Month: January 2011

Cleaning up the Mess

Construction Zone by Kenneth Fisk/
Construction Zone by Kenneth Fisk/

Why it’s so Important to do Your Homework Before Hiring a Renovator

It’s sad, but true. There are some renovators and general contractors out there who specialize in dishonest business practices. From projects abandoned before the work is complete to contractors getting in over their heads by tackling projects far above their pay grade, they serve to cause heartaches for homeowners who have worked and saved to finally launch that home improvement project they’ve been dreaming of. They also supply more than their fair share of headaches for honest renovators who must then come in and clean up their mess. While many people may feel as though they’ve done their homework by shopping around for a number of bids before deciding which renovator to use, unfortunately some of them will base this all-important decision on price alone. Everybody loves a good deal, but when it comes to something as significant as the home you share with your family – this is definitely an area where you won’t want to cut corners.

Another difficult reality is that the fix may end up costing homeowners far more than if they had originally elected to go with one the renovators who came in with a higher bid. An inexperienced or unscrupulous contractor may also skip steps with regard to acquiring the proper paperwork from the city or county to complete the work, and the ensuing fines may leave the homeowners with a costly subpar project. If a contractor is not properly insured, in the event that one of his subcontractors is injured on a job working on a homeowner’s property – that homeowner may wind up holding the bag with regard to the medical expenses. This doesn’t have to happen to you if you do the research before you sign on the dotted line, and if you use the following tips when selecting the RIGHT renovator for your home improvement project.

  • Request bids, but don’t base your decision solely on price alone.  You often get what you paid for.
  • Schedule face-to-face meetings with project supervisors from each company to make sure you have a good rapport and that they seem to be attentive to your wants, needs, and concerns.
  • Do a little digging – once you’ve started narrowing the list down, look beyond the company website and collateral materials that are designed to make the company look good. Look into their professional affiliations, peek around on internet search sites to see if any complaints have been lodged against them on public forums or with the Better Business Bureau. You may even uncover a lawsuit or two.  If you find NOTHING about their organization – that may be a warning sign, as well.  It’s not unusual for contractors to change their company names to dodge a bad reputation.
  • Ask for testimonials from other clients, as well as photos from some of their other jobs.
  • Make sure the company you go with is fully licensed, registered and insured.
  • Don’t fall under the assumption that you can’t trust anyone. For every shoddy renovator out there, there are just as many hard-working, skilled builders and craftsman who would be honored to be chosen to complete your work.
  • Consider Highlight Homes, LLC among the list of companies to design and complete your home improvement project for you.  With 20 years in the architectural, construction and renovation industries under our workbelts – we may not come in on the low-end of a bidding war, but we’re worth every penny and have an outstanding record of overall customer satisfaction. Most importantly, we get it right the FIRST time.

If you’d like to contact Highlight Homes to begin discussing your upcoming renovation or room addition (or clean up the mess that the last renovator left behind), we welcome the opportunity to speak with you! Our professional staff can be reached by calling 678.873.9234, e-mailing or filling out our convenient online contact form.  To learn more about Highlight Homes, visit us online at

Home Sweet Home – What Better Way to Say “I Love You”

HeartThis Valentine’s Day, Give the Gift of a Home Renovation by Highlight Home Restoration

On February 14th, give that special someone in your life something lasting… something they’ll enjoy for years to come… something they REALLY want – their ideal “Home Sweet Home”. The best part is, your gift could be something that can be enjoyed by the entire family, as well as the guests who visit your home. Rather than watching your sweetheart open another jewelry box, heart-shaped container filled with chocolates, or gift bag of lingerie – imagine the look on their face when they unwrap the blueprints to the home renovation they’ve been dying to complete.  (Have a box of tissue handy!)

Give him the Man Cave he’s always dreamed of – from full bar and game room to in-home theater complete with stadium seating and flat screen TV for watching the Big Game with friends.  Give her the sunroom or outdoor oasis she’s always wanted – a place where she can relax with a good book or enjoy entertaining al fresco, surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds. The only limit to the possibilities is your imagination.  Have an aspiring chef in your midst? Can you imagine the reaction to the promise of the gourmet kitchen of their wildest dreams?

At Highlight Home Restoration, we understand the importance of any home renovation project – this is your home, a treasured part of your family’s life – and we deeply appreciate the fact that you entrust us with such an awesome task. Not only do we have a solid track record of customer satisfaction, but – because we are a design/build firm – we’re with you from start to finish and every step along the way, from initial consultation to design to project completion. We are proud to serve the entire Metro Atlanta area as well as the surrounding region. To help you prepare for what could be the BEST Valentine’s Day gift EVER, Highlight Home Restoration is currently offering a FREE ACAD concept design (valued at $800 to $1,000) with the purchase of a home improvement project of $10,000 or more. Our services include:

  • Whole Home Renovations
  • Room Additions
  • Architectural and Design Services
  • Kitchen & Bath Remodeling
  • Landscaping & Ponds
  • Decks & Porches
  • Sunrooms
  • Basement Finishing
  • and Much, Much More

Shopping for this year’s gift is as easy as picking up the phone, sending us an e-mail or filling out our convenient online contact form. Our talented team of designers and builders can be reached by calling 678.873.9234 or by e-mailing  We look forward to hearing from you and learning how we can make your “Home Sweet Home” even sweeter!

Beat the Winter Blues by Planning a Spring Remodel

"Road in Winter" by Josef Petrek/Public Domain
"Road in Winter" by Josef Petrek/Public Domain

As most of the nation wades through a flurry of cold, gray days and afternoons spent shoveling the snow off the driveway, it’s easy to feel bogged down and develop a nasty case of cabin fever. While some may dream of trips to distant shores and warmer weather, the talented folks at Highlight Home Restoration suggest you also take advantage of this time to begin planning for a Spring remodel. Spend the next couple of months envisioning your ideal home, then start making steps to see that your dreams become a beautiful reality in time for Spring.

  • Take Advantage of Cold Days Spent Indoors and DREAM BIG – Begin poring through home décor websites and magazines to see what looks really appeal to you, then start printing out pages and/or clipping pictures to start your very own “Dream Book”. Dream big and tackle all of the living spaces of your home – both inside and out. While you may not be able to complete all of these projects at once, you may be surprised to learn that some of them can be handled as simply as applying a fresh coat of paint, adding some new artwork, tossing in a few throw pillows for a touch of color, or updating your furniture with the latest looks – all items you could take care of on your own. As for the bigger jobs, such as finishing a basement, adding a sunroom or extending a deck – it’s best to leave those to a professional.  Your Dream Book will serve as a great resource for them as well, so you can make sure everyone is on the same page with regard to YOUR vision.
  • Make a List of Projects in Order of Importance – This is perhaps one of the most difficult steps.  In a perfect world, you could place a #1 in front of each item on your project list.  Unfortunately, given tougher restrictions to lending – you may be forced to pick and choose.  Once you’ve put your list together – go back through and decide which items you and your family can complete yourselves and which will require the help of a qualified professional.
  • Begin Researching Your Lending Options – In the event that you don’t have a secret stash under your mattress or a money tree growing in the backyard, chances are you will have to apply for a loan.  To learn more about this increasingly vital step in the home renovation process, read our blog “Helpful Tips to Securing Financing in 2011 for Home Improvement Projects”.
  • Begin Researching Home Improvement Specialists – If you are considering projects outside the realm of general home maintenance such as exterior painting or gutter cleaning, you may want to look beyond general contractors to someone who specializes in any or all of the aspects of your chosen home improvement project. By selecting a design/build firm (like Highlight Homes Restoration), you are able to cut out a step by involving a company who can not only build your project for you but can also design the project to fit your vision and specifications. To learn more about finding a specialist to spearhead your project, read our blog “Three Surefire Ways to Find a Qualified Professional Renovator for Your Home Improvement Project”.
  • Set a Meeting and Establish a Calendar – Once you’ve whittled down your list of both projects to complete and professionals to complete them for you (both may be based on the figures your loan officer is able to come up with), set a meeting and establish a calendar for job start and completion.  This is when the project begins to take shape and become real for you.  Keep in mind that just about any home renovation project can be somewhat obtrusive, as subcontractors march in and out of your home on a daily basis until the project is complete –so try to select a time that is most convenient for you and your family, while working within the specialist’s calendar. Remember that weather will sometimes play a role, so be prepared to be a little flexible on the job completion date.  Highlight Home Restoration is proud of our reputation for completing projects on time, on budget and above expectation. Once you have a date on your calendar, you will have so much to look forward to – essentially helping ease the pain of the coming weeks of Winter. Time it just right, and you and your family could be enjoying your new living space in time for a Spring unveiling!

Highlight Home Restoration welcomes the opportunity to aid you with your home renovation project. We are highly skilled designers and craftsmen who serve the Metro Atlanta area and surrounding region. We have a proven track record of excellence in building and remodeling everything from kitchens, bathrooms, basements, patios, decks, room additions and so much more. We invite you to learn more about us by visiting our website at When you’re ready to set a meeting to discuss your home improvement project, call us at 678.873.9234, e-mail us at, or fill out our helpful online contact form. We look forward to adding a ray or two of sunshine to your Winter!  Stay warm, Atlanta!!

Helpful Tips to Securing Financing in 2011 for Home Improvement Projects

In this brave new world of ours in 2011, many of us are finding the need to become braver and smarter in light of current economic conditions. While some folks worry over possible job layoffs, health care and home foreclosures, life goes on for others. For those seeking general home maintenance or possible home improvements in an effort to protect one of the largest investments in their lives, they may find a more difficult row to hoe than in years past in order to securing financing. It’s easy to get excited when planning any renovation to your home, but it may be wise to have a solid budget set in advance of your project’s start date and make sure your loan officer is on board before going to the next step of hiring a contractor to complete the work for you.  While it’s difficult to know how much a project will cost you without speaking to a contractor first, in this day and age – it’s better to know what you can afford first and then ask the contractor to work within your budget.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, new government regulations, tighter restrictions and higher mortgage rates are dampening the optimism for many would-be home buyers.  Therefore, more and more homeowners are continuing to make the choice to stay put and make do with what they have.  However, there are certain steps you can take to help ensure the likelihood of securing a loan for your next home improvement or maintenance project:

ROI graph

  • Choose wisely – Lenders are more likely to look favorably upon projects that have a historically high return on investment. In a “Cost vs. Value” study conducted by Remodeling Magazine in 80 metropolitan markets across the nation, the projects with the largest return on investment included:
    • Deck Addition
    • Kitchen Remodel
    • Bathroom Remodel
    • New Roof
    • Family Room Addition
    • Master Suite Addition
  • Space it out – While it’s wonderful to imagine tackling all of your dream projects at once and coming away with an entirely “good as new” home, it may not be practical from a financial standpoint. For the time being, homes are not the assets they once were and (hopefully) will be again. Consider taking on just one or two projects at a time.  List them in order of importance from a personal standpoint as well as a return on investment perspective. What do you and your family need RIGHT NOW, and what can you live without for a little while longer? By paying off your loan seamlessly, chances are your lender will be likely to extend another loan your way in the future so you can take on the next project on your wish list.
  • Do Your Homework – Research all of the different lending institutions such as banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, and private lenders – as well as different loan possibilities – like conventional home equity loans, equity lines of credit and personal lines of credit. Dig around to make sure you don’t fall victim to fraudulent lending practices. The Federal Trade Commission suggests that you DON’T:
    • Sign on to a home equity loan if you don’t have enough income to make the monthly payments.
    • Sign anything you haven’t read thoroughly.
    • Feel pressured to sign anything before you’ve had a chance to read it.
    • Agree to a loan that includes credit insurance or other “add-ons” that you don’t want.
  • Know The Score – The Federal Trade Commission also indicates that it’s wise to know your credit score before sitting down in front of a lender so there are no less than pleasant surprises. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. A credit report includes information such as where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you have been sued, served jail time, or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies then sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, renting an apartment, or securing a home loan. To order, simply visit, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
  • Don’t Become Discouraged – History has shown that time has an amazing way of healing all things. If you are unable to secure a loan for a home improvement project at this time, be sure to do what it takes to clean up your credit score in the meantime and start saving your pennies for the future. All is not lost – you’ve done the research necessary to find a good lender and contractor, you know exactly what you want to do, and when the time comes – you’ll be prepared to make your dreams a reality.  In the event that you are able to secure a loan, be sure to work with a reputable contractor who gets the work done on time and on budget.

When you’re ready to begin on your general maintenance or home improvement project, we hope you will contact Highlight Home Restoration to discuss your design and building plans with you.  We will do our level best to work within your budget while exceeding your expectations. To reach us, simply call 678-873-9234, e-mail us at or fill out our convenient online contact form.  To learn more about us and all of our services, we invite you to visit us online at We wish you the very best of luck in securing your loan and eagerly await your call!

Sources: Podmolik, Mary Ellen. “Would-be buyers could find it harder to get into a home in 2011” Chicago Tribune. January 1, 2011.
“Cost vs. Value Report 2009-2010” Remodeling Magazine.
“Home Equity Loans: Borrowers Beware” Federal Trade Commission.