Designing a new space

How to design a new space and what you should consider when creating a vision board.

Green Building

Ecofriendly construction products that can help save money and energy while also making your home healthy for your family.

Selecting A Contractor

Top mistakes that homeowners make when choosing a contractor for their project.

First Time Homebuyers

There's more to think about than square footage when you're debating about moving into a home, especially in this market


A money saving water preserving alternative to traditional landscaping.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Nationwide Open House Weekend April 20-21

If you're in the market to purchase a home you won't have a better opportunity to preview prospective properties than the mecca of all open houses, Nationwide Open House Weekend April 20-21! In it's 4th year running, there will be homes upon homes from coast to coast ready for your viewing pleasure for this event.

Consider it like a community garage sale, but the homes themselves are for sale on a much larger scale! There's nothing we like more than efficiency so the ability to see as many homes of interest in one fell swoop goes down as a major win-win in our book.

There are a couple of ways to find the open houses, check with your local real estate companies many of them will have a list of upcoming open houses. There are a variety of websites that will show you open house information as well. We're big fans of Zillow who has a special search feature for open houses, you just hover over the Homes link and click on Open Houses, from there you can specify an area. Just remember that more and more homes will be added to these lists as the weekend approaches so keep checking.

Here's the list for Colorado-

A few words of wisdom, if you're serious about scouting a property for actual purchase, unlike the looky-loos, (and we all know there are plenty of looky-loos wanting to canvas what their neighbors are really up to behind closed doors or those wanting a legal sneak peek at how the 1% live) make sure to do your due diligence ahead of time and get, at a minimum, a pre-qualification letter from your mortgage lender (even better get pre-approved). That way you can evaluate the home comparing your needs/wants to what you can realistically afford according to your lender and be prepared to make a legitimate offer as soon as you can. Buyers that have done their homework ahead of time will be in a better position to get what they want as an offer from a party that is already pre-approved is highly attractive to the seller. Keep in mind that since this is such a big event there will be a lot of people eyeing your favorite property, if it meets your needs your best bet is to act expeditiously!

Of course all of this can be explained in further detail by your real estate agent, it is most definitely in your best interest to secure a broker to handle the purchase of real estate. There is a lot of red tape involved in buying/selling real estate and the stakes are high, a lot of money on the line. While plenty of folks think they can easily handle the process themselves and save a little bit of money I can assure you that there can be some major bumps in the road and it is easy to get in over your head.

For all of our Colorado friends needing assistance, call us to speak with our in-house associate broker, we're happy to help. And don't worry we aren't here to rope you into a deal, we didn't attend used car salesman training, it's not our style and we find it just as repulsive as you do.

So head on out there early, you wont find another opportunity to get this kind of inside info. Get your map together, do some research a-la Google of the addresses you like to get an idea of the property and it's condition, perhaps print out a sheet of each home you want to see, and once you get there ask questions! Get as much detail as you can. And for all of the looky-loos with no interest in the home at all, at least give some feedback to the realtor on what you saw, that would be the nice thing to do!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fire Pits For Fall: A Non-Traditional Approach

When you live in such a beautiful state it's a shame to pack in the patio gear in preparation for the cooler months to come. We are lucky to enjoy mild weather in Colorado throughout the majority of the year but those fall nights get pretty brisk. The best way to extend the outdoor enjoyment is to heat up your patio space. Firepits are easy to find, affordable, and easy to use but for our ambitious friends we're a fan of unique fire pieces that you don't see everyday. Try something verticle, or contemporary, a bowl instead of a built in square, a sunken pit, or even one that can be used to grill on!

 Here are some of our favorite, non- traditional firepit ideas:


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Handy Project Gadgets & Apps

We're all for taking advantage of the latest gadgets and phone apps when it comes to simplifying anything from dinner recipes to space planning. Here's a list of some great phone gadgets and apps that will undoubtedly come in handy with your home projects.

 iHandy Level
An app with a built in level for all of your precise picture hanging needs. Works vertically, horizontally, and even face down. Oh and it's a FREE app!

Handy Man DIY
No need to spend hours calculating for your projects. Just input room measurements and this will tell you exactly how much paint you'll need, how much flooring or trim to buy, etc. It will even incorporate a shopping list for you with cost estimates. And it'll save the info for future reference.

Task This
The ultimate to-do list and project managing app. Keep on track of your projects with calendars, shopping lists, deadlines, due date reminders, etc. Sync it to the online platform for even more task related planning.

 Design Space Planning
This app is for the design lovers. It has practical applications, as in making sure a sofa will fit through the door opening before buying it, with the space planning features. But that is just the start, this app allows you to design entire room concepts, has built in color palettes, and allows for real life incorporation. Take a photo of a wall paper you find in an antique store and apply it instantly to your room design to see if it is a fit. A great resource brought to you by an interior designer.

Gardening Toolkit
For the greenthumbs out there. This awesome app is all you  need to successfully plant and care for your own garden. It is location specific and offers tons of info on vegetables, herbs, and flowers. You can plan a variety of gardens, get advice on when and what to plant, general care tips, harvest tracking, etc.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Room Envy: Man Caves

Any guy would be lucky to call one of these dude spaces their own. Want to see some more check out Man Caves on the DIY Network where they chronicle the ultimate of man caves and even show you how to create your own.

"To the Bat Cave"... no literally-

Your own personal Sports Center, complete with rotating couch, so you can catch every single one of the games on all of the tv's!

Well who wouldn't want a hot rod in the middle of the living room...

A poker palace for a guys tournament night

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Room Envy: Outdoor Pergola

Double Function- deck on top
This one comes from the folks at A gorgeous display of 16 "not your average pergola" patio cover ideas. Think outside the box when it comes to designing your own outdoor retreat, there are a million different options even with something as basic as a pergola patio cover. Check out these for inspiration... some of our favorites, head over the the DIY Network to see more. And if you're feeling extra handy, here's a great basic intro to building a simple wood pergola.

Angled- Japanese style
Urban- incorporating the walls
Arched top outdoor room

Thursday, June 7, 2012

When Extreme Weather Comes A Knocking! How to prepare yourself and your home

Mother nature has a tendency to keep you on your toes. Here in the Denver area we're no strangers to bizarre weather. We see our fair share of wildfires, snow, wind, rain, hail, and tornadoes! With the unpredictable weather comes the homeowner's responsibility to deal with the fallout when these acts of nature wreak havoc. Below are several things you can do to be better prepared ahead of time for these types of situations and a plan of action for dealing with the aftermath thanks to our friends over at Travelers!

Hail is one of the number one causes of house damage in the US. Not surprising if you've ever witnessed a good downpour with golfball size air debris! If you have forewarning that you may be hit by one of these storms you can start out by protecting plants and flowers by covering them. Move vehicles into garages if possible. Bring anything breakable inside like flower pots, umbrellas, etc.

Staying safe in a hailstorm
  • If there is a hail storm in your area, make personal safety your first priority. Take shelter during the storm. Large hail can cause serious injuries.
  • Hail is often accompanied by strong winds and lightning, both of which pose their own dangers.
  • After the storm passes, keep in mind that windows may have been broken and high winds may have knocked down trees and power lines. Look for broken glass, sharp objects and live wires. Be sure to wear proper shoes and gloves when walking around your property.
  • If necessary, protect your property immediately against further damage and theft. Use plywood, tarps or other materials to cover broken windows or holes in roofs. Keep receipts for reimbursement of all expenses covered by your policy.

Understanding hail damage

  • Hail is frozen precipitation that forms in storm clouds when super-cooled water droplets freeze on contact with dust or dirt in the air. Hailstones can be as small as the tip of a pen or as large as a softball. The larger they are, the more damage they can do.
  • By understanding the signs of hail damage you can be better prepared to work with contractors and your claim professional after a storm.

House fires are not as uncommon as most people would tend to believe. Fire is a year round concern as it can arise from nearly anything. You have a variety of fire potential everywhere you turn outside of the kitchen stove- bbqs and outdoor grills, dryers, space heaters, outdoor patio heaters and tiki torches, camping fires, cigarettes, lightening, etc. Obviously there are ways to prevent most of these sources but accidents do happen.

Having clear knowledge of how to use a fire extinguisher is a good place to start. Making sure your smoke detectors are functioning properly and that your family has an emergency exit plan that has been PRACTICED! Cleaning dryer vents regularly. These are good places to start. But even the most prepared can be caught off guard, especially by a wildfire. Stay safe by heeding the following advice.

  • Give your yard a good annual clean-up and maintenance. Prune tree limbs within 10 feet of your home, clear away dead plants or branches, and remove pine needles, leaves, and other debris from the yard, roof, and gutters. Use caution and be careful to stay away from overhead wires. If you are not comfortable doing this work yourself, hire a licensed contractor.
  • Prepare a family evacuation plan. Have more than one escape route and designate a place for family members to meet if they are in different locations when an evacuation order is given.
  • Make sure adult family members know how to shut off utilities and how to use fire extinguishers.
  • Prepare a survival kit.


  • Listen to the radio for important reports and evacuation information.
  • Remove lightweight and non-fire-resistant curtains from around windows.
  • Place combustible patio furniture in the house or garage. Move all flammable furniture away from windows to the center of the house.
  • Close windows and interior doors.
  • Connect a garden hose to the outside tap and place lawn sprinklers on the roof. Wet the roof and any shrubs within 15 feet of the house.
  • If you must evacuate:
    • Shut off propane at the tank, or natural gas at the meter, and turn off all pilot lights.
    • Turn on a light in each room of the house to increase the visibility of your home in heavy smoke.
    • Wear protective clothing, including sturdy shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and a bandana or handkerchief.
    • Advise a friend or family member outside the wildfire area that you are leaving and where you will be.


  • Stay tuned to the radio or television for updated information. If you had to evacuate, return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so.
  • Check for hazards such as electrical shorts or gas or water leaks. Turn off any damaged utilities, and arrange for the electric or gas company to test, repair, and turn utilities back on.
  • Check the roof and attic for smoke, sparks, and embers.
  • Throw away items such as food or medicines that have been contaminated by smoke or fire.
  • Promptly report any loss to Travelers using the toll-free claim reporting number.

First thing about floods and the #1 thing you should do after reading this, CALL your insurance company and check your policy. Most standard homeowners policies do NOT include flood insurance!!! The average cost to mediate a flood is $48,000 according to the National Flood Insurance Program. The best advice is obviously to add flood insurance to your policy.


  • Know your flood zone risk. Evaluate your flood risk.
  • Have your furnace, water heater and other permanent equipment elevated above the expected flood levels of your area.
  • Inspect sump pumps and drains regularly to ensure proper operation.
  • If you own a generator, have a licensed electrician provide a transfer switch to your sump pump so you can operate it in the event of flooding.
  • To help prevent sewage backup, have a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow valve.
  • Keep sandbags on hand to help divert unusually high water away from your foundation.
  • In snowy climates, flag drains to avoid plowing snow on top of them.
  • Learn the flood alert signals of your community.
  • Collect emergency building materials if you live in a frequently flooded area. These include plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, nails, shovels and sandbags.
  • Plan and practice an evacuation route. Designate a place for family members to meet in the event they become separated.
  • Review with all family members how to shut off utilities in an emergency.
  • Plan a kit with important documents, including insurance documents, medications and critical items in the event you need to leave your home. 
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information. If advised to evacuate, shut off all utilities and evacuate immediately.
  • Move to high ground, avoid rising waters and do not walk or drive through any floodwaters.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.
  • Listen to the radio and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Be watchful of snakes that may have found their way into your home.
  • Throw away all food that has come in contact with floodwaters.
  • Remove standing water as quickly as possible, including from your basement. If your basement is flooded, pump out the water gradually. Remove about 1/3 per day to avoid structural damage.
  • Properly dry or remove soaked carpets, padding and upholstery within 24-48 hours after a flood to prevent mold growth. Discard anything that cannot be properly dried.
  • Wash and disinfect all areas that have been flooded. This includes walls, floors, closets, shelves, as well as heating and air-conditioning systems.
  • Do not energize electrical or electronic equipment that may have suffered water damage without first having a qualified electrician inspect and/or test it.
  • PROMPTLY call your insurance company to report any loss
And of course I will add in that you should hire a professional to address the damage done to your home. It may be tempting to just start ripping out wet carpet but there are a million facets that go into the proper remediation of a flood including mold prevention, not something to mess around with.

Safety is the number one priority with any type of major storm. There isn't a whole lot you can do about things like tornadoes but you can prepare your home ahead of time just in case and have a plan in place in the event that something does occur. Needless to say the damage a home sustains from a major 'act of God' like a tornado should by repaired by a reputable professional.

  • Learn the warning signs and alert signals of your community.
  • Understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A watch means that tornadoes may develop, while a warning means that a tornado has been sighted and you should seek shelter immediately.
  • Prepare a survival kit.
  • Conduct drills with your family. Designate an area of your home as a shelter and practice what you would do should a tornado occur.
  • Move cars and other outdoor objects inside the garage.
  • At Home:
  • Seek shelter away from windows in the center of the room. Basements and storm cellars are the best havens, but if there is no basement, take cover in a bathroom, closet, or under a sturdy piece of furniture.
  • At work or school:
  • Go to the basement or an inside hallway at the lowest level. Keep away from large, open areas such as auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums. Lie low and use your arms to protect the head and neck.
  • In a car:
  • Do not try to outrun the tornado. Stop the car, get out, and if there is no nearby facility in which to take shelter, lie in a low area such as a ditch.
  • Stay in your shelter until the storm is over.
  • Listen to the radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Check for gas leaks or electrical system damage.
  • Watch for downed power lines when going outside.
  • Report damage to your insurance company

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Multi- Generational Living, the newest trend in home construction

While the idea of living literally in the same home as the in-laws may make the majority of people cringe, the concept of multi-generational living and housing arrangements is more than practical. Plenty of families enjoy the closeness and support brought by having family there at the drop of a hat and it's no new concept. However, what is new is that home developers are realizing that more and more families are choosing to live this way for practicality while riding out the shift in our economy. We're not talking shoving the grandparents into a spare bedroom and residing in a cramped living room and kitchen. These new home plans allow both families to live privately and independently while sharing common spaces when wanted or needed. They have truly thought of everything, like the desire for families to spend time together at gatherings by offering shared courtyards and backyard living areas perfectly laid out for summer bbq's. And the plan layouts range from guest suites and "mother-in-law apartments" to 2 house family "compounds". A very unique concept on a very old tradition and a great solution for families that need the extra help and support.

With America's aging population, children staying home longer and more extended families living together, some new homebuilders are changing the designs of their homes to meet those needs. They're new home developments designed with multi-generational families in mind.

With new twins the Fajardo family is growing quickly. In fact, Lea's parents will be moving in with them, so they need a house to accommodate them all. They found the perfect place in Chino in a new home development called Charleston at College Park.
"This was an ideal situation: them having their own area where they can do what they needed to do and yet still be close enough to help with the kids, with their grandkids," said Robert Fajardo.
Lennar Homes calls it a "home within a home." A first-of-its-kind in the U.S. geared for multi-generational families.
"The home within a home basically has its own front door, its own living area, its own kitchenette with a refrigerator, convection microwave oven for some light cooking, its own bathroom with a stacked washer-dryer, its own bedroom and access to a rear yard for its own patio," said Greg McGuff, Lennar Homes Division president.
Another developer, the New Home Company, is taking the next generation of homes a step further. At Lambert Ranch in Irvine there are three neighborhoods with three unique life space designs.
"You have your own private entrance from the exterior of the home, for private going in and going out," said Joan Marcus-Colvin, vice president of sales, the New Home Company.
And inside is a private bedroom, bath and service bar, yet it is connected to the main home.
Another design incorporates a large guest house connected to the main house that buyers Jason Vitaletti and Arman Afagh find perfect for their competing work schedules.

"I'm an emergency room physician and I work nights," said Afagh. "And so having a completely separate area where I could sleep during the daytime and he can go about doing his work from home."
And the third design features two homes next to each other creating a compound estate.
"This is the shared courtyard of our family compound, our generational estate," said Marcus-Colvin. "And this is where our two families can have their coffee in the morning."
And the homes are joined in the large backyard too for family gatherings.
"We found an incredible need for families that wanted to live together, meaning sister, husband, kids, brother, his wife and kids, and joining them," said Marcus-Colvin.
And homes like these make economic sense too.
"We always say it's two homes and one payment," said McGuff.
Both builders say sales so far have been excellent so expect more developers to follow.

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