Choosing a Home Improvement Company

Get a written contract. Most reputable companies require a written agreement for the work to be performed. Be sure to read the contract carefully, and get written approval from a company representative whenever you request and secure approval for exceptions to their normal operating procedure. This important step could minimize headaches down the road.

Include a release-of-lien clause on the contract. If your contractor will be using subcontractors to complete the job, be sure to include a release-of-lien clause to protect yourself. By doing so, subcontractors will not be able to place a lien on your property if the contractor does not pay them or otherwise breaks the legal terms of their working arrangement.

Avoid large deposits. As the old saying goes, “money is power.” Once you’ve paid for the job, you lose all of your leverage. Most reputable companies will accept a minimum deposit, with balances due at regular intervals over the project’s timeline or when the job has been completed. At each payment stage, be sure that you

How Much Does a Gazebo Cost?

A garden without a shade structure is a garden you can only enjoy from a distance. Install a gazebo and you can relax and entertain in your garden. How much does a gazebo cost? We look at several types of gazebos and their costs.

Types of Gazebos

A gazebo is any freestanding garden structure that provides shade. A gazebo can be a removeable structure with thin aluminium poles and a cloth top. It can also be a more elaborate structure designed to be a permanent structure.

A gazebo can be small or large. It can be square, rectangular, hexagonal or octagonal. It can be installed on grass or can have a timber or concrete base. A gazebo can be anything you want it to be, from a small shade structure to a larger structure designed for entertaining guests.

Where Can I Find a Gazebo?

You can find inexpensive, portable gazebos at many better hardware stores. If you want a more permanent structure, gazebo suppliers have dozens of designs you can choose from. Often, they

How much does foundation repair cost?

When do I Know I Need Foundation Repairs?

Foundation problems can occur fairly frequently. Building structures are heavy by nature and when buildings  are structured upon soil that has a weak load bearing consistency you will often discover that you  have a problem with foundation settlement.

Soil compresses (or settles as it is known in the industry) due to a number of reasons. For example the type of soil found around the  base of the house, levels of moisture changing and how soil is replaced after construction can all contribute to soil compression.

Settlement can cause some major structural issues for your home.

The structural integrity of a building depends on its foundations.  Structural engineers know how to build the most stable foundations for all types of soil and land conditions. Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do about the natural interaction between the weather and soil. Back in 2005, Australians had to shell out $350 million dollars in home repairs because the drought made the soil dry out and cause house foundations to shift. When heavy rains come, the soil

Smart Guide to Building Costs

Calculating building costs is not easy even for experienced contractors. If you are an owner builder or want to make an independent estimate, the job is much harder and it is easy to make costly mistakes. This brief guide to building costs will help you avoid some of common pitfalls.

Building Costs: The Basics

There are some basic elements of construction you have to bear in mind when estimating building costs. These include:

  • Excavation and foundations: There are reasons why large housing developments are built on level blocks – they are cheaper to build on and the cost of laying foundations can be accurately determined. If you have a sloping block, you will need to factor in extra costs for laying your foundation and may need to have excavation carried out before you can begin building.
  • Building materials vary widely in cost. For example, a timber framed brick veneer home will cost less than a full brick home.
  • Labour costs vary depending on the size of the construction, the complexity of the design and other factors. A single storey home based on standard rectangular construction will be much less expensive

The Online Interior Design Services to Know

Calling a taxi, meeting a significant other, shoe shopping—these are all activities that have moved from the real to the digital realm over the past few years, for better or for worse. It’s little surprise, then, that interior design has followed suit. Despite the belief of many traditionally-minded aesthetes that a sofa can’t be purchased nor a room outfitted online, many companies have set out to do just that. AD endeavored to find out just what they all offer, and which are the ones worth knowing. Though our selections offer differing approaches and services, they all seem to have in common a twofold mission: access and passion. “First, we want to provide an affordable design service to as many people as possible,” says Decorist’s Gretchen Hansen. Second, is sharing the love designers feel for their spaces with others. “We ask the question ‘Why don’t I love the spaces I live and work in?'” explains Homepolish founder Noa Santos. “Ultimately, it’s about helping our clients love their homes by creating a great relationship between the client and designer,” Hansen says. “From there the sky’s the limit.”

Decorist

The concept: Founder Gretchen Hansen hatched the idea for Decorist when she found a pair of Milo

Miles Redd’s 4 Steps to Stunning Painted Floors

When decorating a room, we usually get to work overhauling the walls, furnishings, and window treatments, but a key element is right beneath our feet. Renowned interior designer and decorator Miles Redd regularly uses paint to make the floors pop in his plush and playful spaces. “I love it in an entrance hall, where you’re covering a basic, not-so-special wood floor,” says Redd, who likes to bring a similar wow factor to dining rooms, kitchens, and children’s bedrooms. We asked Redd how to incorporate bold colors and striking patterns underfoot, and tapped Chris Pearson, his go-to painter, for technical tips.

Do the proper prep
You don’t need wood floors to benefit from the transformative powers of paint. Pearson, a specialty floor painter who’s worked on several of Redd’s rooms, has brushed up hardwood, linoleum, concrete, tile, and plastic flooring. No matter the material, Pearson stresses that the surface needs to be sanded down, vacuumed, and swept thoroughly before it gets a layer of primer. He suggests using a brush rather than a paint roller. “Rollers produce an orange-peel texture on the floor—the paint doesn’t adhere as well and it can affect the sheen,” he says.

Common House-Maintenance Mistakes You Could Be Making

A house is a lot like a living thing: It’s great when the systems are firing on all cylinders, but when something isn’t right, it lets you know. According to a recent survey commissioned by Liberty Mutual Insurance, one-third of American homeowners (34 percent) have faced an unexpected home repair of $5,000 or more. But the truth is that for each of those all-too-avoidable catastrophes, there was a symptom that likely went ignored. “Most of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make revolve around what they are not doing,” says celebrity designer, HGTV personality, and Liberty Mutual Insurance consultant Chip Wade. “Neglecting routine home maintenance and ignoring signs of deterioration often cause permanent damage that ends up degrading the value of your home.” Learning to properly maintain your home can eliminate a lot of the guesswork involved in its upkeep. Here, Wade outlines seven of the biggest mistakes most homeowners make when it comes to their homes—and how to avoid making them in the first place.

1. Failure to winterize properly. “Often, homeowners overlook their sprinkler systems when the cold months hit and leave water in the lines,” says Wade. “When temperatures drop, sprinkler pipes can freeze and break. You may have a

Prepare the house for the winter

While the first flurry of the season can be a striking sight, with branches covered in crystalline icicles and yards layered with fluffy blankets of white, by the time the snow builds up over the winter, it can wreak havoc on your home. If you don’t safeguard against the cold, problems can range from the pesky, like climbing gas costs, to the downright worrisome, like flooded basements. “Whether you live in a house on the water or a home in the country, prepping a residence for the winter is one of the most important tasks for homeowners,” says Stephen Fanuka, who worked with Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles, on the remodel of Queen Bey’s former New York City apartment at One Beacon Court. “Pick two or three jobs to tackle each weekend so you don’t overburden yourself. If you start in early December, you’ll be done by Christmas.” Now is the time to set aside your holiday gift list and start checking off the items on Fanuka’s guide for an improved home this winter. See below for his top tips.

1. Trim your trees

“I always tell my clients to prune the trees and shrubs

Home Projects You Do not Know

With the New Year quickly approaching, you’re probably itching to give your home a seasonal makeover. There are some projects you should just leave to the pros, but others are fair game to try yourself. Mandi Gubler has made DIY renovations and home upgrades her business as the mastermind behind the design blog Vintage Revivals. We asked her to share some simple—but still impactful—ways you could update a space without having to hire a contractor, and she offered five ideas you’ve probably never thought of before. (And they’re easy on your wallet, too.) Your weekend is about to get way more productive.

Wallpaper

Gubler swears you can turn a blank wall into a visual masterpiece with nothing more than a ruler and paint pen. “Not only does this faux wallpaper look expensive, but you can do it all by yourself for under ten bucks.” Not the best artist? No worries. She suggests sticking to a straight-lined pattern that can be measured out in pencil beforehand.

Brick façade

There’s something so charming about exposed brick walls, but they’re a rarity. Forge your own Brooklyn-style façade with thin brick veneers—available in bulk at most hardware stores—and Omnigrip. “This

Design Resolutions to Start 2017 on the Right Foot

If, like most Americans, the weight of 2016 has put you in the emotional negative, now’s your chance to achieve the balance you crave. Every new year brings with it the promise of clarity, an overwhelming sense that your best self is attainable and that you have the motivation to make it happen. But where to begin? You can resolve to improve your health or prioritize your career—lofty goals, indeed—but you’d be surprised what a little housekeeping can do for your soul. Start by identifying all the projects you’ve been putting off for a rainy day and mastering them one at a time until they’ve all been checked off your list. Need to organize that closet? Carpe diem, my friend. Been meaning to refresh your living room for aeons? Today is as good as any. Here, we’ve rounded up seven projects to tackle in 2017. You’ll be impressed by how much lighter you feel—both physically and mentally—once your home becomes as uncluttered as your mind.

Reinvent your closet. Getting your wardrobe—and where you keep it—in order can not only help you maximize your space but also streamline your morning routine, making your day more efficient before it even begins. Click

New Kitchen Trends for 2017

We kick off each year at the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, exploring the latest introductions from top brands and designers that will refresh your home. From innovative materials to color and hardware trends, there is no shortage of new ideas to take away and apply to your own kitchen or bath. Whether you’re ready for a renovation or just craving a quick fix for an old room, find inspiration in the most exciting trends that caught our eye at the show.

Matte BlackTrade in typical chrome, bronze, or stainless-steel finishes for sleek matte black, seen on everything from faucets to outdoor kitchens and window finishes. Clockwise from top: Free-standing outdoor kitchen made with Dekton by Cosentino for Brown Jordan, brownjordanoutdoorkitchens.com; Vettis closed-spout single-handle sink faucet by Brizo, brizo.com; contemporary casement with matte black hardware, and detail of hardware by Marvin, marvin.com

Industrial TouchesTextured knurling details give a modern, craftsman-like quality to faucets and hardware. Knurled lever industrial lever handle by Brizo, brizo.com, and Italian Campo U-spout lavatory faucet by ROHL, rohlhome.com

ColorWhile gray dominated color schemes last year, bright hues are in for 2017, as seen in appliances, cabinets, and tile. Clockwise from top left: 6th Avenue tiles

How to Keep Your House Clean for Longer Than 5 Minutes

So you’ve scrubbed every corner of your home until it’s sparkling. But what does it look like a few hours later? Chances are, not nearly as neat (and, for some of us, like a tornado came through). According to Becky Rapinchuk, the expert behind the blog Clean Mamaand the author of Simply Clean, the secret to ensuring your house stays relatively tidy between deep-cleans is to do a few quick chores every day to keep things in order. Before you turn in for the night, keep reading for your room-by-room to-do list.

In the living room

Every night, do a quick pickup of anything you spot out of place on the floor; think toys, TV remotes, old issues of AD. Then, turn your focus to the sofa, refolding throw blankets and fluffing up pillows. “A daily run-through-and-grab of any errant items is much easier than a weekly full-on cleanup,” explains Rapinchuk.

In the kitchen

“A clean sink is the symbol of a clean kitchen!” says Rapinchuk. “But in order for a sink to be clean, the dishes have to be done.” First things first: Make sure you’ve unloaded the dishwasher so there’s room for a new batch of dirty

How to Make Over Your Ugly Air Vents

Central air conditioning is a luxury, yes, but it does come with one particularly unsightly problem: air vents. Look around any room and your eyes are likely to snag on bright white slats marring otherwise perfectly lovely ceilings, walls, and floors. But all hope is not lost: We’ve found some genius solutions to this design dilemma, whether you want hide a vent completely or make it stand out in a good way. It might seem hard to fathom, but with the help of these ideas, it’s possible to forget those air vents were ever there.

Conceal it

Out of sight, out of mind. Architect and designer Ernesto Santalla covered the air vents in this home with architectural millwork. With its floating shelf, the installation looks like a piece of furniture.

Paint it

Hide an air vent in plain sight with a fresh coat of the same paint color you used on the walls. Voila!

Switch out the cover

Say goodbye to those sad slats and replace them with a piece of framed, patterned mesh. In illustrator and designer Jacqueline Schmidt’s bathroom, the vent is an artistic detail rather than an eyesore.

Go

Details of Tile Grout Key?

There’s no denying the importance of grout color in a kitchen or bath. “The selection of grout can truly define the character of a space based on the amount of contrast and rhythm that is introduced. The job of grout is to bring out the best in the tile or stone that it surrounds,” says Philadelphia-based interior designer Ashli Mizell. But there is one detail you may have overlooked: the spacing between the tiles. In other words, how thick the lines of grout are. “Regardless of color, keep the joints as tight as possible for a cleaner, more tailored look,” explains Mizell. “In some cases, the best result is no grout at all!”

When she does choose a grout color, Mizell takes a simple approach: “I typically prefer a grout color that represents a shade of color found within the tile or stone, and that provides a subtle contrast for definition,” she says. “I generally avoid pure white and absolute black, as these are often too harsh and can overshadow the natural material. However, once you have considered all of the elements in play, don’t be afraid to be bold!”

According to Mizell, your color options are almost endless. Along

How to Clean Velvet Furniture

Choosing velvet furniture is choosing to make a bold style statement in your space—there’s no ignoring its soft sheen, rich color, and innate elegance. But velvet’s commanding presence also means that any discoloration or stains are that much more visible. Anthropologie’s website has pages of velvet sofas and chairs to peruse, so who better to ask for advice on cleaning and caring for these luxurious pieces? According to Anne White, the brand’s head of home interiors personal styling, the first thing you should think about is actually completely unrelated to the furniture. “If you’ve opted for a bright, richly pigmented color, like navy or chartreuse, we recommend avoiding direct sunlight, which can cause the fabric to fade,” she says. “Consider window coverings substantial enough to protect your piece but lovely enough to catch the eye. The technology for window films, which block the sun’s rays without blocking your view, has improved and may be another avenue to explore.” All you need to do to the item itself is give it a good dusting. “We recommend regular vacuuming,” says White. “A soft brush can also loosen surface dirt and brush it away.”

If someone does happen to spill their cocktail on your couch,

Cleaning Tips for the Things You’re Forgetting

Vacuum, mop, dust—cleaning one’s home tends to be a checklist of the same tasks on repeat. But while you’re busy wiping down that same table for the fiftieth time, items you never thought to wash are under full assault by germs and dust mites. “I think that a lot of people have a regular rotation of things they clean in their house, but you tend to get in a rut,” says Joss & Main style director Donna Garlough. We grilled her on the most neglected household items:

Curtains

“It may not seem like they get terribly dirty, but they get a lot of household dust, pollen, and dander,” says Garlough. “And if you have a wood-burning fireplace, that can cause a lot of buildup.”

How to clean them: If your curtains are made of linen or silk with complicated detailing, head to the dry cleaner. But simple cotton ones with grommets can go straight in the washing machine. “I like to hang dry,” says Garlough. “I think they get less wrinkled.”

Throw Pillows

You know those throw pillows you rest your head on while binging on Netflix? They’re veritable dust bombs. But it’s not just the cover

Ways to Conceal an Air Conditioner

Window and wall air conditioners are the definition of an eyesore. They’re bulky, ugly, loud…and hard to give up. Admit it, there’s nothing better than entering a cool room on a blazing hot day. Luckily, this dilemma is nothing a few design tricks can’t solve. Concealing the machine entirely is your best bet (this is one of the few times paint isn’t the answer), and there are multiple ways to go about it without sacrificing style. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

Curtains

Designer Doug Meyer hung a wall of ball bearings in this living room, which he says “slightly moves, almost creating this kinetic sculpture” when the A/C is turned on.

Custom covers

Wooden slats allow air to flow through but appear to be just another architectural detail. They blend in even further when they’re an extension to another furnishing, like kitchen cabinetry or a floating shelf.

Cabinets

Lockers have built-in vents, making them the perfect vestibule for your A/C. A tall bespoke cabinet can conceal a unit located higher on a wall. (But note you’ll need to open the doors to get the breeze.)

Plants

Dealing with a central

Wicker Furniture Care Tips

Wicker furniture isn’t just for country houses anymore. Even the most minimalist of spaces can benefit from the addition of these warm natural-fiber pieces—that is, until they start to age. Left alone, the furniture will eventually become brittle, warped, and potentially too damaged to sit on. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; a few protective measures will go a long way, says Alison Davin of San Francisco interior design firm Jute Home. Here’s what you’ll need to do to ensure your beloved bench or perfect pair of armchairs never falls into disrepair.

Keep furniture inside

Although your wicker and rattan pieces probably look fantastic out on your deck, it’s best to use them indoors or on a completely protected porch, where they aren’t subject to the weather. “The sun causes the fibers to become dry and brittle and the glue joints to loosen,” Davin explains. “Conversely, too much moisture from dew, rain, and snow can cause the furniture’s rattan and hardwood frames to warp.”

Clean it like any other surface

“Wicker and rattan furniture should be kept as dust-free as possible by vacuuming it regularly using the soft-bristle brush attachment,” says Davin. “For dust and

Ways to Remove Water Stains from Wood

Being in the middle of a great party is the best feeling—you’re surrounded by the buzz of conversation, the clink of glasses, the glow of candles. But then there’s the worst feeling, which you are sure to experience when you catch sight of the water rings dotting your coffee table the next day. Luckily, just like all the dirty glasses, these spots can disappear fast. “White rings on wood furniture reflect the moisture that has soaked into the top layers of the wood finish. Basically, it’s moisture that gets into wax, which naturally clouds up,” explains Sabrina Fierman, vice president of luxury cleaning service New York’s Little Eves. Here are her tried-and-true methods for removing those pesky marks:

A hair dryer

Put your hair dryer on its lowest setting and direct it at the water ring. “Be sure to move the dryer around so there is no direct heat and the wood doesn’t overheat,” warns Fierman.

Mayonnaise or petroleum jelly

Apply a dab of either substance with a soft cloth and rub it into the mark in a circular motion. “If the stain is not removed completely, apply more product and leave on for an hour or

Here’s Why Your House Is Always So Freaking Dusty

One day, your home is sparkling clean, the next, it’s covered in a layer of dust. There might be no more frustrating housekeeping conundrum, and we’ve all been there. Perhaps endless dust is just one of those things we have to learn to deal with, but Kadi Dulude, owner of New York City cleaning service Wizard of Homes, names a handful of reasons your home could be particularly dirt-prone—plus the best ways to tackle the grime. Get ready for a few aha! moments. . .
You keep the windows open
Fresh air isn’t the only thing streaming into your home, especially if you live in a busy city or are near roadwork.

You have a lot of synthetic upholstery
“I notice that synthetic materials attract more dust than natural surfaces like wood and stone,” says Dulude. Grab your vacuum to suck up any dust that’s settled on your sofa or armchairs. “Every once in while, I would also recommend steam cleaning,” she adds.
You recently renovated (or your neighbor did)
“Construction dust is difficult to get out as it keeps floating in the air and slowly settles over a long period of time,” explains Dulude.
You have