For Maryland residents considering swapping out appliances for more energy efficient models, keep your eyes open for possible Maryland mail-in appliance rebates. The rebate program is tentatively scheduled to start sometime in April. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's website, refrigerators and clothes washers that are Energy Star® qualifed and ultra efficient will be eligible.

For complete details, click here. While you are there, click on 'tax credits' to learn more about other tax credits being offered through 2010.

Enjoy your week,

In late January, Better Homes & Gardens shared proprietary research at the NAHB International Builders Show in Las Vegas. Their survey results revealed what home buyers want in their next home and which home improvement projects are at the top of the priority list.

Home Buyers: The Survey Shows
Downsizing is still a trend. 36% of home buyers were interested in smaller and more energy efficient homes. I think it is important not to ignore the remainder of the 64% who are comfortable with larger homes to meet their personal needs.

Largely, people aren't blue over their desire to have a greener home. I wasn't surprised that 87% are planning to have energy efficient heating and cooling systems in their next home. Regardless of the square footage, I am hearing more and more from homeowners who want to save money on energy costs. I have even noticed an increase in permits for solar panels in Anne Arundel County.

Home buyers are also seeking homes that can multi-task and have less wasted space. 59% have a home office as a top priority. 28% prefer a room that can be used for office space and for other activities like arts and crafts, and hobbies; outranking the desire for dedicated office space.

Next on the list were separate laundry rooms (85%), and outdoor grilling and living areas (68%), kitchen with eating area (67%) and an extra bedroom with a bath (65%).

Large garages are still popular, with more wanting 3 car garages.

Home buyers are expressing more interest in family rooms that are partially separated from the kitchen. Still almost half (49%) like the kitchen and family room combined in one area.

Wall mounted flat screen (51%) TV's are gaining in popularity. Plus, people also want their TV's networked with computers.


Home Improvers: The Survey Shows
The economy is much on everyone's mind--this is still a major concern. No secret here. You can hardly pick up a paper or magazine and not read something about our economy issues.

People are looking for lower cost improvements that will "pack a big punch" and making the 'got to' improvement more important than the 'want to' improvement.

16% of home improvers feel this is the "right time to spend", while 38% say it is not, and 52% are concentrating on home repairs and maintenance issues.

There is no mistaking that the economy has altered homeowners' plans for improving their homes. And, the results of this survey support my notion. 76% surveyed says "yes" the economy has impacted their home improvement plans, and 50% have changed their plans.

Smaller projects like painting, replacing flooring, re-decorating, landscaping are very popular.

Last but not least is the energy efficiency component. Over a third thinks Energy Star windows and doors, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, and Energy Star appliances are important.

As important as trends are, I think it's important to emphasize it's your money, it's your home. Do the improvements that will bring you joy and are at the top of your priority list.

As always, please email your questions or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks for reading,

As we await the big storm headed this way, remodeling might not be at the top of your mind. Understandably, you are probably thinking about shoveling mountains of snow and the transportation obstacles to deal with over the next couple of days.

If on the other hand, while you are enjoying mugs of hot chocolate, your favorite movie and time with your family, you begin to consider the 'remodeling' possibilities--please consider this:

Remodeling your home will bring decisions you'll need to make. One will be deciding if you want to hire a professional to help you. If your project is more DIY than you are up for, and you plan to hire someone, you should only consider a company that possesses a license to do home improvement work in the State of Maryland. Even persons selling home improvements are required to be licensed. Homeowners hiring unlicensed contractors have no protection with the Guaranty Fund.

Doing improvements without a license is also a criminal offense. So, keep this in mind--individuals not complying with this basic necessity, probably aren't carrying liability insurance. Of course, you should ask to see liability and workers compensation insurance certificates from even licensed companies. If the company you hire has employees, you'll want to be sure they are covered by workers compensation in case of injury. Otherwise, you may risk paying for someone's medical care if they are injured at your home.

This is basic, yet still good stuff to be aware of.

Enjoy the snow,

Last July I wrote a post about a book I was reading titled Service Included, by Phoebe Damrosch. It was completely unrelated to the remodeling industry. The author was once a dedicated Captain at Per Se in NY. Her subject, 'service' is very near and dear to me.

Personally, I like great service. I am quick to recognize an over the top effort to deliver remarkable service. I go out of my way to tell stories about any remarkable service I have enjoyed. Given my admission, it would be understandable that I spend a great deal of my time focused on the WOW for our homeowner clients. There are a minimum of expectations which come along with every remodeling project. These minimum expectations are a given and one would expect a professional company to build plumb walls and to code, and complete a remodeling project in the time promised.

As I read Damrosch's book, I remembering thinking "I know we get it and we are on the right path." As happy as I am to receive great service, I am even happier to be a part of Villa Builders and making these personally shared stories possible.

Happy New Year! Okay, I'm not the most adept at blogging. Sometimes as I sit, to begin hammering out my thoughts, I remember the stress and tension of writing book reports in middle school and essays in college. Admittedly, writing is not an activity I am typically eager to do. Why have I pursued this, this my 3rd attempt? It's about growth for me. Yes, it is another level to connect. But, I'm looking to conquer. As the years pass and I get older, I find I dislike the word can't more and more.

Early last week, I spoke with a past client, someone I hold in very high regard and think of as a friend. She told me it takes guts and risk in finding new ways to reach out and tell people what we do and how we help them. She commented about how she admired this about me and about Jeff. I made a commitment this year to contribute one piece each week. This week, I didn't want to chicken out and disappoint her. This one is for you Jan. I'm thinking of you.

Thank you for your encouragement and support! Best wishes, Joanne

Contact Us Today

Call us at (410) 604-2283 - Let's talk about your home’s potential and your home remodeling inspirations. Or, if you'd prefer send us an email to

What to Expect

Here's what happens when you call us-

  • We will talk a bit about what's bugging you with your home.
  • If you are comfortable after our first chat, you can invite us to take a closer look. This appointment usually takes place within a couple of days of your initial call.
  • During this visit, we will listen and take lots of notes.
  • Depending on your remodeling project, your needs, and your questions; our first visit typically takes about 1 - 2 hours. We will share with you how our design process will address your needs and your budget. There is no charge for this visit.

    If you decide that everything we talk about works for you, then we will take the next step where we will dig in and get your project moving.