Green Remodeling – What’s it all about?


When we are designing major home remodeling projects, our clients often ask about Green Remodeling. From my view, the definition of Green Remodeling is simply “creating a healthy environment while supporting environmental sustainability.” The good news is that current standard building practices ensure that your remodeling project is going to be “green” and environmentally friendly.

The three main concepts and common practices of Green Remodeling are:

  • Indoor Air Quality – There are many ways the air inside your home can become polluted. Getting rid of toxic products and maintaining the gas appliances are no brainers, and Green Remodeling processes eliminate these concerns by using natural products and ensuring proper ventilation.
  • Energy Efficiency – As long as you are following current standard building practices you have no concern that you will be energy efficient. The Environmental Protection Agency has mandated specifications for all exterior structure elements of our homes to ensure we use as little energy as possible to keep ourselves comfortable.
  • Durability of Products Used – We always encourage our clients to use natural stone and wood products that are timeless and will last a lifetime. The production of man-made products is hard on the environment, they tend to have a short life span and are “disposable,” meaning they will someday sit in our landfills.

All you need to do to be sure you are Green Remodel friendly is to follow current standard building practices, make sure your home breathes healthfully, uses as little energy as possible, and when you add products to your home, make sure they are of durable quality and have been made with as minimum impact on our environment as possible. Read more

The Return Value of Keeping Your Home Well Maintained and Updated

When our clients are looking at investing in a home maintenance or remodeling project, they often ask if they will get their money back if and when they sell their house. There are many variables that affect the answer, and every project’s potential return on investment is different. My canned answer to this question is that there are four ways maintenance and remodeling projects will give you some return:

  1. A well maintained and updated home will sell faster than one that isn’t. Most potential home buyers want to buy a home they can move in to without the hassle of remodeling. So if your home is well maintained and updated, it will sell faster than one that looks like a lot of work and a potential money pit.
  2. A well maintained and updated home will fetch a better price than other homes on the market. Homes are typically appraised and sell for a price calculated on square footage. In our north Texas markets, it’s not uncommon for a well maintained and remodeled home to sell for $20.00 to $30.00 per square foot more than an outdated and poorly maintained home. This can easily calculate to a $40,000.00 to $60,000.00 difference in what the home sells for.
  3. The enjoyment of living in a well maintained and remodeled home has quality-of-life value. Living in a well maintained and updated home adds value in ways that can’t be measured. Peacefulness, security, comfort, and pride of ownership are just a few of the value-added benefits.
  4. Staying ahead of the maintenance and remodeling will save you money in the long run. Fixing things when they break is always more expensive than doing routine preventive maintenance. In an emergency situation, not only do you have that initial repair to make, but the chance of collateral damage can be great—such as floors being damaged when a hot water heater breaks.

It’s important to be thoughtful of your home improvement projects for future returns. Front doors, kitchen and bathroom renovations are the best places to realize a return in function and resale. Having top quality work done with timeless products is also smart because the renovation will have more shelf life. Read more

Historical Home Renovation Complete


The addition we started in May to the historical home is complete. Eight weeks from demo to completion, and it’s a beautiful custom project from top to bottom. The porch has new patio doors coming from the dining area, new siding, sconces, stained concrete, and a metal roof with exposed framing that is painted sky blue.

Check out the very cool vanity Michael and Hector crafted from an antique dresser and a beautiful piece of marble the homeowner found in an antique shop. The washer and dryer and hot water heater are tucked behind louvered doors. The floor is stick-on vinyl; it looks great and is very durable.

Here is a peek at the next project for this home, the kitchen. We are in the design stage; cabinet installation will be in a few weeks. We will post pictures when it is complete.

Take care,
Mike Read more

Granite Countertops


When I’m asked about the best product to use for countertops, I always recommend granite. Granite is very durable, and the long-lasting quality and timeless beauty of the natural stone make it a smart investment for both bathroom and kitchen countertops.

Here are the 10 most frequently asked questions about granite:

Isn’t granite expensive? Surprisingly, no. The cost of plastics and vinyl has risen quite a bit in the last few years, while the granite marketplace has stayed very competitive. Many times granite is one of the least expensive ways to go. Another thing to consider is that granite will maintain its beauty and structure much, much longer than man-made products. Does granite require much maintenance? No. The granite is sealed when it is fabricated. Simply use granite cleaner that also has a sealer in it a few times per year. Spot clean with hot water. Use mild soap sparingly; it will leave a residue that can build up, so rinse well with hot water. Avoid acidic cleaners, they will break down the sealer and make it look dull. Granite is rock hard, will it cause my dishes to break and chip? It’s true that granite doesn’t flex and give like man-made products, but with normal care, it isn’t a problem. When it comes to dish handling, I’m as big a klutz as there is, and I don’t have any issues breaking or chipping dishes on my granite countertop. Can I use the granite top as a cutting board? You could, it wouldn’t harm the granite, but it sure will dull your knife, and you are spreading food and germs on the countertop. It’s best to use a cutting board. Should I use hot pads under pans and plates when setting them on the granite? Yes. Although unlikely, the heat shock could potentially create a stress crack. The real reason to use hot pads is to prevent anything trapped on the bottom of a pan from scratching the surface. Also, the granite will pull the heat from a plate surprisingly fast, so a hot pad helps keep the dish warm longer. What thickness of granite should I get? Granite comes in 2 centimeter (about ¾”), and 3 centimeter (about 1 ¼”) thicknesses. I only recommend the 3 centimeter. The 2 centimeter is prone to crack and in my opinion, the thin edge has a cheap look to it. The savings is very minimal, and not worth it in the long run. How is granite priced? Granite is priced by the square foot in levels—level 1, level 2, level 3, etc. The higher the level, the higher the price. Most of the granite we sell is level 1. There are around 12 different selections, and most of the time one will work. Higher levels of granite cost more, but it’s because they are rarer—it has nothing to do with quality. In fact, the higher-priced and more exotic granite can sometimes be more prone to problems. Why don’t the samples look like the granite I received? Granite is an organic material and no two slabs are alike. This is actually one of the great things about granite, as yours will be unique. This is why we have our clients go to the granite warehouse and pick their slab of granite. Often, the client will see a veining or coloration they like within a slab and we will make sure it is featured when the tops are cut. What kind of sink should I use? Your sink can be under-mounted or top-mounted. I prefer the under-mount because it does away with the nasty grimy edge when a sink sits on top of a counter. My favorite sink is a granite composite sink. Check them out at blancoamerica.com. Where can I see granite slabs? My favorite granite warehouse is IMC in Fort Worth. They have a huge inventory of beautiful granite from all over the word, and a very helpful and knowledgeable staff. Even if you aren’t currently in the market for granite, it’s worth the field trip to see

these awesome natural works of art Read more

Bona Fide Daredevils and Ladder Safety


This photo of our guys framing a second story room addition won a contest Bosch Tools was putting on, with a jobsite radio as the prize. When I saw the contest posted on an industry national newsletter, I knew it was meant to be because the guys needed a new radio for sure! See the picture below to see what I mean. See more pictures below to get a real sense of how high up they are working. We exercise an incredible amount of safety procedures to ensure everyone on our job sites are safe, so these Daredevils can get the job done, as they always do.

Ladder Safety – Leave it to the Professionals
I’ve been climbing ladders all my life. I work with a lot of people who do the same. The vast majority of the time, it works out. But unfortunately, I get to see the worst when ladder climbing goes bad. The main cause of ladder accidents is over confidence and poor planning. Here is a list of things to consider if you use a ladder: Read more