Powell Custom Homes and Renovations' Blog

2017 Remodeling Trends in the West Seattle area

Posted by Brooks Powell on Dec 3, 2016 6:46:00 AM

2017-Remodeling-Trends-in-the-Seattle-area.jpgWhat is it that homeowners are really looking for as they consider remodeling projects for their homes? What are the remodeling trends that homeowners really care about? Let’s be clear up front: What we’re talking about is not which colors are “hot” for 2017 in Seattle homes. We’re also not talking about whether chrome, nickel, or brass are the “right” choices for the faucets in your West Seattle home. What we’re considering here are the lifestyle changes (long range) that affect the way people in the Seattle area remodel their homes.

So what are the things that homeowners are thinking about—and wanting to do? In a recent (October 2016) survey of remodelers (who work for homeowners) by The Farnsworth group, there are nine things that top the list”

  • Aging in Place (41.2 percent)
  • Energy Efficiency (33.8 percent)
  • Home Automation (28.4 percent)
  • Outdoor Living (28.4 perdent)
  • Multi-generational Housing (24.5 percent)
  • Healthy Home (22.5 percent)
  • Recycled Materials (21.6 percent)
  • Sustainability (20.6 percent)
  • Home Security (17.2 percent)

Source remodeling.hw.net 

So what does that information mean for you if you’re considering a remodel? For one thing, it’s an indication of the kinds of things that Seattle-area homeowners consider important to ensure their homes are comfortable and will continue to meet their needs for years. But it also provides a look at what homebuyers are looking for. So if you have future plans to sell your home, the people who will be looking to purchase will be looking for homes that offer things on the list above.

The practical implication for you if you’re considering remodeling your Seattle-area home is that it makes sense to inform yourself about some of those topics before you launch into a remodeling project. It allows you to accomplish two things at once. You may simply want more room for your family, but with the help of a professional design/build remodeler you might be able to make that space one that accommodates aging in place. Or if you’re expanding living space you can do it in a way that will work for a multi-generational family(whether that’s your family or the family of someone who might want to purchase your home down the road).  And if one of your goals is to increase your entertaining space, you might want to look at a plan that includes elements of outdoor living.

Walls can be repainted. Faucets and light fixtures can be replaced. Pillows and rugs can be switched out for fabrics and colors that are in vogue. But when you’re looking at a significant remodeling of the space in which you live—it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the trends that reflect changes in lifestyle.



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Topics: seattle Remodeler, 2017 West Seattle remodeling trends, trends that impact lifestyle, what homeowners really want from remodel

What Are The Things That Make a West Seattle Home Remodeling Experience a Good One?

Posted by Brooks Powell on Nov 28, 2016 6:00:00 AM

What-Are-The-Things-That-Make-a-Seattle-Home-Remodeling-Experience-a-Good-One.jpgEverybody seems to have a remodeling nightmare story that they’ve heard—or lived through. We’ve all heard about broken promises, blown budgets, extensive delays, and other things that resulted in not-so-happy endings to homeowners’ remodeling stories.

But what are the things that result in happy endings and delighted customers? What makes a remodeling experience go smoothly—and even causes homeowners to go back to the same remodeler for additional projects?

I could tell you what I think is important, but what really matters is what our clients tell us made their remodeling experience great. Here are some of the things they highlighted.

  • Understand Expectations: Clients wanted to make sure we knew what they expected and what was important to them
  • Competency and Relationship: It was important for clients to be confident in our capability and feel comfortable dealing with us
  • A Realistic Schedule: Because customers have lives beyond the remodeling project they want to know when they can get on with their lives
  • Attention to Detail: It was important not only that the job be done but that it looked right
  • Professional Connections: Clients wanted to know that we had good relations with subcontractors and suppliers so that things would go smoothly
  • Attention to Workspace: It was important for customers to have a clean workspace when we weren’t there so they could have minimal disruption
  • Handling Problems: Every job has some issues and our customers wanted those problems dealt with efficiently and pleasantly
  • Flexibility: When clients’ expectations were different than what we thought they appreciated an attitude of wanting meeting their needs
  • Quality: For our clients, quality was of primary importance
  • Courtesy: Customers expressed appreciation for subcontractors and team members who were punctual, courteous, and cleaned up before they left

Those are just a few of the comments our customers shared with us about why they enjoyed working with Powell Homes and Renovations. To hear a few specific comments for yourself, I invite you to take a look at these very short videos that talk about experiences in remodeling a bathroom and kitchen and another bathroom remodel in the Seattle area.


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Topics: Seattle Home Remodeler, great West Seattle remodeling experience, keys to successful remodeling in Seattle

2 Times When Remodeling Makes More Sense Than Buying a New Home

Posted by Brooks Powell on Nov 19, 2016 6:45:00 AM

2-Times-When-Remodeling-Makes-More-Sense-Than-Buying-a-New-Home.jpgChange is a big part of life. As you and your family change, so do your needs. So what do you do if the West Seattle home you’ve been living in no longer fits your family’s needs or lifestyle?

You can look for an existing home that’s for sale in a neighborhood you like that fits your price range. Of course when purchasing an existing home it may not be configured exactly the way you want it.

You could consider the possibility of building a brand new home. That assumes you can find a new home in an area you like, and that you have the time to invest in researching, planning, picking a builder, and actually building the home.

A third option is to take a look at remodeling your existing home. So how do you decide which option makes more sense? Here’s a look at two times when remodeling may actually make more sense than buying or building a new home.

  1. When You Really Like the Home You’re Living In: It’s possible that you still really enjoy the home you’re in, but that it simply isn’t large enough for a growing family or it isn’t as entertainment-friendly as you’d like it to be. Or maybe it’s not quite as convenient and comfortable as you’d like and you’d like something more energy efficient.

It could be that you love the architectural style of the home you’re in (it’s why you bought it in the first place)—or at least certain elements of it and want to build around those elements.

Remodeling can give you the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. You can keep—and even enhance—the elements of your home that you enjoy, but you can also re-shape it to make it more comfortable, convenient, and energy efficient.

  1. When the Community You Live in Feels Like Home: Often, one of the driving factors for people living where they do is the sense of community they experience. Maybe you’re in a community where you enjoy really good relationships with neighbors. Perhaps your kids have great friends they would have to leave if you moved. Or maybe the stress and uncertainty of changing schools would be hard on your kids.

Remodeling can mean that you get to stay in a neighborhood where you have solid relationships and feel at home.

Of course if you’re really going to remodel in a way that results in your home meeting changing needs, it’s going to involve more than simply updating the flooring or painting your basement walls.

Whether you want to remodel your basement to take advantage of unused space, remodel your kitchen to make it more efficient and easier for entertaining, or remodel your whole house to better fit your lifestyle, we can help. We’ve been building and remodeling homes in the Seattle area for more than 107 years. I invite you to take a look at a few of the recent remodeling projects we’ve worked on in the region.

If remodeling makes more sense for you, we’d love to help you turn your existing house into a home you’ll love—and be comfortable in—for years!


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Topics: build vs. remodel in West Seattle, Seattle Design-Build Remodeler, advantages to remodeling

Why Timeless Works Better Than Trendy in Seattle Home Design

Posted by Brooks Powell on Nov 13, 2016 9:26:00 PM

Why_Timeless-Works-Better-Than-Trendy-in-Seattle-Home-Design.jpgThere are some people who become fixated on the latest trends when planning to build a new home in the Seattle area. They scour online sites like Houzz.com to make sure they’re on the cutting edge when it comes to color combinations, fixtures, and countertop materials.

It’s not a bad thing to stay on top of trends. Home design, however, is about more than picking the right wall colors, faucets, and light fixtures. After all, you can repaint your walls, replace your faucets, and swap out light fixtures (and yes, those things will cost you some money). What’s a bigger deal is when the overall design of your home won’t fit your family’s needs.

Good design looks first and foremost at how the space you have available is used for your most important daily activities. If you cook a lot or if family events and entertaining tend to focus around your kitchen, you’ll want to build to reflect that. The organization of the space is essential for making you, your family, and your guests more comfortable. Those kind of considerations aren’t going to change much over time. The same is true with other rooms in your home. Good home design is timeless. It continues to deliver value and comfort even when styles change.

That’s one advantage to working with a design-build builder. The plan for you home starts with creating a plan or design that fits your needs—rather than something that is convenient for the builder. The plan is created to emphasize what’s important to you in your new home. And because you’re dealing with the same company that’s actually going to execute that plan you get the benefit of a coordinated effort. You won’t have the builder complaining that it’s impossible to build what the designer drew up.

Many individuals, of course, find it helpful to start with a floor plan instead on a blank sheet of paper. If you want to peruse some plans to give yourself an idea of the general direction you want your home to take, we have dozens of floor plans that will help you get started.

However you want to start, make sure you pay attention to timeless design that provides you with long range comfort, convenience, and flexibility before you worry too much about the latest color combinations and finish styles. What’s popular in those areas will change over time. Good design, however, is timeless.


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Topics: Seattle Design-Build Homebuilder, balancing trends and design, Seattle home design, form and function in new Seattle homes

Finding a Reputable Remodeler in Your Seattle Neighborhood

Posted by Brooks Powell on Nov 8, 2016 5:02:00 PM

Finding-a-Reputable-Remodeler-in-Your-Seattle-Neighborhood.jpgIf you’re thinking about remodeling your Seattle-area home finding a reliable, reputable remodeler is a huge first step. “The Seattle area,” however covers a lot of ground. The U.S. Census Bureau puts the population at more than 3,733,000 people with a geography that covers King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties—within the greater Puget Sound region.

That’s a pretty big area, so what makes a company a “local Seattle-area” remodeler? How do you select a remodeler who knows your neighborhood and community—and is known and respected in that same area?

One thing to take a look at is what kind of experience a company has in your specific neighborhood. Every homeowner knows that references are important for builders and remodelers. And it’s important to do more than simply get a list of clients from a remodeler. You’ll want to dig a little deeper to see how satisfied the homeowner was with the results—and the whole remodeling process. But are you really going to visit another homeowner who lives on the other side of the metro area to see how their remodeling project went? That’s why it’s important to find someone who has actually done work in your area.

Powell Homes and Renovations has been building and remodeling homes in the Seattle area for four generations. Over the last 107+ years we’ve built and remodeled thousands of homes  from Normandy Park, to Kent, West Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Des Moines, Burien, and Federal Way. If you check our houzz.com projects page you’ll find more than 80 current projects from just about every part of the metro area. It’s pretty likely that you’ll find something pretty recent from your neck of the woods.

If you want to hear actual comments from past clients describing the process, you can check out video tesimonials from people who live in the same community you live in.

Frankly, the best way to find a reputable remodeler in your Seattle-area neighborhood is to talk to your neighbors and find out whom they’ve used and how happy they are with the outcome. We’ve been in the area for a long time. We know your neighborhood and we know your neighbors—and more importantly, they know us!


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Topics: Bellevue, Des Moines, Normandy Park, seattle Remodeler, Federal Way, Kent, Burien, West Seattle, Tacoma

How to Find the Best Seattle Homebuilder For YOU

Posted by Brooks Powell on Nov 5, 2016 7:02:00 AM

How-to-Find-the-Best-Seattle-Homebuilder-For-YOU.jpgThere are certain essentials you’ll want to have in place before building your Seattle-area dream home: The right location; the best floor plan for your family’s lifestyle; the best possible financing; and the best builder for the kind of home you want to build.

There are a lot of builders in the Seattle Metro area, so how do you go about finding the best one for your specific needs? To be honest, some of the criteria for evaluating builders can be backed up with hard data, while other factors are a bit subjective. Both are important. Let’s take a look at a few of each.

Let’s start with the ones that can be backed up with data. One of the key qualifications you’ll want to insist on when selecting a builder is experience. It’s not just the number of years that a builder has been around that matters (although our family has been building homes in the Seattle area for 107 years!). You’ll also want to know that the builder you’re working with has built homes of the same scope and quality that you’re planning.

One way you can do that it to check the references of prospective builders. But don’t settle for just a list of names on a piece of paper. Take it a step further and talk to some past clients to see what they have to say. Look at examples of the work. Make sure it demonstrates that this builder has the skills to perform what he’s promising.

Make sure any builder you consider will stand behind his or her work. Most builders cover workmanship and materials on things such as siding and stucco, doors, trim, drywall and paint for one year. At Powell Custom Homes, we’ve actually doubled that time frame to two years because we believe that the quality of the work we do makes that a safe bet for us—and it gives our clients an added degree of confidence. Our goal isn’t just to meet the terms of the warranty; it’s to make our clients happy. 

There are, however, some very important subjective criteria you’ll want to consider. When you look at examples of what builders have done, take note of their sense of style. Different people like different styles. Find a builder whose style reflects the kind of home you want to live in.

Look for a homebuilder who listens to what you want. It’s your home. You need to find a builder who is willing to pay attention to the things that are important to you and not just build to the plan he’s drawn up because it’s easier for him.

Listening isn’t enough. You’ll also want to find a builder that is creative enough to come up with a plan that helps you fulfill your vision for the home you want—without blowing your budget.

And finally, you’ll want to deal with a builder you’re comfortable with. That doesn’t mean you have to be best friends and send each other Christmas cards. You should, however, be comfortable having this builder in your home. This can be very subjective, but if it doesn’t feel right—walk away.

In short, use both the objective and subjective cues you pick up from builder interviews to make sure that you select the best Seattle-area homebuilder for you.


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Topics: Seattle home builder, selecting quality Seattle homebuilder

Holiday Dread: The Drama of an Outdated Kitchen

Posted by Brooks Powell on Nov 1, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Holiday-Dread-The-Drama-of-an-Outdated-Kitchen.jpgMany of us have mixed feelings about “The Holidays.”  Often there is excitement and anticipation of having family and friends together for meals and conversation.

For some, however, having guests over can result in a bit of drama—especially if your West Seattle kitchen (where everybody tends to hang out) is outdated, crowded, or inefficient. Struggling to take care of family and guests in an inadequate kitchen can suck some of the joy out of the holidays.

If you truly want to make your kitchen more useable, efficient, and welcoming, you’re probably going to need to do more than replace appliances and resurface the cabinets. One of the challenges, of course, is that it can be hard to look at your existing kitchen and envision what it could be with a professional remodeling. A good design-build remodeler is trained to see not just what’s currently there in your kitchen space, but also to envision how the space can be better used.

We recently did a full kitchen renovation at a Kent Lake House that addressed both visual and functional design issues for this most important room. Not only did this remodel help create an open and spacious feel with a contemporary design twist, but it also kept original design elements in play so that the kitchen flowed naturally into the rest of the home.

Some of the new features included:

  • Extensive use of natural light to illuminate both the kitchen and dining room
  • Installation of black appliances and counter tops to give the kitchen a sleek, streamlined look
  • Inclusion of large windows to brighten the kitchen and add visual interest
  • Installation of dark stone flooring that is both beautiful and easy to clean
  • Implementation of lighter wood cabinets to balance the darker tones in the kitchen

If you’d like to take a look at how the finished kitchen turned out, you can see the results on our houzz.com page.

You don’t have to dread entertaining in your kitchen over the holiday. The right ideas, the right design, and the right execution of your plan can turn your Seattle-area kitchen into a room you and your guest will love being in anytime of the year!


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Topics: West Seattle Kitchen Remodeling, West Seattle Home Remodeler, updating your West Seattle-area kitchen

5 Corners You Never Want to Cut When Building Your New Seattle Home

Posted by Brooks Powell on Oct 29, 2016 6:01:00 PM

5-Places-You-Should-Never-Skimp-When-Building-Your-Seattle-Home_.jpgEverybody talks about the fact that your home is generally the single largest private investment you’ll ever make. So if you’re planning to build a new home in the Seattle area you know you’re going to spend some money. In spite of that, homeowners are sometimes tempted to try to save a little money during the process.

That’s understandable. After all, nobody wants to pay more than they really should. But when it comes to building your Seattle-area dream home, there are some places where you simply don’t want to skimp.  Let’s look at five corners you never want to cut when building your new home.

  1. Your Location: We’ve all heard the “location, location, location” mantra of real estate professionals. The thing is, those folks are right. The piece of property you build on makes up a considerable portion of your home’s cost. But the price of the lot is just the tip of the iceberg. Your lot plays a huge role in your enjoyment of your home. There are obvious advantages to a good lot—such as great views and convenience to schools, shopping, and work. But you’ll also need to consider access to utilities (water, sewage, electric, etc.). A cheap lot doesn’t really save you money if you have to pay extra to access those things. And the lot’s suitability for building is another big factor. If your builder has to do a lot of extra prep work in order to put in the foundation, those costs will eat up any savings you may have thought you were getting.
  1. Your Design: Some homeowners try to save a few bucks by purchasing a cheap floor plan or home design. The fact is that you can actually download some plans for free. But this is really one of those situations in which you get what you pay for. Everything in your home depends on the design. Having a great design ensures you’ll get a home that fits your needs and tastes. And if you have the same company creating the design and building the home, you can avoid any finger pointing. The builder and designer are on the same team.
  1. Your Kitchen: The family kitchen is arguably the most-used room in the home. It’s both a “working” room (for food preparation) and a social center for everything from stand-up meals, to homework, to entertaining guests. In the more than 107 years that we’ve been building homes in the Seattle area we’ve never had someone complain that their kitchen was too large or too well designed.
  1. Your Family Room: Once again, this is a room that will see a lot of use. Resist the temptation to cut the size of your family room. It doesn’t have to be cavernous, but you’ll want to make sure that there’s plenty of space for all the activities your family may do here. And if you have smaller children keep in mind that they’ll grow! A small family room may be fine when they/re toddlers, but when they’re teens—and bring friends over—you’ll want more space. It will cost you a lot less to build it slightly bigger now than if you decide you need to add space later.
  1. Your Storage Space:Even though storage space is one of the last things many new homeowners think of, it’s one of the first things they notice when there isn’t enough. Plan plenty of space for walk-in closets (at least in the Master Bedroom), linen closets and even hidden storage space. A major trend in kitchen design is to take advantage of hidden or wasted space for storage. But you may want to talk to your builder about using space under stairs for extra storage.

There’s no benefit in paying more for a new Seattle home than you should, but there are places where you simply shouldn’t cut corners because you won’t get the home you really want—and you might actually end up paying more than you thought in the long run.



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Topics: Seattle homebuilder, financial shortcuts that can backfire, deceptive “savings”

West Seattle Remodeling: Sometimes What You See Isn’t as Bad as What You Don’t See

Posted by Brooks Powell on Oct 25, 2016 7:01:00 AM

Seattle-Deck-Remodeling-Sometimes-What-You-See-Isnt-as-Bad-as-What-You-Dont-See.jpgOne of the more common reasons homeowners give for wanting to remodel is that they just don’t like how something looks.  And while that’s an absolutely valid reason for remodeling, the sad truth is that sometimes what they see isn’t as bad as what is below the surface.

We’ve all seen images of icebergs and know the truth behind those images: What’s below the surface is a bigger problem than what’s visible above!

When it comes to remodeling and renovation projects, that truth is unfortunately played out over and over. It’s one reason that remodeling projects sometimes go over the initial estimate.

It’s not always a simple financial issue. It’s easy to focus on something as simple as the deck surface.  But maybe your deck requires something more than simply a new coat of stain. For instance, you may have a board or two that feels “soft”. Or maybe there’s a squeak that drives you crazy. You might be tempted to simply remove existing deck boards and replace the ones that are bothering you. But will that solve the problem? It could be that you need to repair a damaged joist.

And what about that deck railing that wobbles a bit? Is it something a few screws can tighten up—or is there a more significant structural issue at play? And by the way—will you need a permit in order to undertake the repairs you have in mind?

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not suggesting that every little issue is hiding some dangerous problem. But safety (and your enjoyment of your home) is something you need to take seriously. And if you live in an older home, you can face additional challenges due to changes in building codes and increased wear and tear on materials. A qualified professional can review your situation and advise you as to whether you need significant repairs—or if a simple and inexpensive fix will take care of your issues.

You don’t have to live your life looking for “icebergs” hidden beneath the surface of your home. But it’s good to have a professional remodeler in your corner who knows whether you’re facing a real iceberg or just an ice cube that can be easily dealt with.



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Topics: building permits, Deck surface, Repair damaged joist, West Seattle HomeRemodeler, Beams, Deck railing Remove existing deck boards

Building a New Home in King County? Avoid TheseTop 2 Mistakes

Posted by Brooks Powell on Oct 15, 2016 6:01:00 AM

Top-2-Mistakes-To-Avoid-When-Building-a-New-Home-In-King-County.jpgBuilding your own home in King Country can be extremely rewarding. After all, it’s your chance to create the dream home you’ve always wanted—designed to reflect your personality and lifestyle. The phrase, “build your own home,” however, can lead some individuals into a situation where they are in over their heads. Let’s look at two mistakes you’ll want to avoid in order to keep that from happening.

  1. Overestimating Your Ability to Be Your Own Contractor:Some people think that in order to ensure they get exactly what they want, they will need to oversee every single step of the building process. If you’re not used to that process, that can be overwhelming. In order to truly manage all of the details of the building process, you really need to understand how all the parts and pieces work together.

That means keeping multiple balls in the air at the same time. You’ll have to stay on top of permits and inspections—and coordinate multiple sub-contractors who will look to you for guidance and decision-making. Plus, you’ll need to hire all of these sub-contractors yourself and evaluate if they have the skill, expertise, and reliability to do the job right. On top of that, guess who gets to resolve conflicts between the framers and the plumbers, and the electricians? You do!

The thing is, when you’re building a new home you’ll already have plenty of decisions to make. You will be involved in the process. Here’s a post that highlights just a few of the responsibilities you’ll take on. Focus on the things you’re comfortable managing and deciding. Getting too involved in the specifics of the construction process can lead to unnecessary delays and costs increases—neither of which you want.

Even if you hire your own subcontractors, consider that you are only calling them for a one-time project, so they will not be as dedicated to you as they are to the company where they get their bread and butter. (Typically, such subcontractors work for contractors, like us.) They may not be as responsive, communicative, or passionate as you’d expect them to be. You have a high chance of being disappointed.

  1. Designing Your Own Plans: It’s great to sketch out ideas of what you want your home to look like or to draw out a representation of how you want a particular room to look. There’s a big difference between doing that and designing a true builders’ design for your home. You’ve heard the old saying, “Well, it looked good on paper.” It’s true for homebuilding. Some ideas are wonderful—but not feasible or affordable.

Some people see a free (or really cheap) plan online and think that it will suffice for their home. Let’s be honest: There’s a reason they are free or cheap. Most of these plans aren’t particularly good, and there’s a strong possibility that it will cost you more to correct the flaws in the free plan than it would have to have a quality plan created. Everything begins with—and depends on—the plan. This is not a place where you want to try to save money or cut corners.

One of the advantages of using a design-build homebuilder is that you can have absolute confidence that the builder can build what his team has designed for you. There’s no finger-pointing or confusion about what the plans mean because everybody is (quite literally) working off the same page.

By avoiding those two mistakes when building your King County home, you’ll enjoy the process much more (with less stress) and you’ll end up with a well-built home you’ll enjoy for years to come.


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Topics: Seattle Design-BuildHomebuilder, King Country new homebuilder, avoid common new home building mistakes