Month: August 2011

Relief in Sight – Acquiring a Renovation Loan Just Got Easier

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

So many homeowners today feel trapped in their current situation – they can’t sell their home, and therefore can’t purchase what they want. By partnering with a really great renovation company like Highlight Homes – it’s easy to make lemonade from lemons and simply CREATE the home you want. Unfortunately, the number one issue we’ve run across in recent years as a result of the nation’s tough economy is that although a homeowner may have a major need or overwhelming desire to renovate their existing home, they often hit a major roadblock when attempting to acquire a loan in order to have the work completed. It’s happened time and time again, and is frustrating for both the homeowner and my team at Highlight Homes. We get all primed and ready to launch an exciting new project, and the banks throw up a big, ugly, thick wall. Well, thanks to some very good news I received during a meeting of the Atlanta Remodelers Council and the Atlanta Home Builders Association recently, relief may very well be in sight!

Aside from using cash on hand, money from investments, unsecured loans, or second mortgage home equity lines of credit to finance a renovation, clients can turn to banks like SunTrust who are now offering special construction-permanent financing that may prove a more viable option for many clients interested in renovating their homes. While the individual perks and benefits could vary depending on your lender, for the most part lenders will use the FUTURE equity of the job to establish a loan amount (sometimes as much as 75 to 80% of the estimated value), and some lenders may even allow a customer to lock in their permanent rate upfront – GREAT news given the fact that interest rates are at historically low levels. By using construction-permanent financing, a client may not have to dip into his investment or savings at all. The best part is, this allows the customer to remodel and refinance all in one transaction – meaning one closing, which saves the client both time and money.

If you’re considering making some changes to your existing home, I suggest you discuss the possibility of utilizing construction-permanent financing with your lender. If this is a product your lender does not currently offer, you might want to approach the friendly folks at SunTrust Bank. Once you’ve had an opportunity to learn what that program might offer you, you can begin dreaming and the Highlight Homes team can begin designing. For more information or to get started on these important first steps, I invite you to call me at 678.873.9234, e-mail me at, or fill out our helpful online contact form. Can’t wait to begin helping you realize your “dream home”!

Bottom’s Up

The future could be very bright for your basement! Photo credit: Highlight Homes

The future could be very bright for your basement! Photo credit: Highlight Homes

A bevy of benefits to finally finishing that basement

The subject of many a horror film, the boogy man shouldn’t be the one living in your basement – it should be YOU instead. A basement doesn’t have to be some dank, dark place where moving boxes, broken tools, and old toys go to die. It should be a vibrant and well-used living space where laughter bounces off the walls and memories are made.  Instead of avoiding the task of descending the stairs only to be overwhelmed by the dust, spiderwebs and ugliness of its void, take a good look around with fresh new eyes and imagine the possibilities. If you’ve EVER entertained the idea of finishing your basement, here are a few beautiful benefits that may help push you in the right direction:

Paying it Forward: According to a recent study by Remodeling Magazine, basement remodeling boasts a really nice return on investment – a reported 70% cost to value.  A finished basement is something you and your family can enjoy for years to come, and when it comes time to move – will serve as a very nice selling point to potential buyers, giving you an edge over the competition.

Room to Grow: One of the most obvious benefits of finishing a basement can be found in the added square footage to your living spaces. Your needs – and even the size of your family – may have changed slightly since you first purchased the home. A basement offers a pre-existing space that – thanks to some drywall, flooring and lighting – can give your family more room to grow.

Blank Canvas: A basement represents the ideal “flex space” – it can be virtually anything you want it to be and serve nearly any purpose you need it to serve. From the ultimate man-cave or home theater, to an in-home gym or recreation space – sit down with your family to determine the best use of this space. Make a list of possibilities and take a vote. Once you decide, that will help shape the rest of the project.

Go With the Flow: Your basement remodel doesn’t have to stop at the backdoor!  You could flow your transformation right out the door and onto the terrace. If you have a lovely backyard (or have the potential for a lovely backyard) and plan to entertain regularly – you can continue certain design elements from your basement into outdoor living space. Imagine a room with a bar and overstuffed seating that flows out onto the terrace featuring an outdoor hearth and even more comfortable seating.

Home “Suite” Home: As the Baby Boomer Generation ages, more and more adult children are finding the need to determine how this next phase in their parents’ lives will play out. Faced with expensive alternatives such as a retirement community or supervised care “old folks home” – it’s nice to know one has a relatively cost-effective solution. A basement can be transformed into an in-law suite for aging parents. One that provides a kitchen, private entrance, full bathroom, living space and sleeping quarters – giving the parents we love a continued sense of independence – while keeping them close.

For even MORE Bottom’s Up inspiration, check out the Highlight Homes’ story “Dust Away the Cobwebs: Five Great Reasons to Finish Your Basement”. Once you’re ready to roll forward on that basement remodel, reach out to the talented team of designers and builders at Highlight Homes. We’ll come out to your home, walk through the space, and listen to your ideas, wants and needs. Then, we’ll take what we learn to draw up the ideal plans to make your dream basement a reality. The construction process can be complete in a matter of weeks, not months – and you can begin enjoying your new basement right away. Getting started is easy!  Call me and my team at 678.873.9234, e-mail us at, or fill out our helpful online contact form TODAY!  To learn more about Highlight Homes, our commitment to quality craftsmanship, and our dedication to green construction practices – we invite you to visit us online at

Source: Remodeling Magazine “Cost vs. Value Report 2010-2011: Atlanta, GA ––ga.aspx (August 14, 2011)

Five Reasons to Remodel Despite the Stock Market’s Sorry State

Photo credit - mconnors - morguefile
Photo credit - mconnors -

Over the course of the past few weeks, the U.S. stock market has taken investors on a mind-numbing roller coaster ride. Pundits point to world-wide events such as the economic aftershocks still being felt from the Japanese earthquake in March 2011, the on-going European debt crises, and the recent downgrade in the United States’ credit rating by Standard and Poor from a AAA to a AA+ as a handful of the major causes for the stock market’s less-than-stellar performance. Regardless of the reasons, uncertainty reigns supreme and folks have begun circling their wagons. Faced with the fear of the unknown, more and more American families and businesses are sitting on their money – rather than spending it.

As a small business owner with a fairly tight grasp on the concept of Economics, this is a truly daunting scenario. No matter your feelings regarding the current administration and Congress’ handling of the nation’s economic state, as individuals – the ONE way we can help move toward recovery as individual consumers is to SPEND.  And not just SPEND, but spend wisely. While some may deem a home remodel as a unnecessary indulgence, a house is often a family’s most important asset – making a home remodel a wise investment. To that end, I’ve compiled the following list of five great reasons to remodel despite the stock market’s sorry state:

  1. Economics 101: Whether you aced your Econ 101 course or failed it, most people can recall that Economics at its core is a cycle based upon two elements: supply and demand. If there is no demand on the part of consumers, it knocks the cycle completely out of whack. Companies are forced to cut back their supply levels, and eventually their work forces. With people out of work, that compounds the demand issue even further. Although it may not feel like it, YOU – as the consumer – are in the so-called “driver’s seat”. If we all begin spending again (wisely) – companies can begin increasing their supply levels and eventually begin growing their staffs, meaning less people in the unemployment lines and more people in the checkout lines at the local store. By hiring a renovation company like Highlight Homes, you wouldn’t just be beautifying your home – you would be putting money back into the economic cycle. You demand a kitchen remodel, we supply the kitchen of your dreams – it really is that simple.
  2. Support your Local Economy: Different parts of the country are faring better than others. While many states in the Midwest are keeping their heads well above water, parts of the West Coast are in major need of life preservers. In order to keep our heads above water, it is vital that we support our local economies. By hiring a service company like Highlight Homes to complete a home improvement job, it has a resonating effect. I will in turn be able to use those funds from your job to pay my talented staff to complete the work necessary, hire an additional staff of skilled subcontractors, and purchase the supplies required to achieve your home’s transformation from local vendors and suppliers. Together, we will not only be working toward your home’s renovation – we will also be joining forces to support our local economy.
  3. Don’t Use the Stock Market as Your Guide: It’s a false idol! While it can give certain key indicators to economists – if you listen closely, not even the most skilled economic experts can always agree on what those indicators, well… indicate. For folks who base financial decisions on things like the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) from one day to the next, it’s no wonder we’re in the mess we’re in. Just take a peek at the index on nearly any given day lately and you’ll see a colorful trail of peaks and valleys from the opening bell to the market’s close. Invest in something solid – your family’s home. Because the housing market in Georgia remains somewhat bleak, more and more people are making the decision to stay put. Take this time to renovate your home into something you can love for years to come, that fits your family’s needs, and will increase your market value once the housing market comes back online.
  4. Make Wise Investments: On the subject of investing in your house with a home remodel, you need to make sure it’s a WISE investment. While you may have always wanted lime green flooring with countertops to match in your kitchen, chances are – when it comes time to sell – potential buyers may be put off by that particular color selection. It’s always a good idea to keep the concept of trends to items that can be easily changed – such as accessories and wall paint – and utilize classic, timeless elements at the core of every home improvement project. According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report 2010-2011 for the Atlanta area, the projects that often provide the greatest return on investment include entry door replacements, garage door replacements, window replacements, deck additions, basement remodels, attic bedroom conversions, kitchen remodels, and siding replacements.
  5. Be an Agent for Change: We can’t just expect change to happen. The economy stinks – on that we all agree, but Albert Einstein has been credited with defining insanity as the belief in doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. We can sit idly by, waiting for the folks in Washington to duke things out, or we can go about the business of jump-starting the economy in all of the ways outlined above. Don’t worry about dividing things neatly into a column of wants vs. needs. We NEED to get the economy going again. By being an agent for change within your own home, you could actually be an agent for change on a local, regional and national level.

Among one of the most important reasons for a home remodel that did not make the list is the joy it can bring to your family. I have been so honored and touched by the reactions of the families I serve once their home remodels are complete. Smiles, hugs, and tears of happiness are always in large supply. Changes to your house can dramatically increase your family’s enjoyment of some of the most commonly used areas of your home OR even portions of the home that you rarely used before. If you’re ready to do your part to kick-start the economy by supporting a local small business while augmenting the beauty and value of your home, contact me and my team at Highlight Homes TODAY! We can be reached by calling 678.873.9234, by e-mailing, or by filling out our convenient online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

To learn more about Highlight Homes and all of the ways we can help you, visit us online at

Remodeling Magazine – “Cost vs. Value Report 2010-2011: Atlanta, GA” ––ga.aspx (August 14, 2011)
NPR – “The Economy Where You Live” – (August 14, 2011)

Countdown to Kickoff

Photo credit: Sonita Lewis/PublicDomainPictures.Net
Photo credit: Sonita Lewis/PublicDomainPictures.Net

Host a Trendy Tailgate Party in Your New Outdoor Kitchen

Football fans come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of devotion. Some are willing to paint their entire body and sit in the scorching sun to demonstrate their love of the game. Some will show up the night before the game to snag the perfect spot in which they will set up their charcoal grill and host a football feast from the bed of their pickup truck. Some are so passionate that they must view games within the sanctuary of the four walls of their home, not wishing to frighten small children. At Highlight Homes, we understand this love of the game and welcome the new season with open arms. We also recognize that for many families, football season represents the start of an entirely new social season – one where friends and families will gather together to show their team spirit and share a great meal.

Outdoor Kitchen - HLHTo this end, we at Highlight Homes feel there is perhaps no greater new trend to fit the occasion than the custom constructed outdoor kitchen. With the quality of outdoor televisions at an all-time high, and an entire backyard in which to play touch football or a game of Cornhole to your heart’s content during pregame and half time – it seems that the stars have aligned for this particular outdoor living space during this particular time of year. Just imagine a kitchen designed to fit your specific talents and wildest desires – from a built-in stainless steel grill with stacked stone surround and granite-topped workspaces to a Mediterranean-inspired wood burning pizza oven. Your guests could be kicking back and enjoying the game from the comfort of overstuffed furniture on the covered terrace, or getting fired up right along with the grill from stools at the bar under the pergola of your outdoor kitchen. Everything you need to make your tailgate party complete can be right there – from cold beer in the fridge and burgers grilled to perfection on the grill, to an array of tasty appetizers lining the countertop and a sink for easy clean-up once the party’s over. This could very well be the next best thing to being there (or BETTER!) And – just think – no long lines at the restroom.

Outdoor Kitchen2 - HLHFor football fans who prefer air-conditioning to the great outdoors, Highlight Homes can help you complete your basement, build a room addition, or transform an existing room into an incredible home theater for epic football viewing parties. With just a handful of weeks left before the start of the season, you’ll want to tackle these projects right away. Toss us the ball, and we’ll run with it – for nothing less than a touchdown that will be met with the cheers of your friends, neighbors and family members.  To get started, simply call us TODAY at 678.873.9234, e-mail us at, or contact us through our convenient online contact form. My team and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

To learn more about Highlight Homes and all of our home renovation and custom construction offerings, please visit us online at