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Creative Room Addition Ideas for Your Fairfax County Home

Life happens, families grow, circumstances change, and sometimes you find yourself in a situation where your once-perfect little house is no longer ideal. If this sounds like where you’re at right now, thoughts of moving are likely on your mind. But is that really the answer?

You love your neighborhood. The kids have lots of friends, a great school, and the thought of leaving your neighbors behind makes you sad. So why leave?

If you feel like your home is getting a little too cozy, adding a room might give you the space and comfort you’re after. Better yet, you’re already there – no moving necessary!

What Kind of An Addition Do You Need?

The type of addition you undertake should take into account both your current and future needs.

Think about what features you would need to make your house more comfortable. Is it an extra bathroom for your teens? A master suite to give you some privacy? An in-law suite to keep your aging parents close by, or an income suite to bring in some extra cash? How about a bigger living room or a family room in the basement so the kids can have their own space?

These are all excellent room addition ideas that can help you transform your living space into exactly what you need.

Here are some of the most popular room additions we work on at Foley Homes:

Garage Conversions



A garage conversion is a great way to get some extra space without changing the footprint of your home. Whether you use it as a spare bedroom, a family room, or a home office, it’s one of the fastest and least complicated ways to get the extra room you need because the basic structure is already there. Depending on the current state of your garage, you might need to insulate, install a new floor, windows, HVAC, and create a new entry.

Auxiliary Suite Over the Garage

Photo: Joshua McHugh

Photo: Joshua McHugh

If you’re still using your garage for your vehicles or storage, think about adding a level over the garage for an auxiliary suite. This stand-alone unit could be an income suite, an extra bedroom, or your new home office.

Add A Second Story



Depending on the size of your lot, the rules of the neighborhood residents’ association, or your local zoning and variance laws, it may not be possible to build out or change the footprint of your home. In this case, it might be an option to build up instead.

As long as the structure of your home has enough integrity to support this type of addition, this is a real and viable option that can change the look, feel, and functionality of your house. It is, however, a pretty big job. If you choose to go this route, think about relocating while the work is being done. You might be more comfortable in a temporary home or another part of the house.

Screen Porch or Sunroom



A screen porch, while it’s not a four-season room, gives you some extra living space during the warmer months. If you tend to have a lot of visitors in the summertime, this approach could serve you well as it helps you extend the warmer season.

However, if you want a room that’s useable year-round, a sunroom might be the ticket. Sunrooms give you the same benefits as a screen porch with a little added protection from the elements. If you already have a sizeable deck, you will just need to enclose and insulate it appropriately. Whether you open up the common wall to the rest of your house is up to you, but if you do so, consider that you will need to extend your heating and cooling system for adequate comfort.

Finished Basement

From T1NY.CO

From T1NY.CO

Your basement holds a world of possibilities. Some ideas for finished basements include media rooms, game rooms, home theaters, a fitness room, or a home spa. You could even turn it into a replica of your favorite bar. Maybe your teens need a play space of their own, or perhaps your eldest wants their own room – why not give them a stand-alone suite they can decorate any way they like?

Finished basements offer an attractive return on your investment, too, so no matter what you decide to do with it, it will pay off over the long-term.

Do you need some extra space? If you love your house, but the walls are starting to close in around you, it might be time to think about an addition. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.

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Remodeling For The First Time? Here Are Some Things to Think About

If you are preparing for your first remodel, you’ll soon find out how many things there are to consider. The design and planning process begins long before any of the actual remodeling work, so it’s a good idea to get real about what to expect, so you’re not faced with any surprises.

Managing expectations, understanding how your budget is allocated, and getting a grip on the order of things to be done is essential – at least, if you want to minimize the inherent stress and enjoy the process of transformation.

At Foley Homes, we put a lot of effort into the preparation phase to ensure our time (and yours) is well-spent. The result is a less stressful experience for you and a more efficient process for our team, ensuring the best possible outcome for your Fairfax County remodel.

During the initial planning, here are some things you might want to ask:

What Will My House Look Like During the Remodel?

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Depending on how extensive your remodel is, you should get used to the fact that things won’t be “as they were.” Our crews do our very best to keep your home clean, tidy, and dust-free, but a bit of drywall dust, plastic sheeting, and temporary accommodations are expected, and often necessary.

If you are going to be living in the home during the remodel, we try to ensure that your routine won’t experience too much disruption. We will protect surfaces and floors, cover or store items of value, and make sure you have a working kitchen and bathroom.

How Long Will My Remodel Take?


The length of time it takes to complete your remodel depends mainly on the amount of work that we’re doing. If you intend to live in the house during the remodel, it might take a little longer as we may need to complete the work in phases.

Additionally, and especially in the case of older homes, we could run into unexpected problems that cause delays. Unfortunately, not all of these situations are predictable, so we’ll need to cross that bridge when we come to it. Fortunately, we are dedicated problem-solvers, and we’ll work quickly to get these issues resolved with as little disruption as possible.

Can I Live In The House During The Work?

Nisian Hughes / Taxi / Getty Images

Some of our customers choose to live in their house while the work is underway, but this is not always an ideal situation. If you decide to go this route, you should fully understand the implications as they can affect your happiness and quality of life. If your remodel is extensive, there is a good possibility that you will need to find alternate arrangements, at least for a portion of the work. If you can stay elsewhere, even for a little while, our need to shut off the water or remove walls might not be as much of an inconvenience.

If you choose not to live in the house, you should make provisions for that in your budget. For example, you may decide to find a temporary rental, in which case you will be carrying the rent for that time. You will probably be eating out a lot more as well, so that’s also something to consider.

Ultimately, it’s your choice, but we will go over the details with you at length so you can consider your options.

Should I Be Concerned About Air Quality?

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Our crews use containment protocols, zip-walls, and a dust-reducer to help maintain good air quality in the home. We use a three-stage HEPA filtration system that removes a remarkable amount of dust and particulate matter, and most of our customers are very happy with the way it performs. In addition, we install temporary air filters on all ducts to reduce dust circulation and build-up. If you or a family member have severe allergies, talk to us about extra steps we can take to ensure a healthful atmosphere.

What Do I Need to Do?


We do ask that you store or cover your dishes, art, books, and valuables. These are your responsibility. If it makes sense, our crew will take photographs and restore your interiors to the way they were.

Our process begins with getting to know you and your expectations for the project. Beyond understanding your goals and budget, we like to know about your family, your lifestyle, and your routine. This approach makes it easier for us to implement a plan that works for everybody. We are easy to talk to and great to work with because our goals are always aligned with yours.

Do you have questions about your upcoming remodel? Reach out today, and let’s talk about it.

The Difference Between a Good Contractor and a Bad Contractor in Fairfax County

A home remodel is a big job. You trust your contractor to keep your interests top-of-mind and to do excellent work because a lot is riding on the result.

Unfortunately, though you count on your contractor to possess these qualities, you can’t always get what you want. However, if you heed the warning signs, you might just get what you need.

Warning Sign #1: It Seems Too Good To Be True

Business tricks

Bad contractors are good at telling you what you want to hear. They’ll promise you the moon and the stars for a song, and they might even backtrack on everything a more reputable contractor said could not be done.

You might be thinking, “Yeah! Finally, somebody sees it my way!” but in reality, the only thing they are trying to accomplish is getting that contract signed and your deposit in the bank. They’re not thinking about whether something is doable or not, or whether it can be done with your budget.

We see this quite a lot. The bad contractor often comes out looking like the hero while the right contractor draws ire because we ask tough questions.

The truth is that sometimes, a good contractor won’t be able to answer your question right away. We might need to speak to an engineer or an architect to be sure we are telling you the right thing. A bad contractor, on the other hand, will be quick to say “yes” without considering all the variables.

Warning Sign #2: The Quote Is Very Different From Other Contractors

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Everybody loves a bargain. This is the very reason why so many people end up choosing a bad contractor over a good one. But heed this: if your contractor doesn’t price out the job accurately, you will pay the difference.

While an inexperienced contractor might be technically very good at what they do, if they don’t have enough experience quoting jobs or permitting, you could end up frustrated, disappointed, and on the hook for a lot more than you bargained for.

A lot goes into a renovation job. There are permits, drawings, engineering, zoning, getting approvals from the county, or satisfying the local resident’s association – these are all critical tasks that a contractor is responsible for. If anything falls through the cracks, your budget, your timeline, and your dreams are at risk.

Warning Sign #3: They Don’t Have a Professional Business Presence

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Any company you decide to do business with should have a professional presence. If the contractor you are speaking to has neither an office nor a business phone, or if they never pick up your calls when you reach out to them on their mobile, it’s a clear sign that something isn’t quite right.

A good contractor encourages communication. They will have a professional business presence with a bona fide listing that you can check on. When you call their business number, somebody will answer, and your concerns will always be addressed promptly.

Warning Sign #4: They Don’t Know Everything That Needs to Be Done to Complete Your Job

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Say you’re putting in a new gourmet kitchen with all the bells and whistles, including a commercial-grade range and hood fan. You might ask your contractor, “do I need to upgrade my electrical service?”

In this situation, we would typically ask an electrician for their professional opinion before we give you an answer.

An inexperienced or bad contractor, on the other hand, would probably tell you that you’re good to go without the support of a professional opinion. Experienced contractors in our area know that pipes and electrical often need to be upgraded, especially in an older home. A lot of times, we’re dealing with old pipes and possibly knob and tube wiring, which doesn’t meet code and can be dangerous. In any case, we would never make a blanket statement like that without having some authority on the subject.

Other warning signs can include:

  • They ask for too much money before the work begins
  • There are no local references for you to check
  • They don’t give you a written list of materials and selections
  • They can’t show insurance

This last item is critical, because if anybody gets hurt on your job, the responsibility falls to you, the homeowner.

While the differences between a good contractor and a bad contractor might not be apparent right away, these are a few red flags you should look for. Recognize the warning signs and heed your gut – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Are you ready for a remodel? Reach out today; we’d love to show you how we can help.

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Fairfax County Renovations: What Do You Want From Your Master Bath Remodel?

Times have changed. People change, as do their needs and wants. Technology, techniques, building materials – all of these things have evolved considerably, keeping the renovation business lively, design-focused, and exciting!

However, one thing that hasn’t changed much is what people want from their master bathroom remodel. Adapting to stages of life, getting more functionality, adding new conveniences, and making the most out of available space are still the top reasons Fairfax County homeowners decide to remodel their master bathroom.

While most of our clients tend to keep the original footprint of the room, some choose to open up walls and enlarge the space. Reclaiming a hall closet or underutilized space in a spare bedroom are just a couple of the strategies we leverage to deliver on your vision.

Some of the conversations we will have revolve around whether the current layout is working for you, and if the fixtures themselves—tub, shower, vanity, storage—are supporting your lifestyle.

Trends in Master Bathroom Renovations

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Trends in master bath remodels have not changed a whole lot over the years. People often want to get rid of their tub in favor of a larger shower, but some choose a freestanding tub. Multiple shower jets or double shower heads are popular, and double vanities are pretty standard.

Essentially, what people usually want out of their master bath remodel is an upgraded space that stands out from the rest of the bathrooms in the home. For example, you may choose to tile the master bathroom, setting it apart from your hall bathroom or powder room, which is not tiled.

Other popular requests include:

  •     Universal design, like walk-in or curbless showers, shower benches, grab rails, and “comfort height” vanities and toilets.
  •     Working within the existing footprint but rearranging the features without changing the plumbing.
  •     Expanding into the space occupied by the tub. Sometimes this is challenging, however, because many homes of a certain era were designed with a large window over the tub, making it difficult to build a shower there.
  •     Drawers over cupboards in vanities.
  •     Recessed medicine cabinets and niches.
  •     Smart mirrors, lighted mirrors, built-in screens, and connected technology.
  •     LED lighting.
  •     Under-floor heating.
  •     Quieter bath fans, or fans on a timer that shut off automatically.

Heated Floors

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There is nothing like the feel of a warm floor under your feet on a cold day. During a master bath renovation, we are often redoing the floor with tile, so it’s the perfect time to install radiant under-floor heating.

Alternately, there is a fantastic flooring product by Armstrong called Alterna. Alterna is an engineered flooring product that retains warmth, so it’s much more comfortable to walk on than any other kind of tile. Alterna tile is also easy to care for, and it comes in many styles, sizes, colors, and finishes to complement your décor.

Master Bath Design Trends


Beyond the essentials, it’s the design elements you choose that are the icing on the cake. There are many details you can add that will ramp up the results, making your master bath a luxurious indulgence you will enjoy for many years to come.

Design, colors, textures, and other décor can tie the project together and still be functional. Some of the design details you might consider include:

  •     Pocket doors to maximize space.
  •     Frameless showers add a sleek, modern look.
  •     Custom cabinetry and hardware punctuates your personal style, whether it’s modern, traditional, or vintage.
  •     Natural stone shower panels over tile lend a seamless look.
  •     Marble or granite countertops for your vanity.
  •     Steam showers and therapy tubs to help you relax your cares away.

Choosing Colors for Your Master Bathroom


Selecting a color palette that is either relaxing or invigorating completes the picture, adding a touch of your personality and also creating an atmosphere of its own.

For example, black and grey are very popular as they invoke formality, dignity, and luxury.

Green is fresh and natural, lending a sense of the outdoors.

Orange is aspirational, light-hearted, and surprisingly versatile when punctuated with black or white.

Blue is calming and peaceful, evoking ocean breezes while inspiring the imagination.

White, ever-popular in the master bath, is clean, pure, radiant, and peaceful.

Ultimately, your master bath renovation should be about form and function. The great news is that today, we have access to an almost endless selection of beautiful, useful fixtures and choices that are both highly functional and easy on the eyes.

When you’re ready to start talking about your master bathroom renovation, we’re ready to listen! Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.


Kitchen and Master Bath Remodels in Northern Virginia

Remodeling your kitchen or bathroom is about functionality, style, and often, a bit of luxury too. As home improvement projects go, kitchens and baths are where homeowners tend to spend the most. While both rooms are essential to everyday living, they each can enhance your style while delivering on a few of the “nice to have’s” – those little touches that make your house so pleasant to come home to.

There are plenty of good reasons why these types of renovations are so popular with homeowners in Virginia. They provide a superior return on investment, which is always a bonus if you are planning to put your home on the market.

What’s More Important: Kitchen or Bathroom?

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Your kitchen and bathrooms are, arguably, the hardest working rooms in your house, making it even more essential to give them the TLC they deserve.

Take the kitchen, for example. It’s the beating heart of your home and family – a place to prepare and enjoy meals, entertain your friends, get caught up on events of the day, and enjoy quiet moments whenever you have the chance.

When you think about your kitchen the way it is now, what would you change? Are there things about it you love? Or do you find the layout a bit frustrating when you’re trying to get things done?

Open-concept kitchens

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You might think that your kitchen is too small to renovate, but sometimes, opening up the layout provides you with all the space you need and then some. Open-concept living is very popular with Fairfax County homeowners. Open sightlines help you take advantage of natural light and will make the room seem much larger. As a bonus, it’s a way to bring the family closer, because walls and doors won’t separate you.

An open-concept floorplan is also a great way to extend your interior design. Your décor will flow seamlessly from one room into the next, giving your home a cohesive feel. Some of the ways we accomplish this is by extending the flooring from one room to the next, and matching light fixtures and trim.

If you are concerned with your open-concept space looking too much like a work environment, think about adding built-in refrigerator or freezer drawers, or installing panels on your appliances to help them blend seamlessly with the rest of the décor.

Indulge your senses with a master bath remodel

Photo by dSPACE Studio Ltd, AIA

Your master bathroom is your own private space. Since it isn’t part of the daily traffic through the house, you can turn it into a personal oasis, a place to indulge yourself in calm, peaceful serenity.

The master bathroom doesn’t see as much traffic. Without the kid and guest traffic to consider, you can opt for top-quality upgraded features because you know they will last a long time.

Choose upgraded, luxury features like custom tile work, a multi-jet spa shower, a steam shower, or a soaking tub. Under-floor heating is particularly nice on cold mornings!

Other delicious touches you might consider include a washlet bidet, voice-activated lighting, smart mirrors, and lighted mirrors. Today’s smart technology is very accessible, so there are lots of things to consider, and most are more affordable than you might think.

Extending your master bedroom design to the master bath

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Our goal with master bath design is to create a cohesive flow from the master bedroom, with flow being the key concept. To achieve optimum design, the traffic flow should be effortless, and the décor should be an extension of the master bedroom.

Ultimately, we want to ensure the result is as good or even better than you imagined it. To achieve this, we listen to your ideas so we can better understand what you are trying to accomplish with your remodel. Making it beautiful is a primary objective, but functionality and flow are essential. Where we place the toilet, tub, shower, and vanity are critical, because if the space doesn’t work, you’re never going to be satisfied with it.

For these reasons, we bring in our entire team right from the start. Architectural designers, plumbers, electricians, tile masons, and other artisans come together to discuss any potential issues that might cause delays along the way. If there are problems that need to be addressed, we resolve them before we start the work, ensuring your renovation job is completed on time and on budget.

Are you ready to get started with your kitchen or bathroom remodel? Reach out today to find out how to get started.

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Home Remodeling Timelines: What’s Realistic in Northern Virginia?

If you are thinking about a remodel project for your Fairfax County home, congratulations! Taking an idea from vision to completion is an exciting prospect, and when it’s all said and done, you’ll finally have your dream home.

What many homeowners don’t realize, however, is that the process often takes a lot longer than they might imagine. It all depends on the work that’s being done, how extensive it is, and, more importantly, how much planning has been done before you begin 

To ensure a smooth process with a minimum of stress, it’s vital to understand the work that goes into the job. We also advise our customers to stay flexible and be realistic in terms of their expectations. When you are fully prepared for the road ahead, it will be a lot less stressful – and you might even find it enjoyable!

Setting Realistic Expectations

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The materials you choose, the building techniques we use, and the realities of the house itself dictate how long a job will take. In most cases, the design phase and the construction phase take about the same amount of time, but in some circumstances, the design phase may take even longer.

With that in mind, here are a few additional points to consider:

  • Timing is everything. Be sure you schedule the construction phase when it isn’t going to inconvenience you or disrupt your family life. For example, if you start working in the late fall or winter and there are delays (materials don’t arrive on time, permits are held up, and so on), you could be waiting until spring to start up again.
  • Schedule demolition work for when your family is out of town or on vacation to minimize disruptions.
  • Don’t wait to order the materials you like. Once you have made your selections, they might take a while to arrive. Plus, if you wait, those items might not be available when you’re ready to go.

Our Process

Foley Custom Homes is a design-build firm. We leverage an approach that’s proven to minimize conflict, improve communication, shorten timelines, and help you stay on budget, and that holds true even when we’re working with multiple subcontractors.

Our team is hands-on through every process, from the initial ideas to the architectural drawings, obtaining permits, and right on through to the final coat of paint.

Understanding Your Ideas

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We begin by getting to know you. We want to understand your vision for the remodel and learn your likes and dislikes in terms of design. We’ll talk about your budget and how we’re going to get you what you want without going over that amount.

Design and Pre-Construction Meeting

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Once we have the design and drawings finalized, we will bring all of our subcontractors together so we can discuss, as a team, what comes next. All potential issues are discussed ahead of time to minimize delays down the line.

Meeting the Family

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We’ll talk about your lifestyle and the changes that will happen while the work is being done. We’ll offer solutions that will make your life easier during the process, as we want to ensure you, your children, and your pets experience as little disruption as possible.


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Materials and product selections are chosen well ahead of construction. Our design team will work with you to help make the process easier, and once you have made your decisions, they will be detailed in a contract and ordered right away.

Permitting and Scheduling

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Often, there is a fair bit of lead time to receive items like tile, flooring, windows, and such. During this time, we will take care of all the details, like obtaining permits and developing a construction schedule. We always build in a little cushion of time just in case something unexpected occurs.


Image by Hassan OUAJBIR on Unsplash

Before the project begins, we will have a projected schedule in place that you can follow along with. Your project manager will keep you informed of our progress and of any delays or obstacles that we find along the way. No matter what, we are always available to answer any questions or concerns you might have.

We Love it When a Plan Comes Together

Our office leverages high-tech construction project management software to help us stay organized and to enhance our communications. We offer our customers a client portal where they can view any change orders, invoices, permits, insurance, and other documents related to the job.

To us, it’s absolutely essential that you can move into your new space and enjoy it when you expect. We do everything in our power to ensure that no detail is overlooked and that you are delighted with the result.

When you work with Foley, you’re family. Reach out today, and let’s talk about your renovation ideas.

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Open Concept Kitchen Design: Pros and Cons for Your Fairfax County Home

Open-concept kitchens are very trendy in the modern family home. It opens up sightlines, creates a single living space, and helps you extend your interior design. If you have children, if you love to entertain, or if you are trying to make the most out of a small living space, an open-concept design is ideal.

However, just because it’s trendy doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Before you start knocking down walls, it’s a good idea to consider all the pros and cons of an open-concept kitchen. Only then will you know for sure whether or not it’s the right approach for you.

Open-Concept Kitchen Pros

A big, airy, open space makes your house seem bigger. If you have a smaller home, this could be a distinct benefit.

Other plusses of an open-concept design include:

Less Isolation

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If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, an open-concept design gives you more space, but it also keeps you connected to what’s going on in the rest of the house. When you’re in the kitchen prepping and cooking, you won’t be closed off from your family and friends. You’ll be able to see and talk to them, and they’ll be able to come and visit you (and maybe pitch in too).

Keep an Eye on Kids and Guests

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You can’t leave small children alone for a minute. Having an open kitchen allows you to keep an eye on what they’re up to while you prepare meals or get things done. When you have people over, you’ll be able to keep a better handle on the beverage and snack situation too.

Better Use of Space

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If your home has a lot of separate, closed-off rooms, chances are you don’t even use many of those areas at all. When you open up your floor plan, you will likely get a lot more use out of all of these spaces.

Open Up Sightlines

Image credit: Tamara Wibowo Architects

Without walls to get in the way, your open-concept space will maximize natural light and take advantage of any views that you have. For example, if you have a large bay window in the living room, now you’ll be able to enjoy that view from the kitchen.

Less Formal

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Formal dining rooms are not often the norm these days. Most families prefer a more causal setup, and dining around the island is a great way to come together – without feeling so officious.

Open-Concept Kitchen Cons

Even though open-concept design offers a lot of benefits for some homeowners, it’s certainly not right for everyone. Let’s look at the downside of open-concept kitchens:

It’s Messy!

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If you cook a lot, be aware that every bit of mess you create in the kitchen will be visible to your friends and family. Even for cooks who are meticulously clean and extremely organized, this can be a challenge.

Kids and their toys are another concern. In an open-concept design, be sure you have enough storage, either built into your furniture or in the form of extra closets.

It’s Noisy!

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When you remove the walls, you open yourself up to a lot of distractions. If you require quiet to work or make phone calls, for example, an open-concept design might not be right for you. However, there are ways to deal with it. Area rugs, throw rugs, or sound-absorbing flooring, like cork, can help to dampen the cacophony.

Fewer Walls

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If you have art or collections that you hang on your walls, you’ll have less space to display them in an open-concept design. You’ll have to find other options for your displays, relocate some items, or downsize your collections.

Less Storage Space

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You’ll need to consider where you will store your kitchen items. If you have the space for a separate pantry, that could be a solution. Kitchen islands and peninsulas also work for this purpose, but the bottom line is, you’ll have fewer cabinets, so fewer places to put things.

You Might Lose Purposed Spaces

If you have a small home office, a hobby room, or a TV room where the kids go to hang out, an open-concept design will require a shift in your routine. Everybody will be in the same room, essentially, so you need to be ready to love and accept everything they do.

In conclusion, an open-concept space has its good and not-so-good points to consider. In the end, it’s really about your family dynamics and what’s going to work best for you.

If you are considering remodeling your Fairfax County kitchen for open-concept design, reach out today, and let’s start the conversation. We’d love to show you how we can help.

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The Value of Design-Build for Your Fairfax County Remodel

If you are getting ready to remodel your Fairfax County home, there are so many things to consider. Choosing the right contractor is critical, as that decision can save you time, money, and give you confidence in knowing the job will be done right.

In your travels, you may have heard the term “Design-Build” with regard to contracting firms. Design-build is an approach to building that brings all stakeholders together from the start to collaborate on the result.

With all the expertise you need under one roof—contractor, designer, and architect—the process is streamlined and simplified. Conflict and delays are minimized, and your budget is maximized, delivering value from end-to-end. Essentially, it’s a one-stop-shop for all your remodeling needs.

The Advantages of a Design-Build Approach

There are two basic approaches you can take when you are planning a remodel.

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The traditional approach: pros and cons

The traditional approach is known as “design-bid-build.” This method has the contractor and designers working separately on their tasks and hiring their own sub-contractors. They collect bids for various parts of the work and attempt to obtain the best possible quotes for the job.

If everything goes as planned and there are no issues, this approach can be fine. However, if there are unintended delays or changes of plan for any reason, one side tends to cast blame on the other. Conflict ensues, as do delays, which may affect your completion timelines as well as your budget.

One of the most significant issues with the traditional approach is that the contractor is not part of the design process from the start. Some things might not be considered and will have to be dealt with later, often once the job is already underway.

Another inherent problem is that the lowest bidder might not be the best person for the job. Saving money up-front is one thing, but if it comes at the cost of quality, it may end up costing you more in the long run.

If you decide to be your own contractor to reduce costs, keep in mind that you must carry all the necessary insurance as you won’t have a firm to rely on if somebody gets hurt on the job site or if anything goes wrong.

The design-build approach

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Alternately, there is the design-build approach, in which all stakeholders are brought into the planning process from the start. The design-build firm handles every aspect of the project, from planning and permitting to completion, overseeing all work, and managing every specialist that’s necessary to get the job done. These could include plumbers, electricians, painters, cabinet makers, interior designers, tile setters, and the list goes on. Since these folks are brought into the process at the ideation stage, any foreseeable problems are sorted out before the work commences.

Some of the advantages for you, as the homeowner, are that your commitment is minimized, as is your risk. The design-build firm takes care of all the permitting, insurance, and inspections, and you can be as involved as you want to be.

Design-build pros and cons

There aren’t too many negatives about design-build, but in the effort to provide full transparency, here are a couple.

First, you may end up paying a little more than you would if the jobs were bid on. However, this cost is justified by the quality and accountability you gain. Most of the sub-contractors a design-build firm hires have worked with them before, often on multiple occasions. They know their work is excellent, and there is a good team rapport, reducing the risk of delays and budget overruns.

Second, you might have less say in who you work with on certain aspects of the project. If you are the kind of homeowner who wants to be more involved in the process, design-build might not be for you.

On the plus side, you will enjoy predictable timelines, communication, and budget. Conflict is minimized because the builder, the designer, and the architect work together from the start. As a result, any potential issues are known well in advance. Of course, there are sometimes surprises to deal with, but a well-oiled design-build team is skilled at managing problems and will generally keep the project on track as expected.

When it’s all said and done, the design-build approach can save you quite a lot of money, too. Part of the initial process is looking at your wish list and pricing it out. At this stage, your team will work with you to value engineer your choices to ensure you get what you want without breaking the budget.

Are you preparing for a remodel of your Fairfax County home? Reach out today to find out how we can help.

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What is the Return on a Kitchen Remodel in Fairfax County?

If you are thinking about doing a kitchen remodel before you put your home on the market, you might be wondering how much value it’s going to add to your home. After all, the kitchen is the first thing most potential buyers look at.

While raising the value of your home is as good a reason as any to upgrade your kitchen, there are lots of other benefits as well. Some of the most common reasons homeowners have for updating their kitchen include:

  •     The design is outdated
  •     The layout does not function well
  •     There is a desire for a larger or open-concept floorplan
  •     You want to add modern amenities and appliances

If you are getting ready to put your house on the market and your kitchen is stuck in another decade, an upgrade will certainly help you sell faster. However, a new kitchen is not an inexpensive project. If you’re hoping the update will raise the value of your home, you need to know exactly what kind of value you can expect. That way, you can gauge whether it’s a worthwhile endeavor or not.

How Much Will Your Kitchen Renovation Cost?

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The costs of a kitchen remodel add up quickly. Features like custom cabinetry and natural stone countertops add to the price tag.

According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report for 2019, here are the kinds of returns you can expect in Northern Virginia:

  1.     Minor, Midrange Kitchen Remodel

With an average cost of $21,440 and a resale value of $17,754, you can recoup 83 percent of your outlay.

The details:

  •     Leave existing cabinet boxes but replace front panels and drawer fronts
  •     New hardware and pulls
  •     Energy-efficient slide-in refrigerator, cooktop, and range
  •     Midrange sink and faucet
  •     Resilient flooring
  •     Laminate countertops
  •     New paint and trim
  1.     Major, Midrange Kitchen Remodel

The average cost of a major midrange kitchen remodel is about $63,387, while the resale value is $40,094. You will see a 63.3 percent recoupment on your cost.

The details:

  •     Change the layout to provide better function
  •     Semi-custom cabinets
  •     3’ X 5’ island
  •     Stainless steel double sink
  •     Midrange faucet
  •     Custom lighting
  •     Energy-efficient range, cooktop, refrigerator, range hood, dishwasher, garbage disposal
  •     Resilient flooring
  •     New paint and trim
  1.     Major Upscale Kitchen Remodel

Costs for a major upscale kitchen remodel are in the range of $126,307. Returns average about $82,677, or 65.5 percent.

The details:

  •     Top-of-the-line custom cabinetry with built-in sliding shelves and custom accessories
  •     Natural stone countertops
  •     Imported ceramic or glass tile backsplash
  •     Built-in appliances
  •     Commercial grade cooktop and range
  •     Undermount sink
  •     Designer faucets and fixtures
  •     Water filtration system
  •     Custom task lighting, general lighting
  •     Low-voltage under-cabinet lights
  •     High-end tile flooring

The report shows that costs in Northern Virginia are not only lower than the national average, but that the expected returns are higher as well. For example, on a major upscale kitchen remodel, the national average recoupment value is less than 60 percent, while the average in Virginia is more than 65 percent.

What do People Typically Spend on a Kitchen Remodel?

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Seven out of ten homeowners spent between $5,000 and $50,000 on their kitchen remodel. Only one in ten spent more than $100,000. Ultimately, what you spend is entirely dependent on your wish list and your budget.

Budgeting for your kitchen remodel

Planning well before you begin your remodel is the best way to ensure you get what you want within the constraints of your budget. A solid plan helps your contractor as well, as it keeps the work on track from the start.

If you have an unlimited budget and are not concerned with recouping your investment, the sky’s the limit. However, for the purposes of resale, many aspects can be value-engineered.

Value engineering is a way to get the look and functionality you want without paying top dollar for premium materials. Today, we have lots of choices in terms of materials that look as good and perform even better than their more expensive counterparts. Your contractor will help you choose the best route to take to ensure the best possible results.

Here are some budgeting tips from the pros at Foley:

  •     Spend more money on the things you don’t want to replace
  •     Don’t spend more than your neighborhood is worth
  •     Reserve ten to 15 percent of your budget for unexpected costs

Once you have your budget hammered out, you and your contractor can proceed with confidence.

Are you ready to dive into a kitchen remodel? Speak to us today about how we can help.

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Finding the Ideal Building Lot for Your New Fairfax County Home

Building a new custom home is very exciting. You will finally get to have the home of your dreams with the layout, design, and features you want. But first, you’ll need to find a place to build it, and that’s not always an easy task.

Eight Easy Ways to Find Your Ideal Building Lot

Not all lots are suitable for building, but if you apply these helpful tips and approaches, you just might find the perfect plot.

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1. Start Your Search in Established Neighborhoods

You might not immediately find a buildable lot in your preferred neighborhood, but that’s as good a place to start as any. Established neighborhoods might not have a lot of empty lots. However, you might find a tear-down or a larger lot that has been severed. At any rate, this is the best place to start because if you do find something, it will be a short search.

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2. Check Out Online Maps

Online maps and satellite images allow you to peruse potential building locations remotely. Take advantage of Google Street View; while the images are not in real-time, they are high-quality, and you can cruise around the neighborhood to check out what’s there. Street View is also a great advantage if you are looking to build in another city as you can narrow down your choices without having to visit in person.

3. Get to Know the Local Area

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Going into such a significant undertaking, it’s always a good idea to gather as much information as possible about the area you’re looking at. The more you know about your preferred area, the easier it will be to choose a plot that will meet your needs.

Search beyond the local population and demographics; find out about building codes, the permit process, and other requirements before you make an offer. Knowing details that could impact your plans in advance might save you a lot of time, money, and aggravation. If the process seems too complicated for any reason, you can cut your losses and move on to the next candidate. 

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4. View Online Land Listings

Checking online land listings is a great way to find building lots. Whether or not you know where you want to build, check online land listings regularly. This will give you an idea of land values in certain areas and how the market is performing. It will also provide access to land deals like power-of-sale, land auctions, and foreclosures that could be highly advantageous for you.

Also, when you are browsing these types of listings, you won’t have to scroll through listings for houses so it might save you a bit of time. Seek out websites that specialize in vacant land and building sites for best results.

5. Talk to Local Contractors

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Builders who are active in your desired area are an excellent resource when it comes to locating a building lot. Contractors have a vast network of professional connections, and they may even know about land that’s for sale before it’s even listed. Also, some builders will purchase lots to build new houses on, so this is another avenue to pursue.

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6. Talk to People

It never hurts to put it out there that you’re looking for a building lot. The more people that know, the more likely it is that someone will have a tip or an idea you can follow up on. One of these people might even know a friend or relative who has a lot that they haven’t yet listed. Tell your neighbors, coworkers, and all your friends that you’re looking. You might be surprised what comes your way.

7. See What Other People are Doing

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If you are building for commercial purposes or as an investment, check with other developers and investors to see where they are buying. If you notice a lot of new development going on in a particular area, you’ll know the place is up-and-coming and that the lots are largely buildable.

8. Speak to a Real Estate Agent

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Not all agents focus on vacant land, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Though it might be a little more costly than finding lots on your own, the process is more expedient because you’re leveraging their time and connections. Just make sure you use an agent that has some experience with land sales.

In conclusion, the process of finding a suitable building lot can be complicated! Not all lots are buildable, and the search process itself can be overwhelming at the best of times. As an experienced custom home builder in Fairfax County, Foley is always ready to help. Reach out today to schedule a conversation, and let’s see where it takes us.