Posts by Stephany Valencia

HOME PROJECTS: The Do’s & Dont’s

As renovations and new additions to our homes can be excited, they can also become dreadful to deal with when things go sour. Mistakes homeowners have made in the past have led them to less enjoyable experiences and unmet house goals. A big no-no when you’re investing thousands and thousands into your home.


It is important to provide and gather the most accurate measurements and details possible. This is to ensure accurate pricing for the amount of material needed, not to mention any cutting or chopping required. Just imagine, accidentally noting the wrong square footage of material needed and down the road, you end up needing four times more and then all of a sudden your estimate is four times more than what you anticipated because units, measurements, and details were wrong. Save yourself some headaches and money by triple checking unit measurements and pricing.

The Cheapskate Contractor

It is said that the lowest bid never equals the greatest quality work. And while some of us may recognize that, it’s not in our best interest to work with contractors providing bids a lot lower than expected for a few interesting reasons to be aware of. One of these being that a job is a job to a contractor in a slow season, some bid jobs as low as possible just to have the job. You also never know how experienced or legitimate a contractor is until you ask or do research prior to.

The bid may be low but this can also be the low bidding contractor who likes to tack things on ending up a doubled up bid. Another risk factor in partnering with a low bidding contractor is idea that they tend to”cut-corners” and use low-quality products.

It is recommended to always acquire 3 bids (written) if possible with specific details. Always require the contractor to list exact hardware, costs, fees, insurances, design changes, warranty, and thorough notes.

A Low-balling Budget

Many times, contractors and subs will note on their estimates that the quote, “does not include unforeseen issues.” This can be problematic as a homeowner because you may run into additional work behind the walls or newly discovered areas that require attention and you may not be financially prepared. Contractors and specialists recommend homeowners to set aside an additional 15% of the total project for unexpected expenses to avoid financial strains and surprises.

Don’t Be Afraid, Just Don’t

Shy away from granite countertops, they’re outdated and a lot less durable than other picks. Try something more durable on material finishes and quality.

Also, if you’re renovating an older home don’t be afraid of taking a creative leap of faith and change the layout of your awkward bathroom into something more functional. Reconfigure it out!

No remodeling, renovating, and re-configuring project can ever be too complicated. Homeowner’s often step away from remodeling because they don’t know where to start, they don’t think it is possible or they don’t think they can afford it. Three out of three times there is a solution for those common road blocks. They usually need to start by making a phone call to get an idea of the process and get confirmation on the reality of the project specks. Affordability will remain an issue for many homeowners, luckily many contractors have worked their way up enough to offer and have their own financial options for their clients.

What You Don’t Need

The “I NEED Hardwood Floors,” myth has got to go. While hardwood floors may be nice for a while they’re not entirely family friendly. With kids and pets, the floor is bound for wear and tear. For busy houses, households are suggested to install single board laminate.

You also don’t need a total hippie mixed with rustic details themed kitchen. It’s totally you and it speaks to you but if you plan to resale your home good luck on finding a home buyer to match your home improvement groove. Ensure your kitchen matches your personality and some of your taste but also keep factors such as resale value, aesthetic blending, and purposeful functionality in mind when redesigning any interior space of your home. Bold and schematic designs are quick to be outdated.

While there are several aspects to be mindful of when remodeling and doing any type of home constructions, always remember to ask questions, request specific details, and doing your own research on materials and home improvement processes.

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A Splash of Remodel

About Your Pool . .

Whether you’re planning an elaborate backyard resort sanctuary for your family’s permanent staycation or just considering a pool remodel, consider this thread a compilation of the latest innovations and inspirations to the perfect pool.

Know that you can take a pool remodel or addition as far as you want in a project. Resurfacing the pool or upgrading the plumbing and redoing the patio – remember the moments shared in this space are for leisure, fun, and gatherings.

Pools & Water Features

Swimming pools are a plus for a variety of people with different tastes and styles. It’s a great feature for relaxation, great for guests, parties, and exercise. The possibilities in design and usage with swimming pools are almost endless ensuring there is a perfect fit for you. Artificial waterfalls, spouts, and rock features add a playful touch for both kids and adults, while grottoes and rock slides are known to be of the best ways to create a one-of-a-kind pool.

Other than their aesthetics and inspirational qualities, water features offer alternative practical benefits for homeowners. Fun Fact: They add humidity to dry environments, reduce noise pollution from nearby roads and houses, and increase the resale value of your home. If you’re the introverted reader who enjoys being outdoors can you envision the sounds of the water droplets from the slow running fountain in your yard as you sway on a hammock tied between two large palm trees? We sure can.

Renovated Oasis

If beginning a pool remodel or new construction don’t hesitate to dive into your imagination no matter what the yard size is.

Let’s talk shapes. Pool shapes that help in the direction of keeping an aesthetic blend into the landscape and structure of the home. It doesn’t stop at the shape! There is more depth in remodeling a pool, no pun intended than just structural!

  • Oval
  • Kidney
  • Figure 8
  • Rectangular
  • Lazy L
  • Circular
  • Free Form
  • Geometric
  • Grecian
  • Roman

Details to consider are interior pool features. This ranges from seating, lighting, edges, plumbing and more. More fun and festive pools might do well with shelves for beverages. Pools connected to bar and cocktail island tops are also a homeowner favorite. Pool bars are famous for being complemented by built-in stools to match the pool design while giving the swimmer a break from swimming and standing. Submerged seating and benches are also great features to add around the pool.

Alternative features that have been more common infinity and “zero” edges, UV lighting systems, misting systems, and handy pool cleaning technology. Infinity edges and design has been most requested by homeowners who live on slopes, hillside, and hilltops searching for a panoramic view of the scenery right from their pool. UV lighting inside and outside of the pool are always a great idea not only as a safety precaution for any night dip but they’re also a decorative tool for any outdoor soiree you’ve got planned. Remember cleaning and maintenance practices can be timely and costly. Consider investing in self-cleaning and eco-friendly pool maintenance technology and materials recommended by a contractor or specialist.

Plumbing & technology recommendations include saltwater and chlorination systems, regular filtration systems, variable speed pumps, jets, digital controls, and even leaky pipes. Carefully selecting and investing could benefit how frequent a pool needs to be cleaned and save you money on any unforeseen pool maintenance and issues.

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A Thriving Landscape

For many who have back and front yard space to work and decorate with; don’t hesitate to add more life. University studies on gardening and landscaping solutions recommend 9 key steps in adding life, color, and purpose to your outdoor space.

  1. Know Your Yard

Microclimates are usually broken into one of four categories: full sun, partial shade, shade, or deep shade; take note of your landscape’s microclimate when selecting plants for your landscape. Also knowing the type of soil your backyard has is crucial in determining what you want to plant.

2. Who Will Be Using Your Yard?

Knowing who will be using your yard space and how helps consider how to plan the layout. Whether you have a dog or young children who like to play outside, different spaces in the yard can serve for different purposes. Strategic plantings and landscapes can separate the sandbox from the garden, ensuring the little ones and the pups don’t cross over and crush your beds of flowers, bushes, or even fruit and veggie seeds.

In this aspect, we should also be mindful of our maintenance costs; whether we do it ourselves or hire someone to do it for us. Determining realistic maintenance costs, the frequency of care and reliable work from a specialized landscaper (if hired) will also contribute to the longevity of your landscape.

3. Think About Themes

Adding a theme is a good way to blend and tie in your landscape. For many who struggle to find ideas and ways to renovate, a theme helps identify the processes that should take place and the functionality of the yard.

A design theme also offers inspiration, guidance on certain features to include (per theme), the appropriate materials needed, and spatial organization. All of these steps go hand in hand in making your planning a lot easier. Keeping these in mind will serve as a guide on how to place and select plants, decorations, hardscapes, and structures.

Breaking it down even more, consider the following;

  • The region in which you live
  • The architectural style of your house
  • Tour neighborhoods you like
  • Visit demo model homes with demonstration gardens
  • Look in magazine and garden books
  • Forms that you find appealing
  • Plants you find appealing
  • Consider the shape of the open spaces in your yard

4. Create & Link Spaces

Are you looking to get the most out of your yard? Consider seeing your landscape as an “outdoor house.” This outdoor house will allow you to create different “rooms,” in your landscape. How they will be connected and linked together is the key to planning wisely. These rooms will help define theme and structure, where materials should also be used wisely.

How people will move area to area within the yard is important to remember. By creating pathways and openings, this encourages exploration through your landscape.

5. Make Your Plants Work for You

Typically, when you want to incorporate plants, there is a purpose for why you want to choose these specifics seeds. Curate the idea of how these plants will serve your landscape:

  • Will they serve as homegrown vegetables, fruits, and produce?
  • Are they giving your yard a gorgeous scenery?
  • Do these plants give off pleasant aromas?
  • Are they serving as barrier designs?

Important factors to consider when placing these seeds are ensuring the temperature corresponds to the nature of the plant. Light levels and geographical weather conditions are also crucial in the growth and preservation of the plants. If your area is known for winds, keep in mind conditions like these have a great impact on your landscape.

6. Structure Your Plantings

What will help you plan your structure, is your design or theme. Both of these aspects correspond with structuring your landscape. Depending on how you are grouping your plants, how closely spaced or far apart they are is important. Keep in mind some plants, shrubs, and trees bloom more than others and essentially will end up taking more space than when they were planted. Generally, larger plants are placed behind smaller plants, giving the overheads plane a nice view.
The ground plane is known to be made up of assorted plants of heights, shapes, and colors. This also focuses on the idea of how smaller plants will be grouped and arranged as well as groundcovers and hardscapes.

Hardscapes are usually materials integrated into your yard design such as; concrete, brick, stone, wood, metal, or water features. Using consistent patterns, similar shapes, structures, and designs instantly gives your landscape a unified and harmonious look.

7. Highlight Important Points/Areas?

The use of unique plants, distinct structures, or garden ornaments allows particular areas of your landscape to stand out. A combination of various shapes, textures, sizes, and colors will help capture attention and direct it to a specific area. Ensure your pathway stones, tiles, and walkways at the front or back yard correspond with the aesthetic of your home and landscape theme. If you are adding decorative water features like water fountains, stone-on-stone fountains, ponds with small waterfalls or walls of spillways make sure to structure or place them where they stand out!

8. Think About the Future

Think about how your landscape and plants will be affected as time progresses. As previously mentioned the growth of the plants, maintenance needs, and overall mature size should be considered before planting and structuring. Providing them with sufficient growth room is crucial to the blooming. Also keeping in mind that their full blooming size is based on optimal growing conditions and depending on your landscaping conditions, your plant may grow larger or smaller.

9. Protect Your Resources

When choosing your plants, try to look into resource-efficient plants. This will help reduce the number of outsourced maintenance materials and costs. Being mindful and conscious of your water usage also prevents overwatering plants that ultimately cause loss of oxygen and ends up killing the roots.

The use of environmental friendly hardscapes helps protect and preserve the environment. Some of these materials include organic mulch such as bark, inorganic mulch such as gravel, wood, flagstone pavers, brick, and urbanite. Using non-toxic preservatives, stains, paints, and cleaners is an additional way to protect natural resources.

Sometimes we get excited about revamping our landscape and just start removing and tossing existing plants. Here is one more tip before you go digging and tossing plants already in your landscape; simply analyze if you can relocate them to another part of your yard!

When selecting new plants, look for resource-efficient plants, ones that require less water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Other ways to be resourceful are by adding rainwater catchment systems; which ultimately provide you with an additional supply of irrigation water. This can be even be built in to mesh and blend with your landscape design. Don’t forget that several decor and landscape materials can be reused to continue to enhance and preserve your landscape.

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HVAC – Let There Be Air

When it comes to HVAC systems as homeowners, we may be clueless as to what it entails and what the potential and long-term costs it can have.

One of the most common air systems in the U.S. are central air conditioners.  This system takes cool air and circulates it through a system of supply ducts and return registers.  These ducts and registers can be found in many locations within the home:

  • Openings in walls
  • Openings in floors
  • Grills in the ceilings

A benefit of using a central air conditioner is that it helps dehumidify the incoming air but with extreme humidity, you may have to invest in a dehumidifier to help lower the moisture in the air. However, most of Southern California is very unlikely to experience extreme humidity, levering some cost on that type of expense. There are also a few different types of air conditioners and systems available.

It is important to know that there is not one system that is better than the other. The right air system for you will all depend on the layout and structure of your home.

Split-system central air conditioner

A split-system is composed of 2 units, one is usually outside of the home and one inside the home connected to the furnace. The outside unit is known as the condensing unit and the inside unit is know as the evaporative coil. Both of these are connected together by a set of copper tubing known as a “line-set,” which transfers from one refrigerant to another. This system can be placed in various locations in the home such as closets, attics, garages, etc.

Packaged central air conditioner

If your air system has only one unit (that is typically on the roof), and a piece of duct work going into the roof, this type of system is known as a packaged central air conditioner. This unit has both aspects of a split system. This type of AC is usually preferred when there is a lack of space to fit a split system. This unit, in most cases, is on the roof which for homeowners if it is “out of sight, out of mind,” even better.

Nest Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat goes beyond the simple temperature detection to make a real impact in your HVAC energy consumption. All thermostats let you set a desired temperature and monitor the current temperature. However, these thermostats rely on being adjusted to temperature and also make up for almost half of the energy bill for many homeowners. With Nest Thermostat, this lets you program certain temperatures for certain times of the day – letting you automatically lower the temperature when you’ll be out of the house. It is designed to learn behavior patterns and desired temperatures for specific days and times during the week; ultimately saving you money.


Heat Pumps

The heat pump extracts hot air from your home and dumps it outside in the summer, then pumps outdoor heat inside during the winter. Thanks to the function of a reversing valve in the outdoor unit, a heat pump can absorb heat energy from outside air, even in extremely cold temperatures, and transfer the heat into the home, where it releases the heat into the air. A heat pump can heat and cool, but an air conditioner cannot, which is the primary difference between the two HVAC systems.Heat pumps can be an efficient option, especially when combined with an existing gas furnace.

Heating Pump

With HVAC being such an important feature is most homes, we encourage our homeowners to upgrade or implement HVAC units that best suit their type of home. For more information on how you can include HVAC upgrades in your remodel CLICK HERE.

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ADU – The Benefit Of The Decade

If you’re not familiar with the term “ADU,” know that today you will be equipped with a game plan to take advantage of this new offer in the housing market and development. ADU, known as Accessory Dwelling Unit, is known to be an attached or detached structure providing independent living facilities for one or more persons.

Many of us would also know these units as secondary units, granny units, in-law units or back houses. While adding an ADU in Los Angeles County is only permitted on properties with single-family homes versus multi residential zones; the addition or conversion of an ADU on your property is still permitted to rent. When referring to a conversion, this entails converting an existing garage into a dwelling unit. The unit can be rented out as another single-family dwelling, whether it be your own family or a college student looking for affordable housing.

The benefits of this process have grown through the past few years to make it easier for property owners to take on this project while staying in accordance with city regulations. By adding an accessory dwelling unit, new renters can have a separate mailing address, a great benefit for those looking for housing more on a long-term basis. This type of dwelling addition or conversion also includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family dwelling is situated, as stated on the memorandum by the Department of Housing and Community Development – Division of Housing Policy Development (2018, Sacramento, CA).

However, that’s not where it stops! If you’re a homeowner with an existing dwelling unit already and can’t find a reliable renter – welcome to the era of the hospitality market. Since the entry of the existence of vacation and getaway masterminds, Airbnb & VRBO, rental conversion units have skyrocketed. With the legalization of home-sharing in Los Angeles, investing in registering your unit as an Airbnb or VRBO is a great way to pocket some income and bring more value to your property. According to Los Angeles ADU Ordinance Rules Codes & Regulations of California, states that an ADU cannot be sold separate from the primary residence but may be rented.


For those thinking of beginning short-term rental home conversion projects, a registration fee of $850 is required (must be citation-free) followed by a yearly renewal fee at a reasonable price of $89. To specify, the ordinance defines “short-term,” as a hosting agreement lasting no longer than 30 days at a time. The City of Los Angeles also implemented a new regulation where Airbnb owners are permitted to rent their units for no more than 120 days per year. An exemption of 180 days is permitted with the following criteria:

-Have had a home-sharing permit for 6 months or more
-Have had hosted for at least 60 Days with no verified nuisance violations

With EGN Builders, we are more than specialized and equipped to help homeowners execute this type of project. Our contractors are well rounded on new regulations and more than experienced on this service type. ADU conversions and additions have been one of our more popular specialties where we can provide various professional recommendations and plans for homeowners looking to take advantage of the new Los Angeles ADU Ordinance.

We also offer Residential Plans & Permits to get homeowners started on their ADU building process. If you are interested in learning more on how to get started click here.

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Back-Splash Ideas You Didn’t Know Your Kitchen Needed

The kitchen is one of the most creative places in the home. From cooking your favorite meals to decorating every corner and every aspect. Originally, the back-splash was incorporated primarily to protect the wall from liquids and water. However this also serves as the focal point for a kitchen renovation.

Whether you choose to do a full-kitchen remodel or a new coat of paint and appliances; adding a beautiful back-splash gives your area a whole new glistening look! With each different tile and finish type, it can be overwhelming to try choose one design when you love them all. At EGN Builders we are always more than excited to present different styles and
other types of tiles designs to magnify your vision. Below we will uncover some of the ideas that have set the tone for modern kitchen design and remodels.

When brainstorming what look best fits your taste and your home consider a few different aspects for back-splashes. Picking the right tile for your area is crucial. There usually tends to be more square footage of wall space above the range and sink, so you can play with tile design. Another way to get started on selecting your tile design, what shapes are you thinking best fit your space? Are you going for traditional themed deigns? Modern pieces? Often times, most homeowners have interest in diagonal tile, laser cut tile, and subway tiles. Here a just a few different options for you to get creative with; hand painted tiles, specialty-shaped tiles, herringbone tiles and mosaic tiles.

Mosaic Mix & Match Tile & Shape

Diagonal Cut

Laser Cut

Herringbone Tile

Consider having some mix and matching fun with your kitchen remodel. It is important for you to think about how your tile will match your counter tops, flooring, walls and appliances. One of the most common kitchen designs are back-splashes with white cabinets. Also consider the height of your back-splash! Think about going in a more radical direction and extending the back-splash to ceiling height.

Make sure to also plan ahead! If completely re-positioning your kitchen be sure to plan your layout, determining your preferred back-splash, height, and total area to be covered. This is certain to help calculate the amount of tile our professional contractors will need to best execute your design.

Ceiling – Height

Stone Subway Tile – White Cabinets – Black Counter Tops

Alternative tips to consider before diving into the renovation and upgrade of your kitchen is thinking about where is your investment zone (where will most of your tile make it’s statement appearance?), budget (consider eco-friendly material), avoiding common mistakes (hiring an inexperienced contractor to do a sloppy job or verifying what you want is in stock and possible) , wear and tear (How easily can you clean the tile, and what is the best way to seal it? Will it get stained? Does it need maintenance?)

Once you’ve analyzed your vision, your layout, material type and shape, get excited for what is to come! The pros of adding life to your kitchen design and how easier it can be to clean. Kitchens that don’t have back-splashes tend to be more prone to pests because when you have a back-splash installed, the wall is completely sealed. Not only can you add to a kitchen or bathroom, what most homeowners enjoy and love about this aspect is the fact that it makes for easy cleaning! In most cases, all you have to do is wipe down the back-splash with a damp cloth or sponge and the task is done.

For many homeowners doing kitchen remodels, the back-splash phase is definitely one of the most enjoyable and creative project phases. If you’re interested in learning more about kitchen remodels CLICK HERE.

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