Monthly Archives: April 201628

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5 Must-Know Tips for a Hiring Remodeling Contractor

Hiring a remodeling contractor can be intimidating. After all, sometimes it can seem like there are as many options out there as there are horror stories. The question is, how does one sort through everything in order to find the perfect fit for your project.

If you’re getting ready to start a big remodel, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of tips for hiring remodeling contractors that will help you ensure your project is a pleasant experience from start to finish.

1. Do Your Homework

This rings true for both your project itself and the individual you’re hiring. For the remodel, you’ll want to have a clear idea of what you want the end result to look like and a realistic budget of what you’re prepared to spend.

For the contractor, you want to focus on individuals who can show prior experience with your type of project, preferably with testimonials and work samples. You’ll also want to find people who are both accredited and insured.

2. Interview Multiple Contractors

Once you have found two or three contractors that seem capable of doing the work, you’ll want to interview them. Ask them questions such as whether or not they’ve ever taken on a project of this scale, if they feel confident in their ability to pull the necessary permits for the job, and how long they envision everything will take.

As they interview, be sure to listen to their answers for assuredness and professionalism. Since contractors will often be coming into your home, you want to choose someone that you’re comfortable with and who also seems capable of completing the work.


Image: John Dancey

3. Get Quotes

After completing your interviews, feel free to ask anyone that you’re still considering to provide a quote for the project. The quote should include the cost of materials for the remodel, as well as a price for the estimated number of labor hours.

Keep in mind that the lowest option may not always be your best pick. Do your homework in regards to how much a remodel like yours typically costs. Be sure to take factors like experience and available work samples into account. Sometimes a larger upfront costs is worth it in the long run if it means a hassle-free transaction.

4. Put it in Writing

Once you’ve settled on the contractor that you feel is the best fit for your job, make sure to get the terms of their quote into a legally binding contract. This contract should include items like a payment schedule and the process that should be followed for making changes to the original project terms. It should also be signed by both parties.

Though no one wants to think of a bad outcome, having a signed contract will give you an avenue for legal recourse in the event that something goes awry during the course of your remodel. Keep in mind that true professionals will understand that having terms in writing will provide protection for you both.


Image: Case Design

5. Be Flexible to a Point

Unfortunately, remodeling will never be an exact science. Even the best contractors will sometimes run into unforeseen problems once they open up walls or inclimate weather may slow down speedy progress. Homeowners should expect a little wiggle room in terms of budget and timeframe.

That being said, there is a limit. If the person you’ve hired keeps pushing your project aside for other ventures or racking up charges that don’t make sense, you shouldn’t be afraid to find someone else to finish the job.

Choosing a contractor is always a big decision, but that doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable. We’ve put together a list of tips for hiring remodeling contractors that will allow you to make an informed decision. We hope that these tips will allow you to consistently select a contractor that’s the best fit for your scenerio.

What tips do you have for finding a remodeling contractor?

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Isolated Chilean Home Offers Stunning Seaside Views

Getting stranded on a deserted island may seem much more appealing after exploring this seaside three-bedroom, two-bathroom, open-concept home designed by the architects at WHALE! Architecture in the Valparaíso region of Chile.

This 1,938-square-foot basic shoreline house named Casa Encallada was built in 2014 and offers an open space for a living room and kitchen, in addition to two porches, one indoor and one uncovered. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows allow for ample natural light to flow into the living spaces, and kitchen features such as the island and backsplash mirror the exterior wood siding. Natural and striped hardwood floors span the entire house.

Chile Beach - Chilean seaside home

The actual design of the structure highlights sharp angles and edges, with siding made from pine wood in varying shades to create depth and reflect the rustic surroundings of the Tunquén wetland. The nearly flat roof in contrast, flows to create a consistent image for the home and environment.

The house is situated 76 miles from Chile’s largest and capital city Santiago, tucked into a landscape enveloped by the Pacific Ocean and Tunquén wetland. Valleys encompassing rocky terrain border the home, contributing to the abandoned, yet tranquil aesthetic of the house. [Photography by Hugo Bertolotto]

Chile Cliffs - Chilean seaside homeChile Kitchen - Chilean seaside homeChile Stairs - Chilean seaside homeChile View - Chilean seaside home

What is your favorite feature of this isolated Chilean seaside home?

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Mountain Home in Massachusetts Inspired by Fibonacci Spiral

Tsao & McKown Architects recently completed Berkshire Mountain House, a modern residence located in Alford, Massachusetts. The exterior of the residence is inspired by traditional farm houses in the region with a blended array of textures and hues, while glass is used extensively for connection with the outdoors.

“Nestled into the tree line at the top of a gentle rise, the house folds and unfolds to take advantage of sweeping panoramic views, and wraps upon itself to form an intimate courtyard against the forest’s edge,” the architects said.
Outside house with lawn - mountain home MassachusettsAn original layout defines the project, which has a total of three levels: “The building is conceived as movement through a Fibonacci spiral,” the architects explained. “The resulting plan allows a graceful progression through the rooms, spiraling up to the highest point, a cozy aerie.”

The living areas on the first floor consist of a series of open spaces for dining, entertaining or working. An abundance of wood finishes adds to the welcoming vibe, while well-placed artwork adds a pop of personality. [Photography by Eric Laignel]
Outside house with bedroom windows - mountain home MassachusettsCloseup of outside window detail - mountain home MassachusettsFront door entrance - mountain home MassachusettsOutside view of dining room - mountain home MassachusettsDining room interior at dusk - mountain home MassachusettsDining room and living room - mountain home MassachusettsDining room from living room - mountain home MassachusettsLiving room - mountain home MassachusettsFireplace and reading nook - mountain home MassachusettsHallway and staircase - mountain home MassachusettsOffice - mountain home MassachusettsBlueprints - mountain home Massachusetts

What’s your favorite feature of this Fibonacci spiral-inspired mountain home?

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Rooftop Terrace Tops Minimalist Family Home in Tokyo

Swedish studio Elding Oscarson completed the design of Nerima House, a private residence located in Tokyo, Japan. Built as a weekend refuge for a couple and their grownup children, this minimalist family home features a surrounding small garden and rooftop terrace for ample opportunities to spend time outdoors.

The partially sunken ground floor accommodates a large bedroom with garden views, lavatory and storage room, while upstairs a spacious kitchen, dining and living rooms are organized in a single interior. Wrapped in glazing, the main living area offers a 360-degree panorama of the neighborhood. “The project was fairly unspecified, and rather than making a house with many small rooms, we opted for an open-plan concept,” the architects said.

Neighborhood street view - minimalist family home Tokyo

A simple color palette in white, complemented by wood accents makes the interiors feel airy and welcoming. Probably the most sought after part of the residence, the rooftop terrace ensures plenty of space for both relaxation and entertaining. [Photography: Kenichi Suzuki]
Building entrance - minimalist family home TokyoExterior of building during day - minimalist family home TokyoGarden and stone path - minimalist family home TokyoBedroom - minimalist family home TokyoBathroom - minimalist family home TokyoStaircase - minimalist family home TokyoStaircase with curtains drawn - minimalist family home TokyoDining room - minimalist family home TokyoUpper landing with chair - minimalist family home TokyoRooftop terrace - minimalist family home TokyoSide garden and stone path - minimalist family home TokyoFirst floor floorplan - minimalist family home TokyoSecond floor floorplan - minimalist family home TokyoRooftop terrace floorplan - minimalist family home Tokyo

What do you like most about the outdoor spaces incorporated in this minimalist family home?

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Two-Story Glass Wall Makes Narrow Mexican Home Feel Huge

This modern residence — recently completed by Taller Estilo Arquitectura — is cleverly adapted to its long and narrow site in Yucatán, Mexico. Even though the two-level Raw House is just 19 feet wide, the interiors feel airy and bright. How? It’s one part exposed raw materials. The concrete, wood and metal fixtures aren’t hidden under space-consuming layers of drywall.

It’s another part smart layout: the back of the house is a two-story glass wall (or is it a door?) that opens up the living spaces to a small courtyard with a swimming pool. Inside, the double-height lounge space just inside and the exposed stairway to the second floor both create the perspective of an “infinite” home.

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The airy and bright feeling throughout isn’t by accident either: according to the architects, passive conditioning elements are an integral part of the design. The eastern wall of the home is also sliding glass that opes than an “air chimney,” that lets in natural light and makes it possible to control the flow and the volume of air even more precisely. [Photography by David Cervera]

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5 Ideas For Healthy and Green Living

The idea of healthy and green living has entered the mainstream — it impacts our diets, our work places, and now, of course, our homes. If you’ve been wondering how to make the right choices for both your family and the environment, look no further. We’ve searched and found five simple solutions that can help your home be a little bit more sustainable.

1. Choose Sustainable Systems

This is usually what people think of when they envision green living, but remember, sustainability doesn’t have to mean installing solar panels and living completely off the grid. On a smaller scale, selecting low-flow shower heads and energy-efficient appliances will also reduce your impact.

Those worried about the cost of implementing sustainable systems should also consider that the often offer long-term financial savings. A recent study from the .

As for how to pull off a minimalist look, it’s all about putting function at the forefront. As you go through the rooms in your home, evaluate every item based on what purpose it serves in the space. Allow a few decor items to really bring forth your personal style, but don’t hesitate to clear away anything that just takes up space.

Kitchen with recycled materials - green living

3. Remember to Recycle

Reusing existing products is also a key component of green living. Before you decide to give away any surplus items in your home, we recommend trying to repurpose them in a new way.

For some, this means shifting wall hangings from one room to another. For others, it means undertaking a DIY project and turning an old dresser into a desk. But, whatever your flavor may be, don’t be afraid to take a step back and re-envision your things in a whole new way.

Dining room with natural materials - green living

4. Embrace Natural Materials

When it does come time to make a new purchase for your home’s interior design, you’ll want to choose natural materials whenever possible. This means, selecting design elements that come from renewable resources like wooden furniture, marble countertops or terra cotta floors.

Natural materials are a smart pick for a variety of reasons. Not only are they currently popular because of their green credentials, but they rarely fall out of style. If bought from the right vendor such as a small business owner or even second-hand shop it is often possible to get a better quality item at a lower price than the mass-produced version.

Glass-walled living room - green living

5. Let the Outside In

Lastly, it would be impossible to talk about being green without acknowledging that we should try to incorporate nature into our living spaces whenever we can. Ideally, we should strive to find ways to include natural elements indoors, as well as developing outdoor spaces. Consider foregoing window treatments in order to allow in plenty of natural light or investing in sizable sliding glass doors to allow the spaces to flow seamlessly. Smaller details like adding plants or fixing up a patio are also great solutions.

What’s the best way you’ve found to embrace green living?

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Nature-Inspired Home in Norway Accessible Only by Boat

Anchored to a rocky landscape in Larvik, Norway, this glass-walled home was especially designed as a weekend retreat for an interior architect, an artist and their two children. Designed by the architects at Lund Hagem, the site, accessible only by boat, is located within 16 feet of the water’s edge on a small island which boasts magnificent views.

The approximately 800-square-foot project named Cabin Lille Arøya is supported by stilts (solid galvanized steel columns built into the rock) and consists of two volumes. The lower volume accommodates the bedrooms and bathrooms, while the taller one shelters the kitchen, dining and living room. “The new volumes sit naturally with the existing landscape and allow for free circulation and use of the surrounding areas,” the architects said. “The building seeks to enhance the qualities of the site and make use of areas that originally had no value.”

Exterior of building with coastline - Nature-inspired home NorwayThe living room takes advantage of surrounding views thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors. Concrete finishes were paired with wooden flooring and metal fittings, for a “raw” effect, in tune with the landscape. Wooden decks clad in pine span the length of the sleeping area with a stairway that can take inhabitants up to the roof. [Photography by Alexandre Westberg]
Water inlet leading to house - Nature-inspired home NorwayRocky cove - Nature-inspired home NorwayExterior of main living space - Nature-inspired home NorwayTop exterior of building - Nature-inspired home NorwaySide pine panels - Nature-inspired home NorwayOutside view from interior - Nature-inspired home NorwayOutside view of exterior rock wall - Nature-inspired home NorwayLiving room - Nature-inspired home NorwayBathroom - Nature-inspired home NorwayRock shower wall - Nature-inspired home NorwaySide deck - Nature-inspired home Norway

Lot blueprint - Nature-inspired home Norway

What is your favorite part of this nature-inspired island retreat?

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