Remodeling as an investment: Getting the most for your money

Raleigh-based DIYer Brittany Bailey, a Northern Virginia native who blogs at Pretty Handy Girl, decided to invest roughly $20,000 on the outside of her house. (Lissa Gotwals/For The Washington Post)

Suppose you suddenly came into a nice sum of no-strings-attached money. Perhaps you received an unanticipated tax refund or a surprisingly generous year-end bonus. Or maybe a relative died, leaving you a lavish bequest.

Whatever the source, you probably have no shortage of ideas on how to spend it. For most people, it’s a list of competing priorities: finally taking care of that lingering student loan, making a deposit in a child’s college savings account, investing in the booming stock market, or just putting it in the bank and finally relaxing about expenditures after a long spell of scrimping.

But what about your house? It is, after all, the biggest investment most families make, and money spent improving it is generally borne out later in resale value. Just as important, most people spend more time in their house than anywhere else, and making sure it’s genuinely comfortable, and not just functional, can go a long way toward boosting your quality of life.

The question is where to begin. The choices are many, and each has its own price tag and set of variables attached to it. That’s where the experts come in. We talked to a number of contractors, landscape architects, do-it-yourselfers and interior designers to hear their recommendations and get a sense of the possibilities at several price points: $7,000, $20,000 and $50,000.

Obviously, it’s not one-size-fits-all. The cost and caveats for a 1,200-square-foot Capitol Hill rowhouse will be very different than for a 5,000-square-foot house in Potomac, Md. Prices also vary widely depending on materials and on whether you do the work yourself or hire someone else to do it. So consider these suggestions as guides, rather than definitive prescriptions.

If resale value is a key consideration, homeowners will probably want to focus on a few specific options.

“If I were to say spend money on any one thing, it would be the kitchen — and the bathroom if you have extra money,” says Jonathan Montgomery, an appraiser with the Real Estate Appraisal Group, a Takoma Park-based business. “But anything you can do to improve the look of the home, that’s where you spend the money.”

If you’re not planning to move anytime soon, though, you might have different considerations. And what these ideas highlight are that the best changes aren’t necessarily the big-ticket items. Those can be satisfying, but there are a number of more subtle improvements that can dramatically improve the feeling and value of a house.


It might not seem like a lot of money, but $7,000, used well, can have a substantial impact on a house. The question is where to direct it.

“At $7,000, that’s typically where you’re thinking of doing a minor improvement or upgrade to a large area, or a major overhaul to a small area,” says John Petersik, half of the Richmond-based duo chronicling their DIY adventures at Young House Love.

For many people, the kitchen — often a relatively large space — is their first thought. It’s a room that’s used frequently and that might have a public function, as well. Unfortunately, $7,000 doesn’t go far when it comes to replacing old appliances with shiny new ones. But if you’re willing to do some of the work yourself, it’s still possible to have a considerable effect.

“You can redo the kitchen counters and paint the cabinets to refresh the look,” Petersik said. “It’s not a full remodel, but gives you a fresh space.”

You’d have to paint your own cabinets — “If you hire someone, it’s almost as much [money] as getting new cabinets,” says his wife, Sherry Petersik. Although it’s tedious, it’s not particularly hard work. The bulk of the money can be spent on countertops, which, depending on the size of the kitchen, could be low-budget Ikea butcher block, granite or somewhere in between. And if there’s money left over, you can add a simple peel-and-stick tile backsplash or a cute light fixture to gussy things up.

The same amount could be used to upgrade a small bathroom, taking it down to the studs and adding new tile, redoing the shower and upgrading the fixtures. At that price range, the renovation wouldn’t be fancy, but it could include several new elements.

“We converted a half-bath in our basement to a full bath,” says Christopher Bulka, a D.C. real estate agent, speaking of his former house in Mount Vernon Square. He and his husband hired a contractor to turn an adjacent closet into a shower; the final result, which cost roughly $7,000, included not only the tiled shower, but also a new vanity and light fixture. “The majority of the cost with this was labor — tile is expensive to put in,” Bulka said.

But $7,000 can also be used strategically for a more subtle but impactful result. If your house has hardwood floors that are old, scratched or otherwise not at their best, you could hire someone to refinish them. Once the furniture goes back in, every room would look a little fresher.

Or, you could use the funds for a twofold improvement that similarly brightens up the house. First, paint the home’s interior. Then hire a designer to help improve the lighting, particularly in more public spaces such as the living and dining rooms, where good lighting can enhance the space. “In over 20 years of working with clients, I have yet to walk into a home that was properly lit,” says Debbie Wiener, who runs Designing Solutions in Silver Spring. “Most of us are mostly home at night, when there’s very little light. That’s why lighting is so impactful.”


With $20,000, you could take on one of the most popular renovations: a full upgrade of a kitchen or bathroom. For a kitchen, $20,000 would be enough for a mid-level redo: new counters, cabinets, sink and a couple of upgraded appliances. That money would go further if you bought the cabinets ready-to-assemble and hired someone to install them.

Or, you could seriously upgrade a medium-size bathroom, renewing everything and potentially adding luxuries such as a steam shower, heated floor or free-standing tub.

But there are less-obvious areas that might also need attention. “For $20,000, depending on the size of the house, you can replace your windows,” says David Robertson, who runs Something Different Contracting in the District. It’s not a particularly glamorous investment, but it can be necessary, if the house is leaking hot or cold air or simply looks dated. It’s difficult to estimate how much a full set of window replacements costs, Robertson said. It depends on how many windows the home has, plus whether you want to go with vinyl or wood; the latter will cost more. But $20,000 should be enough for nice-quality windows in an average-size house.

Bailey and her husband hired a landscape architect to redo the back yard, a project that included tiling a 280-square foot patio with pavers and adding a low wall, path and plants. (Lissa Gotwals/For The Washington Post)

Raleigh, N.C.-based DIYer Brittany Bailey, a Northern Virginia native who blogs at Pretty Handy Girl, decided to invest roughly that sum on the outside of her house.

“Exterior landscaping: patio, retaining walls, stone stuff,” she said.

Bailey and her husband hired a landscape architect to redo the back yard, a project that included tiling a 280-square-foot patio with pavers and adding a low wall, path and plants. They spent about $800 on the design and about $20,000 on the entire project. Bailey saved money by making a wooden arbor and pergola herself for $500.

The price will depend on how fancy you want to go, and the cost of plants varies greatly: a mature tree can be as much as $2,000, Bailey said. But taking on some of that work yourself or seeking out a wholesale nursery could reduce the price.

Bailey has another suggestion for homeowners looking to seriously protect the value of their homes: tackling those deferred maintenance jobs.

“As unexciting as it sounds, I highly recommend making sure that all the standard maintenance is done on the house,” she said. “So if you have water issues — like a leaky roof or under the house — that’s the kind of stuff you really need to put money into.”

That might mean replacing the roof, getting the gutters repaired, having the siding painted or finally getting to the bottom of why the basement is so damp. There’s no real estimate for how much those repairs might cost; the price depends on the state of the house. But $20,000 could probably take care of most of them, with enough left over for a fun splurge.


With $50,000, a homeowner can afford a dream renovation, such as a high-end kitchen remodel that includes top-of-the-line appliances and cabinetry. Another option would be to add to the house’s usable space by turning a screened porch or garage into a fully finished interior room.

Bulka, the D.C. real estate agent, combined those two jobs at his current home, a Bloomingdale rowhouse. “This house had a sleeping porch on the back, and it wasn’t super usable,” he said. Meanwhile, the kitchen — which abutted the porch — was already gutted when he and his husband bought the house and was essentially a blank slate. With the help of contractor Robertson and his Something Different Contracting team, they broke through the wall, enclosed the porch and converted it into one large kitchen with new cabinets and appliances.

With a $50,000 renovation budget, you can hire a designer to give you a custom look. (nicolamargaret/Getty Images)

But you don’t have to cut into walls to make a dramatic impact. Maybe decorating isn’t your thing: You don’t have the time or ability to furnish your living and dining rooms in a way that you like. For $50,000, an interior designer can help you choose a look and pick out furniture and accessories that will make the rooms shine.

“That amount allows you to do the extras,” said Wiener, of Designing Solutions, who estimates that about 10 percent of that budget would go to the designer; the rest could be spent on furnishings. “Not just the rug, sofa, coffee table and media cabinet, but also maybe some great lights, a bookcase and great window treatments. The good stuff always costs more.”

And don’t forget the home’s exterior. Mark White, who runs Arlington’s Gardenwise landscape design firm, says $50,000 can transform a small back yard — say, the 400- or 500-square-foot space behind a D.C. rowhouse. “We can make the garden space an extension of the house,” he said.

That’s just what Doug Hattaway did in the back yard of his Dupont Circle rowhouse, which had been dominated by a giant second-story deck.

After removing the deck, he hired Gardenwise to redesign the space.

The result is an outdoor area tiled with flagstone and granite that includes planters, a couch, a gas grill and a small fountain.

“It feels like a cozy room,” said Hattaway, whose family uses the space virtually year-round.

“It’s really nice to walk in and see the space and the trees; it’s soothing to look at and be in.”

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Original Date: June 28 2018

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Most Popular Bathroom and Kitchen Remodeling Trends of 2018

More and more people are looking to stay in their current homes longer and not having to go through the hassle of selling their home and buying a new one in order to get something new that they don’t currently have. This makes contractors and interior designers really happy because it gives them more opportunities to help people figure out how to breathe new life into their old house.

It seems every year there are new trends and new ideas in the remodeling world and two of the more popular spaces in the home to remodel is the kitchen and bathrooms. This article will be looking into new trends for 2018 in order to help give you some ideas for your own home.

The Top 5 Trends in the Bathroom and Kitchen in 2018


For the Bathroom

Smaller, more efficient size – Smaller sometimes is better and in the case of today’s bathrooms smaller has become better. Fitting more into a small space is definitely the in thing.


High tech toilet – Features like heated seats, automatic opener/closers, air drying and even some with built-in automatic deodorizers.


The revival of the brass and gold fixtures – The use of gray tones in bathrooms now are beckoning to the return of the brass or gold tone fixtures to add a much less chrome look.


New style vanity lighting – Lighting in today’s bathroom is much more a much more integral part of the bathroom designs. There are much more options in lighting with pendants and lighting bars to go along with the sconces.


Underfloor heating – In the colder climates, having the floor warmed under your feet in the winter adds that extra touch of luxury.


For the Kitchen


The smart kitchen – Smart kitchens today have gone beyond the smart appliances to include motion sensing faucets and lighting that can be controlled by your smartphone. We are almost to the point of the nearly automated kitchen.


Cabinet colors – White cabinets are still number one for cabinet colors with a light gray a distant second. However, when there is an island there should be darker colors to contrast all of the white or light grays.


New textures and material – The trend has been reducing the number of upper cabinets to give the kitchen a more open look and feel. Having open shelving where storage is needed and more textures to the backsplash for the necessary focal points.


Quartz countertops – Quartz countertops are still all the rage since there is such a wide range of colors you can choose, and they look fabulous all the time.


In cabinet storage systems – With kitchens almost never having enough room or a pantry is not always an option, in cabinet storage is a simple solution that would work in almost all situations.


JFC Remodeling, out of Howell, Michigan, offers a variety of construction services for the home including: kitchen and bath remodeling, flooring renovations, and home remodeling.  You can find out more information at or by reaching out to our home renovation specialists at 810.923.1123.

The Ultimate Guide for Kitchen Remodeling

Home remodeling takes a lot of your time, energy, focus, and money. Whether you are renovating your bedroom, bathroom, lounge, kitchen, or even the entire house, you must plan everything from your budget to the color schemes and how to make it all work together.

In home improvement, kitchen remodeling is the most lucrative as well as painstaking.  It is the center of every function in your house. It is especially difficult when you must live in the house as it is being renovated. Contractors do their best to work with families throughout this stressful time to ensure that homeowners can still use parts of their kitchens.

To simplify the predicament, we have made a list of top 5 tips to help while you are having your kitchen space remodeled.

  1. Budget

Before you start remodeling, you must determine that how much money you are willing to spend on home remodeling. In the case of remodeling a kitchen, you must decide that you want a low-end, medium-end or high-end kitchen. For that purpose, you can scan the market and your residential area that what type of kitchen designs are being adapted there. From that you can decide for the optimum choice that you want to consider for your kitchen.  Kitchen remodeling contractors will often help homeowners with this process.

  1. Changing or Keeping the Existing Floor Plan

If you are on a budget, home improvement plans can be a tricky situation and in kitchen remodeling changing your plumbing and/or your kitchen layout can be even trickier. As a rule of thumb, if you change one section of your plumbing or move the position of your appliances, it adds an extra $5000 to your budget. It looks very easy to change your plumbing and floor plan, but in fact it is not easy at all. Whatever you decide to do, you should always keep in mind the triangle shape between your stove, refrigerator and sink for the optimum use of the workspace and traffic flow in your kitchen.

  1. Bring Focus to Your Cabinets

New cabinets, new flooring, and new appliances are not the only solutions to consider when having your kitchen remodeled. Refacing existing cabinets, adding splashes of color, updated hardware and accessories can make a lot of difference.

  1. Incorporating Color

You can add a new life and buzz into your kitchen by incorporating contrasting colors in it. It will give a visual interest to your kitchen. It is important in all home improvement projects that you choose a  color pallet that accentuates all the good features within your home. Similarly, in your kitchen you can make a contrast of a bold and a neutral color or if you are going for a monochromatic look, you can choose contrasting tones.

  1. Small Changes Make Big Impacts

There are many ways to renovate your home and kitchen.  When deciding what and how you want each space done consider why you are remodeling.  Are you remodeling spaces to add functionality or mainly for aesthetic purposes?  If it is for functional purposes?  If yes, then many times your renovations will be a bit costlier as they may require moving walls, electrical outlets, lighting, and plumbing.  If you are remodeling mainly for aesthetic purposes and a change in the look of your space is desired then changing the color of paint, updating accessories, and some modified lighting may be more than enough.

We hope that the tips that we have mentioned above will give you the idea on tips and tricks required while remodeling your kitchen. JFC Remodeling, out of Howell, Michigan, offers a variety of construction services for the home including: kitchen and bath remodeling, flooring renovations, and home remodeling.  You can find out more information at or by reaching out to our home renovation specialists at 810.923.1123.


Remodeling the kitchen can be a major undertaking

For many households, the kitchen is the center of the home and the hub of activity. Remodeling the kitchen can be a major undertaking. It is not just the expense, but also the inconvenience to the household that gives many homeowners pause when considering such an undertaking. In spite of this, homeowners continue to find good reasons to proceed with a kitchen remodel. Reasons for remodeling vary, and your neighbor may not share your top reason for the project.


The kitchen might simply be falling apart. Cracked tiles, peeling countertops, broken or missing cabinet doors and outdated appliances don’t inspire gourmet cooking or family gatherings. The deteriorated kitchen has simply outlived its usefulness and needs a remodel.


Homeowners often remodel their kitchens to increase the value or marketability of a property. A remodeled and attractive kitchen will appeal to prospective home buyers more than a boring and outdated one. The homeowner may or may not recoup the investment of the remodel; this will depend on a variety of factors, such as the degree of the remodel and current market prices.


Energy Savings

Energy savings might be the prime motivation for a kitchen remodel. Adding skylights brings in more sunshine, reducing the need for artificial light. Energy-efficient appliances and solar water heaters cut the utility bill and place less stress on the environment.


The kitchen can be pristine yet outdated. If the kitchen says the 1950s, but you want to live in the here and now, it is time to transform your retro kitchen environment into a room for the 21st century.


The kitchen layout may have worked great for the previous homeowner, but not for you. Perhaps it lacks a breakfast bar, and your family wants to gather informally in the kitchen to enjoy coffee or grab a quick meal without going to the dining room table. Whatever the reason, one motivation for a kitchen remodel is to arrange the room to best suit the family’s needs.

Special Needs

It is sometimes necessary to remodel the kitchen to better accommodate the needs of disabled family members. For example, if one of the family is in a wheelchair or no longer able to reach high cupboards, a remodel can make the room more usable.

Financial Incentives

The prime motivation behind a remodel might simply be financial incentives, such as energy-saving rebates offered by government entities or vendors. Financial incentives include sales at home improvement centers, cash rebates for trading in outdated appliances, remodeling grants, and low- or no-interest loans.


Some homeowners simply want change. The current kitchen might be a functional, updated and attractive, yet no longer appeal to the homeowner.

Home Improvement TV

Watching home improvement shows on cable television inspires many homeowners to remodel their kitchens. They may never have considered such a project until a home improvement program showed them the possibilities for their kitchen.

Gourmet Kitchen

For a homeowner who enjoys preparing fancy meals and considers himself a gourmet cook, the prime reason for a remodel is the desire to create a dream kitchen. A gourmet kitchen with fancier amenities than most accommodates the cook’s needs.

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Original Date: June 17 2018

Preparing For Renovations

Are you preparing for a new construction project? Have you hired a licensed contractor? Whether it’s a small or large construction, managing a project can feel like a full-time job, and you are on the right track if you’re looking to hire a licensed general contractor to take up the responsibility for every aspect of your new construction build, from the footers to the roof.

Hiring a licensed contractor can ease your mind knowing that they will ensure all aspects of the project are up to code.  Hiring a contractor that has a worker’s compensation policy and a liability insurance policy to protect themselves and you against any unforeseen mishaps that may occur on site.

Working close with a licensed contractor will also guarantee that you have access to high-quality materials for every aspect of the job, which they can get at a more favorable rate and save you quite a bit of pocket change. Now that you have that covered, there are a few more things you need to do when preparing for a home renovation that will make the whole experience stress-free and perhaps a bit enjoyable.

  • Ask the licensed contractor you are considering to work with to let you see one or two of their project sites to determine that they are indeed good at what they do and most importantly, they are in good standing with their existing clients.
  • Be realistic when it comes to the scope of work that will go into your new construction by having a realistic timeline, budget, cost of material and equipment, as well as labor. Prepare yourself for the unexpected.
  • Invest in quality items or materials that will serve you longer, especially when it comes to common room items such as appliances or high-quality flooring and cabinets. The items you purchase should withstand years of use and cost you nothing to in the way of maintenance.
  • Determine some tasks that you can do yourself during the construction period to not only save time and labor costs but also to make you part of your new construction project.
  • It’s also prudent to consult with a few contractors who can give you a different approach to some designs on your board and advise you what is feasible and financially sound to avoid being entirely disappointed in your new construction project when it’s all done, and you can’t do anything about it.


JFC Remodeling, out of Howell, Michigan, offers a variety of construction services for the home including: kitchen and bath remodeling, flooring renovations, and home remodeling.  You can find out more information at or by reaching out to our home renovation specialists at 810.923.1123.


Top Reasons Why Homeowners Desire To Renovate Bathrooms

There are a number of reasons that homeowners consider renovating their bathrooms.  A lot goes into the renovation of a bathroom, so it is important to remember the end goal as you plan your ideal space.  No matter what the reason the space needs to meet your end goal once the renovation is complete.  Consider the following:

  • Add an Additional Bathroom: Many older homes have the one-bathroom dilemma.  Anyone with more than one person living in a home knows the importance of a second bathroom.  When adding an additional bathroom within your home consider if you need a full bath or half bath.  A half bath is more common in homes with two full bathrooms.
  • Bathroom Expansion: Expanding a bathroom is common in a home with more than one half bath.  Homeowners looking to add an additional shower or tub often consider expanding.
  • Accommodate the Aging Process: Aging is one of the most common reasons homeowners choose to remodel their bathrooms. Aging bodies need special concessions within spaces that are used multiple times a day like bathrooms and kitchens.  Some common renovations that are done because of aging are taller toilets, increased lighting, the addition of grab bars, pulls instead of knobs on cabinets, walk-in showers, and such to ease use.
  • Update Plumbing: Sometimes there is absolutely nothing wrong with your bathroom space when it comes to the look or layout but the components keeping it running begin to fail. Signs that your bathrooms plumbing needs upgrading can range from leaky sinks, mold, and low water pressure.
  • Improving Utility: Sometimes your bathroom needs to be renovated to increase the usage of the space.  It could be from improving ventilation, add storage, put in a bidet, or accommodate an extra person in the space with the addition of a double sink.
  • Cosmetic Upgrades: An updated look is always a good reason to renovate your bathroom space.  Sometimes a fresh space can really transform a style that has become dated.  Often some new cabinetry, a clean coat of paint, updated flooring, and a splash of new tile can really transform a space.

When looking into renovating your space it is important to hire a professional contractor.  Even the smallest of spaces, when renovating, can turn into a major disaster for those who go it alone.  A professional contractor specializing in bathroom renovations can quickly take your space from dull and dated to functional and fantastic.

JFC Remodeling, out of Howell, Michigan, offers a variety of construction services for the home including: kitchen and bath remodeling, flooring renovations, and home remodeling.  You can find out more information at or by reaching out to our home renovation specialists at 810.923.1123.

11 Home Improvement Scams You Need to Take Seriously

Most homeowners can DIY a few things but for the most part, we rely on contractors to tackle everything from major repairs to remodeling. This can make us vulnerable to scammers who take our money and trust to the tool shed. Watch out for these common scams.

Natural disaster specialists

floodingJozef Sowa/ShutterstockNatural disasters can wreak havoc on homes, leaving distressed homeowners desperate to get theirs in a livable condition again. Shady contractors see this an opportunity to scam vulnerable homeowners. “Unfortunately, opportunists pop up after natural disasters, and offer to fix things like mold in flooded basements,” says Aaron Task, Vice President/Editor-in-Chief of Experian Consumer Services. “For distraught homeowners, this kind of offer can look like a blessing, especially when other companies are busy with a long wait list for service. Usually, their work is second-rate and by the time you discover the problem, it’s too late. They’ve already left with your insurance money, and you have to pay another crew to fix their mistakes.” Watch out for these other natural disaster scams.

This is your lucky day!

A worker painting exterior wooden pool deck, Top viewiMoved Studio/ShutterstockA contractor knocks on your door with great news! He just completed a job for one of your neighbors and has some leftover supplies and can offer you a great deal on a new project. The contractor must have impeccable timing because you wanted to build a deck but it wasn’t in the budget until today! “Reputable home improvement companies don’t just wander around neighborhoods trying to find customers to pawn off their extra materials on. The contractor who tries this trick is hoping you’ll fall for a good deal without checking their credentials,” cautions Task. You’ll probably end up with a deck that is poorly built or they’ll take your money and run. Here are the secrets to finding a trustworthy contractor.

Free mold testing

Black mold buildup in the corner of an old house urbans/ShutterstockMold, especially Stachybotrys, the toxic black mold, is some scary business. It sure would be nice to know if you had it lurking in your home—especially for free! And wouldn’t you know it, the “inspector” finds mold and he can remove it right then and there! “Unfortunately, this contractor is likely not a mold removal specialist. These people make a living convincing people there’s a problem and then immediately promising to fix it,” says Task. Your house may not even have mold, but if it does, mold remediation takes special tools, in-depth assessment, and usually more than a day to remove. He may be scouting your house to rob it or trying to get you to commit to paying immediately to scam you out of money.

Show me the money

architectural drawing and dollar moneybaitong333/ShutterstockSure, you expect to pay a deposit to get your home improvement started but how much do you really need to pay? “One of the most common scams we see is contractors asking for large upfront payments or deposits that exceed state maximums,” says Gregg Cantor, President/CEO of Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel. “In California, for example, it is illegal to ask for or accept a down payment of more than 10 percent of the total home improvement contract price or $1,000, whichever is less. In Maryland, deposits cannot exceed 1/3 of the contract price,” says Cantor. Check with your state licensing board to verify the maximum deposit amount before you write a check.

This deal is too good to pass up!

Hands of worker using a silicone tube for repairing of window indoorveryulissa/ShutterstockDid you know your roof, door, or window was in dire need of an upgrade? Apparently, the salesperson who is at your door thinks so. And as luck would have it, the salesperson has a special “limited time only” deal. But still, you’re not sure, so you pause to ponder. Suddenly, the price gets a lot lower and because it’s so low they can only offer it to you so if you don’t take it right that second, you’ll miss out. The sense of urgency is the game. “These tactics are meant to frighten you into signing immediately by instilling the fear that you will miss out if you don’t act fast,” says Cantor. “We’ve heard of cases where contractors will take all or some of the agreed upon amount upfront, perhaps complete some of the work, but fail to finish the job. In other cases, the work might be completed, but the quality is almost always below that of reputable remodeling companies,” says Cantor.

How low can you go?

architect drawing on blueprint architectural concept, soft focusI Believe I Can Fly/ShutterstockProps to you for getting a couple of bids before you dive into your project. If you receive a really low or really high bid from one of the contractors, it could be a red flag. “While low bids might be tempting, a contractor offering a bid that is more than 15 percent below other bids either doesn’t completely understand the extent of your project, or they’re purposefully low balling the bid as a strategy to lock in the job, only to tack on additional costs once the work gets started,” warns Cantor. A high bid could be an indicator you and the contractor aren’t on the same page with your vision and budget. Here’s what contractors wish first-time home buyers knew.

Maybe you shouldn’t answer the door

White front door with small square decorative windows and flower potsDavid Papazian/ShutterstockIt’s hard to believe in the digital age people still attempt to sell services by going door-to-door. “Most reputable home improvement companies rely on word-of-mouth referrals, project portfolios, community connections, and other scrupulous means of earning your business,” says Cantor. But you may get the occasional door ringer from a reputable company too. While Cantor says you can view these with less skepticism than an unknown contractor he still recommends doing your due diligence. “The main takeaway here is that there should never be any pressure to buy something or sign a contract when the homeowner isn’t 100 percent ready,” says Cantor.

The contractor loves your ideas

Hands of architect engineer meeting for architectural project. working with partner and blueprint on table.Teamwork Concept.pan_kung/ShutterstockYou know how it goes, once you start a project, other ones reveal themselves. Or, maybe you decide to do an upgrade since the contractor is already working on a project. The contractor is onboard with your ideas and even makes some suggestions. Super! You’re on the same page—until you get the bill. “You’re surprised when the contractor says those upgrades weren’t included in the price and that you’ll have to fork over more money for them, ” says Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified, an online source for backgrounds checks and contact information.

These things happen

Hipster millennial man with arm tattoos and curly hair, small business owner, contractor measures wall to start reconstruction or adapt for painting, new home ownership De Repente/ShutterstockIt’s day one and already there’s bad news, the contractor discovered the wall you want to remove is actually a load-bearing wall. “Preventable, at times fraudulent, delays and change orders are an easy way for contractors and remodeling companies to pad their wallets at the expense of your peace of mind and budget,” says Mina Fies, creator of the Renovation Roadmap, a website that helps homeowners manage renovations from start to finish. “There should be no ‘wasn’t expecting that’ moments along the way,” says Fies. “Due diligence on the contractor’s part at the beginning of the process with realistic scope and budgeting means you shouldn’t end with a bill that’s twice the amount you were originally told.”

Putting extra cash in the contractors pocket

Semi with wood loadPaul Orr/ShutterstockYou trust your contractor knows how much wood, tile, or flooring they need to get the project done so you’re probably not going to notice the extra materials being loaded back into the contractor’s truck to sell to someone else. So, you end up paying for materials never used. “This may lead a contractor to take the excess tile (or other materials) to another project and offer it at a cheap price since the tile is already paid for. The contractor is making money as a result of overcharging the first homeowner and charging the second homeowner for tiles that have already been paid for by the first homeowner,” says Monica Higgins, remodeling expert, and author of Remodel Success: Home Remodeling Done Right, On Time and On Budget.

We can both make money on this deal

Chainsaw. Close-up of woodcutter sawing chain saw in motion, sawdust fly to sides. Concept is to bring down trees.Parilov/ShutterstockWhen my giant silver maple tree lost a rather large limb during a storm, I called a couple of tree services to get estimates to remove the limb. The first “tree guy” to show up said my maple trees were dying and he would be glad to cut them both down for $5,000. And by the way, the neighbor’s small dying trees cascading over my fence could be removed too. He said he would charge them $600 and give me $300. “Any time a contractor offers you a way to pocket the difference on something like that, it’s a red flag for sure,” says Cantor. The second “tree guy” was an arborist. He said my trees weren’t dying and even showed me how to take care of them better. He removed the fallen limb and chopped the wood for our fireplace for $150.

Scram scammers!

Close-up of two architect?s hands shakingPressmaster/ShutterstockTask says to follow these tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Only consider contractors who have a performance surety bond, which will protect the homeowner if the contractor fails to complete the job. If this happens, the homeowner can file a claim on the bond and recoup their losses.
  • Before signing a contract or putting down a deposit, verify the firm’s credentials by checking their state license and bonding status, asking for proof of insurance, and visiting the Better Business Bureau website. You can also ask friends, family, and neighbors for referrals or use sites like Nextdoor, Yelp, or Angie’s List to get reviews.

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Professional Kitchen Renovations Can Increase Your Home’s Value

A kitchen renovation is one of the smartest ways to add value to your home and you can achieve this by hiring a licensed contractor. Real estate experts agree that a well-designed and updated kitchen attracts buyers. Whether you are doing a complete kitchen remodeling or simply making a few updates, homeowners can improve the appeal of their home and increase the value with a professional kitchen renovation.

According to the industry, a homeowner can expect to recoup about 95% of the cost of a major kitchen remodel. This makes it one of the best remodeling choices for homeowners looking to increase their home value. A modern kitchen makes your home more valuable and more attractive to buyers when the time comes to sell.

The kitchen is the heart of a home. It is a place to gather as a family, visit with friends, and share meals. Because it is one of the most popular rooms in the house, kitchens tend to suffer a lot of wear and tear over time. Countertops, appliances, and flooring can get worn and damaged, decreasing the style and appeal of the room. Below are some common areas of interest that are addressed in remodeling.

  • Kitchen renovations may include knocking down walls to add space or redesigning the layout to improve functionality. Homeowners have the chance to design the room they have always wanted. Make the most of it by increasing storage space and improving traffic flow.
  • Consider upgrading your appliances to high-efficiency models. Not only can they save you money in energy costs, you may be eligible for tax rebates. Be sure that your electrical wiring and plumbing are properly installed by a licensed contractor to prevent damage and ensure that your appliances will work correctly.
  • Your existing cabinets can be re-surfaced, or you may decide to replace them entirely with new ones. A licensed contractor will help choose a countertop surface that will blend well with your cabinets. Stone, especially granite, used by a licensed contractor when doing your kitchen remodeling gives your kitchen an up-scale and classic look that will last the lifetime of your home.
  • Hardwoods and ceramic tiles are the most popular choices for kitchen flooring. Both materials are attractive to buyers and need very little maintenance to look good.
  • Lighting is extremely important in the kitchen. Ambient lighting will keep the room bright. Task lighting illuminates the food prep and cooking area. Under cabinet lighting can accentuate the beauty of your room.
  • A wall color that will accentuate your new cabinets, flooring, appliances, and countertops. Consider the addition of a colorful backsplash or accent wall to create a focal point in the room.

Kitchen remodeling is a large project and can take months to fully complete. Discuss a timeline and a specific budget for your project with a licensed contractor so you will know what to expect.  Not every homeowner is willing or able to complete a large-scale kitchen remodeling. Even minor improvements can change the entire look of your kitchen and make it more appealing to potential buyers. Whether you are selling your home or simply want to improve the room’s appearance, small projects like painting or replacing outdated appliances with a licensed contractor can make a big difference to the value of your home.

JFC Remodeling, out of Howell, Michigan, offers a variety of construction services for the home including: kitchen and bath remodeling, flooring renovations, and home remodeling.  You can find out more information at or by reaching out to our home renovation specialists at 810.923.1123.

JFC Remodeling, out of Howell, Michigan, offers a variety of construction services for the home including: kitchen and bath remodeling, flooring renovations, and home remodeling.  You can find out more information at or by reaching out to our home renovation specialists at 810.923.1123.

Clever Bathroom Storage Items to Pull Your Renovation Together

Now that your bathroom renovation is finished, it’s time to add additional storage to the space.  A bathroom can never have too much storage as it allows you to neatly organize everything while also providing a visually pleasing space you’ll absolutely love. Although you might have asked for and gotten lots of extra storage space for your renovation, here are a few clever bathroom storage hacks that will really pull the whole renovation together!

Hanging Baskets

Get more space in your bathroom by hanging baskets on the wall that look like floating shelves.  They can be used to house things like towels and toilet paper. Choose baskets that you like and then anchor them to whatever wall you’d like to showcase them on. It’s an easy way to add both décor and storage to your bathroom!

Storage Ideas for Pedestal Sinks

If you have a pedestal sink in your bathroom, you already know that you can’t store anything under it or else it will show. To fix that problem, you can invest in a wrap-around shelf that is made especially for pedestal sinks. This stylish option will provide you space to organize your things while still being out of sight! Or you can dress up the sink in a skirt and simply hide baskets behind it!

Wine Rack for Towels

There are plenty of gorgeous wine racks you can use to hang on a wall that will visually add to the space and hold bath towels at the same time. This is a popular option for more rustic renovators with small bathrooms where a linen closet or under the sink cabinet are not possible.

Invest in an Expandable Organizer

Make the most out of the space under your bathroom sink by investing in an expandable organizer that will easily fit around your pipes and provides an easy way to organize your products under the sink. Other options are adding storage onto the side of the cabinet doors and stackable baskets.

Shelves Over the Toilet

Adding shelves over your toilet will allow you to have a number of everyday essentials within reach.  Shelves also add additional space for towels and small appliances like blow dryers, electric razors and such.

There are a number of ways that contractors will include storage for you within your bathroom renovation however, as you know there is never enough.  Anywhere you can sneak in some hidden storage you should take full advantage.  Storing items allows everything to have its own unique spot and ensures an uncluttered space.

JFC Remodeling, out of Howell, Michigan, offers a variety of construction services for the home including: kitchen and bath remodeling, flooring renovations, and home remodeling.  You can find out more information at or by reaching out to our home renovation specialists at 810.923.1123.

8 Hot but Highly Impractical Design Trends That Are More Trouble Than They’re Worth

These days, it seems like we’re constantly barraged with images of what’s fresh and hot in home design. From Instagram to Pinterest to “Fixer Upper,” it can be hellishly difficult to keep up with the latest trends—and very easy to feel like your home simply doesn’t stack up.

But here’s the thing: Those gorgeous photos of, say, spotless, all-white kitchens are more than merely aspirational; they’re a bit antithetical to, you know, living.

So before you fork over a ton of cash to make your home look Pinterest-worthy, remember that some of the hottest design trends are also a whole lot more trouble than they’re worth. Like with a beautiful dry-clean-only cashmere sweater, proceed with caution when trying these trends on for size.

1. Marble countertops

Photo by JKA Design
Sure, the popular (and pricey) Calacatta or Carrara marble countertops are beautiful—but they’re also highly impractical.

“Using marble in the kitchen is like installing a white sponge on top of your cabinets,” says Gretchen Kennelly, an interior designer in San Diego.

Why? It’s extremely porous, meaning it will etch or stain if you spill anything acidic or leave water standing on it for too long.

If you want your countertops to look the same in 10 years as the day they were installed, opt for a more sensible solid-quartz version (e.g., Silestone or Dekton) at half the price.

“The No. 1 thing my clients want when it comes to countertops is durability and a material that requires zero maintenance,” says designer Daniel Germani. “They hate the idea of investing in something that will inevitably stain or requires constant sealing.”

2. Metal tiles

Photo by ALLOY Solid Metal Tiles
Metal is making a big splash this year, designers say, as homeowners turn to tiles in soft shades of silver and brass to add glamour, or simply to complement the matte fixtures that are dominating in 2018.

The problem?

“While they’re gorgeous,” Kennelly says, “from a maintenance standpoint, they’re a little tricky.”

If you’re in a coastal environment, salt in the air could cause rusting (yes, even indoors). And water left remaining on the tiles for an extended period of time could accelerate tarnishing, according to Kennelly.

The takeaway: Skip them in the shower, but consider using them for an accent wall or in a small, dry space for texture.

3. All-white (or light-colored) decor

Photo by Houzz 
White, light grays, and creams are all the rage right now for sofas, chairs, area rugs, and even bedding. And it’s easy to see why—who doesn’t want that pristine, crisp look that makes you feel like you’re living on a cloud?

But over time, those light fabrics are prone to stains and overall dinginess. And then you’re left with potentially exorbitant cleaning and maintenance costs.

An all-white look “is super easy to do as long as the inhabitants of the house don’t actually live there,” says Justin Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer. “Do you see the conundrum?”

“Unless you are a neat freak, have no kids or pets, or have slipcovers, opt for more medium to dark tones and use light-colored pillows for contrast,” adds Erin Davis, lead designer at Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland.

4. Dining benches

Photo by Jenny Madden Design
Dining benches are fairly ubiquitous these days, thanks to the continued popularity of farmhouse chic. They have a nice, low profile and lend a welcoming vibe to your dining room.

The problem(s)?

They’re “great until the guy in the middle has to go pee—then everybody needs to get up,” Riordan says. “And oh yeah, did I mention that you’ll need to see a chiropractor after sitting through an entire meal on one of these things?”

5. Peel-and-stick laminate accent walls

Photo by Megan Leith-Menard Interior Design
“If you’re considering an easy accent, Pinterest may have drawn you to peel-and-stick, wood-look laminate,” says designer Kayla Hein, creative director for Modern Castle. “But proceed with caution. (It’s) inexpensive and easy to install … but it’s difficult to uninstall when the trend goes away.”

Taking it off involves more of a “peel-and-rip approach,” Hein explains. The adhesive used for laminate is quite durable, so it’s likely you’ll take some wall off with the laminate as you remove it. (Not so with peel-and-stick wallpaper, which pros say tends to be easier to remove.)

If you insist on giving this tile trend a try, put it in a lower-traffic area, Hein advises, or be prepared to do some drywall repair.

6. Slipcovers

Photo by Olga Adler
We’re not talking about the frumpy ones your grandmother used. In the era of easy-breezy farmhouse chic, slipcovers are enjoying a comeback, complete with fresh, tailored designs that also offer the benefit of easy cleaning.

But some design experts are dubious that slipcovers ever make things as simple as they look.

“The thought here is ‘I can just slip these off, wash them, and then slip them right back on, voila!'” Riordan says. “The truth is you will spend the entire rest of your life getting these stupid sheets to lay flat on your sofa or soft chairs. As soon as somebody sits on them, they look terrible.”

Instead, invest in a good upholsterer, Riordan recommends.

7. Wall stencils

Photo by Janna Makaeva/Cutting Edge Stencils
At first blush, stencils seem like an inexpensive way to add visual interest to walls. But things can devolve rapidly. For a stencil to look good, the pattern has to be perfectly aligned and the hand absolutely steady; anything less is a recipe for design disaster.

“Your home isn’t intended to be an arts and crafts project,” Hein says. “Wall stencils are for kids, and can be a royal pain in large scale. You have to have an unbelievable amount of patience—one wrong stroke, or if you get lazy and lift the stencil even slightly, your whole pattern will look off.”

8. Unusual flooring materials

Photo by Warmington Residential
Pinterest, you’ll be the end of us. DIYers on the site are really into using unusual materials such as old pennies, paper sacks, or recycled newspaper for flooring. (Seriously: People are taking their pennies, laying them on the floor, and sealing them with layers or epoxy or resin.)

What could possibly go wrong?

“Flooring is intended to be ultradurable and should be made to last for many, many years,” Hein says. “If done incorrectly, this approach can cause your floor to crack, bubble up, or fail in other ways.”

For high-traffic spaces in particular, shell out the necessary cash for a better, more lasting solution.

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Original Date: Mar 28 2018