Diamond Certified Blog

Tag Archives: Remodel

Castles on the Ground: How to Build Your Dream House

Remodel Your House in 2017

A dream house doesn’t have to be entirely out of reach. Photo: Tori Atwell – Alain Pinel Realtors, 2017

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ―Henry David Thoreau

Welcome to January. Last month, you cooked up your dream home in a heady mix of holiday punch, gingerbread and champagne. Now, both metaphorically and literally, it’s time to build those foundations. We’ve written often on this blog about how to get started on a house remodeling project (for examples, see “How to Choose a Contractor” and “Choosing Appliances for a Kitchen Remodel”). Carefully choosing a licensed contractor, budgeting attentively and understanding local building laws are all important preliminary steps, but they aren’t the first things you should do. So, how do you actually start? How do you translate the airy structures of December into your very own castle on the ground? Continue reading “Castles on the Ground: How to Build Your Dream House” »

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Diamond Certified Experts: 5 Preliminary Steps for Remodeling

Take the hassle out of your remodeling project by getting organized early on. Photo: Merritt-Nelson Custom Builders (2016)

Take the hassle out of your remodeling project by getting organized early on. Photo: Merritt-Nelson Custom Builders (2016)

Everyone knows home remodeling projects can be costly and complicated, but they don’t have to be as stressful as they’re often made out to be. By taking preliminary steps and addressing things in advance, you can set yourself up for a smooth process and successful results. To gain some helpful insight, we’ve asked five Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to give their tips on preparing for a remodeling project.

Jim Kabel1. Define the scope: Jim Kabel of Case Design/Remodeling
Before you begin interviewing designers and contractors, have a clear idea of what you want. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: 5 Preliminary Steps for Remodeling” »

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Preparing for Design

When planning a kitchen remodel, it’s important to pay attention to detail. Photo: HOUSEworks, Inc. (2015)

When planning a kitchen remodel, it’s important to pay attention to detail. Photo: HOUSEworks, Inc. (2015)

Remodels can add style, function, and safety by way of updating electrical and plumbing systems to current building codes. Not only can this enhance your enjoyment of your home, it can also add value to your house upon resale. The most popular rooms to remodel are kitchens and bathrooms—they’re the most used rooms in the house and the spaces where we interface the most with materials, so they require the most planning and attention to detail. It’s your designer’s job to take the information you provide and develop a plan that targets your needs and budget.

Serious customers prepare for satisfaction.
Here’s a simple formula: if you get what you want, you’ll be satisfied. Over the years, design professionals have learned that it’s in everyone’s best interest to work with serious customers. Continue reading “Preparing for Design” »

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Custom Cabinetry: Is it Right for You?

In a typical kitchen remodeling budget, almost half the cost is allocated to the cabinets alone—especially if they’re custom made. Custom cabinetry can greatly improve the aesthetics of your kitchen, but just like any home addition, their effectiveness depends on numerous factors. Before you decide to purchase custom cabinets, consider the following tips:

Determine your cooking habits. You’ll be using the cabinets to store ingredients, plates, bakeware and more, so it’s important to understand your specific cooking habits. Take time to decide how much you’ll be using your kitchen, where you cook the most and so on.

Continue reading “Custom Cabinetry: Is it Right for You?” »

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How to Control Your Remodeling Project’s Budget

Exceeding a remodeling budget can lead to a host of unforeseen problems, including settling for unexpected options, disagreeing with contractors and being left with an unfinished room. To avoid dealing with these potential issues altogether, consider the following tips:

Differentiate between “need” and “want.” Start your budget with things you need. Research the costs of many different kinds of products and materials, starting with the most expensive necessities and ending with the items you can do without. Major appliances should be at the top of your list since they cost the most.

Make a Top 10 list. Look around your kitchen and decide what needs to be immediately replaced and what can be replaced in the future. Remember the needs of your family. If you have small children, take safety into consideration when prioritizing. Handicapped or elderly family members should be budgeted into your costs and designs as well.

Resist temptation. Know exactly what you want before you search for it so you’re not tempted to buy out of your price range. Uncertainty may leave you vulnerable to purchasing unnecessary products and choosing materials that go beyond your means. Know what features are most important to you and your family so it’s easier to choose when the time comes. There’s an abundance of different appliances that offer different features, but most will get the job done, so don’t pick anything too fancy or high-tech if your budget doesn’t allow for it.

Get a quote. A designer and/or contractor should always visit your home before providing you with a quote for the design and installation. Don’t accept a quote for your project until a full survey has been completed. If you make sure the quote is thorough, you’ll avoid misunderstandings and future overspending.

Double-check. Before you buy products and materials, visit a showroom to see them in person and determine their quality. Also, don’t be afraid to ask friends, neighbors and family members to see their kitchens and ask who they hired. This is a great way to envision the quality of the result of your kitchen remodel if you decide to use the same designer and contractors.

Keep track of your payments. Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments. Never pay more than 10 percent down of $1,000 (whichever is less), and don’t pay in cash. Never pay in full until you’ve received delivery of all your goods. Companies that ask for full payment ahead of delivery have your money, but you don’t have your appliances or completed kitchen. Any changes to the scope of work during construction must be accompanied by a Change Order which describes the change, the precise dollar amount related to the change and how it will affect the timeline of the project.

Make sure your written contract contains the following:

  • A schedule that demonstrates when specific construction activities will start and end (such as the framing, sheetrock work or painting).
  • A schedule of payments that shows the amount of each payment and explains what work, materials or services are to be performed before being invoiced.
  • Identification of subcontractors who will be performing various construction activities.
  • Identification of suppliers who are providing materials necessary for these activities.

Once the subcontractors and material suppliers have been identified, avoid risk of having to pay twice under threat of lien by simply writing joint checks in the name of both the general contractor and the subcontractor or material supplier who contributed to your project and provided the mandatory California 20-Day Preliminary Notice. Should the subcontractor or material supplier not be paid by the general contractor, and they’ve provided you with the 20-day Notice, then they can require you to pay them directly even if the general contractor has already been paid for this line item or task. You can learn more at www.cslb.ca.gov/Resources/GuidesAndPamphlets/HomeownersGuideToPreventingMechanicsLiens.asp.


To find a Diamond Certified remodeling contractor in your area, click on one of the links below.

Alameda County: www.diamondcertified.org/alameda-contractors-remodel-additions

Contra Costa County: www.diamondcertified.org/contra-costa-contractors-remodel-additions

Marin County: www.diamondcertified.org/marin-contractors-remodel-additions

Monterey & San Benito Counties: www.diamondcertified.org/monterey-san-benito-contractors-remodel-additions

San Francisco: www.diamondcertified.org/san-francisco-contractors-remodel-additions

San Mateo County: www.diamondcertified.org/san-mateo-contractors-remodel-additions

Santa Clara County: www.diamondcertified.org/santa-clara-contractors-remodel-additions

Santa Cruz County: www.diamondcertified.org/santa-cruz-contractors-remodel-additions

Solano County: www.diamondcertified.org/solano-contractors-remodel-additions

Sonoma County: www.diamondcertified.org/sonoma-contractors-remodel-additions

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