Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

Many people ask us, “Should we remodel our home or should we move?”  

Our answer is always, “Well, that depends.” There is no doubt that home remodeling is a larger out-of-pocket expense than buying an existing home that doesn’t need remodeling or even building new.  Either way, it’s an excellent question and the answer depends on a multitude of factors.

We’ve included a few questions below to help guide your decision-making process!

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

If you plan to move within two years, you will recoup less of your remodeling investment. HERE is a valuable resource for the return on investment for home remodeling projects.

2. What are you trying to achieve?

What kind of aesthetic + functional results are you exploring when remodeling your current home?  There are some limiting factors for remodeling projects—including lot dimensions and your home’s structural “bones”.

If one of the elements is the foundation, heating, plumbing, and electrical system, then these are more challenging to overcome-  no matter how creative and professional your contractor is.

3. How much do you love your home?

We believe that homeowners with a strong attachment to their current homes should factor that element into the decision-making process.

As you know, your home is the keeper of so many emotional and sentimental memories. 

4. How much do you value your lot?

Often times our clients’ motivation to NOT relocate is as much about their lot and property, 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 your dream kitchen. If you love the lot and property, it’s worth the expense of your home remodel.

5. How much do you love your neighborhood?

A desire to remain in a certain neighborhood is also a frequent motivating factor for remodeling. There is significant value in having neighbors you enjoy or even just know. You may also value the neighborhood’s amenities or its proximity to schools and stores.

6. What is your remodeling budget?

Be sure to run some numbers: if the amount you’re planning to spend is less than the cost of moving, then choosing to remodel rather than move is a no-brainer.

Even with a modest remodeling budget, you can begin to update and 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 a layered decision because it involves so many considerations outside of just the wood, wiring, and windows that make up the structure that houses your life. 

Remember that both remodeling and moving can be fresh and exciting or stressful and overwhelming. Taking the time + space upfront to evaluate all of the factors will help you weather the experience.

We would love to discuss your options for remodeling your home. Give us a call or click below & we can set up a free consultation!

Stearns Design Build:            10 Kitchen Trends for 2020

Stearns Design Build: 10 Kitchen Trends for 2020

New decade, new trends! From countertops to cabinets, here is our prediction for the top 10 kitchen trends that will dominate designs in 2020! Get ready to start planning your dream kitchen.

Upper cabinets are not ideal since they are hard to reach and they tend to make a kitchen feel smaller. We imagine that we’ll be removing more upper cabinets than installing new ones and in their place, we will be adding open shelving.

There are a few downsides to open shelving, depending on personal preference. 

There is typically added dust accumulating on your dishes,  which requires extra cleaning. Another option is to mix the two and only replace your corner cabinets with open shelves for things such as cookbooks or décor.

Now, that you’ve chosen the countertops, paint, and flooring; there is one more essential element for your dream kitchen. Kitchen wall tiles both protect + personalize the hardest working room in the house. Available in every colorway and a huge range of patterned, textured or simple designs.

We were excited to see that we were ahead of this trend last year with this blue kitchen pictured above that was featured in Insite Magazine. We will be seeing a plethora of colored cabinets in 2020.

Say goodbye to the heavy + broach raised panel cabinet doors of the past. Simple shaker or even smooth cabinets doors that are easier to clean and match the elegance of a 2020 kitchen.

The accessories in your kitchen are an essential +  important component in the design, especially with hardware. When you change something as simple as hardware, it can change the design of the space. Along with the other simple lines in the kitchen, will be simpler minimal knobs and pulls.

Quartz will continue to be the preferred material & homeowners are in search of more character in their countertops. As they have improved the art of veining these tops, we will see more of these dramatically veined counters.

When space can be found, we expect to add large functional pantries to make the kitchen more efficient. Who doesn’t love a well-organized pantry?!

Of course, this has always been a trend with us as it is part of our Transition approach to design. With the upper cabinets gone, we can now enlarge that window providing more natural light + connection to the beautiful outdoors.

Who wants to bend down and reach to the back of a lower cabinet? No one! A new kitchen will bring the convenience of customized drawer organizers with pull-outs for pots + pans and other kitchen tools.

Your ceiling does not need to be boring. A little color on the ceiling can cast a glow and brighten the mood of the kitchen, especially when eliminated with sleek LED lights.

Want to learn more about kitchen design + remodeling?

Join us at our kitchen seminar on March 7th, 2020! Sign up below!

Invest in Your Home    Part 1: Protecting + Growing Your Asset

Invest in Your Home Part 1: Protecting + Growing Your Asset

For many people, buying a home is the biggest investment in their lifetime. Although, very few people think of their home that way, which can be a costly mistake.

A home is an investment as well as many other things, including a sanctuary and an expression of who you are.  We encourage you to keep those priorities front and center as they bring meaning and happiness to your life.

Luckily, these purposes are not mutually exclusive. You can have a home that is a safe + comfortable refuge, an expression of your unique identity, and a well-maintained investment.

While tending to the investment variable in this value equation involves some straightforward strategies. To do so, it is first helpful to separate the investment in your home into three broad categories.

See below for tips on how to keep your home as a viable asset.

Fix-It First: Protecting Your Home Asset

Your home is like your car and many other physical assets; the more you care for it, the better it will care for you.  To take the best care of your home, it will require planning, diligence, and for most of us, outside help. Here are some suggestions for healthy home care:

  • Regularly scheduled mechanical maintenance: Having your air conditioning and heater serviced twice a year will reduce utility bills, increase the life of your equipment, and avoid the frustration unexpected failures. It is also important to change your filters.
  • Fixing things in a timely manner: Letting problems linger can lead to further damage.  
  • Check the envelope(outside surfaces) of your house twice a year:  This is where unattended repairs can lead to LARGE costs. 

Don’t wait until…

  • You are getting water in your home to fix your roof.
  • Rot has reached the frame of your house to have the wood replaced.
  • The paint has peeled to paint your home. 

Make It Work: Home Remodeling

Home remodeling returns an increasing value with age.  Here is a good resource for the return on investment for home remodeling projects. Here are some guidelines to help get the most out of your remodeling investments:

  •  Pay attention to design: A poorly designed addition that looks like an add-on rather than an integrated part of the home could devalue a home asset.  Make sure that the new space is wisely configured to complement the existing floorplan, creating flow and continuity.
  •  Mind your budget: If your budget is too tight to get what you want, consider waiting until you can afford to do it right. Cutting corners to fit a budget is the best way to create long-lasting regrets. This does not mean that you need to get every desire in your remodel or that you should be overly extravagant.  Instead, make sure that you don’t have to make too many sacrifices, which could result in you being unhappy with the finished product.
  •  Avoid trendy design: This is harder to do than it sounds.  Home design tends to be very trendy. Colors, countertops, and floor coverings are fashion elements that change with each season. Imagine walking into your remodeled home 10 years from now. Will it seem classic or dated?  To keep your home classic, consider reflecting today’s trends in easily changed elements, such as paint colors. Try to use natural materials whenever possible: carpet fashion changes over time but hardwood stays stylish. Artificial countertop materials have come and gone but granite has remained a solid choice.
  • Hire quality professionals: Quality remodeling professionals will be able to help you articulate and achieve your goals.  You don’t want to go with the lowest bid because most of the savings will come at the cost of quality and durability, both of which will diminish your home investment.

Take preventative measures to protect your assets and get a remodeling job done by professionals. It may feel difficult at the time, but you will reap the benefits of your decisions for years to come.

Green Building: Exploring the Timeline

Green Building: Exploring the Timeline

As we all know, green building has really taken shape and increased in popularity in the last few decades. Many choose to build green as a quality of life choice: to ultimately preserve our earth’s natural resources while reducing negative impacts on our environment. 

But WHEN did green building begin? While there are numerous definitions and concepts of green building these days, it’s interesting to examine when this design and idea originated in history.

The earliest recorded relationship between habitat and human health traces back to the Middle Pleistocene, which was around 126,000 years ago. There is evidence of microcharcoal and soot from indoor cave smoke which implies that humans were impacted by control of fire in the indoor environment and the environment generally. These are some of the earliest known examples of the unanticipated and sometimes ill-favored consequences of altering our environment, including the built environment.

Of course, these challenges continued to grow as our human population increased, thus resulting in more energy and resources required for sustenance and economic activity. 

The modern era of green building began in the 1960’s shortly after we began pumping conditioned air into our homes. Perhaps, the advent of air conditioning is what allowed us to separate architectural thoughts from those of the environment.

When I was 16, I took a short course at Northern Arizona University on sustainable building. These were the early days before the term “Green Building” was essentially born. Most of the energy-saving concepts required abandoning modern conveniences. At this point in time, green building was not quite ready for public consumption. 

Three years later, I helped build a house in Travis County that employed 6” exterior walls for increased insulation and had manufactured solar hot water. This is when I truly started to see the new ideas of sustainable building reveal and show up in the residential housing market.  Finally, in 1993, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) was formed. A year later they came out with their first version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system came into existence.

Green building focuses on five key areas:

  • Sustainable site development
  • Water savings
  • Energy efficiency
  • Materials selection
  • Indoor environmental quality

Throughout the years, the ideas and techniques +  materials of green building have slowly made their way into the mainstream of homebuilding. Despite an increase in size, the average new American home consumes more than 30% less energy than it did in 1980!

Ten years ago, a home that was considered green, wouldn’t even pass code inspection today. Universally, the overall education + advancement of green building has significantly increased and continues to advance in leaps and bounds.  

Stearns Design Build built the first net-metered solar home in Brazos County in 2007.

Did you know that all of our remodeling projects start with an energy assessment?

Not only do we want to ensure that our company is a leader in the best practices of green building, but also we want to increase the return on investment of your home. Not to mention we’re aiding in conserving our earth’s natural resources. 

Part of our mission is to improve the quality of building stock in Bryan and College Station.  This primarily involves improving energy efficiency and indoor air quality. This includes things such as high-grade materials that are more durable and reducing air leaks. In addition, we use low toxicity materials well suited for our environment and we are strategic about the placement of windows for energy efficiency.