Meet the Design Psychologist Who Put a Native Stone Bathtub in Her Bedroom

Note from Homework Remodels:  We loved reading this blog from Native Trails!  As you learn more about this designer, she also shares the psychology of design and how a good design in a remodel can create the space that makes you feel good.  We think this information is essential for the pandemic culture we live in today.   If you are thinking of remodeling, let us know how Homework Remodel’s professional designer, Sheila Lanier, can help you create the perfect space!

With a background that spans set styling, home staging, interior design, and visual merchandising, including several years as Nordstrom’s environmental designer, Amber brings to the table not only her impeccable taste but a master’s degree in psychology.

What does psychology have to do with design? More than you might think. “I believe spaces are deeply linked to our emotions and contribute to our wellbeing,” says Amber, who has taught design psychology at Salt Lake Community College since 2010.

Here, she shares some of her tips and tricks for creating spaces that look and feel great.

Let’s start by talking about the renovations to your bedroom—and that bathtub!

Psychology of Design

AD: We moved into the place a year and a half ago when I was seven months pregnant. And after a year of living in our bedroom, we started calling it the torture chamber—and not lovingly. Approaching the remodel, the first thing we decided on was having a bathtub in the bedroom. At first we picked out a more traditional ceramic tub, but when we sat with that for a minute, we knew something wasn’t feeling right. When we started looking into it, we found the Native Trails tub, which looks awesome with the floors. We wanted to keep it simple so we did a limestone wash on the walls and concrete slab flooring, and we have a little garden area just outside the window for when we’re in the tub.

On that note, what’s your take on the bathtub-in-the-bedroom trend? Apparently, you’re a fan.

AD: We had one in our old house, but it didn’t feel cool or on purpose. It just felt like they couldn’t fit the tub in the bathroom. But we loved it and knew we wanted to incorporate that vibe in this house, but in more of a modern way. I love the idea of baths being a ritual and part of self-care that is separate from the bathroom. You know, you get ready in the bathroom. It gets messy.

Yes, it feels more serene to have the tub in the bedroom. Especially because sleep doctors will tell you that the bedroom should only be used for two things: Sleep and sex.

AD: To have a bath is such a sensual thing, so it goes with both of those things.

You studied psychology in college and ultimately bridged that with your creative side. How did those two interests come together?

AD: I got my bachelor’s in psychology and then wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I went back to school for interior design. Then I stumbled on a single article about design psychology and was hooked. I stalked the author of the article, and she was super nice and said, “You probably need to get higher education in one area or another if you want to do this for a living.” At the time, they didn’t offer anything beyond an associate’s for interior design so I went on to get my master’s in psychology. I did private practice therapy and trauma work with kids for years. That was not happiness for me; it was breaking my heart. I loved what I knew, but I didn’t love being a therapist. So I went back to the college where I went for interior design and asked the director if she had any interest in infusing psychology principles into their courses. She called me back a week later and said, “I love the idea. I want you to teach a class about it in two weeks. It will need to be a 16-week course.”

Generally speaking, what do design and psychology have to do with one another?

AD: When you walk into a space, you immediately have a feeling, whether you recognize the feeling or not. Spaces have power over our psyche and our emotional wellbeing. They can make you feel at ease, they can make you feel anxious. My class basically teaches people how to tap into that—whether it’s their own attachments to space or their history with spaces in their childhood. From zero to five are your really formative years for attaching to another person; that is the blueprint for how you operate, and it colors how you attach to people in your adult life. But you can attach to space in the same way. Some people like to recreate chaotic spaces because they’re familiar with them, even though they know they’re not healthy. Or they want to recreate the smell of something or the way something felt or the view or the layout of a place—all of those things can evoke nostalgic memories that can feel really calming if you recreate them in your adult life. Then we open it up and explore some universal reactions to space and texture and color and materials, and how people respond. Like, I just read an article about how just being around woodgrain can reduce your stress levels.

What are some of the universal design truths that make people feel good?

AD: We tend to feel more calm in monochromatic spaces, especially if they’re neutrals. All-white spaces make us tense; we feel more rigid and like we have to act more formal in them. But when I say monochromatic, I mean ranges of neutrals, maybe woodgrain and taupes and that family of off-whites, whites and creams. We feel really relaxed in those spaces. So even if you pick a single color—let’s say green—and you incorporate a really deep, vegetal green all the way to a chalky, watery green in the same room, we really like being in that versus in super high-contrast colors.

Psychology of Design

So color is probably the most important factor?

AD: Yes, and lighting. One of the biggest things with lighting is we like to be under dappled lighting, like the light that would hit through the trees on a sunny day. We like being around that fractured light, which is why a lot of people are doing those basketweave pendants. That’s a really good way to artificially replicate what you would find in nature. We have all kinds of  baked-in preferences from our survival instincts; so if it was a sunny day, you knew that it was safe and you didn’t have to find shelter. We also don’t love being around too much print because it’s harder to spot danger. We scan it in the same way we would scan something on the savanna to see if danger’s approaching. That’s also why too much clutter makes us tense.

Are there certain principles you adhere to when creating kitchens?

AD: With kitchens it’s about reducing the amount of clutter that you see, just because it is anxiety provoking to see a lot of things out. And I always think it’s nice to keep something like fresh and alive, whether that’s a basil plant or some other herbs. It’s also helpful to design kitchens with food colors. Blue is an appetite suppressant, so if you want to promote that in your kitchen, probably design with blue. There are just not a lot of blue foods in nature, but greens and warm tones are all nice to work with because they’re found in food.

How about for bathroom?

AD: In the bathroom I think it’s nice to think about textures. You start your day there and you end your day there usually. So it’s good to keep in mind things like plush towels or cozy rugs, things that hug you know and make you feel cozy.

So do you have any go to bathroom paint colors?

AD: Personally, I like neutrals and colors found in rocks and plants. I feel better around earth tones and materials that feel derived from Earth, like concrete. Especially if you want your bathroom to feel like an escape or spa, I will definitely lean into nature. There’s a theory called shibui that says that nature never makes a mistake. With that, you would look around you to know not only the colors to use, but the distribution. For instance on a hillside, you would normally see browns and different ranges of oatmeals, and then you would maybe see just a little pop of a flower. So you know, smaller doses of color.

What do you put in every space that you design?

AD: Plants. I’m personally drawn to them, and it feels good to have something alive around you. They’re also just super good for creating oxygen in a space. And when we’re around plants we’re more creative, more open to conversation and tend to settle disputes faster.

See more photos and read the remaining blog from Native Trails HERE

All photography courtesy of Amber Dunford.

Questions to Ask Your Contractor’s References

Our recent blogs have focused on topics that will help you choose the right home remodeling professional for your renovation project.  We’ve covered misconceptions, budgeting your costs for your remodel, things to watch out for when hiring your contractor, asking the right questions, and how to ensure a smooth project. (These blogs are full of great information if you haven’t read them yet, you can read them here).  In this blog, we help you with questions to ask your contractor’s references. We know it can seem a bit awkward to talk to a complete stranger about a contractor that has done work on their home but getting their take on how their remodel project went and how they felt about their contractor, will definitely give you confidence in choosing the right contractor for your home renovation! We have found that most people will want to share their experience with you and even show you their remodel!! Remember, too, when asking for references from a potential contractor, ask to see a current project they are working on.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CONTRACTOR’S REFERENCES

What type of project or projects has the contractor done for you?

Did they do a quality job?

Why did you choose this contractor?

Did you get prices or opinions from other contractors that you feel had comparable specifications and credentials, if not, Why? And if so, how did they compare?

What would you say about the crew members that did your work – were they respectable and clean? Did they seem to know what they were doing?

Was the contractor responsive to you your questions and/or concerns? Could you reach him quickly?

Did the contractor do what he said he would do?

Were there any additional charges and if so, were they handled in such a way that left you feeling satisfied?

On a scale of 1-10 (ten being highest), how would you rate your overall experience with this contractor?

Do you have any reservations about hiring him again?

May I come by to see the work firsthand?

 

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing Steve here to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

How to Ensure a Smooth Project

In our continuing blog series, “Choosing the Right Home Remodeling Professional for your Renovation Project”, we tackle how to ensure a smooth project. Knowing these guidelines will help you navigate your renovation project and give you confidence in your contractor!

Good Communication

It is essential that you have an excellent flow of communication with your contractor. Do they return calls promptly? Do they listen intently to your likes and dislikes? Do they take notes? Can you reach them when needed? This will be even more important once your project begins.

Right Fit

You’ll most likely be spending a good bit of time with your contractor, so it is important that you feel comfortable with them. You should also have a good sense as to whether the same holds true regarding the members of their staff. Like any good relationship, a strong rapport and close communication with your contractor will help any job go more smoothly.

Scheduling

The scheduling of your project is something that should be discussed upfront. A responsible and reputable contractor will do their best to keep you informed both in the initial stages and as your project progresses.

A Clear, Well Written Proposal/Contract

Getting it in writing is essential! Nothing is worse than a disagreement because the terms weren’t written down. Frequently, one person remembers something differently. Every part of the job from the general conditions and demolition to the final trim and clean up should be clearly described. General terms like “install windows and doors” are too vague and should be clearly spelled out indicating exactly what window, what door, including make, model, size, features, location, color, style, etc. A detailed contract should include:

  • A visual representation such as a blueprint, floor plan, drawings, sketches, that clearly shows what work is being done and where.
  • The timetable in which the project is expected to be completed, including approximate start and end dates.
  • The price, along with payment terms and schedule.
  • Detailed specifications for all products and materials.
  • A list of work and/or things not included.
  • Insurance information.
  • Permit information (e.g., whether it’s required and who will get it)
  • Procedure for handling change orders.
  • Notice of your right under the FTC’s rule to cancel the contract within three business days if it was signed in a place other than the contractor’s place of business.

Details, Details, and More Details

There are several things that should be discussed prior to starting your project. What time will work start and end each day? Where will materials be stored? What special circumstances need to be taken into consideration? Discussing details like these upfront saves a lot of aggravation and eliminates misunderstandings.

Flexibility

Remodeling can be disruptive to your normal lifestyle. Remember to be as flexible as possible.

Change Orders

Changes are inevitable when it comes to home remodeling. There are often changes made to the design, the materials, and the scope of work once work begins.

It’s a good idea to set aside an additional 10% or more beyond the contract amount to cover these changes.

The bottom line is: Almost all changes will affect the budget and the schedule. Make sure all changes are in writing and are kept current to avoid any surprises in the end.

Written Lien Waivers

Often your remodeling professional will work with other tradesmen or subcontractors who specialize in certain aspects of your project. It is your contractor’s responsibility to make sure these people, as well as material suppliers, are paid for services and materials related to your project.

Make sure your contractor is willing to provide you with a written lien waiver at the end of your project in trade for the final payment. This is a document that proves that you have paid for the project in full, thereby eliminating the chances of the contractor’s subcontractors or suppliers placing a lien on your property due to not being paid by your contractor for the work performed on your home.

Establishing good communication and walking through each of these topics with your contractor will ensure a smooth project!

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

Twenty-one Questions You should Ask to Choose the Right Contractor

Our recent blogs have focused on topics that will help you choose the right home remodeling professional for your renovation project.  We’ve covered misconceptions, project costs beyond labor, and what to look for when hiring your contractor.  In this blog, we give you the essential questions to ask so that you can confidently navigate choosing the right contractor for your remodeling project.

Choose the Right Contractor

Any reputable remodeling contractor should be able to answer all the following questions positively.  If they cannot, it would be wise to continue your search!

  1. Are you properly licensed on both the state and city level?
  2. Do you require all change orders to be in writing to eliminate any misunderstandings and unexpected cost overruns?
  3. Do you carry general liability insurance?
  4. Do you carry worker’s compensation insurance?
  5. Will you provide me with a written lien waiver at the end of the job?
  6. Are you a member of NARI or NAHB? Do you subscribe to their Code of Ethics?
  7. Are you certified as a CR, GCP, CKBR, CGR, or UDCP?
  8. Are you a member of the local Better Business Bureau?
  9. Will you pull any necessary permits?
  10. Do you offer a written warranty on all workmanship?
  11. Who will oversee my job? May I meet this person or persons?
  12. Have you been a party in any construction litigation?
  13. Will you provide me with references?
  14. What percentage of your business is repeat, or referral-based?
  15. How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year or two?
  16. How do you plan to reduce dust and protect the rest of my home from the effects of other work? (Good contractors erect dust barriers and use drop cloths and other protective material to protect your home.)
  17. How is daily and general clean-up handled?
  18. Will you provide means of communication that is checked daily for any questions or concerns you may have thought of after working hours?
  19. Will you provide me with a written contract that clearly spells out exactly what you will do, what your price includes and does not include, and specifies a guaranteed price, payment schedule, and completion date?
  20. Will a professional designer and/or architect design my job? (For projects that warrant this level of service.)
  21. Do you provide realistic renderings, sketches, and perspectives to allow me to clearly visualize my project early in the planning stages? (Again, for projects that warrant this level of service.)

We hope knowing what to ask will help you choose the right contractor who is a professional in remodeling and renovation projects.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

 

9 Things to Look for in a Contractor

In this blog, we continue our series of how to choose the right home remodeling professional for your remodeling project, by tackling 9 things to look for in a contractor.  Knowing this information will help you feel more confident as you research the best remodeling contractor for your project.

  1. Accessibility

Your contractor must be easy to reach by phone and email and never make you feel like you are imposing on them by contacting him or her.

  1. Promptness

Does your contractor keep appointments? A contractor’s day can be busy; if they are running behind, they should have the courtesy to call to let you know. Little things count.

  1. Trustworthiness

Honesty and trust are of the utmost importance in any situation, especially when the person has total access to your home. Make sure you feel a high level of trust with your contractor and trust your instinct if you don’t. Not only are you trusting them to be in your home and around your family, but you’re also trusting them with, in many cases, a sizable amount of your money!

  1. Membership in NARI or NAHB

NARI stands for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry; NAHB stands for the National Association of Home Builders. To become a member, the contractor’s background and references are investigated. It’s always a good idea to hire a NARI or NAHB contractor. Membership reflects a contractor’s commitment to professionalism.

  1. Certifications

Both organizations offer industry certification and designations such as Certified Graduate Remodeler™ (CGR), Certified Remodeler™ (CR), Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler™ (CKBR) and Green Certified Professional™ (GCP) and Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP). If a contractor has one or more of these designations, chances are high that you’re dealing with a very reputable professional that is committed to their career as a professional remodeling contractor.

Furthermore, to earn one of these designations a contractor must demonstrate certain levels of skill and knowledge in addition to successfully completing numerous courses on various topics related to the industry.

  1. Ability to design your project

Unless your project is simple, you will want to work with a contractor that will start with a design phase complete with a feasibility study to develop both the remodel and a budget that will work for you. Design/Build contractors will work with you to develop space planning and floor plans. They will lead you through the multitude of choices that must be made. Most importantly they will work with you to balance the choices with the ultimate budget for your project. This planning stage prior to moving forward with your remodel will ensure that all the details have been addressed and that the possibility of unexpected extra expenses will be minimized.

  1. Knowledge of Green Remodeling Technology

In today’s world of high energy prices and limited resources, it is critical that your contractor is up to date regarding incorporating eco-friendly green techniques and features into every project. The common misconception is that green remodeling will cost more. The reality is that extremes in anything will cost more, and a well-balanced plan will respect your budget.

A contractor that is focused on the green aspects of remodeling will be more conscious of not wasting materials, recycling the used appliances, fixtures, and reusable building materials. This will save money and give you a tax deduction for donating used materials to charitable organizations. By viewing your home as a system rather than an accumulation of parts, your contractor will commonly incorporate many choices and techniques into every project that will improve your home’s performance and not necessarily cost more than uneducated choices.

  1. High Percentage of Referrals or Repeat Clients

When a significant amount of a contractor’s business is derived from repeat or referred business, it is an indication that their clients are pleased and that they have an outstanding reputation. If your contractor has a long list of happy clients and has an outstanding reputation for doing quality work, chances are high that you will be satisfied as well.

  1. Will Your Home Be Protected?

Simply put, remodeling can be very dusty and dirty. If not adequately controlled, dust will get everywhere, especially if there is a lot of sanding or demolition. Make sure your contractor has plans to take the appropriate measures to control dust and protect your floor finishes.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing steve@trilitebuilders.com to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

There is More to a Project’s Cost Than Labor and Materials

From Our Choosing the Right Home Remodeling Professional (Series)

Our recent blogs have focused on topics that will help you choose the right home remodeling professional for your renovation project.  We’ve covered misconceptions and things to watch out for when hiring your contractor.  In this blog, we are talking about expectations of the cost of your project and how your contractor gets to his estimate.  Knowing this information, will help you feel more confident and create trust between you and your contractor.

Each project is different, however, there are always going to be costs that go beyond labor and materials.  Your contractor should break down an estimate and how they reach it, where possible. This adds an element of transparency that you want to see.

In addition to the actual labor, materials, and Sub Contractor prices there are many other expenses every successful contractor must figure into their price to survive.

Cost of Your Project

The following is a list of some of the key elements that make up overhead in every successfully managed remodeling company:

Telephone, cell phones
Office rent
Office supplies
Stationery and printing expenses
Website, hosting, and Internet
Worker’s Compensation & Liability insurance
Health insurance
Paid vacations, holidays
Staff meetings
Payroll expenses
Office administration and management
Time doing free estimates
Material price increases that may not be billable once a job is quoted
Estimating errors and omissions
Warranty repairs
Tools and equipment
Trucks, repairs & maintenance, fuel
Continuing education, training, and industry events
Computers and software
Business loans and interest
Accountant’s fees
Taxes
Production supervision and management
Advertising, marketing, and sales costs

This all adds up to a substantial amount of money. To cover his overhead, a contractor typically must add a percentage to the actual cost of labor and materials required to complete your project. Most professional contractors try to maintain a 7.5% – 20% profit when all is said and done. Without a profit, the contractor will eventually go out of business.

If you receive a price from a contractor that seems too high, they are very likely trying to pay for the very things that allow him to survive and provide a good, reliable service to you and a good environment for his employees.

Do beware of the contractor that tells you his prices are low because he keeps his overhead down. Chances are that could affect the quality of your project.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn more about how to choose the right home remodeling professional with our consumer awareness guide.  Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Begin your project by calling us at (480) 895-3442 or emailing Steve here to discuss remodeling your home, kitchen, or bathroom.  We offer no-obligation in-home consultations. Our award-winning designers and craftsman are eager to work with you to help you love your home again!

12 Things to Watch Out For When Remodeling

Spotting Scams and the Inexperienced with Home Remodeling Contractors

Every industry has its share of scams and con artists. The remodeling industry is no exception. However, spotting scams and the inexperienced with home remodeling contractors is relatively easy provided you know what to look for.

One clue is that we tend to get a gut feeling if someone is trying to pull one over on us. But what about when someone isn’t intentionally trying to scam us? There are honest contractors that are either inexperienced, incompetent, or both. They may mean well, but their lack of skill or knowledge or inability to be able to complete or manage your project correctly can be just as devastating as the work of a truly unscrupulous contractor.

In other words, it’s not always the bad guys you need to look out for. There is a big difference between being willing and being able.

Let’s look at some of the things to look out for.

  1. “High-Pressure” Sales Tactics

With the remodeling business becoming more and more competitive each year, many contractors resort to high-pressure tactics to get you to sign on the spot without your best interest in mind. You should never feel pressured into deciding about choosing your contractor. Walk away.

  1. Unusual Payment Terms

Beware of the contractor who asks that you pay for the entire job upfront or asks you to pay in cash. A professional contractor will present an equitable, mutually acceptable payment plan, usually based on the progress of your project.

  1. Unverifiable Credentials

If you can’t verify a contractor’s company, name, address, and phone number, it’s a sure bet that trouble lies ahead. Many of these fly-by-night contractors are called “pick-up truck” builders. These guys don’t have verifiable businesses and are mobile enough to pack up and leave your job without a trace. A verifiable address is a must.

  1. Hard to Reach

Anyone can miss a call, but if you find that your prospective contractor doesn’t consistently return your calls, beware. Any remodeling project will have things come up that require prompt communication between you and your contractor. You want your contractor to be available to you when you have concerns. It is critical that you feel that your contractor is easy to reach and open to communication.

  1. The “Price Reduction”

This scam occurs when you say no to or show a bit of reluctance to the initial offer and in response the salesperson offers a lower price for the exact same work. Substantial reductions in price without changes in the scope of work or specifications could signify that the contractor is trying to get a higher price for something that is worthless, to begin with, and is just trying to save the sale.  If you and the contractor negotiate different materials, methods, or circumstances that clearly have an impact on the cost, this would be fine. Otherwise, the price should be the price.

  1. No Contract or Proposal 

Insist on a thorough contract or proposal with a defined scope of work, clear specifications, and detailed terms. By doing this, you will substantially increase your chances of being satisfied. It is best not to take anything for granted.

In addition to the benefits that come from knowing what to expect, if a contractor takes the time necessary to compile a detailed document, there will be far fewer unforeseen issues and misunderstandings, which will result in less stress for you, and your project will move along much more smoothly. If there is ever a misunderstanding, chances are it can be easily cleared up by referencing this critical document.

  1. Incomplete Specifications or Unclear Terms

Pay attention to the “Scope of Work” and “Specifications” sections of the contract or proposal. This is the part of the proposal that defines exactly what work will be completed (the scope of work) and exactly what products or materials and which methods are going to be used (the specifications). Every project should have clearly written specifications. Not just vague generalities.

  1. Shoddy or Incomplete Workmanship

By far, this is the most widespread scam of all. To address the potential for shoddy workmanship, I recommend following up with references until you are 100% satisfied that your contractor will provide the level of workmanship you expect. Awards are another area that can validate a contractor’s commitment to quality workmanship. Simply do not take someone’s word for it.

In our company, we recommend (and sometimes require) that prospective clients contact our references, and if available visit one or more of our past projects so they can see firsthand examples of our work. You’ll have a much better sense of the quality of work you can expect.

  1. The Contractor Asks That You Get the Required Permits

Some contractors may ask that you get the required building permits. If well explained, this could be to your advantage in certain cities, due to the way they have set fees for construction permits.  Or, this could be a signal that he is either unlicensed, the work is outside the area in which he is licensed, or he is not able to get a permit due to improper or inadequate insurance coverage. The contractor may also not be in good standing with the building department.
In any case, a reputable contractor will discuss the permit process with you and typically obtain a permit, if your project requires one.  When a contractor obtains the required building permits, you are more likely to have things done according to the applicable building codes. Also, check your homeowner insurance policy to see if it requires that a permit be issued on any major remodeling project to be properly insured.
  1. The Schedule or Time Frame Seems Too Good to Be True

If the schedule you’re quoted seems too good to be true, it just might be! A contractor who knows his business will give you a realistic work schedule/timeline. Don’t be lured by the contractor who promises an overly optimistic completion date.

  1. The Contractor Doesn’t Warranty His Work

Believe it or not, in some states, there is no law that requires a remodeling contractor to warranty his work. However, warranties are essential to any remodeling project. A good contractor will comply with the standards set forth by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

The National Association of Home Builders performance guidelines helps determine whether a contractor’s work requires corrective action in cases of dispute. Most professional contractors know about these guidelines and may refer to it in their warranty. They can provide you with a copy.  Remember this: Contractors committed to quality workmanship and client satisfaction warranty their work at least one year and many offer two years or more.

  1. The Contractor Appears Unkempt and Disorganized

A disorganized contractor means a disorganized project. Pay close attention to the details. Look for clues that the contractor has it together. You want your project to be organized – that starts and ends with your contractor.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

Learn about spotting scams and the inexperienced with home remodeling contractors with our consumer awareness guide.      Our guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” will help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

Avoid Three Common Misconceptions When Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

Your home is one of your most valuable assets. Selecting the right contractor will be the single most important factor in determining whether you will be completely satisfied with the outcome of your remodeling project. Every contractor brings a different level of knowledge, commitment, and dedication to the table.  In this blog, we share how to avoid three common misconceptions when hiring a remodeling contractor. The more you can become intimately aware of the “ins and outs” of how the remodeling business works, acquire the necessary knowledge and tools, you will be empowered to find the right contractor for your project.

Avoid These Three Common Misconceptions

Misconception #1 – You should always get three bids

Not necessarily. This tactic is probably responsible for more dissatisfaction within the remodeling industry than any other single factor.

Why?

If your objective is to get a quality job at a fair price, simply comparing it to another estimate is often very misleading. There aren’t any standard prices or standard specifications for remodeling projects. Each quote or estimate you receive reflects what’s included in the actual job that a contractor is planning on completing for you. Asking contractors to price involved projects with preliminary information and then trying to scrutinize the details of the resulting bid will only lead to misjudgments. Every contractor will get better pricing on some things than others. Seeing an item on a proposal that looks high does not mean that everything on the form is overpriced. Seeing lower prices may mean that the contractor will run out of money prior to finishing your project or that the quality of your project will suffer.

Misconception #2 – Going with a low price saves you money!

Think about this for a minute. If you have solicited several bids and go with the contractor that has the lowest bid, you’ve just awarded your job to the guy that just figured out the CHEAPEST way to get your project done!

Is this what you really want?

One of the most common signs of trouble ahead is someone offering to do work for a low price. Like the age-old sayings go: “You get what you pay for!” and “You can’t get something for nothing!” Be extremely careful in choosing your contractor based upon the lowest price. But you may be thinking: “Well, if all things are equal, going with the lowest price is smart buying! Isn’t it?”

Absolutely, 100% yes! But things are almost NEVER, EVER equal in the remodeling business!

Even if you have the most complete set of professional drawings and a twenty-five-page written set of specifications describing every little detail, things can still be vastly different from one contractor to the next.

What is true, though, is the more detail the better. They are critical to helping establish expectations.

The bottom line: NEVER use price alone as the determining factor. Low-priced bids should be cautiously reviewed as it could indicate that the contractor may have left something out in his bid which could lead him to cut corners or have to divide his time working two remodeling projects at the same time so that he can remain afloat while finishing your project.

Many other things should be taken into consideration as well. Whenever you encounter a low-price offer, some questions should immediately come to mind. Questions like:

“Why is the price so low?” “What’s missing here?” and “Has the contractor figured enough into the cost to provide me with the level of service I expect?”

On the other hand, if you have found a contractor that you really feel good about, but their price is more than you can afford or you simply do not want to invest as much as has been quoted, just explain this to the contractor. A professional contractor will welcome the opportunity to help you redesign your project or make whatever changes are necessary in order to better fit your budget. If you are open to scaling back the project, re-examining your priorities, or making other changes, this approach can be very helpful.

Misconception #3 – If the Better Business Bureau doesn’t have any complaints against the contractor, they are probably a safe bet.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is always a good place to start when investigating, but it should not be the stopping point. Even if a contractor doesn’t have any BBB complaints, it does not necessarily mean that you’re working with a reputable professional. We encourage you to investigate the company further.

The BBB is not a governing agency and it does not keep a record of every contractor in town. Many contractors can operate for years doing poor work without ever being reported. Likewise, there may be several very reputable contractors that the BBB has no record of at all.

The best way to utilize the BBB is to check with them to see if the contractor you may be considering has had any complaints against them. If they do, you should consider it an indication that this contractor may not be a good choice. If there are no complaints against the contractor you are investigating, this may indicate a good reputation, however, we strongly encourage you to do research beyond the BBB.

FREE CONSUMER AWARENESS GUIDE

We’ve created a consumer awareness guide, “10 Things You Must Know Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor” to help you know what to look for when finding the right contractor so that you can be completely satisfied with your remodeling project.  This booklet was written so that you will be empowered to make the best decision for your home improvement and remodel. You can have the experience you desire for your home improvement project with the right contractor for you by requesting this free e-Book here.

1o Principles of Organizing That Work in Every Room

Article originally from HOUZZ

Getting your home organized is a great feeling but figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. Keep the process simple by zeroing in on these 10 principles of organizing, which can be applied to any space, anytime.

Get to Know Active vs. Passive Zones

Active zones are the spots in your home that you pass or touch daily (usually multiple times a day) and include the entryway, top drawers, and eye-level shelves and cabinets.

Passive zones are the less frequently used spaces in your home, including the guest room, garage, or basement, very high and very low shelves, and nooks deep within closets.

A common organizing mistake is to clutter your prime active zones with items you don’t frequently need. For example: Don’t keep your spare lightbulbs in the top drawer in the kitchen when you only need to grab one every few months!

Make Open Storage Beautiful

Every home can use a combination of open and closed (i.e., hidden) storage. But what you choose to store on your open shelving should be visually pleasing. The living room is a good place for books and pretty objects, not beaten-up board games and stacks of video games. Likewise in the kitchen, open shelving is the place to put your matching sets of clear drinking glasses or favorite teacups, not the plastic food storage containers.  Style Your Open Kitchen Shelving Like a Pro

Keep Things Findable

Out of sight, out of mind is an especially apt expression when it comes to organizing. Clear containers are ideal when you want to be able to see the contents at a glance, and open baskets can corral loose items while still letting you look inside.

If you use containers that aren’t transparent, be sure to label them clearly — or take it a step further and label each with a photo of the objects inside. (Instant cameras are ideal for this.)

Make It Easy to Put Away

This is most important when it comes to kid stuff, but we can all benefit from this rule.

When you need to go get something, you’ll get it out — it doesn’t really matter where it is — but when it’s time to clean up, we all get a little lazy.

To increase the likelihood of stuff being put back in its place, use easy-to-access bins, baskets and hampers, simple filing systems, and wall hooks for frequently used items.  Are You a Piler or a Filer?

Group By Task

I think of this as the first-aid kit phenomenon: When you need a Band-Aid, you may also need some antibiotic ointment, maybe some tweezers to remove a splinter, and a gauze pad; in a first-aid kit, everything you need to complete the task of caring for your injury is conveniently located in one place.

When you’re organizing your stuff, remember this and group everything you need to complete a task in the same place.

For example, you could make one box for medications, another for spare office supplies, one for holiday cookie cutters and sprinkles, and so on. Labeled shoebox-size boxes, buckets, or baskets work well for grouping small items together.

Create a Way Station for Items In Transit

We all have a certain amount of stuff that’s constantly in transit: library books waiting to be returned, our bag and keys, the dog’s leash, the casserole dish a friend left after your last party.

Instead of allowing these random items to pile up, create a dedicated space that can handle them and keep them neat.

If you have room by the main entrance to your home, this is the most logical spot — a few baskets on a shelf and some wall hooks should do the trick.  How to Keep Your Home Neat When You Don’t Have a Mudroom

Subdivide and Conquer

Wide-open drawers are an invitation to clutter. Anytime you have a drawer where you’ll be storing small items, use a drawer organizer. Use them for cutlery in the kitchen, office supplies in your desk, small and useful household items in your junk drawer, and daily essentials (sunglasses, keys) in a drawer near the entry.

Go Vertical

What happens when you go for something at the bottom of a pile? That’s right, it topples.

Avoid this organizing nightmare and go vertical instead. Use shelf risers to increase cabinet capacity, store sheet pans and trays in a vertical holder, and use wall-mounted holders to store brooms and mops so they won’t tip over.

Choose the Right Container For the Job

It can be heartbreaking to find that some of your most precious items — old family photographs, Grandma’s wedding gown — have been ruined thanks to improper storage.

Take preventative measures by choosing the right storage container for the job. Photographs and paper memorabilia should be stored in acid-free containers or albums, and textiles should be kept in breathable storage boxes or bags designed for that purpose.

Store Heavy Items Down Low

You should never have to balance on a stepladder while trying to lift something heavy.

Keep heavy items at or below waist height, including boxes, kitchen equipment (those dutch ovens and stand mixers weigh a ton!), and anything else that takes some real effort to lift.

Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area

Planning a remodel in 2021? We are a professional member of HOUZZ and have been awarded their Best of Service Award several years in a row.  You can check out our HOUZZ site! It is also a GREAT place to peruse idea books and great ideas, see our award-winning projects, and leave a review. Ready to start? Give us a call at (480) 895-3442 for a free consultation safely in-home or virtually. We are still at work for you helping you love your home again!

Homework Remodels is an award-winning remodeler with years of experience.  We focus primarily on amazing kitchens, luxurious bathrooms, and large whole-home remodeling projects. Our professional designers and craftsmen will help transform any part of your home into something you can truly be proud of.  You can learn more about us here.

How to Equip the Perfect Bathroom According to Your Lifestyle

Whether you’re looking for luxury at home or caring for an elderly loved one, your bathroom design can make a big difference in how you live your life. With the right décor and a few helpful features in place, you can enjoy a beautiful, comfortable bathroom that serves your needs. From a luxe spa-like retreat in the master bathroom to a cozy guest bath tucked in a hallway, it’s easy to elevate this part of your home and take it to the next level. Check out these helpful tips to guide you and give you inspiration so that you can design the ultimate bathroom according to your unique lifestyle.

Essentials for a Luxurious Bathroom

You can live a life of luxury in your own bathroom if you have the right fixtures, finishes, and accessories. Here are some ideas that will transform your bathroom into a stunning spa.

Smart gadgets. Bring in some smart gadgets and AI technology to make your bathroom more convenient. A voice-activated Bluetooth shower speaker lets you listen to your favorite music while you scrub. Try a few other high-end gadgets in your bathroom, like electric towel warmers, a lighted toilet seat, and a touch-free liquid soap dispenser.

Make it trendy. Update the lighting and fixtures in your bathroom to give it a modern aesthetic. Choose new designs featuring on-trend finishes like matte black or sleek brushed gold. One easy way to keep up with the current bathroom trend is to switch out your towels, shower curtain, and bath rugs to keep things fresh and new.

Enjoy a sauna. If you have the budget, consider installing a beautiful sauna in your bathroom to help you detox and relax. You can also create your own sauna-like environment to relieve those aching muscles and de-stress at the end of the day.

Upgrade the tile. A luxe bathroom should have high-end finishes, so consider changing your old ceramic bathroom tiles to something a bit more refined. Installing marble tiles is a fabulous way to create a luxe look and give your bathroom a sophisticated vibe.

Install a huge shower. Don’t suffer in a tiny shower or a cramped tub-and-shower combo. Upgrade your shower, and make it huge, with more than one showerhead, for an awesome experience. Finish the new shower with glass doors and some high-end tile on the floor and surround.

Choose nice mirrors. Stay away from basic, contractor-grade mirrors if you want a luxurious bathroom. Update your mirrors to something sleek and unique with decorative frames, unusual shapes, and a sleek gold or silver metallic finish.

Consider a Japanese toilet. Japanese toilets have an elongated shape and typically extend from the bowl to the floor for a seamless look. These gorgeous toilets will instantly elevate your bathroom and give it a beautiful, contemporary vibe.

Finish with artwork. Express yourself in your new bathroom by hanging some select pieces of artwork. It can be anything from a beautiful painting of a pastoral landscape to a colorful modern abstract piece. The key is to use the artwork to round out your luxurious bathroom theme.

Design a “Couple Goals” Bathroom

Whether you’re a newlywed couple or you’re simply tired of sharing a cramped bathroom, here are some suggestions to help you update this space to make sharing easier.

Convert your bathtub to a hot tub. A roomy jetted tub for two is a wonderful way to spend some alone time together as a couple. Replace your standard bathtub with a deep tub featuring massaging jets, whirlpool action, and LED lighting.

Make sure you have two sinks. Reaching over each other when you get ready in the morning is a drag. Consider installing a larger vanity with two separate sinks so you’ll both have enough elbow room to brush your teeth and start your day on a positive note.

Stay organized with a walk-in closet. A small closet can become cluttered fast. If you have the square footage, have a nice walk-in closet added to your bathroom. This will give both of you room to hang up your duds and store your shoes so that your bedroom and bathroom aren’t constantly overrun with clothes.

Add a big mirror. That tiny mirror over your sink isn’t enough to help you see everything you need to see. Update your small bathroom mirror, and hang a large, full-size mirror on the wall—or try a freestanding, full-length mirror in the corner of your bathroom so you can see yourself from head to toe.

Keep your stuff separate. Make sure that both of you have plenty of room to organize your cosmetics, razors, and toiletries by creating two separate storage areas. This can be additional storage under each sink or a mirrored medicine cabinet up above. The goal is to make your couple’s bathroom convenient, clean, and spacious enough that you both feel welcome, whether you’re in there alone or with your other half.

Make it smell good. Freshen up the bathroom with some essential oil diffusers so that the room always has a pleasant fragrance. Make sure you both agree on a scent that you like so it’s not overpowering for the other person.

 How to Equip a Little-Kid and Family-Friendly Bathroom

Of course, the kids need a fabulous bathroom that accommodates their needs, too. Check out these easy tips to equip your child’s bathroom in a way that makes using it fun and easy.

Use kid-proof accessories. To ensure that the bathroom is safe for little ones, you’ll need some additional accessories. Add outlet covers so that tiny fingers don’t get into trouble, and install a lock on the toilet to keep it shut until it’s potty time. Grippy stickers or a non-slip bath mat on the bottom of the tub will help prevent children from slipping and falling. Never store cleaning supplies or medication in your child’s bathroom.

Remember the tub. Most tubs aren’t designed for toddlers, so you may want to choose something else in the meantime. You can find bathtubs for children that can be a temporary place for kids to bathe until they’re old enough to use the full-size tub.

Hang colorful bathroom curtains. Select an adorable theme or kid-friendly color scheme, and use it for bathroom curtains, rugs, and décor. This can be anything from your child’s favorite character to soft pastel colors or a whimsical jungle theme.

Have plenty of shelving. Install some wall-mounted shelving, or bring a small cabinet into the family bathroom so your kids have a place to keep everything. Shelving is perfect for tub toys, shampoos, and other items, and you can paint in a coordinating color or choose something with a cute design to make the bathroom welcoming for the little ones.

Make sure there’s good lighting. Install bright LED lighting in the kids’ bathroom so they can see things easily. A motion-activated night light will help your child see in the dark if they need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Solving Bathroom Problems for Seniors

Senior-related bathroom accidents are common and can cause serious injuries. Here are some ways you can improve the safety of the bathroom and maintain the quality of life for your senior loved one.

Install a handicapped toilet. Toilets for seniors should have a taller height that makes it easier to get up and down. The standard ADA toilet height should be approximately 17-19 inches from the floor to the bowl rim. Add some grab bars so that they can hang onto something whenever they need to.

Offer an emergency button. An emergency call button in the bathroom will alert you or your loved one’s caregiver if something is wrong. These buttons sound an alarm so that others in the home will know that the senior needs assistance. If your senior lives alone, choose an emergency button that will immediately alert local emergency services so they can rush over to help.

Use a tub or shower chair. Bathroom chairs for the elderly are designed to help them maintain balance while bathing. These chairs are waterproof, stable, and sturdy for a comfortable, safe shower.

Keep it simple. A minimalist bathroom design is best for seniors so that there isn’t a lot of stuff getting in the way. Look for sturdy wall hooks and towel hangers that they can use to keep towels and bathrobes off the floor. The less clutter you have in the bathroom, the safer it will be for seniors to navigate.

Try a walk-in tub. Walk-in tubs and showers are best for seniors since they prevent having to “climb over” the edge. These tubs are perfect for the elderly who want to age in place and prefer to live at home rather than in an assisted living facility.

Install grab bars. Grab bars on the shower and bathtub walls and next to the toilet will give your loved one something to hang onto if they feel dizzy or tired. These bars can be found at most home improvement stores and do an excellent job at providing seniors with some extra stability in the bathroom.

Check the dimensions. Seniors who use a wheelchair should have a bathroom door that’s at least 34-inches wide. The inside of the bathroom should have a minimum of a five-foot radius so they can easily turn around. You should also ensure that there are at least 27 inches of clearance under the sink for the wheelchair. Hang mirrors low enough so that seniors don’t have to strain or stand on their tiptoes in the bathroom.

From a luxurious, spa-like master bathroom to a safe bathroom for seniors, designing a bathroom that fits your lifestyle and your needs will make your life that much easier. Keep these tips in mind to make sure you have everything you need, and watch your fixtures, tub styles, and colors come together in a beautiful, functional space you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Written by Cassandra Rosas and originally posted on Porch.com

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