Should I Hire a Professional for My Outdoor Project?

Know what outdoor projects to take on your own and when you should call a professional to take over.

Outdoor projects can range from landscaping to lighting, but depending on your specific outdoor renovation, some projects may be suitable to DIY, while others may require the expertise of a professional. When considering DIY vs hiring a professional for your outdoor projects, it is best to honestly ask yourself how qualified and motivated you are to complete the job, as well as the money and time you’re willing to expend. Hiring a professional for certain jobs could help you keep your project on track, while other more simple projects can be fun and rewarding to do yourself. Know when you should DIY your outdoor projects and when it’s best to hire a professional to take care of the work for you, by understanding the following reasons and challenges.

Reasons to hire an outdoor professional

Some projects are more challenging than others and require the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources of a professional. For outdoor living projects that require electrical, irrigation, or hardscape installation it is often beneficial to hire a professional. A contractor, landscaper, or expert will have working knowledge about paperwork and permits required to do a project legally. Work that isn’t up to code actually hurts the resale value of your property. Professionals also have the ability to purchase materials at a discount and already own the most required tools. Bringing on a professional can make large outdoor projects less costly, keep your landscape project on schedule, and ensure the job is completed in a  professional manner.

Challenging projects that may require a professional

Landscape planning and designing

If this is your first time doing landscaping, it might be best to talk with a professional in the beginning phase of the project. A landscaper, architect, or designer can inform you about laws requiring permits for different projects, the best materials, and services to use, and help formulate an outdoor layout that is suitable to your lifestyle and budget. A professional will also have the ability to tell you about the best plants for your yard based on climate, water usage, soil quality, and maintenance. They can also help with special considerations like building a pet-friendly yard or how to prevent run-off in yards susceptible to erosion. Depending on the scope of your project, some landscaping may involve heavy machinery and equipment rental that should be used under the supervision of a skilled laborer.

Building a deck, porch, or patio

Building a deck off the back of your house is a costly and time-consuming task that requires expensive materials and a solid understanding of construction principles. A contractor can help plan the design, implement permanent infrastructure for the foundation, and properly execute to project to finish in a timely manner. A professional can also purchase expensive materials at a discount, and has the tools and skills to complete this project quickly.


If you are looking to add outdoor lighting to your home, hiring a professional will prove beneficial in many ways. A professional will help to develop a certain look for the space, and discuss different lighting options such as fixtures and spacing. For those wanting to utilize eco-friendly lighting or install outdoor lights on a budget, a professional can save you time on research and help avoid costly repairs. Most importantly, because outdoor wiring is different than indoor wiring, an electrician will understand electrical systems, wattage needs, and can file an electrical permit if required. Extensive knowledge of factors like changes in temperature, bugs, pests, and humidity will ensure your outdoor lighting has long-term efficiency.

Underground pools and spas

In most cases, employing a professional when adding a pool or spa to your outdoor living space is a must. Even the simplest of projects, like installing an above ground spa is a big job that often requires approval from a technician. A landscaper and pool contractor will work with you to develop a design for the property, acquire permits, materials, and machinery, and ensure the pool will be safe for both people and the property. This is a long-term project, so be sure to contact a professional several months before intended use. Use this inground pool cost calculator to determine the cost of your project.

Constructing a stone fireplace

A stone fireplace that is built into a wall outside of your home or that is more complex than the average metal fire pit can be a challenging job that usually requires the help of a professional. A contractor or expert in the subject of fireplaces will have knowledge of city regulations and safe building practices, as well as masonry experience.

Outdoor kitchens

If you want a simple outdoor kitchen with a propane-fueled grill and no water lines, you may be able to DIY. However, there are a few tips for designing the best outdoor kitchen. If you’re planning a complex outdoor kitchen with natural gas lines, electricity, and water, it’s best to leave it to a professional that knows working codes, plumbing costs, and safety regulations.

Click here to read the full article by Anne Reagan

A New Outdoor Addition in Villa Hills

by David Costa General Contracting

The Right Materials:

This Villa Hills rear porch addition takes advantage of a beautiful natural view, using some of today’s best man made materials!

The client selected quality low maintenance materials, such as Azek concealed fastened PVC decking, Westbury railing systems, and Eze screen large scale openings.

A pre-finished tongue and groove ceiling with Velux skylights create an open, natural light space, and the railings were modified with Azek capped drink rails.

Low voltage lighting post structure and a custom audio-video system make for comfortable outdoor entertainment.

Custom built in doggie doors allow for easy access for ‘man’s best friend’ kennel below.

A Spring Master Bath Makeover in Anderson Township

This Master Bath renovation gets its inspiration from the philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright, who believed in designing structures that were in harmony with its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture.

The wooded natural setting, the high ceilings, and a lot of natural light compliment this freeform organic tile and simple materials.

Cork flooring, birch cabinetry and modern lines play together to form a casual and comfortable space.

Design by David Costa
Tile from Louisville/Kemper Design: ‘Vihara Swish Mosaic’ and ‘Dakota Brick’
Winnelson Plumbing Supply: ‘Delta & Brizo’ plumbing fixtures
Ferguson Pluming Supply: Led Mirrors & Signature Hardware Tub
Greener Stock: Cork flooring

Take a Look at Our Latest Kitchen Renovation in Anderson

‘Concept Space’

Often times clients have trouble justifying a remodeling project “because the existing space is ok”.

Spending money in this way is a personal choice, but I have seldom had clients who were sorry they had done so after the transformation is complete. With the typical production builder home, layout is usually somewhat tight.

Soffits above wall cabinets are typical and room spaces are divided up and closed off. This practice makes the living and functional space less than desirable.

With this kitchen, openings between rooms were significantly expanded, soffits removed and walls moved.

The resulting concept space looks, feels, and functions much better, along with bringing in more natural light! For more before and after photos of this completed project, visit our website.

Check out our latest Kitchen Remodel & Rooftop Deck

This turn of the century Mt. Washington home is situated on a beautiful wooded lot.
The Architects at The Drawing Department worked with the owners to bring a previously unsightly view of the garage roof and a dated kitchen into a beautiful and functional space.

The ‘floating’ rooftop deck uses structural adjustable joist supports, Azek premium decking and a Feeney cable railing system.

The kitchen is modernized with streamlined cabinetry and appliances, a custom built ‘banquette’ seating area for family dining, a Walnut butcher block island and floating display shelving. Note the glass pane backsplash behind the cooking area for ease of cleaning. Simply beautiful! For more before and after photos of this completed project, visit our website.

Please contact us to let us know how we can assist with your dream project.

5 Trade-offs to Consider When Remodeling Your Kitchen

These big-picture questions and considerations can help you decide where to invest and where to compromise when planning your kitchen remodel.

How Will You Use Your Kitchen?
When planning a kitchen remodel, you want to be very clear on how you want to use your new kitchen. Is it for entertaining family and friends, or a large crowd? Or, are you more interested in achieving extra space or an efficient layout?

Clear goals can help homeowners make decisions and, as the budget nears its limit, ultimately choose the options that will best support their goals. What matters most to you in a kitchen?

  1. Daily Use vs. Special Events
    This area of consideration has to do with how many people your kitchen will serve. From refrigerator storage to seats at the dining table, the number of people you want to accommodate will affect your design choices. You’ll want to consider not only how many people live in the home now, but — if this is your forever home — how many will live in it 10 years from now. Also, how often do you entertain and for how many people?
  2. Cost vs. Value
    As you may have discovered if you’re considering a remodel (or in the midst of one), everything from cabinets to sinks to appliances comes at a variety of price points. How do you decide when it’s worth it to splurge for a high-quality item and when it’s best to save your dollars? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Will the investment improve your everyday life?

Will the product solve a pet peeve?

Will the addition of this element make your house feel like a home?

Will the purchase increase the value of your home?

In each of these cases, you may decide that the cost of a feature for your new kitchen is worth it because of the value it brings.

Framing your choices as cost vs. value — in terms of your experience in your kitchen, and possibly the resale value of your home — can help you get clarity on what’s worth the extra money.

  1. Function vs. Aesthetics
    Ideally a kitchen redesign provides both beauty and function, but when we are dealing with limited funds, trade-offs between functionality and aesthetics may be necessary. By function, I mean not only the kinds of bells and whistles you get with high-end appliances, but also the kitchen’s layout and the choice of whether to have one sink or two.Aesthetics are the expensive but gorgeous finishes and customized detailing that bring a high-end look to a kitchen. Quite often, a budget may force you to make choices on what matters most to you — the functionality or the look.

This area of trade-off is deeply personal and has a lot to do with your lifestyle. When weighing aesthetics vs. function, you’ll want to consider everything mentioned above.

For example, a client who doesn’t do a lot of cooking and is more concerned with the kitchen’s look than its function might really want a beautiful built-in fridge with custom panels but be willing to use a less expensive range or counter material to have that pricey, beautiful fridge.

  1. Speed vs. Patience
    Any home improvement project takes time — that’s just part of the process. And once the kitchen is demolished and construction is underway, any delay can be difficult, particularly if you are living in the home and dealing with the mess. When you are in that situation, the risk is that you will be tempted to say yes to anything just to get the project done and your home back to normal.

When making a large financial investment that you are going to live with a long time, I recommend that you go slowly, taking the time to find the right people to help and weighing your decisions carefully.

That being said, speed can be a necessary evil. Perhaps you are remodeling for a special event, such as a backyard wedding. Or maybe you are planning to sell the house and just want a quick face-lift to get the most out of your investment.

As a guide when weighing the need for speed vs. the need to exercise your patience muscles, I recommend you consider how long you plan to live in your home. If you’re going to sell within five years, keep in mind that everything doesn’t have to be perfect — you simply want to be sure you will get your investment back when you sell. However, if you plan to live in the home for 10 years or more, it’s worth slowing down and investing in your quality of life. Take the time to find the right solution, not the quick one.

  1. The Ideal Me vs. the Real Me
    This one isn’t so much a trade-off as a reality check. It’s worth mentioning that some clients have fantasies that a remodel can change their habits — or even their personalities. But my observation has been that if you are already a messy cook, the chances of a new kitchen transforming you into a clean-as-you-go type are pretty slim.

Rather than plan a kitchen for the person you wish you were, focus on solutions that take your true habits into account.

Click here to read the full article by Moorea Hoffman.

Interior and Exterior Maintenance Tips for Fall

With Fall just around the corner it’s time to get your house in shape for the cooler months ahead. Although autumn can be one of the busiest seasons for homeowners preparing for winter, it’s also the best time to take advantage of the moderate weather to repair any damages before the first frost sets in. Here are some interior and exterior home maintenance ideas that will keep your home running in peak condition all winter long.


  1. Because heating and cooling amount to 47% of the energy costs in your home, proper sealing and insulation can save up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs, or up to 10% on your total annual energy bill. It’s easy to find air leaks from windows and doors by moving your hand around the frame. By applying weather stripping and caulk to these areas, you’ll cut down on drafts.
  2. Have your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor. Heating systems will use fuel more efficiently, last longer and have fewer problems if properly serviced.
  3. Maintain your washer and dryer. Cleaning out the dryer vents can be a DIY job, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing so (or if you’ve been putting it off), you may want to hire a pro to do washer and dryer maintenance for you. Washing-machine hoses need to be replaced from time to time, and a cracked hose can cause a leak — which can mean costly damage to your home. Plus, clean dryer vents and hoses will help your machine work more efficiently and reduce the risk of fire.
  4. Get your woodstove and fireplace in working order. Be sure to examine your wood stove or fireplace insert’s door gasket for a tight seal. Also, clean and inspect the glass door for cracks and have the chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep. A clogged chimney poses the risk of a chimney fire.
  5. Change the direction of your ceiling fan to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.
  6. If Fall allergies have gotten the best of you, consider having your air ducts cleaned by a professional before winter sets in.
  7. Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and keep extra household batteries on hand.
  8. Check basement windows for drafts, loose frames or cracked panes.
  9. Vacuum internal parts of air conditioners. Remove units from windows or wrap outside box with an approved tarp or plastic air conditioner cover in order to prevent rusting of vital parts.
  10. Clean your humidifiers regularly during the heating season. Bacteria and spores can develop in a dirty water tank resulting in unclean moisture misting out into your room.


  1. Check foundation for cracks and caulk around the areas where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house, and around the windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping.
  2. Install storm windows and doors and remove screens. Before storing, clean and repair screens, spray with a protective coating and place in a dry area of the basement or garage. CLICK HERE for more interior and exterior maintenance tips.


12 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Spring

Maintaining a healthy home goes beyond dusting and vacuuming. When is the last time you checked your smoke alarms? How about the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent? Follow the tips below to make sure your family and home are ready for a happy, clean spring season.

  • Clean gutters – remove debris and check downspouts
  • Scrub walls, baseboards and outlets
  • Replace filters (water, range hood, air vent); consider replacing every 3-6 months
  • Clean faucets and showerheads – remove and soak in vinegar and water; let dry and replace
  • Clean out the dryer vent – disconnect the vent from the back of the machine and clean with a lint brush. Remove the dryer vent cover on the outside of your house and clean with a brush – making sure the vent cover flap moves freely.
  • Wash exterior windows – consider hiring a window cleaning service
  • Keep allergens away – declutter your home, checking pipes for leaks and keeping the air clean
  • Check foundation vents – houses with crawl spaces have vents along the foundation walls. The screens collect leaves and debris that should be removed.
  • Clean the grill
  • Prep your garden by adding good quality soil
  • Test smoke alarms and CO detectors, changing the batteries as needed.
  • Clean outdoor furniture with a solution of detergent, water and borax.

Click here to read the full article.


Your February Home Maintenance Checklist

Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

1. Rotate your mattress. 
Before you put on a fresh set of sheets, take an extra minute to rotate the mattress if you haven’t done so recently. Rotating your mattress every few months will help it wear more evenly and extend its life (and comfort).
2. Pack up a bag of old sheets and towels to donate. If you bought new sheets or towels during January white sales, make some room by letting go of an old set or two. Homeless shelters and some churches will accept donations of bedding and towels in good condition, and animal shelters are often in need of towels. Really worn linens can be cut up and used as rags or dropped in a textile recycling bin.
3. Clean entryway floors. If winters are cold where you are,road salt and melting snow can mean entryway floors take a beating. Pick up clutter and give the floors a good mopping.

To keep floors looking their best between cleanings, stash a few old towels in a basket near the door to wipe up messes.

4. Keep sidewalks and entryways free of ice and snow (even while you’re away). Ice and snow can make walkways dangerous for visitors. Aim to shovel snow promptly, and sprinkle gravel, straw or wood chips to provide traction. Frequent, light shoveling is better than letting the snow build up. And if you plan to be out of town during an expected winter storm, hire someone to clear the sidewalk and front steps of your home while you’re away. Your neighbors and mail carrier will thank you.

Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend

5. Cook to stock up your freezer. A few hours of cooking on a weekend can produce major dividends if you focus your efforts on big-batch suppers that can be frozen and reheated later.

Knowing that you have homemade soup, stew, chili or casseroles in the freezer makes facing weeknight dinners much less stressful. Just add crusty bread and a simple salad and dinner will be ready in no time.

6. Organize bookshelves. Pull out volumes that you didn’t enjoy or are finished with and sell or donate them, leaving a bit of extra room on each shelf for new titles. And if you get distracted by beloved old books you had forgotten about, just roll with it. After all, there are few better places to spend a winter afternoon than in a comfortable chair with a good book.

7. Refresh your movie-watching zone. Winter is a good time to catch up on movies you missed in the theater or to binge-watch your favorite shows. So why not make your movie-watching zone as comfy and cozy as possible? Start by vacuuming the floors and upholstery (using a vacuum attachment) and by clearing away clutter. Next, assess your collection of movies and games, donating extras to charity. Finally, make sure there are plenty of comfortable pillows and throws and lighting that can be dimmed.

8. Boost warmth. Stay toasty and save on energy bills by blocking drafty doors with door sweeps or door snakes and warming up with rugs, throws and duvets. For even more energy savings, shut doors to unused rooms, move furniture away from heating vents and close the chimney flue when it’s not in use.

9. Check bathrooms for moisture, mildew and mold. It can be hard to give bathrooms enough ventilation when the house is closed up tight for winter.

Unfortunately, that buildup of moisture can lead to mildew or even harmful mold. Give the bathroom a thorough cleaning, paying special attention to grout, the ceiling and any other areas showing signs of excess moisture.

10. Clean the dryer vent (and check for blockages outside). Having the buildup of lint cleaned from your dryer vent at least once a year is essential to keeping your dryer working efficiently and preventing a potential dryer fire. In winter, snow can block the exterior vent, so take a walk outside your home to inspect the vent and remove snow or debris if needed.

Click here to read the full article on





Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

It’s time to prep your home for cooler weather with these tasks to do in an hour, over a weekend and during the month. Get your home ready for the season ahead by ticking off these to-dos, from adding cozy layers to scheduling necessary maintenance — and then curl up in your favorite chair and savor the comforts of home.

Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

1.Cozy up with warm layers. Think about swapping out lighter-weight bedding for flannel sheets and fluffy duvets. Bring added warmth to the other rooms in your house with throws and pillows in rich fabrics like wool, velvet or faux fur. Thicker area rugs and curtains not only feel cozier, but they also can actually help your home feel warmer — and cut down on your energy bills.
2. Order firewood.Whether you use a wood stove for actual warmth or just for coziness, now is a good time to order a delivery of firewood. Tip: don’t store large quantities of wood directly against the house, as it will encourage pests, but do keep it protected from rain and snow beneath a shelter.
3. Check safety devices.Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed.
4. Set up a homework or project area.Encourage kids to get their work done with an area that is comfortable, attractive and well-organized. Ideally, make available a large surface for spreading out big or messy projects. Although your dining table can work, if you have the room, consider adding a dedicated project table and keep all the necessary supplies at hand.

Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend

5. Clean leather furniture. It’s important to know whether your leather furniture has a finish before treating it with any products, so check labels or look up the item on the retailer’s or manufacturer’s website before you begin.

  • For unprotected leather (also called aniline), less is more when it comes to cleaning: Wipe with a clean, dry cloth or one slightly dampened with distilled water.
  • For protected leather (also called semianiline or pigmented), you can make your own cleaning solution by adding a few drops of mild nondetergent soap to distilled water, or use a commercial leather cleaning product. Apply with a microfiber cloth.
  1. Remove window AC units.If you use window air-conditioning units, now is the time to either remove them or cover them outside with protective insulation. Removing the units is the better option because this will allow you to close the windows, minimizing winter heat loss. If you choose to leave them in over the winter, be sure to pick up insulating covers made for this purpose and securely attach them outside.
  2. Add weatherstripping. Newer double-pane windows may not need weatherstripping, but it will help most older windows retain heat and stop drafts. Check areas with previously applied weatherstripping and remove or replace as needed.
  3. Freshen up your fall wardrobe. If you’ve bought new clothes recently, take this opportunity to sort through the rest of your wardrobe and remove pieces you no longer wear. Collect clothes that need repair and move summer clothes to an out-of-the-way spot so that your fall wardrobe can be front and center. Polish shoes, and remove pilling from coats and sweaters.
  4. Inspect the roof and gutters. It’s generally fine to wait until most of the leaves have fallen in autumn to clean out the gutters and downspouts, but giving these areas a quick visual inspection now is a good idea. Pull out any sticks or other debris blocking the gutters, and make note of any worn-out seals around vent pipes and chimneys. If you do not feel comfortable on a ladder, or have a home of two or more stories, hire someone to do a quick inspection for you. Schedule any needed repairs now so that your home will be buttoned up for winter.

Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month

10. Schedule chimney and furnace maintenance. 
Make sure your fireplace and heating system are clean, safe and ready to go by having a pro look at them now. Having your chimney cleaned will also ensure that you don’t try to start a fire when an animal family (or an old nest) is inside.
11. Maintain the washer and dryer. Cleaning out the dryer vents can be a DIY job, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing so (or if you’ve been putting it off), you may want to hire a pro to do washer and dryer maintenance for you. Washing-machine hoses need to be replaced from time to time, and a cracked hose can cause a leak — which can mean costly damage to your home. Clean dryer vents and hoses will help your machine work more efficiently and reduce the risk of fire.
12. Consider beefing up insulation. Looking for a way to save on your energy bills this winter? You may want to think about adding insulation to your attic space or inside walls. This can make a big difference in how well your home retains heat in winter and stays cool in summer.

Click here to read the full article on Houzz by Laura Gaskill