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Designs in homes, just like fashions, change because the industry needs us to change.  In your home, classic designs sell best over time.  What is classic?  They are designs that stand the test of time.  Since designs are cyclical, and we crave the familiar, using stone for floors will improve the value of the home, as well as reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

Great Designs are purposeful.


The most durable, long lasting, hard surface to use in your home is tile.  With tile, application, selection, and installation methods yield contrastingly different results.  Just like in medicine, a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon yields a different result as compared to a scalpel in the hands of Jack the Ripper.

By comparison, tile is the more expensive surface on a floor, but not a countertop!

By comparison, tile lasts longer than carpet on a floor.  Tile lasts longer than wood on a floor.

Tile installation is measured by the square foot, and prices range from $2.00 per square foot, to $20.00 per square foot.  One will look better, and last longer than the other.

The difference can be viewed by comparing these two pictures.  The countertop was done by New Look Tile in a home in Cedar Creek. 

Here is a pedestal column at Johnson County Courthouse.  Note how the grout lines have no discernible pattern.  The County selects by low bidder, not talent level.  So, using cost per square foot as a common denominator for decisions yields different results.



BWSILESTONE3Kitchens become a major selling feature for a home, and have become a more of a “family” space in our homes.  The designer, Clodaugh, says it best as she describes why she feels that a combination of wood and stone are the best for creating a space that feels warm, safe, and inviting.  She feels that it comes from pre-historic days when man needed the shelter and safety of the cave (stone) while preparing food, and eating.


Real Estate professionals will tell you that your investment in remodeling should be in the entry, the kitchen, and the master bathroom.  You spend crucial time in your bathroom, and again referring to Clodaugh, stone has historically communicated warmth, safety, and security as we prepare ourselves for the day’s beginning, and end.  Make the bathroom luxurious simply by choosing elegant materials.


The average homeowner has flooring as the third largest investment that they make in their lifetimes!  Yes, after a home, and motor vehicles, flooring is the third largest personal investment made.

Flooring can take many forms.  It can be carpet, wood, tile, bamboo, vinyl, , plastic (laminate), cork, and the list of flooring types will grow over time.

Companies that sell flooring know that Carpet versus Tile, Tile versus Wood, Bamboo versus Laminate decisions are confusing!

Go to our blog site, and view videos that reveal many of the marketing tricks used by flooring companies.  Arm yourself with Education before investing.


Carpeting is the most misunderstood material in the Remodeling Industry!  Carpet can be made from Plastic, Nylon, wool, or Olefins (a blend of petroleum based fibers).  Carpet colors can come from colors infused into the fibers, or by dipping the fibers in dye, or by spraying color chemicals onto the fibers.

The naked eye cannot detect many of the quality differences of carpeting, and  the “big box stores” even use legal buying contracts to confuse you with giving the same carpet multiple names, so you can’t do comparison shopping with any “fact based” success.

Carpet is sold by the square yard, unless you are in a “big box store” where they entice you with prices by the square foot.  A square yard is 9 times more than a square foot.

You can easily be fooled into buying a $30.00 per yard carpet, for $45.

Again, go to our blog site to educate yourself about carpeting, before you purchase!


Roofing as a trade is not complex.  Roofing for a homeowner can be very confusing!  More roofs are replaced from storm damage, than from old age.  Because of that fact, many roofs are replaced by “storm chasers” who have specific marketing approaches designed to create Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, the “FUD Factor,” for consumers.

The typical issues with Roofing also entwine your insurance company, who is plays a role fraught with conflict of interest.  They want to pay as little as possible for the roof replacement, which can mean you get lesser roof than you had before.  Secondly, they can often be responsible for insuring the new roof that has been replaced.

What is the difference between a 30 year and 40 year shingle?  On Shake roofs, can you switch it to a composite roof, and should you?

How can you know if your roof was damaged, when you see no leakage?  A damaged roof may not leak for 5 years, but your insurance company will not cover any damage claimed that is over 18 months!

Again, you may want to view our videos from our blog about roofing, as they get posted.


Quality paint jobs require at least two critical components.  The first is the quality of the paint that is selected, and the second is the application of that paint.

Each one is conditional, meaning, it depends on the conditions. 

As an example, you might ask how many gallons of paint will it take to paint an 10 x 10 room.  If the ceilings are 10 feet high, then you have a surface area of 400 square feet (10 x 10) (x4 walls).  One gallon of Benjamin Moore latex covers 400 to 450 square feet, so that should do it, right?

If the wall is dark blue before you start, and your new color is yellow, then one gallon will create a yellow that looks slightly lime green, because blue and yellow mixed is green. 

So, perhaps a primer is a good start, etc.  Everyone wants a simple answer to a question, but there is always an unspoken expectation of perfection, and it is best to provide answers that address both the spoken and unspoken questions.


Like roofing, siding is a very big business in the remodeling industry.  Siding materials differ in their performance, even though they are usually rated to last 30 years, the reality of a siding guarantee is a lot like a guarantee on a tire.  The guarantee will cost you some cash to enforce.

Most people do not plan on replacing their siding when they sign their mortgage, and replacing siding is a big expense.  So, if you have to do this, you want to select a material that really is going to last for decades.  You want it to fit “the look”  of the neighborhood.   And you want it to improve and maintain a new like appearance of the home.

In 1974, on a family farm house, we put steel siding on a new house for my parents.  It has been over 40 years, and we have never painted or replaced one square inch on this house.  Although it does not look new, and the color has become outdated, it certainly does not need replacement.  And it looks better than most homes in the area.

I guess those Iowa winters aren’t so tough, after all.


Have you ever looked at the decks on homes that are 10 years old, and older?  Notice the support timbers that seem to have bowed and swayed?  In the period from 1980 to 1990, building codes allowed the use of treated lumber in a dimension of 4 inches by 4 inches as a support structure for decks, even on a second floor elevated deck.  Here is where materials selection saves you money.

This was not enough.  New decks often use 6 x 6 posts, which are significantly stronger.

So, how long are decks supposed to last?  10 to 15 years is the average.

So, if you have a deck on a new home with a 30 year mortgage, you should expect to replace it at least once in the lifetime of that home.

Was that your expectation?  You probably never even thought about it.


Basement Finishing adds living space, but how does a Pub or Bar theme affect the sale of the home, later?  The warmth and ambiance of a pub can be enjoyed by all as a gathering place, or a center for serving beverages and snacks.  A classic pub, with specific detail to railings, edges, and deep rich colors, communicates a level of craftsmanship to potential buyers, when you decide to sell the home.


Cement in any form, Driveways, sidewalks, or patio pads is usually set upon a surface that will almost certainly shift, be exposed to the elements, and have traffic from tires, weight, and machinery.

The key elements for cement all have to do with weight, in that cement is sold in yards, but what goes under the cement to prepare that surface is sold in tons.

The two biggest things typically overlooked by consumers is the surface preparation, as the amount of preparation will be directly tied to the price of the project…in short, how many tons of aggregate is appropriate.  Each contractor will differ in this opinion, because this number will affect his bid.  At some point, you compromise quality by cutting costs.

The second thing is the quality of the cement.  Cement is sold with quality variants, based upon the mixture and blend of sand, cement, additives and polymers that affect how the cement looks and performs for the next few decades.

All Cement is not the same!


When you need electrical contractors to install appliances or audio visual purchases, you will not always need a licensed and certified technician.

But for remodeling where electrical utilization may increase because you have created new living spaces, you should resist approaching the electrical work from any contractors not using licensed technicians.

We provide small group of certified electrical contractors, because the opportunity to inflate bids yet still be within a range of acceptable pricing is evident.

This same type of pricing variance can be seen in many industries, like Dentistry, where a crown can cost between $450 and $1,200.  They are all dentists, so why the big fluctuation?

We have formed our opinions from years of interaction, job completion, and long term performance of remodeling projects, and are proud to recommend electricians for you.  Free.


There are two large importers of granite in Kansas City.  Most companies that advertise granite will buy from those two importers.

We buy from the importers, and use local fabricators to form it, and install it.

Cutting out a granite distributor can save you quite a bit.  Granite is sold by the square foot and costs increase by the selection of edges, and the uniqueness of a slab.  They call them “exotics,” but they are just slabs of granite.

Granite costs in Kansas City have dropped from $70 per square foot in 2002, to $40 and below.

It is suspected that this drop in price was correlated to the opening of the Chinese market, because they have vast mountains of granite of the 8 basic types of granite.  It sort of lets you in on the pricing scheme of granite companies, when simply having someone willing to cut, and ship it cheaper exposed an artificial elevated price for a commodity…just like in the diamond industry.

Wood Refinishing

Just like painting, and concrete, there are variables in wood refinishing that can be undetectable to the in-experienced shopper.

Wood refinishing is a labor intensive industry.  So, to your contractor, Time is Money.

There are many options for stain, and finishes, with a range of pricing.  There are also differences in Oil Based, or Polymer based finishes. 

But even if you had all of those figured out, and were comparing prices from contractors, would you think to ask them “how many coats” of finish are we bidding?  Time is Money to them, so an extra coat takes more time, and you are comparing dollar costs per square foot.  Where do you think that place is where corners will be cut?  Time is Money.

There are a few more issues to consider with wood refinishing.  How many days do you need to stay off of the floor, and do the fumes from drying force you to stay out of the home?  Will you run the heating and air system while these vapors are resident, thereby spraying a harmful chemical throughout your fabric based features of the home, like carpet, drapery, and bedclothes?

After these considerations, do you still think cost per square foot is the criteria for selecting a refinishing company?


Entries introduce a home.  The home’s design often dictates options that can be enhanced in a cost effective manner.  It matters which rooms become visible, first, after the entry when selecting materials to best present the home.  Careful thought and attention to detail brings a very satisfying result to you, and to a prospective buyer in the future.

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