Saving money when remodeling is often one of the biggest wishes you will have. Nobody can say remodeling is cheap, but you can definitely make it cost less and still look good. Below are 5 tips from GKing Construction on how you can save big when remodeling your home.
Tip #1 – Buy materials yourself
Buying materials yourself is a great way to save money when remodeling your home, even if you can’t find them cheaper than your contractor. Why? Because your contractor will mark up materials on his estimate. Yes, its true! Contractors often take the entire bid price and mark it up 10 to 15%, by having him exclude materials from the bid you can save quite a lot of money from the get go.
Tip #2 – Shop Online
You can often find materials for your project such as faucets, towel bar sets, shower enclosures, and many many more items a lot cheaper than in your local big box retailer. By saving with online purchases coupled with having the materials removed from the bid, you can save quite a lot of money. Amazon is a great place to find cheap fixtures for your home at a discount. By shopping online you can save a lot of money when remodeling your home and you can find a lot of cool items you wont see in your local big box retailer.
Tip #3 – Plan, Plan, Plan
Before you consider starting any project make sure you know exactly what you want. If you need help with planning, make it clear to your contractor beforehand and only let the project begin when you both fully understand what you want and how it should look, as well as having all the materials you plan to use on site and ready to be installed. By planning ahead it will ensure you have a clear plan to be executed by your hired help efficiently. If your contractor knows that the job will run smoothly, knows you are workable and easy to please you will get a better price and your contractor wont feel the need to add as big of a cushion for ‘unknowns’. Another big way to save money remodeling your home
Tip #4 – Compare bids
As you will read a lot, seek estimates from at least 3 different contractors. The key is to let it be known that you are seeking multiple bids, this way the contractors know its a competitive bid. By having a contractor submit a competitive bid you will almost always get a lower price. Another benefit of having multiple bids is you can see the style each contractor uses, and see if any contractor missed anything in the bid. By having multiple bids you can choose which contractor has the lowest or medium range price and save money when remodeling your home.
Tip #5 – Use a General Contractor
This may not seem the most obvious tip, but we are often called into projects where a homeowner has pieced together a project on their own. Most of the time, this is after many problems and headaches during the course of the project and the homeowner has finally had enough and wants to have someone to come in and ‘just get it finished’. By hiring a general contractor such as GKing Construction you don’t have to worry about finding a tile guy, a countertop guy, a drywaller, a laborer, etc. That is handled for you and your contractor will have already used his guys on many projects – meaning the people he uses will be high quality. Installation will be done correctly, and you will save on wasted time and materials in the long run meanwhile having a higher quality finished product. Not only that, but if things get really bad, your contractor will have insurance, bonds, workers compensation, and will be bound by law to certain things in your favor that will definitely help you save money when remodeling your home.
Before you make a commitment, here’s what you need to know in order to get your project moving along
1. We’re Not the Only Contractor in Town
Even if you believe you found the best contractor in the area, don’t hire us unless you’re sure we’re right for your project. We have plenty of work, and we want you to feel comfortable in your decision to hire us.
You should solicit at least three bids from three different contractors before awarding a home improvement project. This way you can make an educated hiring decision by comparing costs, methods, and materials. This also helps by having 3 sets of eyes on the project and other contractors may find issues another didn’t address.
What you should do: Make sure you have a basis for comparison when asking for bids. Provide each contractor with the same project details. This may include materials you wish to use and floor plans. Although cost should be one of your deciding factors, other points to consider include scheduling and communication style. Speaking of communication style – GKing Construction is very responsive. We text, email, and do good old fashion phone conversations as well.
2. GKing Construction is Going to Sub Out some of the Work
General contractors often don’t do the physical work themselves. GKing Construction does maintain our own employees and a reliable list of high quality sub contractors. We typically handle all electrical, carpentry, plumbing, tile, windows, or handyman type work in-house. We sometimes do painting, and sometimes sub out painting but we always sub out any other work such as countertops, roofing, landscaping, plastering, carpet or linoleum installation, or other highly specialized work that would be better suited for a specialist. This is a process that ensures that we deliver the highest quality work at a pace that is reasonable.
3. A Big Deposit is Unnecessary — and Possibly Illegal
When you sign a contract, you’re usually expected to pay a deposit. But that’s not for covering the contractor’s initial materials or set-up costs. It’s to ensure you are dedicated to using us for the project.
GKing Construction is financially sound and in good standing with our suppliers, we don’t need to pay for anything up front. In fact, many states limit a contractor’s advance. California maxes out deposits at 10% of the job cost, or $1,000 — whichever is smaller. We sometimes do require a down payment, but not always. We prefer to collect payments when work starts and work with a progress based payment schedule up until final payment. We do allow a 10% retention of the final payment if the client requests.
About our contract: Our contract is a standard contract you would want to see from any contractor. There is no fine print, and its a quite lengthy 24 page contract. We always give a blank sample contract when we submit our initial estimates for you to review beforehand. We are a no pressure company, and we don’t use any sales tactics to get you to sign a contract with us. Our contract is required by the CSLB and meets the requirements set forth by them. It is designed to protect both the homeowner, and us, the contractor by laying out all of the terms for the work to be done.
4. We are not Designers or an architect
Sure, there are contractors who have strong design abilities. Chances are, however, they’re spending a lot more time designing than running their businesses.
What you should do: Depending upon the complexity of your project, you may need a number of skilled pros to get the job done. So don’t count on a contractor to design your space and add clever details. We are not a designer, or an architect – but we ARE willing to help you out if you need it. We still recommend hiring a designer or architect if you have a project that’s very complex or high-end.
If you’re planning on remodeling your bathroom, you’re following the trend of many homeowners across the U.S. in fact, bathrooms and kitchens are the most remodeled and improved rooms in the home and provide the best return on your investment. One way to improve your bathroom is to add a stand-alone shower. To do this, first you have to decide on a shower base.
What’s a shower base?
The shower base is the foundation of your stand alone shower. It’s the bottom of the shower – the part that rests on the floor. It contains the drain that carries the used shower water out of the home via the sewage system.
Why a stand alone shower?
If you already have a bathtub in your bathroom, many newer types like Jacuzzis and whirlpool baths lack a shower, as do the ever-popular claw foot tub. Showers use less water than bathtubs, and provide a place to get clean quickly. Obviously, they’re also much more efficient for tasks like hair shampooing.
Different shower base types
Shower bases come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. If you can’t find the perfect shower base for your bathroom, you can always have one custom made. Of course, this will cost more.
The shower base also comes in several different materials:
Acrylic – This is the least expensive type of shower base. On the down side, the acrylic often weakens over years of use.
Acrylic and fiberglass blend – This is acrylic strengthened with the addition of fiberglass. This shower base is usually very affordable, but it’s more durable than the shower base constructed of acrylic alone.
Tile – Tile is another popular choice for a shower base. To tile the shower base, purchase an unfinished one. Be sure to purchase more tile than you need so that you’ll have replacements for the future that will be an exact match. You can find tiles on sale that are inexpensive, but the real cost is in the labor involved. If you lay the tile yourself, a tiled shower base can be a fairly inexpensive remodeling project.
Corian – Corian is a hard, resilient material that’s often used for kitchen counter tops. It’s very durable and resists scratches. Corian is available in a wide choice of colors and patterns.
Stone resin – This is a material that’s made from ground stone, sand, and a bonding medium. The mixture is molded and hardened to create the look and feel of real stone, at a much lower cost.
Cultured stone – Real stone is the most expensive type of shower bases. Popular choices include marble, granite, onyx, and limestone. These shower bases are practically indestructible and usually last a lifetime.
Copper – Copper is gaining in popularity as a material for shower bases. It’s a natural material, and copper has inherent antibacterial properties. It also ages well and is easy to maintain.
Which material do I choose for my shower base?
When choosing a shower base hile remodeling your bathroom, think of your individual needs. How much can you afford? How long will you be in the home? How much use will the shower get?
Another important aspect in choosing a shower base is its visual appeal. You’ll want a material and color that complements the rest of the bathroom. If you have clear shower doors, remember that the shower base will be visible to anyone who visits your bathroom!
On last thing to remember when remodeling your bathroom, it will increase the resale value of your home – but only to a certain point.
Catching up on home care after the long winter months? Spring into action with 25 home maintenance tips from Neil Kelly’s Handyman Services pros:
1. Review the contents of your medicine cabinets & throw away dated prescriptions & over-the-counter medicines. Be sure all medications are out of reach of children or contained in a cabinet equipped with childproof locks.
2. Clean the garage! Hold a yard sale or organize a community yard sale with neighbors. To safely dispose of paint thinners, household cleaners & pesticides, contact your city or county’s waste management department to find out the next scheduled collection of hazardous materials.
3. Clean the refrigerator, inside & out, with a mild detergent. Remove all trays & shelves, wash & dry thoroughly before replacing them. Remove old ice from ice-making tray.
5. Test the pressure & temperature relief valve on your water heater by opening it & allowing some water to flow out. If little or no water flows our or it doesn’t shut off, replace it. Bad valves can cause explosions.
6. Spring is a good time to build a dog house! Make sure to provide adequate roof ventilation to allow hot air to escape. Do not use pressure-treated wood in any area where your dog might chew it up.
7. Setting your clock to Daylight Savings Time is also a good time to replace batteries in smoke & carbon monoxide detectors.
8. Inspect screens (both house & vents to attic spaces) for tears & bent frames.
9. Clean window screens. Lay them flat on a picnic table or sawhorses & scrub them with a soft bristle brush & a mild detergent solution. Rinse with a garden hose & allow to dry completely.
10. Inspect outdoor structures for deterioration – especially signs of dry rot. Use a small awl to probe posts, railings & window sills for soft spots. If you find any, plan to replace or repair them when the weather turns fair — GKing Construction can help.
11. Prepare for the outdoor cooking season by inspecting gas grills. Remove cooking grills & thoroughly clean them with soapy water & a brush with brass bristles. Remove accumulated grease from lava rocks & ceramic briquettes by turning them over & igniting the burners. Allow 10 minutes on high heat to clean the briquettes.
12. Inspect garden hoses for leaks. Make temporary repairs with electrical tape. Pry out old washers & replace them. Don’t leave hoses connected to outdoor spigots until the danger of frost is completely over.
13. Caulk open joints, particularly around windows & doors.
14. Inspect the crawl space or basement after rains for water accumulation or excessive moisture. Look for signs of water damage on the sub floor & joists beneath bathrooms, kitchen & laundry. Find & fix leaks now or pay the price later.
15. Shut off water to the washing machine, remove the water supply hose & examine them & the washers. Replace worn & damaged ones.
16. Check fire extinguishers to make sure they are not outdated, have lost pressure or are damaged.
17. Clean gutters. Inspect gutters to ensure all spikes, straps & clips are tightly fastened. Use a garden hose to flush debris from downspouts. Make sure downspouts or splashbacks direct water at least 3-feet away from the foundation.
18. Clean roofs. Remove loose debris and note any damage caused by winter storms. Don’t let moss and algae get a foothold.
19. Wash windows, inside & out, using a solution made from 3-tablespoons of non-sudsy ammonia to 1-gallon of water. Don’t work in the direct sun – the solution will dry too fast & streak. To clean windows with real (not removable) grills, use a hacksaw to cut a squeegee so it fits in the window panes exactly.
20. Have your central air-cooling unit checked according to the recommendations of the unit’s manufacturer. Replace the filter in the forced-air system. Clean debris from the condenser or heat pump located outside.
21. Remove mineral deposits from faucet aerators & shower heads by soaking parts in white vinegar & scrubbing with an old toothbrush.
22. Have swimming pools cleaned. Inspect & service pool liners & filters.
23. Dust ceiling fans.
24. Set thermostats & automatic sprinkler systems to adjust for weather changes.
25. Before placing metal patio furniture outdoors, coat with auto polish.
Four different kitchen countertop materials were selected for this project for practical and aesthetic reasons. They include quartz, quartzite, metal, and laminate.
With manufacturing technology constantly developing and improving, kitchen countertop choices have exploded in recent years, often creating confusion for the consumer. The sheer number of materials available — even for modest remodeling projects — can be overwhelming to take in all at once.
In this blog post, I will discuss some of the major materials selections in kitchen countertops, and provide a case study for Quartz, Quartzite, Laminate, and Metal Countertops.
Above: Quartz counters used on the perimeter counters of the kitchen and work surfaces in the pantry.
Quartz, often referred to as “engineered” or “manufactured” stone, is a very durable, low maintenance material ideal for kitchen countertops — for example, on perimeter counters and actively used pantry counters.
Quartz is one of the hardest minerals on earth. Mixing ground quartz (usually 90–94%) with polyester resins and compressing with high-pressure results in a nonporous slab that is very stain and scratch resistant. Unlike natural stone, it does not require periodic sealing.
The colors and pattern varieties are now vast in quartz. The first introductions tended to lack the patterns and colors found in natural stone. Today manufacturers have the ability to produce multi-colored tops with flecks, swirling, and random patterning to rival natural stone. Even flecks of mica and recycled glass are added to replicate that found in natural stones.
Quartzite (How are Quartz and Quartzite different?):
Above: White Macaubas Quartzite on the island top appears to be marble but is a much harder and easy care counter than marble.
Though the names can be confusing, in the world of countertops, quartzite and quartz are two different things. Quartzite is “nature-made,” whereas quartz is created through a fusion of nature and technology.
Quartzite begins as sandstone. A transformation occurs when the empty spaces between the sandstone are filled with the mineral quartz, then fused together under heat and pressure resulting in a very hard metamorphic rock. On the Mohs scale of hardness (from 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest), granite measures in at around 6-6.5 and quartzite measures in at approximately 7.
With light grey and white stones being popular stylistic choices for kitchen countertops now, quartzite offers a multitude of optimal materials to use. Many selections ranging from grey and whites to golden tones and browns are available.
Above: Aluminum top on a worktable in the kitchen.
When you’re looking for that special, unique touch for your kitchen countertop material and not worried too much about care, metal tops can fit the bill. Here, the top for the worktable was made of aluminum and distressed with a copper drip. Many unique looks are available ranging from copper to various distressed finishes. Expect some etching and staining as the metal is a “living finish” and changes over time — like a shiny copper that patinas to a greenish cast.
Stainless steel is another great kitchen countertop choice for durability, hardness, stain and heat resistance. Sinks can be seamed for a one piece sink and counter, and no-drip edges and coved backsplashes are all possibilities. Fair warning, however: stainless will scratch.
Often called by the brand name Formica, high-pressure laminate countertops offer a cost effective counter with a vast array of colors, wood grains, abstracts, textures, and patterns available. Many kitchen countertop choices for low end homes use formica.
Laminate posing as maple plank tops offers a rich and warm look to this country pantry.
I always jump on the chance to tour any factory and certainly did when the opportunity arose to see how plastic laminates are made. High-pressure laminates consist of paper, the top layer being the color and pattern, with a layer of melamine impregnated into the top. Imagine a stack of brown paper bag-type paper, approximately 10–12” high, with a colorful top layer pressed through a machine to approximately 1/8” thickness.
With high definition photography and improved printing technology in use today, many laminates look like the real thing — putting wood, granite, metal or stone textures into play at a more affordable price point.
Laminates are prone to scratching, staining and chipping. Many people love the idea of laminate until they learn that under-mount sinks are not recommended. (Water penetration will eventually cause swelling and delamination.) Laminate is best reserved for vertical surfaces or low use areas such as the desk and pantry in the Country home at right.
Goal: The clients built their original 1,850 sq. ft. Northwest Contemporary-style home in 1974, on property that had been in their family for over 100 years. As time went by, the clients’ tastes changed to a more comfortable Country style; décor reflecting a love of the outdoors, gardening, and a country lifestyle quickly filled their home.
When we first met to discuss a new addition, the homeowners had a well-developed list of needs but no idea how to accomplish their goals. The list included:
– Create a Country-style home from a 1974 Northwest Contemporary-style home – Attractive, warm, and welcoming for family – Easier driveway access than current steep and short driveway with increased parking area – Gain a view of the yard and valley – Open layout with enlarged kitchen, family room and dining room for entertaining – Walk-in pantry – Kitchen desk – Breakfast nook – More light – Wraparound porch – Outdoor living space – Improve traffic flow throughout the home
Solution: A 940 sq. ft. addition changed the orientation of the home toward the south, making access easier and gaining an interaction with the yard.
The kitchen and wrap around porch overlook the valley to the northwest and the additional space allowed the wish list to be completed.
Additional light pours into the home through window well/dormers in the roof and breaks up the mass of the roof. All surfaces inside and out were touched with fresh paint, floors were refinished, new interior trims and stair railings installed, wraparound porch and outside patio added, and the chimney was widened and covered in stone.
Above: Dormers create space for light to flow into the new addition.
MORE DESIGN TIPS FROM THIS PROJECT
Knives are handy beside the cook top in a narrow pull-out cabinet.
Located next to the door leading to the patio this drawer refrigerator provides easy access to drinks for entertaining.
Oftentimes the most functional room in your home is also the darkest, cramped and most cluttered space. Why settle for something that doesn’t suit your lifestyle?
The bathroom is where you start and end your day, it’s a place to reflect on health and wellness. And if you’ve had a bad day, it’s amazing what a hot shower can do.
Before jumping into a full bathroom remodel, have each person that uses the space create a list of priorities. You’d be surprised to discover how often those lists don’t match. The bathroom is such a personal space, you want to make sure it works well and it doesn’t have to be complex, but they definitely can be.
Once you’ve created a list of priorities and are ready for a remodel, consider these seven design components.
A basin made from natural stone is the centerpiece in this powder bath.
Master Bathroom Vs. Powder Room
Deciding which bathroom to remodel first can be tricky. Most homeowners remodel the master bath first as it offers the most return on the investment. Next, homeowners typically address the powder room, which offers an opportunity to splurge with decorative pieces, such as vanities that double as artwork.
Natural stones like marble are popular to use in bathrooms, but these materials are prone to staining over time. The Kohler Choreograph collection and other natural stone replications or tiles are ideal for shower walls yet minimize grout and joint staining.
Heated tile floors, heated towel bars, frameless glass showers, and specialty hand-painted tiles can customize a space. “We’re seeing more luxury items getting incorporated into bathrooms,” says Campbell.
With multiple users it’s easy for bathroom countertops to be cluttered. Creating more efficient storage space will help keep the room functional and peaceful. Adding extra outlets (even inside cabinets) linen storage, small drawers, specialty dividers for cosmetics and jewelry, and medicine cabinets can easily maximize space.
Above: The sculptural curves of a free standing tub contrast beautifully with sharp wooden edges in this master bath project.
If the space doesn’t already have natural light, there are plenty of ways to create an inviting atmosphere.
Adding the ability to dim the lights or get different layers of light in there helps set the tone for a dim evening shower at night and a nice bright shower when you want to wake up in the morning.
Shower Vs. Bathtub
One of the biggest questions asked is whether or not the home needs a bath or whether the shower should be built in, freestanding, deck mounted or have an open floor plan. More and more people are opting for a shower without a bathtub, yet some people take a bath religiously.
Handheld showers on a fixed arm or slide bar offer convenience for cleaning and bathing. These showers also allow you to adjust the water height for multiple users, add message settings and more.
A bathroom is really personal and it’s important to ask those personal questions, a designer can help homeowners read between the lines to offer suggestions you never thought possible.
Subway tile shower surrounds are one of the best looking tiles for your bathroom remodeling project, and it has many benefits over other tiles. Not only is subway cheaper, at less than $2.00/sqft but its easy to install and very forgiving when being installed. Dal tile 3×6 tiles on a brick pattern looks amazing, especially when coupled with metal edge strips and mosaic tiles. The white tile by daltile also has a great mosaic made by dal tile as well that looks pretty good and is the same size as the 3″ tiles they make. Other benefits of subway tile is that its easy to clean and easy to repair. Removing small tiles is a lot easier than removing large tiles, and less costly to replace them in the future.
This shower pictured above is nearly complete, and in the process of having the tub spout and trim installed. A little caulking and paint touch up on the edging, and this shower turned out very nice!
When you have a cracked shower pan the best thing to do is to replace the pan and the surround, but sometimes that is not an option. In this case, the property owner only wanted only the cracked pan replaced. Sometimes, you can’t find the same tile and you must improvise and get creative. Pictured below is a creative way that similar tiles were used and blended in with a mosaic strip.
You can clearly see that the tiles are off color, and a different size when you look. Unfortunately, the owner didn’t want to do a full-on new surround. They were happy nonetheless to have a new functioning shower pan that didn’t leak.
Opening up your kitchen can be one of the most rewarding things you can do to your home. Closed-off kitchens were a design of the past and an open kitchen with islands are the new thing these last few years. Some of the benifites of kitchen remodeling is that it can significantly increase the resale value of your home, much of the cost of the kitchen remodel can be recovered when the home is eventually sold, and homes with remodeled kitchens sell faster than similar homes that are original.
Pictured below in this Martinez, ca kitchen remodel is the kitchen wall before we removed it. This was actually a load bearing wall, and a 4×14 glulam was put in place to support the ceiling joists.
GKing Construction did extensive remodeling at this property! We changed the window sizing, rewired the entire kitchen. textured the entire home, increased the kitchen drain sizing and relocated it, installed recessed lighting, installed new cabinets, granite, and flooring and baseboard throughout and did two bathroom remodels as well as a whole lot of dry rot repair.
After we were finished, the kitchen turned out beautiful. Not only the kitchen, but the entire home since this was a full on whole house remodel. It was listed and sold immediately.
Yes, almost unbelievable but this is the same house.
Dryrot is your homes worst nightmare, aside from termites. Most dry rot can actually be avoided with regular care and maintenance. Below are some of the top ways to prevent dry rot on your home. GKing Construction is a General Contractor experienced with dry rot repair. We know how to identify dry rot and repair rotted wood members on your home. We do sub floor repairs, exterior fascia, termite damage, and just about any other dry rot related repair work.
TIP #1 – Regular Painting
Painting is one of the top ways to keep exterior dry rot at bay for many years and your house always looking beautiful. By painting and properly preparing your trim you can add many many years to the life of your exterior wood trim. The problem now days is that many new homes are painted with a single coat of paint that does not protect the exterior wood trim. You may notice older homes with many coats of paint over the years seem to have little to no dryrot issues but are 50+ years old. This is because the owners regularly painted their home and its left a thick protective layer of paint over the wood, helping to prevent dry rot.
TIP #2 – Gutters and drip edge
Old leaky gutters, or a lack of gutters at all will let water soak into the rafter tails of your home. By having properly installed gutters that dont leak you can prevent dryrot from forming on your rafter tails and roof sheathing. (not pictured) is drip edge, which runs on the side of the roof under the shingles but on top of your barge rafters. This helps any water run down the rafter and prevents collection of water, and prevents water from touching the top of the rafter.
TIP #3 – Proper sealing of wet areas
Properly sealing wet areas in your home, such as your bathroom, can help prevent water from seeping in areas below the surface. Tile is one of the best flooring choices for a bathroom and does prevent a lot of water seepage from getting below the surface, but moisture still penetrates tile and especially grout.
By properly sealing baseboard to the tile in your bathroom, and especially by using a grout caulking at the base of your pan and tile flooring, you can prevent moisture from seeping below your floor at the edge of the shower pan. This area, aside from the toilet, is one of the most common places to have dry rot in a bathroom sub floor.
TIP #4 – Toilet wax rings
Many people dont know this, but doubling up on your toilets wax ring is an excellent way to prevent leaks at your toilet. Some toilets may not need this, however it will never hurt to have some extra wax sealing up your toilet. Most toilets with a new tile installation will require doubling up of the wax ring – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
TIP #5 – Sink Plumbing
Leaking sink plumbing is one of the top ways to ruin your vanity or cabinet. I have replaced many cabinet bottoms due to long term leaks of kitchen or bathroom sink plumbing.
By using cheap p-traps with rings (pictured above) you open up your drain to leaks. Using thick, glue style traps is the best way to install your under sink plumbing. The glue never fails when done properly and you don’t have any union that can leak years down the road. When remodeling, make sure your contractor includes real ABS p-traps and not polypropylene traps pictured above.