One of the hottest new trends in kitchen remodeling in Maryland is actually taking place outdoors. Many homeowners in Maryland are opting to build fully functioning outdoor kitchens. Outdoor kitchens, you may say, are nothing new. Build a campfire. Make a hanging food pantry to discourage hungry bears. Line a cardboard box with foil and hot coals to make a reflector oven. No big deal.
Sure, that has worked for eons in the great outdoors. However, could you, or would you even want to have such a setup permanently in your back yard?
Probably not. Unless you (a) Live in the country and (b) frequently invite Boy Scouts over to prepare dinner.
But what about a more modern outdoor kitchen? One as simple as a grill and countertop, maybe? Or one equipped with those basics, plus a seating area, sink, rotisserie, refrigerator and smoker?
Granted, those more elaborate setups aren’t commonplace in Maryland. The closest the majority of us come to having an outdoor kitchen is a grill and picnic table outside the back door. Nevertheless, they’re beginning to become more and more popular in Maryland. For those with the means, an outdoor kitchen offers up a great way to expand ones entertaining space while taking advantage of the great weather during much of the year.
Often times, homeowners and designers strive to tie an outdoor kitchen in with the general décor of the house, while at the same time doing something fun with the kitchen and seating area. To that end, outdoor countertops and tile floors are often made from same material as found on their indoor counterparts, creating a seamless transition from inside to out.
When dealing with outdoor environments, care must be taken when selecting materials for appliances and various finishes. Stainless steel is usually selected for outdoor grills because it won’t rust. Likewise, redwood cabinets are protected from the weather and the elements.
If rain does happen to be falling, many outdoor kitchens are designed so that guests can eat on tables that – like the kitchen itself – are fully covered. Sometimes homeowners put an additional kitchen inside their poolside cabanas where the cooking and eating areas are also completely enclosed.
Either way, an outdoor kitchen doesn’t come cheap. Many outdoor kitchen designs start at around $25,000. More elaborate, open-air constructions can cost the homeowner about $100,000 for the structure, appliances, bathroom and outdoor fireplace.
Not surprisingly, price is probably the No. 1 reason more people don’t have an outdoor kitchen. Plus, with weather in Maryland, an outdoor kitchen can only be used about half the year.
Still, an outdoor kitchen could be built less expensively. For example, it could be built on an existing patio. The
grill wouldn’t have to be so fancy. (Whichever kind you decide on, make sure it’s placed so smoke blows away from the eating area). Moreover, while a grill and countertop are necessities, a sink and refrigerator aren’t. (But they sure come in handy).
For more information on Maryland kitchen remodeling, go here: http://www.bizzibid.com/md/kitchen/
To continue on our series of what a state requires of a home improvement company before issuing a contractor license, we discover what North Carolina contractors go through.
To obtain a contractor’s license in the state of North Carolina, there are several requirements to be met. There are also three limitations. They are as follows:
1) Unlimited $150,000 no limit
2) Intermediate $75,000 less than $700,000
3) Limited $17,000 less than $350,000
All applicants must submit at least three letters of recommendation. These recommendation letters must be current. No letters older than six months will be accepted.
NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL CONTRACTOR LICENSE
To obtain a general contractor’s license in the state of North Carolina, the Licensing Board requires that each applicant pass an exam that will cover each of the following contracting areas:
Water and sewer lines
Water purification and sewage disposal concrete construction
Boring and tunneling
Grading and excavation
Electrical (ahead of point of delivery) metal erection
PLUMBING/HEATING AND FIRE PROTECTION SPRINKLER CONTRACTOR’S LICENSE
In the state of North Carolina, obtaining a Plumbing/Heating and Fire Protection Sprinkler Contractor’s license requires the approval of the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors. There are three classifications of this type of contracting license; Class I, Class II, and Fuel Pumping license. There are different requirements for each one. They are as follows:
Class I- To obtain a Class I Plumbing/Heating and Fire Protection Sprinkler Contractor’s license, the applicant must have completed:
A minimum of two years of experience in the plumbing, heating, and fire protection business (having spent half of the 2 years as a student in an accredited technical program)
A Class I license covers the fields of plumbing, heating, and fire sprinkler systems for all types of building structures.
Class II- To obtain a license as a Class II Plumbing/Heating and fire Protection Sprinkler technician, the requirements are as follows:
A minimum of two years of experience in the field (having spent half of that time in an accredited technical program)
A Class II licensed Plumbing/Heating and fire Protection Sprinkler technician is qualified to work on plumbing and heating systems in single family detached residential dwellings.
Fuel Piping License- To obtain a Fuel Piping license, the applicant must have completed the following requirement:
A minimum of one year of experience in that field with half of that time having been spent in an accredited technical program.
A Fuel Piping license covers installation of fuel pipes that extend from an approved fuel source which is at or near the area that supplies fuel to any systems, appliances, or equipment.
North Carolina ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR LICENSE
To obtain an Electrical Contractor’s license, the applicant must meet the requirements of the State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors. The licenses that they issue are as follows:
Swimming pool bonding
Intermediate: A bod of $25,000
Unlimited: A bond of $75,000
Single Family detached residences
Plumbing and heating
The State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors has reciprocal licensing with the states of Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.
It is advised that all applicants check for additional municipal contractor license requirements. These requirements can sometimes vary from county to county.
Have you ever wondered what a home improvement contractor in New Jersey must go through for licensing?
In the state of New Jersey, a home improvement contractor must be issued a license by the state before accepting any major home improvement jobs. This includes those who are in the business of home material sales as well. The following is a list of home improvement jobs that fall under that category:
Attached floor coverings
Wall to wall carpeting
Solar heating or water systems
Central heating and air conditioning equipment
Fire protection devices
In the state of New Jersey, some other niche contractor licenses have different requirements.
PLUMBING CONTRACTOR’S LICENSE REQUIREMENTS
To obtain a plumbing contractor’s license issued by the Board of Examiners of Master Plumbers in the state of New Jersey, the applicant must be over the age of 21 and pass a plumber’s exam. He must also obtain one of the following degrees:
One year of plumbing work that has been approved by the plumber’s board.
A Bachelor’s degree in sanitary engineering, mechanical, or plumbing service.
ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR’S LICENSE REQUIREMENTS
To obtain an electrical contractor’s license in the state of New Jersey, the applicant must be able to pass an electrical contractor’s exam. To be eligible to take the exam, the applicant must be over the age of 21, have a high school diploma or a GED, and show proof of having completed one of the following requirements:
A Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering combined with a minimum of two years of work experience in a plumbing business with a board-approved supervisor.
A minimum of five years of experience in working to repair or install electrical wiring for power, heat, or light.
A minimum of 8,000 hours of experience in working to repair or install wiring, and a minimum of 576 hours of an accredited plumbing class.
The state of New Jersey requires that all electrical contractors have their license renewed every three years. The New Jersey electrical contractor’s board requires that all licensed electricians carry a minimum of $300,000 bodily injury and property damage as well as $300,000 combined property damage and bodily injury insurance.
WELL DRILLER’S LICENSE
To obtain a well driller’s license in the state of New Jersey, the applicant must have a minimum of three years of well drilling experience be approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. The requirements are as follows:
Journeyman Well Driller
The applicant must pass a well driller practical exam that will cover the following topics:
Tools and equipment
Master Well Driller
To obtain a Master Well Driller’s license, the applicant must have completed all of the requirements of the Journeyman Well Driller’s license and have a minimum of two years of experience in a board approved well driller business.
Because a New Jersey contractor’s license requirements may differ from county to county, it is recommended the applicant also check for any municipal contractor’s license requirements that may be in effect.
The Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) implements and enforces state law related to home improvement contractors. The MHIC has established a set of requirements for licensing home improvement contractors to ensure that consumers can be assured that their jobs will be completed by competent and qualified individuals and firms.
There are a number of requirements an applicant must satisfy before obtaining a license. To qualify for a license as home improvement contractor in Maryland, they must prove they have at least two years of construction or home improvement experience and/or education. If applying as a corporation, the contractor must submit their Articles of Incorporation and Certificate of Good Standing. Applicants are expected to check with MHIC to ensure a specific trade name is available.
Additionally, the MHIC requires that applicants show financial solvency, based on their net worth, credit rating and size of their business. If financial solvency is not met, MHIC allows a two-year $20,000 surety bond for this requirement. Documentation required includes a copy of the last three months of bank statements, copies of vehicle titles and a printout of the Kelly Blue Book to show value. If real estate is listed as an asset on the financial statements submitted, an appraisal of the property values is required. A current and original credit report less than 90 days old must also accompany a license application.
Third, contractors must submit a certificate of liability insurance for $50,000 or more of general liability insurance that includes the name of the individual applicant and the company name, and designate the Maryland Home Improvement Commission as the certificate holder.
A contractor with any felony convictions or drug offenses committed after January 1, 1991, or any misdemeanors related to home improvement transactions must provide copies of all conviction records, a letter of explanation for each conviction and a letter of completion from the designated parole or probation officer. The MHIC will review this information as part of the application process.
Contractors must also pass the home improvement examination with a passing score of at least 70% to obtain a license. The examination includes questions on home improvement laws, safety regulations, payroll taxes, estimating and applicable Maryland laws. Test results are valid for two years.
A Maryland home improvement contractor license is valid for two years from date of issue.
Massachusetts has been a busy spot for home remodeling requests so far this spring, which may be a good sign that the economy is rebounding in the New England area. A good residential remodeling contractor can breathe new life into your home. Most can handle a wide variety of renovations that include anything from refreshing an aging kitchen or bath to adding and constructing a new room. As is the case with most home improvement and repair projects, a small amount of due diligence can eliminate misunderstandings and make sure you get what you want. The following six points are vital considerations before making your choice:
Experience Suited to Your Massachusetts Project
Whenever you are constructing a separate addition or remodel to your residence, make certain your Massachusetts contractor possesses the proper background and has completed comparable assignments previously. As much as this seems common sense, always make sure hire you don’t hire a flooring contractor to perform your entire renovation job. Their measure of experience is going to be restricted to ensuring your tile or wood floors are done correctly – not necessarily other kinds of construction.
However, a suitable home remodeling contractor will likely be a person who has practical experience supervising virtually all stages of construction from the basic foundation, to roofing, and interior finishing. If you are only seeking to have your home painted, a painting professional will likely be acceptable to complete this sort of work on your house.
List of Materials
Any sort of estimate you get from a licensed contractor needs to include a reasonably comprehensive list of materials, yet it will obviously be determined by the extent and difficulty of the project. The listing supplied by an individual adding a counter top in your kitchen will be significantly different that one a contractor putting in an additional room in your home would provide. In either situation, it is best to make certain you get a written summary of the supplies being used in your project.
Verify Massachusetts Insurance
This is a huge consideration and it must be asked early in the process and verified. Make sure you request proof of liability insurance coverage and worker’s compensation protection from the prospective contractor. The obligation to have liability coverage must be considered an unconditional requirement for every service provider, which means you will want to avoid anyone undertaking work on your residence without this. For most contractors, worker’s compensation insurance is required.
Always Get Local References
Any reputable contractor that does good work and has a favorable background should be able to present you with references from recent happy customers. Phone or e-mail these people to ask how their experience was, and if they would endorse the contractor.
MA State License
Depending on the type of work being performed, virtually all contractors must have some kind of state or county license(s). Obtain the telephone number and get in touch with the proper state or county board for proof of licensure and to ensure it is current. Many people advertise themselves as registered, yet not everyone has current credentials. If the contractor will not supply you with their licenses, it is a good idea to avoid doing business with them.
Deposits & Down Payments
Based on the extent of your project, the contractor may request a down payment before carrying out the work. Use caution so as not to pay an excessive amount upfront before any work is performed. 10% is generally sufficient to show your commitment to getting the work done. The outstanding balance should be disbursed during the remainder of the undertaking. This can be usually be determined by how big the project is and the costs involved. In the event the contractor needs to make large investments in supplies for your assignment, anticipate making staggered payments as the project progresses.
When it comes to kitchen remodeling in Arizona, comfort and style are the key requisites. Homeowners naturally want their homes to retain the best of Southwest style but want to include components that reflect modern sensibilities as well. Some of the most popular kitchen remodeling projects are those that capture the beauty of the Grand Canyon State, with technologies and materials that add comfort, convenience and sophisticated style. Here are two of the hottest remodeling ideas currently trending in Arizona.
Greening Up the Kitchen
Homeowners are increasingly opting for green renovations, kitchen remodeling projects that help save the earth’s resources and that through monthly savings from reduced energy costs, put a bit of green in the homeowner’s pocket as well. Government rebate programs can make installing products like Energy Star appliances or energy-efficient windows even more affordable.
Green materials for kitchen countertops and flooring are popular options as well. Versatile, stylish and functional, glass is a popular choice for backsplashes and countertops. Made from silica, a substance found in sand, glass counters become even more eco-friendly when formed with glass from recycled bottles and car windshields.
Wood remains a favorite renewable material for flooring but bamboo and cork are gaining in popularity as well. A grass that can renew itself in a single growing season, bamboo is a green material that offers a chic modern style. Cork, a material that is harvested from the bark of the cork tree without disturbing its growth, is soft underfoot, offering a tactile texture to kitchens.
Many Arizona homeowners are expanding their kitchens into covered patio spaces, sometimes called Arizona rooms, creating more space and offering outdoor cooking opportunities in the heat of summer. Whether installing a traditional kiva fireplace or a modern high-tech grill, semi-outdoor kitchens offer families a way to enjoy cooking and entertaining throughout the year.
While homeowners aiming for a contemporary style may give nods to traditional Southwest décor, with architectural details like corbels, vigas or latillas, they’re conscious that a few Southwest decorating elements go a long way. The modern reinterpretation of the Southwest style is more likely to be achieved with a color palette that reflects the beauty of the Arizona’s earth and sky, with sleek, streamlined forms inspired by the landscape’s expansive vistas.
A remodeling project that includes installing windows that offer scenic views of the great outdoors gives homeowners opportunities to accentuate the outdoor feeling with wood cabinets, stone countertops and other natural elements. Decorative ceramic tile applications over the kitchen’s sink or stove add a note of Southwest style without overwhelming a sleek, modern style.
Contemporary kitchen remodeling in Arizona may feature ultra-chic, modern technology but is also likely to reflect elements of nature as well. It’s the combination of a Southwest sensibility and a modern aesthetic that gives contemporary kitchens in Arizona a sophisticated, welcoming and unique style. For more information on Arizona remodeling contractors go here: http://www.bizzibid.com/arizona/
Lately you’ve been thinking that your kitchen seems a bit dated. Although you dream about designing and installing a brand new modernized kitchen, like many people these days, you may not be able to afford a complete kitchen remodel. Well, you basically have two choices: You could just decide to live with it the way it is for now, or you could try an inexpensive do it yourself (DIY) update to bring your kitchen decor into this decade.
Before you start ripping up floors or taking down cabinets, it is important to understand both the costs and skill level required for the project you choose. Flooring and cabinetry can be quite expensive, even for the handiest DIY remodeler. If you are looking for a simple and inexpensive update, then these projects are probably best left for another time. However, a simple project such as updating the backsplash could be just what your kitchen needs to give it a whole new appearance.
Depending on your skill level and your budget, the materials and methods you could choose from to update your backsplash are seemingly endless. More traditional options would include materials such as ceramic tile or wallpaper. However, if you are looking for something more modern, perhaps glass tile or stainless steel would be your best bet.
Many modern kitchen backsplash designs use glass tile as a way to add an accent color with a bit of texture to the room. The tiles range in size from the very small (about 1 inch squares) to much larger subway tiles (about 3 inch by 6 inch rectangles). The larger tiles would work well if your backsplash is quite large. However, if you are working with a small space, the smaller square tiles would be your best choice. Either way, glass tiles would work well with existing wood or laminate cabinetry.
Stainless steel is another material that is very popular in modern kitchens. You’ve probably seen all of the newer appliances that are available with this finish. But if new appliances just aren’t in your budget, you could try updating your backsplash with this modern finish. Similar to glass tiles, stainless steel tiles are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. This option would also work well with existing wood or laminate cabinetry. Furthermore, as stainless steel is more neutral, it may be a better choice than colorful glass if your existing kitchen already has an extensive color palette
Either of these two options would be a great, inexpensive way to give your kitchen a fresh, modern look. However, whether you choose glass tile or stainless steel, the most important things to remember are to measure accurately before you purchase your supplies and to follow the manufacturers instructions for surface preparation and proper installation.
Also, be sure to shop around before you make your purchase. Since you’ll be doing the installation yourself, you aren’t limited to buying from expensive specialty stores. Check out the clearance aisles of larger home improvement stores, since you only need a small amount compared to someone tiling an entire floor or wall, you may find just what you’re looking for at a fraction of the original cost. Online discount outlets are always a good bet as well. Just be sure to read the fine print to make certain you understand what you’re getting, or if there are any hidden shipping or delivery charges.
Whether you are someone who is deeply invested in moving forward with a classic home in the suburbs or you want to redecorate and remodel your condo or apartment in Annapolis or Baltimore, its time for you to consider what is going on in the world of home décor. For many people, having a comfortable, trendy place to live in a high priority, so consider of the current trends that are sweeping the state. Chances are good that you are going to find something that you can’t do without!
Dark woods are definitely in. Dark wood is a good choice for the kitchen cabinets, especially if you pair it with a granite or a marble counter top. Dark wood lends warmth and intimacy to your home, and you will discover that it gives even the brightest rooms a grounded look that is sure to please. Consider how a dark trim can make your home really pop.
Energy efficiency is also a big trend in Maryland. With the economy going the way it is and an ever-increasing emphasis on green methods, energy-saving appliances are an important choice for any homeowner. From water-saving shower heads to energy-efficient washers and dryers, you’ll find that there are some terrific options that are just waiting for you. If you want a shortcut for choosing energy-efficient appliances, look for an Energy Star rating. Don’t forget the less visible appliances as well. Water heaters and furnaces both end up degrading over time, and if you have to invest in a new one, choose one that will save you a great deal of money in the long run by consuming less power.
Don’t be afraid to look into an open plan for your home. Open plan layouts have taken over the Maryland area, whether you are looking in the kitchen or the living room. While many people are afraid that an open plan home will look barren, you’ll find that a properly-implemented open plan area is one that can give your home a spacious but cozy look. While this can take some time and some money to implement, renovating your home for an open plan look is something that dramatically increases the value of the property.
Consider adding more textures to your home. More and more people are choosing a very plain or monochrome look and then layering textures on top of it. For example, if you love the idea of a warm eggshell color scheme to your home, you can add things like unbleached sheepskin rugs or coarse mohair wall hangings to grant the space more texture. Adding texture to a room is a good way to warm it up and to make sure that you are going to be able to cope with a single color scheme.
Themed decorating, once considered tacky, is back in a big way. Urbanites and suburbanites alike are both enjoying decorating their homes with a unifying theme in mind. To prevent a theme from becoming overwhelming, keep it subtle. For example, if you want a western theme in your bedroom, do not simply start throwing pictures of cowboys everywhere! Instead, choose warm browns for the bedroom and decorate tastefully with leather and antiqued brass. It is possible to get the point across in a very soft and gentle fashion.
Give up those old curtains and throw open your windows. Nothing makes a Maryland home look old and tired like dusty drapes. To bring in more light, consider simple sheer curtains that will give your room a soft diffuse aura. Colored sheers can be used to match the rest of the house without much worry about whether or not you are losing light, so experiment with the effects that you get.
If you are invested in doing some home renovations in Maryland, make sure that you see what is current and what is hot. It’s never too late to have the trendy home of your dreams.
When it’s time to remodel a kitchen, one of the key areas of concern for homeowners is the kitchen cabinets. With cabinets, we’re faced with the tough choice of refurbishing the cabinets, which can save money, or buying all new cabinets. Tearing out the old cabinets and installing new ones does cost more, but the benefits of brand new kitchen cabinet installation far outweigh those of refacing.
Though it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of having something new, making areas of your home look nicer and making it your own, the first concern any homeowner should have when considering upgrades is whether they will get a return on their investment. Fortunately, kitchen remodeling, along with bathroom additions and upgrades, is the best remodeling project for adding resale value to a home. While swapping carpet for laminate flooring or painting walls won’t get much return on investment, brand new cabinets will certainly go a long way in paying for themselves when it’s time to sell.
Though many homeowners keep a keen eye on resale value, others plan on staying for a long time and aren’t thinking about return on investment at all. These homeowners can realize a tremendous benefit from choosing brand new cabinet installation as well. While refurbishing old cabinets by stripping the finish, swapping old hardware and repainting or refinishing is certainly cheaper, you’re still left with the “bones” of those old cabinets. Refacing cabinets is only a cosmetic fix. If, as a homeowner, your aim is long-lasting quality rather than just making old cabinets look better for a sale or as a “stop-gap” measure, then brand new cabinets are definitely the way to go.
New Kitchen Layout Options
Most homeowners are stuck with the same old kitchen design they inherited from the previous owners or, if it’s a new home, from the builder or architect. Working with a professional to design and install new cabinets allows homeowners to break out of this rut and change their kitchen design completely. Once the old cabinets are out, home owners are free to create the kitchen of their dreams with many more layout options. With simple kitchen cabinet refurbishing, this just isn’t possible. But by completely remodeling their old kitchen and choosing new cabinets, homeowners gain options they may have always wanted or may not have even considered.
The problem that a lot of homeowners have with their existing kitchen cabinets is that there’s just not enough storage. Resurfacing old cabinets makes them look nice, but they’re still the same old cabinets that are too small for homeowners’ growing needs. A new cabinet installation allows homeowners to choose larger cabinets to accommodate all their storage needs. For example, the existing cabinets might be the standard 30 to 36-inch height, leaving a foot of wasted space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling. Custom designed cabinets can be built to use this space, allowing for many more square feet of useful storage. This is just another of the many reasons new cabinet installation is such a benefit for homeowners.
There’s more to climate control in your home than temperature and humidity. The stabilization of your home’s climate is something that keeps everyone comfortable with no unwelcome changes. To maintain an optimum level, a properly functioning heating and air conditioning system keeps everything within reasonable bounds. Your HVAC equipment needs to be up to the task at all times. Proper maintenance can give you continuous service and avoid problems that many times crop up at the worst possible moment.
Care and Maintenance
First and foremost, it helps if you keep an eye out for things you can do to minimize problems before they occur. The following is a list of maintenance recommendations for the homeowner:
1. Check the outside unit to remove debris like rocks, sticks and leaves.
2. Clean the outside unit of mud, snow and bird droppings.
3. Vacuum the reachable ducts behind the wall filter.
4. Vacuum the coil behind the blower assembly.
5. Vacuum under the inside unit, inside the enclosure.
6. Change the wall filter if you think it might have fouled prematurely.
This is basic but could ward off intermittent problems. Nevertheless, the system is too complicated for anything more, and regular service by a qualified technician is recommended. Most maintenance tasks performed by a technician are done twice a year and include:
1. Replace filters.
2. Clean evaporator and condenser coils.
3. Treat coils with an antimicrobial agent to ward off mold.
4. Check space around air ducts.
5. Inspect fan, bearings and belts.
On an annual basis, leaks in cabinets and the supply duct need to be checked along with dampers. All air ducts should be cleaned at least every two years.
Rewards of Keeping up Regular Service
Proper heating and air conditioning service can have a positive effect on your family’s health. When the filters and ducts are clean, allergens and unwanted dust are kept out. Dirt buildup in an HVAC system is a culprit in many respiratory diseases. Also of critical importance is energy efficiency. A poorly maintained HVAC system works harder to move hot or cold air and costs more. Clogged filters can pass contaminated mold-inducing air. Emergency cleaning causes a drain on your budget.
Another energy-wasting practice is improper control of your home’s temperature. Waiting until everyone is shivering or sweating before turning on the system makes it work harder in heating or cooling as it attempts to match the temperature you’ve set. Even playing with the settings can cause the machinery to turn on and off unnecessarily. Your best bet is to set a comfortable temperature and let the system make minute adjustments to maintain a high level of comfort.