hoods are essential, the difference between vented versus unvented, and the different range hood options. Knowledge is power, and empowering yourself with the need to know information about range hoods will allow you to make an informed decision and feel good about it afterward. Why You Need a Range Hood While it might feel obvious as to why a range hood within a kitchen is important, sometimes what feels like elementary level information can bring to light what aspects of the decision are important to you. Safer and Healthier Air First and foremost, the most important reason to include a range hood within your kitchen remodel is safety. When cooking, […]

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Are You Using Houzz to Collect Your Design Ideas?

Are You Using Houzz to Collect Your Design Ideas?

Back in the day, clients were excited to drop their two-inch-thick folder on the table, full of pictures they had torn out of magazines. The meetings would be filled with shuffling papers and sticky notes on why they love a specific photo. Like kids with a birthday wish list, we worked through the pages one by one and discussed what struck them about each and how we might incorporate these design ideas into their homes. Like many things in our lives, technology has made this more manageable, more accessible, collaborative, and possible for your dentist to keep their magazines intact. With tools like smartphones and tablets, bringing in your design ideas and a wish list is easier than ever, and the recycling bin doesn’t get so full! Using a tool like houzz.com can collect and express your design dreams and wishes to your contractor in a more straightforward manner. It ensures you’re on the same page and reduces the risk of your home remodel not being precisely what you want. With just a few clicks, your contractor and designer will know what you’re looking for, and even better, they can collaborate and add to your dream with their professional expertise.  How to […]

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How COVID Has Changed The Way We Use Our Homes

How COVID Has Changed The Way We Use Our Homes

Our houses are not just a roof over our heads. They are homes in which we build families, memories, and lives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of our homes has been highlighted with lockdown orders. The need to love the space you live in is a fact that millions of Americans have learned, as evidenced by the surge of people buying new homes.  After spending over a year in some form of lockdown, it’s clear that our homes need to suit our lives in different ways than they ever have before. “Normal” life may not be coming back any time soon, and we must adapt and improve our spaces to allow us to live happier lives even while quarantined from our families.  New Hobbies and Routines Of course, the number of harmful changes that has come with COVID is undeniable, but there have been some good ones as well. For example, people are taking on new hobbies, learning new skills, and sharpening old ones. With all the extra time we have, it seems many of us are taking advantage of them.  Without the luxury of our favorite cafes or coffee shops, many are learning to be their own barista […]

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Should I Keep A Bathtub In My Master Bathroom?

Should I Keep A Bathtub In My Master Bathroom?

If you find yourself asking the question, “Do I have to keep a bathtub in my bathroom?” then you might be in the middle of a great tub debate. Many homeowners find themselves wondering what to do about a massive bathtub within their master bathroom, and inevitably the question arises, “Do we have to keep it?” There’s isn’t one perfect answer for everyone, so let’s explore four ways to consider this choice that will help you make the right decision for you and your family. Do You Want One? This may sound too obvious, but if you’re not a tub person, why spend money on one? We’re not suggesting you throw caution to the wind (see the rest of this blog); we’re just not a fan of encouraging our clients to spend money on a bathtub that you don’t even want and aren’t likely to use. If having a tub sounds like just another thing to keep clean, we suggest to seriously consider getting rid of it. Still not convinced? Let’s move on to our next consideration. Do You Have Another One? If you’re remodeling your master bathroom and have another bathroom in your home with a tub, your decision […]

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Is It Safe to Remodel During COVID-19?

Is It Safe to Remodel During COVID-19?

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times; COVID-19 has changed our world in undeniable and unexpected ways. You may be wondering if it is even safe to remodel your home during a global pandemic.  The key to your success will be finding a remodeling company that takes COVID seriously, and will work as hard as you to keep your family safe. Keeping Your Home as Germ-Free as Possible The best way to protect against COVID-19 is to be proactive in disinfecting and keeping everything clean. During a remodeling project, this can seem hard to do with the amount of your home that may be impacted.  Be sure your contractor has a detailed plan to clean and disinfect all areas of your project. A detailed daily checklist will help everyone be more thorough, and there should be several additional COVID-specific tasks such as disinfecting tools, iPads, doorknobs, and other often-used items. Know Who’s Coming & Going Even when there isn’t a global pandemic happening, knowing who is coming and going from your home is vital for safety. Now with COVID, it’s even more critical than ever. Ask your contractor how they track who is coming in and […]

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These Are the Kitchen Remodel Details That Matter, Don’t Leave Them Out

These Are the Kitchen Remodel Details That Matter, Don’t Leave Them Out

Undertaking a kitchen remodel is no small task and can quickly become overwhelming when faced with all the details. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Below might be four of the most essential elements of any kitchen remodel. We’re going to dive into each and give you the tools and information you need to make the right decision for you and your family.  Lighting Your Kitchen The lighting within your kitchen is not there to simply get you in and out of a space. As we’ve explored more in-depth in another article, Lighting Options: How to Create a Stunning Home Remodel with Lighting, excellent lighting design is all about layers. To boost your kitchen remodel’s functionality and beauty, you need to include all three of the different layers of lighting design.  General Lighting This lighting gets you in and out of a space and usually comes in the form of canned lights or recessed lights in the ceiling.  Task Lighting This type of lighting is placed strategically within the kitchen to assist with specific tasks such as over a sink for washing up or under-cabinet lighting for meal prep.  Mood Lighting While this type of lighting could be […]

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The Ultimate How to Clean and Care for Stainless Steel Guide

The Ultimate How to Clean and Care for Stainless Steel Guide

Stainless Steel appliances are the most popular appliance finish put into homes today. We all love that sleek look of brand new appliances, all shiny and ready to create culinary masterpieces. However, keeping stainless steel clean and fingerprint-free can feel like a challenge. Here is how to keep your stainless steel looking it’s best.  Tools for Stainless Steel Cleaning Before cleaning anything, always remember to clean stainless steel in the same direction as the polish lines. Going against these polish lines or using a circular motion can cause stainless steel’s polish to lose its shine and sparkle. Even the softest cloths can cause damage over time if rubbed over stainless steel against its grain.  The best cleaning tools for stainless steel are microfiber cloth or paper towels. These are soft and will not scratch the surface. Harsh types of cleaning cloths or sponges can leave tiny abrasions on the surface of the stainless steel. Eventually, these abrasions can cause stainless steel to look dull. Avoid this worry entirely by sticking to microfiber cloths or paper towels.  Regular Cleaning Tips As with most things, cleaning spills and messes as they happen is the best way to care for and protect your […]

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Why is The Second Floor of My Home Warmer Than the First Floor?

Why is The Second Floor of My Home Warmer Than the First Floor?

If walking up to your second floor in the winter feels like you’re entering a sauna, you’ve probably asked yourself this question more than once. When you’re the one paying the bill, having a home that has uneven temperatures can be frustrating. Fortunately, there is something you can do! Let’s walk through why your second floor is hotter than the first floor, and what you can do about it.   Why the Second Floor is Hotter Physics is not your friend here. Hot air is lighter than cold air, so unfortunately, basic physics is the key factor as to why your second floor is warmer than the first.  Your second floor is also closer to the roof of your home. Your roof absorbs a lot of heat as the sun bakes it each day, even during the coldest winter months. All this warmth naturally moves through the roof, attic, and eventually, the second floor of your home.  Your home’s imbalanced temperature may also be a symptom of incorrectly installed ductwork. Suppose the ducts are not performing as well as they should. It could be because they were not installed optimally to ensure efficient distribution of heat.   What to do about […]

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Our 6 Favorite Shower-heads You’ll Want in Your Bathroom Remodel

Our 6 Favorite Shower-heads You’ll Want in Your Bathroom Remodel

Walking into a plumbing showroom can be immediately overwhelming! There are endless amounts of showerhead options, and it can be hard to know where to start. Knowing what style or type of showerhead you’re looking for can help eliminate some of that shopping anxiety. Here we’re going to talk about some of our favorite showerheads. Hip to be Square This stunning brushed nickel shower headset is not your average showerhead. The main head is square to give it that unique style flare. The matching temperature levers are beautifully designed to bring symmetry to the set. Alongside the main shower head and levers is another adjustable height handheld showerhead. This is perfect for customizing your showering experience to your specific needs. Handheld showerheads are also an excellent tool when bathing our furry friends!                    A Gold Moment for Showers Another main shower, handheld shower combo! These are becoming increasingly more popular, and it’s easy to see why. The convenience and customizability of this combination makes it great for growing families or aging in place couples. This eye-catching gold finish blends beautifully with the statement tile wall and shower door fixtures. If you’re looking […]

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Can I Use Hardwood in a Basement Remodel?

Can I Use Hardwood in a Basement Remodel?

Basements are notorious for being moisture magnets, and wood and moisture do not get along. Physics is working against us when it comes to our below-ground living spaces. However, this does not automatically mean we should avoid using hardwood in our finished basements. Let’s go over the things to consider before making this decision. When It Should Be Avoided As we said before, wood does not like moisture. Not only does wood not like it, but your wallet will also cringe if you have to replace your hardwood flooring because of a leak. If the basement needs a constant dehumidifier running to keep the walls dry, hardwood probably isn’t a great idea. Most homes house their water heaters in the basement. If a heater should leak or have a problem, you now have water-soaked hardwood flooring that is ruined. Another issue unrelated to water is the smoothness of your basement floor. If it’s a newer home, you’re not likely to have this issue. However, if you own an older home, sometimes those basements floors can be very uneven. This does not mean it will be impossible to put hardwood flooring down, but it could make it more difficult and more […]

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Lighting Options: How to Create a Stunning Home Remodel with Lighting

Lighting Options: How to Create a Stunning Home Remodel with Lighting

All the details of a home remodel come together to create a beautiful space, and lighting can make or break it. Incorrectly lighting a room can make it feel dull or dark. To avoid that, let’s dive into the aspects of lighting to consider before making your decision. Types of Lighting Lighting comes in many forms and can be divided into three categories. Each of these serves a purpose and will be applied in different ways. Excellent lighting design typically uses all three types in every room. Lighting your space in layers will give you a full range of options when flipping switches and setting the mood. General Lighting General lighting gets you in and out of a space. This typically is in the form of recessed lighting or large overhead lights. When you walk into a room and flip the switch, that’s the general lighting for that room. Task Lighting Task lighting is designed and placed precisely for a specific task. Whether that be under-cabinet lighting to help during meal prep or vanity lighting for morning routines, task lighting is a great way to make these everyday to-do’s easier. Mood Lighting Sometimes the light we use during the day […]

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Everything You Need to Know About Cabinet Finishes

Everything You Need to Know About Cabinet Finishes

In the vast world of cabinetry, there are two main categories of cabinet finishes; stained and painted. Both can be modified by adding a glaze to the mixture. You can even go as far as adding some distressing and aging, to make those cabinets look like they have been in your home for 100 years. Stained Finishes There are a couple of things to think about with a stained finish door. The major one being the wood species that it’s applied to. Stain on a maple door will look quite a bit different than it will on a cherry door. Another thing to consider when it comes to wood species is how much grain will be visible. On a cherry door, there will be more grain in the wood than on a maple door. On both stained and painted doors, the wood species also impacts the density of the cabinet. A maple door will be a little harder, and the cherry will be softer and more likely to get dings and chips in it. An advantage with a stained door over a painted door is you’re not going to see the hairline fractures that happen in the joining of the […]

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Know Your Options: The Ultimate Shower Glass Buying Guide

It can seem like there is an endless amount of decisions when it comes to remodeling your bathroom, but we want to make this as easy and fun for you as possible. Here is everything you need to know about shower glass so you can confidently make the right decision for you and your family. Clear Glass Being the most commonly used glass type in showers, probably this is what you’re accustomed to seeing. It’s simple, elegant, and easy to maintain. With high clarity (but not the best), you can see into your shower and your perfectly designed tile. There will be a green tint to the edge of the glass, and this will get darker the longer and thicker the glass gets. Low-Iron Glass Quite similar to clear glass, low-iron glass is manufactured with reduced iron content. Because of this low iron, the clarity in the glass is exceptional. The authentic colors of your shower tile will shine through. The edge of the glass will have a jewel-like blue-green tint and won’t get darker the thicker the glass gets. Of course, this type of glass is higher in value and might bump your budget up a bit. Frosted Glass […]

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Two Companies. One Vision

Two Companies. One Vision

Rarely do two business owners share such similar core values and vision.  Paul Bauscher and I met years ago, and have since cultivated a friendship that has led to a unique industry collaboration. We both understand the value of trust in this industry, and we found a shared passion for bringing stability to a sometimes overwhelming experience. In May of 2020, we decided to unite the two companies. By dedicating ourselves to improving and challenging the status quo, we’ve created a high-performance team to serve your remodeling needs. Even more important than beautiful projects, we’re committed to providing your family with the utmost care and empathy! Our combined teams work together to create an outstanding remodeling experience from beginning to end. In-house architectural services, improved selections and design assistance, new project management techniques, better quality control, and additional tradesmen are just some of the pieces responsible for bringing your project to life. With over 75 years of combined experience in an industry known for companies that come and go, we have the experience and expertise to provide your family with extraordinary services. I am incredibly excited about the future and this opportunity to provide our clients with an unparalleled remodeling experience.

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Navigating through the Design/Build Process

Navigating through the Design/Build Process

As a Design/ Builder, frequently I am asked what is the difference between your approach and the traditional approach to projects?  I have been in the business for over 30 years and have lectured at two national remodeling conventions on the subject so I think I can speak with some authority.  When I became a Design/ Builder way back in 1978, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) actually would not let me be a national member because in their rules and regulations they stated that either you were an Architect or you were a General Contractor.  It sounds so silly today to state that, but back then the AIA was run by purists that truly believed in that statement.  Fortunately the local AIA thought  it was silly also and allowed me all the privileges of being a member (they just did not tell the national that I was a local member.)   I would argue that who better to build it than the person that designed it.  In earlier times such famous people as Leonardo Di Vinci, Michelangelo, or Gaudi were all Design/Builders.  It worked very well for them. So what are the differences. The Traditional Approach: In a traditional approach […]

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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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LED Light Bulbs..What’s all the fuss!!!

LED Light Bulbs..What’s all the fuss!!!

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) have actually been around for quite a long time.  The first visible LED was invented in 1962 and was subsequently used as a “power on indicator light” for appliances like stereos.  So how far have we come in 50 years and where are we heading?  The biggest difference between what was around in the 1960’s and 1970’s and now is the brightness or “lumen output” and color that can be obtained.  Back then LEDs were pretty much limited to very small pinpoints of light with very low brightness, and only available in red or green.  The positive aspects were that they would last virtually indefinitely.  How many times can you recollect a power on indicator light going out?  Around 1990 LED technology changed when the color blue was achieved.  What is so important about blue?  Blue, when combined with other ingredients gives out white light.  I am sure you now can see the enormous potential.   Once science figured out how to make white light from an LED and once they figured out how to increase the brightness “Lumen Output”, they were then on their way to making a substitute for the standard light bulb which, up till […]

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American-Made

American-Made

I came across an ABC news article about a man in Bozeman, Montana that caught my eye.  The article is about a man who is an Economist turned builder.  Now this story doesn’t seem that unique, however, upon reading further, the man’s selection of materials is.  He is constructing his houses entirely from American- Made products.  In other words everything that goes into this house, he has researched to make sure that the product was actually made in good old USA. This is something that other professional contractors, like me, should take note.  Now why is this so interesting?  He claims that if every builder bought just 5% more American- Made materials, it would create an additional 220,000 jobs!  I don’t know about you, but if someone told me that if I made a conscious effort to run my business by purchasing only 5% more American-Made products, the US economy could greatly benefit; I would say that’s a win-win opportunity.  The economy wins because this is a new job creator, and I win because it becomes an opportunity for me to educate clients that we are doing our part to help the economic recovery.  Wouldn’t you as a homeowner, thinking […]

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