All posts by Alicia Smith

So who really wants to admit to AGING anyway? There are many things that just get better with age- fine wine, art, long-time friends, or a good pair of leather boots. For some reason we tend to embrace the value of age in those cases but when it comes to US actually aging – no way.  It’s the same with the current renovation industry’s Aging-in-Place design.  Although the premise of this is a fantastic offering- the terminology sometimes turns us off.

Maybe an easier form of design to embrace is Universal design which comprehensively designs for all ages and physical abilities.  Although Universal design encompasses all ages, especially if you are purchasing or renovating the home where you plan to retire and enjoy your golden years- there are a few key design aspects to highly consider:

Entry- Are there a lot of steps leading to your main entry or is there a gradual incline or a possible ramp?  You will also want to consider if there is a covered entryway or porch which lends protection from the elements during inclement weather.  Whether you are recovering from a surgery or a new other with a huge stroller and a gazillion bags to get into the house- easy entry is a bonus.

Master Bath- The main bathroom is a key element for consideration as this will be a necessary area of use.  You will want to consider if the existing shower is curbless or can be modified to add safety grab bars and a bench for easy accessibility and mobility. You may want to think about comfort height toilet seats (17 inches vs. 15 inches) and lowered sink counters if there was ever a need for wheel chair use.  Bathroom designs are extremely important to our ease of life regardless of age.

Kitchen-  Another key area to closely consider is the kitchen- the heart of the home. Having roll-out shelving in pantries and cabinets is a huge help. You may want to update the cabinet hardware to make it easier to grip as well as incorporate soft-close drawers for safety. If you are updating your kitchen, designing it with a built-in over at counter top height and a built-in microwave in lower cabinetry can be a huge help. Families with small children will greatly benefit from the easy grip handles and soft-close drawers- small hands like to explore and slamming drawers can certainly be a safety issue.

General Layout- Single level living is key when you can’t get around as quickly or easily as you once did.  It’s also a fantastic option for families who need to be together and keep an eye on little ones.  Another thing to take into account are hallways and pathways-  having approximately 48” in width to accommodate easy mobility is helpful. Incorporate 36” interior doorways and update door knobs with levered handles which are much easier to open.  Whether the beloved hands in your home are suffering from arthritic pain or reaching on tip toe to open the door- levers are a good option.

If you need help, find a registered C.I.D.Professional that is also a certified Aging-In-Place and Universal Design Specialist.  At the end of the day- the goal is to have a home that is perfectly designed for you.

Jeremy Smith, F&S Building Innovations’ Residential Division Manager was named one of the nation’s TOP 40 Under 40 by Professional Remodeler for 2017. Jeremy oversaw the completion of close to 100 projects in 2016, totaling almost $2.2 million and over $3.1 million in 2017.  Starting at F&S Building in 2002, Jeremy worked his way through various positions from field employee, to warehouse manager, sales & design consultant to division manager, building a network of suppliers, subcontractors and an employee team that is one of the Roanoke Valley’s finest. 

Team members like Jeremy contribute to F&S Building’s long term success.  F&S has been a leading residential & commercial contractor in the valley for over 40 years, expanding over several decades from initially being a custom home general contractor to now handling millions of dollars in commercial renovations for large corporations such as Carillion, Kroger and Sheetz.  Recently, the F&S team has significantly increased their capabilities by adding options for interior design & custom decorating by a certified interior designer, as well as understanding the principles of universal design for aging in place.    

F&S Building Innovations is launching an entire new suite of custom services and solutions to help customers navigate the process of large, decision-intensive renovations. People are often weary of taking that first step to remodel a kitchen, bath or large living area.  It can be very overwhelming to choose a design, find a reputable contractor, and even how to decorate once the construction is complete.  F&S Building recognizes these concerns and has the tools available to alleviate their client’s fears and take them through the process step by step.

Any type of renovation is a big investment and the wrong choice can be costly if the customer is dissatisfied with the end result. By offering schematic renderings, F&S can take the guess work out of the process, giving the customer a true visualization of what to expect.  F&S even has the capability to supply 3D renderings, offering clients the ability to get the overall feel of a completed renovation before even starting the demolition process. 

F&S continues to raise the bar of implied expectations for their clients.  There are things that should be expected that you may not find in many contracting companies.  The F&S team will

-do a thorough ‘job walk’ prior to commencement of any project.  This allows the original design consultant who sold the project, the production manager and the construction superintendent to review the project, evaluate the jobsite for access & storage needs, as well as discuss parking needs, electrical availability and anything that may affect the construction process.  Sometimes, there are specific things to keep in mind such as special site conditions as it relates to neighbors and access to the property.

– communicate with the customer regularly while the renovation is in progress and alleviate as much of the typical construction chaos as possible.  Simply keeping customers informed of what is scheduled for the day or completion goals, as well as communicating clearly when things just don’t go as planned helps them understand what’s happening and be prepared for the process.

-always leave the jobsite neat and clean each day.  There is always a certain amount of debris and materials during the construction process but F&S does its best to tidy up before leaving each day.

-leave their customers not only satisfied but extremely pleased and anxious to refer F&S to anyone that may be considering a renovation project in the future.

F&S Building Innovations Inc. has been in business since 1976, is Licensed and Insured and holds an A+ rating with the BBB.

There are a multitude of reasons that homeowners decide to renovate.  Whether you are considering selling your home and an update would help or you simply want to better enjoy your home- any remodel is a big consideration that needs careful attention and the right contracting team.

Return on investment should always be considered- especially if you are planning to sell within the next 5 years.  If you are not planning to sell within 5 years, the return on investment is less of a concern and you can focus more on exactly what you want to achieve with the remodel.

One of the best investments you can make in your home is an updated kitchen.  After all, the kitchen is the heart of your home so ambiance and function are really important.  If you aren’t prepared to completely overhaul your kitchen there are many smaller, less invasive updates you can do that won’t break the bank such as adding a new backsplash or counter top, upgrading to stainless steel appliances, or even painting your existing cabinets.  

One of the smartest renovation trends for 2017 that is not very glorious but oh-so-worth-it, is making your home sustainable.  Installing or replacing insulation in your home can give you an ROI of 107% according to Remodeling’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report.   This is the gift that will just keep giving as your monthly energy bills are reduced month after month.

You cannot turn on the TV without seeing the latest and greatest outdoor oasis that has been created in a seemingly modest back yard.  The beauty of outdoor living is that you don’t need a huge amount of space- just the right team to help you utilize it properly.   Outdoor living can be designed to incorporate decks, patios, landscaping, pavers….the possibilities are endless if you have the vision and the right contracting team to help you accomplish it.  With all the media hype, home-buyers are often searching for homes that have that little something extra- outdoor living is a great way to snag them.

Generational changes are driving the need for renovations when families expand from core.  Baby Boomers are starting to see that they may need to move aging parents into their homes at the same time their recent college grads are returning home.  Renovating a basement or garage might be a simple way to achieve this. Depending on the size and location of your home, a mini-apartment will most likely yield a good ROI but if overdone for the neighborhood, then you may not recoup as much as you’d like. 

If you are considering a renovation project, search for a contractor that specializes in additions or remodeling.  If you are planning to move in the next few years, you may need to weigh your return on investment more heavily than if you are making changes that you will enjoy for the next 10-15 years.  To help stream-line the process find a reputable contracting team that can help you through the project from start to finish- interior design, planning, construction and even final interior decorating by a Certified Interior Decorating (C.I.D.) professional.

Any time a major or minor renovation is in your plans, there are a lot of key things to consider to insure that, in the end, all your expectations are met and you are happy with the end result.  Some of the items for consideration are the following:

DO YOUR HOMEWORK–  Prepare yourself for a realistic budget in addition to  the time period it will take to complete your project.  Although it may not be fun and no one necessarily enjoys it, it is critical to clearly understand what you are getting into.  Know what questions to ask your potential contractors. 

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR– You don’t necessarily want the cheapest materials.  Although budgeting is extremely important and you want to get the best value for your time and efforts, return on your investment is also important.  If you can’t afford to do it exactly the way you want, you may want to wait until you can seek an experienced, licensed contractor- or find a contractor that offers financing options. 

HAVE A PLAN BEFORE YOU GET STARTED –Do your best to communicate your vision clearly to any contractor you are considering.  Although the plan may be modified through the process as you work on budgets and pick finishes, keep the end result in mind as you move through the process.  A qualified contractor will be able to understand your vision and help you stay on course as you navigate the renovation.

AVOID TRENDS IF THEY ARE NOT ‘YOU’–  It’s easy to fall into the trap of choosing a finish simply because every TV show and magazine tells you that is what’s ‘in’.  Avoid this pitfall.  They’re called trends for a reason- they may, or may not, stand the test of time.  If you truly love those trends then go for it!  But if you don’t, choose something you love – after all, you are the one that will be living with it.

ANTICIPATE CHAOS – When you look up the definition of construction in Webster’s Dictionary the definition should state ‘controlled chaos’. It’s impossible to have any type of renovation in your home without some construction debris or dust.  Experienced contractors will work to alleviate this as much as possible and clean up after themselves at the end of each work day. If you have specific health needs that would be greatly affected by dust, it’s important to communicate this to your contractor. You may want to ask if they, when needed, utilize air machines or HEPA Vacuums.  You’ll also want to work with your contractor to coordinate any ‘down time’ when baths or kitchen spaces may not be usable.

SEEK EXPERIENCED CONTRACTORS – When considering a renovation contractor, ask if they have remodeling experience.  Contractors that typically build new homes may not be well versed in renovation projects where they are working in homes where you still have to live each day.  Also consider whether the contractor has a Class A License, carries General Liability, Completed Operations & Workers Compensation Insurance coverage , is rated by the Better Business Bureau, and the number of years they have been in business. When you are inviting them into your home- Experience matters!fs building art