Home Renovation—the Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Common Problems In Renovating Old Homes

Renovating an old house can be rewarding, but it’s not an easy job.  The trouble with renovating old homes is that they may seem in good condition but underlying problems can develop during the remodeling or renovation process. That is why it’s a good idea to hire a professional building contractor; they are always ready to expect the unexpected. Here are some of the common problems found when renovating old homes:

Plumbing problems are a common issue with old homes because galvanized pipes either get clogged or corroded. This issue is not only limited to the pipes in the house, but extends to the sewer lines as well. Galvinized pipes were used before the 1960s and should be replaced with copper or plastic.

Old homes usually have a stale smell which is caused by mold that usually develops due to water leakage from pipes, walls or the roof. Hire professionals to tackle mold problems during construction — they can detect the source of the leakage and fix the problem.

Dry Rot
A lot of homes have the problem of dry rot which sometimes is not visible until the renovation work starts. This is because dry rot is actually a fungus that grows in wood that has been wet. The wood becomes crumbly and soft. Sometimes it appears to have white stains. Even if the original leak has been repaired, dry rot can continue to spread and damage more wood. If the wood in question is involved in structural support, this is not something you want to tackle yourself.

Foundation Problems
Old houses were constructed in a way that did not allow proper grading for water runoff, which usually leads to mold in basements. Foundation problems can be detected from cracks on the floor, in the walls, and by sticky windows and doors.

Electrical Wiring
Electrical wiring in old homes can be a problem because the system back then was not well equipped to power modern day appliances. Also, the old wiring systems were usually not grounded. You can evaluate this by examining your outlets —two pronged outlets are not grounded—three pronged outlets are usually grounded. Old, brittle and faulty wiring can cause short circuits that can turn into a house fire. Have a professional renovation company check the wiring of your house. This may be a good time to update the wiring system, with a ground fault circuit interrupter, which cuts off power as soon problems are detected, before a fire.

One of the leading problems of homes that were constructed at least 40 years ago is asbestos. It is a fire retardant product that was extensively used in earlier construction. It is found in HVAC system, flooring, insulations, duct work, and roofing. Asbestos isn’t harmful if it is in good condition. The trouble starts when it turns into powder (due to sawing, cutting, and scraping) that can be inhaled, as it causes severe lung damage. That is why it is imperative to have a professional abatement company detect and remove asbestos in your house.

Lead Paint
If the house you are renovating was built before 1978, there is a high chance that there is lead in the paint. Lead is released into the air when leaded paint is sanded or heated. The dust from chipped or peeled lead paint is very hazardous to pets and children as well as adults. Have a professional examine and test the house for lead before you start any.

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg of why it is important to hire a professional contractor, such as Weston Construction, to assist you when you planning a home renovation. If you are considering a home renovation, give us a call. We’re happy to meet with you to discuss your project.

Tiling Spaces

bathroom renovation with tile Tile Choices for Construction and Renovation

Ceramic and stone tiles have become a very popular construction material when renovating an existing home or building a new house. We will discuss the types of ceramic and stone tiling options and the benefits and usage of each type. When choosing tile materials for flooring, counter tops, back splashes and shower or bath, it is good to know which tile materials work best for that placement.

Tiles may be broadly divided into two types, ceramic and stone. Both are then sub-divided into other types.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is manufactured from quarried, prepared, and molded clay. The two types of ceramic tiles are:

Porcelain ceramic tile while composed of clay and minerals, also contains 50% of feldspar crystals – a kind of white sand. These crystals melt during the kiln-drying process to form a glass-like material that bonds all the other ingredients together. Even with minor modifications to the ingredients or tile making process, a huge variety of porcelain tiles can be achieved. More durable, stain resistant, and less water absorbent than non-porcelain tiles, porcelain tiles also demonstrate a thorough-bodied color. Porcelain tile is well-suited for construction of exterior walls and floors.
Made from either red, white, or brown clay, non-porcelain tiles are one of the most economical types.
Both types come in unglazed and glazed varieties. The glazed tile may come in semi-high gloss or matte look. Glazed tiles will be increasingly resistant to stains, scratches, traction, and water absorption, making them ideal for bathroom floors and walls.

Natural Stone TileStone tile types

Many people like the natural earthy look of stone tiles. Depending upon the location and time of the stone being quarried, slabbed, and finished, stone tiles come in many varieties. For foyers, and hallways – high-traffic areas – stone tiles with a matte or satin finish last longer, whereas highly polished tile begins to show wear patterns.

Granite is an igneous, dense, and hard rock with a distinctive speckled appearance and unique veining that comes in multitudes of colors. Almost impervious and scratch resistant, this tile makes an excellent choice for kitchen floors and countertops, other high-traffic areas, such as curbs and paving stones, solid, colorful, and durable workstations, such as sinks, and backsplash.

A metamorphic rock available in many colors and featuring rich veining, marble is more porous and not suited for kitchen flooring. It is, however, a perfect choice for interior walls and floors in areas with moderate traffic.

A sedimentary rock that comes in both light and dark shades, limestone’s earthy appearance can be polished smooth or textured. Use limestone for structural and entry walls, the area around a fireplace, vanities, and shower walls.

A limestone type that has a crystallized appearance and an earthy tone, the surface has natural pitting. Like limestone, travertine is perfect for entry walls, fireplace surrounds, shower walls, vanities, tub decks and mosaics.

Slate is a type of metamorphic rock that is extremely dense and very durable. Slate is available in darker earthy tones. The surface of slate is naturally textured unless a smooth, honed finish is achieved. Slate is an excellent choice for kitchen – countertops and wet bars – roofing and high-traffic area flooring, such as walkways.

Other stone types include onyx and quartzite.

The Benefits of Tile
1. Environmentally friendly. Little to no volatile organic compounds are found in ceramic tile and stone, as compared to other types. They contribute towards building a healthy environment.
2. Durability. High durability and sustainability makes ceramic and stone an ideal choice. Floorings, such as carpets need replacement after every 7-10 years, making them less economical.
3. Mildew resistant. Good fighters against mildew and mold, ceramic and stone are constructed from materials that are not food sources for mold and mildew. Less mold and mildew is healthier for your home.
4. Moisture resistant. Inherently water resistant, ceramic, and stone do not degrade when exposed to moisture.

The type of tile you choose will depend on your usage – amount of traffic, area covered, type of area being covered etc – and budget. Choose wisely, although keep in mind that stone and ceramic tiles are more durable, healthy, and sustainable than other building material choices out there. Weston Construction can help you assess the best tiling materials to use for your new home construction or renovation.

It’s Easy Being Green

You don’t have to turn into a frog to go green. Adopting eco-friendly ways not only improves your quality of living, but also helps the environment. If you are renovating your current home or building a new house, follow these tips to make your house greener.

insulated windowsInvest in Double or Triple Paned Windows
The advantage of using double or triple paned windows is that they have a layer in between the glass (often filled with gases) that acts to insulate, so there is less heat / cold moving through the window. Low-E glass and windows filled with Argon gas can reduce heat loss up to 70% over single pane glass. This not only saves energy (money), but also keeps the interior temperature steady and more comfortable. The added benefit is it also has noise-reduction qualities.

Add Insulation
Adding insulation regulates the temperature of your home, but can also increases sound control between rooms and floors. There are several types of insulation to choose from. The most common is the type of fiberglass that comes in rolls or bats, and is easy to install. Another common type is a loose-fill blown-in insulation, often made of fiberglass, cellulose, or mineral wool. Cellulose is made of recycled newsprint, and most fiberglass contains some portion of recycled glass. Another option is a liquid foam insulation that is sprayed into the space and will expand, and then harden.

Solar Panels
We are not likely to run out of solar energy from the sun any time soon, which makes adding solar panels a great choice for going green. Replacing traditional energy sources with solar energy reduces your home’s green house gas emissions. But also helps reduce the money you pay to the power company. Dominion Power Company has a pilot program allowing homeowners with solar systems to sell the excess energy back into the grid for 5 years, which helps defray the initial solar panel installation cost. Installation of solar panels is getting easier and the cost continues to drop—making it an increasingly popular energy efficiency choice.

wood beamsUse Reclaimed Materials
Use reclaimed elements from older homes (called upcycling) such as old flooring, exposed wood beams, doors, architectural molding, etc. Recovering and reusing these gems is good for the planet by reducing material in landfills, but also gives your home unique character. There are many sources for finding these materials, including local businesses and national online matching services. In our area, there are lots of old barns and out buildings that can be sources of materials if you are ambitious and handy.

Get a Programmable Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is a simple way to reduce energy usage when you’re not home. These thermostats are easy to install, and have timers to let you pre-set the temperature controls to suit your schedule, down to daily and hourly specifics. It also can automatically increase or decrease the temperatures during the night while you are sleeping.

Making green choices in the construction of a new home or renovation can not only save you money by reducing your energy costs, but will also make you feel good by helping out the planet. Weston Construction is very experienced in green building techniques. We’d be happy to discuss options with you on your next construction project.

Latest Trends in Bathroom Remodeling

bath trendsFrom the public baths of Mohenjo-daro to the luxurious individual models, bathrooms have come a long way. As we continue to evolve, so do our tastes and preferences when it comes to the comforts of the home. This article discusses the latest trends in bathroom remodeling; we hope you will find at least one idea that you absolutely must try!


Lately, bathtubs have become a hot topic. Some bathroom enthusiasts want them; others hate them. This year, the top trends for this bathroom accessory are:

Removing Them
It could be the fact that bathtubs waste more water or that busy lifestyles do not allow lounging in one, so why have it in the first place or even considering them too expensive, bathtubs are on their way out. The money and space can be allocated to something else that has more utility. A shower, perhaps?

Substituting Them
There still exist bathtub lovers and they are not ready to give them up just yet. For those who still love the bathtub, in 2015, stand-alone tubs that save space will be the “it” thing. Options like the spa-jet tubs and serene soaking tubs are present.

bathroom remodel contractor

Replacing Them
A busy schedule means popping into the shower more often than soaking in a bathtub for hours. If you are not taking baths, you probably do not need a bathtub. This frees up a whole lot of space for a shower that can be as ginormous as you want it to be.

Walk-in or doorless, curb-less and no-threshold showers are just some of the luxuries that you can sample while accommodating this trend.


Tiles can make or break it, when it comes to good-looking bathrooms. The tile trendsetters for 2015 suggest these would be big this year because:
bathroom tilesStyle
A staggered pattern of 12-inch by 24-inch rectangular tiles on bathroom floors and shower walls will make for a smooth flow throughout the room. They do not swell when wet or need refinishing like wood does. Feature floor tiles add style to a bathroom without overwhelming the available space in smaller bathrooms while bringing elegance to larger ones. These stunning tiles provide a great design opportunity for challenging bathrooms with no clear walls to be made into a feature wall.

Gray has become the new neutral and the new beige. Consumers are tiling everything gray –from their kitchens to bathrooms. The trick is to pick a gray that is earthy rather than cold or sterile. A splash of bold colors will work ideally to accent the neutral.

Radiant Floor Heating
The secret to the tile’s growing popularity is in radiant floor heating. Once only available to high-end clients, it has now become more mainstream. Residents of areas that are cold for much of the year are thrilled at the idea of not having to walk around on cold tiles.


The current remodeler’s bag of tricks is chock full of intelligent solutions for the modern bathrooms. Given below are some of the trends that are hot for this year.

bathroom fixtureMetallic Fixtures
Chrome, brushed nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze – different warm coppery, brassy, and bronze-y colors are in this year. Out with the plain old stainless steel to explore the interesting possibilities.

Smarter Toilets
Low-flow and dual-flow toilets not only save energy but are also cost-efficient. People want to be smarter about water control. Thermostatic mixers, multiple-use mixers, and touch screen-operated showers are also in high demand. Double showers used by more than one person can benefit from multiple mixers.

Customized Vanities
A his-and-hers double-sink vanity or two-sink vanities for bathrooms shared by siblings are just two examples of the customization that people now want for vanities. Mass produced is out and tailor-made is in!

LED Lighting
LED lighting is being used almost everywhere – in the bathroom, in and under cabinets.

We hope you found one or two ideas in this article that you will want to try out when considering a bathroom remodeling project, or planning your new custom home. Give Weston Construction a call to discuss your next bathroom remodeling or new home building project. We will be happy to accommodate you!

Weston Construction is a General Contractor in Charlottesville, Virginia with more than 20 years experience building new homes and renovating historic properties.

Checklist for Hiring a Contractor

new home construction
With property prices rising, many people are opting to turn their home into the home of their dreams by renovation or remodeling. If you have decided to turn your home dream into reality, either by renovation or by building a custom house from scratch, you may want to hire a trusted home builder to do it. Building a home is a serious affair because your home is one of your most valuable assets. Therefore, it is good to hire professional builders or contractors who have experience in building custom homes. You need to do a lot of research before hiring a contractor to renovate or build your home. Choosing the right contractor is the most critical step in the process of home building or renovation. This basic checklist of questions can assist you in finding the contractor who is best suited to build your dream home.

How Many Years Have You Been In The Business? How Many Clients Have You Served?
You need to find a contractor who is experienced and has an established presence in your locality. It is best to go with people who have been in the industry for more than five years. Longevity is an indicator of work quality and happy customers.
Can You Provide Any References From Your Recent Clients?
Any honest and qualified contractor will be willing to provide you references from their previous customers. Client references are probably the best way to find out about the reliability and work quality of the contractor. You can also check the company’s website and social media pages to read reviews by their clients in order to get more information about the company.

kitchen remodeling

Can I Have A Look At Your Portfolio?
Make sure to have a look through the contractor’s portfolio of recent projects. You should look for projects that are similar to yours.

Can You Provide Me With A Timeline Of The Project?
Before you hire a contractor to renovate or build your home, ask them if they can provide you with a timeline. Ask the company if they can provide you with a start date and a completion date. The contractor should be able to provide you with a schedule of the project, so that you can see progress of work once it is initiated.

Do You Have All The Required Licenses? Are You Insured?
Make sure that you work with a licensed builder. Ask about the insurance status, and make sure that both the contractor and you are covered during the project.

How Much Will It Cost?
For some people, price might be the most important aspect of home renovation or building process. It is important to discuss the budget to save yourself from any hidden or extra costs at the end of the project.

These questions can help you choose the right contractor to build or renovate your home. Hiring the right contractor can lessen the stress, cost, and time in the process of building your dream home; and a wrong decision can turn your dream home into a living nightmare. Make sure to choose vigilantly!

Weston Construction in Abode Magazine

Abode Magazine Mar 2014Todd Buck and Weston Construction were featured in the March issue of C’ville Weekly’s Abode Magazine for a renovation project they did for Interior Designer, Sandy Muraca. You can see the article on C-ville Weekly’s website here (or click on the image at left to download a pdf). Weston Construction worked closely with this client to create “an all-new kitchen with the same old cabinets”.

Rather than gut the entire kitchen, the original cherry cabinetry remained, although some of it did get replaced with open white shelving, to display the homeowners collection of beautiful objects. The original countertop laminates gave way to black soapstone, offset by grey-white marble backsplashes and a white granite countertop on the center island. The desktop now extends around the corner and becomes a shallow countertop inside the pantry. Over the stovetop, a new white vent hood is clean and bright, yet rather monumental, and echoes the fireplace on the opposite end of the great room. A farmhouse sink completes the look.

Article by Erika Hawsare, photos by Andrea Hubbell.