Dogs and Home Renovation

We were delighted to have one of our projects featured in a slide show and article put together by Houzz called "Good Dog! Cute Pooches at Home". We've embedded the whole slide show at the end of this post, but here's a screen capture of our project (and its pooch) from the very lengthy article.

Morse_Constructions_Houzz_article_dogs_in_remodeling.png

 

We're dog lovers here at Morse Constructions and are happy -- and accustomed to -- renovating with dogs in the home. Just keep in mind that home renovation can be even more stressful for pets than it is for their human homeowners. Strangers in the home, noise, and changes in the living environment can be very unnerving. Here are a few tips to help your dog stay safe and a little calmer throughout the process:

  • Prevent an Accidental Escape: Workers need to be able to come in and out of your home without fear that your dog will make a run for it through an open door. Keep your dog contained, ideally in a room far from the renovations. Your dog will appreciate having a calmer environment and your construction crew will be able to work freely.

  • Establish a Safe Place: Construction equipment, debris, tools, paint, glass, wire ... renovation is filled with items that could harm your dog if they are swallowed, stepped on, etc. It is important to set up a safe zone for your pet where he or she can stay out of harm's way and feel safe. Acclimate your dog to the safe place before construction begins and provide all of his or her familiar toys and bedding. If all parts of your home will be under construction, you may want to consider boarding your dog or using doggie daycare during the construction process.

  • Stick to a Routine: Home renovation is unsettling. Provide some stability for your dog by adhering to his or her regular routine for feeding, walking and sleeping, if at all possible. Be sure to spend lots of quality time with your pet to make him feel loved and protected!

With lots of TLC, your dog will probably do just fine during a renovation. For proof, just take a look at all these happy pets in the Houzz photo flip of dogs at home. Most of these spaces have been recently built or renovated!

 

Tags: home renovation, houzz.com

Key Features of Multi-Generational Homes

In 2012, Paul wrote a guest post for Boston.com's Boston Real Estate Now blog. The post was on renovating homes for multi-generational living as a tough job market encouraged many adult children to move back home. You can read the post here: Catch the Multi-Generational Housing Wave.

Fast forward three years later, and multi-generational housing is still generating a lot of buzz.

According to the 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report:

"Thirteen percent of all buyers purchased a multi-generational home, one in which the home consists of adult children over the age of 18, and/or grandparents residing in the home. This is most prevalent among Younger Boomers aged 50 to 59 at 21 percent. The most common reason for this living arrangement among Younger Boomers was children over 18 moving back into the house (37percent), followed by health/caretaking of aging parents (21percent)."

The report went on to say that cost savings were behind 24 percent of the decisions to make a multi-generational home purchase. In a high-priced real estate market such as Boston, multi-generational living has particular appeal as a cost-savings measure.

As Paul pointed out in his 2012 blog post, homes that are best suited for multi-generational living offer:

Privacy with Proximity
Successful multi-generational living requires a fine balance between private and communal spaces. Separate entrances, morning bars or kitchenettes in bedroom suites, and sitting rooms provide much-needed privacy. A large, open kitchen/eating/living area is ideal when the family comes together.

Flexible Spaces
Flexible spaces can be easily transformed to function for different purposes and ages. For example, an underused living room and sunroom may transition into a home office, then an in-law suite, then a space for an adult child who moves home, then an entertainment area.

Universal Design
Universal design works hand-in-hand with flexible spaces to create environments that are usable by all people. Hallways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair and zero entry thresholds are classic examples of universal design features.

Of course, the big question once you have crafted (or bought) the perfect home, is how multi-generational living will work. We were delighted that Houzz recently devoted an article on the topic. We've shared the article as a slide show below. Just click any of the images to read the full article on Houzz.

 If you are considering remodeling a Boston area home for multi-generational living, please give us a call at 617-666-4460 or contact us by using our online form. We'd love to share our insights to help you create a home that works well for various lifestyles!

 

Tags: home renovation, remodeling, boston.com, multi-generational homes

Pocket Doors: A Flexible Solution to Balance Openness with Privacy

Boston renovation with pocket doors  Morse Constructions

Pocket doors are not just for small spaces! While they are often used to provide privacy when a traditional swinging door occupies too much floor or wall space, a pocket door is also an ideal solution if you want the ultimate in flexibility.A pocket door slides into the wall when not in use. Without the visual obstruction of a door, spaces flow together. When you want privacy or a more intimate space, simply pull the door closed.

In the Back Bay renovation above, we used pocket doors to provide the best of both worlds -- smooth traffic flow throughout living areas when the doors are open, with an option to close off kitchen clutter from primary entertaining areas when the doors are closed.

The ideal time to install pocket doors is during construction or renovation when the walls are open. It can be significantly more difficult (and expensive) to retroactively install a pocket door into a finished room.

For more examples of pocket doors and good advice about hardware, we are pleased to share this recent Ideabook from Houzz.com.

To view the Ideabook full size on Houzz, simply click on any image or caption.

 

Tags: home renovation, Boston renovation, home design, doors

The Secret to Successful Home Renovations

In early 2014, we published a quick guide called "How to Plan a Successful Renovation". In it, we shared the story of a gentleman who contacted us two weeks before Christmas to inquire about renovating a bathroom as a Christmas gift for his wife. It would have been a wonderful gift -- if he (and his wife) started planning the renovation months earlier.

Successful renovations depend upon careful planning and collaboration. It is a recipe for trouble to rush the process. (We also think it is a recipe for trouble to surprise a spouse, partner or roommate with a renovation that does not incorporate his or her input, but that is a discussion for another day.)

What are the secrets for successful home renovations? Take a look at our guide on the topic and this recent Houzz Ideabook by Toronto architect Jeffrey Veffer. He makes some great points! To read the full article on a single page on the Houzz website (as opposed to the excerpted slide show mode shown here), just click any photo.

 

Plesae give us a call at 617-666-4460 or email Paul if you have any questions or would like to discuss your project.

Tags: home renovation, Boston renovation, renovation guides, Massachusetts renovation

Home Renovations for Readers: Innovative Book Storage Ideas

Boston is known for its highly educated population -- which means that even in this era of e-readers, homeowners tend to have a lot of books. It is not unusual for book storage and display to play a role in our home renovations for clients. In one recent project, we actually had to create a basement library before we could proceed with renovation plans for first and second floor spaces. The books were occupying as much room as the furniture!

Our most popular photo on Houzz.com is this simple bookcase tucked into a hallway.

Cambridge MA hallway with bookcase

We've designed and built some very creative solutions to the book storage dilemma, but we're always open to new ideas. We found some in an inspirational Ideabook on Houzz.com called "Bye, Bye Bookcase: Inventive Ways to Store Your Reads". Take a look!

[use the photo scroll bar to view the arrows to control the slide show or click on an image to view the Ideabook on Houzz]

Tags: home renovation, houzz.com, best use of space, book storage

Popular Old Home Renovations

 

Do you live in one of the Boston area's wonderful older homes? If so, you may love your house's character and location, but yearn for spaces and a floorplan that are more suited to modern living. Here are four of the most popular renovations that we do to update older homes:

1. Opening  Up a Kitchen

Tired of a dark, cramped kitchen? Bring in light and open it up to the rest of the home by removing walls. If a wall is load-bearing and can’t be replaced by using a header beam, you may be able to get the open feel that you desire by using columns or a half wall.

If removing a wall is not an option, installing an interior window on the wall between the kitchen and an adjoining room makes the kitchen feel larger and gives it better sightlines. Doubling the width of the entryway or using archways instead of solid doors both achieve a similar effect.

                                                     AFTER

 Boston kitchen Before     Boston kitchen renovation AFTER

 BEFORE

 

2.  Repurposing a Basement or Attic

Finishing a basement or attic is a cost-effective way to gain additional living space without adding to your home’s footprint. Basements with a fieldstone foundation, significant moisture issues,  or low ceiling height are clearly not  good candidates for finished rooms. Otherwise, basements are fairly easy to remodel from a structural standpoint.  Most are sturdily built, offer easy access to utilities, and walls can always be added to simplify electrical wiring. Radiant heating can be installed below the floor to counteract cold, while well-designed lighting systems can replace natural light if windows are limited.

Renovating an attic can be a bit trickier.  Angled dormers can often be accommodated in the design of the space, but low ceilings pose a far more significant challenge. Most attics also do not have an adequate point of exit and entry, so a new or remodeled staircase will have to be added as part of the remodeling process. Most attics are also not built with floors that can withstand day-to-day living, so you will probably need to strengthen the joists and lay down sub-floor if you are converting it to a useable room.

 Morse Construction Attic Playroom resized 600

An underused attic was transformed into a light-filled playroom.

 

3.  Bringing the Outside In

If you can’t be oMorse Constructions bathroom renovationutside, the next best thing is seeing it. Windows, skylights and glass doors instantly make a room feel more spacious by drawing the eye to the outdoors and letting in light and air. Transoms above doorways may not frame a view, but they can be a wonderful way to share a room’s natural light with an adjacent space.

A skylight over a partial wall and porthole window flood this bathroom with natural light while establishing a connection with the outdoors.

 

5. Expanding to Accommodate Multiple Generations

Is an adult child coming back home or an elderly parent coming to live? You’ll probably need to renovate or add on to create additional living space. The space should feature:

Privacy with Proximity – Successful multi-generational living requires a fine balance between private and communal spaces. Separate entrances, morning bars or kitchenettes in bedroom suites, and sitting rooms provide much-needed privacy. A large, open kitchen/eating/living area is ideal when the family comes together.

Flexibility – Flexible spaces can be easily transformed to function for different purposes and ages. For example, an underused living room and sunroom may transition into a home office, then an in-law suite, then a space for an adult child who moves home, then an entertainment area.universal design hallway renovation

Universal Design -- Universal design works hand-in-hand with flexible spaces to create environments that are usable by all people. Hallways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair and zero entry thresholds are classic examples of universal design features.

 

The zero entry threshold to and from this sunny hallway makes the space easy to navigate for people of all ages and mobility.

 

Need more ideas? Contact us about your project!

Tags: home renovation, Historic Renovations, Massachusetts remodeling

Make the Most of Small Spaces

Small is big right now. The media has been filled with stories about microapartments in cities from Boston to San Francisco. Recently, the Boston Globe even reported on a student who lived in a 130 square foot cottage in the middle of the Hampshire College green as part of a class project.

While most of us will probably not live in a space as small as 130 square feet, there is widespread interest in living more efficiently. At Morse Constructions, we’re definitely finding that more homeowners want to maximize their existing space rather than add on square footage.

How do you make the most of your space? Here a few tips:

Use an open floor plan: Hallways eat up valuable floor space, so your best bet may be to simply do away with them. Remove non-weight bearing walls to allow one room to flow into the next. An open floor plan will make your space feel bigger.

Reduce door swing:  Replace traditional interior doors with sliding panels or pocket doors that tuck out of the way when not in use. You can make better use of the space on either side of the door if you don’t have to worry about accommodating door swing.

Choose built-in storage: Overhead storage or built-in cabinetry use space far more efficiently than stand-alone units that clog up walking and living areas. For maximum space efficiency, consider notching out a non-load bearing wall and creating a storage nook or small reading alcove.

Think vertical: Are you making the best use of your walls? Floor-to-ceiling shelving or storage is wonderfully practical, yet can be visually stunning, as seen in this photo.

beautiful bedroom storage

Expand outside: Just look outside if you want more living space without increasing your home’s interior footprint. A patio, deck or porch will expand your living and entertaining areas during the warm weather for a fraction of the cost of building a full-fledged addition. When temperatures drop, you’ll be glad not to be heating extra square footage!

Need more ideas? Contact us about your project!

Tags: home renovation, small home renovation, best use of space

Will This House Last?

Paul wrote a post for the Real Estate Today blog on boston.com. The post was published on September 20, 2012. If you missed it, here's the text of his article:


Paul MorseBuying an older home is a lot like buying a used car in a private sale. You can have it checked out by an expert, but there are no guarantees that something won’t wear out or malfunction – and no warranties if they do.

I’ve worked with homeowners who bought homes with leaks that were temporarily hidden by paint, insulation that had settled so much that it was virtually nonexistent, and basements that turned out to have serious water problems. The prior owner or home inspector may know of and disclose the potential for future problems, but often they come as a complete surprise.

A few years ago, the National Association of Home Builders conducted a study on the life expectancy of home components. Here are a few highlights:

  • A foundation should last forever, but termite proofing will only last about 12 years
  • HVAC systems last an average of 15-25 years with proper and regular maintenance
  • A slate roof can last 50 years or more; a roof made of asphalt shingles lasts an average of 20 years (although it may be less with the tough Boston weather)
  • Wood windows last longer than aluminum – 30 years versus 15 to 20
  • Stairs and custom millwork should last a lifetime
  • Kitchen faucets should last about 15 years, but a whirlpool tub could keep going as long as 50 if you don’t use it much
  • Decks could last 20 years, depending upon the materials used

 In my renovation work, I frequently encounter structural or infrastructure problems such as window headers that are not framed to meet today’s code; original balloon framing without floorload support that meets today’s standards; joists that have been cut or notched in improperly done renovations; rotting wood hidden by soffit and fascia boards; and electrical panels that will not support home improvements. These issues may dramatically affect the total cost of the project.

Maintenance and repairs are part of being a homeowner, but unexpected problems are no fun. Some of these surprises could be avoided if buyers ask questions such as “When were the windows installed?”  ”Have you replaced the roof since you’ve owned your home?” “ Have you installed insulation and when?” or  “Do you have a record of structural changes made to the house?” Answers to these questions will help anticipate future expenses.

 

Tags: home renovation, boston.com, home remodeling, Paul Morse

All About Home Renovation and Boston Communities

Paul Morse Morse Constructions smallerWe have decided to add a blog to our website to post news, tips, photos, ideas etc. that might be helpful to anyone interested in home renovation, aging in place, universal design or creating a sense of community in the greater Boston area. Our hope is that readers will comment on posts and that the blog will become a discussion forum.

We've been told that we should be posting weekly but I don't think that is going to happen. We are simply too busy right now actually designing and building home renovations to spend that much time writing about them. However, we are going to do our best to use the blog to communicate useful information. If you would like to see a topic covered or have a question you would like to have answered, please comment on this blog post to get the ball rolling.

Hope you had a wonderful 4th and watch for our next post soon!

-- Paul Morse

 

 

Tags: home renovation, Boston living, home remodeling