New Master Suite in Norfolk


A few months ago, we talked a little about buying a “used house.” This was the case for a couple in Norfolk recently. The previous owner had been a do-it-yourselfer, and his skills left a bit to be desired. His addition off the master bedroom at the back of the house had some serious issues, the worst being a persistent roof leak. The ceiling was also lower here than in the other rooms, which made it cramped and dark.

Our first goal was to address the leak. Because the addition had a flat roof that had been tied in improperly, and because the tiled roof was showing its age, we knew a total replacement was in order. By dealing with the roof first, we were able to reframe the roof of the addition and create a cathedral ceiling in what would become the new master bathroom.

We installed CertainTeed Landmark Architectural shingles in Moire Black. These shingles carry a limited lifetime warranty, and are rated for wind speeds up to 110 mph. The gable ends of the new roof were finished with tan siding and trim that complemented the brick.

After a few conversations about what the homeowners envisioned for the interior, we got to work inside, creating a new master suite.

The bedroom received fresh paint and new Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) flooring. Between the bedroom and the new master bath, we installed a barn door with obscured glass. This door style is great for rooms where there isn’t enough space for a traditional door to swing open. The obscured glass still allowed the light to shine through, while giving privacy to the adjoining bathroom.

The bathroom is a true showplace that represents the homeowner’s style. Starting at the top, the new cathedral ceiling makes the room feel much larger. Windows, along with specialty and accent lighting reflected in the double mirrors, keep the space bright. The homeowner found a vanity and two vessel sinks she loved. We added a Fantasy Brown granite countertop, and the same material was used for the bench and threshold in the shower.

We love the new shower! Several sizes and styles of tile were used to create a unique look. A niche was built for shampoo and soaps, and the space was finished with a custom glass enclosure.

A lighter shade of LVP was installed on the bathroom floor, in the new water closet, and in the walk-in clothes closet. Pale blue walls and bright white trim completed the makeover.

Our clients said, “The master suite is still as gorgeous as the day it was finished. It has become the topic of conversation with all visitors.”


We hope this space will continue to be a relaxing retreat for many years!

Exterior Makeover in Newport News, VA

Remember how excited you were when you first bought your new house? Everything was all shiny and new. Best of all – it was yours! Ready and waiting to fill with family and memories.

Fast forward 10, 15, even 20 years. You love your neighborhood and (most of) your neighbors. You’ve put down roots in your community: church, your kids’ schools, volunteering in your community. Life is good, but the house… well, it’s not so shiny and new anymore. 


This was the case for Rik and Michele. They loved their home, but they felt it really needed a makeover, starting with the roof. There were no leaks, but the roof was nearing the end of its life. We replaced the old roof with CertainTeed Landmark Architectural shingles in Driftwood. These shingles carry a lifetime limited warranty and are rated for winds up to 110 mph.


Next, we turned our attention to the siding. The existing two-tone beige was okay, but the homeowners were ready for a bold new color and style. They selected Mastic Ovations Dutch lap siding in Wedgewood. The fronts of the living room “bump out” and dormers were accented with Mastic Cedar Shake siding in the same Wedgewood. White gutters and downspouts, trim wrap, and corners completed the look.


Doors, doors, doors! We replaced the front door with a new ThermaTru model featuring 4 windows at the top and a 5-panel site lite. Michele painted the door a beautiful yellow shade that looks great with the new siding and trim. We reframed the garage doors to eliminate the clipped corners and installed new white roll-up doors that complement the style of the new front door. Around back, we replaced the old sliding patio door with a new energy-efficient one. 


The real stunner is the entry! Michele told us she’d always wanted a stone entry and our team was able to make that dream a reality. Stacked ledgestone was hand-applied one at a time around the door and on the wall. We also used a rain chain here in place of the traditional gutter downspout.

We received this note from Rik and Michele a few weeks after the job was completed: 

“We are thrilled with (the makeover) and find ourselves sitting outside almost daily just to take it all in!” 


We’re so glad they love their home’s new look!

Roof and Interior Restoration in Newport News

“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree”Trees, Joyce Kilmer, 1913

Ah, trees. They give us flowers in the spring, green leaves in the summer, and beautiful shades of red and gold in the fall. In the winter, their bare branches catch the snow and glisten in the sun. They provide a home for the song birds, and shelter our homes from the summer heat. And, sometimes, they  are the cause of our nightmares.


During a severe storm with high winds, that some reported as micro-burst tornadoes, our clients in Newport News dealt with the nightmare. The beautiful tree in the front yard came crashing through their home. The tree crushed the roof and rafters, and rain poured into their bedrooms and living room. Luckily, no one was injured, but the clients were facing the near-total destruction of their home and months of repairs.

Our good friends at Inside Drying in Yorktown were first on the scene. They tarped the roof to prevent further damage, and began the process of drying out the home and packing up the clients’ possessions. The drywall was removed from the walls and ceilings in living room and three bedrooms. The floors were removed next. With most of the house reduced to the studs, we were able to assess the situation and develop a plan for the repairs.


Working closely with the homeowners and their insurance adjuster was critical at this point. As in any disaster situation, the adjuster will create the initial scope of work for the repairs. This gives us a baseline of what is covered and what the insurance company believes it will cost. Our job is to review this scope, and supplement it with our calculations for the actual cost of materials and labor, and the requirements for the building codes in our area. This usually takes some negotiating, and the adjuster may request a follow up meeting on-site, to review the items that have been added to their scope. Once our estimate was approved, we got to work.


The roof was first. The remaining shingles were removed, along with the damaged rafters. New rafters were added where needed, and new roof decking was installed. The homeowner chose CertainTeed Landmark shingles in Resawn Shake. These shingles carry a lifetime limited warranty and a wind rating of 110 mph.

Outside, we also replaced the damaged soffit, fascia and gutters.


With the roof restored, it was time to address the interior damage. Since the space was almost completely gutted, we had a clean slate to work with. Electrical and HVAC repairs were made first. New drywall was installed on the ceilings and walls, and painted in the clients’ selected colors. For the floors, the homeowners chose a luxury vinyl plank, which was installed in all the rooms and the hallway. New ceiling fans with light kits completed the repairs.


The homeowner left the following comment on our business Facebook page:

“Jim Hicks knows his stuff! If it wasn’t for him helping us through our home repair and dealing with the insurance  company when a tree fell through our house, I don’t know what we would have done!! Jim and his crew did a great job and we love the work they did!!”


Start to finish, including several meetings with the insurance adjuster, this project took our team six months. The homeowners’ goal was to be back in their house in time to hand out Halloween candy to the neighborhood kids. Happily, we were able to make this request a reality.

Home Appraisals vs. Home Inspections

When you buy a used car, do you take it for a test drive around town? Do you ask about maintenance and any recall notices? Of course you do! You may even take it to your mechanic for a once-over, to make sure the vehicle is in good shape and safe to drive.

So, who do you call when you’re buying a “used house”?

Think about it like this: you are getting a home that has been lived in, and possibly modified, by one or more families over the years. Most buyers ask about basic things, like the age of the roof and the appliances, but what about the things you can’t see? Electrical wiring, and plumbing are hidden in the walls. You can usually see the HVAC system, but what about the ductwork? Are there any additions or remodels, and were they done by a licensed contractor, or a by handy spouse or neighbor? All of these may have hidden issues that could lead to expensive repairs.

“But I have an appraisal. Isn’t that good enough?”

The appraiser works for the bank to determine the value of the house and property on which it sits. They look at the “features” of the house – things like the size and number of rooms, and cosmetic updates in the kitchen and bathrooms. Is there a detached or attached garage? Are there outdoor living spaces like decks or pools? They take this information and compare it to the other houses in the neighborhood, to generate a fair market price. They may note obvious things that would detract from the value, but they don’t look for those hidden conditions that may exist. Their report often reads like the real estate listing – “4 bedrooms, 2 baths, updated kitchen and bathrooms with granite countertops, 2-car garage” – and will include measurements or square footage, and photos of each room.

A licensed home inspector works for you, the buyer. They have been trained and certified on the systems of the house, and they know how to look for potential problems. While the appraiser may view the roof from the street, an inspector is going to check the roof thoroughly, from above and below. (Many inspectors even use drones to take pictures or video of the roof.) They will start with the outside, checking things like the condition of the foundation, windows, siding, exterior lighting and outlets, etc. Inside, they inspect the conditions of each room, looking for any damage to the walls or floors. Do the windows function properly? Are the outlets and lights in good working order? Does the heat or air conditioning function well? They check the plumbing in the kitchen and bathrooms, flushing toilets and running water at each tap. They may use an infrared camera or other device to check for water damage in the walls. In the attic, they may inspect ductwork or look for signs of water damage to the underside of the roof decking. In the crawlspace, they’ll check plumbing, ductwork, floor joists and systems.

This type of thorough inspection generates a detailed report, usually broken out by room or area, of what’s okay, what is recommended for further review by a licensed contractor, and what needs to be repaired immediately. While some of the recommended items may not be a deal-breaker, it is very important to know about issues that could hit you hard in the wallet once you own the home.

While placing a section of gutter under a leaking drain is certainly inventive, it’s not a solution to the problem.

Checking moisture levels in the attic.

Water damaged wood in the crawlspace.

Water damaged insulation in the crawlspace.

If you have any concerns about the property you’re considering, hire a certified home inspector. The peace of mind is invaluable. Ask us for a referral!

Photos courtesy of Chris Polantz, Redtail Building Services

Popcorn Ceilings: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

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Excerpt: A popcorn ceiling is defined as a spray-on or paint-on treatment, which has a rough, bumpy texture and is used to hide imperfections, absorb sound, and reduce echoes, especially in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings. Popular in the 70s and 80s, popcorn ceilings have recently been revived in new construction. There are several pros and cons to this: Pros Texturing hides flaws and imperfections in the ceiling Deadens noise and reduces echoes in large rooms Can cost less than a smooth ceiling, because less prep is required Cons Hard to clean – cobwebs, dust and dirt attach to the rough surface and are difficult to…