Conventional Vs. Mobile Home Remodeling

Times to Hire a Contractor

Wondering if it’s time to hire a general contractor? These pros are experts at managing all aspects of a project, including applying for building permits, hiring subcontractors, overseeing work and cleanup, and more. If you’re thinking of undertaking a major home improvement project, remodel or new build, a general contractor will likely be a key member of your team.

General Contractor vs. Specialized Contractor

A specialized contractor is a pro with a single specialty area of practice, like electricians and plumbers. A general contractor (GC), on the other hand, oversees all on-site aspects of a construction project, including the work of any specialized contractors. The GC is your point person — the one with a bird’s-eye view of the entire project and the person you call about everything related to the project.

You’re Ready to Implement an Architect’s Plans

If you’ve been working with an architect to design a custom home, once the plans have been finalized it’s time to find a contractor who can bring the design to life. It’s important that these pros work well together, so if your architect suggests contractors he or she has worked with before, it’s a good idea to consider getting bids from them. But even if you do go with one of the contractors your designer suggests, don’t neglect to do your own due diligence — check references, ask to see past work and double-check that he or she is insured.

You Want to Exercise Your Design Chops

This certainly isn’t the case for all homeowners, but for a certain design-savvy subset — like contributing writer, whose remodeled bathroom is shown here — taking on a (relatively) small design project with the help of a general contractor is an exciting proposition. Working with the pros at Innovative Construction, selected her own fixtures and finishes to transform a ho-hum bathroom into a light and lovely space.

You’re Making Changes to Your Kitchen

Anytime you know you’ll be needing multiple pros at work on a single project, it’s usually worthwhile to hire a general contractor to oversee and coordinate the project. In a kitchen, for example, pretty much any work that goes beyond altering a single element (like replacing appliances) will require multiple pros, including a plumber, an electrician and a carpenter or cabinetmaker. Your general contractor can maintain the larger vision for the space (including a kitchen designer’s plans, if you’re using them), hire and oversee subcontractors, schedule the work and maintain the site.

Most Popular Features for a New Kitchen? A Pro Tells All

Embarking on a kitchen remodel is both an exciting and daunting endeavor for most people. My goal as a kitchen designer is to guide my clients through the multitude of decisions that need to be made. To begin, I always ask what they envision in their dream kitchen. Not surprisingly, there is a universal chorus on their requirement list, unlike their wish list, which is diverse and based on their specific desires. Read on to find my most requested kitchen must-haves.


It may not surprise you that the most common request I hear from a new client is for a kitchen island. It’s very typical for people to dream of an island that’s the focal point of their kitchen and is big enough for food preparation, extra storage and seating, like the one shown here.

Long and narrow. One option is to rethink the depth of your island. Not all islands are meant to have seating. Some simply function as another work surface with perhaps a bit of storage below. In this photo, the combination butcher block and stainless steel island adds a warm yet industrial element to a gray Transitional-style kitchen. The openness of the island adds an airy feeling to this galley kitchen space.

Itty bitty. Remember, as nice as it is to have a large island, you won’t enjoy all that extra counter space if it’s difficult to walk around the kitchen. A key component of getting your island right is the work aisle clearances. Sometimes the space you have means only the smallest of center islands will do.

Large Single Sink

I’d say that 98 percent of my clients request a single-basin sink that is 30 to 33 inches wide and 9 inches deep. What makes the single basin all the rage? Most of my clients comment that their current double sinks cannot fit large pots and pans — and that drives them crazy!

Remodeling Your Kitchen in Stages: Planning and Design

If you’ve got several cookie jars stuffed full of $100 bills, then executing a full-scale kitchen remodel all at once makes sense. But what about those homeowners whose cookie jars are filled with, well, mostly cookies?

You can still get that beautiful kitchen of your dreams, you just need patience and a well-thought-out game plan that breaks up your remodel into several stages spread out over time. That way you can save up (fill that cookie jar!) and spend only what you can when you can. Maybe this month it’s painting the cabinets. Maybe later in the year you buy new appliances

Look Before You Leap

A phased remodel gives you the ability to spread out payments over time, which is good for people who can’t pay for a full remodel up front and aren’t comfortable taking out a large loan to cover it. Breaking up a project also allows you to change your plan between stages, something much more difficult when you’re in the middle of a full-scale remodel. If you decide to reverse course in some aspect of the plan, it will likely cost less than changing course would have been if the whole remodel were done at once.

But a phased project requires immense patience and strategy. Your first impulse may be to dive right in, but I’m here to tell you: don’t. When planning a kitchen remodel over stages, it is important to rein in those early rash decisions. Do not buy new appliances, fixtures or countertops. Do not paint, do not replace windows, do not knock down that wall and do not replace your cabinet hardware.

If you act on impulse and rip out that awful tile countertop and replace it with a gorgeous slab, you have seriously limited yourself going forward. What if you end up wanting to change out the undercounter sink or, worse, modify your entire kitchen layout? That stunning new countertop may have to go, and you will find you have wasted time and resources.

Times to Hire a Design-Build Firm

Wondering if it’s time to hire a design-build firm? Unlike the more traditional path (known as “design, bid, build”), which involves hiring a designer and a builder separately, hiring a design-build firm gives you design and construction services under the same umbrella. Whether led by an architect or a builder, all true design-build firms include both designers and builders at their core.

If you are thinking of remodeling, adding on or building from scratch and want the ease of working with a single firm from start to finish, a design-build firm may be the right choice for you.

You Like the Idea of Working With a ‘Master Builder’

Once upon a time, the professions of architecture and construction were not as separate as they typically are today. And while it’s true that even in a design-build firm, the design work and the construction are generally handled by different people, a close collaboration between these two wings can result in something akin to the “master builder” approach that was once more common.

You Want a Specialist in Construction Methods

Because the design-build model brings all members of a project team — including the designer, contractor, engineer and any specialty subcontractors — together early on in the process, you can be sure that tricky construction issues are taken into account from the get-go.

You’re on a Tight Schedule

Disagreement between the designer and the contractor on how things ought to be done can result in serious slowdowns. When you’re working with a design-build firm, however, everyone is on the same team — which can translate into faster timelines. Also thanks to this collaboration, building can often begin even if there are still a few small finishing touches to iron out in the design.

Trends That Will Define Home Design

It’s not only a new year but a new decade. And what the months and years ahead will bring is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure, though: The modern home and how people choose to live in it will constantly be changing. To get an idea of what’s to come, we browsed thousands of home design photos, spoke with countless home design professionals

Three-tone kitchens. Two-tone kitchen cabinets — meaning the upper cabinets are one color and the lower cabinets another color, or the perimeter cabinets are one color and the island is a different color — dominated kitchens in the past couple of years. So it’s only natural that designers are building on the trend rather than doing away with it.

a deep navy defines the refrigerator and pantry wall to the left, joining white perimeter cabinets and a superlight wood island base. Wood via the beams, ceiling, shelves and flooring adds to the diverse three-tone palette.

used a three-tone strategy in this kitchen, which is one of the most popular kitchen photos uploaded in 2019. Sage-green cabinets surround a dark stained wood island base, while an inky painted window frame (Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore) punches up the design considerably.

This cabinetry from Yorktowne combines a honeyed white (Safari Classic) with green (Eucalyptus Classic), and two warm wood cabinets with open shelves flank the range. A wood X-detail contributes to the three-tone approach.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Home Renovation

Ways To Tell If a Home Renovation is Well Done

housing market is full of houses and condos that have been recently renovated by developers. The quality of these renovations varies greatly, and we wondered if there was a way for house hunters to tell the good renovations from the bad.

These tips are not foolproof: a home may have fancy appliances but shoddy workmanship where it counts, or be well done throughout but have mid-grade fixtures

Still, here are ten tips that we hope will help:

Look at the locks. Schlage and Baldwin are the “gold standards,” said, while a Home Depot or Quickset lock may indicate a renovator who wasn’t willing to spend the extra money.

The quality of appliances vary greatly. Write down the serial numbers and see what the developer paid for the appliances.

Take note of the bathroom fixtures, and do some research on the price and quality. Kohler is widely used and respected, and a rain shower often costs significantly more than a typical shower head. Again, a mid-range product doesn’t necessarily mean that the house is not well done, but a high-range product shows that the developer was willing to invest more.

The quality of plumbing fixtures can be determined by weight; the heavier the fixture, the more metal used, which generally translates to a more expensive product. You may not be able to pick up mounted fixtures, but holding a handle may give a sense of the weight.

Doors also fall into the “the heavier, the better” category. Swing the interior doors to determine their weight; solid core doors are heavier than hollow core, and are more expensive.

Cabinets and kitchen drawers also vary. One trick is to look at the drawers to see if they are dovetailed. Dovetailed woodwork indicates a higher quality, though a lack of dovetailing doesn’t necessarily indicate a poor job. Here are a few ways to check out the cabinets.

Perhaps the biggest worry when buying a renovated home is whether the developer has covered up large problems — mold, cracks in the foundation, a bad electrical system — with drywall or quick fixes. Look for water damage, which may indicate mold, or bring a trusted inspector or experienced real estate agent with you.

To that end, get your hands on the inspection report if you can.

An A/C system can be a good indicator of how much the developer cares. The difference between the cheaper systems and the nicer ones, like Trane and Carrier, can be just a few hundred dollars and is sometimes determined by the installer; seeing a Trane or Carrier means that you have a developer who insisted on a better system.

Finally, a good developer is usually willing to put their name on the product. If you have a hard time finding out who is responsible for developing or renovating the home, you have a right to be suspicious. Don’t be afraid to ask for references of past work, and call the current owners to find out if they are happy in the home.

The Worst Home Renovation Trends Over The Past 30 Years

Whether you’re binge-watching Fixer Upper, scrolling through the ‘gram, or following along with your favorite blogger’s renovation journey, sprucing up any space can look so deceptively simple. A little shiplap here, a little sledgehammer action there, and you’ll find up with the easy, breezy home of your dreams.

In reality? Remodeling your home is easier said than done. Not only does the most mundane project require lots of elbow grease, but most renovation projects have an expiration date. To put it lightly, your “wow” factor can turn into a “What was I thinking?” just a few years later.

Make no mistake, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder — and your renovation projects are no exception. Your home is your happy place, and creating a space that represents you and your style is timeless. That being said, we’ve noticed some former remodeling trends have seriously lost their steam over the past 30 years. While they aren’t bad, there are some newer ways to approach renovating your home that might feel more design-forward for the times.

As the design world crept into the ’90s, the industry took a turn for sensible, multi-functional design. While we love the appeal of an ottoman with hidden storage or a sofa bed — hey, they come in handy when you have guests over — we’re still scratching our heads over the once-popular glass-blocked walls

Want to give your hardwood floors a fancy finishing touch? Back in 1990, parquet was the trend du jour. By definition, parquet is a geometric mosaic created to give your hardwood floors a decorative edge

Should You Renovate Your House Before Selling it?

collectively spend over $300 billion on remodeling and repairing their homes every year. However, diving into demolition is one thing when you’ll get to enjoy those shiny granite counters and new soak tub for years down the road. The question of “Should I renovate my house before selling?” requires more calculated thinking purely based on ROI and the marketability of your home in its current condition.

“I know that most of the time, you’re going to get back 65% to 70% of what you’re going to spend, assuming that it’s something generic enough in nature to where the next buyer is going to appreciate it,”

When does selling your home “as is” make sense?

Sellers who need to max as much money out of their property as possible—perhaps to purchase a larger home or apply toward their retirement—will be more motivated to take on renovations than homeowners who are short on time,

But it’s not unusual for a homeowner to get a job transfer out of state that starts within weeks, leaving no time to renovate, said. “In that particular case, we’d always want to say, ‘Well, gee, if there are some basic things we can do just by pressure washing the outside or doing a few things like that.’ But in lieu of doing all these possible updates for the buyer, let’s just reduce the price drastically to compensate for those numbers and get it sold.”

Another option is to sell your house “as is” to an investor. You’ve heard of these companies that have for decades shown up on billboards and in your mailbox with promotions promising to buy your house for cash instantly. The catch has always been that you’d have to sell your house for a steep discount to get this type of offer, but what you may not realize is that today’s direct-buy investor market has been stirred up by the entry of new competition.

Easy Do-It-Yourself Renovations

Refinish or Reface Kitchen Cabinets

Consider either refinishing existing cabinet doors with paint, stain, or laminate; or reface them, which means putting new doors on existing kitchen boxes. Hint: Order one door and one drawer front before ordering the whole set so you know they’ll really work. Check out more budget-friendly kitchen renovation tips.

Buy New Knobs for Cabinetry

Replace wood knobs with modern stainless ones, or swap cold metal ones for antique colored glass knobs (Anthropologie always has a great assortment).

Add Track Lighting

Because these are lights that go on the surface of the ceiling, as opposed to “pot” or “can” lights that are recessed, you can install these yourself.

Insulate the Attic and Other Energy-Sucking Areas

Caulk around windows and spaces between the floor and baseboards. Service your furnace so it produces the most for the least, and insulate your visible pipes for heat loss. Buy a “draft stopper” or “draft guard” for the bottoms of your doors (a cheap fix from $10 per door) so wind or heat doesn’t slip through.

Tile the Bathroom Floor or Kitchen Backsplash

Make sure your surface is flat and dry surface — like a cement or plywood subfloor, an even wall, or a tiled surface you want to cover with new tiles. Use spacers between tiles and the notched trowel to create even ridges on the mortar under the tiles.

I want to renovate my house – where do I start?

If you’re thinking of renovating your home, chances are, your mind is flooding with ideas. You’re most likely getting advice from family and friends, as well as the many different home renovation blogs online.

Determine your intent

Are you renovating to fix issues that plague your home or to increase its resale value? Think specifically of what your issues are in terms of space, light, and storage.

Examine your home

Before anything, take a look at what could benefit from changes in your home. You can go from one room to another to work out systematically what needs upgrading or renovating. Check the flooring, the walls, the ceilings, and lighting and air flow.

Identify issues

This is tied closely to determining your intent. By finding out what needs fixing in your home, you can work with the designer to create a home design that meets your needs.

Find out your budget

Find out how much money you have for a home renovation project that you would meet your needs.

Do It Yourself Kitchen Remodeling

Choosing Kitchen Cabinets Where To Start & What To Know

Choosing kitchen cabinets is probably the biggest if not the most nerve-wracking decision you’ll make for your kitchen. It’s easy to understand since the cabinets have a big impact on your budget as well as how your kitchen looks. They’re one of the first things you see when you walk in a kitchen and have a large influence on the whole “feel” of the room.

Looks aren’t the whole story however and with cabinets there is an element of ‘you-get-what-you-pay-for’. That’s because they’re made with a variety of construction techniques using several different materials in a “good”, “better”, “best” fashion. Besides that there are options to consider like full extension drawers, soft-close hinges and many others, and they can have a big impact on the overall cost.

If you’re now thinking that you’ll need to mortgage the farm to afford decent cabinets, don’t worry. You can still find good products at an affordable price and it doesn’t have to incorporate the absolute best materials or the latest organizer gizmos.

Just be aware however that cabinets generally consume about half of the typical kitchen budget so you’ll want to be sure you know what you’re getting for your money. The best way to do that is to understand the differences in construction and materials and how those elements impact their quality and durability.

Choosing Kitchen Cabinets – Where Do I Begin?

The first thing you want to do is get some clarity on your goals for how you want your kitchen to look and function so that you’re ultimately satisfied with the end result. You should do this regardless of whether you’re replacing your existing cupboards (essentially staying with the same layout) or starting with a completely new layout plan.

Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. A complete kitchen renovation with a national median cost of $65,000 recovers about 62% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.

Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway.To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.


Our kitchen remodel plans are moving right along and while there are lots of little decisions yet to be made, my kitchen design got finalized this week and I’m so excited to be sharing it with you! And I’m not only sharing my design plans but also the path I took from the very start of my planning to when I printed out the final kitchen design. Several of you have told me that you have plans for a future kitchen remodel but don’t even know where to start and I hope that by walking you through my entire kitchen design and renovation process from start to finish, it will make it that much easier for you to plan your own kitchen renovation down the road. And for those of you who aren’t planning a kitchen renovation any time soon, I hope you’ll still enjoy following along and sharing in the decision making and the fun of seeing the space come together (and sharing in the stress too as renovations are always full of unexpected twists and turns, right?!).

So let’s get this renovation roller coaster going starting where all of my kitchen planning began… choosing cabinets. I’m excited to be partnering with MasterBrand Cabinets for my kitchen renovation (their Diamond cabinets are a perfect fit for me!) and am kicking things off with what led me to decide that they were the best-fit partner for my renovation


Cabinets are a huge chunk of most kitchen remodel budgets and not something that you’re likely to change again for a long, long time so choosing the right brand of cabinets is important. And overwhelming! A good first step before jumping into cabinet shopping is to figure out your cabinet budget and whether that translates to looking at stock cabinets (such as cabinets on the shelves at home improvement stores), semi-custom cabinets, or custom cabinets. Also, make a list of what cabinet features are most important to you. My main cabinet must-haves were a semi-custom line with the option for all plywood construction (vs. less durable particle board), good interior cabinet organization and storage solutions, and a nice palette of color stains and paints to chose from. My current kitchen rates high on the scale of dysfunctional spaces so features like {this paper towel cabinet} where I would not only have a pull-out can for my trash but also one for my recycling AND a spot for a paper towel roll had me drooling!

Once I had a good sense of what I was looking for, I asked anyone and everyone in “the know” about cabinet brand recommendations. While the advice of friends is always helpful, reaching out to contractors who frequently remodel kitchens along with interior/kitchen designers who have worked on lots of kitchens is key. I was lucky enough to be attending a conference early last year with several interior design friends so you can bet that I picked their brains not only about cabinets, but countertops and appliances too! I found that several of the brand names recommended to me (KitchenCraft, Decorá, & Diamond) all linked back to the same parent company, MasterBrand Cabinets. I also asked my contractor who recommended that I look at Schrock cabinets because he had a great experience with them and chose them for his own home and I found myself right back on MasterBrand’s website yet again


Just like when you’re choosing paint colors for your walls, I found that the key to choosing finishes for my cabinets was to get finish samples to view in my own home. For stain finishes, the same stain can look quite different on different types of wood so be sure to keep that in mind (I liked all of the stains on maple the best!). Going into choosing my cabinet finishes, I knew that I wanted to have white cabinets around the perimeter of my kitchen because not only do I love the look but I wanted to make sure I used a color that wasn’t too taste-specific since I have an eye on resale a few years down the road (and who doesn’t love white?!). There are about 1001 different shades of white out there but I didn’t need to go seeking anything custom because Diamond’s white color is perfect – not too cool or too warm. My decision for the kitchen island was a lot harder because there were so many beautiful options that would have been great choices. I love the look of a wood island and considered going with a wood stain but since our floors are going to be wood I decided that it might be a little bit of wood overkill. I thought that Diamond’s Seal (a gray stain), Morel (a midtone wood stain with just a touch of gray), and Storm (a charcoal gray/black stain) were all gorgeous so if any of you are looking for a beautiful wood cabinet finish, definitely check those out. For paint finishes, I loved Moonstone (a dark, rich gray), Cloud (a beautiful light gray), Egret (a light taupey neutral), and Maritime (a rich dark blue). The winner was… Moonstone! I LOVE this color so much and being the gray loving girl that I am, it will flow beautifully with the colors in the rest of my home.

Tips for Choosing the Best Kitchen Cabinets

It is not possible to have a functional kitchen without cabinets. They are an essential part of the kitchen. It is not possible to have an organized kitchen without cabinets.

Consider the Kitchen Style

There are several kitchen styles which are suitable for traditional and modern kitchens. It is important to choose cabinets which match with the color scheme of your kitchen

Choose the Material

There are a wide range of materials which are used for making cabinets. You can choose from stainless steel, melamine, metal, wood, or thermo foil. One of the most popular choices for cabinets is still solid wood.

Choose the Right Design

There are so many options when it comes to styles and colors of doors. There are also countless possibilities when it comes to the layout.

Aesthetics and Functionality

While choosing cabinets, you should not just focus on the beauty and look of the cabinets. You can choose the best cabinets by considering the available space. You can also add drawers under the counters of the kitchen instead of shelves

Kitchen Remodel Checklist

Let’s face it, in a nation where home renovation long ago surpassed baseball as the Great American Pastime, kitchen nightmares are a dime a dozen — and anyone who’s ever traded Formica countertops and a Harvest Gold fridge for soapstone and a stainless steel side-by-side knows exactly what we’re talking about.

Kitchen Remodeling Contractors

Kitchen remodeling is at the top of homeowners’ wish lists. It is also, according to attorneys general across the country, a leading source of consumer complaints. Recommendations from friends are the best place to start your search for a qualified contractor. But before you make a decision, keep these caveats in mind.

They’re only as good as their last job. “General contractors often win jobs based on their good reputations,” explains architect Dennis Wedlick, author of Good House Hunting: 20 Steps to Your Dream Home. “But circumstances can change. When the contractor switches subcontractors or laborers, quality can be affected.” Ask your top three candidates to supply references, and follow up with the most recent ones.

Essential Questions to Ask References

1. What were the contractor’s work habits? Did he show up on time and prepared to supervise the subs?

2. Did he stick to the scope of the work and cleanup plan as outlined in the contract? Were any unauthorized changes of materials or details made?

3. Did your project stay on or close to budget? Did materials arrive on time? Did he keep you up to date on his progress or potential delays?

4. Did anything go wrong? And if so, how — and how quickly — was the crisis resolved?

Kitchen Project Planner Checklist

An experienced designer can save you time and money by heading off potential problems at the pass. Kitchen planners know all the tricks: how to maximize storage, smart substitutions for high-end materials, even the best local contractors for the job. But first, they need a few things from you.