Before You Start Remodeling Your Home, Prioritize

Really, there’s no such thing as a timeless house. A home structured and decorated in the latest groundbreaking design or style will still, at some point, become passé. To have a den in the sixties without shag carpet looked antiquated; to have the same shag carpet today looks just as outdated. Styles inevitably change, and staying current is a major impetus for remodeling your home. But you should never rush into anything. Before you begin planning or scheduling appointments with a contractor, you need to prioritize and decide what you want and need most out of remodeling. You might look at your house and declare that everything has to change, but until you have a concrete and ordered list of essential projects you can’t get the most out of remodeling your home.

No matter how much you dislike the rooms in your home, in all likelihood, a lot of them won’t need remodeling. Contractors know that most hallways and guestrooms can be amended with new décor—not major construction—which is good for your budget and timetable. Instead of scrapping everything, consider which homes would best be served with additions or restructuring.

Even the best home remodeling companies take significant time to do the job correctly, so decide early which projects you want them to tackle first. Whether it’s as specific as cabinets or as general as “the whole living room,” write down and prioritize projects for remodeling your home. You might be tempted to jump into things to get your dream home, but you’ll be more content in the long run if you take a little time to plan first.

The Most (and Least) Economical Major Remodeling Projects

There are two dangerous schools of thought out there: thinking that any remodeling project will hugely raise the value of your home and that any project is essentially a money pit. The first of these sets up some unrealistic expectations for the payoff of home renovations; the second can deter people from creating their dream home. In reality, just about every major remodeling project will raise your property value. The exact amount, though, varies tremendously. At Criner, we know our clients choose us for many different reasons. Some need a practical renovation; some just want their perfect home, regardless of a project’s market worth. For those who view remodeling primarily as an investment, though, we’ve outlined a few projects that payoff well—and those that don’t at all.

  • Great: replacing old windows. There’s a certain charm that old windows hold. Their foggy glass and crafted wooden edges add a nice vintage ambience to any home. Unfortunately, they’re horrendously insulated. They release both warm air in winter and cold air in summer, which makes energy bills skyrocket. It’s a good major remodeling project for even settled homeowners, but many potential buyers realize the benefits of energy-efficient windows too. Upon selling, the value of replaced wooden windows can recoup over ¾ of the project’s cost.
  • Good: third-story bedrooms. If this sounds like one of the biggest major remodeling projects out there, it’s not: it’s just about converting an attic space into a bedroom. When potential buyers look for a new home, they’re more concerned about the number of bedrooms, not about attic space. The simple act of adding sheetrock and better carpet to a third-floor attic will regain almost as much as the project’s initial cost. And if a potential buyer really cares about storage room for holiday decorations, they can just use a furnished room to keep their boxes.
  • Okay: backyard decks. Beautifying a yard has been one of the most popular remodeling endeavors for the past few years, and buyers now look for backyards they don’t need to renovate. A wooden deck gives homeowners a structure to enjoy the outdoors that will last for decades. Building one is a substantial endeavor, but it’s not as pricey as most major remodeling projects, so the cost benefits are almost negligible.
  • Not great: home offices. We realize these are often essential for stay-at-home employees, but they’re some of the least appealing rooms on the housing market. Few potential buyers really look for homes that have a built-in office, so most will view these rooms as lost space. If you’re hoping to raise your property value with a major remodeling endeavor, just convert a room into a bedroom and buy a standalone desk. Adding a home office may be personally practical, but it won’t regain even half of the project’s cost.

Why a Residential Addition Makes Sense

In the grand scheme of human history, retirement communities and nursing homes are a recent trend. Once they hit adulthood, kids left their parents’ homes for good, and once they aged, they went to live with their children. Throughout time, it was common practice to send children away then bring parents and aging relatives into the home. America’s independent spirit and financial stability have given people the chance to live on their own,but many families are returning to the old way of doing things. The costs of elderly care centers have grown exponentially, and many young adults have found the job market no longer supports them. Homes are becoming multi-generational, once again. Empty nesters aren’t staying empty for long, which is why building a residential addition makes sense.

Homes used to come standard with at least a guest room if not a full guesthouse. Some places continue to call them mother-in-law homes, because it was understood that, eventually, the wife’s mother would come to live there. Today, those standalone apartments are uncommon, and when families have to bring a parent or older child back into their house, it can feel crowded enough to cause tremendous stress. A residential addition relieves that tension, giving both homeowners and their parents or children enough space to be independent and peaceful. With the job market still troublesome and millions of Baby Boomers about to retire, households will probably just continue to expand. Making room with a residential addition may soon prove to be the norm once again.

Desperate for Change? You Don’t Have to Move with Virginia Home Remodeling

As Americans are still pulling themselves up out of this recent recession, economists continue to weigh in on the chicken and egg debate. Whether the housing market crash led to Wall Street’s losses or vice versa doesn’t really matter. Neither one remains the reliable investment they both used to be, and that’s hard news for homeowners itching for different surroundings. It’s still not a great economy to sell, but Virginia home remodeling gives you the change you need without having to move anywhere. Because of economic woes there’s a rising trend to stay put. With the right contractor, that’s not a bad thing.

People can suffer through a dull job, a dated car, and season tickets in a nosebleed section, but you need to be content with your home. It’s a haven where you sleep, eat, decompress, and entertain, and if you shudder every time you walk into the door, it can’t be that necessary source of comfort. When the walls seem shabby, the window light bleak, and the kitchen appliances relics of the past, the solution used to be to pick up and move. With a lack of serious buyers out there, that’s no longer the most viable option. Virginia home remodeling, however, gives homeowners contentment with the place they have and saves them the hassle of selling and moving someplace.

Remodeling accounts for everything from modernizing a kitchen to tearing out walls and extending the whole side of a house. Contractors are experts at adapting houses into the ideal homes for their clients. With Virginia home remodeling, you can create the haven you need and raise your property value if you still decide to move in later years. It’s always been a sensible antidote to discontentment, and it’s only wiser now with current economic trends.

3 Innovative Small Kitchen Remodeling Ideas

In any kitchen, space is precious. Everyone who watches the Food Network knows how much chefs value counter space and stove tops, but regular homeowners have to navigate even smaller areas each time they cook a meal. Good remodeling plans will make a room feel more open, but there’s only so much a contractor can do. If you’re a foodie who loves to cook but doesn’t have the space, these innovative small kitchen remodeling ideas can make the most of a tiny room.

  1. Microwave drawers. In an effort to get them off the counter, microwave designers began producing machines that could hang from a cabinet or simply fit inside one. Microwave engineers have now gone a step further, creating appliances that fit beneath the countertop and pull out like drawers. By saving valuable counter and cabinet space, these new machines are great to consider when mulling over small kitchen remodeling ideas.
  2. Pull out counter space. Using the same rationale as a microwave drawer, it’s become commonplace for contractors to install pull out boards that can serve as mixer stands, cutting boards, or just extra counter space for big meals.

Induction stove tops. Thanks to the creative minds at GE, cooks no longer have to choose between gas and electric. Induction heating offers a third option that’s energy and space efficient. Instead of a thermal heating device, these stove tops use electromagnetic fields to incite iron molecules in pots and pans. The heat comes from the pan itself, not the traditional burner, so rags, wooden spatulas, and even hands can rest beside the coils without getting burned. Induction stove tops save electricity, work quickly, and give you more space if necessary, making them one of the biggest innovations for small kitchen remodeling ideas in years.

A Good Remodeling Specialist Knows How to Handle Lead

If you live in a house constructed before 1978, there’s a good chance it poses a health risk to you and your family. 1978 was only a few decades ago, and it marked the year that the Government finally banned the use of lead paint in homes. Evidence had been around for centuries that lead poisoning damaged the human body, but the United States took years to act, which means the majority of American homes contain some traces of the harmful element. Old, dangerous layers of paint are often buried underneath new coats of safe paint. Lead might be hidden, but it’s often still present, so before you undergo major remodeling, choose a lead-safe remodeling specialist. If it’s in your walls, it’ll come out during construction, and that’s a contamination only a professional should combat.

Because it’s so malleable, lead was one of the first metals humans began to smelt and use. For millennia cultures turned it into weapons, art, and even dinnerware. In many Roman societies, the wealthiest citizens lined their wine cups with lead. The acidity of the grapes would eat away at the metal, and people absorbed it so quickly that plebs were famous for outliving patricians. That terrifying trend has only continued throughout history. Benjamin Franklin noted that printers lost control of their extremities after years of working around lead vapors; African provinces that have been exposed to massive lead pollution grow no vegetation and have horrific life expectancy rates. The EPA banned lead in homes, but it wasn’t an act of environmental propaganda. It was the reaction to endless dangers that lead has posed, which is why major remodeling in older houses continues to pose health risks.

Because it’s a metal, lead doesn’t evaporate and disseminate into the air. It’s a heavy, stationary element, and when it’s buried under layers of paint, it can’t enter your body or contaminate your food. Any major remodeling, though, upsets those layers and usually creates dust. It’s lead dust that causes poisoning. All dust naturally circulates through a home, and when it does it can cling to food, water, and even skin. A lead-safe remodeling specialist will know how to isolate and remove any lead dust before it affects you or your family.

Hiring a lead-safe remodeling specialist is good advice for anyone, but it’s critical if you’re a parent or grandparent. The dangers of lead are very severe and very real for everyone and especially children. Because their bodies are developing and growing, children face the greatest risk and long-term complications from lead poisoning. It can attack all parts of the body, but organs and brain development are usually the most affected. Depending on a child’s age, too, he’ll naturally be in more danger for touching, tasting, and crawling through a home more than adults would. When major remodeling unleashes a hidden poison, if a remodeling specialist isn’t present to contain the lead, it can enter all parts of a home and harm your most precious possessions: your family.

Be Wary with Green Home Remodeling Products

As public awareness grows about humanity’s impact on the earth, green home remodeling has seen a spike in less toxic, more efficient products. Or at least that’s how they’re marketed. This move has perhaps become too trendy, some environmentalists fear. “Greenwashing” refers to products furtively marketed as green—but that really don’t help the planet at all. Buying products that boast “eco friendly” all over their packaging appeals to people, even if those products do little to decrease deforestation and pollution. New innovations appear all of the time, but the most effective green home remodeling remains the kind that increases efficiency.

The problem with many green home remodeling products is that they’re often nearsighted. Products get marketed as combatants to existing environmental problems, but their design or components can lead to other, bigger problems down the road. The companies that just use “green” to make money rarely care about their actual impact on the earth. While a less toxic wood glue might better the air in your home, if its production and distribution methods are wasteful, it still damages the earth. To really make a home green, it’s best to make it efficient: using less water and electricity and insulating the walls.

Criner offers the choice to install sustainable appliances and fixtures, allowing our clients the ability to make their homes as green as possible. New green products often sound appealing, but if they don’t do much to conserve natural resources, they don’t make truly green homes.

3 Innovations in Bathroom Shower Remodeling

1IMG_4130It’s a lot more complicated than buying a new showerhead, and depending on the budget, bathroom shower remodeling can be more complicated than rebuilding a paneled shower.

Innovations are appearing all the time that incorporate new stylistic and ecological elements into the design of a bathroom shower. From chic to abstract, green to cheap, there are constant developments in bathroom shower remodeling, and we’ve listed three of the most interesting.

  1. Spa systems. Some of the top interior designers have adapted the shower systems of elegant spas for domestic use. Placid streams like rainwater fall from modern fixtures, and often the walls of the shower are removed, creating the sense that it spans the entire bathroom. Since water pressure is so low, the splash radius is minimal, and each system is built to accommodate the unique measurements of every bathroom.
  2. Steam closets. Any traditional showerhead will produce ample steam on its own, but some new shower systems have additional nozzles all along the wall that only emit hot vapor. Many people use steam rooms to moisturize their skin, treat respiratory problems, and stimulate blood circulation. They’re costly additions to the home, so these shower systems can serve as a less expensive alternative.
  3. Aging in place. Bathroom shower remodeling isn’t just about incorporating the latest technology into a home; it often has practical purposes. Preparing a house for age requires changes in just about every room, but installing appropriate showers and tubs can be the most important. Both showers and tubs now exist that are safer for the elderly: whether shallower to prevent tripping or specially designed for stability, they can increase a home’s value and safety immensely.

The Process of Becoming a Certified Green Professional

Green technology is the future for buildings. As the energy sources continue to deplete, there is a growing need for Certified Green Professional (CGP) services. Many homeowners are on the lookout for certified builders who have extensive experience in building clean, green, energy saving structures, but there aren’t a lot in the industry. The basic requirements for NAHB green building certification are rigid and difficult to complete.

Required Education

  • An NAHB designation or Business Management for Building.
  • 1-day Green Construction Course for Building Professionals
  • 2-day Building Science Course (Advanced Green Building)
  • 2-day Project Management Course (Advanced Green Building)

Additional Requirements

  • CGP applicants should have a minimum of 5 years of building experience. They should have remodeled or built at least three structures over a 3-year period that is recognized by a national, state, or local residential green program.
  • Must hold the title of either a construction executive employee, lead carpenter or superintendent, or owner of company.
  • Applicants are required to provide proof of their contractor’s license, workers compensation, and valid liability insurance.
  • All Certified Green Professionals will need to follow the CGP Master Code of Ethics.


The accumulated fees for obtaining a CGP can amount to several hundred dollars. The required 1 and 2 day courses are a few hundred dollars each. Additionally, renewing the license each year will cost $55.

Prolonged Education Requirements

To retain a CGP designation, contractors must have twelve hours of CGP related education every three years. Eight of these hours must come from studying activities related to the green construction industry, while the remaining four hours should be based on similar topics. Building green structures is a big responsibility, so applicants must retain high qualifications and have a professional commitment to their job. These strict guidelines cannot be followed by every contractor, but with the educational and experiential requirements, anyone searching for a contractor able to remodel with a green conscience should look for the CGP designation.

Save Water & Money with a Bathroom Shower Remodel

Ready for a change? A bathroom shower remodel is the perfect time to update all of your existing fixtures and go with energy efficient models. Why? You can save both water and money by developing bathroom remodeling plans with the help of a certified remodeler.

Unfortunately, “energy efficient” and “environmentally-friendly” are two terms that get thrown around and misused quite a bit. For many years, consumers were at the mercy of the manufacturers when it came to the information about their products and how they fit in with other green or environmental items. Even if a showerhead was labeled and advertised as being a low-flow environmental model, it wasn’t necessarily an energy-efficient choice.

In 2006, the EPA launched a program called WaterSense to ensure that there would be a level playing field when it comes to so-called “green” products. The goal is to ensure that the water resources of our planet are protected by conservation as well as the use of efficient products.

For a homeowner or contractor seeking the most efficient models, all you need to do is find the WaterSense label on the product. When it has this label, it means that the product has undergone a thorough testing program. The main requirements are that the appliance has to perform better than other items on the market and be at least twenty percent more efficient. Companies are able to utilize the label on their products if they meet the criteria set forth by the EPA.

The two main areas for water conservation in your bathroom remodel plans are the showerhead and the toilet. With an efficient showerhead, you could save an average of 2,300 gallons of water each year. For the toilet, 4,000 gallons could be saved annually simply by switching to a WaterSense model.