The Joy of Specs

When you ask for a sandwich at the deli, it may sound like “Can I have a ham and swiss with mustard on a roll?” probably not ” Can I have a sandwich?” window? what kind? You are specifying the ingredients for the sandwich in the 1st example and get a result that you are […]

Don’t get screwed….contractors’ bankruptcy

Yes, we did the due diligence on the unfamiliar contractor and my client still got screwed. Wait how’d that happen?  The contractor went under. We checked references and assorted sources, but could not forecast what was coming. Contractors have it tough. There are many balls to juggle at the same time. The current projects, the […]

Bidding 101

What’s in the bid? Time and costs Three solid pieces of advice, before you dive in: a. The ball is only in your court once! That is before you sign the contract. Meaning that when you are bidding, and the contractors may be eager and hungry -they may be more flexible in their pricing than […]

Municipal Design Negotiations-Can you bargain with Big Brother?

Yes you can….and then again….So can they…. What do you mean bargain?  Well, you probably know many buildings require review and approval by various municipal boards before they can be built. Some boards opine on the aesthetic or kludgy characteristics  (like an Architectural Review Board) , some on building size and use (such as a […]

Square Footage- 12″ x 12″ right?

Measuring square footage has never been more complex than now. Yet in every project we design, it is among the most critical elements. The means to establish the size of a building or unit within the building varies from location to location though falls under certain national standards that are blissfully ignored. Condos, coops, […]

What do over 100,000 members say on Houzz about remodeling?

Houzz Readers have spoken Here’s some more food for thought before you pull out your wallet  

The Chef who Spit in your Soup

One of my favorite contractors told me the story about his uncle Andy who was a mason.  Andy would typically build his chimneys with a layer of glass midway in the flue.  If the customer  had paid in full, he carefully broke and removed the glass with no-knowledge of this by the owner. However, when […]

WTF? You Need a Building Permit for That Little Project?

Obtaining building permits for construction work is often misunderstood and frustrating for the Owner who wants to “Just do it”. Small projects too, often fall under regulations that required a building permit.  Here’s a sampler of why. FEES: Building permits have a fee that is paid to the municpality that is usually proportional to the […]

…I wish I knew that before the project began

Construction/Design projects are a big deal: The time, money and effort that goes into them are huuuge-big.  Projects become so invasive and life-altering that they have a “milestone” quality to them that clients will refer to, when trying to remember a date, like, “I think that was just before the renovation”….. This means you must have […]

Living Through Construction or Moving Out?

” So Tom, tell me are you going to be staying in the house during construction or moving out?” I recently asked one of my clients. “I’m not sure” he responded, “Joe the GC, said it would be alot easier for him if we were out of his way, and there would be a lot […]