Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

October 18, 2010

Home Improvement Projects Made Easy (Part 2)

In this post we continue our look at making your home improvements a breeze.

19. Refrain from running a time clock. This creates an atmosphere of distrust and may not be effective or a money-saver.
20. Save money by doing minimal tasks on your own, such as clean up and painting.
21. Review the sample materials, especially the paint chips and color swatches prior to the order.
22. Select your colors and finishes before the painter arrives to keep the schedule moving.
23. Have a “go-to-guy.” Pick someone to be the key contact between the
contractor and the family. This will help keep communication clean & clear and avoid confusion.
24. Be specific about where you want electrical outlets located and how many you want. By doing so, the electrical estimate should be more accurate.
25. Demolition should begin only after the new equipment and supplies have arrived. Particularly windows, doors, appliances or any other essential items.
26. To avoid loss, remove any valuables or easily damaged items from the work site.
27. Children and pets in the work zone should be avoided. Alternative arrangements should be made during work time if you are not present.
28. If possible, plan for a vacation or time away during the most disruptive part of the project, such as floor refinishing. This will allow you to come back refreshed for the remainder of the job.
29. If a change is made, be sure to have the new agreement put in writing before the work begins.
30. To prevent dust from the site landing in other areas, seal the entry point with plastic sheeting and blue painter’s tape.
31. Be courteous of your neighbors and inform the work crew where your property lines are located to prevent materials from being placed in the wrong area.
32. Keep your eye on the prize. Although the project will be disruptive, the end result will be worth it.
33. Schedule a final walk through inspection with your contractor. Make a note of any tasks that need completed.
34. Request an Affidavit of Final Release once the job is complete and the final payment is made. This clears you of any liability for third-party claims.

With a careful planning and a knowledgeable contractor, you’re well on your way to an awesome new space!

Click here for Home Improvement Projects Made Easy Part 1.

October 8, 2010

Women don’t want a ‘cave’ downstairs… they want a ‘subterranean sanctuary’!

Yea, we’ve all heard about the ultimate ‘man cave’ finished basement. You know, the place where a man can drink beer and talk sports with his buddies on Sunday’s.

But what about the ladies? They make up a large portion of homeowners and in most cases are the ones initiating remodeling projects in their homes. So, I wondered, what would their dream basement renovation consist of? I figured I’d go right to the source, so via LinkedIn I asked some Central PA women this very question. What did I learn?

First off, they don’t want anything resembling a ‘cave’. “Women don’t want a cave – we want a retreat for relaxation or a fun space to socialize with family/friends”, says Deanna Fox of The Fox Groupe. Barbara Tabak of Decorating Den Interiors puts it simply “(Women) want a sanctuary to retreat to at the end of a hectic day.”

The recurring theme for all of the women was relaxation. When I asked for a better name than ‘women cave’ (hey, it sounded clever at the time…), words that came up were sanctuary, haven, retreat… words implying peace and quiet more than the place an animal lives. Alicia Miller of Rock Commercial Real Estate puts it perfectly: “we want a place to get away from all the everyday busyness of life and just be ourselves.”

Now, I did ask these ladies to consider their perfect basement without size or budget restraints. Lutricia Zerfing of Roundtop Mountain Resort said her perfect basement “would consist of a wet bar, sectional couch, large screen TV, universal gym, a large desk with ample storage to work on my hobbies and a sewing machine!” Of course your project must take into consideration the size of your basement and your budget. They all do… yes, even the highest-end projects, but don’t let these discourage you. By getting creative with your space and décor, you can save yourself money.

Usually you have space for at least a few different areas downstairs. These do not necessarily have to be different rooms either. While you could always put a wall in, you could also consider a divider of sorts that is only a few feet high. Maybe a small wet bar behind a countertop and cabinets? A half wall is another option. Not only will it give you some separation, it will also be a nice place for plants, pictures or a lamp. You can also save money by painting yourself. Work with your contractor on similar ideas to maximize your budget and your space.

Arts and crafts and other hobbies such as painting and sewing can be considered in one section of the basement. A place for exercise is always a great option as well. The finished basement is perfect for the yoga mat, treadmill and exercise ball. The hottest trend we are seeing? Many women (and men) here in Lancaster County, PA transform their basement into a home office. With wi-fi internet and some good lighting, you could cut your commute to a flight of stairs.

As Catherine Lockley of oz 2 designs LLC said: “I would have space and designated areas to practice oil painting, kickboxing, video gaming, crafting and sewing. At the end of a free day there would be scuffs and paint on the floor.” I loved the responses I got from all of the women I talked to. Fun was at the forefront of the conversation. Deena Malley, of DCM, told me her basement “would have hardwood or laminate floors with mirrors on one wall – to accommodate a sudden Flashdance urge or for an 80s dance off :)”. And remember; this is a team project – both you and your remodeling contractor should be ready and willing to have some fun!

Design & Décor
With that, why don’t we talk about the really fun part of this process?! Yep, I’m talking DESIGN & DÉCOR. JP Shaw of the Central Penn Business Journal says it better than I ever could; “My subterranean sanctuary would be really pretty – a place where I don’t have to compromise design with my husband. I would use vibrant colors, really modern design, lots of fluffy pillows, lamps with crystal lampshades and tons of texture in the room (textured paintable wallpaper, sisal rug, velvet couch, shaggy pillows, metal and glass artistic coffee table).” Now that’s a vision! A lot of lamps will help provide a warmer atmosphere than those overhead bulbs or fluorescent lights. Large pillows and comfy sofas will increase the relaxation and joy for you, your family and your guests. The textures, well they speak for themselves. A few ladies mentioned mirrors as well. These will really help open the room up, which is especially helpful when your space is limited.

As for vibrant colors, they are often a good choice in a room with little natural light. If you want to go warmer with the paint, consider darker shades. Benjamin Moore Paints says different shades in the red, orange and yellow families can be considered warm (darker) or vibrant (brighter). I always recommend that our clients put together a ‘project idea folder’ where they can brainstorm ideas for colors, design, function and everything else. Buy some home décor magazines or search online for pictures to get ideas that shout out “I am the beautiful adornment of your utopian paradise!” And don’t forget – HAVE SOME FUN!

As with any home renovation project, find an experienced remodeler you feel comfortable working with. Basement remodeling is a team sport, and when you and your contractor approach it that way you will be overwhelmed at the transformation taking place in your cold, informal storage floor!

Whatever you call your ‘subterranean sanctuary’ in Lancaster County, PA, please keep MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC in mind when it’s time to remodel your basement.

Thank you,

Matt Blank

The Shocking Blue Green Theme. Blog at


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