Check out photos of one of my latest pride-and-joy summer projects, posted on Houzz!

Outdoor Entertaining at Oak Street, designed by Linda M. White

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Work for More Than A Dollar

There are things that are worth more than money.  Relationships, integrity, honesty and loyalty top my list.  There are few others that share this belief.  But, I have found some of those few.  Together, we have formed an alliance, the Marblehead Builder’s Consortium, to share our resources and do what we love – renovating homes to enrich the people’s lives who live in them.

We are not a general contracting firm.  We do not follow the traditional processes of managing home renovation projects.  The homeowner comes first.  Not our bottom line.

The MBC is a team of renovation professionals.  We pour our hearts into our craft.  Because, after all, if one’s heart is not in it, it is not worth doing.

iPad Giveaway!

Well, of course like everything else, it requires a bit of effort on your part.

Houzz.com holds a monthly drawing for a free iPad to those who review their favorite home designer or building pro (hint-hint!).

So, whether you really, really like me or just want a chance to win a new iPad, give me a super duper review on Houzz.com!

Click the link on the left that says “See my Houzz profile” or click here for more details.

Delightful Curb Appeal

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “curb appeal”?  The purpose of curb appeal is to make one feel welcome, invited, happy, warm, cozy….all of that.   But, what elements are needed to create those feelings?  My short answer is color, texture and proportion in a harmonic blend.

Let’s look at two examples…

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This is a nice house with a good lines, but it seems shy and underestimated.  It’s at the dance, but it’s just not dressed for the occasion.  Imagine this home with the following improvements:

1. An arched entry with a sturdy wood railing, stained wood entry door and warm lighting

2. Lush landscaping along the path and entry stairs

3. A new garage door with windows and a crown

4. Thick trim and a crown moulding at the triple window

5. Black painted window frames

6. A belt course of trim at the joint of siding and brick

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Voila!

Let’s try one more…

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This one is cute, but it’s a little sad like a little girl who is the only one on the playground without ribbons in her hair.   What if we did this…

1. Replace the thin columns with heavier ones

2. Remove the railing from the porch and plant cottage flowers along the walkway

3. Add decorative window trim, including crowns

4. Apply natural stone veneer to the porch floor

5. Paint it a vibrant color with contrasting trim

6. Ice it with a sweet little cupola

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What do you think?

Would you like to increase your home’s curb appeal but need some suggestions?  Whether you are considering selling your house or just want a more pleasing sight to welcome you home I can help.

Send me an email and we will get started!

It’s Deck-Building Season!

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Here is a rendering of one of our deck and patio projects currently underway.

The deck stairs wrap-around to blend it seamlessly with the patio, opening up this side of the yard as if it were an outdoor great room.  The middle stair tread is double-depth, making it perfect for extra seating.

Over the storage bench against the garage we will install the Marston Trellis System from Walpole Woodworkers.  I just love their products!  Have you heard of them?  http://www.walpolewoodworkers.com

More photos of project progress to come!

Beware of the “Ball Park” Estimate

Almost every client is interested to know a ball-park estimate of what their project will cost.  Even though I might have a gut feeling of what a project might cost, I am reluctant to share it with the client because it is just that – a feeling, not a detailed estimate based on a clearly defined scope of work.

Ball-park figures almost always lead to disappointment since inaccuracy is practically guaranteed.  What does it include?  What’s not included?  The variables are too vast.  It is crucial to impress upon clients that each project is unique.  It cannot be quickly added up based on an a’ la carte menu.

In addition, it is so easy for a client to get a ball-park figure stuck in their head.  When the real costs are figured and delivered, the client then experiences an initial shock followed by disbelief and either crushed hopes or even anger.

Instead of giving a ball-park estimate when asked, I provide examples of recent projects and their costs.  I can point to a bathroom or kitchen renovation and tell a client the cost of that particular project based on its scale and quality.  That helps give a client an idea of cost without backing myself into a corner by trying to guess the cost of their project on the spot without any specific details.

Trying to guess does no one any favors and in fact ends up causing more confusion than being of any help.  It’s only fair to everyone involved to provide an actual estimate for a specific project scope, leaving much less room for error and uncertainty.

Before You Hire A Contractor…

Don’t jump to sign a contract with the lowest bidder. Do your research. Because what you really should want is someone you can share your home with for the duration of your renovation project. Find out the following…

Does the company have a good reputation in their service area?

Do they have a wealth of happy and repeat clients?

What is their track record on completing projects on time, within budget and issuing change orders?

Is the crew respectful not only of clients and their property, but also of their neighbors?

Does the contractor have a solid team of sub-contractors with whom they work cohesively on a regular basis?

What is their average rate of call-backs for repairs, (i.e. long-term quality of craftsmanship)?

Positive answers to the above are professional virtues that should not be overlooked in favor of a lower price. If you weren’t already aware, you should know that there are contractors out there who will low ball their bid to be awarded the project with every intention of making up their financial loss with multiple change orders. (Another very good reason to have a solid project plan and specifications!)

Consider hiring the contractor with whom you feel you will gladly develop a long-term professional relationship, even if he is not the cheapest. Peace of mind and smiling faces at the end of a project are worth every penny. After all, the lowest bidder may not turn out to be a good financial investment at all.

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