New Year, New Home: 3 Renovation Tips for the New Year

Congratulations on getting to 2016!

You’ve already set goals for yourself in the form of New Year’s Resolutions, but have you set new goals for your home? Transform your space into a beautiful and efficient place to live this year. If you spend a lot of time in your home, continual upgrades to the space are essential. As you make a better you, make a better home!

The following are considerations you should take while making renovations in the new year:

1. Know Your Budget and Stick To It
After all of the holiday chaos, you might be a little short on change. But what about all of your dreams of home improvement? Not to fear! Regardless of whether or not you’ve been affected by holiday spending, you should strategically plan how much your project is going to cost you. Lay out each piece to the project and the corresponding price estimates.

2. Keep Lines of Communication Open With Your Contractor
When you hire a contractor for your project, you are placing a certain level of trust on that person. They are ultimately responsible for how your project will turn out. If you already have the pieces of your project laid out from when you budgeted, it should be relative easy to explain the vision you have to your contractor. Be flexible with your contractor and let them develop a solution that meets your vision and expectations.

3. Look at Other Projects for Inspiration
Do you know exactly how you want your finished project to look? Sometimes it’s challenging to find modern styles and trends that closely match your taste. Reference projects from magazines or from the Internet when explaining your vision to your contractor. He or she should have concrete examples to go off of, since they are unable to see your mental picture of the project.

Are you tackling home renovations this year? If so, which rooms will you give makeovers to? Share your renovation stories on our Facebook!


5 Tricks to Beating Stress During Home Projects

Stress comes naturally with home renovation, but your stress shouldn’t control the situation. There are many renovation items to consider and complete, which may  seem overwhelming at first. Tackling your to do list will be a project in itself, but that doesn’t mean it should be the cause of ongoing tension. If you are currently in the midst of a renovation project and feel like the world is coming to an end, take a step back, take a deep breath, and follow these suggestions!

  1. Realize the benefits of the long run.

Limited amenities, the unexpected passing through of strangers, and dust everywhere are all typical traits of home renovation. Although these frustrations will inevitably get in the way during your home project, realize that they won’t be around forever. The purpose of renovating is to make your home a better place to live and that will happen in the long run.

  1. Keep in constant communication with your contractor.

You have the vision of your project and your contractor has every intention of turning that vision into a reality. Come to a general agreement with your contractor on every last detail of the project, and there won’t be back to back problems.

  1. Expect the unexpected.

Sometimes your contractor doesn’t stick with the plan because he or she thinks there is a better fit for the project. If you don’t like what he or she is putting into effect, tell them you want it done a different way. Remain in control of the situation, but also be open to your contractor’s suggestions.

  1. Set your budget and stick to it.

While estimating the budget for your home project, make sure to allocate some of the budget toward unplanned expenses. If your contractor makes constant alterations to your project plans, it is likely that your budget will be way off. Even if you stick to the plan, there is a good chance that the budget will still need modifying.

  1. Make your overall experience a positive one.

Commit to a contractor who you know is reliable. Research leads provided by family or friends before you make the final decision to hire. Your contractor should prove that he or she is fully insured and give you samples of previous projects. If you can find the right contractor for your project, stress won’t play a role in renovating!

Looking for the right contractor for your next home renovation project? Message us on Facebook!


How to Relieve the Stress of Holiday Renovation

The holidays are busy times, and if you are in the middle of a home project, they are even more chaotic. Putting your project on pause while all of your festivities are going on may be an option, but it also might be a bad idea if you want the project to be completed as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t having guests over, the construction might be overwhelming for you and your immediate family. Here are ways to keep a renovation project going without interrupting your family or festivities.

Provide a schedule.

Check the schedule that your contractor has to stay on task and keep up with deadlines. You should add any additional notes that you feel will help the contractor out during the build. For example, if you are hosting a get together, you should tell your contractor to stick to the quieter tasks and make note of the hours of the party. Have the contractor review the schedule days or even a couple of weeks before your festivities take place, otherwise there will be holiday disruptions.

Stay on the same page with your contractor.

If you practice effective, face-to-face communication with your contractor you will save yourself a lot of hassle. Going by the same schedule is great for making your contractor aware of holiday plans, but talking through the project together will help get you both on the same page.


Just because your house is getting an upgrade doesn’t mean you can’t spruce your rooms up with some holiday decor. Set up the Christmas tree, drape the lights and feel free to hang stockings from the half-finished staircase remodel. As long as your family is safe, decorations are not only okay, but necessary.


We encourage you to remain open and flexible to new ideas from your contractor, because they might lead to a better end result. The James Construction & Renovation team of professionals will be respectful of your home and your time while we work.

Check out some of our remodeling projects here as inspiration for your next renovation!


How to Effectively Communicate with Your Contractor

If you are about to embark on a remodeling project for your home then you are ready to choose a contractor. Hiring the right contractor means finding someone who will have your best interest in mind. Take recommendations from family, friends and online reviews while considering contractors. You are the one with the vision of how you want the finished product to look, so it is your job to find a contractor who will get the job done correctly and at an honest price.

The First Meeting is Everything

The first meeting with your contractor should be on-site of your project. Not only will the wish list and budget be established, but a discussion of the complete project plan will take place when consulting with James Construction & Renovation.

Clarifying Terms and Conditions

Just as your contractor should know everything you want done on your home project, you should know all terms and conditions before committing to your contractor.

Budget plays a major role in your project, so your contractor needs to focus on value engineering. He or she might have a standard process that they use to work on homes, but you need to remind them that your vision needs to be executed regardless of what process they stand by.

Designing, Ordering & Scheduling

The design process involves discussions of what you like, parameters that you’re working in, and involves spatial planning. Refinement and modification are both part of the process. Don’t forget, it is your home and your vision. Your money means you’re in charge!

Upon approval of the layout and designs, project samples will be ordered and details of the project timeline will be identified.

Post Construction

Once the project is completed, James Construction & Renovation will do a final walk-through, formulate a punch list of any tasks to be completed to satisfy the contract terms, and discuss warranties and maintenance.

Let James Construction and Renovation design, develop, and deliver your next home project.


What To Do During A Roofing Installation

One of the top questions we get from customers is: “What should I do when the roofers are here?”

It’s a great question, because for the time period that we’re working, your home is actually a construction site.

Here’s some tips to help you prepare and prevent any damage or disturbances:

  1. Remove all vehicles, potted plants, decorations, patio furniture, wood piles, and other items from the perimeter of the building. We don’t want to risk any harm from equipment or falling debris!
  2. It’s helpful to make sure the work crew will have driveway access and workspace in the yard.
  3. Children and pets should be kept indoors or, preferably, off the job site. Besides safety concerns, they may be disturbed by the loud noises and disruptions.
  4. Protect any valuables in your attic or rooms directly below the roof from dust and debris: cover them with tarps and turn off roof attic fans.
  5. Nail guns, hammers, heavy boots and the ripping off of old roofing materials are LOUD. Be prepared for near constant noise throughout the project that may disrupt normal day-to-day activities.
  6. We may need you to move or remove satellite dishes and other delicate equipment during the project.
  7. Talk to the foreman or call us at our office any time throughout the day if you have a question or need access in or out of the building.
  8. Take your time going through the final inspection after work is done – we want to ensure all debris has been properly removed, your property restored to pristine condition, and that the project is complete to your satisfaction.

How To Renovate On A Tight Budget

Everybody’s budget is tight.

It doesn’t matter if we’re transforming the piano room of a high-end mansion or tweaking the layout in a downtown loft – every one of our clients wants to keep the costs as low as possible.

So over the past 20+ years in architecture and project management, we’ve learned a few tricks along the way to make sure every project comes in on time and under budget.

Here’s some of our best:

– Hire a professional. Obviously, we’re biased. But it’s true that bringing in someone with experience, connections and access to professional discounts will save you in many ways. Especially an independent local company that’s committed to your needs, not stockholders’ bottom lines. Think time, money, costly repairs, and headaches.

– Do it yourself. Not the whole project, of course. Still, most homeowners can contribute to design accents from the perfect-sized furniture to the just-right curtains, or come up with shelving and painting projects that help the renovation work shine.

– Research. Before bringing us in, search online and in magazines for ideas on what will make your home as comfortable and beautiful as  you dream. That helps narrow things down so we can spend less time designing and more time making it happen.

– Work with existing structural features. Interior brick walls, ceiling beams, and even exposed pipework can add to the beauty of a space. Plumbing, windows, and HVAC systems are expensive to move or relocate, so consider all your options before deciding to shift the sink three feet to the right.

– Fund it wisely. Avoid personal loans and save the home equity line of credit or second mortgage for the major projects.

When you’ve got a project you’re thinking of taking on, give us a call at 937-567-0606 to talk through the best way to make it happen for the least expense on your part.


How to Stay Sane During Home Renovations

Coming up with ways to improve your home is one of the great joys of homeownership.

Actually making those improvements? Not so much, when you have furniture to move, plastic sheeting to hang, family and pets to keep out of the work area, and can’t use your water or power for hours on end.

Here’s some tips to make realizing your dream less painful:

– Call in a team of professionals. This definitely speeds up the process. Their experience, resources, tools and connections make for fast work done right the first time.

– Use a good calendar program. Not only will you know exactly what to expect throughout the project, you can coordinate your family’s schedules and events around the work being done.

– Make it a vacation. Make sure to schedule time to rest and relax! That may include slipping away to grandma’s or a nice hotel during the most disruptive work.

– Don’t go it alone. Ask for advice from friends, family and colleagues who’ve been through this before. Neighbors might offer laundry or bathroom access until your space is back to normal. Your contractor may have great tips on how to balance your family’s needs with the ongoing house projects – after all, they’ve seen plenty of other homeowners tackle life + home improvement.

– Delegate. Even if you’ve hired a contractor to handle all the details, managing a project takes time and energy out of your day. Call in the troops to assist with tasks that make life easier and your home more livable until the work is done.

– Celebrate! When the dust is clear, take a moment before plunging into the next project to enjoy the benefits of your dream come true. That memory will help keep you motivated when you’re in the middle of a full-scale renovation later on.


Do it yourself or hire a pro?

We love do-it-yourselfers! The can-do spirit, the chance to show off their work, and all the rescues we get to do when their projects go wrong.

Seriously, it’s great to dive in on making your home exactly what you envision. And more and more people are doing it – 30 percent of homeowners now plan to do their own remodeling, and 65 percent plan to do at least some portion of the project themselves.

Here’s six tips on how to decide whether to take a project on or give a pro a call.


1. Do you have the right reason?

Are you doing this for an ego boost? To impress others? To save money? To have fun?

Whatever your reason, find out if that’s really enough reason by doing a reality check.

– Conduct a visual walkthrough, imagining every step of the project from preparation to clean-up. Go through it once with everything going right, and a second time with everything going wrong. Would the outcome still meet your reasons for doing it?

– Take on some small projects and see how they go.


2. Do you have the time?

If the idea of coming home after work and diving into a dusty mass of tools and busted drywall every day for six weeks sounds great, you’re a true do-it-yourselfer.

– Take your best estimate of how long the project will take, then triple it.

– Remember your visual walkthrough? Now visualize doing the project around all the rest of your activities.


3. Do you have the relationships?

Unless you live alone, any home repair project will affect those around you.

– Before diving in, check in with any family and friends who’ll be involved.

– Make sure you run both the best-case and worst-case scenarios by them, and talk about how each person would handle them.


4. Do you have the skills?

If not, can you learn quickly enough to complete the project and not damage your house?

– Find tutorials and video guides online and at your local library.

– Connect with a home improvement store or contractor friends for workshops, advice – and backup!

– Test with smaller, related projects. Try helping out a friend before using your home as your guinea pig.


5. Do you have the money?

Sure, hiring a professional can give you sticker shock. But a careful cost comparison might surprise you.

– Add up the cost of materials to what your time is worth. (Remember, triple the estimates!)

– Labor usually gives a professional job a 25-50 percent markup. But do-it-yourself mistakes can cancel your savings, or even cost more than you would have paid a pro.

– Remember that contractors usually get discounts on materials and don’t have to buy or rent equipment and tools.

– Get multiple quotes, and ask the contractor about ways to reduce the price. In some cases, you might be able to do the demolition or cleanup, or even handle some of the labor.


6. When to stay away

Some projects are just not something to tackle unless you have professional training and experience.

These include anything to do with electrical lines, natural gas pipes, major plumbing, and garage doors – the tension in their springs is enough to shatter limbs and smash through garage walls.

Not only are these seriously dangerous areas to deal with, but it’s easy to violate local building codes and regulations that can lead to fines and problems with selling the home.

Less dangerous to life and limb but still a risk for wallets are skill-heavy jobs like custom cabinets, flooring and bathroom installations.


So dive in to do-it-yourself – just be informed before you do. We’re always happy to stop by for an estimate, to share advice, and to lend a hand if things go awry.