Second Floor Additions

Renovation is hot in Atlanta once again and people are looking to increase the size and living space of their homes. We are often asked whether additional space is best acquired by building on with an addition or building up with a second storey.

The answer, like just about all things relating to renovation, has some complicated variables. The answer may depend on the goals of the addition, style of the house, access to the new space and the land around the existing home. Often in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods where the lot size can be smaller and city demanded yard setbacks strict, building up is the way to go. Building up onto or creating a second floor maintains the yard around a home, often a premium. Also, when designed with care, a second floor addition can create an added charm to curb appeal and often provide a better resale value.

The next question to consider is cost effectiveness. The trickiest part and often the deciding factor in the up or out debate can fall to the stairs. If the stairway to the new space can be worked out without having to reverse the basement stairs and moving too many walls then building up often saves the cost of foundations and landscape disturbance. One must keep in mind that most second story additions require the reframing of the old ceiling joists to allow for floor loads. This is something typically done with a separate diaphragm system for ceiling and floor joists and has the added benefit of sound proofing, reduction of overall second floor addition height and minimizes the potential of plaster cracks.

In the end, our design staff is experienced with both vehicles to increase the size of your home in a way that is both practical financially and pleasing aesthetically.


Portico Entrances

The main entrance of your house can set the stage for your home’s presence on your street. It is the ultimate “best face forward” and a small entry renovation can be just the facelift your home may be looking for.

The entryway itself can be more than just a pretty face on your home. It can provide shelter from the , a spot to welcome guests out of the rain, a space to get the dog on the leash, grab the bags and go.  Entryway additions can be a more extensive project by become a small mini addition with three walls, a door, roof and windows. This provides your home with a truly separate space that can accommodate storage as well or perhaps a closet, bench or more mudroom facilities. When tackling something like this one must be prepared to address all of the finishes, flooring, walls, lighting, etc. Your homes existing roofline needs to be considered as well as the current material found on the exterior of the home. Do you want this mini addition to appear as it has always been a part of your home?  Can the materials compliment the current design but maybe not match exactly, creating a built over time approach?

Another option to think about is a smaller project, just increasing the function of your front door and improving curb appeal. By adding a small dormer over an existing front door and including some brackets or lighting, you can transform your space without doing much more than cosmetics. Home ReBuilders and DogGone Handy have added some of these simple fixes to many houses with big benefits to homeowners.

Tile for a renovation

If you are thinking about a bathroom or kitchen renovation,  tile can be one of the larger components on the job.  With all of the styles available, picking the right product for your project can sometimes seem overwhelming. Here’s a quick lesson on tile that may prove helpful.

One of the first things homeoweners can run up against when thinking about tile is the difference between porcelain and ceramic. Here are some simple differences. Porcelain is denser, more durable and has a slightly lower water absorption rate than ceramic. Porcelain tile generally is more expensive that ceramic and may require a higher labor cost to install.  Generally, for most home projects, ceramic tile is the product of choice and is more that adaquate in terms of durability.

Tiles come in a multitude of sizes.  If you are working with a smaller bath or space, you may like the look of a smaller tile such as a 6″ x 6″ or a mosaic tile that is typically based on a 12″ x 12″ mesh screen. These mosaic sheets are easy to trim down to fit around plumbing or wall angles and can replicate the look of vintage tile styles often found in older homes.  A large 12″ x 12″ tile (or larger) can create a smooth finish on a floor with fewer grout lines. The only challenge is to make sure the grout lines you do have are centered on the room and make sense in the layout. If you are installing a shower floor in your project, the general recommendation is to use a smaller sized tile.  The installer needs to get a slight slope to floor drain and this can be tough to do with a larger tile. Smaller tiles also means more grout which can create a safer floor finish in a shower. More grout can equal fewer slips on wet tile. When looking at wall tiles, it is important to ask whether the tile you are looking at comes with bullnosed edges (smooth edges on one size) or whether there is a finished cap piece available.  Anywhere the tile ends in a shower, there will need to be a smoothed edge of tile. Nothing is worse than a beautiful tile installation but a poorly thought out edge detail.

Grout color is another important aspect of the overall design. One can use a contrasting color and have the grout play a larger part of the design. White subway tile with a dark grey grout can be striking. Selecting a grout color that matches your tile as closely as possible can create a continuous, monolithic look and can eliminate the visual “noise” of a space. Unless you love to clean, white grout is typically discouraged.

Installation patterns are also seemingly endless. A few basic styles are either straight, diagonal, or a running bond. A running bond is a staggered pattern that is often employed when using rectangular tiles, or subway tiles.

Now once you select the majority of your tile, sometimes called field tile, you may want to add an accent tile. Overwhelmed yet?  If you need a hand, Home ReBuilders has designers on staff who can walk you through some tile selections. Tile can be one of the best paints in your palette when creating your renovation.


Bathroom renovations

Bathroom renovations in Atlanta don’t have to be big, messy, expensive and painful. If you have a standard bathroom that has seen better days, a renovation can be easily within your reach. The key to a smooth bath remodel is planning.  When a wise person said “the devil is in the details” one wonders if they were talking about home renovation!

The first step is to think about what doesn’t work in your space. That’s probably the easiest part and on the forefront of your mind. But maybe think a bit deeper. If lack of storage is something you struggle with, identify which specific items you can’t find homes for. Pill bottles, make up and small toiletries are best stored in medicine cabinets or drawers. If piles of clothes and stacks of towels are something you trip over, look to robe hooks, hamper storage or additional shelving.

Often a bathroom’s function is not the problem but the dated wallpaper and ancient accessories make getting ready in the morning a drag. Cosmetic changes can be a snap with the right experience and tools. If all of your plumbing locations and major fixtures are good enough to stay, fresh “make up” is easy. Small changes like paint color, new lighting fixtures, towel bars, shower curtains and window treatments can make a huge difference without huge upset to your home.

Now if tile needs to be replaced and your plumbing fixtures need to be replaced, start looking for brands, models and styles you like and are in your price range. It’s easy to say, “Replace my toilet” but it is always smoother if you have a clear idea of the model you like and its price tag. Is it in stock and available? Does the lavatory faucet that you have your heart set on have a coordinating shower set? Does it matter to you if all of your plumbing fixtures are the same? Information for home renovation has never been easier to access. All major plumbing brands have good websites with model numbers and specification. Big box stores can be a good source of ideas for materials either in person or on line. Internet sites such as Pinterest can provide endless inspiration for renovation.

Probably the biggest key to success in a bath renovation is your contractor or handyman. Find someone reputable with a good reputation and who has plenty of experience. And make sure you like them. They’ll be in your home, working on some intimate areas!



Are dog leashes, sports equipment, rain boots, and backpacks overtaking more than their fair share of space in your home? As many of us look to spring as a time to clean up and organize, the gear that comes with this wonderful season can pose a problem. A mudroom may be the answer for greater seasonal storage and organizational improvement in your life.  This space, no matter how large or small, can add value to your home by making it a warm invitation and improved first impression through expanded space and organization.  The Home ReBuilders design/build team has tackled mudrooms that range from simple and straight forward to spaces that serve a variety of functions.

The mud room is most often a transition space from the exterior elements to the sanctuary of your home’s living spaces.  Although some mud rooms are relatively open to other living spaces, many include a secondary interior passage door.  This secondary door serves several purposes – it creates an easy way to separate the living space from dirt & grime carried in during nasty weather and it can even increase the energy efficiency of your home.  The mudroom essentially becomes an “air lock” that catches the cold air (during winter months) and hot air (during summer months) as you open and close the exterior door.  The concept of an air lock to maximize efficiency is not a new one.  In fact, every time you enter a grocery or department store you pass through an air lock which is used to dramatically cut unnecessary energy loss.

The overall look of your mudroom can vary. If your home has a more contemporary leaning, sleek cabinetry from floor to ceiling can capitalize on the look. If a softer look is something you’re after, woodwork and trim incorporating benches, cubbies and built in hooks can provide that English country estate feel. Often the mudroom lends itself to include laundry facilities and even recycling stations. With some careful design work, this hardworking space can look great and really change the way your home functions.

If your home is missing a transition space, or if your existing mud room is simply not working for you, let Home ReBuilders help you work out a great solution.  We can design mudrooms that are purely functional, that maximize storage, that help your family stay organized, and much more.


Smaller Renovations

This may seem like an unusual idea from a firm that renovates and often enlarges homes. But at Home ReBuilders, we have always tried to design the best spaces for our clients as they develop a home for their “best living”.

As we start the New Year, we often ask ourselves what is ahead for the future. Our industry has seen so many changes over the last five years and we have seen these changes affect the way people view their homes. Today the focus is less on square footage and more on smart design. We are examining efficiencies in everything from architectural design, the building products we use, and the office methods we practice, all in an effort to provide the best value to homeowners as they develop their homes.

The days of cavernous projects with bloated square footage are over. Today each room or space in a home is asked to do double duty.  A family room may be a space for watching a movie as well as a place to pull out a laptop and get some work done.  Meals are cooked in the kitchen while bills are paid and homework is tackled. Storage is always a concern for today’s client and we focus on built-in cabinetry, bookshelves, and efficient closet space.

Atlanta’s home market is picking up. Houses have been selling, home values have been rising and there seems to be a general breath taking. It is safe again. It is time to make your home the place you would like it to be by building smarter. Today we want each and every inch put into a project to make sense and feel like home. Give us a call if you would like to explore some options for your home in the New Year.


Design Trends for 2014

It’s a new year and everyone seems to be talking about what is ahead. Here are some design trends to watch for in 2014.

After having been one of the top items on homeowners lists to remove or change for years, brass is making its way back into the home again. We saw this one coming and wrote about it in a previous post. What makes this trend fun and interesting in our field of renovation is seeing brass or warmer metals as accents. A faucet here, a light fixture there is the name of the game. It’s all about the mix of metals and finishes, not so much about the complete matching suites we have seen for years. So if you have been plagued with 80’s brass knobs, you may want to look at them with new eyes and a bit more love.

Color Palettes
Color in homes is always a trendy and fickle topic. The design world seems to be featuring interiors in a few camps. Dark, mysterious dining rooms and libraries painted in rich greens, inky blues, or deep slates and eggplants. Woodwork is painted these saturated colors and the finish is glossy. At the other end of the spectrum is the frequently seen all white palette. Airy and ethereal, these rooms provide a soft background for mixed fabric textures and wood finishes.

Knotty Woods
For years, high end wood grains have ruled the day. Walnut, maple, and  cherry have been the wood species of choice with looking at cabinetry or stained paneling. In the future we will be seeing more rustic woods applied in sleeker modern spaces. Wood always provides a warmth that many modern spaces need as a counterpoint to their sharp edges and clean lines. Think about Belgian pickled oaks and cypresses. Rustic, live edge shelving applied to a clean, tiled backsplash is a trend to watch.

People are still looking for relaxation and serene master suites and baths are the hot item. Soothing colors, soft textures, and natural materials are the choice when creating s space to forget about the work day or stresses of everyday life. Spa culture has seeped into the design world and we are frequently asked to help transform a master bath or suite into one’s favorite spa. A few clean lines, soft lighting, organized towel storage and a touch of teak can get you there.

Homeowners today are ready to transform their homes after several years of waiting but value is still a focus. We strive to create the best spaces to use today and well into tomorrow. This need for versatility is a trend we see in our design department when working with clients as well as the interior design world. Furniture and spaces need to offer several functions. The family room may be a spot to watch a family movie or relax but it also needs to provide ample storage and a place to pull out a laptop and she dome emails. Kitchens need to be a place to cook meals, organize bill paying and paperwork, serve as mudrooms and homework stations. Everything needs to earn it’s place in the home. Superfluous square footage and empty rooms are out. Smart design, multi purpose space and furniture is in.

Roof Dormers, an Added Style Element

At Home ReBuilders, we find most clients come to us with a universal goal. They almost always are looking for more space. Sometimes the space needs to be improved on, updated, or modified but most commonly it is all of those things plus “more”. We have seen construction budgets tighten in the past few years and homeowners are considerate of not overbuilding and maintaining value in their home but their goals tend to be the same. They are looking to maximize all of the square footage in their home. They want a new playroom or extra bedroom for family. They would like a master suite with room for a large closet and sitting ares. They are looking for a media room or family room to stretch out in. Adding dormers to a renovation can be a clever way to grant these wishes without adding the expense of a full storey addition.

Simply put, dormers are windows with their own roof that jut out from the larger roof. Dormers are built in a variety of shapes, including flat, shed, gabled, pedimented, hipped,  arched, oval, eyebrow, inset and composite. Because they can be inserted into an existing roof line, they often can provide the head height needed to turn an attic or awkward space into useable real estate.

Eyebrow dormers are characterized by a low upward curve and a lack of vertical sides. It looks much like a sleepy, or half-opened, eye. The eyebrow dormer is often a feature of Shingle style architecture.

Typical in the English Tudor style, gabled dormers have gabled roofs, with two sloping planes that meet in the center.

The hipped dormer has a hipped roof, which is characterized by three sloping planes that meet at the top. Prairie Style and Craftsman architectural styles are the types that typically feature hipped dormers.

Also called recessed dormers, inset dormers, unlike other dormers, are set back into the roof, which gives them a distinctive architectural style.

The simplest form of dormer, shed dormers have a roof with a single sloping plane. This style is found in Arts & Crafts and Colonial Revival architecture.

A shed dormer is a popular addition because it extends living space with height and width. A shed dormer’s eave line is parallel to the eave line of the roof.

A dormer, regardless of style, can add an extra element of charm to any exterior. Start looking around your neighborhood, dormers are everywhere!

Kitchen Design

One of the most important things to consider in your upcoming kitchen renovation is working with an experienced designer who is well versed in the standards set by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Below is an outline of some of their recommended measurements and dimensions for effective kitchen design. Enjoy!

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recommends the following guidelines for kitchen planning.

The NKBA developed the kitchen planning guidelines to provide designers with good planning practices that consider users’ typical needs. A committee of experts in kitchen design reviewed lifestyle and design trends and model building code requirements to ensure the guidelines promote the health, safety, and welfare of consumers. Existing relevant research and new research on storage provide the basis for these updated guidelines.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 1- Door Entry
Recommended: The clear opening of a doorway should be at least 34 inches wide. This would require a minimum 2-foot 10-inch door.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 2: Door Interference
Recommended: No entry door should interfere with the safe operation ofappliances, nor should appliance doors interfere with one another.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 3: Distance Between Work Centers
Recommended: In a kitchen with three work centers*, the sum of the three traveled distances should equal no more than 26 feet with no single leg of the triangle measuring less than 4 feet nor more than 9 feet.

When the kitchen plan includes more than three primary appliance/work centers, each additional travel distance to another appliance/work center should measure no less than 4 feet and no more than 9 feet.

Each leg is measured from the center-front of the appliance/sink.

No work triangle leg intersects an island/peninsula or other obstacle by more than 12 inches.

*A major appliance and its surrounding landing/work area form a work center. The distances between the three primary work centers (cooking surface, cleanup/prep primary sink, and refrigeration storage) form a work triangle.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 4: Separating Work Centers
Recommended: A full-height, full-depth, tall obstacle* should not separate two primary work centers.

A properly recessed tall corner unit will not interrupt the workflow and is acceptable.

*Examples of a full-height obstacle are a tall oven cabinet, tall pantry cabinet, or refrigerator.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 5 – Work Triangle Traffic
Recommended: No major traffic patterns should cross through the basic work triangle.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 6: Work Aisle
Recommended: The width of a work aisle should be at least 42 inches for one cook and at least 48 inches for multiple cooks. Measure between the counter frontage, tall cabinets, and/or appliances.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 7: Walkway
Recommended: The width of a walkway should be at least 36 inches.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 8: Traffic Clearance at Seating
Recommended: In a seating area where no traffic passes behind a seated diner, allow 32 inches of clearance from the counter/table edge to any wall or other obstruction behind the seating area.

  • If traffic passes behind the seated diner, allow at least 36 inches to edge past.
  • If traffic passes behind the seated diner, allow at least 44 inches to walk past.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 9: Seating Clearance
Recommended: Kitchen seating areas should incorporate at least the following clearances:

  • 30 inches for high tables/counters with a 24-inch-wide by 18-inch-deep counter space for each seated diner.
  • 36-inch-high counters with a 24-inch-wide by 15-inch-deep counter space for each seated diner and at least 15 inches of clear knee space.
  • 42-inch-high counters with a 24-inch-wide by 12-inch-deep counter space for each seated diner and 12 inches of clear knee space.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 10: Cleanup/Prep Sink Placement
Recommended: If a kitchen has only one sink, locate it adjacent to or across from the cooking surface and refrigerator.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 11: Cleanup/Prep Sink Landing Area
Recommended: Include at least a 24-inch-wide landing area* to one side of the sink and at least an 18-inch-wide landing area on the other side.

If all of the countertop at the sink is not at the same height, then plan a 24-inch landing area on one side of the sink and 3 inches of countertop frontage on the other side, both at the same height as the sink.

The 24 inches of recommended landing area can be met by 3 inches of countertop frontage from the edge of the sink to the inside corner of the countertop if more than 21 inches of countertop frontage is available on the return.

*Landing area is measured as countertop frontage adjacent to a sink and/or an appliance. The countertop must be at least 16 inches deep and must be 28 inches to 45 inches above the finished floor to qualify.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 12: Preparation/Work Area
Recommended: Include a section of continuous countertop at least 36 inches wide by 24 inches deep immediately next to a sink for a primary preparation/work area.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 13: Dishwasher Placement
Recommended: Locate nearest edge of the primary dishwasher within 36 inches of the nearest edge of a cleanup/prep sink.

Provide at least 21 inches* of standing space between the edge of the dishwasher and countertop frontage, appliances, and/or cabinets, which are placed at a right angle to the dishwasher.

*In a diagonal installation, the 21 inches is measured from the center of the sink to the edge of the dishwasher door in an open position.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 14: Waste Receptacles
Recommended: Include at least two waste receptacles. Locate one near each of the cleanup/prep sink(s) and a second for recycling either in the kitchen or nearby.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 15: Auxiliary Sink
Recommended: At least 3 inches of countertop frontage should be provided on one side of the auxiliary sink and 18 inches of countertop frontage on the other side, both at the same height as the sink.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 16: Refrigerator Landing Area
Recommended: Include at least:

  • 15 inches of landing area on the handle side of the refrigerator, or
  • 15 inches of landing area on either side of a side-by-side refrigerator, or
  • 15 inches of landing area that is no more than 48 inches across from the front of the refrigerator, or
  • 15 inches of landing area above or adjacent to any undercounter-style refrigeration appliance.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 17: Cooking Surface Landing Area
Recommended: Include a minimum of 12 inches of landing area on one side of a cooking surface and 15 inches on the other side.

For safety reasons, in an island or peninsula situation, the countertop should also extend a minimum of 9 inches behind the cooking surface if the counter height is the same as the surface-cooking appliance.

For an enclosed configuration, a reduction of clearances shall be in accordance with the appliance manufacturer’s instructions or per local codes. (This may not provide adequate landing area.)

Kitchen Planning Guideline 18: Cooking Surface Clearance
Recommended: Allow 24 inches of clearance between the cooking surface and a protected noncombustible surface above it.

Code Requirement:

  • At least 30 inches of clearance is required between the cooking surface and an unprotected/combustible surface above it.
  • If a microwave hood combination is used above the cooking surface, then the manufacturer’s specifications should be followed.

Refer to manufacturers’ specifications or local building codes for other considerations.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 19: Cooking Surface Ventilation
Recommended: Provide a correctly sized, ducted ventilation system for all cooking surface appliances. The recommended minimum is 150 CFM.

Code Requirement:

  • Manufacturers’ specifications must be followed.
  • The minimum required exhaust rate for a ducted hood is 100 CFM, and it must be ducted to the outside.
  • Make-up air, fresh air brought inside to replace exhausted air, may need to be provided. Refer to local codes.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 20: Cooking Surface Safety

  • Do not locate the cooking surface under an operable window.
  • Window treatments above the cooking surface should not use flammable materials.
  • A fire extinguisher should be located near the exit of the kitchen away from cooking equipment.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 21: Microwave Oven Placement
Recommended: Locate the microwave oven after considering the user’s height and abilities. The ideal location for the bottom of the microwave is 3 inches below the principle user’s shoulder, but no more than 54 inches above the floor.

If the microwave oven is placed below the countertop, the oven bottom must be at least 15 inches off the finished floor.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 22 – Microwave Landing Area
Recommended: Provide at least a 15-inch landing area above, below, or adjacent to the handle side of a microwave oven.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 23: Oven Landing Area
Recommended: Include at least a 15-inch landing area next to or above the oven.

At least a 15-inch landing area that is not more than 48 inches across from the oven is acceptable if the appliance does not open into a walkway.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 24: Combining Landing Areas
Recommended: If two landing areas are adjacent to one another, determine a new minimum for the two adjoining spaces by taking the longer of the two landing area requirements and adding 12 inches.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 25: Countertop Space
Recommended: A total of 158 inches of countertop frontage, 24 inches deep, with at least 15 inches of clearance above, is needed to accommodate all uses, including landing area, preparation/work area, and storage.

Built-in appliance garages extending to the countertop can be counted towards the total countertop frontage recommendation, but they may interfere with the landing areas.

Kitchen Planning Guideline 26: Countertop Edges
Recommendation: Specify clipped or round corners rather than sharp edges on all counters.

The Internet and Home Design

Home ReBuilders has been in business for over 30 years. One can imagine how taste and style has changed since the mid-eighties. In the early days, homeowners were interest in a new bathroom or some more space for their family. Design decisions seemed to focus on brass and crystal doorknobs, stepped coffered ceilings, floral wallpaper, and pressure treated angled decks. People also had a vague or hazy vision of what they would like to see their home look like, often shaped by what they may have seen in a friend’s home. People would talk, Bill and the designers would talk, and we produced a lot of great projects for happy clients.

Shelter magazines, things that had been around for years, seemed to be everywhere in the late-nineties. The market for remodeling and home improvement was hot and publications took notice. Grocery check out lines started populating their shelves with home magazine focusing on renovation. As designers, this was a help. We could suggest clients start really looking at what appealed to them and their focus became more detailed. Homeowners would come to meetings with clippings and tear sheets of things they liked and products they could envision in their space.

Today, Pinterest and Houzz and a multitude of blogs are shaping the industry and people’s tastes. The days of a person coming to a kitchen design meeting with a folder overflowing with ripped magazine pages seems to be over. A laptop or Ipad is pulled out today and a digital file is opened. Again, the result is the same. Clients are educated and opinionated. It’s our job to bring these digital fantasies about what their home can be to life. Successful design starts with communication and these internet sites can be a launch pad for discussion. Be sure to explore them if you are looking for ideas for your next renovation.