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Remodel Now 2016/2017

Bright New Tips and Trends for Your Remodel South Sound experts have the latests ideas

Remodeling Your Home for Accessibility Gone are the days when retrofitting your home for accessibility meant foregoing aesthetics.

Outdoor Living Spring 2016’s Hottest Trends

a special supplement of The Olympian

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2016/2017 edition

Remodel Now contents 2016/2017

Features 04

Welcome from the President and Executive Officer by Mike Auderer and Troy Nichols


The REX Awards Recognizing showcasing and encouraging remodeling excellence. by Marsha A. Branch


Bright New Tips and Trends for Your Remodel 1211 State Avenue NE • Olympia, WA 98506 360.754.0912 • FAX 360.754.7448


Executive Officer


Mike Auderer

Troy Nichols

Angela White

Olympia Construction, Inc.

Olympia Master Builders

Olympia Master Builders

South Sound experts share the latest ideas. by Barb Lally


Remodeling Your Home for Accessibility Gone are the days when retrofitting your home for accessibility meant foregoing aesthetics. by Marsha A. Branch


Outdoor Living Spring 2016’s Hottest Trends. by Marsha A. Branch

2016/2017 edition

Vice President

Advertising Sales Manager

John Dzaran

Melissa Jenkins

Key Accounts Manager


Karen McClennen

Bill Webb



Remodel Now 2016/2017

Bright New Tips and Trends for Your Remodel South Sound experts have the latests ideas

Remodeling Your Home for Accessibility Gone are the days when retrofitting your home for accessibility meant foregoing aesthetics.

Outdoor Living Spring 2016’s Hottest Trends

a special supplement of The Olympian

On the cover Photo courtesy of


On page 3 Photo courtesy of




On page 4 Photo courtesy of



On page 5 Photo courtesy of





From the President and Executive Officer

welcome dreamers!


t’s time! Time to start dreaming of all the exciting improvements and changes you can make to your home! I am happy you are leafing through the pages of Remodel Now Magazine because it is published to help your dreams come true! Remodel Now Magazine is a publication of the Olympia Master Builders (OMB) Remodelers. OMB Remodelers are professionals serving and promoting the remodeling industry. In 2016, the Remodelers made the decision to publish this magazine in the spring instead of the summer, which will help you kick start your planning even earlier! The stories inside were carefully prepared to help you, the consumer, take charge of your remodeling project! This issue of Remodel Now celebrates trends in outdoor living



MIKE AUDERER President, Olympia Master Builders Olympia Construction, Inc.

spaces, design, technology and accessibility. From creating the perfect outdoor get away (pg. 28), to ways to beautifully prepare your home for staying in place while you age (pg.21), it’s all inside. You will learn the importance of hiring the right remodeling contractor for the job. (p.14) And you’ll be given insight into what is possible for you and your home! If you are interested in remodeling

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your home, you need the expertise a professional remodeler gives. Throughout the pages of this magazine are contractors and suppliers who would be happy to assist you. In addition, on the Olympia Master Builders’ website, you’ll find a free, searchable database of members as well as a downloadable copy of our Buyer’s Guide. For more details please visit or call the OMB office at 360-754-0912 or 800-456-6473. Thank you for reading Remodel Now! I hope this issue brings you the advice, inspiration and confidence to help you take the next step to bring your dream to reality!


he Olympia Master Builders (OMB) have, once again, partnered with The Olympian to bring you the 2016/2017 Remodel Now Magazine! The information contained in these pages will prove invaluable as you embark on your own personal remodeling project. We’re proud to have so many qualified OMB members sharing their knowledge and

2016/2017 edition

experience in this magazine, and we hope you will benefit from it. Hiring the right professional for your home remodel project is extremely important. It will save you time and money by getting the job done right the first time. I know that flashy graphics and charismatic hosts of those “Do It Yourself” shows on networks like HGTV can make remodeling look easy, but often times going it alone can end up costing you more in the end. And hiring an unlicensed contractor to save a few dollars can also backfire in multiple ways, all bad for your wallet.

hammer to your sheetrock. If you decide to hire a professional, verify their license on the Dept. of Labor and Industries website, and ask them for a list of recent customers and other professional references. Finally, be sure to use OMB’s on-line directory at for a list of the best and well-known remodelers in your community. Home remodel projects are important and exciting, and we hope to help make your remodeling experience a positive one!

Hiring a professional is the right choice for so many reasons. Let me share a few: 1. T  hey know how to ensure that your dreams are understood and accurately translated. 2. They know how to maintain safety in your home during a project. 3. T  hey are able to provide the best possible materials within your budget. 4. T  hey assist with finding other vendors during your project. 5. A  nd the list goes on… I would encourage you to take an honest look at your “DIY” skills before taking a

TROY NICHOLS Executive Officer, Olympia Master Builders



Dreaming of







Thanking the Community for voting us Best of South Sound for the 5th year in a row! • Complete Design/Build Services • Kitchens and Bathrooms • Outdoor Living • Insurance Work • Additions • Interiors • Home Solutions for Seniors • Decks

Here are some of our award winning projects! 360.705.2938 JOHNEER928RA



2016/2017 edition

Photos courtesy of Lifespan Construction

Olympia Master Builders Association presents

The REX Awards

Recognizing, showcasing and encouraging remodeling excellence! by Marsha A. Branch


esigned to recognize outstanding projects completed by Olympia Master Builders’ members, the annual Remodeling Excellence (REX) Awards make one thing very clear. Awardees are not merely builders and remodelers. They are artists, proving that it’s much more than nuts and bolts that go into creating a home. Instead, the design element, and

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their eye for detail take center stage, providing an impressive lineup of projects to be judged. OMB members have for the past 14 years utilized the awards as a platform to showcase their work in a variety of categories, including residential, commercial, whole house and specific room renovations, historic



restorations, ageing in place and outdoor living – to name a few. In fact, this year, contractors will be able to choose from among 27 categories under which they can submit their projects. Price caps in the various categories mean smaller budget projects won’t have to compete against bigger ones. “[The awards] are a great way for our remodeling contractor members to showcase their work and receive some publicity,” OMB Communications Director Angela White said. “When you do a remodel job, the general public doesn’t usually see it, whereas a new house is a lot more visible, because people can walk through during an open house and see the craftsmanship,” she said. “

John Erwin Remodeling The ability to utilize the awards as a great marketing tool is something John Erwin has capitalized on, and quite creatively so. The owner of John Erwin Remodeling Inc. has won REX Awards in every available category, and he’s won so many of them that he worked it into his company’s tagline – ‘Olympia’s Premier Award-Winning Contractor’.

“All my friends in the Association tease me about that,” Erwin said. “All totaled I’ve received, probably well over 60 REX Awards, both at the local and state level.” Reflecting on his mom, whom he lost to multiple sclerosis when he was a teen, Erwin noted that he largely attributes his success, both in business and at the REX Awards, to following a sage piece of advice she once offered. “You should be hanging out with people smarter than you, because it rubs off,” she once said. The advice was offered to a young Erwin after getting into trouble at school, but today, he applies it to business, and has surrounded himself with a team of highly skilled carpenters, subcontractors and suppliers. “So when we turn in for a REX Award, it’s not for John Erwin, at all,” he said. “It’s for my team of people that I have working with me. I’ve got a great team,” Erwin said. “They are true, professional remodel carpenters.” With the help of his team, Erwin’s company now

Photo courtesy of Lifespan Construction

Photo courtesy of Interior Dimensions



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averages 150 projects annually. These include some 15 to 20 major remodels with budgets of around $100,000.00, and 25 with budgets averaging $40,000 plus. His ‘bread and butter’ projects average $35,000.00 and make up the remainder of his yearly work, along with smaller jobs like installations in the $1,200.00 to $1,500.00 range.

back of the house, all sectioned off with four walls, completely isolated from the family and dining room areas,” he said. We opened it all up, by relocating and expanding it.”

Still undecided about the categories he will enter for the 2016 REX Awards, Erwin stated that he expects to submit two to four projects, and one of them will likely be a kitchen remodel of which he and his team are particularly proud.

That project was in the $80,000 to $100,000 range, and what pleased Erwin most was his clients’ reaction to the finished product. They were absolutely thrilled. And that fits right in with his five-year plan. While growth is on the cards, his primary focus will be on customer satisfaction, ensuring ALL of his clients experience that ‘wow factor’. This means not spreading himself too thin.

“We actually relocated the kitchen into where the dining room was and it really changed the whole dynamic of the house and the way you interact,” Erwin said. “Before we started, the kitchen was in the

“We’re absolutely on the upswing. I think frankly we’re about two years into a 10-year rise of remodeling and being prosperous,” Erwin said. “This past year, we had to really work hard at controlling

growth, because the amount of inquiries and opportunities, have basically doubled.” Leads are now up from 10 per week, to almost 20, but attempting to cater to each of them would mean placing quantity over quality, something Erwin says he will never be willing to do. “So we are just being very, very stingy, or we try to filter through,” he said. “Now, we are only working in Olympia, in the Thurston County area. We’re not going outside of the county at all.” There’s something to be said for putting people first, making sure their experience during the process is a pleasant one, and that it comes before the bottom line. Ensure your customers are happy, and the money will take care of itself. It’s an attitude and approach to

While growth is in the cards, John Erwin’s primary focus will be on customer satisfaction, ensuring ALL of his clients experience that ‘wow factor’.

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business that several REX Awards winners appear to have in common.

Lifespan Construction Lifespan Construction Inc. co-owner Chris McDonald says it’s the greatest lesson he has learned in business. So while money is an important aspect, he tries not to let it dictate how he makes decisions. McDonald’s company is somewhat of a new kid on the block, having been established in 2010, but he brings over two decades of experience to the proverbial drawing board. And what started out as a small company, focused on aging in place and home modifications for people with mobility issues, got so busy that six months in they expanded to offer full-on remodeling design-build services. Lifespan now averages 30 to 40 projects of various sizes annually, including three large, or whole house remodels, several medium projects in the $50,000 to $80,000 thousand range, and some smaller projects in between. Chris’ passion is giving homes a new lease on life, transforming spaces so that they continue to be functional for, and aesthetically pleasing to the homeowner, allowing them to enjoy their homes for several more years to come. And like most contractors in the business, bathrooms and kitchens are his favorite spaces. “There is so much candy, so many fun things you can do in those spaces,” McDonald said. “It’s hard not to get excited about the countertops, tile, lighting, plumbing and the appliances, but a close runner up to that would be structural work, when you are framing up an addition or some major change to a house,” he said. “Seeing those changes happen and creating a space that wasn’t there, or adding on to a house, that’s exciting too.” With over 15 REX awards under his belt, McDonald knows what it takes to land the top spot – a perfect blend of aesthetics, creativity and functionality, as well as unwavering attention to detail. Being recognized for how these traits unfold in his projects is for Chris, always rewarding.

Photo courtesy of Lifespan Construction

“It’s nice for us to get affirmation from industry professionals. And of course our clients are happy,” McDonald said. “This is the one award that is judged by respected industry professionals outside of our market, and it’s just really affirming to have them recognize our work and give their seal of approval,” he said. While still not sure of the categories he’ll enter for 2016 awards, McDonald is particularly fond of a recently completed major kitchen remodel that involved some structural work. “The work we did to open up the kitchen to the rest of the house involved quite a bit of engineering, because the walls that were being removed were load bearing,” he said. “So we had to redo some foundation work and re-support.” In addition to including two of his favorite types of projects – kitchens and structural work – McDonald

also took great pride in the seamlessness of the finished product. “Roof and siding transitions, flooring transitions, and drywall transitions, if poorly done, are all telltale signs that a remodel has taken place,” McDonald said. “If those are absent, then you’ve done a nice job of creating a cohesive remodel.” Another possible award entry could be an aging in place addition in a 1910 historical home. McDonald and his team were tasked with adding a main floor master suite, while ensuring it tied in with the original architecture. “We also added a laundry room and a powder bath, but the majority of the focus was the master bedroom,” McDonald said. “I think we pulled off a nice remodel there because we used a lot of the elements from the existing house…so I’m pretty proud of that one.”


With over 15 REX awards under his belt, McDonald knows what it takes to land the top spot – a perfect blend of aesthetics, creativity and functionality, as well as unwavering attention to detail.



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So what’s the five-year plan for the five-year old company? While he’ll be working to carve out just a little more market share, McDonald says his primary focus will be his existing customers. “Almost 50% of our work is repeat and referral business,” he said. So a really huge part of our marketing efforts, is to keep our clientele happy.”

Dickey’s Remodel & Repair A stalwart in the remodeling industry, Timothy D. Dickey has been submitting projects to, and winning REX Awards for over a decade. After a two-year hiatus, the President of Dickey’s Remodel & Repair will once again be submitting entries to be judged in the 2016 awards. His absence over the past two years wasn’t due to a shortage of projects, but for more altruistic reasons, his dedication to encouraging new, young talent into the industry, which saw numbers dwindle after the recession.

Having won several REX Awards in the bathroom, kitchen, whole house, accessibility and commercial categories, Dickey has certainly mastered the key to submitting a winning package.

“Remodelers are a rare breed,” Dickey said. “They are quality tradesmen and craftsmen, many with a lot of skillsets,” he said. “They are people pleasers and I think they lose sight of what they bring to the table.” Dickey believes the opportunity for remodelers to showcase their work serves as a reminder of their value, and will encourage them to be steadfast in the pursuit of excellence. Even if they do not submit a winning package, it’s quite an achievement to compete with their peers Dickey said. Thinking back to when he first started submitting entries, Dickey remembered it being quite a hurdle to overcome, but going through the process both helped, and taught him how to market his business. Having won several REX Awards in the bathroom, kitchen, whole house, accessibility and commercial categories, Dickey has certainly mastered the key to submitting a winning package. His most important piece of advice to newcomers may seem obvious, but is often overlooked.


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remodeling contractors. Today he’s located in a commercial building with a showroom, and has a staff of eight – five carpenters and three helpers in the field. He also ditched his tool belt and now focuses on the management and marketing of his company. It was a tough call, but one that was absolutely necessary for the growth of his business. “You might be a very good carpenter, but not a very good business person, and so when you enter the business realm, you have to learn that side,” Dickey said. “But you can’t grow your business when you are trying to do it all.”

Photo courtesy of Lifespan Construction

Tim’s story provides another important lesson for those with aspirations of entering the remodeling industry. Do not despise small beginnings.

“Take before and after pictures,” he said. “You may be submitting for a REX award eight months after the project is complete, so it’s easy to forget, but you’ve got to get your ducks in a row,” Dickey said.

Through hard work, and dedication, he has grown to become one of Olympia’s most respected

Starting out as a handyman operating from his home,

Looking back over the years, Tim shared two projects that continue to be particularly gratifying. A 2008 kitchen remodel tops his list on the residential side for three reasons. The customer was an absolute pleasure to work with. By changing the layout Dickey and his team made the kitchen more functional, so that his client enjoyed and got better use of the space – an element of his job he really loves. And finally, the project turned out so well, he decided to shell out a couple grand to have it professionally photographed – a wise move that has paid dividends over the years. The photos ended up on the front page of Remodel Now Magazine, in Dickey’s show and tell book, and

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2016/2017 edition

Photo courtesy of Lifespan Construction & Interior Dimensions

helped him win a REX Award for best kitchen remodel.   On the commercial side, his favorite project is one he completed eight years ago. He was commissioned to remodel and upgrade an old Dairy Queen building, which at the time was being occupied by the Washington Rural Electric Association.


“The outside is what I’m really proud of,” Dickey said. “We had a designer involved in the process. The owner wanted to keep some of the historic value of it, but give it more of a modern feel.” On the bottom portion of the exterior, Dickey utilized lap siding, and above that, he used dryvit, a flat panel looking material.  “That gave it a modern look above, and kind of a homey feel below,” Dickey said. “I believe we did that project eight years ago and it still looks like we did it yesterday,” he said. “I like projects when they stand the test of time.” There’s no denying that the remodeling industry is a tough one to break into, but through the recognition that comes with the REX Awards, the invaluable networking provided by Olympia Master Builders – hosts of the Awards, and a commitment to providing quality work, John Erwin, Chris McDonald and Timothy D. Dickey are three stellar examples in a close-knit group of top-rated remodelers in the Olympia area who have made a hugely successful go at it. 

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“I was able to come into the area after retiring as an officer from the Air Force and get my company well established in three years. The REX Awards will help do that for you,” Dickey said. “They will help get your company in front of everybody else.”


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2016/2017 edition



Bright New Tips and Trends for Your Remodel South Sound experts have the latest ideas

by Barb Lally Photo courtesy of Interior Dimensions Photographer – Doug Walker Photography Contractor – LeMier Phillips Construction



2016/2017 edition


hether you seek comfort, security or luxury, the latest concepts and products in design maximize your vision for your remodel. Consulting with local experts, you discover ideas beyond what you could ever imagine.

The Local Experts As a Certified Kitchen Designer, a Certified Bathroom Designer and with 34 years of experience in interior design, Diane Gassman, owner of Interior Dimensions, LLC, meets clients in her design studio in Tumwater to discuss how to achieve their vision in 3-D plans. It is there that her clients get a wealth of new ideas to enhance their remodel. Holly Constantine, a sales consultant for Puget Sound Window and Door, has been a window and glass consultant for 25 years. Holly not only stays current on innovative glass design but also on any

new building regulations in Washington State through classes offered by the Olympia Master Builders. Jeffrey Trinin, president of Always Safe & Lock, Inc. in Olympia is a fourth generation locksmith and considered a local authority in building security. His showroom in downtown Olympia displays a dramatic contrast between a museum-like collection of antique keys and locks and the modern security technology that keeps today’s homes and businesses safe. Matt Wolden, Owner of Local Capitol Glass LLC in Olympia, has been in the glass business over 30 years. His company has highly qualified installers that have many certifications required in many installations. AAMA, Installation Masters, Tyvek and Lead abatement certifications. Specializing in all aspects of glass they boast that they have installed over 16,000 windows with no leaks. They also work with a variety of remodelers, builders and

homeowners, in new construction. These contractors combine decades of experience with their constant learning about current trends and the ever-changing technical advancements in their industries through trade shows, vendor samples and manufacturer training. They share a few of those trends.

Lighting Magic Improving the natural light in your home is a consideration in any remodel, especially here in the Northwest. When consulting on a remodel, Diane Gassman considers a home’s natural light sources – its position on a lot, window locations, roof overhangs and extended or outdoor living space. “Operable skylights that open either remotely or with a hand crank have been popular,” says Diane who has worked on various types of interior lighting her entire career. “But operable skylights with

New glass options allow natural light without the heat gain or loss associated with the older generation of skylight.

Installations & Additions Refinishing & Repairs Recoating & Floor Cleaning


2016/2017 edition



shades between the glass are becoming a real trend.” Diane says the reason is that people want to regulate the amount of sunlight in a room is to save on the costs of cooling, furniture discoloration and bleaching beautiful hardwood floors. Holly Constantine notes that skylight frames have not changed much over the years, but the glass in them has.

“The new glass options are much more energy efficient, allowing natural light without the heat gain or loss associated with the older generation of skylight,” the Puget Sound Window and Door expert notes. Matt Wolden adds “Our region suffers from lack of natural light a large part of the year so we stock 50 skylights and five solatubes at all times due to their popularity.”


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For those looking for an affordable natural light source, Diane agrees the Solatube may be an answer. “Instead of a large skylight that needs to be framed, you can actually create an opening in your ceiling and mount this unit that vents to the exterior. According to Matt, “Retrofitting Solatubes in a home costs much less than cutting in for a new skylight and can be completed in much less time and virtually eliminating risks of ever leaking” the Capitol Glass owner indicates. Diane added, “Solatubes now have LED lighting to add a light source at night.” Energy efficient and long lasting, LED lighting does not give out much heat and can be controlled and dimmed. And though some may mourn the incandescent light’s warm, yellow glow, LED innovation rivals the old light source. “They have developed a color rendition of LED lighting with the same amount of Calvin light output that makes it warm and rich,” Diane explains. “It can be used anywhere and it is here to stay.”



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2016/2017 edition

An entire wall of windows completely opens up your living room to your outdoor living space. Windows & Doors Spectacular There are many new and unique trends in windows and doors that maximize natural light, improve energy efficiency and create a new look. One is the concept of transom windows, a term for an elongated window anywhere from 12 to 24 inches in height and varying widths across a space. “We are putting transom windows up high in showers, allowing daylight in,” explains Diane. “They can be operable with an awning or slider window. We also use them in bedrooms, bringing in fresh air while maintaining privacy.”

Photo courtesy of Olympia Construction, Inc.

Another new trend in windows is the use of “Low E” glass. “Low E glass is coated with silver oxide that stops the transfer of hot and cold, from inside to out and vice versa,” says Holly Constantine. “The energy efficiency of vinyl windows with this new, improved Low E glass reduces the need for triple-pane windows that have more glass failures and are thicker and weigh much more, limiting the size of windows.”

And, for a more dramatic way to let in outside light and air, there are now stunning “moving glass walls” that open up the entire width of a room to bring the outdoors in. Holly says the different moving glass wall systems vary in their use of materials and how they address specific design needs or comply with energy ratings.

“Milgard moving glass walls are available in a thermallyimproved aluminum only or with a wood-clad, upgraded interior and come in stacking, bi-folding, or pocket applications. They are beautiful with many architectural features and come in larger sizes, but the system requires significant home insulation and heating system upgrades to comply with energy code.”

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“The Cascade Folding Doors systems are made of vinyl with high-performance Low E glass that exceeds what is required in current residential energy code. Their basic white vinyl door is also available with factory-painted options to meet many color palates as well as in a variety of sizes and number of panels.”

“It is very common for us to install a window where there was once a blank wall” says Matt Wolden. “People choose this option, not only for the added light, but it can literally change the way that room now presents itself”. Matt is also excited about the “moving glass wall” trend sharing, “When people enter our

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“Heavy or ½ inch glass for showers is all the rage,” Holly describes. “The thicker glass can span larger areas with a seamless, disappearing look. There is no metal to clean and improved glass coatings prevent the build-up of water spots and soap scum, a welcomed innovation for homeowners.” “The popularity of the Heavy Glass Door, as well as its options, has grown so much in just the last five years” Matt Wolden describes. Capitol Glass has gone from installing one every 4-6 weeks to sometimes doing 10-12 in a week. We are able to create amazing works of art with these systems that could never be done before.” Diane Gassman works with a local Oregon company for a spectacular use of glass in a remodel. “Pacific Design Cabinetry has worked for decades with high-end projects and designers,” she says. “In the last three years, they have developed nFusionGlass® – back-painted glass or textiles and wallcoverings laminated with

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2016/2017 edition

glass for rich colors and design in wall tiles, cabinet doors, vanities and even countertops. The surfaces are stunning and, though a luxury item, people who are tired of wood cabinets that fade or get gummy love the look.” More information about nFusionGlass® be found at

Security Smarts The newest security technology could be an easy marketing opportunity to sell products quickly and cheaply, but Always Safe & Lock carries the latest home security devices through worldwide manufacturers ensuring consistency in repair, parts and warranty services. “We have video intercoms in the Yale Real Living line with an instant view on a 3 by 4 inch screen of who is standing outside your door before you open it,” says Jeffrey Trinin. “Homeowners can record a 15 second blast of video footage should they need it. We have models that come with a built-in doorbell if your home does not have one.”  The “digital peepholes” come at an affordable price ranging from about $140 to $200.

2016/2017 edition

The Always Safe & Lock showroom also displays touch screen door locks that improve accessibility. “Our residential touch screen combination lock in the Yale Real Living product line accommodates twenty different users and can be monitored with a smart phone through Z-wave technology,” says Jeffrey. “You can be anywhere and lock and unlock the door, as well as see the device activity history. It sells for under $400.” Jeffrey recommends a touch screen or push button lock for at least one door of a family’s home. “If a parent gets home late, their child can still get in after school and be safe instead of standing out in the weather.” Always Safe & Lock is the area dealership for pick-resistant, patented registered key locks for knob, levers and deadbolts, often used for commercial customers but are also popular for higher-end homes. “The key is registered to the end user and cannot be reproduced without the owner’s written permission,” Jeffrey says.

Photo courtesy of Barb Lally

A video screen on the inside of your front door displays who is knocking on it.



looking. And, the popular side bar for raising, lowering or removing your shower head can also be a specified for a grab bar.”

The local security firm also sells custom home surveillance camera systems capable of being viewed from a cell phone that range from under $1000 to larger systems with advanced camera capabilities.

“The new heavy glass doors are wider and swing in and out without a frame that impedes the entrance,” says Holly. “Simple sloped tile provides wheel chair access for those aging in their home.”

“Adding a night light in your ceiling fan, dimmable LED lighting in your under-cabinet toe-kick area, and motion sensor low-wall lighting for halls and stairs are all simple conveniences as homeowners age,” adds Diane.

“We are unique in that we don’t have a package for cameras. We go to the site and then fit the equipment to homeowners’ particular needs,” says Jeffrey.

Staying Home

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Always Safe & Lock replaces doorknobs with levers and installs locks that are easier for older hands to use.

Home remodeling products are evolving to meet the needs of empty nesters who plan on staying in their homes long-term.

“Push button door locks are popular for seniors who find it hard to get a key into a keyhole,” says Jeffrey.

“There is now a towel bar that is dualpurposed as a grab bar,” says Diane Gassman, also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. “It is decorative rather than clinical

The new trends in shower doors also make it easier for seniors.

As you can see, although we live in small towns here in Thurston County, our expertise in trends rivals anything in the big city. In the South Sound, you need to look no further than the contractor list on the Olympia Master Builders (OMB) website, OMB members are committed to staying on top of trends and building codes. With decades of past experience in their trades, they can wow you with remodeling ideas for the future. 

There are many new and unique trends in windows and doors that maximize natural light, improve energy efficiency and create a new look.




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2016/2017 edition

Remodeling Your Home for

Accessibility by Marsha A. Branch


f you’re planning on remodeling your home in 2016, the opportunities available to you are unending. With a slew of innovative products, materials, services and technologies on the market, your only limitations will likely be your imagination, and perhaps your budget.

remodeling options available that will allow you to stay in your home, and maintain stylish dĂŠcor. In fact, the openness of modern design means it naturally lends itself to accessibility and aging in place.

But for all of the options, gadgets and smart devices now available to us, one of the most exciting things about remodeling these days is that great design and features are available to everyone. Gone are the days when retrofitting your home for accessibility meant forgoing aesthetics.

What Makes For An Accessible Bathroom

Whether your mobility is limited because of an accident, illness or age, there are now several

Bathrooms pose the greatest challenge to the homeowner or resident with mobility issues, and the end-user’s desire for independence and dignity mean the changes made here are among the most important in any whole house remodel for accessibility.

Photo courtesy of Lifespan Construction 2016/2017 edition



Modern trends like under mount sinks, soft close toilet seats, heated floors and LED lighting are incorporated into this remodel job along with a few other significant constructs that could make all the difference between the end user needing help, and being able to utilize this, ‘meant to be private,’ room alone.

Vanities High & Vanities Low Known to many as Homely Bob, Robert Clark, Owner and President of Home Resource Company, says one of the most common changes he is asked to make in bathrooms to facilitate accessibility is adjusting vanities. Exactly what these adjustments entail is dependent on the accessibility issue he is making them for. Vanities are sometimes lowered to 34 inches or less, and the space beneath opened up to facilitate rolling up to them with a wheelchair. Wall mount sinks provide another option for the wheel chair user. But Clark’s most common requests tend to be from individuals who find it difficult to bend over because of arthritis and other joint issues. In this case, he’d raise the vanity to accommodate their needs.



Before | photo courtesy of Home Resource Company

From Plain Old Shower to Zen Spa Tubs and smaller 30 or 36-inch shower stalls are often replaced with much larger showers. Doors, which generally prove to be problematic for people with balance issues, are bypassed for curtains, or for an open, wet room application. Raised, or recessed thresholds are eliminated in universal shower design to allow for easy access in

and out of the shower for wheelchair users and others with disabilities or mobility issues that limit the ease of stepping up and down, or in and out of the shower. As Homely Bob puts it, the materials available today are ‘exotic’. This means modern showers remodeled for accessibility can transform your bathroom into a spa, rather than leaving it looking clinical.

2016/2017 edition

shower next to the seated bather,” Dickey said. “Then we add either a second slider bar with a hand shower, or a stationary head for the standing bather, and this combination valve has a diverter on top of it.”

After | photo courtesy of Home Resource Company

For an end user completely dependent on assistance, Dickey once installed a 60 x 60 foot shower and created a wet room. This allowed the caretaker to roll the individual into the shower on a wheeled cot, much like a gurney, to facilitate an easy and comfortable bathing experience.

Retrofitting The Throne

“We’ve got a staff member that deals with concrete, and we use a special resin compound to create a granite, or a marble look,” Clark said. “We recently completed a walk-in, or roll-in shower stall that appears to have a creek running through it. It’s got a round rock floor streambed, and a granite looking façade,” he said. “It’s a real attractive, natural looking shower with a couple of showerheads on it.”

Whether it’s someone who needs to bathe seated, or who is in need of a standard universal design, Timothy Dickey, President of Dickey’s Remodel & Repair, incorporates fold down seats in most bathrooms he remodels for accessibility. “We also add a combination valve on the back wall, so that the seated bather can control the water temperature, and a slider bar with a hand




Comfort height, or adult height toilets are a common feature in universal design. ADA accessibility guidelines recommend they be 17 to 19 inches high, measured to the top of the seat, instead of the usual 15 inches. This facilitates easier sitting and standing. Elongated, rather than round bowls are also more comfortable. Some luxury additions in standard bathroom remodels prove to be very practical in remodels for accessibility. Soft close lids for example, are beneficial for wheelchair users since they won’t

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2016/2017 edition



After | photo courtesy of Home Resource Company Before | photo courtesy of Home Resource Company

have to worry about reaching over the chair to close the lid. Users with arthritis who find it painful to bend their fingers and grip objects will also find this feature useful. Additionally, touch-less toilets, once reserved for restaurants and airport lavatories, have now made their way into the home. Again, this feature is not merely luxurious, but provides a practical solution for end-users with arthritis, joint issues, or other disabilities that may turn the simple task of flushing the toilet into a painful experience.

Grab Bars Are En Vogue Although they are a necessary, and potentially lifesaving addition to bathrooms retrofitted to facilitate accessibility and aging in place, grab bars were once considered an eye sore because they were previously designed solely with functionality, not aesthetics in mind. Today’s options are not only available in beautiful finishes, but also innovative designs that are



incorporated into other bathroom fixtures, like the toilet roll holder, towel racks and around the shower knob or lever, so that they do not even resemble grab bars, but look instead like high end interior design elements. For customers not yet needing this feature, Dickey still recommends planning ahead for them during construction. “Our showroom models all have plywood backing in the walls,” he said. “So you don’t have to worry about putting blocking in the walls for grab bars in the future.”

The Accessible Kitchen – Because Cooking Should Be Enjoyed By All Much like the bathroom, modifying the kitchen for accessibility can increase both safety and independent living for users with disabilities and

mobility issues. Once again, the goal is to incorporate design features that are barrier free, and can easily be used by everyone in the home. Changing this space however requires meticulous planning since the inclusion of appliances, countertops and cabinets mean every inch of space must be accounted for. In the accessible kitchen, it is ideal to have several work areas, all easily reached from one location.

Cabinets & Countertops If the primary user is in a wheelchair, counter height and under counter clearance are particularly important. While typical countertops are positioned at 36 inches, they are dropped to 32-34 inches in a kitchen designed for wheelchair accessibility. Some counters are adjustable to facilitate other users, and generally range in height from 28 to 36 inches.

2016/2017 edition

In the case of non-wheelchair users requiring accessibility features, it would be ideal to measure counter heights based on their comfort. However, this should be determined early in the design stage, since counters dictate the location of storage cabinets and appliances. “In many cases we would put a custom designed height to suit what the person’s needs for the elevation of the counter top,” Clark said. “And we will either raise, or lower them, depending on what is needed by that particular individual.” Islands that feature a considerable overhang to facilitate wheelchairs and walkers are also a common request, Clark said. Upper cabinets are seldom used in kitchen remodels for accessibility because they are difficult to reach, but electric powered adjustable cabinets are on the market. These can be raised and lowered at the touch of a button to accommodate different users. When fixed overhead cabinets are installed, they are often built without doors, in an open style for easy access.

Photos courtesy of Olympia Construction, Inc.

“These would be used for things like cereal boxes, spaghetti, things the user can reach with a grab stick,” Dickey said. “But nothing heavy, especially for the wheelchair user.”

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Lower cabinets are made more accessible with the installation of various accessories such as adjustable and pull down shelves, drawer dividers and Lazy Susans.



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Photo courtesy of Lifespan Construction

“Roller shelves and full extension drawers are very popular,” Clark said. “They make it much easier for an individual to get the pots and pans in the back portion of the shelving.” On cabinet doors, knobs are replaced with levers and looped cabinet pulls that do not require difficult twisting, grasping and pinching motions.

The Kitchen Sink For the same reason, knobs are also eliminated at the kitchen sink and replaced with large pull type or touchless faucets. For easier access, they are mounted at the side of the sink instead of the back to avoid having to reach across the bowl. “We’ve also gone toward the use of country or apron sinks,” Clark said. “They actually project out into the cabinet line…and this makes it easier, particularly for wheelchair users to be able to reach directly into the sink, as opposed to having one that is recessed, or set back from the edge of the countertop,” he said.

To further accommodate walkers and wheelchair users at the sink, the space beneath is left open, and the drain should be placed at the rear, instead of the middle so that the piping does not prevent the user’s ability to roll under the sink “The wheelchair needs a minimum depth of 17 inches to the wall underneath the sink so they can roll up to it,” Olympia Construction, Inc. President & CEO Mike Auderer said. 

Appliances Appliances are installed approximately 31 inches from the floor for wheelchair users, but as with countertops, during the planning phase heights comfortable for standing users with mobility constraints can be determined based on the respective user’s needs. Electric cooktops with staggered burners eliminate the need to reach across hot surfaces and reduce the risk of being burned. Having a cooktop that is separate from the oven is also preferred, since this allows each appliance to be

installed at a comfortable height. “Whatever the type of cooking surface we ensure the controls are on the front,” Dickey said. “And we design the layout dependent on the primary user. The layout for someone who lives alone and does all the cooking would essentially be different than for a wheelchair user who is not the primary cook, but helps out in the kitchen,” he said. Conventional ovens with doors that open down can be challenging for wheelchair and walker users, since they’ll have to navigate backwards to facilitate opening, and then reach over the hot door into the oven. Instead, side-hinged doors allow such users to get closer to the opening, and decrease the risk of being burned. For the wheelchair user, and also the standing user who finds it painful or difficult to reach up, microwaves are placed in lower cabinets, instead of uppers. And raising the dishwasher six to eight inches off the floor prevents standing users having to bend over to load and unload, and allows wheelchair users to access

Gone are the days when retrofitting your home for accessibility meant forgoing aesthetics.



2016/2017 edition

the unit from either side of the door so that it is not in their way, as it would be if they were sitting in front of it.

Bedrooms – The Highly Custom Remodel Bedrooms remodeled for accessibility are often custom designed to accommodate specific disabilities. In cases where the user has a disability that largely restricts mobility, like a severe spinal injury or muscular dystrophy, the devices installed are often extremely important, and safety is paramount, since they tend to be load bearing. It is therefore vital that you choose your contractor carefully, and ensure that he or she is ADA certified. Space is also necessary for the operation of these devices, so be prepared to lose a previously utilized space to facilitate this. “If you’re going to be hoisting somebody out of a wheelchair and onto a gurney for showering, you need a lot of space to do that,” Auderer said. “So we’ll often expand the master bathroom into the existing master closet. Then we’ll take another bedroom and make that the master closet,” he said. As important as having a qualified contractor, is having a “feeling” contractor, one who not only understands your needs from a technical aspect, but who can empathize and is invested in helping you or your family member be as happy, comfortable and independent as possible. This is exactly why Homely Bob says he takes great pride in, and enjoys accessibility remodels. One of his most memorable clients recently passed away, but Clark says he will never forget Trudi. “She had multiple sclerosis for the 33 years that she was married, and I remember when I met with her, she looked sad,” Clark said. “She couldn’t get around her home or even wash her hair.” Clark installed a ceiling track lift system throughout the master bedroom that hoisted her out of bed and into the bathroom and the living room where she could enjoy her home. “The next time I saw her, her hair was freshly washed and she was smiling,” Clark said. “That

made my day. That’s why I do this job.”

on ledges or spaces between tiles.

Moving Through Your Home With Ease

Users in two story homes who find it impossible or difficult to negotiate stairs have the option of installing an elevator or stair lift.

A few other areas of importance to consider throughout your home when remodeling for accessibility include doors, hallways, light switches, electrical outlets and stairs.

“Elevators are very common these days and they are reasonably priced,” Auderer said. “You can get a single elevator that will fit in a 3x3 foot square for $20,000. If you own your home and don’t want to move, $20,000 is not that much in the big picture,” he said.

Ensure electrical outlets and light switches are both easy to reach and use. Outlets should be no lower than 15 inches off the floor and switches with a push button or large toggle eliminate more difficult pinching and gripping motions to turn on and off.

A whole house remodel is a huge undertaking and will affect many areas of your home, so ensure you are thorough in researching contractors. Do not be afraid to ask for contact information for past clients, and to see photos of remodels they carried out with features similar to those you require.

Hallways should be no smaller than 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, and doorways at least three feet. Pocket doors slide into the wall and eliminate the challenge of trying to open a door while seated in a wheelchair or standing behind a walker.

And because the contractor and his team will likely be sharing your space for an extended period of time, it’s also important that you share a connection and find communication easy, because finished product aside, it is important that your entire experience, though somewhat disruptive, will be a pleasant one.

Low to no thresholds, and vinyl, instead of tiles, make it easier to move throughout the home, especially in a wheelchair. The smoother surface eliminates a bumpy ride and the risk of tripping

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2016/2017 edition




Outdoor by Marsha A. Branch

Photo courtesy of Lifespan Construction 28


Photo courtesy of Ross Irwin, Cabinets by Trivonna 2016/2017 edition

Living T

hat time of year is almost here again, when we trade lounging indoors with electric blankets for fun times in the backyard with family and friends. If updating your outdoor living space tops your home improvement list, there are a few tips you might want to consider and some trends you may want to incorporate. Your starting point should always be your budget, since how much you are willing to spend will inevitably determine what and how much you’ll be able to do with the space. Just as the inside of your home has different rooms with different functions, outside can be viewed in much the same way. Think about the various uses you want to get out of your backyard. Will it be a space for entertaining, relaxing, playing, or a combination of things? Once you decide, the next step would be to consult with your contractor to determine the best spot for each need.

A Covered Space Regardless of how you want to use your space, if you’re planning outdoor design in Washington, it goes without saying that a covered area will be necessary. This will likely be your focal point. “That’s kind of where the conversation starts,” Lifespan Construction Inc. co-owner Chris McDonald said. “We consider things like what’s the best location? How are we going to cover this space? How much of it is going to be covered, versus uncovered.” Another key consideration is figuring out how to tie this new roof into the home in a substantial way so

2016/2017 edition

that it looks like it’s part of the house, rather than an add-on or a shed roof, McDonald said. One way to achieve this is with Nana walls. The popular accordion glass walls completely open up a space, allowing one room or space to flow into another.

Wind & Rain During his first site visit, Olympia Construction CEO Mike Auderer considers where prevailing winds are coming from and how he’ll tackle them. “My focus is on blocking some wind without blocking a view, if the view is on the same side,” he said. “And along with wind comes wind driven rain. You don’t want to have a 20x20 foot space that is only half usable because the wind is blowing the rain 10 feet into it.” This is a simple fix, Auderer said. Installing non-permanent features like shades, or a repurposed boat sail add character, keep the wind and rain out, and can be raised or removed when not in use so that the view is preserved. With the location of the covered space figured out, the next step will be to build up underneath it. This is usually the central entertainment space, and you’ll want to consider whether you want a deck (made of wood) or a patio (made of concrete).

The Outdoor Kitchen How you want to use this space will largely determine the cost of your remodel. One of the most popular uses of covered outdoor spaces is as

Spring 2016’s Hottest Trends

a kitchen. Fully functioning outdoor kitchens now almost rival those indoors, with beautiful stone countertops and islands finished in either granite or quartz, beautiful cabinetry, sinks, refrigerators, integrated trash bins and even ice chests, all adding style, convenience and luxury to the outdoor living space. The backyard cooking and dining experience has also evolved. Basic barbecue grills have given way to lavish, sophisticated units capable of handling much more than your basic burgers and hotdogs. And the add-ons available with these supped up models mean virtually any meal you prepare indoors can now be replicated by using your outdoor grill – pizzas, smoked meats, baked goods and steamed veggies, to name a few. The Green Egg, a kamado-style ceramic charcoal barbecue cooker that promises the ultimate cooking experience is also a popular, with precise temperature control that allows for the perfect roasting, smoking, grilling and even baking experience. While these are generally stand-alone units, substantial and aesthetically pleasing structures can be built up around them.

Lighting Incorporating the right lighting into your outdoor living space can both improve safety and enhance the ambiance. LEDs are the energy efficient choice, lasting up to 25 times longer and using 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. LEDs are suited for use in just about all areas of your outdoor remodel, and because they emit light in specific directions, they are perfect for recessed down lights in the outdoor kitchen.



“We’ll also put LED lighting in the toe kicks, or maybe under the countertops, or on top of a beam,” McDonald said. “We may even hide LED strips in some crown molding and put them on dimmers,” he said. “They are so easy to run now, and they are a great addition to both interior and exterior spaces.”

Other popular places for outdoor lighting include on steps, in plant pots and beds and staggered along walkways. The key however, is to ensure they are properly angled and seem like a natural part of the landscape. Failure to strike this balance can leave you with lighting that’s more of an eyesore than a mood-setter.

Heating While lights provide safety and ambiance, fire features provide ambiance and warmth, allowing you to utilize your outdoor space later into the evening, and possibly for more months in the year. Fire pits and fireplaces also provide natural spaces to gather for conversation. To heat larger spaces, McDonald recommends electric radiant heat units. “These can either be freestanding units, or mounted on the ceiling and we’ll install several heaters with a wide flare to throw heat in several directions,” he said. While these eliminate the need to gather around the heat source to stay warm, they are pricey. Installing units to heat an average 14x20 or 16x16 foot space can set you back as much as $2,000.00.


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Stepping out from under your covered space landscaping ties together the rest of your outdoor design, and it’s a conversation that underscores the importance of having a master plan, even when the work is being done in phases. To ensure everything ties back into that plan, and to ensure a cohesive look and design flow, Auderer and McDonald work with specific landscapers regularly.  “This way I maintain quality control throughout the project,” Auderer said.  They are a part of the build team, just like a subcontracted electrician or plumber, and are involved in the planning and coordination of the entire project. Grass, stone, mulch and any other paved areas become your flooring, hedges and fences become your walls, and plants, shrubs and flowers add color and texture all giving each area of your outdoor space a different feel, just as you would the rooms in your home.

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2016/2017 edition

A simple roofline installed over a 10x10 to 16x16 existing deck or patio, and a simple built-in barbecue will cost around $15,000. Adding a half kitchen to that with a countertop and a little stonework takes you into the $30,000 to $40,000 range. For $50,000 to $60,000, you can make your covered space larger, add a few more features to your kitchen, and possibly include a built in TV, or a small water feature like a pond, a hot tub or an outdoor shower.

Enjoying your outdoor space means spending more time relaxing in it, and less time maintaining it. This means not only choosing hardwearing materials, but also naturescaping, a method of landscaping that allows both people and nature to coexist. “Even though we are in a wet climate we have a stretch in the summer when we’re dry for two months straight with no rain,” McDonald said. So we have to keep that in mind and we need to choose plants that will fit naturally into our environment and require less maintenance,” he said.

How worthwhile is this investment? Great landscaping and outdoor design are a plus if you decide to sell your home, since they can significantly improve its overall value.

Cost So you’re convinced that creating an outdoor living space is definitely an investment you want to make, but you’re wondering just how much it will cost to create your own private sanctuary/ entertainment space in your back yard. Well here

But the most noteworthy benefits to be derived from investing in a beautiful, relaxing outdoor space will be found in the time you spend there, with family, friends and even yourself, clearing your mind, and taking in all that nature (and of course your talented contractor) has to offer.

Photo courtesy of Olympia Construction, Inc.

are some guidelines that’ll help you figure out just how far you can stretch your dollar.

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2016/2017 edition

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