How Remodeling Has Transformed in the Past 20 Years

3 June 2015 John Clark Remodeling Industry Leave a Comment

As a remodeling contractor on Cape Cod for nearly 20 years, we have seen many changes in the remodeling industry. As with many industries that have embraced the information age, the Internet, and new technologies, we believe the the home remodeling industry has improved significantly.

However, it’s also been our experience that homeowners don’t necessarily see how the industry has changed for the better, and thus some of them do not fully appreciate the value of a professional remodeling contractor in 2015.

The Good Ol’ Days?

Remodeling Contractors on Cape Cod

Would you trust a remodeling contractor who showed up to your house in this truck?

Back in the 1990s, and unfortunately this still exists today, homeowners didn’t have very high expectations of home improvement contractors. Maybe you would talk with a couple local contractors, have them in for a walk-around and measurements, and they would give you either a verbal estimate or something scribbled on a yellow legal pad.

Over the next few weeks, they would show up intermittently in a beat up old truck and do their work. They never really seemed to have a schedule or defined way of doing things. You were never quite sure when they were coming and going and when your project would be completed.

But maybe you didn’t care about the project timeline or how perfect everything was in the end, because the remodel likely didn’t cost you a whole lot of money.

Home Remodeling Today

It’s an understatement to say that many things have changed in 20 years. One of the key aspects of consumer behavior today is that consumers are more discerning than ever. With a world of information at our fingertips, we demand more from the companies that provide us with products and services.

Homeowners today want to be involved in the process as much as possible. They want to research different remodelers, they want to look at websites and Houzz profiles, they want to see reviews and testimonials, and when it comes time to design their kitchen or bathroom, they want to pick out the finishes, products, and materials.

They also demand a higher level of professionalism. They demand timelines and payment schedules. They demand cleaned work areas at the end of the day. They demand perfection when it comes to their home renovations.

And rightfully so.

You work hard for your money, and when you’re spending a sizable chunk of it on a remodeling project, you want a professional experience and a first class end result.

Today’s Professional Remodeler

A professional remodeler who is going to provide you with a best in class experience and remodeling project is different from the remodeler you hired in 1996.

Cape Cod Kitchen Design Company - @designREMODELToday’s professional remodeler has:

  • The proper insurance
  • A valid contractor’s license
  • Increased accountability
  • Higher safety and cleanliness standards
  • Better tools
  • Better and more products to choose from
  • Laws and regulations they must comply with
  • Multiple reliable work crews and subcontractors
  • Thorough written contracts
  • Multi-year warranties
  • Project timelines and payment schedules

All of those things translate into an overall better remodeling project for you and your family.

But all of those things also may translate into a higher price point than you were conditioned to paying 20 years ago.

Let’s use the metaphor of the auto industry. That industry has vastly improved over the past couple decades – higher safety standards, more efficient cars, more luxury items included at base price, etc.

The difference is that you purchase a new car every few years and you’re generally aware of the prices of cars.

When it comes to home remodeling, that’s something you may only do once or twice in your lifetime. So you’re not generally aware of what things cost. In order for a professional remodeling company to communicate the value that they bring to the table, they need to spend more time educating homeowners about processes, prices, expectations, and the lifetime value of a newly remodeled home.

Homeowners who hire a remodeling company strictly based on price, without doing much research or allowing themselves to be educated about the process, run the risk of getting a sub-standard project in the end. As with most things in life, you rarely get a high quality outcome from the cheapest price.

A home remodeling project is a big deal, so you want to make sure you spend the proper time and money to do it right the first time.

At @designREMODEL, our tagline is Elevating the Cape Cod Remodeling Experience. We have developed the systems and the workmanship to not only provide a beautiful new room or whole house remodel, but also as much of a stress-free experience for our clients as possible.

The Bottom Line

If you’re researching different options and receive multiple quotes or estimates from Cape Cod remodeling contractors, you’re going to see numbers all over the place. Some contractors are still operating like its the 1990s and their prices may be lower. But you should expect a more complicated homeowner-remodeler relationship and a lower quality end result.

Some companies, like us, will present estimates that provide us with the resources to deliver to you an excellent product with the experience that you deserve.

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. ~ Warren Buffett

The remodeling market is very robust these days. Homeowners with higher standards are choosing to invest in their homes. When thinking about your next Cape Cod kitchen or bathroom remodel, we recommend that you take a little more time up front in the research and decision-making phase to ensure that you’re getting the best possible value for your budget. Although you may be tight on time, allow yourself to be educated on your different options available to you and the outcomes you can expect from those different options.

“Working with John Clark was a complete pleasure. From the very first time we met John we felt very comfortable trusting him and his team to guide us with design selection to update our 35 year old bathroom. Everything John prepared us for before the work started was 100% accurate. During the demolition process we were amazed at how neat, clean, and professional everyone was. Communication was very open and there were no surprises. The finished product exceeded our expectations and we plan on working with @designRemodel for future projects. We highly recommend working with John Clark and his team of professionals!” ~ Hillary DiFilippo, Cape Cod MA

Design & Remodel Tip #1 for your Cape Cod Bathroom

22 May 2015 John Clark Bathrooms | Design Leave a Comment

Design Ideas. Marstons Mills Remodeling Tips. Best Practices. Find them here weekly on our blog.

Design & Remodel Tip 01- Tile Ideas

Cape Cod Bathroom Design Tips from @designREMODELLast week, I was looking for some tile ideas for an upcoming bathroom remodel in Marstons Mills. I wanted to find something unique for my client who had just purchased a new home and wanted to create a spa-like feel in her new bathroom.

I started looking on Houzz.com for pictures, particularly for either a serene backdrop or a distinctive accent tile. After scanning many pages and doing many searches, I became frustrated as I did not see what I wanted.  I took a look through some of the design books on my bookshelf and still didn’t find what I was looking for.

Then  I thought…How about Pinterest.com?  I clicked over to the website and started looking at some of the boards for bathroom remodeling that I had set up several months ago.  Very quickly, I found pictures and ideas that could use for design inspiration for the upcoming bathroom remodel in Marstons Mills.

Plus, what I liked about Pinterest was that by using a few keywords like Bathroom Accent Tile,  I was able to review rapidly multiple pictures. And save the ones I liked to a board that I could return to again and again.

We are fortunate to live in a world where an abundance of ideas, tips, and photos are at our fingertips. This access to ideas is really exciting for us and for our clients, and it has enabled us to build some fun projects for Cape Cod homeowners.

If you would like to discuss some ideas for your bathroom remodeling project on Cape Cod, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any questions or get you started in the right direction.

Visiting a Bath and Kitchen Showroom in Falmouth MA

16 March 2015 John Clark Falmouth | Showrooms Leave a Comment

We’re sometimes asked why we do not have a showroom, especially for bathrooms and the short answer is, they are very expensive to set up and staff.  The long answer is that we looked into it and by the time we purchased a storefront, remodeled and bought it up to code (as it is a public space) and then did a complete build out, we were looking at investing almost a cool half million.  $485,000 to be exact.  Then on top of that, we would have the ongoing operating costs and staffing and update costs as fixtures, styles and trends changed. And all of these costs would have to be added to each and every project we built.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a number of bath and kitchen showrooms come and go. And often times they go, as maintaining as store front is a significant cost burden as I noted above.

The trend that I have seen here on Cape Cod, is bath and kitchen showrooms are been opened and operated by companies with deep pockets and more importantly are just one part in the companies overall business. One example of this: Botello Lumber in Mashpee built a new showroom that displays kitchens, windows, doors and building materials. (But no bathroom displays.) FW Webb, Ferguson, Supply New England and Simons all opened showrooms in the last several years and all are primarily suppliers for the plumbing and electrical trades. This strategy seems to make good business and financial sense. On one hand, this is great for the homeowner looking to remodel their home, bathroom or kitchen.  They can go look, touch and choose cabinets, fixtures and fittings.

Yet on the other hand, when it comes to actually having the work done, oftentimes the showrooms/supply houses may suggest the names of local contractors that you can contact directly.  The role of the showroom staff is often limited to providing design services and suggesting products. They rarely take an active roll in managing a project from start to finish. (Which is the primary mission of @designREMODEL)  With that said however, having local showrooms where our clients can look and touch is invaluable.

Recently I took a field trip of a sorts to check out two new kitchen and bath showrooms that opened in Falmouth and to see what they had to offer. First up is Supply New England’s Kitchen and Bath Gallery of Falmouth.  They relocated from Main Street Falmouth recently and now reside in the old Falmouth Ford location.  From the exterior, you would expect to see a fairly large showroom yet, once you step inside you realize that the space is not as big as it would seem. The majority of the building is given over to the supply house. However don’t let that deter you from visiting as the showroom is actually very attractive as you can see in the picture below.

Falmouth MA Bathroom Design and Remodeling Showroom

Upon entering the showroom I was greeted promptly and with enthusiasm by the staff.  I browsed around for a bit looking over the numerous displays of bathtubs, vanities and the like. I looked at the kitchen cabinet display area which was also smaller then I expected. Overall, I was impressed by the showroom and the displays many which feature Kohler products. (Which as an aside, we prefer and specify on many of our projects) I checked in at the designer’s desks and I spoke at length with Ann Hebsch who was friendly and attentive about the new Kohler Tailored Vanity Collection Which is new for 2014.  This new line of cabinets, which we are very thrilled about, feature choices, colors and options that cannot be found anywhere else! Ann showed me some of the cabinets that were on display and even provided me with a rarer then rare (at the time) copy of a catalog for the Kohler Tailored Vanities.

One of the displays that caught my eye as you can see below, was the Kohler Artifacts showcase which shows all of your choices and options for shower controls, faucets and other fittings commonly used in a bathroom. The display was brilliant and beautiful!

Kitchen Bath Gallery Falmouth MA Kohler

Another display I looked at, got me to thinking about soap/shampoo alcoves like the one shown in the picture below. Creating or incorporating a soap/shampoo alcove that looks good and fits into a space can often be a challenge.  I like this for its clean lines, simplicity, tons of room and easy to keep clean.

Bathtub display Falmouth Bath and Kitchen Showroom

All in all, a trip to Supply New England’s Kitchen and Bath Gallery is well worth it.  With lots to look at, friendly staff and a welcoming presence, I’ll be visiting again and again with my clients.

Quick Notes:

Located at 343 Dillingham Ave, Falmouth MA.
Showroom Phone  508.457.9720
Hours 10-5 Tuesday-Friday 10-4 Sat. Closed Sunday and Monday.

In near future, I will share my trip and thoughts about the newest showroom in Falmouth.  Frank Webb’s Bath Center located just up the street from the Kitchen and Bath Gallery.

How To Spot A Poorly Constructed Bathroom

15 March 2015 John Clark Bathrooms Leave a Comment

Often times I can walk into a bathroom of any age or style and immediately spot the small things that tell me if the bathroom was remodeled the right way or not.

The giveaways…

Tile abuts fixtures, casings and baseboard.  Talk about looking like crap. The grout usually looks messy and when the wood shrinks from seasonal changes, cracks will start to show. Not to mention that the baseboard looks even smaller due to the reduced height.  And don’t get me started on tiling in a vanity bottom instead of going under.  If someone wanted to change the vanity at a later date due to a style change, or if it was damaged, they would be stuck trying to match the exact footprint of the old vanity.

Beadboard paneling installed over the drywall.  This is another save-a-buck detail that drives me crazy. The paneling is usually so thin that it the bead detail is minimal and yet applying it over the drywall flattens any window or door casing profiles.  The proven way to install beadboard wainscot in a bathroom is to remove the drywall from the wall and apply the beadboard directly to the studs. This allows you to install a true beadboard and also keep the profiles/shadow lines of the window and door trim intact.

Tub or shower base is spongy. Just about every tub or shower installed over the last 40 years has been installed without regard to proper support under the base. I can step into and immediately feel if the base is properly supported or not.  It has give and feels bouncy. The correct way to install the base or tub is as follows:

1. Replace or upgrade the subfloor with new and or additional plywood.
2. Nail down wire mesh under the base or tub foot print. This is to help keep the mortar in place.
3. Mix and pile mounds of structural mortar over the mesh.
4. Bed the base down into the mortar and confirm that it is level.
5. Install temporary blocking around the rim or top to keep it from moving as the mortar cures.

Doing the above ensures that when anyone steps into the tub or shower, there is an absolute feeling of solidness. Yes, doing this while installing the tub or base is a pain and takes more time and money and it’s worth it.

Falmouth MA Shower Remodeling from @designREMODELCheesy soap dishes or alcoves. This detail absolutely drives me crazy. Here is a picture of a tiled bathtub surround with a molded soap dish just slapped into the wall. Not only does it stick out like a large pimple on your forehead, they placed it right in the middle of the accent tile row.  Down. Right. Ugly.

Shower Doors.  Framed shower doors should be banned period. Not only do they look cheap and feel flimsy, the frame provides the perfect landing spot for soap residue which provide a breeding ground for mold.  Frameless doors are easy to keep clean and really take the overall look of your bathroom up a couple of notches.

Over reliance on caulking.  Caulking when used right has it’s place in the bathroom. It keeps joints closed when a house moves due to seasonal changes. It directs water where you want it such as around the outer jambs of a shower door. However, I’ve walked into bathrooms where the caulking looks as if it were troweled on by the gallon and there is usually black mold growing by the minute.

These are some of the things to  spot in a poorly constructed bathroom.  In my next post, I will write about the details that make a difference in building a bathroom that looks fabulous for years to come.