Q: In selecting your contractor, are you hesitant to use the “P” word?
A: During contract negotiations in today’s market, profit is the number one cost that a contractor can control. All other costs, given the same specifications, should be very close. A client can see some softness in the calculation of the profit figure but should not forget that sometimes the more significant “P” words must be used in the decision. Instead of focusing on just profit, also consider: professionalism, promise, promptness, project passion and pride, personality, perseverance, protocol and presentation. The decision of choosing a builder is not an easy one. In narrowing down choices, don’t forget to use all the “P” words.
Barry Davis, The Barry Davis Company
Q: Why should I consider low voltage landscape lighting?
A: Lighting a landscape adds elements of beauty, security and safety in varying combinations, depending on the user’s needs and desires. A home’s lighting plan may showcase a particularly attractive aspect of the property – an interesting piece of art or statuary that needs a spotlight or a flower bed accented with a path light. Maybe it is a tree, pool, lily pond, or fountain that needs some added attention, or the homeowner just wants to enhance the overall beauty of the property. Whatever aspect of a property the owner wishes to bring to life, landscape lighting will help beautify the environment.
Features like steps, rocks and low shrubs can become obstacles or even safety hazards after dark. Path and step lighting can be installed to ensure safe passage from point A to point B. In fact, any change in elevation, such as steps, edges of decks or terraces, should be illuminated for safety.
A well-lit house also is the most effective deterrent to potential burglars. However, the glaring floodlights of the past are not as protective as once thought. While floodlights create pools of light, they also create pockets of shadow, often close to windows, where thieves can hide. Low voltage fixtures not only beautify the property, but also fill in those areas of darkness, tastefully directing illumination where it is needed most.
Trent Hutchinson, Blue Moon Landscaping
Q: What factors do I need to consider when selecting a fence type for my property?
A: The first question that needs to be answered when selecting a fence is what is the main purpose of the fence. Is it for privacy, security, pet or child containment or boundary delineation? If privacy is the main function, then a wood fence is the most economical way to go, although it does require a certain amount of maintenance. Vinyl and composite fences are more expensive alternatives to wood, but they are maintenance free. If a fence is needed to contain children or pets, the most popular fence these days seems to be of the ornamental variety. Ornamental fences today are much more economical than the traditional wrought iron fences. Typically made of aluminum and steel, they are manufactured and painted in a way that requires very little if any maintenance at all. Chain link fencing is also another option and in most cases is the least expensive fence type.
Regardless of the type of fence, check local zoning regulations and with homeowners associations, if applicable, because in many instances they may dictate what is legal to install.
Heyward Brabham, Brabham Fence
Q: Is wallpaper in style?
A: Wallpaper has never really gone out of style, but for many the thought of wallpaper conjures up memories of times – and styles — past. It is time to give papered walls another chance. The patterns of yesteryear have been re-vamped and invigorated, making wallpaper hot once again. Yes, wallpaper is making a comeback … in a big way. Graphic designs and patterns can transform a space. Picture a space like a foyer with multiple doors and doorways with little usable wall space for furniture or art. Inject a graphic horizontal stripe and the room suddenly comes alive. Or add a subtle texture to a stairway wall and a tricky space now has dimension.
Another great space to paper is a powder room. Pair the perfect pattern with great lighting and fixtures, and a utilitarian space becomes a hidden jewel.
Brandon D. Shives and Eveleigh H. Hughey, Brandon Davidson Interiors
Q: How does a builder/remodeler survive in a down economy?
A: The answer is the same in any successful situation – surround yourself with good people. By establishing solid relationships with your vendors when times are good, these people are more likely to work with you when times are lean. One way to build this type of relationship is to not “jump ship” every time a new salesperson calls to offer you a better deal on materials, etc. By sticking with your suppliers who were with you when you were growing, they will appreciate your business and understand that we truly are all in this together. Now that the economy has begun to turn and the strong survived, it is time for contractors and suppliers to begin the recovery process by landing the profitable jobs and earning a fair margin for their products. The same philosophy is true for your customers. Treat them like you would want to be treated, and they will reward you with repeat business, which is vital to any successful operation.
Roy Hurley, Capital Construction, LLC
Q: When is it time to refurbish my pool and patio furniture?
A: It’s time if the frame finish is faded, chalking or chipping off. This can be fixed by sandblasting and powdercoating a new finish. There are several types of patio furniture. Wrought iron – which can rust if not properly cared for. Cast aluminum – which can flake off over time. Aluminum strap furniture – straps that are faded, cracked or spotted. Sling furniture – if the sling fabric is faded, worn or torn. Cushion furniture – cushions that are faded, fabric is out dated or worn from sun exposure. Wicker furniture – it may need some repairs, the finish may be worn and in need of a fresh coat of paint to seal the wicker and keep it from rotting away.
Mark Brubach, Casual Furniture Restoration
Q: Can you repair my fogged window?
A: While we would love to be able to tell all of our customers yes, unfortunately, the answer to that question is no, we cannot. At Century Glass, we continuously research and evaluate the latest advances in the glass industry, but we have yet to find a system or process that we can recommend. The problem is the moisture buildup inside an insulated unit is typically caused by a seal failure around the outside edge of the glass that sits inside your window frame. And while there are companies moving into our area that are claiming they can “repair” an insulated glass unit, there are some fallacies to their logic and process. A repair is done by drilling small holes in the corners of the unit, pumping cleaners into it and installing one-way air vents in the holes. Unfortunately this allows air to move in and out of the window (a process called solar pumping) and compromises the functionality of the insulated unit. The airspace between the two pieces of glass is now the same temperature as it is outside, minimizing its insulating capabilities. And nothing has been done, or can be done, to repair that broken seal around the edge of the glass. Fortunately, we can replace just the insulated glass unit and save the rest of the window and frame at a fraction of the cost of a replacement window. It’s more economical than most people realize. We give free estimates and provide a 10-year warranty on all of our insulated glass replacements.
Randy Wright, Century Glass
Q: How much will a stained glass window or door cost for my home?
A: The majority of cost for stained glass comes from the labor involved in its creation. Some studios price a stained glass panel solely on the number of pieces of glass in its design or solely on its square footage. We use both –number of pieces square footage. A smaller piece with a complex design could be more expensive than a larger, simpler design. Additional techniques like glass painting, carving and beveling would add to the overall cost. When I am asked about cost without being given any idea of design or size, I estimate $125 per square foot for a moderately complex design. When considering the permanence of stained glass, how it adds value to your home and the enjoyment for you. The time spent on it is well worth the money.
Bill Roberson, Classical Glass of South Carolina, Inc.
Q: If you were asked to pick one accessory that is the new hot item for the home, what would it be?
A: Spot tables were all over the High Point market this past fall. These versatile small tables can be tucked anywhere and are just perfect for a drink and small accessory. They come in all textures, finishes and materials. You can expect to see these petite tables in metal, stone, wood and glass or any combination of the above. The creative shapes and designs are a fun yet functional departure from the standard chair side drink table. Prices can start as low as $100.00. These artful little tables can be the punctuation mark in any room. An interesting assortment of these tables is available at Steven Ford Interiors.
Steven Ford, Steven Ford Interiors
Q: What are retractable screens and where can I use them?
A: Phantom Screens retractable screen solutions are available for doors, windows, and oversized openings such as patios, verandas, and garages. Unlike conventional insect screens, Phantom’s retractable screens don’t obstruct homeowners’ views; they pull into place when needed and retract out-of-sight when not in use. With a wide selection of mesh types and colors, Phantom’s screens provide full ventilation, shading from the sun, protection from insects and UV rays, and enhanced privacy. Phantom’s motorized retractable screen solutions help to transform outdoor spaces into living spaces by providing a solution that allows homeowners to open up their homes in a completely new way. Phantom Screens are not just for residential applications. Their retractable screen solutions work in commercial applications as well. Every Phantom screen is backed with a Limited Lifetime Warranty for added peace of mind.
Bill Barrett, Southern Custom Doors
Q: How often should someone have their furniture professionally cleaned?
A: Just as dirt and dust collect in carpets and on wood surfaces, it also collects on all other surfaces in a home including cloth and leather furniture. Stanley Steemer recommends cleaning most furniture yearly or more often if there are pets and/or children in the home. Pet dander and body oils accumulate on fabrics and must be removed to prolong the life of the furniture. Most people tend to vacuum and dust, but rarely consider the areas that they frequently sit, lounge and sometimes sleep. Stanley Steemer can safely and effectively clean many types of furniture, including mattresses, helping to maintain them for families to enjoy for years to come.
Suzanne Pucci, Stanley Steemer