Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Places To Splurge & Save In Your Kitchen Renovation

 Posted From

"It's difficult to make sweeping generalizations about kitchen renovations and builds (other than the old "add 50% to the initial estimate!" rule — always a good idea!)."  
This initial statement from the author of this article is very interesting. There's a rule to add 50% to the initial estimate? Yikes! This must be for a DIY project, right? Because as a professional design/build remodeling firm AK guarantees our initial estimates plus or minus 10% for 30 days. And a contract? Unless you change the scope of the project, the price does not change! Whether you're splurging or saving, when you work with AK you know how much you're spending. That is true peace of mind. Click to find out more about AK's Remodel Pricing Guarantee.
Here are a few ideas from the author's article on with some ideas on where to splurge and where to save when remodeling your kitchen. We'd love to hear if you agree, or disagree!

 "Every kitchen is different, just as every cook has a slightly different set of desires and priorities. However, as I've researched and shopped for my own kitchen, which is being built from the ground up, I've made some trade-offs in costs and priority that, so far, seem worth it to me...

Save: Lighting
Splurge: Windows
No matter what, lighting in a kitchen is very important. I would love to have some spendy modern pendants over the island and the dining table (why oh why do my tastes run to the Champagne in this area??) but it's not in the budget.
I chose instead to put money into high-quality awning windows with good hardware. There are full-length sidelights next to a sliding door, and more windows in the dining area. The cost of windows adds up, but this is the time to put them in. Other lighting is less important, and inexpensive pendants from IKEA can be easily replaced down the road.

Save: Faucet
Splurge: Sink
I predict this will be a controversial choice! The faucet is, after all, the most-frequently-used fixture in your kitchen. But as I have researched and shopped, I have found that some great faucets can be found from brands such as Grohe and Kohler, and they are often on sale at Amazon and Wayfair. You can get quite decent faucets for under $200.
Sinks, on the other hand, often cost more, and they are much more difficult to replace down the road. I am looking for a good although modestly-priced faucet, but I am buying the sink that I want.

Save: Oven
Splurge: Stove
Kitchen designer Susan Serra told me that the oven is the least-used appliance in most people's kitchens. Some folks don't even need an oven at all, especially with the advent of convection microwaves. Unless you're a frequent baker, prioritize your stove over your oven.
And, in my opinion, the stove doesn't need to be a high-powered faux-restaurant monster to be a good buy. I'm going for a more modestly-priced Bertazzoni rangetop, which is a fraction of the price of a BlueStar or Viking (although still the most expensive appliance in the kitchen). My oven is a used model (still in warranty!) that I found on Craigslist.

Save: Tile and backsplash
Splurge: Countertop

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Contractor Tips: 10 Home Remodeling "Don'ts"

Whether you work with a general contractor or act as one on your own project, getting a glimpse into the mind of a contractor can give you a new perspective into remodeling projects around your home.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Write On Your Wall: Facebook Not Required

  Do you remember life before Facebook? When a song, a phrase or a moment struck you - you maybe wrote it down but didn't share it with the entire world. While we're all for social media, we also love the idea of special, thoughtful, family communications.
  That's why this idea inspired us. Sure we've seen chalkboards before: chalkboard tables, chalkboard walls, chalkboards in pictures frames...But what inspired us was the intention for using this one! Besides just being a place for kids to doodle, or keep an all-encompassing family calendar, we like the idea of having a special chalkboard in your home as your family "Facebook page."
    Each day, or whenever the mood strikes you, this is the place each member of your family can share a thought, a quote, a message of love, encouragement or care. As we see on all the social media sites, sometimes it's easier to write and share feelings we might be timid to otherwise express.
   We just love this idea as a way to remind your busy teenager how you feel about them, inspire your stressed-out spouse before a busy day at work, teach the wisdoms of the ages...What would you write on your wall?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

5 Tips for Being a Better Client From Building Moxie

 Jb' s take on contractor "match-making" sites and what a homeowner really needs to do to find the right contractor is honest, funny & just great! He suggests maybe it's time for homeowners to stop trolling just for a quick score and time to look for a long-term and committed partner.

we now pronounce you contractor and client

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hiring A Contractor: Is The "3 Bid" Rule Applicable In Today's Marketplace?

Re-posted Courtesy Of SLS - Thanks to SLS Construction in Alabama for allowing us to re-post this great blog!
Our thanks also to Leah Thayer and the d5R for bringing up such a hot topic: The Three Bid "Rule"- Breakable?

The BBB along with quite a few other organizations advise you to get three bids for any project you want done. Why? Well you do want the best price right, and isn’t that all that matters? If you do believe that price is all that matters, ask yourself; Is it truly the best price if the job isn’t done right the first time?
While the letter quoted below is mainly geared towards my friends roofing customers, it has some really good advice for anyone selecting a remodeling contractor. Thanks goes out to Ed Fako of Right Way Roofing Company for the letter below and of course being nice enough to allow us to re-post it.
Also Known As:
"What’s wrong with just getting 3 bids on my roofing project? And, Could someone please help me to not get screwed by the contractor I choose?"
 Dear Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner,
  I would like to address the vulnerability you are subjecting yourselves to by going out and requesting 3 bids for your project. Maybe the advise should be to make sure that you get the best qualified contractor to do the job right in the first place, instead of worrying about problems down the road. The 3-bid suggestion is just there so you can hopefully get lucky and find one who fits that category...
  I know what you have been told; “Go out and get at least 3 bids”, and throw away the contractors bid at the bottom and the contractors bid at the top and select the one in the middle. After all, isn’t that what almost every single, “How to Choose a Contractor Guide” suggests you do. Isn’t this the only way to ensure you do not get the low ball fly-by-nighter or the contractor who has to charge too much to justify his overhead or just wants to make too much profit from your job?
  When you decided you had a need for this particular project, did you say to yourself?
“Gee, I want to make sure I get somebody who does not provide me with the full scope of work we need to validate the manufacturers full length warranty, (even if we do not really know what specifications those are yet), and I also want to make sure they do not have enough experience for this type of project?

Of course you didn’t! That would be foolish and absurd!

  Well then, that obviously eliminates anybody who would not spend the proper amount of time with you to be able to assess your projects complete requirements, while attempting to remain within your financial means to afford this enhancement to your home.
  From years upon years of experience, we have discovered that the majority of bid work usually omits many of the necessary items that should have been included in the first place. We have chosen a different path. We decided that it would be better to explain the proper price for the job being done correctly at the beginning, rather than have to make excuses for the lack of quality for years to come.
  Do you really think that there are so many corrupt or deceitful contractors out there? Actually, no there are not. The unfortunate consequence of requiring multiple contractors to be bidding on the same project without pre-determined specifications to be met, is that most contractors feel compelled to find ways to cut corners to be able to “Win” the job. There is a necessity to “Make the Sale”, no matter what the consequences. Get the job at all costs, or should I say for all lack of costs, which also means lack of proper value.

  Well now, what will happen next, once the job starts. Here are two possible scenarios;

A) The contractor will do all of the minimal work specified in the contract, hoping that no one alerts you to the fact that additional specifications should have been included in the first place. If you never find out that some specs were omitted, Great Job. Everybody is happy. That is until things do not work as they were intended.
   Even though, Roofing is Not Brain Surgery”; There are many Wrong ways to roof a house. But…There is only…One “Right Way” to do it and that is “By Following All of the Manufacturers Specifications”. Remember; Over 90 % of All Shingle Roofs Done – DO NOT Qualify for the Manufacturers Long Term Warranty!!! ( This is; According to studies by GAF Roofing Corp., Air Vent Inc., & Alcoa ). Did you really expect that brand new 30 or 50 year roof you put on to look good and remain functional after 10-12 years? Oh, you did! Were you educated about the manufacturers specs? How do you know if all of the manufacturers’ specifications or industry guidelines were followed?
  But, if the building inspector approves it, doesn’t that mean it was done correctly? Yes and No! The building inspector is only there to ensure that the “Minimum” specifications were followed. That means that they pass things all the time, where some contractors only do the least amount of work to just barely be on the legal side of the ordinances. Is this what you want, a “barely passed minimum standards job”?

B) On the other hand, what if you realize that the project is not advancing towards your vision you started out with? Aha, you inform the contractor that more work needs to be included in the project scope. Great!!! The contractor replies, but first, Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, please sign these additional work change order forms. That work you now realize that you needed to have included, was not in our initial bid! We thought we were doing you a favor, by keeping the costs down for you, isn’t that what you wanted?

  So, what is a homeowner to do? The best that you can do is to find a contractor who is proposing to do the job 100 % the Right Way, right off the bat. Make sure that you spend time with each contractor to interview them on how they will approach the project. Make sure that you have an open line of communication with that contractor. Make sure that the written proposal is extensively detailed so that there is no confusion as to what you are receiving for your investment. Make sure that you know what the obligations and responsibilities are of both you and the contractor. Make sure that they supplied you with multiple references of similar jobs they have done in your neighborhood. Make sure that you are protected, by receiving copies of their workers compensation and general liability insurance certificates. Make sure that they have been a licensed contractor, going by the same company name for at least 5-10 years. Verify anything that they are telling you if they do not provide the back up documentation as part of their proposal package. If you have doubts about any suggestions they have made, then have them back up their reasoning with industry related technical reports or articles.

After you have done all of this, which contractor do you now believe is going to give you the Right Job for the Right Price?

More than likely, the only one out of the original 3 bidders, who even had a shot at producing the right results, was the supposedly highest priced contractor. Now, can you see that the highest bid, probably is not really the highest cost to you, but the only one to have provided the proper value to the specifications to ensure your warranty is validated by doing it the Right Way, per the Manufacturers Specifications?

The bottom line is that only the right “Qualified” bidder should even be considered in the 1st place.
 Find out here HOW AK WORKS and everything you  need to know about AK'S RIGHT-PRICED REMODELING ESTIMATES!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Beware Of The Lowest Price

  We're not sure exactly how many times we've talked about how and why choosing a contractor based on the price alone is a very poor idea, but it's a lot! We turned on the news this morning and thought we'd share another example from right here in Georgia:

Homeowners say cabinet-maker scammed them out of thousands of dollars -

Homeowners across north Georgia said a cabinet-maker was promising low prices for high-quality work, but his advertisement online was a scheme that wiped them out of thousands of dollars.  Authorities said Joe Alan Graham was arrested on a theft by deception charge.

But Graham was confident he'd beat the charges as Franklin County deputies took him off to jail, Channel 2's Tony Thomas said. An investigation found that Graham bills himself across the Internet as a semi-retired cabinet-maker with prices 40 to 50 percent cheaper than the big retailers.  

  Our hearts go out to the unsuspecting customers who were taken in by this man. During a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet, it's impossible to say price is not a factor. Price is always a factor! The important thing is to look for the right price, not the lowest price.
  Other things like checking references, and earning and building trust are critical aspects of choosing a contractor or a remodeler. 

We encourage everyone to get more information about selecting remodelers by visiting these resources on the web: