To Permit or Not to Permit?

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That is the real question. Every city is different when it comes to what you need a permit for and what you don’t. Some cities require you to get a permit for a garage sale, putting up a new or replacing your fence, or even replacing the windows in your home. But for this article we are going to discuss permits for bath and kitchen remodels. Why is it important? What happens if you don’t?

What do you need permits for?

Each contractor has to be registered with each city where they work. Meaning, the electrician, plumber, HVAC, and often the general contractor. When you have a general contractor managing all your subs they register with the city, they have to turn in their plans for your project and get the permit for the job. Each subcontractor will then register under that job.

Once permits are issued the work can get started. At the beginning of the project you can have the following inspections: foundation, insulation, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, framing, window and exterior door inspections. The city official will check all new or moved plumbing lines, electrical wires, make sure framing and insulation is up to code before drywall is put on, check new or moved HVAC lines, and make sure that the exterior door and windows meet energy code. Bath remodel rough in comes in two parts; first inspection is to check the plumbing lines before concrete is poured, second is when the shower pan/tub is installed to insure that the plumbing won’t leak. Smoke detectors have become important in many cities. If smoke detectors are missing from EACH bedroom, one in the hall outside the bedroom(s), kitchen and they’re not tied together so if one goes off they all go off, they will require them to be brought to code. The only exception to the smoke detectors being tied together is if it would be impossible/price prohibitive to tie them all together – think 2nd story posing impediments to this being completed. Once your project is finished, a final inspection is completed.
Permits and inspections are a matter of public record. So, if you decide to sell your home and the buyer knows to look this up they can question any failed inspections or inspections not done at all.

Why do you have to have permits?


Really, the permits and inspections are to help protect you the home owner. You really don’t want just anyone doing electrical, HVAC or plumbing work and without an inspection, you could also end up in a situation if something did happen – fire as a result of faulty electrical work – your insurance may not pay.

What happens if you don’t get permits?

Everyone tries to save money where they can, and some think well, if I skip the city permits, that’ll be okay, right? How will they know? I’m confident my friends and neighbors are not going to call the city and turn me in. Permits can get pretty costly, as some cities charge more than others. But the cost of getting caught without one… is endless.
Let’s pretend you or your general contractor decided to try and skate by without a permit. A city official for whatever reason drives down your street and sees contractors walking around or their work trucks parked in front of your house and they don’t see the permit that is supposed to be hanging in your window visible from the street. They will then start inquiring as to what is taking place.

If the work that is being done should have a permit, all work has to stop immediately. Say goodbye to that completion date you had in mind. You or the contractor will then have to submit work plans. The city can decide to decline registration for the contractor as well and keep him from registering and working in that city again if they choose. If that happens, you have to find another contractor to finish the work.

Let’s say the city official found you out at the end of your project. The painters, plumber and electrician were there doing the final touches. The city can make you expose the areas where work was done so that they can inspect. Not only can the fines from the city for the lack of permit and proper inspections have to be paid for, but you could potentially end up paying for completed work twice. Fines vary from city to city, but it is usually the permit fee doubled or tripled.

Permitted Work

As you’ve read, permitted work does add an additional cost to your project, but why wouldn’t you want your work completed so it insures the safety of your home and family?


When this client contacted us, she was looking for someone who could help her visualize and bring to life what she wanted…a beautiful, streamlined, brighter kitchen with new appliances and a way to keep the odors when cooking from escaping into the rest of her home. This was the family’s existing kitchen…

Since she basically knew what she wanted, we helped her tweak her selections to make sure she was getting the appropriate items for her family. We then took all the final selections and used them in these renderings so that she could see how her kitchen would look completed.

RT   9-17-2014Final RT 2Now that the kitchen is completed, it’s exactly how she pictured it and even better she says!

Kelkar-0218Kelkar-0202Kelkar-0228The cabinets are made by DeWils Cabinetry in cherry with a café stain. The countertops are Santa Margherita Victoria quartz with the main back splash tile in a bevel subway Cotton Glossy and the accent decorative glass behind the hood is Shimmer Abalone, both from Arizona Tile. The floor is cork by Almada called Nevoa Alba.

Start Your Remodel Process

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Are you thinking about remodeling now that the holidays are over?

The first step is to research what type of remodel you want. Do you want a simple update where you just get new countertops, maybe one or two appliances; spruce up the cabinets? Or do you want an all out complete renovation making your space more user friendly and up to date with new appliances, plumbing and finishes? Once you decide what kind of remodel project you want, you need to decide on your budget. One of the best places to start is the cost vs. value report . This report gives you an average cost of a remodel project in your area. Once you decide on your budget, be up front with your remodeling professional, it does not do you or the professional justice if you’re at different ends of the pricing spectrum…after all, no one can read minds!

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After you’ve decided what you want to do and have done a little research on cost, now you need to find someone to do the work for you. The next step is probably what kind of remodeling professional do you need? With contractors, there is the handyman who can do any and all work and you only have to deal with him, however you have to tell them what you want and where you want it. The general contractor will provide all the tradesmen and lines them up, but you tell them what you want and where you want it. The third type of company is the design/build remodeling contractor. The design/build company is with you through the design to the finish of construction. Whomever you choose, make sure you are absolutely comfortable with them as this is the person/company that is going to be working in your home for weeks on your project. If you read our story about estimates you know that you will not be able to compare pricing since really, you are interviewing to see which company is the best fit for you and your project and which company made you feel comfortable and trust worthy enough for you to hire.

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Now that you know what kind of remodel project you want to do, you’ve done your research, came up with a budget, found a company that you are comfortable with, what’s next? Let’s say you picked a design/build company. You wanted a company who could design your kitchen with your thoughts and vision and can help you put everything together and you’ve told this company you are hiring them. The design process starts and you will be assisted in making all those selections – appliances; plumbing; tile; flooring; countertops; cabinets; and anything else that needs to be selected for your project. Your design and proposal is then created with your thoughts and vision that you discussed with the design/build team. Most often, you will then have a meeting with the design team to go over your design; maybe make a few changes and go over the proposed cost of what your project. After you’ve finalized all the details, you will sign construction contracts! All materials need to be ordered and with the “busy” season approaching, many lead times can be several weeks in length. As well, if you need permits for your project, some cities are taking several weeks to go through the permit process. Once all the products and permits are in hand…construction for your remodel project begins!

It is never too early to start the process so that you can hit the start of construction date that you desire. Preplanning will help alleviate the anxiety that goes into commencing any type of construction project, whether it is small or large…it is the upfront process that is so important…just keep in mind, it is never too early to start planning for your next remodeling project!

50 Shades of Remodeling

3 bids 150 Shades of Remodeling…well maybe not 50, although if you contacted 50 companies, you would see all the different shades of each company!

However, you’ve decided that you do want to redo your the “shades” of your home, whether it is your kitchen or bath, or even add on to the house. First question is “I wonder what something like this might cost”. So you call three (or more) contractors, which is what you have heard is a good idea; since if you don’t compare how will you know you have gotten the right deal? The three contractors come to your house and you discuss the project with all three. Here is where the process falls apart.

You have some idea of what you might want and you discuss this with contractor #1. He makes suggestions and adds to the idea. He leaves with his perception of what you want.

3 bids 2Contractor #2 comes over and you discuss the project with him. This time you offer a little more information because you are wiser from the discussion with #1. You may have also gotten some new ideas since you spoke to #1. #2 offers more ideas and different suggestions. He leaves with his perception of what you want.

Contractor #3 enters and now you have an even better idea of what you want. More discussion happens and as you might guess he has some new and different ideas. He leaves with his perception of what you want.

All three contractors know at this point that you want to, let’s say remodel the kitchen. This is where the possible apples to apples comparison stops. Unless you have given each contractor a plan delineating the exact project and a list of the exact materials to be used, you will receive three estimates on three different kitchens.

At this point, the three estimates are almost useless. What is useful is that you have met three contractors and have gotten some feel for who you like. Regardless of the estimates, if two of the three contractors made you a bit nervous do you want them in your house for a few weeks. Do you want to deal with them if you have a small issue with something in your project.

Houser 581You may also be thinking, but I’m going to ask for a line item breakout, this way I can definitely line up apples to apples. What you have to understand is that remodeling is not like going to the grocery store where you can pull out one item and it has a direct effect on the cost; it is more like the entire recipe, if you don’t have a main ingredient, the recipe fails. A good example is a built in frig. If you pull that out of your estimate and put in a freestanding frig, your cabinetry expense will change, your plumbing and electrical could possibly change and installation will definitely change; it’s like a domino effect.

Another factor that you must take in to account, not each company operates the same way, so if you’re thinking a line item break out is going to let you compare apples to apples, it won’t happen since you’re dealing with different companies run by different individuals all with different business models. Also, keep in mind if you’re getting that estimate for “free”, at some point you will in fact be paying for all the “free” estimates that the company has provided since at some point they have to earn the money for their time and travel expenses. The old adage, nothing is for free applies in this case!

DeWils Cabinets

Mehnert 60Many, many moons ago, we use to make our own cabinets for our clients. Rob wanted to have custom cabinets that lasted for our clients. Upon being at a Builder Expo they ran into a representative for DeWils Cabinets.

Upon meeting with the local representative and inspecting DeWils products. We decided to team up with DeWils. Now we have the beautiful, long lasting custom cabinets that we have been striving for from DeWils, and we can concentrate on making our clients beautiful spaces.

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Let me tell you a little bit about DeWils Cabinets and what makes them so special. DeWils started as a small family owned and operated cabinet company. Their commitment to quality craftsmanship and business integrity have never been compromised as they grew larger and larger.

They have several choices on what type of wood you want alder, bamboo, cherry, maple, hickory, knotty alder, mahogany, white oak, red oak and walnut. They have a wide variety of stains, glazes and paints for any kitchen or bath. They even have some distressing that they can do.

O'Neil 397What most cabinet companies use as add ons for their cabinets, come standard for DeWils, such as:

• Premium full extension and soft close hardware
• Extensive use of sustainable hardwoods
• Hand sanded and hand rubbed stains
• Plywood case construction
• Full adjustable ¾ inch plywood shelving

They use eco friendly materials for their cabinetry. They strive for a product that is healthy for your home and the planet.

The care and cleaning are pretty simple as well. So you’ll have long lasting beautiful cabinets for years to come.

O'Neil 134You can read more about DeWils Cabinets HERE.

If you would like more information, please email or give us a call and we will send you some more information about DeWils cabinets.

National Cancer Awareness Month

February is National Cancer Awareness Month. I knew there were several different types of cancers out there. As I was researching on what I should write for this month, I found the ribbons chart. It shows you what color ribbon is used for each cancer. It really puts things in perspective. The harder part is to realize there are more cancers out there than there are on this ribbon chart.

No matter your age, or what cancer it is, it’s scary to hear the words you have cancer. You never get answers fast enough to ease or fuel your fears.

For those who have survived, going through and lost the battle of cancer, we honor you with these ribbons. We hope with all our hearts that cures and preventatives are found so that no one will ever have to hear those three awful words “you have cancer”.

Cancer ribbons


Rob & Robin

Friday, January 16th, NTSFA held a Mission of Cocktails for the Cure to Raise Awareness and Funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The NTSFA held a silent auction with all proceeds donated to BCRF in honor of our very own Robin Burrill. Robin was diagnosed with Breast Cancer June 2014.

I wanted to share with you the write up that NTSFA did on the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Robin Burrill.

The mission of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is to prevent and cure breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research.

BCRF is a nonprofit organization committed to achieving prevention and a cure for breast cancer. BCRF provides critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship.

Founded in 1993 by Evelyn H. Lauder, BCRF has raised more than half a billion dollars for lifesaving research. Through a unique and streamlined grants program, we seek out the brightest minds in science and medicine and give them necessary resources to pursue their best ideas. As a result, researchers are able to make discoveries and design new approaches to address all aspects of breast cancer – and do so in record time.

“Our goal is to accelerate the breakthroughs bringing us closer to a cure to speed up the progress that will improve survivorship and quality of life for breast cancer patients today.” – Myra J Biblowit, President & CEO

In 2014-2015, BCRF will award $47 million in annual grants to 222 scientists from top universities and medical institutions around the globe. Every hour of research we fund improves outcomes and saves lives. But we still have more to do.

The thousands of women and men suffering from breast cancer today depend on us. No institution can conquer this disease alone. Together, we can.

RobinRobin was born in the District of Columbia and grew up in Arlington, VA. Her parents moved her family to Austin right after her high school graduation. She attended North Texas State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Major in Interior Design and Minor in Industrial Technology. After practicing commercial interior design for a number of years, Robin went to work at EDS where she stayed for 15 years until she met her husband Rob Mathews.

Robin then moved from her North Dallas home to Fort Worth and after commuting for 2 years back and forth to Plano, she joined Rob full time in his design/build remodeling company, Curb Appeal Renovations, Inc. Robin heads up the design and administrative aspects of their business and they jointly sell for their company. Robin’s parents, brother and niece still live in Austin and her step daughter and fiancé live in Georgetown. Robin and Rob live in Keller, where Rob actually graduated from High School, with their seven dogs!