Managing a home improvement project, no matter what size, is a daunting prospect. You may have a vivid idea of how you want the rec room to look when it’s finished, but you have little to no idea of the labor, materials, equipment and time it’s going to take to complete the job to match your vision.
But the folks behind Step Up Services Inc. do. Northern Virginia-based Step Up Services is the rare project consultancy for everyday homeowners dedicated to taking the headaches out of your home improvement project.
Step Up Services is not a design-build company. They don’t have a vested interest in the cost of the project. They’re not “up-selling” you to add square footage or more expensive fixtures. That’s the “normal” way of doing business.
Step Up Services is disrupting that routine by providing third-party peace of mind.
No matter what the estimated cost of your home improvement project is, Step Up Services will charge you a flat fee — based on the level of consultancy you choose — to look at all the elements of your project and provided educated, experienced and unbiased answers to your questions, options and choices.
Remodeling a basement? Sounds like a job a contractor can knock out pretty quickly with minimum difficulty right? Before you sign on the dotted line for that $30,000 to $50,000 estimate — or up to $50,000 on a kitchen — spend $250 with Step Up Services to double-check the deal, including showing you how to avoid a contractor disaster by doing a thorough background check.
Do you have lingering questions about committing to spend thousands on that long-awaited second-floor pop up? Rest assured after a $250 project consultation with the pros at Step Up Design that you did the right thing and that the finished project will be exactly what you are paying for.
It’s best to consult with Step Up Services before speaking to an architect or contractor.
The answers you get from Step Up Services will catch expensive problems before they arise.
But if you already have a proposal in hand, Step Up Services can review the contracts and provide advice and guidance during the construction.
Arranging an appointment with Step Up Services is fast and easy through the website.
And if you don’t like the answers Step Up Services provides, they’ll offer a refund. Not many others in the home improvement supply chain can say that.
Step Up Services Inc. can be reached at [email protected] or 443-797-7050. The website is here: stepupservicesinc.com/services.
Sponsored business profile written by Buzz McClain.
A new local co-op has been formed to drive down the cost of home solar installation.
The Greater Arlington Solar Co-op is holding two free information sessions this week, in Arlington and Alexandria, to educate the public about solar and the benefits of joining their group. Co-op members can save up to 20 percent off the cost of going solar by doing so in a group.
“We’re forming this co-op to make saving money with solar energy as simple as possible,” said Chris Somers, community energy specialist at AIRE, in a statement. “Working with the group helps members learn about the technology so they feel confident in their decision to go solar.”
Joining the group is not a commitment to purchase solar panels. Once the group is large enough, it will solicit bids from local installers and select the best proposal for the group. The chosen installer will then develop personalized proposals for each co-op member, who review the plan.
The information sessions are taking place Wednesday at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd Suite 210) and Thursday at The Pavilion at Mark Center (5708 Merton Court) in Alexandria, both starting at 7 p.m.
Budget Plan Has Slightly Lower Tax Rate Hike — The 2017-2018 county budget that Arlington County Board members are set to vote on this weekend includes a 1.5 cent tax rate hike, a half cent lower than first proposed. The budget includes increased funding for schools, Metro, county employee raises, land acquisition and services for immigrants faced with deportation. It raises the tax burden on the average homeowner by about $300. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
No Easter Egg Roll Tix for APS — Arlington Public Schools received hundreds of tickets to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll under the Obama administration, but did not receive any for President Trump’s first egg roll this year. D.C. Public Schools also were not invited. Critics say minority children were under-represented at the event. [Patch]
Big County Events This Weekend — Among the events in Arlington this weekend are a trio of major annual happenings: the Arlington Homeshow and Garden Expo at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, the Arlington Teen Summer Expo at Wakefield High School and the Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon.
Blue Virginia’s County Board Endorsement — Influential local Democratic blog Blue Virginia has endorsed Erik Gutshall in the race for Arlington County Board. A party caucus will be held next month for the four-way Democratic contest. [Blue Virginia]
A senior couple who lives in Arlington’s Glencarlyn neighborhood received free home repairs today thanks to a group of volunteers.
More than 30 volunteers from the local Rebuilding Together organization and Lowe’s worked throughout the day today to fix up the couple’s home inside and out. The couple was for the volunteer work based on need.
“We bring volunteers to people’s homes to make repairs,” said Patti Klein, executive director of Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church. “They tend to be lower income homeowners that are seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and families with children.”
The couple was having a very hard time getting up and down their front stairs, according to Klein. The husband also had heart surgery a few months ago.
The repairs included the installation of railings for both sides of the front steps, the installation of 16 storm windows, replacement of an A/C unit, and the installation of a carbon monoxide detector, among many others.
Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church is one of 150 affiliates across the nation. Nationally, the organization does 10,000 projects a year. The local affiliate does 70 projects a year. Lowe’s has been a national partner since 2007 and donated $15,000 for today’s repairs.
“We got a great group of people here and we are going to do a lot of great stuff,” said Tony Reyna, manager of a Lowe‘s store in Fairfax.
This is a sponsored column by Jim Muldoon, a Northern Virginia native, Arlington resident and one of the real estate and remodeling experts at Legacy Home Improvement Consultants. Legacy HIC is your source for all real estate and home improvement needs. Please email with any questions or topics you would like covered.
Selecting materials for your upcoming remodel can be a blast, but before you get too far into process get your remodeling company involved. There are more benefits than just a potential contractor discount.
Vendors and remodelers are on different sides of the construction industry, but they are both in the biz and they speak the same language. Coordinating materials is a job in itself and here’s why.
Making sure materials work well with each other is a must. The way your current plumbing is located might not work with that great furniture style cabinet you found, the commode might not allow enough clearance for code, the sink and faucet might not fit with chosen vanity top size. There are a ton of intricacies that go into the selection and installation of materials and you want a professional to ensure they will all work with each other.
Speaking of working with each other, vendor relationships are huge. Have you ever had the “in” at an exclusive restaurant because you were with a regular there? We are your “regulars” and yes, we have the “in”. Having a good relationship with vendors is about more than getting the special treatment. When remodelers have that established working relationship, vendors are more genuine with them when issues arise. Whether those issues are product defects or timeline delays, we can count on our trusted vendors to be honest and we can rely on them to make it right. Most importantly, we have familiarity with their products and they understand our company, our processes, and our expectations.
Another advantage is knowing the best people to work with at each vendor location. Nothing is better than working with someone who is great at their job and loves what they do for a living. Remodelers relentlessly seek out these individuals. It is music to my ears when my clients rave about my vendors. Top-notch vendors will enhance your experience and make sure no details are missed when putting your order together. My preferred vendors will call me to make sure the chosen materials fit the space, can be used for the particular application we are installing, and that the end product is exactly what the client envisioned.
Ultimately, the best thing about going through your remodeler to order materials is alleviating the stress of it all. Coordinating delivery dates, damaged goods contingency plans, vendor measurements, finish schedules; the list goes on and on. Professionals have the experience and know what to expect with each order allowing remodelers to maintain a smooth project. Having that direct line of communication between your vendor and your remodeling company allows a better opportunity for them to deliver quality goods and provide their services on time and hassle free.
If you are interested in receiving our Preferred Vendor’s List or have any other questions email me at [email protected] . If there are any topics you would like me to cover in upcoming articles please send them my way as well. Your real estate is one of your best assets. Let the Property Pros help you get more informed.
Nats Player’s Townhouse for Rent — A townhouse owned by Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is available for rent. The three-bedroom home, at the Bromptons at Clarendon development, is listed at $5,750 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington]
Budget Cuts for ‘Complete Streets?’ — Updated at 9:25 a.m. — As part of budget discussions, Arlington County is considering cutting $800,000 from its “complete streets” program, which funds pedestrian and bicycle improvements. The cuts would still leave $4 million in the program’s budget, however. The county is also considering eliminating two bicycle planning positions. [WAMU]
Arlington Home Show This Weekend — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). [Arlington Home Show]
Underground Bike Races in Crystal City — Every Wednesday night this month, Crystal City is hosting a series of bicycle races on the bottom level of a parking garage. The races are being dubbed “Wednesday Night Spins” and feature a course shorter than a kilometer with almost a dozen turns. [WJLA]
‘Honeysuckle Hill’ Property for Sale — A large property next across from Overlee Pool on Lee Highway is for sale for $3.325 million. The property is divided into four lots, one of which includes a 75+ year old Colonial Revival home that’s expected to be preserved. [Preservation Arlington]
Photo courtesy @Norr_Fit
The annual event allows homeowners, builders, landscapers and others with interest to see the trends in home and yard improvement over the last year. The show is free to the public and runs from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.).
There will be 80 specialists, as well as county staff, on hand to answer questions in addition to seminars and exhibits. According to the county’s press release, one of the most popular seminars, “The Landlord Seminar,” is back this year to help “explain issues related to landlord/tenant law.”
This will be the eighth annual Home Show and Garden Expo, sponsored by the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Develeopment. This year, for the first time, there will be free antiques appraisal and a seminar called “Understanding Condominium Living,” led by a real estate attorney.
The first 100 attendees will receive door prizes and all in attendance will have a chance to win a Google Nexus 7 tablet.
The 7th annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. this coming Saturday (March 9).
The free event is taking place at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.). Arlington County staff will be on hand to answer questions about zoning and permitting, and numerous home builders, remodelers, and other home-related companies will have exhibits and free seminars.
From a county press release:
Looking for home renovation ideas? Have code enforcement or zoning questions? Ask the experts — from both Arlington County staff and industry — at the Saturday, March 9, 2013 Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo, a FREE event.
The Home Show and Garden Expo offers a unique opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with County staff from Inspection Services, Zoning and Code Enforcement, and the Green Home Choice Program. Master Gardeners from the Virginia Cooperative Office also will be available to answer your landscape and gardening questions.
The expo features more than 70 home builders, contractors and specialist vendors, architects, inspectors, realtors, master gardeners, banks, nonprofit organizations. You will find a wealth of information on green products and technologies, with an emphasis on smart and universal design that complies with Arlington County zoning and permit regulations.
Attendees may enter to win a new mini-iPad at the Expo. Door prizes, paid for by sponsors, will be given to the first 100 attendees.
The Home Show and Garden Expo is a collaboration between the County, private and non-profit partners. It aims to support, educate and inspire homeowners to renovate their homes and to provide a venue for local companies to showcase their services and products. The event is partially managed by County staff supported by the federal Community Development Block Grant Program.
More than 5,000 residents have attended the Home Show since its debut in 2007, and more than 1,500 have participated in Home Show seminars.
Classes and seminars at the Home Show include:
- How to choose and work with contractors
- How to finance your remodeling project
- Building codes for remodeling
- Green remodeling, renewable energy and universal design
- Gardening and urban landscaping
- The Landlord Toolkit: Know the Law — (requires pre-registration, call 703-228-3765 or register online)
- Fair Housing Seminar
- “Opportunity Knocks” Homeownership programs = $$ for you
The Home Show is organized by Arlington County and the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO).
Disclosure: The Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.
Question: My wife and I recently purchased a house in Arlington and plan to make some improvements to it over the next couple of years. Can you recommend which improvements will bring us the most value when it comes to resale value?
House flipping isn’t just a popular TV show genre (Flip This House, Flip That House, Flip Men, Flipped Off, etc.), it can also be a profitable mindset to adopt when considering home improvements.
Here is a list of the top 5 improvements in order of what I think Arlington home buyers will value most. Each of these improvements can have wildly varying degrees of style and quality. You will have to weigh the options against your budget when making these choices.
1) Kitchen — A nice kitchen is not just a box the potential home buyer is checking off, it is often where the emotional attachment to the home begins. Granite counters and stainless steel appliances used to make a home stand out from the crowd. Now they have become a minimum standard in Arlington real estate.
If you are on a tight budget, I recommend exploring some of the options available at Ikea. If you are not on a tight budget I recommend choices that will help your home stand out such as eco-friendly materials or exotic stones and woods. Amicus Green Building Supply in Kensington, Md. is a great source for eco-friendly options.
2) Bathroom — I’m sure it is no surprise that bathrooms are a close second to kitchens. Many home buyers appreciate a nicely updated bathroom. The level of your bathroom upgrades should correspond to your target audience and your “competition.” Consider the homes you looked at while shopping for the one you ultimately chose. Which bathrooms stood out to you?
Some savvy shopping can save you a lot of money on this category. I’ve even spoken to builders who are now relying on the internet to purchase vanities from places like Overstock.com.
3) Flooring — There are people out there who want carpet, but they are in the minority. Whenever possible go with a hard surface. Hardwood is usually the preferred option. Alternatives like bamboo and cork are also very nice. I would stay away from ceramic and marble in the living areas of your home. They are expensive and not appealing to the masses.
Be sure to research the durability of the flooring you are considering. Nothing is worse than investing a lot of money only to have it damaged by pets and high heels.
The annual Arlington Home Show and Expo will return to the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 S. 16th Street) next Saturday.
As it has in the past, the show will feature dozens of home builders, contractors, vendors, architects, inspectors, real estate agents, gardeners, lenders and nonprofits, as well as housing, zoning and inspection representatives from Arlington County.
“Whether you are a resident looking to improve your home, an experienced contractor or a landlord managing rentals, the 2012 Arlington Home Show & Expo offers a convenient one-stop shop to ‘Ask an Expert’ and learn of new ways to update your home,” said an Arlington County press release. Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development is jointly sponsoring the event with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO).
“Learn about remodeling kitchens and baths, finishing or waterproofing basements, replacing windows, doors, flooring, roofing and siding, security systems and more from a wide variety of top-rated companies,” touted the press release. “The expo will offer the latest information on green products and technologies, with an emphasis on smart and universal design that produces beautiful, desirable homes compliant with Arlington County zoning and permit rules.”
According to organizers, classes at the home show will include:
- How to choose and work with contractors
- How to finance your remodeling project
- Building codes for remodeling
- Green remodeling and renewable energy
- Universal design, visit-ability and aging in place
- “Landlord Seminar” for owners of fewer than five residential units
There also be door prizes (provided by private sponsors) and a drawing for a new iPad. The home show is free and will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.
Disclosure: CPRO is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Some Arlington residents went all-out when it came to dressing up their homes for Halloween. Just before the kids started trick-or-treating last night, we stopped by two local streets that were said to have some of the best decorations around.
On the 700 block of N. Illinois Street in Bluemont, two homeowners were duking it out for the title of scariest house. One home was not only spook-ified on the outside, but the creepy decorations and frightful lighting continued well inside the front door as well.
The 700 block of N. Jackson Street in Ashton Heights was even more festive. One otherwise charming home was converted into a yard of horrors, with freshly-dug graves, cobwebs, leering ghouls and a menacing coffin. Just down the street, neighbors were out taking photos of the N. Jackson Street Cemetery — a house-turned-haunted-house featuring a real, rusted-out hearse, more freshly-dug graves and a small army of free-standing witches, ghosts and skeletons.
How do these compare to the best-decorated homes in your neighborhood?
The show features dozens of home builders, contractors, vendors, architects, inspectors, Realtors, gardeners, lenders and nonprofits, as well as housing, zoning and inspection representatives from Arlington County.
Disclosure: The Arlington Home Show and Expo is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Is your garden or yard losing its luster? No need to worry, help is on the way. Coming up on Saturday, April 10, at the Arlington Home Show and Expo, two garden-specific classes will be presented by the Virginia Cooperative Extension and Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.
Starting at 10:15 a.m. there will be a class called “Garden Soil Testing! How and Why” that will include a free test kit for all participants. Later in the day, at 3:00 p.m., a class titled “How to Catch a Squirrel: Solutions to Common Garden Problems” promises valuable tips for beginners and experienced gardeners alike.
There’s a ton to learn about gardening — proper mulching, watering, fertilizing, etc. — but these free classes should be a good start for any green thumb looking to keep their yard pristine and make their garden yield better results.
Other classes offered at the home show will pay special attention to eco-friendly home building and remodeling. Among the classes being offered are “No Cost and Low Cost Ways to Reduce Energy Usage” and “Green Your Home From Soup to Nuts.”
Arlington County representatives will also be attending the Expo to answer questions about permits, zoning and inspections.
The Expo is being held at the Walter Reed Community Center at 2909 16th Street South.