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Whole House Remodel Case Study

A Real-World Whole House Renovation For nearly two decades, Chris and Jeff Merry were living in the past. Originally built in 1969, their Palos Verdes home was semi-updated in the 1980’s. Everything was white…unless it was mauve. Each window was outlined in plain ranch molding. A river-rock fireplace façade loomed over the living room. The […]

Local Manhattan Beach Resident Bill Simone Named Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year

Manhattan Beach, CA – June 4, 2014. Three innovative ideas are what led to Bill Simone, President of Custom Design & Construction, being named the 2014 Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year. The award is one of the remodeling industry’s highest honor. A panel of judges from Case Design/Remodeling, Inc., Hanley-Wood and Harvard University’s […]

2013 Chrysalis Award for Remodeling Excellence

Residential Exterior Over $100,000   Before After This design/build project encompassed the complete exterior remodel. The homeowners wanted to take a 150’s tract house and create a Tuscan villa feel. They felt that their home looked uninteresting and dated. They had recently replaced their upstairs windows, which ended up leaving scars on the Spanish lace […]

Avoiding Common Remodeling Misconceptions

Building on last week’s blog about asking the right questions, this week we’ll talk about how to avoid common remodeling misconceptions. As we’ve stated, remodeling a home is a major financial and emotional investment. Making sure expectations are managed and misconceptions are avoided makes all the difference in the world.

Here’s how we recommend avoiding common remodeling misconceptions.

The Better Business Bureau – if the Better Business Bureau doesn’t have any complaints against the contractor, don’t be fooled. Many contractors, though they have no BBB complaints, do not do a satisfactory job, much less a superior one. To ensure you, as a homeowner, are dealing with a reputable professional, use the BBB as a starting place for research, but not the only place! And remember, companies pay to be listed with the BBB.

Too Good To Be True – yes, moving forward with the lowest estimate saves you money, for now. Homeowners tend to look for the lowest price, but when it comes to remodeling your home, ask yourself what is being left out or what shortcuts are being taken. One of the most common signs of trouble ahead is a contractor offering to do work for much less than his or her competitors.

DIY – with so many shows on TV promising to help homeowners save money with DIY projects, it is easy to get wrapped up in the hype. Sure, sometimes the weekend warrior can undertake small projects like painting, hanging wallpaper and routine repairs, but be aware of taking on larger, more complicated projects. All too often a job becomes overwhelming and ends up costing more to have a reputable professional come in and fix what’s been done.

Experience – does experience equal quality? In short, no! Take experience claims with a grain of salt. Just because a contractor claims to have 20 years of experience does not mean that the homeowner will get what he or she wants. Make sure you investigate further to ensure you’re dealing with a qualified professional.

These are just a few ways to avoid common remodeling misconceptions. For more information, stop in to our design and inspiration center to set up a free meeting with one of our talented designers.

Asking the Right Questions

Last week we discussed how to find the right contractor or design firm. This week, we’ll talk about what questions homeowners should ask once they’ve found the right contractor. Remodeling is a major financial and emotional investment, by asking the right questions, homeowners will learn what to expect and how to protect themselves.

Here are the right questions to ask your contractor or design firm:

Are you licensed? For a contractor or design firm not being licensed is illegal. Check your contractor and design firm’s license status by visiting, or call the Contractors State License Bureau at 1-800-321-CSLB.

Do you carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance? If your contractor or design firm does not carry workers’ compensation or liability insurance, as the homeowner, you may be liable for any injuries suffered by the contractor or onsite employees while on the property, as well as property damage.

Will you provide me with a written lien waiver? This legal document confirms the homeowner’s identity and notes that the contractor or design firm has been paid in full for the services rendered. It additionally, states the contractor waives the right to place a mechanic’s lien on the property.

Will you pull the required building permits? This is crucially important to ensure that everything is done to code. If a contractor or design firm asks you, as the homeowner, to pull the permits it may be a warning sign that they are not in good standing with the building department.

Do you guarantee your work? All work should be guaranteed for at least one year and preferably much longer.

Who will be in charge of the job? Make sure the contractor, design firm or designated foreman is onsite whenever work is being done – especially if subcontractors are being used.

Will you provide me with references? A good contractor or design firm will provide references from the last six months to one year. Additionally, homeowners should ask for the name of the contractor’s accountant or banker, to make sure everything is in good standing and financially sound – homeowners don’t want their contractor or design firm going bankrupt in the midst of a project.

What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business? We touched on this a bit last week, but repeat or referral business indicates pleased clients. It’s important.

How many projects, like mine, have you completed in the past year?  Don’t let yourself or your home become the experiment. Make sure there is a level of expertise associated with the scope of work.

How do you handle “dirty work?” Discuss what needs to happen in terms of keeping the project area clean. Make sure that the contractor or design firm has a plan in place to keep the dust contained or notify you when the heavy dust generating operations will take place – to ensure other preparations can be made.

Are you RRP certified by the EPA? If the home was built prior to 1978, there may be special requirements of the contractor or design firm to notify and protect the homeowner from lead dust contaminants.

To learn more about what questions to ask your contractor or design firm, visit our website at You may also set up a free, no obligation meeting with one of Custom Design & Construction’s award-winning designers by calling 310-815-4815.