Author Archives: Dave Jovin

The Cost to Finish a Basement

Many homes sit with unfinished or partially finished basements. As homeowners, finishing your basement may seem like a daunting (and costly) task.

The inevitable question of cost will almost certainly warrant an “it depends” response. Well, it does depend, on a number of factors, including:

  • The square footage of your basement (measure to be exact)
  • Will you have a bathroom? If so, full or half bath? Any specific features, such as a certain tile? Luxury shower or tub?
  • Do you need an escape hatch or egress window? Is there a way out of the basement besides the stairs leading down to it? If not, you’ll need to invest in this.
  • What type of flooring do you want?

It’s important to keep in mind what goes into remodeling a basement, much like any other addition to your home. There’s flooring, dry wall, trim & doors, framing, and painting. This doesn’t even take into account the bathroom remodel.

You also need to factor in the cost of electrical work and audio installation (for a home theater), which is a must if you want that man cave you’ve always dreamed of.

This breakdown isn’t meant to discourage anyone from a basement remodeling project. In fact, as a home owner you can save money by completing several of the tasks on your own.

If you’d like to learn more about the cost to remodel your basement talk to Greyhound General today. Just fill out the form here or call 800-568-7108.

Keeping Your Yard & Home Safe From Fires


With the recent wildfires that broke out in the San Diego area over the past couple weeks now is an opportune time to discuss how you can protect your yard and home from fires. You may never be able to fully protect your home, but taking these simple steps in the Fall & Spring will keep your home safer:

1) Get rid of all dead leaves: clean out your gutters at least twice a year (Fall & Spring) and make sure you rake up all dead grass and leaves. Dead, dry leaves can fuel a fire so make sure they’re picked up off the ground (or in a compost bin).

2) Trim trees and shrubs: it’s wise to create a “fire free” zone at least 30 feet from your home. Make sure all trees are trimmed, especially those near your home and chimney. Also, try to keep bushes and shrubs away from trees to a potential fire from jumping easily.

3) Use backyard fires cautiously: this is a no-brainer, but worth mentioning. You should use fire pits the are on top of non-flammable surfaces, such as stone patios. Make sure you adequately put out your fires and dispose of ashes in a metal container.

4) Plant fire-resistant plants: not only are agave and other succulents great drought-resistant plants to landscape your yard with, they’re also fire-resistant because of all the water stored inside them. Stay away from plants or trees that contain resin or sap as these are typically very flammable.

5) Be wary of where you store fuels: It’s wise to store all propane, gas, pain and solvents in proper containers at least 30 feet from your home. A dry, cool shed works best for storing fuel so take inventory of where you’re storing these items (including saturated rags).

By taking these five steps your yard will more sufficiently protect your home from a potential fire. It goes without saying that keeping matches and lighters away from children will help keep you safe as well. Keeping a fire extinguisher or two in your home and/or garage is also a good idea.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can improve your home’s landscaping, as well as protect it from droughts and fires, talk to Greyhound General today. Just leave us a note here or call 800-568-7108.

Beautiful Backyard Remodel in Carlsbad

Greyhound’s latest project was a backyard transformation for a home in Carlsbad. The design was done by Laura Wireman of Innerspace Designs, and Greyhound provided the actual building plans, permits and engineering.

Some of the projects highlights are:

  • steel pavilion
  • palapa: powder coated steel with “Hardi siding”
  • landscaping
  • landscape lighting
  • fireplace: using natural gas
  • spa

The palapa weighed 1,900 lbs and the support bolder was over one ton, so that in itself made the project a little more challenging. You can see this incredible transformation here:

Special thanks to our sub-contractors and designers, including the aforementioned Laura Wireman; PoolSpecs of San Diego, who constructed the spa; and National Quarries in San Marcos, who provided the granite and did an incredible job on the BBQ countertop, the round palapa bar top, and supporting bolder.

If you’d like to learn more about remodeling your backyard then leave Greyhound a message here, or call us at 800-568-7108.


Drought-Resistant Landscaping

Right now in San Diego county we are being “asked” to conserve 20% of our water usage. In many areas of the state it is mandatory, and without a “miracle” we will be next.

In February, the federal government cut off all the water to Central Valley farmers being supplied water from the delta. We are somewhat protected down here because most of our water comes from the Colorado river, BUT the snow-pack in Colorado and Wyoming is way below normal so we will soon be in trouble down here as well. Regardless, our water rates are going up 20-30%.

In Valley Center, our water bill was around $450 per month the first year we moved up here, and that was to water two small lawns and some trees. Now, with the cactus and no lawn, our water bills last summer were less than $85 per month. As you can see, our cactus project will pay for itself in 3-5 years. Once established (4-6 months), you don’t have to water any of the cactus in the video at all. They survive on the meager rainfall we get and morning fog.

If you’d like to save money on your water bill by using less water talk to Greyhound General today. Just fill out the form here or call 800-568-7108.

Beautiful Kitchen & Bath Remodel in Scripps Ranch

One of Greyhound’s most recent projects was a kitchen and bathroom remodel in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego.

Here are some of the kitchen remodel highlights:

  • new cabinets go all the way up to the 9’ ceiling line for additional storage
  • very modern, sleek and minimalist kitchen look & feel, which is becoming more popular in San Diego

scripps ranch bathroom remodel

Here are some of the bathroom remodel highlights:

  • concrete shower and floor
  • ¾” thick glass counter tops lit thru the edges with LED strip lighting
  • Ipe wood bench that appears to have no visible means of support underneath (used a stainless steel angle iron bracket which we attached to the studs). Welded to that bracket were 1-1/4” stainless steel all thread that was drilled thru the individual Ipe boards at the spacer blocks. The bench actually goes through the glass shower wall (the glass was notched out for the bench)
  • the vanities also are “floating” and are supported by brackets coming out of the wall (no legs)

scripps ranch kitchen remodel

If you’d like to learn more about updating or upgrading your kitchen or bathroom talk to Greyhound General today. We serve the greater San Diego are, and we’d be happy to come out and give you a free estimate. Just fill out the form here or call 800-568-7108.

Remodel vs Buy a New Home

San Diego kitchen remodelingIf you’re lucky enough to live in San Diego you know how important location is. If you’re happy about where you live but not happy with your living space you might want to consider some upgrades that don’t involve moving.

Before we address some solutions to common space concerns, I’ll highlight the benefits of remodeling vs buying a new home. First of all, real estate prices are on the rise, especially in San Diego. According to real estate agent John Ranco, the previous president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, “remodeling away your house’s shortcomings can cost tens of thousands less than trading up to an already remodeled house, which commands a major premium now.”

Keep in mind that when you move you also have realtor fees and moving expenses. Plus, let’s be honest, no matter how “ready” your new home is, there will always be things you’ll want to modify to really make it yours.

Here are a few solutions to common spacing problems:

1) No first floor bathroom: This is a problem in many pre-war homes, and an inconvenience for guests (especially elder guests). However, if you have a large coat closet, pantry or under-stair area you might be able to add a half bathroom. You really only need about 15-16 square feet. The key here is to work with existing space, if possible, and utilize existing plumbing by building next to, above, or below the laundry room, kitchen, or another bathroom.

2) Small master “suite”: Does you master bedroom leave much to be desired. No walk-in closet of bathroom? Can you barely fit in that king size bed? Consider taking an existing bedroom. While you can certainly save money by knocking down a wall connecting the two bedroom (vs building out or up), this option can really vary in price depending on how extravagant you go with the bathroom. Also, be aware of how many bedrooms your neighbors have, as you don’t want to drop below the neighborhood average, or you could take a hit on your home’s value.

3) Too few bedrooms: So you’ve just combined two rooms into one huge master suite, or you have an unexpected new guest joining the family…what to do? Look up, as in the attic. First of all, you save by not building out, which requires adjustments to the foundation. Secondly, bedrooms do not require plumbing or other expensive appliances. That said, attic remodels can get pricey. You need to have a permanent staircase, and you typically need about 70 square feet of finished space at least 7 feet high. Talk to Greyhound about the latest code requirements.

4) Kitchen too small: This problem, combined with the kitchen simply being outdated, are two of the most common complaints. The simple solution? Knock down a wall. The first place to look is the wall between your kitchen and dining room, or any adjoining room. If you’d like to keep the dining room or living room “as is” consider a small kitchen addition.

These are just a few of the more common spacing problems we run into. Each home is unique and requires unique solutions based on your budget. If you’re considering remodeling your home talk to Greyhound General today. Check out our 5 star reviews on Yelp, or our video collection of beautiful San Diego remodeling projects. we’d be happy to provide a custom quote for you.

To learn more just fill out the form here or call 800-568-7108.

Stunning Mission Hills Home Remodel

Greyhound General’s latest work is an amazing home remodel of a early 1920’s home in Mission Hills. The house, despite it’s beautiful view of the San Diego bay, had very little work done to it since it was constructed.

The project involved:

  • stripping the house to the studs
  • pushing out the lower floor by 10′ to enlarge the master bedroom and bathroom
  • relocating most of the interior rooms of the house (including the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms)
  • extensive engineering (beams on the roof) was required to eliminate many of the walls on the second floor. This created one large open room for the living room and kitchen
  • pushed out the living room on the second floor to make it larger
  • added extremely high-quality bath and kitchen accessories, including cantina doors, wine grotto in the original part of the basement, exterior deck with glass rails, new windows and more!

As you’ll see by the following video, our description of the work doesn’t quite do it justice. Just see for yourself this amazing transformation:

Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Home

San Diego Summer home maintenance tipsUnlike many parts of the country that experience harsh weather in the Winter and Spring, San Diegans have it mild year round. This helps keep home maintenance work from piling up. That said, it’s still a good idea to examine a few areas of your home as the weather heats up and we head into Summer.

1) Keep Cool: If you have AC, remember to replace your air filters every 30-60 days, or whatever the manufacturer recommends. You may even consider replacing them more frequently if you have pets or allergies. Also, if you’re looking to cut down on your energy bills consider installing ceiling fans.

2) Clean the Gutters: This one is self-explanatory. If you’ve let leaves and debris build up in your gutters over the past few months (or since last Fall) you need to clear them out or you risk water damage. Also consider installing a wire mesh cover for your gutters to keep larger debris out.

3) Clean the Dryer Vent: We’re not talking about the lint trap. Use a vent cleaning brush kit or vacuum to clean out the dryer vent tubing. You simply need to disconnect the tube from the wall and remove all the trapped lint.

4) Watch the Paint: Examine the paint on the exterior of your home, particularly the sides that get the most sun. Is it cracking, bubbling or peeling? You’ll want to get that taken care of so you don’t risk exposing bare wood to the elements. Just scrape/sand, prime and then paint over these areas. Also examine for mold or mildew. That can be cleaned by power washing with a mild detergent.

5) Examine Your Deck: Look for curling, cracked or rotting wood. Any boards that fit that bill will need to be replaced. Also consider re-sealing your deck every year, whether it gets a lot of sun or not. Sunlight can fade or dry the wood and shade can lead to algae and fungus spore growth. Simply power wash, remove the old seal, sand, and re-seal (after removing the dust from sanding).

These are just a handful of tips for keeping your home safe and beautiful during the Summer here in San Diego. For more information about beautifying your home through a remodel leave Greyhound a message here, or call us directly at 800-568-7108.

Installing a Tile Backsplash

kitchen-remodel-tile-backsplash-san-diegoThere are many subtle things you can do to enhance your kitchen without spending thousands of dollars. We’ve given some tips for saving money on a kitchen remodel in the past, but in this article we’ll focus on one specific approach: installing a tile backsplash.

1) Prep the Area: start by turning off power to all appliances and removing face plates. Remove your range and install a temporary ledger. Then you’ll want to prep the surface area by roughing up the paint or prime any dark paint with a sealer-primer. You’ll then want to determine the how many sheets you need by finding the focal-point, measuring your tile sheets & marking where they should be cut, and noting appropriate position on the wall.

2) Mix & Apply: Start by mixing the thinset and then applying it with a v-notch trowel and leveling it with the notched side. Then smooth the notches. After that you’ll want to press the first sheet of tiles to the wall along the centerline. Make sure that you work from the bottom up. One tip for keeping the tiles even as you apply them is to gently hammer them down using a block. This will keep them even. Then wait 15-30 minutes for the tile to start to set.

3) Touch Up: Lightly wet the paper face with a damp sponge over about 5 to 10 minutes. This will cause water to absorb into the paper, releasing the glue. Then we’ll remove the paper face. Remember to keep your hands damp during this removal, so the adhesive doesn’t stick to them. Lastly, you’ll want to fill in tiles around receptacles and other obstacles. If you have to cut tiles for this work make sure you use two-wheel glass snippers. Once all the tiles are installed, let them sit for 48 hours, then clean them with a sponge and remove thinset.

4) Finishing Up: Start by grouting the area with pre-mixed grout. Then wet the tile with a sponge and use an epoxy grout float to push the grout into the joints. To remove any excess grout just pull the float across the tile diagonally. Then with a lightly dampened sponge clean the tiles. Lastly, you’ll want to caulk the edges and let the wall cure for several hours. Then you’re free to remove the ledger and re-install the range and appliances.

We’ve obviously simplified the process a bit, and we don’t recommend you take on this type of project without doing some more research. That said, this is one cost effective way to upgrade your kitchen. If you’re looking to compare do-it-yourself work to the cost of a full kitchen remodel then consider San Diego kitchen remodeling contractor Greyhound General. Give us a call at 800-568-7108 or fill out a form here to request your free consultation!