fbpx
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.

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!

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.

Get your DIY Project Started Now with Stearns!

Get your DIY Project Started Now with Stearns!

Are you working on a DIY home project? We want to help! During these uncertain and challenging times, we’ve been thinking of creative + functional ways to serve you. 

We are now offering virtual consultations for your DIY projects. Some projects may include: patching drywall, installing plank flooring, repointing mortar, air sealing, replacing siding & rotten exterior cladding/trim, pouring concrete patios, framing, trim work, removing interior walls, and much more!

So many of us in our community are affected by COVID-19 and we want to help however we can. We understand these are difficult times and we want to offer financial assistance if you’ve been directly impacted. 

Pay What You Can and DIY with Stearns.

We are offering “Pay What You Can” with the option of selecting how much you want to pay. Even if you’re unable to pay, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re all in this together and we want to be of service during this chaotic time.

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!