Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How Peer Pressure Affects Cost vs Value

I am going to make you nervous with a personal question, okay? Do your friends and family influence your decisions? Are your decisions weakened by peer pressure? I know, you are an adult, not a teenager. We adults think we are long past peer pressure! I hope that is correct. Peer pressure can cause you to make decisions that cost more and satisfy your dream less. This is very important! Be careful and be confident. Trust yourselves, trust your taste, your gut. This is your home!
Perhaps, if we are truly honest all of us are impacted by another persons opinion. Sometimes asking for people to share their ideas and opinion can help. Sometimes it is a bad idea that can rob us of the confidence we need in our own preferences. If you are seeking feedback for a remodeling project, it can backfire. We are not talking a pair of shoes or a dress here.
We ladies get very excited about our homes. We love to get our girlfriends input. What we have discovered is most women begin to doubt their ability to make good selections when they ask others for ideas and opinions. Be careful. You are going to find the selection process stress filled when you see all the possibilities there are just in the style you personally lean to. When a friend implants a thought or suggestion confusion can exponentially explode. Delays happen based solely on an inability to narrow down what to select from.
From a functional perspective and practical considerations, hesitation or constantly changing your mind can cause a couple to lose their place in the install/build phase . Final decisions and signing the contract put you on the Build Phase calendar. Even if the design phase happened before another clients project, hesitations can derail you until your final selections are complete. Yes, we prioritize on a first come first served basis. However, if another family that was originally scheduled after your project has made all their choices , and you are still not sure, you may have to be rescheduled. Nothing can move forward without final selections, decisions, and a signed contract.
We are discussing a change to our most important purchase, your home. It is your home, your money, and your living space for a very long time. Be careful about asking your friends and family what they would do.Let's face it, you can dream about what you “think” you want for years. You have probably considered every possibility. Until the finances actually show up allowing you to get serious, there is no real pressure. Now, that you can move forward and turn your dream in to reality, the fear of making a mistake may tempt you to doubt your taste and ideas. If that happens people get frozen in fear. They find themselves unable to decide exactly which selections are best.
There are a few misconceptions homeowners may possess. This is an emotional endeavor. Often remodeling professionals must wear multiple hats. Men and women have very different preferences regarding design, function, and especially the door style and finish of cabinets. Oops, time to go get the marriage councilor or psychologist hat!
This is just one more reason we encourage creating your Dream Design Folder. It is critically important. The most important step of remodeling for the homeowners is honestly communicating their wants, needs, ideas, and concerns before they take the plunge. Who is the Chef of the family. The kitchen will be their domain. I suggest if you enjoy eating and having your spouse prepare your meals, deferring to their ideas will make you happy. They will be spending the majority of the time in the space preparing food you love. Just a tip, a wise one!
We can help and would love to guide your through the perilous waters of creating your dream project. You are going to love it!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Basic Cost vs Value Considerations

What is cost versus value, anyway?
Unless you were fortunate enough and financially set to design and build your home exactly the way you would wanted it, there are still things you would add to your dream home. We love our nests and each of us, even each member of a family has their own definition of the perfect home.

Most of us find a new or resale home as close as possible to our wish list within our price range. What an exciting time it is to find, purchase, and settle into our homes. The reality is we soon discover the house needs improvement. It may need repairs or be overdue for updating. Eventually most home-owners begin “dreaming” about remodeling.

Why is Cost versus Value critically important?
There are many answers to that question. Some are obvious. Most of us are aware updating kitchens, baths and master suites make a big impact! It is a wise choice, if you are planning on selling your home in the next year or two.

Perhaps you are not planning to remodel but plan to build a new home. Building a new home is a thrill, especially when you are personally involved designing it and watching the Contractor build it. It is a wonderful experience I hope all of you enjoy in your lifetime. If you do, it will be a few years before you would want to remodel. However, if you purchased a resale house, making it your home is a natural progression. The remodeling arm of construction was born from this desire and need.

Most people dreaming of remodeling or adding an addition come into our showroom with absolutely no idea what their idea will cost. That is always the first thing on our minds, as it should be. After all, budgets and cost dictate how much of our dream we can actually bring to life. We will explore that deeper in a moment. However, I want to help you understand some equally important considerations first. It is a practical truth most do not think about until their home is close to having the demolition phase begin. What am I talking about? Well, who is going to be in your home for the duration of your project? What do you know about them? I think you can see how important those questions are. They do tie in to cost versus value.

These reasons are more abstract but equally important. Construction has many expressions. Cost versus value is also key as you consider who to award your project to. Let me explain.

Everyone wants to get the best value for the least investment. After all, your home is probably the biggest investment in your portfolio. When you are ready to get serious about remodeling you have probably talked to many friends and family members asking them for referrals. You may have visited many showrooms, big box store kitchen bath departments, and spent a fair amount of time on Pinterest, Houzz, or Angie's List. When you've done your due diligence you may be more confused regarding cost versus value than when your began your quest. It can feel like a part time job!

At some point, it will be time to interview and select the contractor you trust to award your project to.
Yes, I am skipping way past all the "stuff" the physical products you need to wade through in the selection process. I know, that is what is most important, right? Well, maybe not! Slow down a minute and consider this view of cost versus value.

It is always tempting to find the best price, WARNING: Best price does not necessarily equate to the best choice. I agree there are numerous possibilities and options. There are many firms, construction companies, handymen, and carpenters to possibly work with. Each of them have strengths, weaknesses, and a reputation. Referrals are the life blood of remodeling companies. Talking to everyone you know about what they had remodeled, who did the work, and what they like and do not like about the results is very important. There are so many scary stories out there regarding home owners paying a deposit and being abandoned with only a part of the promised work begun, That happens too often. We do not have time or space in this post to cover all the negative possibilities.

Who you award your contract to will be working with you for months. They will be in your home along with subcontractors, carpenters, counter top and cabinet installers. Some are trustworthy, some may not be. In this context, cost versus value must be assessed with clear consideration of the following facts:
Here are very "valuable "considerations.
  • References are key.
  • Did they welcome and respectfully answer your questions and concerns?
  • How many projects are they doing at the same time as yours?
  • Do they have highly trained professionals working with them?
  • Does the general contractor control their crew, requiring they be non smoking, speak respectfully and monitor the type of music or media they may tune into while working on your home?
  • Are they mindful and careful to protect the interior of your home?
  • Do they set up dust barriers?
  • Do they straighten up each night before leaving?
  • Do you feel comfortable having your children and pets around these people?
  • Are they insured?
  • What is their reputation?
  • Have they been verified as not having any criminal record?
  • Are they honorable safe individuals?

No matter how little money your project cost you, value can be destroyed making the wrong choice of who to trust in and remodeling your home. Be safe, be wise! We hope you will check on our reputation. We are competitively priced! Most of our projects are referrals or return business based on the trust our clients have in us. We would love to make your project beautiful and as pleasant as possible in the construction phase.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Open Concept

I love to watch HGTV!! You too? What a great station to watch for ideas for your home, right?

 I am confident most of you gals do! What are your favorite shows? Is Fixer Upper one of them?
Chip and Joanna Gaines know how to take old outdated rooms, homes and properties and turn them into their clients dream house! The thing is; they are far away in Waco, Texas!

Do not be dismayed, here  in New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts Lenny and Lisa Santosousso of Apple Wood Construction and Apple Wood Kitchen and Bath make New Englander
home owner's dreams come true! You can still have your Fixer Upper or a new home built! Lenny and Lisa can create your dream for you right here!

Being a custom home builder for years, Lenny tackles literally anything and everything our clients can dream up. So, how do you take a New Englander, a Colonial, or a Cape with all their compartmentalized rooms into a spacious open concept home? The answer is beams, big sturdy support beams. Support beams strategically positioned do hold up the second floor if you want to eliminate walls to create the Open Concept so popular in Waco. Another option are columns and posts designed to blend into your overall decor.

New England does have some newer spacious open concept Ranch Style and two story homes if you are looking for new construction. We can also build that new home for you if that is the direction you want to travel!

All new perfectly clean houses are wonderful. However, they can feel like "vinyl world." As remodeling contractors, Apple Wood takes pride in preserving the charm of original types of New England architecture. True craftsmanship makes a difference. Hiring a custom builder like Lenny who takes pride in his work makes all the difference. helps.

You see, tracts of homes built as "Spec"houses typically use the least expensive grade of products in the homes they build to ensure higher profit for the builder. Apple Wood Construction likes to build or remodel one home at a time using excellent products. It may cost a little more because true quality and workmanship is worth it.

When a developer buys land that is subdivided into lots, building the tract for the least cost is their goal. Vinyl siding, windows, doors, shutters, railing, fencing, you name it, are all available. Houses can be built now that never need to be re painted. That is a nice idea, especially as we watch the snow melt and spring comes raging in. I am already seeing my own home's trim needing to be sanded , primed, and painted again this year. This IS the time of year living in "Vinyl World" tempts me.
However, I love the 1908 wood trim around my windows, my vintage wooden interior doors, classic wood railings, posts, and gingerbread specialty trim on my wrap around porch. If you are a true " New Englander" looking for the charm of eras past, real wood trim inside and out can't be beat!

Classic New Englanders, Colonials, and Victorians were generally constructed with few hallways. Instead one room connects to the next and access is made from room to room. Other homes access individual rooms through hallways or around stairwells in our houses. Remodeling these houses for an Open Concept is an involved process requiring great expertise which Apple Wood provides.  Support walls can be removed when support beams are utilized to hold the weight above.

We take walls down to open up rooms. We have also relocated staircases to do the same. Other remodeling option for home owners with big lots are new Kitchen Additions, Master Suites that add a luxurious Master Bath and walk in closets. All of these make living in your home enjoyable and add significantly to the resale value of your home.

We have lots of ideas and the experience to make your dream become a reality! Call us for an appointment!  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What's New in Apple Wood's upcoming BUSY season

March 20th IS the first day of Spring! Yay!  We are in the last throes of winter and all ready for singing bird's, no snow, planning our gardens and getting our seedlings going or purchased to get a jump on planting! Spring cleaning time is the only time all year I actually look  forward to cleaning. I cannot wait for warmer days to open windows, let the breeze blow away the cobwebs of winter!

There is another really important opportunity coming now! While you do your Spring sprucing up many of you will begin thinking about the remodeling project you think about every year. We love that ! We want to help you so let me educate you about the process please. Thinking about finally getting that project underway seems to come in Spring and then again in late summer. The hope is the new kitchen will be remodeled and ready for Thanksgiving. That is a great idea! However, NOW  is the time to come see us if you want your new kitchen or bath ready for 2017's Holiday season!

Are you asking , "Why now?"  Well, excellent contractors with high levels of expertise and integrity get lots of referrals and/or new contracts with past clients. Apple Wood typically begins helping a client with one project, say a bathroom remodel, and they want to do more.  In the process the client is so happy and impressed because they trust us and can not imagine awarding their next project to another professional. It is very common for them to begin talking about the other kitchen, bath, deck, addition, or any number of other projects they have dreamt about forever.

We know our customers have many choices. We are honored that after working with us, most decide they are thrilled with the results. Then they cannot imagine working with anyone else. Once homeowners experience Lenny and his team's respect for their home, family, and remodeling vision , no other remodeling professional is considered.  Experiencing the excellence in craftsmanship, products, and level of expertise Apple Wood provides gains us repeat customers.

Let me remind you about the process which typically takes at least six and sometimes nine to twelve months. Remodeling is a creative endeavor. It is also very technical, emotional, and time intensive. This is especially true when the home owner's are a couple. Everything in remodeling is about selections, choosing the right design and then the components to place into the space to make your dream a reality.

Get ready I am going to say something "radical"! Yes, RADICAL!!! I mean it and I can get away with it because I am a woman! We all know women reserve the right to change their minds. We understand that and you will find we have patience to allow some changes, even midstream. However, please realize that very tendency is what delays projects and impacts completion. If a woman is a decision maker for your remodeling project, please come see us early, this Spring. It gives you some wiggle room to consider choices and changes before signing the final contract. If you wait too long, you may be at the end of a line of  other clients who are ready to go now. Of course , we wish to help every homeowner we can! We hope you are on our client list for 2017 and invite your family to celebrate Thanksgiving with the completed project you will be proud to host in.

I will be writing about vision, ideas, how to organize it all the next few weeks. Have a great week and come see us SOON!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cost VS Value / Kitchen and Bath Remodels

I hope the past few Cost VS Value posts have informed you well! Have they? Value can be a relative concept. After all, value is often determined by what we want and how much it matters to us.

Why do people remodel kitchens?

There are so many answers to that question. Maybe you are just tired of the old layout, cabinets,or counter tops. Perhaps you bought a house, and you have a vision of making it yours, by updating it. Maybe you have recently redecorated and want the kitchen or baths to compliment the new look. Are you planning on relocating , thus listing your current home for sale? If so, updated baths and kitchens truly add value. Are you asking yourself how to pursue the dream of a new kitchen or bath wisely?

May I suggest you stimulate ideas and organize your thoughts by considering actually imagining
functioning daily in your new space. Wow, that may seem daunting. However, if you tune in to your own internal dialogue. you will discover thoughts in my our mind every time you walk into and cook in your kitchen or access your bath. For example, they tend to go like this!

" I hate this corner cabinet, everything gets lost in it! I want a lazy susan corner cabinet where I can see everything I want to access."

"I thought these pull out shelves would be great but now I would like pots and pans drawers. I would only have one step to get what I need."

"I hate hauling this heavy spaghetti pot from the sink all the way to the stove for pasta. My friend's new kitchen has a faucet that extends over her cook top and fills her pasta pot on her stove! "

Write all these thoughts down and keep them in a a folder with pictures of ideas you like. That is where to begin designing your perfect kitchen or bath.  If you go to  our archived blogs, you will discover one about your Design/Dream Folder. Basically, that contains ideas, pictures, articles and items you collected over time. Looking at that will solidify your taste and subconscious preferences. It can be a wonderful stimulus and tool to stay on target with your taste and budget. There are so many possibilities. No one can have everything they want! Yet, allowing yourself to dream and list every possible wish and desire will give you a great start. Pretend money is not an object and write it all down. Then, mindfully prioritize. You will be pleasantly surprised to discover you may be able to accomplish much more than you expected. We are here to help you think about it all and determine your best options for the way you live.

Another very important consideration is the value of your home and others in your neighborhood.
 We highly suggest researching Real Estate values around your home. Why would I begin there? If you have lived in this home awhile, you may not know its current value. This is important for a number of reasons. Just as homes and neighborhoods vary in value. Kitchen cabinet lines and all components placed in the new space do as well.

Important considerations are the price point and values of the homes around you, in your neighborhood, and city. Do you plan to remain in this house as your forever home? Are you planning on selling it to downsize or upgrade? How dated are your current baths and your kitchen?
Why all the questions? Let me explain.

Have you ever been in a middle class neighborhood and seen a mansion? Yes, sometimes you will.
Most likely your immediate thought is why is this expensive house in this neighborhood? That is a great question that explains the mystery and wisdom of being aware of your surroundings. There are usually two possibilities.

Maybe the expensive home originally owned all the land around it. The owner may have sold part of their land to a developer.  Another possibility is the original home is a family home occupied for years by the same family or various members of it. Often family homes such as this are remodeled to meet the desires and needs of the growing family. It is considered a "forever home".  Updating such a home for the needs and enjoyment of the current owners makes remodeling past the appropriate price range of the neighborhood it sits in okay. However, realistically, the owner needs to factor in this fact. When you remodel a house extravagantly whose resale value would normally be compatible with the neighborhood's price/value range, you will NOT enjoy a good cost to value ratio.

Always prepare yourself with this knowledge. It is not wise to put a million dollar remodeling project into a middle range neighborhood. It is equally unwise to make a  conservative "budget end"  remodeled bath or kitchen into a million dollar home. The average buyer knows instinctively when discrepancies like this happen. They will be uncomfortable and pass on purchasing the house.

Always keep in mind a fact seen every day in every town in New England. Zoning can be tricky , especially in New England. Sometimes there are businesses, mid range homes, old shack like buildings, and expensive homes on the same street! Home builders are shifting to balance neighborhoods. That is important and a good thing! I am teaching you hoping you will be aware and wise as you consider purchasing or remodeling a home. Appraisers value a home factoring in the neighborhood. A less desirable home in a great neighborhood can be impacted positively. The opposite is also true.

Being home builders as well as a remodeling contractor, we have seen it all. We love to consult with home buyers and homeowners. Our experience covers every factor in both industries. We consider ourselves fortunate to inform and help people get the best value for their investment. So come talk to us. We are happy to share information that will help you make good decisions.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Exterior Improvements Cost VS Value

Most Kitchen Bath showrooms are marketing locations. Owners put a great deal of thought, planning, and expense into their showroom for potential clients ability to come see, touch and operate
the products they are considering placing in their homes. Lots of people love to come in for ideas for a kitchen or bath remodeling project. We enjoy talking with you about your dream project. Please come see us!  You will discover that Apple Wood is unique and offers so much more!

What is the difference. There are a few important ones. First of all we are a Design Build Company. What does that mean? It means once you have made your selections, signed the contract, and have your start date, you have only one phone call to make concerning any and every question, or concern that comes up, We schedule, follow, and keep tabs on everyone and everything connected to complete your project excellently. This is our primary commitment!  

Lenny Santosuosso, Apple Woods expert building professional, has literally been building homes since he was a teenager.  Most builders begin their training much later when they are older. Lenny's experience was well established before his twenties. There is literally no residential building project Lenny has never done! One of the scary truths about our industry, is their is no required training.  Certifications and Licences are also not required in New Hampshire. Due to these facts, some homeowners award projects to less experienced people. It is very common for someone who may be a very skilled "handyman" to suddenly decide they can take on building a home, addition, or remodeling project bigger than their experience has prepared them to handle.

Our Kitchen Bath Showroom came to be due to Lenny's search for a synergistic partnership. His original  company was Apple Wood Construction, a Custom Home building/remodeling specialist. Lenny's search for a partner to refer his clients to for Kitchens and Bath cabinets resulted in unsatisfactory quality and workmanship. He tried a few to quickly discover their standards for excellence were not the same as his own. I am telling you all this for a reason. Our Showroom is focused on Kitchens and Baths. However, Apple Wood continues to take on exterior projects as well as complete home construction.

Going back to our topic of Cost vs Value, I want to inform you we build decks, replace doors and windows, replace roofs and siding, and garage doors. None of these are as exciting as a complete remodel or addition perhaps. However, where value is measured each is a significant factor that adds value to your home. After all curb appeal is very important! This especially impacts listing prices if you want to sell your home.

Here are the figures for these various outside improvements:

When you add or replace:

A Deck:                  Average cost recouped is 68.4% (Composite) 74% ( Wood)    
A New Roof:          67% to 72%
New Windows:       73% to 77%
Siding:                     77%
Entry Door:             81% to 95%
New Garage Door:  92%

Pretty impressive, I'd say! Homes typically are our biggest investment. Isn't it great to discover updating our homes in ways we dream of, actually adds to our portfolio value.

Happy dreaming! Come share your ideas and let's get started!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bathroom Remodel Cost vs Value

Do you love a Spa? Who doesn't, right?

Wouldn't it be amazing to have your own Spa at home? With the innovative plumbing
fixtures available now, you can! Really!

Dual fixtures in a shower built for two is heaven. Faucets and Shower heads have expanded into
jets placed on a vertical bar. The jet heads can be adjusted to massage your back's lumbar to neck area regardless of the varying heights of your family members. Benches to relax on are popular. These are perfect spots to recline on as you enjoy the Steam feature of your fixture.

How about massaging the reflexology points on your feet as you stand in your shower? Yes, with specialty tiles you can experience this as well.

Replacing outdated bathtubs with the current clear glass surround adds space to the shower. It also opens up visual space in the bathroom. Beautiful stone and tile features are seen the moment you enter the room.

Are you tired of staring at the toilet when you wish to relax in the bath or shower? We have solutions to create separate spaces for these two uses of a bathroom.If you do love to soak in a tub, have we got the solution! No matter what your taste is, we have the perfect tub. Jacuzzi tubs are wonderful to relax in if you want to.

I am sure these ideas are inspiring ideas. Start clipping out or printing pictures of what you like. Bring them in to show us. We can help you decide what is possible in your budget.

Remodeling a bath recoups you an average of 66% of your cost. It is one of the key selling points of resale homes. Buyers want updated kitchens and baths. The choice of which home they purchase is often decided on these two rooms.

There are two ways to remodel a bath. We can help you update in the current space your bath is in now. We can also help you open up the space with an addition. A third option is accessing a closet space or adjoining bedroom no longer used to expand into.

Watch out though, a new Spa Bath my cut into your Social Calendar. You may never want to leave!  Your Spa Escape awaits!