adding value to home

Add Value to Your Home with Energy Efficient Upgrades

Energy efficiency upgrades can not only shrink your utility bill; they can also increase the value of your home.

Homebuyers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of energy-efficient homes. In fact, they’re often willing to pay more for homes with “green” upgrades, says Sandra Adomatis, a specialist in green valuation with Adomatis Appraisal Service in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Just how much your home will increase in value depends on a number of factors, Adomatis says, like where you live, which upgrades you’ve made and how your home is marketed at sale time. The length of time to recoup the costs of green upgrades also depends on the energy costs in your area.

In 2014, upgraded homes in Los Angeles County saw a 6 percent increase in value, according to a study from Build It Green, a nonprofit based in Oakland, California, that works with home professionals. Upgraded homes in Washington, D.C., saw a 2 to 5 percent increase in 2015, according to a study Adomatis authored.

While upgrades like a brand new kitchen or a finished basement may give you more bang for your buck than energy-saving features, going green has its benefits.

Here are some common energy upgrades, from least expensive to most.

1. Insulation. A 2016 Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling magazine found that the average attic air-seal and fiberglass insulation job costs $1,268, with an added value to the home at resale within a year of completion of $1,482. That amounts to a 116 percent return on investment. And according to Energy Star, homeowners can save $200 a year in heating and cooling costs by making air sealing and insulation improvements

2. Appliances. Your appliances account for about 15 percent of your home’s energy consumption, the DOE says. Certified clothes dryers can save you $245 over the life of the machine, according to Energy Star. A certified dryer from General Electric can run from $649 to $1,399.

When upgrading, look at the kilowatt-hour usage of a new appliance and compare it to your current one — a good Energy Star rating doesn’t necessarily mean it will use less energy than your existing appliance, Adomatis says.

3. Heating and cooling systems. These systems account for about 43 percent of your energy bill, according to the DOE. Replacement costs for an entire HVAC system — heating, ventilation and air conditioning — vary widely depending on equipment brands and sizing but may run several thousand dollars. Energy Star estimates you can save 30% on cooling costs by replacing your central air conditioning unit if it’s more than 12 years old.

While addressing your home’s heating and cooling systems, bear in the mind that leaky duct systems can be the biggest wasters of energy in your home, according to Charley Cormany, executive director of Efficiency First California, a nonprofit trade organization that represents energy efficiency contractors. The cost of a professional duct test typically runs $325 to $350 in California, he says.

4. Windows. Replacing the windows in your home may cost $8,000 to $24,000, and could take decades to pay off, according to Consumer Reports. You can recoup some of that in resale value and energy savings. Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report found that installing 10 vinyl replacement windows, at a cost of $14,725, can add $10,794 in resale value. Energy Star estimates that certified windows, doors and skylights can reduce your energy bill by up to 15 percent. If you’ve already tightened the shell of your home, installing a set of new windows may not be worth the cost. But the upgrade may be worth considering if you live in a colder climate.

5. Solar panels. EnergySage, a company offering an online marketplace for purchasing and installing solar panels, says the average cost of a solar panel system is $12,500. The payoff time and the amount you’ll save will vary depending on where you live. Estimated savings over a 20-year period in Philadelphia, for example, amount to $17,985, while it’s more than twice that amount in Seattle: $39,452, according to EnergySage.

This article was written by November 7, 2016  for NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

 

Recommended Small Kitchen, Small Budget Design Ideas

Designing the perfect kitchen is already challenging, but it’s even tougher when you have very little space and a tight budget ..

Small Kitchen Design Essentials

When designing the kitchen-of-your-dreams, there are plenty of features and functionality every homeowner would love to have. However, unfortunately, your budget can get eaten up pretty quickly. What is worth the investment? Here are 10 small kitchen design must-haves that add luxury without breaking your bank.

1. Under Cabinet Lighting: This particular feature adds both ambient lighting and task lighting. And if they are dimmable, can serve as a nightlight as well. Under-cabinet LED lights are also energy efficient, and investment, therefore, that saves money over time on utility costs.

2. Hidden Outlets: Your kitchen is required to have a particular number of outlets, to be up to municipal codes. It can be frustrating to have to install them right in the middle of a beautiful backsplash. Homeowners are opting for under cabinet outlets, or retractable outlets that lift up out of the counter.

3. Appliance Garages: Kitchen counters can get cluttered quickly with toasters, coffee pots, blenders or mixers. The appliance garage is the solution. It conveniently stores all your small appliances, so that they are both out of the way, but easily accessible.

4. Glass Doors: Glass cabinet doors are a great option for displaying unique plates or glassware. However, they also offer a convenient, dust-free open option for organizing everyday items.

5. Open Shelving: Open shelving is a trend that has grown and remained popular in the kitchen. It is an artistic way to display not only dishes but canisters, books, even dry goods.

6. Hanging Pot and Utensil Racks: Keep your pots and pans and utensils conveniently stored and accessible. This storage can also create an attractive focal design element within the kitchen.

7. Recycling: Many counties have made it increasingly easier for folks to recycle. As a result, designers are building organized recycling centers right into the kitchen.

8. Double Ovens: In many instances, two really is better than one. If you do a lot of entertaining, or you have a large family, two ovens are almost a necessity.

9. Separate Ice Maker: While this seems like a bit of a luxury, it serves to free up valuable storage space in the freezer. In addition, you will never run out of ice at an inopportune moment again!

10. Pasta Pot Faucet: It can be tricky filling a large pot with water then carrying it over to the stove. Therefore, many homeowners are opting for a built-in pasta pot faucet mounted right at the stove. It is a functional yet elegant design feature.

energy efficient kitchen design

Improving Air Quality In The Kitchen – Starts With The Design


Air quality matters in every room of the house, but unique factors are in play where cooking takes place

What a range hood does is largely invisible, but that doesn’t make its impact any less important. Kitchen contaminants can compromise a home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) and consequently, the occupants’ health. Pollutants emitted from ovens, microwaves, and cooktop burners during cooking may include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and other volatile organic compounds. That makes addressing IAQ a critical health and safety issue. In addition to safety risks associated with carbon monoxide, some compounds emitted during cooking can contribute to asthma and allergies; others are known carcinogens.

The Department of Energy is taking steps to improve residential indoor air quality by supporting research aimed at creating an integrated, balanced whole-house ventilation system, where kitchen exhaust ventilation solutions are consistently rather than erratically implemented. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there is a common misconception that kitchen exhaust isn’t necessary during cooking. Many people only turn on the range hood fan when they detect odors or when smoke or large volumes of steam are visible. But indoor air quality is affected by gas burners, ovens, and grills, even if the occupants can’t sense a problem.

Another issue is the lack of consistent kitchen ventilation in today’s homes. A report published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) titled, “Addressing Kitchen Contaminants for Healthy, Low-Energy Homes,” estimates that just 25 percent of the country’s population lives in states whose building codes require kitchen exhaust.

The Wish List For Homeowners:

The LBNL report identifies several strategies for encouraging wider adoption of effective kitchen-exhaust ventilation. Among the market-side strategies are building codes and increased public awareness.

Below is a list of suggested technological improvements.

Better microwave range hoods: Compact and affordable over-the-range microwave ovens combined with range hoods are popular among homeowners. Yet no microwave range hoods currently comply with either the Energy Star Certified Exhaust Fans standard or ASHRAE 62.2 standard for spot ventilation. In addition, few microwave range hoods include sound or airflow ratings certified by the Home Ventilating Institute. For manufacturers, developing a compliant microwave/range hood combination unit should be a top-priority product innovation.

Range hoods integrated with makeup supply air: Range hoods are powerful fans that can depressurize homes, especially when operated for long periods. This can result in moisture and contaminants being pulled into the home. The DOE is developing a system to introduce makeup air using an integrated, balanced whole-house ventilation system. Controls would ensure that a damper in the balanced ventilation system opens a supply duct near the kitchen range when the range hood is operated. Range hoods that reduce the amount of conditioned indoor air exhausted and improve air quality and building durability by mitigating house depressurization need to be available to consumers. In addition, there’s a need for a greater selection of quiet, affordable, energy-efficient, and effective range hoods.

Automatic shutoff: Exhaust systems can create a condition in which the pressure inside the home is lower than the pressure outside; this depressurization can result in the backdraft of combustion gases into the living space. Range hoods equipped with timers that shut the fan off after a preset time (for example, 30 minutes) could lessen this problem. Range hoods with timers would improve IAQ and confer modest energy benefits.

Onboard diagnostics: Commissioning range hoods is notoriously difficult. Incorporating accurate, reliable diagnostic sensors into range hoods—modeled after automobile onboard diagnostics—would help with design and would allow for ongoing monitoring once the appliance is installed. Sensors could measure performance characteristics such as airflow, static pressure, and power consumption. These would likely be hidden from the end user, but technicians could access the data and troubleshoot problems.

Smart hoods: Range hoods that operate automatically when needed have the potential to greatly reduce the health impacts caused by exposure to kitchen pollutants. Potential mechanisms include particle counters and heat and/or humidity sensors, or direct-wired or wireless tie-in to range controls. One challenge is getting manufacturers to develop smart hoods that are compatible with all ranges, regardless of brand; these features would need to be certified to a standard that has yet to be established.

Integration with whole-home ventilation: Increasingly, codes are requiring whole-home ventilation that follow standards such as ASHRAE 62.2. Smart ventilation saves energy by reducing total whole-house ventilation, which adjusts exhaust-fan operation in coordination with other household equipment such as bathroom fans, kitchen range-hood fans, clothes dryers, and central vacuums. It improves indoor air quality by scheduling whole-house ventilation in response to outdoor temperature, humidity, and contaminants. This solution has been demonstrated in a prototype called the Residential Integrated Ventilation Controller (RIVEC) and is commercially available.

Low-energy options: There are few low-energy options for effectively removing cooking pollutants. Yet, as other loads are reduced through improvements in energy efficiency, kitchen exhaust products will need to become more efficient as well. Kitchen ventilation should be designed as one component of an integrated home ventilation system tailored to a specific home type and climate. Advanced kitchen ventilation systems will need to be developed for common home types and climates. The systems could include balanced ventilation with heat capture, low-flow/high-capture efficiency designs, or a recirculating hood that includes effective pollutant filtration.

indoor air quality index

Most Wanted Features and Colors In Kitchens by Homeowners

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What are the features and colors included in kitchens of newly constructed homes? Data from Houzz, combined with information from the 2016 Builder Practices Survey, provides insight.

The 2016 Builder Practices Survey (BPS) is a national survey of homebuilders, conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs, that captures valuable information on the product features included in new residential construction, both single-family and multifamily.

It is a robust survey of 1,381 respondents who built single-family detached units and 199 respondents who built multifamily or single-family attached units (i.e. townhomes). Results are available on national and regional levels.

Analyzing the BPS can uncover interesting trends in the construction of new kitchens, such as countertop material type, cabinet type, and appliances.

Although the BPS covers a broad range of topics, it does not touch upon the color themes of kitchens in new construction. Houzz, an online platform dedicated to home remodeling and design, conducted an online survey on this very topic. Its survey asked recent buyers of newly constructed homes about the colors themes in their kitchens. The survey is national in scope and had 203 respondents.

Combining data from the BPS with the Houzz survey can provide powerful information on what today’s new kitchens look like. The following provides a snapshot of the 2015 product features and color themes included in kitchens of newly constructed single-family homes:

Countertops & Backsplashes Installed

Granite countertops are overwhelmingly the most popular with 64 percent of new homes having this material type. It is no surprise that only 14 percent of new homes have laminate countertops. Based on NAHB’s Consumer Preference Survey report, laminate countertops are the least desired kitchen feature and are likely only installed when affordability is a major concern. Besides these material types, 9 percent each of new homes have engineered stone and solid-surface countertops.

The Houzz survey provides insight on countertop color. Figure 2 displays the countertop color of those who have granite countertops, the most popular countertop material. Three color choices stand out: 30 percent of respondents have multi-colored countertops, 26 percent have white, and 18 percent have black. Twenty-six percent reported some other color, or were not sure about their countertop color.

In addition to countertop material color, buyers also noted the color of their backsplashes (Figure 3). Twenty-six percent of respondents reported having white backsplashes, 13 percent reported beige, 12 percent reported multi-colored, and 6 percent reported gray. Forty-three percent reported some other color, or were not sure of their backsplash color.

Cabinetry Chosen

Wood-based cabinets are the most common, but there is variation in the panel type of wood cabinets. Sixty percent of new homes have raised panel wood cabinets, compared to 25 percent that have flat panel wood cabinets. Only 5 percent of new homes have laminate cabinets, and the remaining 10 percent consists of various other types, such as glass cabinets. The most popular color is white (34 percent), followed by wood – medium tone (20 percent), gray (9 percent), wood – dark tone (7 percent), and multi-colored (6 percent).

Appliances Installed

Cooktops and ranges are almost always provided in new kitchens with 97 percent of new homes having these features. Features that are also commonly installed include dishwashers (92 percent), microwave ovens and garbage disposals (both 84 percent); and refrigerators and freezer (65 percent).

Items less frequently installed in new homes include clothes dryers and washers (36 and 34 percent, respectively), wall ovens (18 percent), hot water re-circulation piping (17 percent), water softeners and central vacuum systems (both 13 percent); hot water dispensers and standby generators (both 8 percent); trash compactors (4 percent), and elevators (2 percent).

The combination of data from the BPS and the Houzz survey provides a sense of what new kitchens look like. New kitchens tend to have granite countertops, raised panel wood cabinets, and come with a standard set of appliances, such as cooktops & ranges, microwaves, dishwashers and garbage disposals. New kitchens also have white, multi-colored, or wood-based color themes, and are complemented by “stainless steel” appliances.

 

Sources:

(1) 2016 Annual Builder Practices Report

(2) HOUZZ

(3) HOUZZ

(4) 2016 Annual Builder Practices Report

(5) HOUZZ

(6) 2016 Annual Builder Practices Report

(7) HOUZZ

commercial interior

Power Of Amenities in The Workplace

With a continued focus on providing more with less, companies across all industries are continually driving their workers to increase efficiency and productivity—to get product and services to market faster and cheaper, writes LPA’s Karen Thomas.

Nothing says “we care about you” more than an employer providing meaningful amenities within the workplace environment. It is no longer enough to attract and retain the best and brightest, C-suite occupiers realize that in order to excel in today’s global economy they must provide a work environment that motivates and inspires the most highly sought after employees. The best companies are all competing for the same talent, and realize they must truly differentiate themselves by leveraging and communicating their authentic culture and vision. Well-designed active and passive amenities are key components of a successful work environment.

With a continued focus on providing “more with less”, companies across all industries are continually driving their workers to increase efficiency and productivity—to get product and services to market faster and cheaper. This push to get more done by fewer staff, while utilizing less square footage, puts increased stress on workers. Longer work hours and ever increasing deadlines add to the challenge of work/life balance. As a result, the workplace environment has become not only a place to work, but a place to innovate, socialize, let off steam, and decompress.

The most successful venues for meaningful employee socialization have important characteristics: activity, change of pace and environment and engaging the senses. Getting people out of their normal work environment, moving around, engaging in wellness activities, bringing in sound and music, offering entertainment and even food, all bring people together and create an enriched environment for socializing within active amenity spaces.

Office amenity spaces are not always located within the immediate office interior design; we have seen proximity to outdoor spaces to be one of the most powerful opportunities for employees to interact, laugh, chat and establish meaningful bonds during breaks in the work day. There is nothing better than taking a walk with coworkers, grabbing a coffee, having lunch outside, getting fresh air, and stretching your legs.

Flat Paint Finishes – The Latest in Designing Techniques


There is a new technology that allows for flat-finish paints to offer washable performance plus the sophisticated elegance of a shine-free finish.

by Amanda Lecky Stir Magazine

Flat paint finishes are second to none when it comes to creating a rich, velvety look on the wall, but in the past this effect came with a price: The porosity of flat finishes made them more prone to staining and more difficult to clean, since washing and scrubbing often caused color change and burnishing.Happily, improved paint formulations have eliminated these worries. “Today’s premium flat finishes from Sherwin-Williams use coatings technology that wasn’t available just a few years ago,” says Jeff Winter, Vice President, Residential Marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “These proprietary formulas allow customers to get the flat finish that they desire, with the washability you’d expect from a higher sheen.”

“I love flat finishes,” says Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “They help hide surface imperfections in a wall because light doesn’t reflect off the high points — which is great if you have an older house with bumpy walls, like I do. And premium flat finishes like Duration Home® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint or Emerald® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint are very washable. I have kids and I have to clean my walls all the time.”

Beyond the practical considerations — Winter says that flat finishes are well-suited to large, open, sun-washed spaces that are prone to roller lapping — flat finishes are also having a trend moment.

Flat Finishes Supporting image 1
“Scandinavian influence is very strong right now, and when you look at those interiors they’re full of dull finishes,” Wadden says. “Chalky finishes on furniture are also very hot at the moment. So there’s a big appetite for dead-flat finishes. It’s a very sophisticated and subtle look.”

Using flat finishes, inside and out, is easy — if you pick the right paint. “You can’t just tint flat standard paint and expect durability and washability,” she says. “It’s not designed to withstand abrasion the way technologically advanced flat-finish paints like Duration or Emerald are.” Wadden offers more simple tips and ideas:

  • Stick with walls. “Even though flat finishes are very durable and cleanable, I’d still use a finish with a bit of gloss for trim and doors, and for horizontal surfaces like floors,” she says.
  • Don’t forget siding. “Flat exterior finishes are ideal for siding because they hide all those little bumps and dings. I painted my house in a flat finish,” she says.
  • Commercial projects aren’t off-limits. “You can use flat finishes on walls in commercial spaces, too. Maybe not in a commercial kitchen or bathroom, but they’re definitely good choices for hallways or gathering spaces.”
  • Go a little lighter. “Flat finishes tend to look richer and darker because they absorb light in a space. So you may find the color you like on the chip looks darker once it’s on the wall.”
  • Vary the sheen. “You can create tone-on-tone patterns by varying flat and eggshell or semigloss: think stripes or stencils, or just pair flat walls with glossy trim in the same color for a little variation.”

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Study: Paint Colors Affects House Price

Homeowners looking to sell should immediately paint their slate gray walls a new color, according to findings from Zillow Digs, a website where users can browse millions of photos for home improvement and design inspiration.

Zillow Digs analyzed photos of nearly 50,000 homes sold across the U.S. over the last 10 years and determined that a room’s paint color influences the selling price.

The report took into account the wall color and the type of room, with controls for all other wall colors, square footage, the age of the home, the date of the transaction, and the location.

Creamy yellow or wheat-colored kitchen walls were most alluring to buyers, increasing a home’s sale price by as much as $1,360 above the expected Zillow estimate (or Zestimate). Light green and khaki were also popular, with bedrooms painted in those colors fetching $1,332 more than expected. Purple was found to be a nice fit for dining rooms, and homes with mauve, eggplant, or lavender walls earned $1,122 above the expected price.

When it comes to colors that exert a less-than-positive influence on home price, buyers shied away from terra-cotta and orange-toned living rooms (houses with these hues sold for $793 less) and dark-brown bathrooms ($469 less than normal). But slate and dark gray hues were found to be the biggest turnoffs. Homes that featured dining rooms in those colors sold for $1,112 less. Lighter grays, particularly living rooms painted in a dove tone, fared much better, earning $1,104 more than expected.

White and eggshell-color in kitchens, surprisingly, could also have a negative effect on a home’s sale price. Generally a popular choice for designers because of the color’s versatility and clean, timeless appearance, homes with kitchens painted white sold for $82 less than expected.

“A fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to improve a home’s appearance before listing,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, in a statement. “However, to get the biggest bang for your buck, stick with colors that have mass appeal so you attract as many potential buyers to your listing as possible. Warm neutrals like yellow or light gray are stylish and clean, signaling that the home is well cared for, or that previous owners had an eye for design that may translate to other areas within the house.”

Design Review: Master Baths

Design Review: Master Baths

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Sherwin-Williams selects ‘Poised Taupe’ as 2017 color of the year

August 29, 2016 |

Sherwin-Williams

CLEVELAND (AUGUST 29, 2016) — Sherwin-Williams announces Poised Taupe (SW 6039) as the 2017 Color of the Year. A modern take on a timeless classic, Poised Taupe signals a new direction in society’s ever-growing thirst for beautiful neutrals that bring warm and cool tones together to create one irresistibly versatile color.

“Poised Taupe celebrates everything people love about cool gray as a neutral, and also brings in the warmth of brown, taking a color to an entirely new level. Not cool or warm, nor gray or brown, Poised Taupe is a weathered, woodsy neutral bringing a sense of coziness and harmony that people are seeking,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams.

As the Sherwin-Williams team traveled the world to identify the latest trends and make this year’s selection, it became clear that neutrals are beginning a transition from the monochrome gray of the past five years to a more complex taupe and brown. In a recent homeowner survey conducted by Sherwin-Williams, nearly 40 percent of the respondents agree that they would like to incorporate warmer neutrals, such as warm grays, taupes or beiges, into their home décor. Additionally, more than two in five people identified taupe as a timeless neutral they would choose.[1] Move over cool toned colors. A new trend is here.

 

The well-lived life in the home

Drawn from the Noir palette, one of four palettes in colormix™ 2017: The Sherwin-Williams Color Forecast, Poised Taupe addresses the search for authentic spaces that recharge the spirit in uncertain times and where perfection can seem like the ideal.

“Consumers yearn for spaces that feel welcoming and hug them as they enter. Earthen brown combined with conservative gray, creating Poised Taupe, embodies all of these emotions,” says Wadden.

With its cool-yet-warm vibe, Poised Taupe is an ideal backdrop for a wide range of color combinations, from pastels to brights to jewels. For example, when paired with the faded indigo of Stardew (SW 9138), it creates a charming palette reminiscent of a French countryside. Used in tandem with vibrant Rave Red (SW 6608), it evokes the natural feel of red-stained bedrock. And with the deep teal of Marea Baja (SW 9185) and sunny hued Bee (SW 6683), it transforms into a super-graphic look.

 

A warming trend is coming to commercial spaces

In 2017, the subtle shift to warmer colors reaches commercial spaces too, which tend to move in more conservative color cycles than residential or designer directions. Influences such as natural or organic materials, weathered and worn finishes and global cultural preferences have suggested alternatives to the primarily gray existence that has been the star of commercial color direction over the past five years.

“Since commercial color direction tends to enjoy longer lifecycles, Poised Taupe is on the forefront of this trend, offering the ability to endure over time, yet complement a wide range of designs,” says Wadden.

Aligned with this burgeoning trend of moving away from the stark, cold and barren commercial environments, Poised Taupe gives developers, builders and interior designers a warm color that offers dimension and complexity, but is neutral and subtle to work with for nearly all aesthetics.

Anchored by the 2017 Color of the Year and taken from colormix™ 2017: The Sherwin-Williams Color Forecast, a new set of commercial neutrals such as Mudslide (SW 9113), Sealskin (SW 7675), Casa Blanca (SW 7571) takes their place in center stage, showcasing the best of 2017 and the beginning of the warming trend that patrons crave.

Poised Taupe is truly a color poised to go in many directions.

For more information visit SWcoty.com.

 

Ask Sherwin-Williams™

For 150 years, Sherwin-Williams has been an industry leader in the development of technologically advanced paint and coatings. As the nation’s largest specialty retailer of paint and painting supplies, Sherwin-Williams is dedicated to supporting both do-it-yourselfers and painting professionals with exceptional and exclusive products, resources to make confident color selections and expert, personalized service at its more than 4,000 neighborhood stores across North America. Sherwin-Williams has been ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Paint Retailers, Four Years in a Row” in the J.D. Power 2016 Paint Satisfaction Study℠. For more information, visit sherwin-williams.com. Join Sherwin-Williams on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.

Costly Kitchen Mistakes to Avoid

July 11, 2016

General contractors do their best to keep jobs in line and on budget but want consumers to know that the process is a two-way street. A survey of 300 general contractors nationwide published by Consumer Reports in June 2016 detailed seven kitchen remodeling mistakes made by consumers that are guaranteed to cause problems for homeowners. Among them:

  • Changing your mind. Nearly 60 percent of contractors said that the No. 1 way to drive up costs is for homeowners to introduce changes after a project begins. Changes increase costs by an average of 10 percent.
  • Skipping the background check. Consumers who hire unlicensed contractors forfeit protections from their state licensing board. Licensed contractors are legally obligated to guarantee their work. The survey also found that licensed contractors are better at holding down costs when unexpected problems arise.
  • Using open-ended contracts. Contracts that lack details regarding materials and specific start and end dates leave consumers vulnerable to remodelers who may become distracted by another project mid-job.
  • Forgetting functionality. For example, rangehoods work much better at removing smoke and odors than does the built-in ventilation of an over-the-range microwave; undercabinet lighting helps eliminate shadows on kitchen counter workspaces; and drawers in base cabinets help maximize storage.
  • Relying on rough sketches. Vague, rough sketches do little to thoroughly address design challenges. Using 3-D drawings helps consumers visualize the space and identify traffic-flow problems, such as whether circulation is blocked when the fridge door is open. Virtual-reality software lets consumers immerse themselves in the new space before work ever begins.

About the Author


David Weissman is associate editor for Professional Remodeler. dweissman@sgcmail.com (link sends e-mail)