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Stearns Design Build’s Home Remodeling Process

Stearns Design Build’s Home Remodeling Process

Making the decision to remodel your home can be very daunting. For many, it can take months or years to take that leap of faith and let people into your home, which is your safe space. Here at Stearns, we’ve spent years fine-tuning and meticulously planning to make it as painless as possible. 

Let’s walk through our remodeling process to get a better understanding!

Complimentary Consultation

Your first meeting is with Hugh Stearns, the president of Stearns Design Build. This is an opportunity for us as a business to understand and reflect on the big picture of what you’ve been dreaming of changing, as well as your concerns. We hope you will leave this meeting with valuable information regardless of who you decide to hire. 

 We do require a design retainer fee after this point. Our design retainer isn’t an additional fee added to the cost of your job. In fact, your retainer is basically a payment for the job that gets applied like any other payment would. It does not add to your bill or change your budget estimate. It is just, in essence, a deposit and an investment into your home + future.

Initial Design Meeting

Welcome to the information gathering and analyzing step! The designer and production manager is coming to your home to take lots of measurements and pictures.  In this meeting, we will talk more about the details of the project and how to make the space custom for you

Our goal is to create a space for you that is exactly what you need, envision, and desire. 

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, We want to know every dreamy detail you’ve ever imagined to make it the most efficient, beautiful, customized, and functional space for you and your family. 

Feasibility Meeting

Design time! Ok, not yet but we’re getting close 🙂 We’ve taken the information you’ve given us to create budget expectations. Our goal is to make the scope of work meet the budget.

The feasibility evaluation prevents us from creating a design that is out of your budget or not creating a design as grand as you would like. With very little time spent, this large range allows us to start providing a sense of where the project budget is likely to fall.

Concept Meeting

For large projects, there may be more than one concept meeting. In this meeting, we are laying out the general concept of the project.

We will review the floor plan drawings and refined budgetary information. 

Charrette

Charrette is a fancy French word indicating an all-hands meeting. This often takes place at your home and we bring in various members of our team such as the job manager, plumber, and electrician to talk through the concept.

We get everyone’s input on what they will need to do their part of the job and to start the process of problem-solving so that we can avoid doing this during construction.

This is an element of Design Build that is very beneficial to anyone getting their home remodeled. Our production team is heavily involved during the design phase to make sure the cost of all aspects of the project are taken in to account early in the process so there are no surprises down the road. We are all in involved from start to finish which adds an inherent efficiency and effectiveness to the process.

Design Development

It’s TIME! In this phase, we design feature elements such as stairs, cabinetry, fireplaces, and built-in furniture.

You get to pick your paint colors, selections, backsplash, and more! Our designer will help guide you through this process so it doesnt get overwhelming while making decisions.

This is the fun part: You are able to see the design of your future space come to life.

Proposal

This includes complete design, short of construction documentation. It comes with a proposal and a construction contract.

You will see what your future space looks like and make sure it’s perfect for you.

Pre-Construction Meeting

Before we break ground, we will meet with you at your home to review the schedule and details such as where we will stack materials, where dust walls will be installed, and where the port-o-potty will go.

We will also talk about starting times and weekly meetings among other details.

This is your home and we want to make the process as comfortable for you as possible. By scheduling all this information, everyone is clear on the plan moving forward.

We also have weekly project meetings with the job manager to review changes and your happiness with how things are going!

Open Wall Meeting

This meeting takes place right before we start covering things up at your home. You can see where switches and lights will be. We will review the height of fixtures and the direction of door swings.

A time for last-minute changes with less impact on the budget.

Celebrating your project

Finally, the project is completed! Time to show it off. We provide a wine and cheese party for 12 of your closest friends and family.

We will be on hand to toast to your improved home and answer questions about the design and construction of your beautiful project.

Warranty + Continuing Care

We are always available to monitor and adjust our work as necessary. Additionally, we will call you periodically to make sure that everything is in good working order and to ask questions about the durability of the work we have done for you. Our goal is to build projects and relationships that will last for generations.

We are proud to be a part of the BCS community since 1993 and we want to continue to serve for years to come.

Read more of our Happy Home Blog!

Picking the Right Contractor: Why You Shouldn’t Choose the Cheapest Option

Picking the Right Contractor: Why You Shouldn’t Choose the Cheapest Option

Recent data shows that major home improvement and remodeling projects are happening more than ever during the global pandemic. It appears that sheltering in place inspires remodeling your space! Remodeling your home is a big project, whether it’s your entry room or the guest bathroom.

“In fact, nearly four in five homeowners reported that they are dreaming about changes that would help them to enjoy their home more, with outdoor, bathroom and kitchen projects topping wish lists. Of those with home improvement dreams, nine in ten plan to upgrade their homes following the pandemic.Source: Houzz

Remodeling your home is not a small decision, just like buying a house. Many individuals have a definitive list when looking to purchase a home. Anything from the neighborhood, lot size, school district, number of bedrooms + bathrooms, etc.

If you want to find the right house for you, it is wise to hire a professional and licensed inspector to ensure the house doesn’t have water damage, structural problems: like a cracked foundation or damaged load-bearing walls, electrical issues, and HVAC problems.

Choosing a contractor should be no different.

The first step in remodeling is finding the contractor. Most homeowners think they are doing their due diligence and get multiple quotes from different contractors. SO many individuals look to reduce the cost of remodeling by choosing the contractor with the lowest bid. This is fraught with risk.

Here in our great state of Texas, you must have a license to sell a house or cut hair but not to build a house or remodel it.

Many times, the pretext to choosing the lowest bidder is that you’re receiving a great price. In actuality, the quote is intentionally inexpensive compared to others because of omissions, inferior materials, and deceptive wording giving the homeowner false expectations. In turn, this will end up costing you more time and money. 

Helpful hint:

You always want to make sure your contractor’s standards are high, they are experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable in their profession. We recommend choosing your contractor based upon their capabilities, experience, honesty, and reputation within the community.  This is also where the Design-Build aspect comes into financial planning with your remodeling project. Without getting the builder’s input during the design phase, the bid can’t be determined until the design phase is complete and the project has been sent out to bid. This is typically where the owner is shocked to find out that the project cannot be constructed within their budget. This can result in the project being discarded, or having to go back to the architect to redesign the project to bring it back into the budget. Once again, more time and money lost and lots of headaches for the owner. With design-build, everyone in each part of the process is involved to ensure the project is within the client’s budget.

A Stearns Story:

We had a previous client who unfortunately hired a contractor who gave her the lowest bid. The previous contractor had “remodeled her bathroom” a year prior and by the time she called us, mold had appeared on the walls, the paint was peeling and the cabinet drawers were difficult to open and shut. This was due to poor quality materials and craftsmanship. 

In retrospect, this client had explored her options and thought she was taking the right steps before beginning the project. She solicited bids from three different remodeling contractors and chose the least expensive contractor, resulting in a complete redo of her bathroom one year later. To top it off, the contractor stopped taking her calls as soon as issues arose. 

Your home is the keeper of so many precious memories. We recommend doing your research and asking for referrals from people you respect and trust. Learn more about our design-build process here or read more of our Happy Home Blog.

Exterior Siding 101: How to Choose the Best Siding For Your Home

Exterior Siding 101: How to Choose the Best Siding For Your Home

Throughout the south, brick + rock are a very popular choice for home exteriors. In fact, many neighborhoods require a large percentage of this on the exterior of their homes because it is seen as a higher status and more elite than other materials. 

This is actually counterintuitive due to the fact that rock + stone produces a thermal mass that acts as a significant solar collector that gathers heat and dissipates it to the home throughout our long summers. 

As we are all well aware, we do NOT need any sort of extra heat during our Texas summers. Our homes need to be a refuge from the heat, not a host for it. 

This is a shame because not only can siding be beautiful, it is also a much more energy-efficient choice for our climate. 

One of the likely reasons that neighborhoods tend to require extra masonry is because siding has so often been installed wrong and because some siding products are bad choices for building materials. 

Here is a look at a range of common siding choices in the Brazos Valley.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is a very common exterior siding material and we have to say, we’re not vinyl siding’s biggest fan at Stearns.  Generally speaking, vinyl is a poor choice in building material in most applications.  It is prone to have many problems and often lowers your home’s resale value. 

(There are a few exceptions to this such as Andersen 100 windows; which include fiber in the vinyl to help stabilize it.)

One of vinyl’s many issues is that it expands + contracts drastically with changes in temperature.  In fact, we have seen the reflection from nearby windows melt vinyl siding. We’ve always been told that the UV inhibitors in vinyl keep it from cracking. Nonetheless, we have seen large sections of wall rot behind vinyl siding that had cracked. 

When vinyl siding begins to crack; the cracks aren’t visible to the naked eye. In turn, the walls begin to deteriorate from the cracks subsequently leading to the siding falling off of the house.  

The most frequent malfunction we see with vinyl siding actually has nothing to do with the vinyl,  but with the aluminum trim that is applied on Fascia and other trim.  In most cases, water is able to get behind this metal and it cannot escape.  As a result, the rot cannot be seen and is not realized until it is too late.  

This also happens with aluminum siding. Typically, we don’t see that much aluminum siding in this area, so for this reason we’re excluding this from our list.

Hardboard Siding

This material is often referred to as Masonite, who was an early manufacturer of the product.  In 1996, the maker of Masonite Siding lost a large class-action suit because the material was unfit for exterior use.  Today, Masonite no longer makes siding. 

However, much of the same siding remains in place and there are other similar products on the market. A few years back, when more of this product was still used, we may have put this above vinyl as our least liked siding.

Engineered Siding 

Overall, engineered siding encompasses a vast group of products, including plywood and composite woods; such as Smart Siding.  Our hot, humid Texas climate is harsh on these products.  

More often than not, engineered siding issues are a result of poor installation.  We recommend hiring a professional when using this siding. 

Commonly, this siding is run closer to the ground than it should be because slab foundations are not built high enough to provide adequate protection from sprinklers and the water splashing from the roof runoff. In addition, they are often improperly flashed to protect them from water infiltration.

Wood Siding

This is tricky – here at Stearns, we love wood siding. It’s the real deal. Sadly there are several reasons it’s not the best choice for our hot and humid climate.  Over the years, as Americans have grown wood faster, it has lost a lot of the durability that it once had. But even well-cured, old-growth wood has a tough time in our climate.  

Nonetheless, for the well-informed and motivated client, it can be a great choice.  There is a lot that can be done that goes above and beyond a typical application to give the wood siding a fighting chance. 

This includes making sure that protective coating goes on every surface; especially end grain which is most vulnerable to rot and most often left unprotected. Though we almost never see it in our area, a rain channel behind the siding is also crucial to making wood siding durable.  Furthermore, proper window and trim details are also rare but important to maintaining wood siding.

Cement Fiber Siding

A GREAT siding choice for our climate is cement fiber siding. The material is not subject to rot or insect damage, it is fire resistant, and holds paint very well.

It’s durable, very low-maintenance, and because it is made from recyclable materials, it’s resource-efficient. 

Fiber cement comes the closest to recreating a natural wood grain and is virtually indistinguishable from some wood siding products. It is considered a premium product and tends to garner better resale value to your home. 

At Stearns Design Build, we specialize in wood and fiber cement sidings because we feel that they are the best choices for our climate, they are the most cost-efficient and durable for our client’s homes.  

Do you need guidance or help with your siding? 

Contemporary + Modern Home Renovation: Part 3

Contemporary + Modern Home Renovation: Part 3

Lastly, as we move from the kitchen in Part 2 to the master bathroom, we stayed with the same contemporary modern vibe from the rest of the home.

In the master bathroom, his and her sink vanities were nestled in opposite corners, separated by a large charcoal garden tub and small shower stall.

Removing the large, corner garden tub we relocated his sink vanity beside hers along the main wall.

Because two existing corner windows now occupied the space above his new sink vanity, the clients feared he would have to forego a mirror, because we didn’t want to sacrifice any natural light.

A custom, swivel mirror mounted inside the window casing was our solution, allowing both the mirror + window to coexist while also providing maneuverability when routine cleaning of the window was required. 

The pièce de résistance for this master bathroom makeover was undoubtedly the show-stopping walk-in shower.

Commanding the remaining half of the existing room footprint, a combination of gray and black large-format tiles adorn the floor and walls.

Centered on the shower entry opening, a full-size quartz slab takes center stage, highlighted by dimmable LED strip lighting from the floor to ceiling on each side.

Behind half-walls with ledges capped in matching quartz, are strategically placed shower controls that allow turning the water on to warm without getting wet in addition to custom wall niches with concealed, dimmable accent lighting.

Before this bathroom had a ton of wasted space with a bathtub that was never used. The clients had a certain style they wanted in mind and we were thrilled to help that vision come to life with this bathroom transformation.

Watch the video below to see all the before + after photos for this home renovation!

We’d love to have a meeting to hear about your goals, dreams, and the transformation you envision for your home. Are you ready? We can design your dream space today!


Call us today for a free consultation! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Contemporary + Modern Renovation: Part 1

Contemporary + Modern Renovation: Part 1

We recently finished a full home renovation in College Station, Texas. 

We’ve divided this renovation into a three-part blog series to guide you through each element of this redesign. Our end goal was to effortlessly tie together each space of this home and now, we’re excited to visually guide you through this incredible transformation. Let’s begin!

Originally built in the late ‘90s, this project’s broad scope included 8 interior rooms plus new floors throughout the home, transforming this late ’90’s home into a carefully curated, contemporary residence.

Throughout the home were slightly aged, honey-tone wood cabinets with black and charcoal granite counters and gray tile backsplashes.

Beginning with white oak wood as our inspiration, new wood-look floors replaced large-format, textured gray tiles throughout the rooms in the home.

In the adjoining den, an existing and large built-in entertainment center sat against a main focal wall with its somewhat overpowering honey-toned presence.

After a lengthy discussion, the clients were ready to part ways with custom wood built-in in an effort to achieve “something better, something brand new!”

Maintaining a contemporary + modern edge while incorporating transitional elements offered in warm tones and organic materials, a high-impact and unique design emerged for this feature wall.

Working with a handful of existing base components from the original built-in cabinetry, a floor-to-ceiling “secret” door clad in intricately patterned wood concealed a large storage closet with adjustable shelves.

A floating tv shelf in the same natural stain finish as the floors flanked by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves completed the custom contemporary feature wall.