What Kind of Fixer-Upper Did I Get Myself Into?

Posted by on 2012-03-19 5:12 pm in 203k renovation, Renovation

By Mylene Thomas FHA’s 203(k) loan for your fixer upper that you’ve either just purchased or you already own falls into one of 2 categories: Streamline or Standard. “Standard/Rehab (minimum $5,000 up to 110% of the improved appraised value) & the Streamline (work is less than $35,000…up to 110% of the improved appraised value). Example: Purchase price is $100,000. Upgrades/Repairs/Improvements will cost $15,000. Borrowers loan amount is $115,000 (max 110% of after fix-up appraised value).”* The good news- we handle them both. It’s often a difficult task to find a qualified Class A General Contractor with the ability AND willingness to sign on for either one. We are experienced and qualified to handle 203(k) projects and that alone can make a world of difference to you and the lender when going through the administrative processes as well as the obvious remodel. If we as your contractor do not meet the approval of your underwriter based upon the standards set out by the lender and the FHA program then we aren’t your contractor and you’re stuck up a creek without a paddle. Thankfully that’s never happened to any of our homeowners and the 203(k) renovations were a success. Our most recent rave comes from a client’s lender who is known for his expertise in navigating the 203(k) process. Nice to know the experts approve of us too! “Hope to refer you more business.  Great service!  Thanks, Bob” (Bob Miller, Southern Trust Mortgage) – January 19, 201 * Copyright...

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Want a Fixer-Upper?

Posted by on 2012-03-13 11:10 am in 203k renovation

Courtesy of FHA has a loan that allows you to buy a home, fix it up, and include all the costs in one loan. Or, if you own a home that you want to re-model or repair, you can refinance what you owe and add the cost of repairs – all in one loan. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) – which is part of HUD – insures the loan, so your lender can offer you a better deal. Low down payments Low closing costs Easy credit qualifying FA Design Build has a dedicated team to help you through the 203(k) remodeling process. Contact Mylene Thomas for details....

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Mold. Ewwwww….

Posted by on 2012-03-09 9:08 am in 203k renovation, FA Design Build Team

By Mylene Thomas You’re approved for your 203(k) loan and you’ve picked a contractor and you’re ready for the inspection prior to signing all the paperwork and starting construction. Then there’s mold. The big national contractor of all people has said, “No way. No how. No mold abatement or remediation here.” Well, heck, now what? You’re supposed to go to closing in a week and this was the contractor and this was the inspection and who’s going to provide a proposal and do the work and can navigate the 203(k) process with you and your lender? You are going to lose this opportunity if you don’t find a qualified Class A General Contractor. Call me. We don’t mind getting dirty with some mold. We’re certified for that sort of...

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My counter is NOT a cutting board

Posted by on 2012-02-15 12:37 am in Countertops, FA Design Build Team, kitchens, Renovation

By Mylene Thomas If your teenager, or significant other for that fact, is anything like mine then they have a built in filter that blocks any noise coming from your mouth. I don’t have nice countertops for that exact reason. I have a dedicated space just for cutting boards. Small cutting boards, medium cutting boards, large cutting boards, cutting boards for meat with a draining system, cutting boards for vegetables with a built in colander…you get the idea. However, when my 15 year old daughter makes her lunch salad the only thing she cuts on is my kitchen island counter top. It drives me crazy. Since my voice apparently comes out sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher I have decided to change my surroundings rather than fight the laws of a teenager’s nature. I’ve always thought I’d wait until all my kids were out of the house to do this upgrade, but by then I’ll be blogging about which hover round model is the best. Thankfully there’s Cambria. Honestly the upfront costs are pretty comparable to granite countertops. The real cost savers are in the maintenance. It can withstand the wear and tear and stains associated with my destructive family. Plus, since it’s a quartz product like granite, it mimics a lot of the same aesthetic qualities of granite. Let’s face it who has time to refinish their countertops when last week’s clean laundry has made its way back into the dirty pile…and it’s still clean. Grrrr… At least I won’t be scrubbing my countertops with a toothbrush to get the yuck out of the knife grooves inflicted on it anymore. Ahhhh…. We have a great selection of Cambria samples in our Fairfax showroom. Come check it out and while you’re there win a gift card to Palio’s Restaurant and let someone else cut up their kitchen...

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Like granite but less maintenance – Cambria!

Posted by on 2012-02-08 5:05 pm in Countertops, Kitchen remodels

Do you seriously expect me to remember when, where and how I’m supposed to treat my countertops? Have you seen my indoor plants? No? That’s right. Because if I could remember to water them they would still be here alive adorning the foyer with their beautiful fauna. How about Cambria kitchen countertops? It’s 93% quartz, a natural stone and with FA Design Build’s new resources they can offer more style choices that look like granite but don’t require the up keep. Maybe with all the time I’ll save not worrying about how to treat and seal granite I can buy that beautiful palm tree again and water it, too. P.S. If my husband is reading this I would like the new kitchen in Shirebrook and the master bathroom in Praa...

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Kitchen Remodeling Advice

Posted by on 2011-10-13 11:38 pm in Kitchen remodels, kitchens

Home remodeling can be a big step in improving both your living environment and the value of your home. A lot of people remodel their homes to compliment the home owner’s desires, wants, and needs, but it is also a great option for increasing the value of your home if you are planning on selling. Many studies today show that people would rather buy a house that needs minimal repairs and updates compared to buying a “fixer upper.” Remodeling your home can be an over whelming task if you are not sure where to start. I found some great tips to help point you in the right direction for the remodeling process. A great place to start is deciding on a budget that you can both afford and be happy with the results. Having a budget will give you guidelines to help maintain costs. If you are remodeling multiple areas of the home, give yourself an allowance for each separate area. It has been my experience as both a designer and a consumer that unexpected costs often do arise and you must be prepared financially and emotionally for these possible setbacks. Begin your remodeling plan by making a list of what currently does not please you about space as it is. Then make a list of features you would like to add and any changes you would like to make in its arrangement when you begin the remodeling. Kitchens and bathrooms have the most dramatic impact on the overall appearance and impression of your home. The kitchen has become a major focal point for entertaining. The new trend people follow is spending more time in the kitchen entertaining than anywhere else in the home. There are so many elements involved when remodeling a kitchen. Due to the wiring and plumbing that usually need to be done, it may not be an ideal do it yourself project. The cabinetry and countertops are two very important areas of the kitchen. If new cabinetry isn’t within your budget, try updating them with some new distinctive and decorative cabinetry hardware. Choose a style and type of finish that complements not only your cabinets but the age of your home. Try to avoid trendy finishes that will scream “time warp” in a few years. Countertops are one product in which esthetics and practicality can coexist. Prices of granite and other natural stone materials continue to drop, while manufactured materials such as laminate and engineered stone are mimicking the real thing better than ever.  Take the time do research all available options and rule out which countertop will work best for you, and your home. Faucets can be a simple and effective upgrade that adds style and functionality. Stainless steel appliances are currently all the rage. It’s neutral and sleek while offering a commercial and sophisticated feel. Nothing brightens a kitchen more than great new lighting fixtures. Try putting accent pendant lighting over an island or a larger scale pendant over the dining room table. Under cabinet lighting is also another great option to add to the ambiance of the kitchen. These are some helpful tips and guidelines to follow to make the process of remodeling your home a more enjoyable and a less stressful...

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Bathroom Remodeling Tips and Advice

Posted by on 2011-10-04 11:39 pm in Bathroom renovation, Renovation

To add on to the last post about remodeling your kitchen, I thought why not give some helpful advice on remodeling your bathroom as well! Like the kitchen, your remodeling ideas should start with a rough plan. Again, make a list of what displeases you and what you want to change or add. Evaluate how you use your bathroom and how you want it to accommodate your needs. In the morning, do you want to get in and out of the bathroom as quick as possible, or would you rather have a more relaxing bathroom and spend more of your time in there. It’s all about how you as the user, wishes the bathroom to be according to your needs and wants! Bathrooms are a popular home remodeling project. It involves a lot of similar decisions to the kitchen. Remodeling a bathroom is a great way to add comfort and value to your home. Bathrooms have gained an important status within the household, and instead of just being a functional room they are now as interesting and decorative as the other rooms within a household. Evaluate your space, do some research online and in magazines, to help you develop your new bathroom design. Think about which fixtures you will want, and what style pleases you. Choosing brushed nickel bath fixtures and accessories will give your bathroom a fresh modern look. Bath fixtures and accessories are widely available in this popular finish. You’ll not only find faucets and shower heads in this nickel finish, but, lighting fixtures, knobs and drawer pulls for cabinetry, towel bars and racks, tissue holders and all the typical bathroom accessories that are needed to furnish a bath. Adding tile in the bathroom can also help increase value, and looks great! Building a decorative boarder around the shower, or putting in a backsplash can really help accentuate the room. For a bath that is looking out of touch with the times, and a little worn around the edges, a fresh coat of stain and new knobs and handles on your cabinetry in this brushed finish will give an even newer appearance. Sometimes selecting a darker stain is a good option, and the darker stains are very trendy these days, in both flooring and cabinetry. A newly stained vanity with fresh new hardware will often pass as a new fixture to friends and guests in your home. Remodeling a bathroom will increase the dollar value of your home, and this is one home improvement that will be a good investment. Aside from the pleasure your new bath will give you, if in the future you sell your home, having remodeled your bathroom will both increase your home’s value and its selling appeal. Remodeling kitchens and bathrooms are collaborative efforts. Although you get inspirations from magazines, you do not get a kitchen or bathroom out of them. Depending on your space, needs, budget and taste, your kitchen or bathroom should be a reflection of a collaborative effort to ensure that you will have a great remodeling...

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Outreach Lavatory Faucet/Bathroom Faucet

Posted by on 2011-07-25 11:04 pm in Bathroom renovation

A new lavatory faucet/bathroom faucet has caught my eye. American Standard has developed a faucet for the bathroom that has a pull-out faucet/head…exactly like a kitchen faucet. The “outreach” faucet looks like a typical 4” center-set faucet at first glance, at second glance; this faucet is far from typical.  It is a pretty simple concept, we use pull-out faucets all the time in the kitchen, but this is the first time I have seen a pull-out for the bathroom.  Kudos to American Standard for this well designed and functional faucet.  I started out designing bathrooms 7 years ago, I’ve seen a lot of faucets in my time, but never one where the functionality of a faucet took precedence over the design….why didn’t someone think this up earlier? It makes sense…kitchen pull-faucets are very popular, why not a bathroom pull-out faucet? I was faucet shopping online for one of my clients and came across this fabulously functional faucet. I took some time to really think about this faucet before writing this, beginning with a look at my own lavatory faucet and sink.  What I found, embarrassingly, on the sink was toothpaste, makeup, mouthwash, and hair…yuck.  If I had the “outreach” faucet, would my bathroom sink be cleaner?  While examining my sink, my cat Scarlett leapt onto the countertop and snuggled her way into the sink….more hair.  Then the light bulb went on…if I had the “outreach” faucet, I could bathe Scarlett in the bathroom sink, instead of the kitchen sink! Genius! Consider these ideas that would make life just a little more simple and more fun:  men shaving (and cleaning little hairs in sink), washing your hair in sink, hand-washing delicate laundry, filling a vase with water, cleaning up sink and countertop, getting stains out of clothing (spot cleaning)….the list could go on and on, but I will stop it here. Just a note that this is not a true review of this faucet, I have not used this product…but I hope to soon in one of my next bathroom designs (any takers???) The pull-out of the “outreach” faucet extends 24” and is available in two finishes: chrome and brushed nickel.  It appears to me that this product is available exclusively through The Home Depot. The chrome finish faucet retails for $98.00 and the brushed nickel for $118.00.  This price is fantastic, especially considering that the faucet has a ceramic disc valve cartridge (a must in my book for a faucet) and cast brass construction.  The faucet also has a lifetime warranty on function and finish….what else could you want? Well, there is one other thing that I would like, and that would be to see this faucet in an 8” widespread version. I’m not a huge fan of a 4” center-set faucet….though this faucet might just change my mind about the 4” spread. If you are considering using this faucet at a retro-fit (replacing your existing faucet and not the sink and/or countertop) – be sure that your current faucet is a 4” center-set faucet. If you have an existing 8” spread or single-hole faucet, this faucet will not be a good fit....

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Good Customer Service Never Goes Out of Sytle

Posted by on 2011-07-22 8:08 pm in Design

I always enjoy reading the posts our designers, Jessica and Jennifer, write, but I thought I’d like to contribute this time from a consumer’s perspective. I don’t have a background in design or construction, but I do have a lot of experience in the hospitality industry and certainly we are all experts as consumers on customer service. No matter what industry I’ve worked in the same expectations for customer service is there. What’s really crazy though is we all hold high standards for how we want to be treated, but not everyone seems to be on board about how to deliver those standards to the customer. What I may think is clear communication of my intentions may not be heard and totally received by my clients. Who hasn’t hung up the phone or read through an email only to turn around to your cubby buddy and say this person is crazy! Maybe your side of the conversation sounded a little like mine have:  “I told them I was working on it. I told them this may happen. I told them I would get back to them on this issue and it’s only been 2 days and I’ve been working my tail off to get it resolved and they are still calling me non-stop!” The best lesson I’ve learned so far, provide answers to questions that your client didn’t even know they would have. I’m a huge believer in constant communication even if it seems like it’s overdone or that I may be stating the seemingly obvious. It’s not a fool proof solution, but I feel like if I’m providing updates what may seem like every day to me but an emergency to my clients somehow brings some calm to a perceived storm. Home improvement and remodeling is not only a financial investment but also a big emotional investment. I can only strive to improve the overall experience for my clients. I wouldn’t expect any less if the roles were reversed. If you’re considering a remodeling project, let us know and we will contact you. We’ll help answer some of your questions and bring you some personalized advice on your project that you may not have considered. It’s one more tool we’ve created to help your customer service...

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Safe Living

Posted by on 2011-07-19 1:57 am in Design, home entertainment

When you are planning a home entertainment area it is important to not only make it a comfortable place for your family, but also a safe one.  It is common to use glass in cabinetry housing a television, game console, and home theatre system. Be aware that unless it is tempered glass, it can cause serious harm if broken. Base cabinet doors are required to have tempered glass. I recommend that upper glass doors also receive this treatment so you can enjoy a safe happy home. Plain glass breaks easily and shatters into sharp shards. Tempered breaks into tiny little bits that are much less dangerous (why it’s required in car windows). It is much stronger, but is also vulnerable to sharp taps. The higher price for tempered glass is because it has to be heated to almost melting then cooled after it has been cut to size. FA Design Build carries 3 lines of kitchen cabinets: JSI, Wellborn Forest and Medallion....

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