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8 Ways to Cut Remodeling Costs, Part 1

Original article is on Angie List (link)

Planning a major renovation sometimes leads to a sticker shock: the average kitchen remodel costs nearly $57,000, while a bathroom renovation runs nearly $17,000 on average.

Don’t let those numbers put a damper on your design dreams. It’s possible to cut costs on a remodel without cutting corners. With some strategic design decisions and creativity in sourcing materials, taking small steps along the way can add up to significant savings. Try these tips to lower your remodeling expenses.

 1. Make decisions early

Researching material, fixture and appliance costs early in the process can avoid headaches in the long run. Failing to specify up front what you want means you have to rely on your contractor’s estimate, or allowance.

Advance research gives you the opportunity to decide early where to save and where to splurge. A change order can balloon your budget with labor costs and create project delays.

Cost of change order: Difference in item price and time lost to project delays
Cost to plan ahead: Zero
Saved: Up to thousands

2. DIY demo

It’s back-breaking work, but doing your own demolition can save about a day’s worth of labor and hauling charges for a single room, even more for larger areas. If you’ve never demolished anything before, it may be better to leave it to a pro who can best prevent any electrical, plumbing or structural disasters.

Cost for a pro: $1,000
Cost to DIY: Sweat equity plus $400 for dumpster rental
Saved: $600

3. Clean up yourself

Rather than racking up labor fees while your contractor sweeps up every day, put your money into other aspects of your project, like installing tile or painting. Not all companies let customers do clean-up for liability reasons, so check with your contractor before building this option into your budget.

Cost for construction crew to clean up: $200 per day
Cost to DIY: Zero
Saved: About 3 percent of the job cost

4. Search for salvage and substitutions

Many alternatives to high-end materials offer a similar quality at a lower price point. You may also get lucky and find enough recycled or lightly used fixtures at your local salvage shop or Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which offers secondhand materials sometimes at more than half off home center prices.

Cost of new marble vanity top: $400
Cost of salvaged substitute: $50
Saved: $350

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Driveway Layout

House with a nice road and driveway around

The entrance to your home can really set the feel for your home. If you are reconstructing the layout of your driveway, there are a few things to consider. Function, form and aesthetic appeal.
When designing a new driveway, we consider the following: how do you want your driveway to function? Do you need space for a turn around? Single or double car width? Would you like an additional parking space?
Next, we’ll address the garage access. Where is the location of the garage? You’ll want to be sure that you’ll have enough turning space for a car to safely pull in and out of the garage.
Third, is the terrain. Are their trees you want to keep? Is there a slope that needs to be addressed? These are things that can create a custom driveway as well as possibly adding additional costs.
Finally, the look and feel you are trying to create. Do you want a simple driveway that doesn’t distract from your home or would you like a grand entrance that really WOW your guests?

circular driveway

The shape of the driveway all relies on the above answers. Maybe even a combination of two to create a unique curb appeal for your home.
• Circular Driveways are one of the most popular driveway layouts. This eliminates the need for backing out of a driveway and perhaps the location of your home may be best to pull in and out for safety. A common variation is a teardrop shaped driveway – where there is one entrance and it opens into a loop that cars may drive around. This option requires a bit of room and land, so this may not be an option for a small space.


• Straight driveways are simple and functional. To create a more grand estate like entrance a long driveway lined with trees can sure make a lasting vision on your guests. This layout purposefully directs people to your home, putting it on display.

• Curved driveways are a way to keep existing mature trees or boulders by winding through them. This is an interesting feature to incorporate into your home. You’ll want to make sure that the driveway is wide enough to incorporate all vehicles, such as delivery and garbage trucks. By having the curves be wide and broad sweeping this will be easy to accommodate.




Contact us today and we can help design and install your new driveway!

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8 Water-Saving Home Renovations, Part 2

Now to continue other way to save water in your house:

5. Install a Water Aerator on Your Kitchen Sink

This renovation is an easy DIY. The aerator limits water flow to a non-splashing stream. This slows the flow of water to cut water waste. To install the water aerator, simply screw it onto your faucet head.

6. Purchase a Low Flow or Dual Flush Toilet

A low-flow or dual flush toilet will save thousands of gallons of water a year and reduce the load on your septic system, extending its lifespan. With a dual flush system, you can even purchase models with different buttons for solid and liquid waste, customizing how much water you put out and reducing water use by up to 67%. According to the San Diego Water Department, that’s up to 350 gallons per week!

Or, repair your current toilet. Over time, the parts (especially the flapper valve) corrode, bend, and become less efficient, which causes leaks. These parts are generally inexpensive and easy to install.

7. Buy a New Shower Head

Installing a new shower head is a cheap, easy change you can make to save water. Don’t worry, you can still have a satisfying shower with a low-flow shower head. You want a shower head that delivers 2.5 gallons of water per minute or less (as opposed to older models which deliver 8 gallons per minute. Yikes!).

8. Replace Old Appliances with Energy Efficient Models

Front loading wash machines save up to half the water of a top load washer.
Look for Energy Star qualified appliances which meet the EPA and Department of Energy’s energy saving standards.

Saving water doesn’t have to be a daily chore. With the right renovations, you can cut your water bill without breaking the bank.


by HomeAdvisor. Original article is here

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8 Water-Saving Home Renovations, Part 1

water sprinkler

Most of people thinking about new ways to renovate their home. Reasons can be different: saving money, thinking about ecology or just make something cool. Let’s talk about renovation that can help you save money on water expenses. Here is a great article from HomeAdvisor:

Water saving renovations are money saving renovations. Leaky pipes, outdated appliances, and poor irrigation practices hike up your water and energy bills and wreak havoc on your septic system. And, in drought-ridden states, water wasting can be subject to hefty fines and usage audits.

Luckily, many water-saving home renovations are simple and inexpensive. The costlier renovations, like purchasing and installing new appliances, offer long term gains by saving thousands of gallons of water a year.

Whether you’re renovating to fix an existing water problem or looking to save money with increased sustainability, here are eigth of the top water-conserving renovations to consider.

1. Repair Leaking Pipes and Faucets

Hidden leaks in your home can ruin your home’s interior and flood your lawn. One indicator of a leak is an inconsistent water meter reading. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when water isn’t being used. If the meter reading changes between readings, you probably have a leak. Other signs include:

  • Damp walls
  • Excess mold
  • Noticeable drop in water pressure
  • Cracks in pavement
  • Unusually high water bills

2. Install Sprinklers with Timers or Rain Sensors

Putting sprinklers on a timer can keep your water output consistent and keep you from having to monitor its progress. Unattended hoses and sprinklers can waste hundreds of gallons of water in just a few hours. Set your timer for early in the morning (6am-7 am) so the water won’t evaporate in the sunlight.

Another inexpensive water saving trick is to add rain sensors to your sprinklers. The sensors will tell them to skip an irrigation cycle if there was rainfall.

3. Install a Rain Barrel

Collecting rainwater that your roof or lawn naturally collect can save you a lot of water. Installing a rain barrel is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce your water bill and reduce your ecological footprint.

4. Use a Drip Irrigation System

Better yet, consider drip irrigation to water your lawn. A drip system applies a small amount of water uniformly on your lawn. Another benefit? It improves accuracy that your sprinklers can’t compete with. No more dead grass and brown spots.

by HomeAdvisor. Original article is here

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Luxury Outdoor Remodeling

Retaining wall, water feature, lights

Transblue builds beautiful outdoor living spaces. We always happy to make your dream to come true! Look at this wonderful backyard transformation, step by step:

Beginning of work, clearing the space:

Work In the process, retaining wall and fence building:


Retaining wall and patio finished, synthetic turf installed

Water feature, plants and lighting are added. Finished project:

Call us today to find out more about luxury outdoor and what we can do for you!

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Hillside Landscape

Hillside landscape is the most challenging of all residential design problems. Whether it is a natural undisturbed slope or one composed of cut-and-fill, there are five essentials that every homeowner should be aware of. Not all designers will be skilled in this special situation, so you must know your options before decisions are made; that can not only be extraordinarily expensive to implement, they can have far reaching impact on the stability of your entire homesite.

First you want to preserve the view, but carefully. You may be tempted to take down the biggest and view blocking trees but tree roots are a great way to keep a hillside solid. So, it’s not a good idea to log your entire property. Hiring an arborist can help decide which trees could be cut down and which ones could be thinned out for a view.Hillside landscape design

Secondly, slope your space as gradually as possible. Any time you cut into the slope you compromise the integrity of the slope. So, go slow. To preserve the slope, take up the grade with a series of shorter terraces rather than one or two very large ones graded with cut and fill. The larger terraces may require extreme erosion control measures on the cut slope and a substantial retaining wall must be specially engineered to hold the fill. Such walls are constructed with enormous footings, sometimes extending down to bedrock.

Next, use woody plants to bind deep underground. When creating multiple retaining walls or building pads the natural layers of the soil will inevitability be compromised. By planting woody plants and select trees they will reach far down to secure the slope. Some great plants to plant on slopes are rosemary, creeping juniper, purple coneflower, astilbe, and Lily-of-the-valley.

Another way to protect your sloped property is to protect the soil surface. By covering the exposed soil is great way to extend the longevity of a sloped landscape. As touched on above, any type of ground over is a useful plant on a slope.  Research your area to see what would do well in your sun and shade areas. By protecting the soil, you don’t want to completely soak the soil as it will erode quickly. Install a drip line system to ensure that plants get the water they need and your property remains stable.

Lastly, this brings us to maintenance and accessibility. Now that you’ve planted woody material on a slope in an area that is dry you are at a higher risk for fires. So, keep this area maintained. Provide an open through-way to drag out cut material off the slope. In addition, have an accessible area for firefighters to put out a blaze if this should occur.

Read the complete article here


A hillside landscape shouldn’t scare you away from your dream home, just know it comes with special circumstances you’ll have to be willing to take on. Call us today and schedule a time for our experts to come and walk your property and work with you to create a gorgeous hillside landscape design!

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What you should know about retaining walls

retaining walls as part of landscape

Retaining walls are a great investment for homeowners to either expand yard space or secure a slope. They can be constructed in many ways. You can have small walls that just add aesthetic levels of landscape or extreme walls that hold up entire hillside.

Retaining walls can be installed for a wide variety of reasons; but contractors divide them into two categories by size. Retaining walls under 4 feet are designed and built by contractors and landscape architects. Walls over 4 feet require much larger footings due to the increased lateral earth pressure. It must be designed by an engineer who will specify the size and extent of footings and steel requirements according to strict loading calculations.

Always remember that however beautiful these walls may ultimately be, they are a powerful structure that must function as designed. This can only happen when they are composed of the proper materials and constructed by quality contractors. Get these things right and you’ll be able to count on your financial investment maintaining both beauty and integrity for many decades to come. This is a construction item you should leave to professionals.

The best way to double the value of a retaining wall is to make it a seat wall. Seat walls are simply a short wall that’s designed for comfortable seating. Install them near a feature item, like a pool, fire pit, or fountain. It will create an instant welcoming area and a bonus that you won’t have to store and drag out more seating when you have a gathering.

The pricing of retaining walls can widely vary by materials used. Some averages are listed below. Of course anything custom made will increase prices:

  • Interlocking concrete blocks are about  $15-30 per square foot
  • Wood $20-25 per square foot
  • Stone $25-40 per square foot
  • Poured concrete $30-40 per square foot

Moisture is the primary issues with retaining walls and necessary measures need to be taken to make sure that the soil and backfill provide the correct supporting factors. All retaining walls must be constructed the correct way to prevent failure. Permits may be required by the city you are in, so be sure to check in with your city requirements.

There are so many factors in different stones and options it may seem overwhelming…but that’s what we are here for! Whatever size wall you install, know that it is always a sound investment. Hardscapes for residential homes have a huge return on investment. Call us today and see how we can help design and install your new retaining walls!

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Discover Your Wild Neighbors

Discover Your Wild Neighbors cover

Transblue cares about our neighborhood, including wildlife. We should care about wildlife and nature, because it is crucially important part of ecosystem. As a result, Transblue wants to tell you about Seattle event “Discover Your Wild Neighbors”, which is a great opportunity to learn more about flora and fauna around us!

(text below was written by National Wildlife Federation)

The Puget Sounds is one of the country’s fastest growing regions and the environmental impacts of urban expansion reach far beyond city limits. We can all garden for wildlife, volunteer to restore habitat, make choices with low environmental impacts, and create a vibrant community that protects nature all year round.

Wildlife in the City Week is an open invitation to “Discover Your Wild Neighbors,” to wander, explore and learn how we can have a positive impact on the wildlife living among us. National Wildlife Federation is partnering with Seattle Parks and Recreation and more than twenty other local organizations to host a series of fun and informative, family-friendly events and experiences during the week of April 15-21.

Events will include urban wildlife walks and hands-on activities for all ages. The Federation’s mascot, Ranger Rick, will also be visiting the community- championing urban wildlife, too! The week’s events will culminate on Earth Day with the Wildlife in the City Festival, on Saturday, April 21st from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. at Discovery Park in Seattle.

For a full list of events please check out our site

We hope to see you there!

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Spring Preparation

pink Flowers

The days are getting longer and we are heading towards more outdoor time. It’s almost time to turn those UGG boots in for our Birkenstocks! It’s time to start Spring preparation and cleaning! We have created a list of items to jump start your outdoor Spring Cleaning:

  • Remove leaves from gutters and any drainage. While doing this check the condition of gutters and downspouts.
  • Clean any central air filers or Air Conditioning units.
  • Check on equipment. Start your mower and other large items. Do you need fuel for these machines? It’s a bummer and set back if you go to mow and find that you need new spark plugs.
  • Pull out outdoor furniture, yard games and BBQ’s to wipe down and clean. (The kids can help with this!)
  • Look over roof and chimney. You don’t need to physically get on the roof if you rather not. Get a pair of binoculars and scan the roof and chimney for any lifting shingles or nails. (you can thank Bob Vila for this idea!)
  • Think and plan forward. Any big-ticket items that should be planned out? Should you schedule exterior home painting? Large outdoor projects? Replace any non-efficient windows?
  • Clean exterior windows. Check seals and screens here. If you have taken the window screens off for the winter, Inspect, clean and replace them.
  • Clean exterior of garage door – pressure wash.
  • Pressure wash driveway, walkways, and patio. Use any moss away products if moss has accumulated over the fall/winter. Use caution as this could be slippery over the cold season.
  • Check fencing. Any posts pulling up? Is there any lean or sway to the fence? Any wood planks rotting or need replacing? This could become dangerous; we don’t want puppies getting out or vermin getting in!
  • Weed flower beds. Not the most exciting task, but getting them out means soon you can go flower shopping!
  • Aerate lawn. By getting oxygen to the root systems of grass, helps create a full and lush, more successful turf throughout the summer.

For more details and ideas for spring preparation head over to the (debatable) Godfather of Landscaping, Bob Vila’s website here



To find out more about our services available, contact us for a no obligation consultation:
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