Home remodeling in College Station and Bryan: Trending in your favor

College Station home remodels are in your favor.

College Station home remodels are in your favor.

It’s a good time to be a homeowner in College Station and Bryan and a great time to consider remodeling a home you love. In the last blog, 9 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE REMODELING YOUR HOME, we outlined the major factors that influence decisions on whether to renovate a home or buy another.

Remodeling decisions may hinge on considerations that are more about the value of your home as a place—that perfect backyard oasis, a warm and welcoming neighborhood, and the great memories your house elicits—than about its value as an asset. However, homes are significant financial investments that require careful protection. As a homeowner, you will want to inspect your investment annually to avoid any degradation . You may also wish to reinvest in your home to keep it fresh and updated.

The good news: our local real estate market is in great health. It’s a great time to remodel and recoup a significant percentage of your costs.

Typical home values strong and getting stronger

Working with our friend Randal Allison, a Keller Williams real estate agent, we examined a few trends in College Station and Bryan for homes similar to the majority of our remodeling clients’. Those are homes:

  • Built between 1955 and 2005;
  • Valued at $250,000 or more;
  • That have at least three bedrooms and two baths; and
  • Are a minimum of 1,800 square feet.

We reviewed 2016 sales and found 220 homes in College Station and 56 homes in Bryan that fit the criteria. The average price of the College Station homes was $349,147 and averaged $309,721 for the Bryan homes. College Station averaged $130.85 per square foot with a maximum of $227.64 per square foot.

The current values for a few of our neighborhoods are below.

Home trends occurring in College Station.

Home trends occurring in College Station.

Lowering price per square foot may mean lowering quality

Although these are interesting statistics and encouraging for homeowners, it’s important to keep the dollar figures in context. Price per square foot is the primary measure that most home-buyers use to evaluate a home purchase. This is a bad way to calculate value.

To get a home’s cost per square foot down, quality is compromised. A quality fixture or appliance will last longer, work better, and reduce operating costs when compared to “builder grade.” Quality options, not price per square foot, is where the real value in a home is found. If you amortize your investment over the next 10, 20 or even 30 years, you will find that an initial investment in quality work and products is much cheaper in the long run.

Price per square foot is also not very useful when considering remodeling. The price per square foot for remodeling a kitchen or bathroom with tile, cabinets, countertops, plumbing and extra electrical work is very different than the square foot price for remodeling a simple bedroom, for example. We invite you to read further on why we think using price per square foot (look up link) alone to calculate a home’s value is unwise.

 Great time to remodel in College Station and Bryan

Overall, the trends shared by our friend Randal Allison means that the homes of our typical College Station and Bryan remodeling clients are increasing in value. They are still very much sought after, making it a great time to consider remodeling and reinvesting in one of your largest assets. 

For more information to help you consider your next remodeling project, check out Remodeling Magazines Cost vs. Value for more information.

9 questions to ask yourself before remodeling your home

Kitchen Window looking out to a College Station backyarad.

Kitchen Window looking out to a College Station backyarad.

Should we stay or should we go?

Many people ask us, “Should we remodel or should we move?”  Our answer is always, “Well, that depends.” There is no doubt that remodeling is a larger out-of-pocket expense than buying an existing home that doesn’t need remodeling or even building new. So it’s a good question and the answer depends on many factors. Here are a few questions to guide your decision-making process:

1. How long do you plan to stay in your house?

You will recoup less of your remodeling investment if you plan to move within two years. Here is a good resource for the return on investment for home remodeling projects.

2. What are you trying to achieve?

It’s important to consider whether you can achieve the aesthetic and functional results you’re looking for in your current home. There are some limiting factors for remodeling projects—including lot dimensions and your home’s “bones” or the foundation, heating, plumbing and electrical systems—that are more difficult to overcome no matter how creative and professional your contractor is.

3. How much do you love your home?

Homeowners with a strong attachment to their current homes should factor that into the decision-making process. Your home can be the keeper of many pleasant memories that are difficult to replace.

4. How much do you value your lot?

Often our clients’ motivation to not relocate is as much about their lot as it is about their house. You may not be able to replicate a corner lot with an ancient shade tree in the backyard even if you find a house with that perfect kitchen.

5. How much do you love your neighborhood?

A desire to remain in a neighborhood is also a frequent motivating factor for remodeling. There is significant value in having neighbors you like or even just know—unfortunately, something that is missing in many of today’s neighborhoods. You may also value the neighborhood’s amenities or its proximity to schools and stores.

6. What is your remodeling budget?

If the amount you can spend is less than the cost of moving, then choosing to remodel rather than move is a no-brainer. Even a modest remodeling budget can begin to make your home more current and comfortable.

7. Where does your home’s value fall in your neighborhood?

If you own the most expensive home in the neighborhood, the return on your remodeling investment will be lower. However, if you plan to stay in your home for an extended period of time, your decision may be more about maximizing enjoyment than finances. 

8. How likely are you to find a home that you wouldn’t remodel? 

It is not uncommon for us to have a client decide to move and then call us a year later for a remodeling project on the new home. Because homes are so personal, it is very difficult to find one that is just right. If you’ve already invested in a larger mortgage, it may be more difficult to afford a remodel.

9. How much do kids factor into your decision?

The quality of nearby schools is a major consideration for most families with school-age kids and may even be the reason you bought in your current neighborhood. Disrupting the children’s school and social lives may be another key consideration. Even if you have not made close friends on your block, the kids usually have made connections in the neighborhood and at school.


Deciding whether to move or remodel is complicated because it involves so many considerations outside of just the wood, wiring and windows that make up the building that houses your life. Remember that both remodeling and moving can be fun and exciting or stressful and harrowing. Taking the time up front to evaluate all of the factors will help you weather the experience, come what may.

The next blog will share trends in home valuations within a few College Station and Bryan neighborhoods to provide more context for your home renovation decision-making process.

Confronting the Politics of Our Industry

Duke Energy fly ash spill.

Duke Energy fly ash spill.

All professional organizations do it. They promote the single interests of their industry without consideration of the bigger picture.  Most Americans distrust this self-serving view of the world. We are no different.  In this article The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) supports the wholesale repeal of regulations that are inconvenient for home builders but that might help keep others safe. 

I am in no way taking a stand on the overall bloated-ness of Washington bureaucracies or their ability to serve the people. This is simply about my industry’s support of policies that are not well thought out or widely serving. In this article, The NAHB suggests that ditches and private ponds are not deserving of regulation. But, of course, water is fluid. Private ditches and ponds overflow and pour into public waterways.  What constitutes a private pond?  Could it include toxic waste holding tanks, or ponds holding fly ash.

If we are going to get past our current culture of polarized politics, we must be willing to hold our own special interests accountable to the goal of benefit to all.  At Stearns Design Build we stand for fairness.

Sense of Place: Lighter, Brighter Homes

A home remodel in College Station, featuring plenty of windows to bring in natural light.

A home remodel in College Station, featuring plenty of windows to bring in natural light.

There’s a reason there are so many sayings about the concept of “home”: Your home is a special place. It should be your sanctuary, where you feel happiest and safest.

Creating that happy place doesn’t happen by accident though. It takes an understanding of how a home’s design affects our emotional state and how to maximize the positive effects. Neuroscientists and psychologists have joined forces with architects and interior designers in concluding that certain aesthetic qualities increase a sense of emotional wellbeing. One of the most influential qualities? The incorporation of natural light.

Let the sun shine in

Natural light exposure can influence how we feel at home, both consciously and subconsciously. And it’s easy to create a brighter, happier home. You can increase natural light in your home by:

  • Adding windows facing east to let in the sun shine without letting in too much heat. Strategically positioning west-facing windows under eaves or with trees partially shading them can also provide a nice sunset view without sending the temperature inside your home skyrocketing.
  • Looking at your window treatments and removing any heavy drapery. Shutters or blinds can help control the natural light without blocking it.
  • Using the natural tone of wood or light colors to help light reflect into darker spaces. Mirrors or metallic surfaces are also great at bouncing light around.
  • Removing or rearranging furniture that blocks windows. Smaller pieces can be positioned near windows.
  • When remodeling, add pocket or double doors between rooms to allow for privacy and an acoustic barrier when necessary but facilitate unfettered air flow and light when not.
  • Replacing internal walls with windows to allow borrowing of light. Today’s glazing practices create sturdy, translucent surfaces that open up a home.

Sleep better, feel better

The advantages of building designs that maximize natural light are well known. Sunlight from the east has been proven to positively impact your body’s internal clock, also known as circadian rhythm. Natural light exposure offers many physiological benefit, including helping you sleep longer and enjoy better quality sleep.  

Letting the outside into your home through natural light and exposure to the outdoors creates a brighter home and a happier you.

Sense (and Science) of Place: Healing Spaces

A home remodel can home can give your home a new sense of place.

A home remodel can home can give your home a new sense of place.

You can feel the difference when you walk into a home designed with a connection to nature in mind. It just feels warm and welcoming. Some people call that a “sense of place,” but it is more than just a feeling—there’s science behind creating healthier, happier homes.

How your home can stimulate healing

A well-designed home can literally help heal the sick. The scourge of cancer continues to claim more than 1,500 Americans every day. In the battle to save lives, science continues to research promising treatments from aggressive medical interventions to gentle home design approaches.

One encouraging study concluded that well-designed spaces can aid in cancer patients’ healing. Dr. Ellen Fisher, Dean of the New York School of Interior Design, points to one key factor in creating healthy, healing spaces: a link to the outside world.

Connecting to nature and community

Human beings are drawn to the company of others and to nature. Those connections reduce the stress of an increasingly harried modern life. Research has shown that scenes with natural elements reduce stress significantly more than urban scenes. Instead of cutting people off from each other, a home’s design should create a sense of connection to community and nature. Bringing the outside inside can be simple. Try these easy design tips to improve your health at home:

  • When you are remodeling, design living spaces with plentiful windows. Position windows to take advantage of sunlight and scenery without making the mercury rise inside your home.
  • Remove heavy drapes to allow more natural light into your home. Control the light with blinds or shades.
  •  Design small outside seating areas for enjoying sunsets and temperate days.
  • Use natural materials for your flooring and counter-tops. Natural materials have the added benefit of being less apt to go out of style than man-made materials.
  • Incorporate house plants into your decorations. You can also sprinkle photographs or artwork of nature scenes throughout your home.

Health and happiness at home

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 87 percent of his or her time indoors. Bringing more of the outside in can increase your feeling of connectedness to the outside world and improve your health. It can also increase your happiness. Learn more about maximizing the positive emotional effects of your home here.