Month: May 2013

Five Outdoor Remodeling Projects With Personality

Image Credit: Sarina Roth/Never the Rock Photography
Image Credit: Sarina Roth/Never the Rock Photography

Long gone are the days of generic renovation projects that exist merely to serve a function. Modern homeowners crave opportunities to let their personalities shine through their living spaces as brightly as the summer sun. One way to do that rather cost-effectively is through interior design, such as artwork that really speaks to the heart of who you are, collectibles that carry some inner meaning for your family, throw pillows and accent furniture in your favorite colors to brighten a room, décor that hints at one of your favorite places (e.g. subtle nautical theme = beach), etc. Another way to really bring your personality out is to take it OUTSIDE with an outdoor living space renovation.  More and more savvy homeowners are extending their living spaces outdoors, so this is quickly becoming a popular segment for renovation companies like Highlight Homes.  Your family’s collective personality can serve as the impetus behind the renovation, helping you determine a theme for your backyard living space that can be enjoyed for years to come:

For the “Chef-at-Heart”: Custom-Designed Outdoor Kitchen – hosts and hostesses who love to show off their culinary skills will delight in a space that’s well-suited for entertaining while grilling, sautéing, slicing, dicing and schmoozing. From a built-in stainless steel grill with stacked stone surround and granite-topped workspaces to a Mediterranean-inspired wood burning pizza oven enveloped by a pergola draped with climbing vines and a mosaic tile-topped bar for your “cooking show” audience, this space can be anything we decide to cook up together.

For the “Soulful Storyteller”: Outdoor Hearth With Deep Seating – there are those homeowners who like to hold court when they have guests (you know who you are). They may be excellent storytellers who enrapture their audience with tales from their youth or regular stand-up comedians who leave their spectators doubled over from all of the belly laughs. A showplace hearth surrounded by cozy deep seating sets the stage beautifully for countless nights spent spinning yarns.

For the “Playful Spirit”: Resort-Inspired Pool Deck – Who wouldn’t love to stay on a permanent vacation? With a custom designed pool deck and outdoor pool, you can evoke the sense of a resort right in your backyard! You can determine whether you’d like to keep it sporty with a classic lap pool, fun with unusual shapes and special features such as a dive board and/or slide, or luxurious with a slate deck and waterfall feature. No matter which theme you opt to pursue, you’ll be shocked to learn how many friends you have once you put in a pool.

For the “Peaceful Soul”: Tranquil Oasis with Water Feature – Some homeowners opt for a space that’s all their own – an escape from the world of texts, e-mails, phone calls, bills and rush hour traffic. A beautifully designed and realized oasis with water feature could become your favorite “room” of the house. Some well-placed shade trees and a koi pond with benches at the water’s edge or a tropical paradise filled with palm trees, a hammock and a gentle waterfall are just a couple of ways to pursue your open-air haven from the rat race beyond your high wooden privacy fence.

For the “Natural Nurturer”: The Garden of Your Dreams – For those homeowners who feel at one with the Earth when they’ve got their hands in the dirt, a backyard is simply a blank canvas for the garden of your dreams. From a traditional English Garden to a whimsical wildflower wonderland, you can fill your outdoor living space with your favorite annuals and perennials, as well as a well-placed garden bench, a pathway lined with stepping stones, a fountain at the heart of the garden, a charming potting shed… anything your heart desires.

The visionary design-build team at Highlight Homes welcomes the opportunity to help you bring your personality OUT with an outdoor living space renovation. Call us TODAY for a no-obligation consultation at 678-873-9234 or e-mail us at  To learn more about Highlight Homes and sneak a peek at our online portfolio, pay a visit to If you’d like to stay up-to-date on the latest renovation trends, company news, and monthly special offers, be sure to “like” us on Facebook!

Shades and Highlights: Things We Like May 2013

As custom home builders and master renovators, the Highlight Homes design-build team can rarely look at a room without imagining ways to make it better. Not everyone is graced with that same eye for design (or background in structural engineering), so it helps to have resources to which one can turn for inspiration when the winds of change begin blowing. We, too, look to outside sources for new ideas and flashes of brilliance from time-to-time. This month, we are pleased to shine the spotlight on a handful of people, places and websites that motivate us to do beautiful things.

Image © 2012 Sarina Roth - Never the Rock Photography
Image © 2012 Sarina Roth - Never the Rock Photography
  • Remodelista We often recommend to clients that they begin building a “Dream Book” that will help illustrate what they are looking for in their dream home. Their book can be filled with images from magazines, catalogues, websites, photos of other peoples’ homes, and sketches. Remodelista is a stylish sourcebook that is filled to the brim with inspirational interior designs and remarkable renovation projects. It’s a snap to fill the pages of your own “Dream Book” with images borrowed from this terrific website. It’s no wonder they boast a reported 2.8 million monthly page views, 326,636 Pinterest fans, 20,000+ Twitter followers, and 16,000+ Facebook fans. The site’s first book, Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, is slated to hit bookstores in October 2013
  • Gardenista A sister site to Remodelista, Gardenista offers up a veritable GARDEN OF IDEAS that fans can incorporate in their own homes. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a small stoop that extends from your apartment window, this site has something for you. Feel free to add images from Gardenista to your “Dream Book,” as well. Outdoor living spaces are all the rage.
  • Never the Rock Photography Sarina Roth, owner of Never the Rock Photography, is someone Highlight Homes looks to regularly to capture our home renovations. Her work is sublime and has graced the pages of a number of magazines. For motivated sellers who wish to place incredible photos of their home in the blog-o-sphere or families who love their home so much, they wish for it to play a starring role in their family portraits – we highly recommend you reach out to Sarina at Never the Rock.
  • Pottery Barn Outlet We have long been fans of Pottery Barn and often suggest their catalog as a potential source for “Dream Book” photos. Treasure hunters who love the thrill of the hunt will be pleased to learn that there is one Pottery Barn Outlet in Georgia. It is located at the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville. For those shoppers who prefer to shop the latest looks straight out of the catalogue’s pages, there are Pottery Barn store locations at Lenox Square, Northpoint Mall, Avenues at East Cobb, Forum on Peachtree Parkway, and Mall of Georgia.

For additional tips on how to build your own “Dream Book,” be sure to read our blog (an oldie but goodie): Inspiration Accumulation. To learn more about Highlight Homes and the services we provide throughout the Metro Atlanta area, visit us online at

10 Tips to Avoid the Hidden Costs and Dangers of DIY Projects

Image credit:  Geoffrey Whiteway/
Image credit: Geoffrey Whiteway/

Okay, we admit it! Occasionally, you may find a member of the Highlight Homes design team watching home improvement shows on HGTV. Terrific programs like “Love It or List It” demonstrate the power of a well-planned renovation in transforming a home and can serve as powerful inspiration for our own future projects. However, we are well-aware that major home improvement show junkies also love the DIY (do-it-yourself) programs that encourage them to tackle home improvement projects on their own – which may seem like an exciting and cost-saving solution to hiring a professional. While there are many capable homeowners out there who know their way around a table saw and hammer, there are some that go into these projects – such as a bathroom renovation or (gulp) kitchen remodel – with purely romantic notions of teaming up with their spouse to create something magical from a lackluster living space.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, home owner DIY projects accounted for a little over a third of all home remodeling projects performed nationwide from 2010-2011. In a recent press release from the National Association for Home Builders, the organization warned potential DIYers about unseen safety risks, time investments and hidden costs.

“Remodeling can be complex and often times full of surprises, even for experts like our members,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bill Shaw, GMR, GMB, CGP, a remodeler from Houston. “DIY projects should be rewarding and fun, but if your DIY can’t be completed in the planned price range or your safety is at risk, leave the work in the hands of professional remodelers.”

At Highlight Homes, we can identify 100% with that pride that comes when you can stand back from a project and say, “I built that!”  What you may not realize is that a homeowner can achieve that same sense of pride by working closely with their contractor to build something entirely unique to fit their family’s distinctive needs and personalities.  As designer-builders, we are happy to work with you every step along the way from initial meeting to project completion.  You can be as involved as you like in the design phase, and can consult with our interior design professionals to put the finishing touches on your project.  You may even be able to talk us into letting you swing a sledgehammer and hammer in a nail or two – so you can still look upon your project with pride and the feeling of “I built that!”

Highlight Homes can help you with just about any size and scope of home renovation project including: Whole Home Renovations; Room Additions; Architectural and Design Services; Kitchen & Bath Remodeling; Landscaping & Ponds; Decks, Patios & Porches; Sunrooms; Basement Finishing; Roofing; Home Maintenance and Repair; and Much, Much More! Click HERE to sneak a peek at our online portfolio and visit our Services Page to see a comprehensive list of our offerings.

However, if you’re still considering tackling that home improvement project as a DIY, keep the following tips in mind:

1)      A good contractor will know all the permits required to begin construction on your project.  Do you? Be sure to do your research to avoid a costly penalty.

2)      It might be a good idea to at least bring in a designer or architect to lay the groundwork for you, tell you about the permits you will need, warn against any possible wiring/pipes you may encounter, and give you a realistic account of the potential cost of materials.

3)      A professional will be able to get materials at a contractor’s rate, where you – most likely – will not. In addition, they will often be able to complete the project much faster – so if you’re hoping to save time and money by going it alone, you may be unpleasantly surprised.

4)      A professional fully understands the importance of using quality materials. Quality materials are essential to the continued success and longevity of any given project. One common mistake made by DIY’s is in thinking that by buying the cheapest products, it will help reduce project costs. In the long run, they can actually end up costing more. Unfortunately, cheaper often means inferior. There is truth in the statement “you get what you paid for.”

5)      It is vital to know how products effect the environment, your property and – most importantly – your family’s health. A professional contractor will remain up-to-date and understand how to meet the terms of ever-changing environmental compliance issues currently facing the construction industry, such as proper lead paint removal.

6)      Buyer Beware! If you decide to take the lead on your project with the aid of a number of inexpensive subcontractors following behind, be very careful. Professional builders and contractors have already gone through the trials and tribulations of how to identify reliable sub contractors. Many professionals have taken the time and expense of putting their subcontractors through rigorous background checks, allowing them to cull through any unscrupulous and unreliable candidates before the job even begins.

7)      A good contractor will be fully licensed, registered and insured. In the event that they are injured or a portion of your home is damaged somehow, it’s covered.  You might want to take a closer look at your home and personal insurance policies to make sure you can say the same. Before you have anyone work on your property, it’s wise to insist that they provide you with General Liability & Workman’s Compensation insurance certificates – adding you as additionally insured.  It’s also a good idea to require that when you make a payment to them that they sign a release of lien rights for that amount of money relating to your home.

8)      Consult a professional or structural engineer if you plan to remove any walls, posts, roof framing, concrete or any other supports in your home. It may appear from the outside that any one particular piece isn’t doing much until it is too late, and things can go from a great idea to a grave error in an instant.

9)      It’s always a good idea to check with a professional on your heating and air systems. The original system was chosen to accommodate your existing space. If you alter the space or add any additional space, the system may need to be reconfigured to adjust to your changes.

10)   Electricity and plumbing can make for a dangerous combination – exercise extreme caution while maintaining your enthusiasm for the work.

In the event that you elect to go it alone on a renovation project, we wish you the best of luck! However, if you find the project is bigger than you anticipated, the Highlight Homes team is here to help you!  Simply call us at 678-873-9234 , e-mail us at, or fill out our convenient online contact form! To learn more about Highlight Homes and our talented design-build team, visit us at and be sure to “like” us on Facebook!

Image credit: Geoffrey Whiteway/

Highlight Homes Invites Atlanta Homeowners to Celebrate National Home Remodeling Month

Celebrate National Home Remodeling Month with your friends at Highlight Homes!
Celebrate National Home Remodeling Month with your friends at Highlight Homes!

May marks the advent of National Home Remodeling Month in the United States, and Atlanta’s premier home renovation company – Highlight Homes – is ready to celebrate! As a longtime member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), we are proud to take part in a professional organization that is dedicated to excellence in construction – from new construction homes to custom remodeling projects. National Home Remodeling Month is the perfect time to shed some light on a growing industry, as more and more American homeowners make the choice to stay in their current homes or purchase resale properties rather than move into new construction homes.

According to the NAHB, the top five renovation projects across the nation are:

  • Bathroom remodel – Return on investment (ROI) can reach as high as 65% on a renovation project that involves the bathroom. Older homes often have a great base to work from, but require updates to the fixtures, tile, toilet, vanity and lighting. Some homeowners may opt to go all out and replace the shower and/or tub for a trendy spa-like feel.
  • Kitchen renovation – Perhaps one of the most requested and best performing ROI projects is the kitchen renovation. Minor kitchen remodels that include makeover elements such as the replacement of backsplashes, cabinet fronts, countertops, lighting and flooring can yield as much as a 75% ROI. More and more eco-friendly homeowners are opting to install low-flow faucets and energy-efficient appliances to help save the planet while saving money at the same time. Major kitchen overhauls also perform well with an average ROI of nearly 69%. Highlight Homes’ kitchen renovations have garnered a Gold Obie Award and have been featured in the AJC Homefinder, Atlanta Home Improvement Magazine, and Remodel Atlanta Magazine.
  • Window and Door Replacement – The replacement of windows and doors in a home can not only change the look from both the interior and exterior of the home, it could also save you money when utilizing energy efficient materials that are design to prevent energy outflow from the home. ROI in this category is 73% for wood frames and 71% for vinyl.
  • Repair Property Damage – While it may not be as exciting as an elective renovation, property damage repairs from aging, normal wear-and-tear, and/or storm damage are sometimes a necessary evil. Highlight Homes has a great deal of experience in this department – from hail damage and flood repair, to partial rebuilds following the tornados that hit Alabama and Georgia in 2011, to general maintenance and repair. We’ve found that many homeowners opt to incorporate a home renovation along with their repair – creating a little silver lining of their own.
  • Whole House Remodeling – With the number of foreclosed homes on the market at rock-bottom prices, savvy homebuyers have made the choice to buy a property with the knowledge that a major renovation would be necessary to make the home their own. Even current homeowners will alter the structural layout of their home’s interior to fit their family’s needs or update the look of the exterior to reflect their family’s personality. Highlight Homes’ solid history in structural engineering and custom home building makes us an excellent fit for projects of this scope.

Additional Highlight Homes’ projects that have been popular with our clients include: Sunrooms and Room Additions, Landscaping and Ponds, Outdoor Living Spaces, Basement Finishing, Age-in-Place Renovations, and so much more.  To celebrate National Home Remodeling Month with a beautiful renovation from the design/build team at Highlight Homes, call us TODAY at 678.872.9234, email us at, or fill out our convenient online contact form.  If you’d like to learn more about Highlight Homes, the services we provide, and/or view our online portfolio, please visit us at

Special Offer for National Home Remodeling Month

Homeowners who sign a renovation contract* with Highlight Homes during National Home Remodeling Month, will receive a $500 gift card to Lowes, Home Depot or Bed Bath & Beyond!

*Good for contracts of $10,000 or more; Highlight Homes is not affiliated with Home Depot, Lowes, or Bed Bath & Beyond. Offer Expires May 31, 2013.  Must mention offer at time of consultation/signing of contract in order to receive gift card.