"Experience SBI" – The Remodeling Newsletter

Want to get free tips and hints for improving the appearance and livability of your home? Trying to sell a house and want to increase the value? Or are you looking for ideas on remodeling projects? You'll find all this and a lot more in Sound Builders' newsletter "Experience SBI".kk

Take a look at our current edition below, or visit our archives for previous editions. Then be sure to subscribe, using the form on the right, so you'll keep up to date in the latest in home improvement!

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Sound Builders loves to remodel kitchens! Kitchens are places for gathering together, entertaining and whipping up tasty dishes. For the month of April, here are a few nationally recognized dates to celebrate food:

April 4th - Chicken Cordon Bleu Day

April 11th - Cheese Fondue Day

April 12th - Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

April 19th - Garlic Day

April 24th - Pigs in a Blanket Day

April 27th - Prime Rib Day

April 29th - Shrimp Scampi Day

April 30th - Oatmeal Cookie Day

So put these dates on your calendar, invite some friends over and enjoy! 

Remodeling Success 101

Q: Does stainless steel vary in appearance?

A: Yes. The stainless steel used in kitchen appliances can have a warmer or cooler hue depending on the nickel content. With this in mind, a homeowner may want to take a sample of the cabinet or wall color to the appliance showroom to see which manufacturer's stainless makes the best match.

Making Sense of Allowances

For best results, narrow down the options up front

Allowances--that is, budgeting general costs for items before the specific items are chosen--are a fact of life on many projects. Some homeowners have trouble making decisions before work begins, most commonly for appliances, cabinets, floor coverings, and plumbing and electrical fixtures. In those cases, the remodeler can allocate a dollar amount to each category and let the homeowners choose specific products later.

That doesn't mean homeowners can postpone thinking about these products altogether. For an allowance to serve the homeowners' interest, it must be based on accurate numbers. For example, the homeowners should at least decide what grade of products they want. That decision can require legwork as well as self-awareness.

The remodeler can provide typical dollar numbers for similar projects, but this is only the first step--the homeowners still need to ask follow-up questions. Say it's a $50,000 kitchen and the remodeler suggests a lighting allowance of $2500, or 5% of the budget (the average percentage for lighting according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association). How many of what kind of fixtures does that represent? How about bulbs? Recessed cans, sconces and chandeliers come in a range of prices so it's important to be realistic about like-to-haves versus must-haves.

Or take the example of tile. That $5,000 shower allowance might cover a large-format ceramic or porcelain, but what if the homeowner really wants travertine? It's best to decide up front and budget for it, including finding out whether the price includes labor.

Some people go online to compare products and prices, but the results can be misleading. Although internet pricing may show the relative costs of different grade levels, the quality and warranty coverage may not match that of products sold by a professional supply house.

In most cases, the best way to create an allowance budget is to visit the remodeler's recommended supplier or showroom. The remodeler can work with the showroom after the initial visit to generate a realistic number for the grade of products the homeowners want. The time invested in this work will yield allowances based on real-world numbers, not on guesswork or wishful thinking.

The homeowners should also consider allowances when choosing the remodeling company. Ask the remodeler's references if its allowances were realistic. Professional remodelers make sure customers understand what their budget will and won't cover because they know the customers will be happier in the end.

When requesting estimates from more than one remodeler, make sure each uses the same assumptions for each allowance item. If one bases its cabinet allowance on particleboard boxes while another assumes plywood, it's hard to make a meaningful comparison. (Comparing estimates is notoriously difficult, which is why it's better to find a trustworthy remodeler and then work with them to create a reasonable budget.)

Note that the remodeler will set a deadline for every allowance choice. Meeting this deadline is crucial to getting products delivered in time for installation. If the homeowners miss the deadline, the allowance money will still be there, but the delay will throw off the job schedule and raise the final cost.

It's best to make as many product choices as possible before work begins. But since most projects will have allowances, homeowners can keep the job running smoothly by thinking through their needs and doing their homework on schedule.

Warm regards,

Jay DePhelps, CGR, CAPS
Sound Builders Inc.
(206) 246-7100

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It is important working with a company that is responsive and keeps open lines of communication. We won’t hesitate at all contacting Sound Builders for future projects.

– Marsha and Steve P.



Sound Builders Inc. - 1- 30th St. NW, Auburn, WA 98001 Phone: 206-246-7100 or 253-859-7978 Email:
Washington State contractor license number: SOUNDB*241K0
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