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How to Decide – Love It or List It

How to Decide – Love It or List It

This Love It or List It adventure resulted in additional living area and architectural improvements that were less expensive than knocking it down and building from scratch. The roof was elevated in this design and the shed dormer on front and rear provide two bedrooms and an office.  The garage was enlarged to provide a second overhead door and parking bay.  A first floor family room was enlarged and new sunroom added on the rear. #loveitorlistit

Have you ever pondered the question “Love It or List It”? Check out our flow chart designed to help you make an informed decision of if you want to remodel or move. We also have a more detailed pamphlet on the subject available at


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Successful residential and remodeling contractors build their reputations with satisfied customers by delivering good workmanship in a timely manner for a good price.  Consumers generally have confidence to manage their own project for timeliness and price but may find themselves in some doubt about workmanship expectations.  The most dependable approach to controlling workmanship is to get a contractor with a good reputation.

But since price is where the homeowner is likely to begin – there is one negotiation question and three possible answers that reveal the true workmanship priority of the contractor.   It is paramount that all contractors are bidding on the same plan.  If the contractor is providing the plan as well as the price to construct it, how can the homeowner compare the price offered with another contractor for the same work? If he considers himself a businessman or a designer where will his attention to workmanship come in to the picture.

Ask the contractor where to get a plans prepared from a third party that you, the consumer, can shop for comparison prices.  There are 3 possible answers to this question that are crucial to evaluating the contractor’s priorities in delivering good workmanship.

  1. He can claim he is a designer and does the plans himself, that a third party will not be needed to prepare the plans.  He could say that you will save the money that an architect or designer would charge.  Does this mean you can shop the plans he prepares to get prices from other contractors?  Is he sidestepping the question?  If so, he is manipulating the conversation so as to protect his interests, discouraging the homeowner from considering other contractors for the project.
  2. He can claim he will sketch a design and have his architect or in-house designer create the plans for permits.  In this case he may want to speak about a fee for the plans.  But if the homeowner is going to pay for the plans then the homeowner should have the right to use the plans to shop for other contractors.  Correct?  Even if the contractor does not ask for a fee for the plans he may be reluctant that you use the plans for pricing with other contractors.  It is also likely that plans prepared for free are not thoughtfully prepared, enticing the another contractor to want to offer a better plan, one that he prepares and will build for a price that cannot be compared with the first contractor’s proposal.
  3. He could encourage you to work directly with an architect or designer and to get back to him when the plan is ready to bid.  That approach is the most reputable idea.  It indicates he wants to be associated with the very best end result possible, knowing that a designer will put more time and thought into preparing the plans than he would be able to.  He also knows that it is a conflict of interest to be involved in the creating the plans since he risks omitting something from the plans that he could charge for later as a change order to his contract.

There are experts in every aspect of the building business.  Good contractors can be very helpful in the refinement of a plan prepared by an independent architect or designer.  It is good consumerism to shop for comparable prices for the construction bid from a plan prepared by someone other than one of the contractors doing the bidding. 

In the course of getting construction proposals from good contractors the consumer is simultaneously subjecting the plans to the scrutiny of construction experts that are keen to see opportunities for engineering economy.  The homeowner will have the freedom to adjust the project to any contractor’s recommendation, but that is not the same as having the contractor prepare the plans.  By allowing each expert to compete for what they do best the end result should be the greatest value to the consumer, including good workmanship. 

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Winthrope Avenue Residence

Virginia Beach, VA

Winthrope Avenue residence is a Southwestern style architecture remodel, built in Southeastern Virginia.  The scope of work included adding living space on a portion of the second floor of a single-story house, providing views of the pool and waterfront site beyond as well as a prominent main entry to the house. The design was modeled in 3 D to demonstrate visual balance of the second story additions with the exiting structure that was to remain one-story.

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Lochhaven Residence

Norfolk, VA

The neighborhood of Lochhaven is a gentrified mix of homes dating from the 1920’s and 30’s. The renovation project in the photos assembled transformed a 1950’s suburban colonial home into a striking expression of Tudor style architecture. The owner’s had acquired a variety of “art deco” furnishings and collectible artifacts to be incorporated into the finished product including 16 leaded glass windows with diamond shaped panes.

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Chamberlayne Ave. Storage


Chamberlayne Ave. Self Storage is a 65,060 sf facility located near downtown Richmond. The design was a renovation of an existing industrial laundry facility. The project features four covered loading areas, a conference room and business center, mini-offices and a sample storage unit in addition to the 43,000 sf of leasable storage space.

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Church Point Historical Manor


The alterations and additions to this historical farmhouse transformed it into a bed and breakfast inn with ten guest rooms, several out buildings and a premier restaurant. GMF+ designed this project in 1994. Upon its completion Virginia Beach City Planning recognized it with an award for outstanding historical redevelopment. In 2008 it was featured on the cover of a publication of the 50 Most Historically Significant Houses and Structures in Virginia Beach.

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    Urban Underbelly is a blog that seeks to share the back stories of successes and struggles in achieving the visions of New Urbanism, especially in Hampton Roads, Virginia

    New Urbanism: is a city planning and architecture movement directed at the creation and restoration of vibrant neighborhood places: centralized, sustainable, walkable and socially diverse.
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  • Residential PROJECTS
    Award Winning Beach Bungalow OBX – The Westly
    Lynnhaven River Makeover
    Winthrope Avenue Residence
    Greene Residence
    Burnette Residence
    Tibideaux Residence
    Straley Residence
    Stewart Residence
    Simkins Residence
    O’Connel Residence
    Kyrus Residence
    Klar Residence
    Kesler Residence
    Gerloff Residence
    Drinkwalter Residence
    Commercial PROJECTS
    Reginella’s Trattoria & Pizzeria
    Chamberlayne Ave. Storage
    Linkhorn Bay Condo
    Captain George’s Restaurant
    Self Storage: Historical Renovation
    Self Storage: Curved Glass Façade
    Self-Storage: Phased Construction
    Self-Storage: Building Reuse
    Morning Star Self-storage
    Self-Storage: A Good Neighbor
    Neighborhood Office Building
    Kettler Headquarters
    Cagney’s Restaurant
    Self-Storage: Structural Innovation
    Planning PROJECTS
    Buckroe Beach, Hampton Virginia
    Knotts Creek Refuge
    Virginia Beach Community Development Cooperation
    Cypress Cove Commons
    Bishop Court
    Curtis Residence
    Burton Station Office Park

    Green PROJECTS
    EarthCraft Residence
    Frech Residence
    Torope Residence
    Fortner Residence
    Interiors PROJECTS
    The Nicholson Companies, Norfolk, VA
    Kantor Residence, Norfolk, VA
    Cape Henry Residence
    Lochhaven Residence
    Nicholson Residence
    Waterside Interior Renovation

    Cedar Grove Apartments
    HomeArama 2010 East Beach
    Church Point Shopping Center
    Church Point Historical Manor
    Smithfield Affordable Sustainable Workforce Housing
    Beach Park West Apartments