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It’s always interesting to dust off the crystal ball early in the year and take a gaze into the future. At least that’s what designers in the building and remodeling industry try to do. Of course not everyone’s crystal ball is tuned in to the same frequency. And naturally, just because someone says something is going to happen is no guarantee that it will.

Still, designers try to keep their fingers on the pulse of the public so that they can give homeowners what they really want. Here are a few of the trends we see developing. Whether or not they’re right for you—only you can decide. It’s still fun to consider them! There are lots of potential trends out there, but here are five that you may find interesting (and useful).

1. Kitchen sinks with style. Some designers are noticing a move away from the traditional double sink in the kitchen in favor of a single sink that is deep and wide enough to accommodate large cooking sheets or even roasting pans. As far as materials go, quartz composite sinks are becoming more popular, but stainless sinks still rule the kitchen.

2. New backsplash material. Although tile remains very popular as a backsplash material—because it offers so much versatility—more homeowners are exploring the possibilities that glass/stone/tile composites offer. They add a depth and luster that conventional tile can’t match.

3. Clean-line cabinets in the kitchen. There seems to be a move away from design elements that require a lot of maintenance. That applies not only to the materials being used, but also to a cleaner, simpler, less-cluttered style.

4. Designing for the long haul. As an increasing number of mature adults make plans to stay in their homes longer, there is an increase in designs that help people age-in-place. While it doesn’t ignore style, there is an emphasis on comfort, functionality and safety.

5. On-going green. It’s obvious that environmentally friendly, sustainable design is here to stay. Homeowners want a healthy living environment that is free of toxins and harsh chemicals. That includes using materials with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) in order to improve indoor air quality.

There are always news developments popping up all the time—and we try to keep tabs on what’s happening so that we can pass them on to you. Of course, just because something is a trend, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for you. If you have questions, shoot us a note. We’d be happy to help you find solutions that fit your specific lifestyle.

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Your home is your castle, and whether you’re planning a remodeling project or building a home from the ground up, your choice of contractor is vital to ensure you get quality work supported by reliable after-sales service. For a hassle-free performance, find a contractor who shares your vision for the project, offers qualified references and complies with the legal requirements for home building professionals in your state.

Do the Research

Start the process by searching online to find a contractor in your area. Narrow your search based on the type of work you need to have done, such as:

Building a new house
Remodeling a bathroom or kitchen
Extending the home
The National Association of Home Builders offers a list of builders in your area, as do most local home builders’ associations. Check your local newspaper’s real estate section for current projects close by, and the names of companies that are handling the projects.

Ask around among family and friends who have done remodeling projects recently, and get details for any contractors they recommend. From these two lists, choose three to five companies to investigate further.

Make the Call

Contact each of the companies on your list and ask to discuss your project with a qualified person. Find out whether the work you need done fits in with their usual project type, and whether they are available to meet the timeframe you have in mind. Get the full address for their company premises; professional companies are likely to have official business premises and if the location is within 5 miles of your property, their response time will be shorter in the event of an emergency.

Get a Free Estimate

Make an appointment for a representative of each company to visit you, check out your premises and provide an estimate. Eliminate any companies that don’t turn up for the meeting. Prepare a written brief of the work you want done and give a copy to each of the companies you have invited to bid. This ensures that all the estimates you get are based on the same criteria. If any of the home building or remodeling contractors has good ideas to add to your brief, contact all of the bidding parties and ask them to add the option to their estimate.

Compare the estimates you receive and take account of subtle differences in each bid. Some contractors quote an all-inclusive rate for finishing the project within a certain timeframe, while others quote per hour, day or week. One company may include travel in the overall cost, while another may charge for travel time. Neither option is right or wrong; however, they are different and this could lead to misunderstandings, so keep a check on your expectations and make sure they are met by the proposals you get.

Run a Check

Before you choose the company or individual to whom you’re going entrust your hard-earned funds and the remodeling of your family home, you need to check out a few things. These include:

Legal Requirements
The state has specific requirements for the registration of home building companies and remodelers. Find out whether the home builder or remodeler you prefer is licensed to operate, and ask for proof of current licensing. Check that the contractor has the necessary qualifications for the work you want done.

Insurance Cover
Most states require home building contractors to hold property liability insurance as well as workers compensation cover. Liability insurance ensures that if anything disastrous happens, the contractor can claim against the policy to cover the costs of repairs. Workers compensation protects the homeowner in the event that one of the workers is injured on your property. Don’t be tempted to take an uninsured contractor simply because the price is lower.
References
Ask how long the business has been operational and whether they offer warranties to cover their work. Get a list of previous clients and contact several personally to ask whether former work was completed on time and within budget. Find out whether the contractor acted professionally and if the homeowner recommends the company. You can also ask how the contractor responded to any issues after completion of the project.
Sign a Contract

Once you choose your home builder or remodeler, conclude a written contract to prevent any misunderstandings between you and the company. The agreement should contain the scope of work to be done, the start and end date of the project, a breakdown of various costs and a payment schedule. If possible, get a lawyer to check the terms and conditions of the agreement and make sure you are comfortable with them before you commit yourself.

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The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, or so many people believed at one time. True or not, food is such an integral part of our lives that the kitchen is by default one of the main hubs in most homes. Real estate industry experts report that kitchen remodeling is one of the most effective ways to enhance your living space, add convenience to your lifestyle and increase the value of your home.

A Popular Choice

Kitchen remodeling is a popular choice with homeowners. So much so that a minor project ranks 5th on the list of the 33 most popular home improvement projects in a recent report by Remodeling Magazine. The report shows that the homeowner can expect to recoup 78.3 percent of the total cost on the sale of the house, w...

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“Aging in place”—that’s the terminology used by government and other authorities for people who choose to stay in their own homes as they reach their senior years. If you’re getting on in years or expect an elderly relative to move in some day, it’s smart to start thinking about the future when you’re planning a home remodeling project. You can implement carefully planned changes a step at a time and avoid major expenses and inconvenience at a time when you’d rather be enjoying your retirement. A poll conducted by Angie’s List in May 2012 showed that 37% of people accessing the website are considering remodeling to provide for aging.

Bathrooms

The bathroom is the most obvious home rem...

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Remodeling a patio can help you update a tired, under-utilized outdoor space and turn it into a perfect hot spot for summer pool and BBQ parties. From built-in BBQs to pizza ovens, it’s possible to extend your living pace and create your ideal entertainment area with a home remodeling project. Don’t be afraid to dream big—this is the kind of project you can grow into over the years, doing a little at a time. As long as you have an overall plan and a home building contractor who understands what you’re trying to do, you can implement it in stages that fit with your budget.

When to Plan

Start the planning phase of your home remodeling project well in advance. If you want to enjoy it in the summer, it needs to be com...

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Buying a fixer-upper is the dream of many prospective homeowners who don’t have the funds to buy the home of their dreams. You pick up a property on the cheap and spend time renovating and remodeling it until you’re able to move in and enjoy it, or sell it at a profit. It’s not always as lucrative as you’d expect, however, because of hidden faults you only discover when you begin fixing it up after the purchase.

Patching walls, painting and putting in new flooring are easy remodeling tasks that a home building contractor can perform to generate a solid return on your investment. Structural damages are more costly to fix, so check these seven items before you bid on the home to help maximize your profits by avoidin...

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It’s time for a change when you find yourself paying for utilities for spaces you don’t use, while your teenage children hang out in the garage to have their privacy and your elderly mother hogs the dining room with her bridge club. The question is whether to move and try to find that dream home you want, or to renovate/remodel and adapt the home to your current needs. Use the following criteria to figure out whether you need to find a home builder or remodeler, or build a new home.

Analyze Your Needs

Outline your family’s plans for the next 5 to 10 years. There are always things that happen unexpectedly, but you should have a reasonable idea of your personal goals for the period:

Are you planning to start a family? If ...

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A stylish bathroom is every homeowner’s dream. Whether your wish is just to create the master bathroom you’ve always wanted or to turn an outdated facility into a functional one, there are a multitude of options to suit every budget and preference. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing as you plan your bathroom remodeling project:

Make Space

Open up the space in your bathroom by adding a window or mirror wall. Most bathrooms have an external wall, which is often completely closed without even a tiny window. Break out the wall and replace it with a floor-to-ceiling glass window wall overlooking your garden, if possible. If your bathroom overlooks your neighbor’s living room or kitchen, however, it might not be such a good idea. In that case, a full length, full width mirror gives a similar effect.

Let the Outdoors In

For ground-level bathrooms, opening up the room with a set of French doors leading into the garden really gives you the experience of bringing the outdoors in. Make it private with a screened off mini-garden where you can dry off au naturel when the mood takes you, or let it be an alternative to your summer tanning with refreshing cool showers.

Boost the Bathing Experience

Spa baths have been around since Roman times, and we still love them just as much as we did then. More, actually, because now you can install a whirlpool tub with jets and benefit from relaxing soaks, rejuvenating steams or therapeutic jet massage. If you have the space, why not consider installing a bath big enough for two, so you and your significant other can relax together? And if you don’t have a big enough bathroom, toss out the bathtub completely in favor of a huge shower with a sculpted seat for convenient lounging in the water.

Add Sufficient Storage

There’s always a need for storage, even in the bathroom. Extra towels, luxurious bath and body lotions—you name it. Include sufficient storage in your bathroom remodeling process by installing spacious under-counter storage cabinets, shelves that stretch to the ceiling and decorative corner cabinets. Try “floating” glass shelves at odd intervals in the wall above the bath—the clear transparent look prevents the wall from becoming too cluttered.

Color Combos

Tired of the old white and beige walls in your bathroom? Generate some interest with unusual color combos such as royal blue and grey paired with white fittings, or walls that match the color patterns in a marble floor. Mix pastels with brights and lights with darks to get a fresh, modern look or a glamorous 50s feel. For an authentic appeal, combine period pieces with colors and finishes that were popular at the time.

Sources:

http://www.hgtv.com/bathrooms/foolproof-bathroom-color-combos/page-4.html

http://www.homedepot.com/Bath-Bath-Tubs-Showers-Whirlpool-Tubs-Whirlpool-Tubs-Accessories/h_d1/N-5yc1vZbzck/h_d2/Navigation?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053&searchNav=true

http://www.hgtv.com/bathrooms/cottage-bathroom-storage-cabinet/index.html

http://www.homeimprovementpages.com.au/connect/jeffduncantiling/bathroom/renovations

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Are you wanting to update your home and bring some new life to it? Dreaming of an open spacious kitchen? Or may be you would just like to remove that pink tile that was installed in the bathroom when your house was built in the 1950's? So where do you start? Follow these guidelines and you will be well on your way to having your dream house become reality.

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First impressions are lasting ones, so the first view of your home to family, friends or even a stranger is one that will be embedded forever. What do we mean when we say first view?Well, we mean the one on the outside of our home, your curb appeal. It's a place that many of us seem to forget about. Granted most of us spend the better part of our days inside our home and not in our front yards so we tend to over look things like the rusting fence posts, weathered boards and the loose rocks that seemed like a good idea but that you have now realized just makes a mess.And the good thing about improving the curb appeal...you might actually want to sit out on the porch and soak in some rays of sun while you enjoy your favorite drink.Follo...

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