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    Making Life Easier with Universal Home Design

    Universal Design is a concept in home design.  The idea is that there are little things that you can do within your home to make the home easier to use for persons of all abilities, thus making the home more “universal”.  The concept gets its roots from the Aging in Place concepts of the past, which is a design concept of adding features to allow a person to stay in their home as they get older and less physically capable.

    Some Universal Design ideas are one-floor living, no or minimal step entries, better lighting, grab bars in bathrooms, lever handles instead of knobs on doors, more thoughtful doorways, minimal or no transitions in the flooring, and placing electrical switches and receptacles at more favorable heights.  Let’s take a brief look at some of these ideas.

    One-Floor Living.  This is probably the most important concept.  Having all of your living spaces, kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and laundry on the same floor means that you don’t need to go up and down stairs to get to your spaces.  If you live in a two-story or split-level home, consider moving to a rambler or single level home.

    Entries.  The easier it is to get into your home, the better.  Design sidewalks and entry points to minimize or eliminate the number of stairs needed to get into the home.

    Bad: Multiple Steps Required to Enter the Home

     

    Better: Single Step Entry

    Grab Bars.  This item receives more pushback from clients than any other.  We often hear comments such as “that stuff is for old people” or “We’ll just move when we get to the point where we need those things”.  After Ruth broke her foot a few months ago, we suddenly found ourselves needing multiple grab bars in our bathroom.  So naturally, we did what most people in our situation do:  We ran to the store and bought the least expensive “hospital style” grab bars and quickly installed them so that Ruth could use the room safely.  And it looks like we did just that.  Manufacturers have designed some great looking grab bars that look more like a towel rack.  With a little foresight, these designer grab bars can be installed and used as towel holders without being that noticeable.  I actually find myself using them to steady myself in the shower, even though I’m supposedly young and able bodied.

    Poorly planned grab bar installed under duress looks like an afterthought because it is!

     

    Well-Planned Grab Bar looks like a Towel Holder

    Door Levers.  This item hits home for me personally, as I’ve developed tendonitis in my hand.  This condition makes it very difficult to grasp and turn a door knob.  The lever style handles are far easier for persons of all abilities to simply push down on to open a door.

    Door Knob is difficult to grasp and turn for persons with hand injuries

     

    Lever handles are easier to operate, even with your hands full!

     

    Better Lighting.  Our home was built in the 1950’s, and most of the rooms have a single ceiling light or no lights at all with a receptacle controlled by a switch, which we are supposed to plug a lamp into.  As we get older, our eyes have a harder time seeing in these dimly lit rooms.  Adding light helps people of all ages to see well.  This is why we tend to specify a lot of lighting in our projects.

    Doors.  A conventional swinging door takes up space within the room.  A pocket door or sliding door does not add to the footprint of the room.  This is another concept that we faced when Ruth broke her foot.   Adding crutches to a person increases their width by several inches.  Older houses like ours have narrow bathroom doorways to start with, and the crutches made it difficult to get through the narrow doorway.   We actually had to remove our bathroom door for a few days until Ruth got used to the crutches.  Whenever possible, we try to specify wider doors and/or pocket doors, which provide more space for getting in and out of a room.

    Floor Transitions.  Very few homes have the same continuous flooring throughout.  Often times, Carpet will abut wood or tile.  In these transition areas, the different flooring materials are at different thicknesses or heights, which can cause toe-stubbing or tripping hazards.  Whenever possible, we try to eliminate these transition areas.  When a transition is needed, we try to “ramp” it rather than having an abrupt jog in the flooring height.

    We try to avoid toe-stubbing floor transitions such as this one, which poses a tripping hazard.

     

    Better: This transition is designed like a ramp, reducing the risk of a trip or fall

    Electrical Devices.  For years, the “standard” heights for electric receptacles has been 12” off of the floor.  There is no code or requirement that they be at this height, it’s just the way it’s always been done.  This height requires a user to bend over to plug something in.  Consider placing receptacles higher off the floor to save the backaches of bending over.  Likewise, switches located at the typical 48” height off of the floor are convenient for persons who are standing.  However, somebody in a wheelchair or scooter may struggle to reach switches at this height.  Consider placing the switches at a lower location on the wall to make reaching them easier for everyone.  In addition, consider the decora-style switches, which can be operated without needing to curl your finger under it.

    Many young clients are reluctant to incorporate universal design ideas into their homes, thinking that these concepts are only for the old or disabled.  We’ve learned firsthand that your physical condition can change in a moment’s notice, and having some of these concepts in place before you need them will make life easier for persons of all abilities.  When working with us to plan your remodel, ask what Universal Design features may be of benefit to you and your family.

     

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715, or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

     

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    Living Through Your Kitchen Remodel

    One of the things that often gets forgotten when deciding to remodel your kitchen is the fact that you will not have a kitchen for 6+ weeks!  If you are an avid camper, you probably are used to cooking with the bare essentials, but if you are like most people, there will be a significant adjustment to cooking without a kitchen.  In a perfect world, you’d move elsewhere during the project, but reality is that you will most likely be living in your house during your renovation.

    Here are a few tips to help you live through your kitchen remodeling project.

    Know What to Expect.  This will suck, and any contractor who tells you otherwise is lying to you.  There will be noise, dust, and severe disruption to your normal routines.  Parts of your home will be gutted out.   Even the most careful contractors will leave a stray nail on the floor now and then, so forget about walking around barefoot in the construction area.

    Hey, where did the kitchen go?

    Plan Ahead.  Think about where you will set up a small temporary kitchen.  If you have a wet bar or similar space elsewhere in the house, this is a great spot.  Think about what you can cook using a hot plate, microwave, and crock pot.  Likewise, think about where you will wash dishes.  You may only have a small bathroom sink, so forget about big pots and multi-course meals.  Baking is probably not going to happen.  Your BBQ grill will become your favorite cooking appliance during this time.  This is also a great time to dig out all of those restaurant gift cards that you’ve been given, and try some new places.

    Ask your contractor for help with a temporary sink during construction

    Find a Peaceful Spot.  Ask your contractor to block off an area that is just for you and your family.  You’ll be amazed at how much this will help with your mentality during the project.  Not having to look at a construction zone at all times will help you maintain a small sense of normalcy amongst the chaos.

    This Temporary Plastic Wall with Magnetic Door keeps the Construction Separate from Family Areas.

    Communicate.  A good contractor will keep in touch during the project, and make you aware of what happened today, as well as what to expect tomorrow and beyond.  In addition, a good organized contractor will be able to provide an approximate completion date ahead of the job, so you’ll have a “light at the end of the tunnel” to look forward to.

    During your remodeling project, it may seem like the job will go on forever.  Rest assured, once the project is done, you’ll love your new space so much that all of the “pain” that you’ve endured during the project will be a distant memory.  When interviewing potential contractors for your kitchen remodeling project, ask them what steps they will take to make the process as livable as possible during the job.

     

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715, or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

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    Fire Prevention in your Home: Plan 2 Ways Out!

    Plan Two ways out of your home in case of a fire

    In a fire, seconds count. Seconds can mean the difference between residents of our community escaping safely from a fire or having their lives end in tragedy.

    That’s why this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme: “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” is so important. It reinforces why everyone needs to have an escape plan. Here’s this year’s key campaign messages:

    • FPW 2017 Escape Plan Grid
    • Draw a map of your home by using our grid in English (PDF) or Spanish (PDF) with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
    • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
    • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
    • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
    • Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
    • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

    If you have questions, please visit www.NFPA.org, or talk with your friends at your local fire department.

     

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715 or 651-497-7714; or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

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    A new Kitchen for Christmas? Maybe next year!

    It’s that time of year when we get folks calling and asking us to complete a kitchen remodel for them before their family arrives for the holidays.

    Let’s presume a targeted completion date of December 15th.  This gives you a little over a week to clean up, decorate, and stock the liquor cabinet for your Christmas party.

    Most kitchen projects take about 6-8 weeks of construction time.  This means that we need to get started on construction no later than October 15th.

    Kitchen has been insulated and awaits city inspection.

    Backing up further, we have the design process.  After meeting with our kitchen designer for the first time, it typically takes a little back and forth with revisions and perfections to get the design just how you like it.  Then we need to bring in the construction team (plumber, electrician, carpenters, drywallers, etc.) to review the plans at your home, iron out details, and submit bids.  After that, we submit everything to the city for permits.  This process can take another 4-8 weeks, which puts us at August 15th.  Oops, that was 2 weeks ago!

    Kitchen plan shown during the design revision process

    Our kitchen remodeling projects are successful because of the high level of thought and planning that goes into them long before the old cabinets start getting torn out.  As our clients can attest, this careful planning and attention to detail ahead of the project results in a finished kitchen that is completed on time, on budget, and will serve your needs beautifully for many years.

    If you’d like to get started on your St. Patricks Day kitchen, please give Ruth a call at 651-497-7715.

     

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715 or 651-497-7714; or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

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    August Home Maintenance Checklist

    Here is your home maintenance checklist for the month of August!  Keep your Twin Cities home in top shape by performing these simple tasks this month.

    • Inspect and clean dryer vents and other exhaust vents
    • Clean Garage
    • Get carpets professionally cleaned (call us for a referral to a company that we trust!)
    • Inspect HVAC filters, replace if necessary
    • Inspect fire extinguishers, replace if necessary
    • Clean your kitchen food disposer
    • Clean your range hood filters

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715 or 651-497-7714; or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

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    July Home Maintenance Checklist

    Here is your home maintenance checklist for the month of July!  Keep your Twin Cities home in top shape by performing these simple tasks this month.

    • Take care of insect problems–call an exterminator if needed
    • Clean and repair decks and patios as needed
    • Take time to relax and enjoy the MN summer on above mentioned deck or patio!
    • Clear window wells of debris
    • Inspect HVAC filters, replace if necessary
    • Inspect fire extinguishers, replace if necessary
    • Clean your kitchen food disposer
    • Clean your range hood filters

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715 or 651-497-7714; or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

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    June Home Maintenance Checklist

    Here is your home maintenance checklist for the month of June!  Keep your Twin Cities home in top shape by performing these simple tasks this month.

    • Give your home a deep cleaning
    • vacuum refrigerator coils
    • check tile grout in the bathroom/kitchen; repair or replace if needed
    • inspect plumbing systems for leaks
    • clear debris from faucet aerators
    • Inspect HVAC filters, replace if necessary
    • Inspect fire extinguishers, replace if necessary
    • Clean your kitchen food disposer
    • Clean your range hood filters

    Do you have a suggestion for other tips or maintenance items that should be included here?  Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715 or 651-497-7714; or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

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    Twin Cities Home Maintenance for May

    Here is your home maintenance checklist for May!  Keep your Twin Cities home in top shape by performing these simple tasks this month.

    • Have your Air Conditioner serviced/tuned up
    • Repair/replace damaged window screens
    • Clear plants and shrubs from the house.  We recommend at least 2′ between shrubs and your home.
    • Check trees for interference with electric lines, trim if necessary
    • Inspect your roof for damage/leaks, etc.
    • Inspect HVAC filters, replace if necessary
    • Inspect fire extinguishers, replace if necessary
    • Clean your kitchen food disposer
    • Clean your range hood filters

    Do you have a suggestion for other tips or maintenance items that should be included here?  Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715 or 651-497-7714; or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

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    Home Improvement Price Games

    Many home improvement and remodeling companies use questionable tactics to convince you that you are getting a great deal on your project.  Don’t be FOOLED by the false promises, slick sales pitches, and pretend promotions offered by other contractors. Let’s take a look at some of these claims and see how they pass the truth test

     

    “60% OFF LABOR” Seriously, would YOU work for 60% less?  Of course not, and neither will the workers of this company. The company is either starting off with an inflated price just to apply a pretend discount, or charging extra for materials to make up the difference.

    Free installation isn’t really free!

    “FREE INSTALLATION or $29 installation for your entire home” This one is very common with floorcoverings and kitchen countertops.  Really, a 3-man crew will work for 2 days for $29? They must be extremely skilled!  It’s important here to look at the overall bottom line cost for the project.  It’s very common for these sellers to inflate the material cost significantly in order to hide the installation cost, or to charge exorbitant amounts for tearout and disposal to cover the installation cost.

     

    -A “$500 discount for placing an advertising sign in your yard”.  Most contractors are going to put a sign in your yard anyway, and not charge you for the privilege.  A company who employs this tactic is falsely inflating the cost just to apply the discount.

    Is your discount really a discount, or just mind games?

    -A discount for paying the entire contract up front.  Read your contract very carefully, and then have your attorney read it very carefully.  You’ve probably heard horror stories of contractors taking a down payment and then you never hear from them again.  While this tactic isn’t automatically a red flag, do proceed with caution.

     

    -A discount for allowing before and after photos to be taken of the project.  Again, every contractor is going to take photos.  This tactic again means that they are inflating the initial cost just to provide the pretend discount.

    If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is!

    -A ridiculously low price with very few details of what is and what is not included. This usually results in a lot of change orders for the items that were not included.  Read your contract carefully and have your attorney read it too.  How specific is the scope of work?  Does it just say “finish basement $20,000” or does it include a line-by-line scope of work specifying exactly what will be done and what materials will be used?  Sadly we hear many stories of clients accepting vague terms, only to be slammed with change orders after the job begins for items that were not included, resulting in significant additional costs.

     

    The list can go on forever, but you get the idea. At Allrounder Remodeling, we promise to be upfront and honest at all times. No high-pressure sales people work here. Instead, you meet with our company owners who listen to what YOU want and provide a proposal that is fair for the level of service that we provide.  The gentleman in this photo was pretty excited to find a low price on his tattoo, and it seems that he’s getting his money’s worth!  As we like to say, “the bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of a low price has been forgotten!”

    There is always somebody who will do the job for less money!

     

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    Home Maintenance Checklist for April

    Here is your home maintenance checklist for April!  Keep your Twin Cities home in top shape by performing these simple tasks this month.

    • Test your garage door opener auto-reverse feature and sensor eyes
    • Clean your rain gutters and downspouts
    • Inspect your home exterior for damaged siding, trim, and roofing
    • Check your exterior grading and drainage to ensure that water isn’t diverted toward your home
    • Inspect HVAC filters, replace if necessary
    • Inspect fire extinguishers, replace if necessary
    • Clean your kitchen food disposer
    • Clean your range hood filters

    Do you have a suggestion for other tips or maintenance items that should be included here?  Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

    Allrounder Remodeling Inc. provides residential home design and remodeling services in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including the cities of Apple Valley, Rosemount, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, Oakdale, and Maplewood.

    For more information, please call 651-497-7715 or 651-497-7714; or visit http://www.AllrounderRemodeling.com

    Read more