Archive for the ‘Remodeling Philosophies’ Category

Love Your Home & Garden Event Presented by Merrick Design and Build and John Shorb Landscaping

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Kick off the Valentine’s Day holiday by focusing on your other loves: your home and garden. Mingle with industry experts from Merrick Design and Build and John Shorb Landscaping and discuss your questions and thoughts on your upcoming projects. And, enjoy a glass (or two) of champagne and dip into some chocolate fondue.

Date and Time:

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014



Merrick Design and Build, Inc.
3923 Plyers Mill Road
Kensington MD 20895

Invite a friend and RSVP to Addie:


Multigenerational Living in Maryland

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Multigenerational FamilyRecently, we met with a family in Maryland who’s considering a remodel that will support multigenerational living. After our meeting, we became somewhat intrigued by the concept of multigenerational households and thought about past projects we designed and built, including mother-in-law suites, additions and other changes that created needed space and functionality for families. To learn more about multigenerational households, we headed to the web and here’s what we found:


The U.S. Census Bureau defines multigenerational families as those consisting of more than two generations living under the same roof. Many researchers also include households with a grandparent and at least one other generation.


Due to the Great Recession and other factors, multigenerational households have rapidly increased in the last few years:

  • One in six Americans currently lives in a multigenerational household
  • The number of households rose from 46.5 million in 2007 to 51.4 million by the end of 2009 – a 10.5 percent increase in just three years.
  • In 1980, multigenerational households accounted for 12 percent of the U.S. population. By 2010, this number had climbed to an estimated 16.1 percent.
  • About 4.2 million of the 113.6 million U.S. households consist of three or more generations.


Five major factors are impacting the increase in multigenerational households:

  • Slower starts: People are marrying later; more unmarried 20-somethings continue to live with their parents by choice or due to economic necessity.
  • Immigration: Latin Americans and Asians have immigrated to Maryland, the DC metro area and other part of the U.S. in large numbers; immigrants are more likely to live in multigenerational households.
  • Availability of kin: A high percentage of Baby Boomers in Maryland enjoy financial security and are able to welcome their aging parents into their homes, while providing their young or young adult children a place to reside.
  • Health and disability issues: Across the board, increasing numbers of Americans suffer from chronic conditions and disabilities; many move in with family members to gain access to caregivers for themselves and/or their children.
  • Economic conditions: With the Great Recession, many Americans struggle with job loss or other forms of reduced income. Sharing household expenses across generations makes them more manageable.


Multigenerational households come in all shapes and sizes; the common types include:

  • Three-generation: The most common multigenerational household arrangement consists of three generations – typically one or more working-age adults, one or more of their children (who may also be adults), and either aging parent(s) or grandchildren.
  • Grandfamilies: There are growing numbers of grandfamilies, which are households headed by an older individual or couple who live with grandchildren under age 18.
  • Two-adult generations: Most two-generation households consist of parent(s) and child(ren) under the ages of 18 to 22. However, households with “boomerangs” are on the rise – grown children who return to their childhood household because of unemployment, underemployment or other factors.
  • Four-generation: Once a rarity, the four – or five-generation household – parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, adult children, their children – is more commonplace and socioeconomically significant.


Are you considering a remodel for multigenerational living or are already part of a multigenerational household? Have any of the above factors related to you and your family?

We hope you found this data as informative and helpful as we did! And, as always, we welcome your questions, comments and feedback. Reach me today at 301-946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

Source Note: This post was compiled with data from the Generations United website.

Generations in the Kitchen

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Merrick Design and Build - Mother and Child Cooking in the KitchenIt’s been said that the kitchen is the ‘new’ or ‘real’ living room, and this has been especially true during the past decade. For the last 10 years, families have been spending more time together in the kitchen during weekday mornings and evenings, weekends and special events.


When the Merrick team renovates a kitchen, homeowners often share a strong need of to add more square footage to this high-traffic, high-functioning space. There are also needs of the various generations who live in or visit the home that include features and special elements that will make the kitchen space more useful and comfortable.



For the young (under 10 crowd), many homeowners are opting to create “kid-friendly zones” (away from the stove) with space for:

  • Child-friendly cooking
  • A desk-like environment for computer work or homework
  • Two prep areas


For the Millenials (age 18-34), “wish lists” center around technological advances that include:

  • A microwave that allows swiping a package bar code, which triggers cooking using the exact directions
  • A TV screen that’s built into a kitchen wall or an appliance
  • Technology that allows heating an oven using a cell phone or computer


Baby Boomers (age 45-64) have specific “wish lists,”which often enhance entertaining and can include:

  • A cooktop with special features like a built-in grill, wok or rotisserie attachment
  • Commercial or professional-grade appliances
  • A built-in coffee pot that’s directly connected to the water supply
  • Ovens that dramatically reduce cooking times


A newly renovated kitchen can easily meet the needs of residents and guests of all ages and stages, improving the experience and enjoyment of this central and important space.

As always, we welcome your questions, comments and feedback. Contact me today at 301-946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build


Source Note: This blog post was developed using data and information from a press release entitled “Moen Uncovers Top Trend in Kitchen Remodeling.

Aging in Place – Part Two: Changes to Consider

Monday, June 18th, 2012

A kitchen with ample maneuverable space and storage

If you’re considering aging in place modifications in your home, it’s important to examine all of your home’s major spaces including entry ways, bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen and even your yard. Here’s a quick reference list to use as you review the rooms and spaces in your home:









Entry Ways

The entry to your home is your connection to the rest of the world: it’s where you receive guests, bring in groceries, and head out for appointments and social events. It should be safe and convenient no matter the weather, time of day or your physical condition. Barrier-free entryways make it easier for family members or friends who use wheelchairs or for others with special needs.

No-Step Entries

The walkway leading from the sidewalk or driveway to the front entrance can have no steps and very little, if any, slope to accommodate those in wheelchairs or who have trouble climbing steps. A ramp is another type of no-step entry.

No-Step Thresholds

Entryways leading into your home or passages into other rooms are not divided by a threshold, eliminating a common tripping hazard.


Garage Lifts

Garage lifts enables enable those in wheelchairs, or who have problems climbing steps, to gain access from the garage to the inside of the home.



There’s no space in your home more personal than your bathroom. You use it countless times every day; it should be comfortable, attractive and safe. To increase safety and accessibility in your bathroom, consider the following modifications:

  • Build a roll-in shower with multiple showerheads
  • Lower your bathroom sink, ensuring there’s proper knee clearance
  • Instal an elevated toilet
  • Instal grab bars



A comfortable and welcoming bedroom provides respite from the world and helps create an environment for proper rest after long long works days and fun activities:

  • Ensure ample maneuvering clearance
  • Build a walk-in closet with storage at varying heights
  • Install rocker light switches, which are easier to turn on compared to the more common flip switch
  • Install light fixtures in closets and passageways



If you love to cook, but find it difficult to bend or have a height limitation, there are numerous steps you can take to modify your kitchen, making more ‘user-friendly’:

  • Ensure ample maneuvering space
  • Vary the height of countertops
  • Instal a sink with knee clearance
  • Instal a raised dishwasher
  • Lower cooking surfaces
  • Mount a wall oven and/or microwave at reachable heights
  • Create an abundance of reachable storage space
  • Provide a desk/work area with knee clearance



Lighting sets the mood, so controlling natural light and electric light when you need it makes your home personal, convenient and safe.

One way to reduce accidents in your home is to have proper lighting installed. Outdoor areas, stairways, the kitchen area, the living room and other spaces are just a few examples where proper lighting is helpful. We recommend using rocker-type light switches wherever possible, which you can turn them on and off with the touch of an elbow when your hands are full. Additionally, well-placed skylights and ceiling lights are just a two examples of the type of lighting to consider adding to your home.



If you maintain a flower or vegetable garden in your yard, consider raising your beds at some point. Raising your beds can help reduce fatigue and the stress on your body when gardening for extended periods of time.


As always, we welcome your questions, comments and feedback. Contact me today at 301-946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

Aging in Place – Part One: Three Scenarios

Monday, May 14th, 2012

A spacious kitchen with generous lighting

These days, there’s a lot of conversation around the topic of “aging in place“, so we’ve decided to write a three-part series on the subject. This first post will map out three aging in place scenarios, but before we get started, let’s review at what aging in place means.


The website speaks of aging in place as more than just living in the environment of choice as one gets older. It means being home in a place where emotional and functional needs are met, where family histories continue to develop and where precious memories are protected.


The National Association of Home Builders gives a similar definition: “aging in place means remaining in one’s home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. It means the pleasure of living in a familiar environment throughout one’s maturing years, and the ability to enjoy the familiar daily rituals and the special events that enrich all our lives. It means the reassurance of being able to call a house a ‘home’ for a lifetime.”


The choices, decisions and modifications regarding aging in place are unique to the couples and individuals undertaking the changes. Yet, most homeowners find themselves in one of these three major aging in place scenarios:


  1. Aging in Place without Urgent Needs – This scenario relates to individuals who want to stay in their current home and are not experiencing immediate health/mobility issues, yet they sense current or future needs for aging in place and universal design conveniences.
  2. Aging in Place with Progressive, Condition-Based Needs – This scenario relates to those with chronic or progressive conditions that will require aging in place modifications. These individuals are often aware of their needs, but making changes is not necessarily urgent. Some have chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung or heart disease that pose current challenges and will create future challenges.
  3. Aging in Place with Traumatic Needs – This scenario includes those who experience abrupt changes that demand immediate adjustments in their living environment through aging in place modifications and universal design.


If you’re considering aging in place modifications to your home, be sure to check back and read our next post, which will focus on the specific changes many homeowners in the DC area hire Merrick to make.


As always, we welcome your questions, comments and feedback. Contact me today at 301-946-2356 or


David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

The Many Shades of “Green”

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past five years, you’ve heard about being green: it’s in the news, magazines and books and on t-shirts, water bottles and the web. A green market has blossomed offering a host of green products and services; you’ll now find recycling bins in homes, businesses and many stores and, happily, you now have an abundance of options and choices if you’re undergoing a green home remodel.


Yet, for each home remodel, whether it’s officially deemed “green” or not, there’s some good news: “sexy” products aren’t the only contributing factor that will make your project green. By default, the vast majority of all remodels bring environmental benefits, including:


  • ALL new kitchen appliances will be more efficient than there fifteen year-old counterparts. New appliances have been improved to meet higher standards and support lower energy usage.
  • ALL new toilets use less water than they did five years ago.  The new duel flush toilets use only .o8 gallons per flush (versus 6 gallons per flush) and provide huge improvements over a twelve year-old toilet.
  • ALL insulation products have seen improvements and show increases in the “R” values, where the “R” stands for Resistance. To understand what “R” value is, consider the analogy of “R” values to the miles per gallon model. Insulation with an R-38 value will be more efficient than insulation with a R-30 value, just as a car getting 38mpg will be more efficient than a car getting 30mpg.
  • ALL bath fans are more efficient and a greater number are being installed in home remodels.
  • MANY paints, carpets and solvents now release fewer VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) as they “off gas”. Also, paints, carpets and solvents are now being manufactured in more environmentally-friendly ways.



Additionally, all new shower heads are more efficient and use less water. Yet, unfortunately, this improvement may bring the biggest disappointment to homeowners when they remodel a bathroom.  Most will miss their old, powerful showerheads, but the new products have eliminated the option of allowing water to come out with dramatic force. Water conservation and management are the largest, global environmental issues we face.


Another matter to consider in the practical “greening” of home remodels is how contractors handle construction waste. Many contractors now remove old cabinets, sinks and countertops that are in usable condition and donate them to not-for-profit organizations like ReStore and Community Forklift, who resell these pieces. The water and energy saved in manufacturing new items is truly significant; hence reusing large, previously owned items can make a clear environmental impact.


Green remodels and green living comes in many shades and materialize in a lot of ways. Practical, considered decisions are at the heart of all green choices, and several green outcomes will likely manifest just by undertaking a remodel and altering or replacing items in a space.


Feedback or comments? Contact us anytime at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

More Than 20 Years in NARI

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Watch this short video to learn how belonging to NARI (The National Association of The Remodeling Industry) has helped our business during the 20+ years we’ve been members and hear about the trends we see in remodeling:

YouTube: David Merrick Talks about Membership in NARI


Feedback? Comments? Reach me today at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

New Year’s Resolutions

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

I usually avoid making New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I’m against the concept, it’s just that I spend a good part of the day trying to be better than I was the day before, so daily resolutions are more my speed.

Interestingly, many homeowners that we’ve spoken with recently are resolving to make small, medium and large modifications to their homes and habits in 2012. Here are a few of their ideas to consider in the coming year:


Stay Safe: By replacing smoke detectors, adding grab bars and better lighting and fixing the damage in your homes, you’ll be protecting yourself and your family members.


Winterize Your Home: Now that cold weather has arrived, don’t put off winterizing your home. Seal up cracks and repair the weather stripping around your windows and doors and remember to cover outside faucets, bring in potted plants and drip faucets when the temperatures go below freezing. It’s also a good time to add additional insulation to your attic, which can save you money on your heating and cooling bills.

Save Energy: Resolve to turn down your thermostat this winter when you’re at work or sleeping. Better yet, replace it with a programmable thermostat that remembers to adjust the temperatures for you. Also, install energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs to help reduce your carbon footprint while you save money.


Go Green: Make an effort to start recycling and properly dispose of old electronic equipment such as televisions, computers and cell phones. Take steps to save water and repair dripping faucets and fix running toilets. Also, consider installing low-flow showerheads and replacing old water guzzling toilets with new water saving or dual-flush models. When purchasing new appliances or electronic equipment, be sure they bear the federal Energy Star seal.


Maintain Your Home: Making a resolution to change the air filter on your central system every month or two will save energy and allow your system to run more efficiently. Draining your hot water tank once a year removes any sediment buildup. Cleaning your gutters regularly is another important home maintenance project that’s easy to overlook and avoid. Neglected gutters can lead to rotting eave boards, as well as damage to basements and foundations.


Resolutions, whether daily, weekly, monthly or yearly can have a big impact on your home and your life.

We wish you happy holidays and a wonderful New Year. If you have any questions or comments, reach me today at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

The Merrick Designers and You

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

When you consider a home remodeling project, you have a lot on your mind. Not only will you be thinking about the re-design of your space, but you’ll also be focusing on your budget, material selections, time frames and a host of other things.

The Merrick Design and Build designers work with you to uncover the reasons (big and small) why your home remodel is important to you and your family. We assist you in defining your reasons for doing your remodel and the problems your remodel will solve. You’ll receive ideas on which designs will work for your space and which ones won’t. Your product and material selections will be supported through our knowledge of the “tried and true” and the new and innovative. Workflow in your space will also be resolved and designed to fit your needs. And, regarding the money questions, we will work to create the best solution at the best price. Essentially, you’ll be able to see how your design will work and then cut your budget “into a pie” and designate certain amounts of money towards certain parts of your project.

Your project’s success is our constant focus and clear goal. We invite any and all questions regarding your design, material selections, workflow and your project investment.

To learn more about the “big picture” design/build process, please click here.

Questions? Comments? Reach me today at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

Spray Foam Insulation

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

We recently invited a vendor to provide a brief training session to our staff  on spray foam insulation. We wanted clarity on the efficiency, durability and potential downsides of this type of insulation and learned about the details of open cell and closed cell foam insulation, including a few pros and cons of each.

Closed cell insulation, which has a tighter cell structure, is often used in walls to provide a barrier against air leakage. Closed cell insulation can be used in basements to protect against dampness, but may not provide a complete solution for all homes. It can also be be used in crawlspace walls and many other places. The disadvantages of the closed cell foam is that it’s denser, requires more material, and therefore, is more expensive.

Open cell insulation can be also used in many areas of the home, including roofs, because it’s vapor permeable. Hence, if your roof develops a leak, you’ll find out sooner rather than later. With closed cell foam, rook leakage could go undetected, allowing water to collect between the roof and the foam. The advantages of the open cell foam is that it’s lighter, requires less material, and therefore, is less expensive than closed cell insulation.

Both types of foam insulation show strong durability, although closed cell foam will generally last longer and provide better insulation. Additionally, there are both traditional and “green” spray foam products that may offer the right solution for your home. And, you might also consider other insulation alternatives, including denim insulation, made from post-consumer recycled denim scraps.

Like all insulation, foam comes with comes with potential downsides. On the website, we read that “Urethanes are non-toxic and only require protection for our operators during installations, but the finished product is completely safe and has no formaldehydes.”  Yet, some homeowners believe that out-gassing is possible and have reported reactions to it. If you have chemical sensitivities or worry about other hazards, it’s important to research this, and any potentially offensive materials that will be installed in your home.

As with any other service, installation plays a critical role in the success of your project. Buying good paint, but then having it applied by a non-seasoned painter will yield vastly different results than having seasoned painter do the job. Hiring a professional, licensed and competent foam insulation installer will ensure the best results.

Questions? Comments? Reach me today at (301) 946-2356 or

David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build