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Reno of the Month: Reston Remodeling with Heart — Your Guide to Intention Painting

by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

You might think the remodeling industry is all about carpentry, cabinetry and chaos with not much room for fun. However, when we founded Synergy Design & Construction, we knew there was much more involved than just the sticks and bricks of the typical renovation experience.

That’s why we chose to add to go deeper with our clients to ensure we helped them create a home that was is in Alignment. Simply put, we help you better understand your connection to your home and how it influences your daily life, both at home and work.

One of the fun elements we encourage is a practice called “Intention Painting”. An intention painting is a way for you to energetically “stamp” your intentions for your new space onto the walls during the remodel.

Many of our clients participate (and make it a family affair) by writing meaningful sayings, quotes or just something playful about their family on the drywall before the space is painted. You won’t see it when the remodel is complete, but you’ll always know it’s there!

This month, rather than featuring one of our client transformations, we are sharing some holiday spirit with these real intention paintings from some our clients. So sit back, relax and feel inspired!

Download our FREE intention painting tip sheet and add some heart to your next remodel. If the warm and fuzzy stuff isn’t up your alley, you can also find out more about our approach to remodeling here, or stay in touch and sign up  to receive no-commitment design inspiration directly in your inbox!

Wishing you and your family a festive holiday season and Happy New Year 2019!

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Reston Real Estate: Selling In Reston? Start Now to be Ready for the Spring Market

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

I don’t typically hold to the notion that one time of year is better for selling your home versus another. For as long as I’ve been selling real estate, I have always had at least a couple of transactions around the winter holidays, but conventional wisdom says that there is something magical about spring.

As of this writing there are 87 days until spring. I have two listing appointments this week with sellers that want to go over what they should do to get their property ready for the spring market.

They’ll be surprised when they find there is a long list of “to do’s” to get a house ready for the market.

The first place to start is by cleaning. I don’t the mean the vacuum & dusting kind of cleaning. I mean the scrub the grout with a tooth brush kind of cleaning. I mean you do your best imitation of your crazy Aunt Saddie with the obsessive compulsive cleaning disorder kind of cleaning.

Some clients opt for hiring a cleaning crew; if you’re going to do that you should de-clutter your house before bringing in a cleaning professional. And if your “to do” list includes painting, save the professional cleaning for the last item on your list.

So what does the typical seller “to do” list look like?

  • Reduce contents of all closets by half. Stuffed closets speak to prospective buyers — they say “this house doesn’t have enough storage.” This may not be the case; maybe you’re just really bad about getting rid of the excess we all seem to accumulate.
  • Neutralize your home. Pre-pack most of your personal items like family photos, your ceramic frog collection and other things that can distract buyers from seeing the house.
  • Be prepared to put furniture and other items in storage.
  • 50% of the houses I see prior to listing need to be painted — go neutral.
  • Clean everything — every, nook, cranny, light switch cover, door jamb, door knobs, everything.
  • Do not overlook the utility areas of your home, they should be thoroughly cleaned and organized including the area around the furnace and water heater.

A super clean and orderly home says “I have been well maintained.” A clean house reduces buyer anxiety.

One of the first things I do for clients after signing a listing agreement is to drop off 100 office sized boxes to be used to de-clutter, or as we like to call it, pre-packing.

A home that is free of clutter makes room for the prospective buyer to mentally picture themselves with their own possessions in that home; which in turn helps to move the buyer from thinking to acting…writing a contract.

The more you can do to clean, organize, neutralize, paint and upgrade, the faster your home will go from being on the market to sold.

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Reno of the Month: Reston Home Design Trends that are Here to Stay

by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

Interior Design trends come and go — so how do you know which have staying power and which ones will make you say “That was so 2018” in a couple of years? Before you splurge on that remodel you’ve been thinking about, here’s my advice on how to get the look you want without going over-the-top on trends.

Kitchen Cabinets

All-white kitchen cabinets are a great example of a design trend with longevity. White cabinetry continues to be a firm favorite and is a great choice for a clean, modern look.

However, we started to see a move away from the all-white kitchen a few years ago. It started with homeowners willing to take a risk with a different colored island, or different colored/two toned cabinets. It’s a beautiful look.

More recently, we’ve seen a shift to different colored kitchens altogether. Those who want to play it safe have been choosing neutral sand colors, but some have gone all-out with blues, greens and even black accents!

You don’t have to go ultra-modern to get the look. The key to great design is respecting the aesthetic of the rest of your home so it feels cohesive.

Tile

Portuguese and Moroccan-inspired tile is everywhere right now!

A friend recently asked, “I love this look, but will I regret it in a few years?” There’s a way to do it right. If you aren’t a risk taker, then start small. Use the tile you love in a mudroom or laundry room, or use it as an accent piece behind your stove in the kitchen.

My prediction is this look is here to stay, so have fun with it!

Wallpaper

Once the staple of the family home, wallpaper got a bad reputation after the 80’s overuse with lots of busy patterns and borders. Not any more! The resurgence of wallpaper started a few years ago with statement accent walls and now it’s now back with a bang!

New wallpapers are geometric, textured and beautiful. Believe it or not, floral wallpaper is back too, but with a modern twist with large flowers that make really bold (yet tasteful) statements!

Flooring

Hardwood was the only way to go for many years. However, there’s new competition on the block and hardwood is no longer the must-have solution. Alternative flooring types bring a few benefits: some are more eco-friendly and/or are less expensive than hardwood.

Bamboo floors are a great option and look beautiful. They have similar water resistance and durability as hardwood but are more environmentally friendly because bamboo grows quickly (and therefore takes less time to replace).

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) has also made a big comeback. This is not your Grandma’s kitchen floor. The new LVT is modern, hard wearing and can look beautiful in any space in your home. You’ve probably seen this in homes and not even realized it was LVT!

With lumber tariffs having an ever-increasing impact on remodeling costs, the trend for non-hardwood floors is growing with all signs pointing to the reign of hardwood being over.

Brass Fixtures

For the last decade (and counting), brass fixtures were everywhere. Everyone was ready to leave the heady days of 1980/90s brass everywhere in the past and there was a shift to satin nickel and chrome.

Well, what was old is new again, but with an updated look. Gold brass has been given an updated look with softer shades and finishes. What’s nice about the new-look brass is that is pairs so well with the trend of mixed metals.

That’s right, not every fixture has to match any more — brass and mixed metals have been all over the design shows and magazines this year.

Is it a trend that will stick? If you do it right! But no, that doesn’t mean you get to claim your faucets from 1985 are once again trendy!

This month’s remodel features a single family home remodel in North Reston. What we loved about these wonderful clients was their desire to think outside the box with regards to cabinetry. Anything is possible: we even matched the blue cabinetry to the homeowner’s favorite blue purse!

Find out more about our approach to remodeling. Not ready to remodel and just want to keep in touch? Sign up to receive design inspiration directly in your inbox!

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Pet of the Week: Jasper

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Jasper, an Italian greyhound mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

A happier dog you just will not find — Jasper is ready to make some lucky adopter out there a terrific new best friend.

This great little fella is a nice blend of friendly affection and normal puppy playfulness and will be great company.

Are you and Jasper a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Legal Insider: Thin Line Between Social Media and Employment

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John V. Berry and Kimberly H. Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

One of the most evolving areas of employment law today is how off-duty social media use is increasingly affecting employees and their employment. One of the most common misconceptions about employee off-duty social media use is that it is somehow protected by law and cannot subject an employee to discipline. In particular, there is a belief that the First Amendment protects speech made outside of work on social media.

This isn’t the case. The First Amendment generally does not protect this type of speech for private sector employees and only rarely does for public sector employees.

Recent Examples in the News

Some recent examples of the connection between social media and employment have made the news recently. In one example, a private school administrator was placed on suspension for making inappropriate comments to Attorney Michael Avenatti on Twitter. A second example involved a Dean at Catholic University who this week was suspended for making comments about a female complainant related to the Kavanaugh U.S. Senate Supreme Court proceedings on social media.

Few Protections for Employee Use of Social Media

We have seen similar kinds of social media use issues arise in workplace termination cases far more frequently these days. The use of social media by employees is generally not protected by the First Amendment which only protects individuals from government action, not actions of private employers.

Employees can be terminated for social media speech even if it was created with their private accounts and prepared after work hours. Many companies are increasingly receiving complaints about employees who make threatening or inappropriate comments on Facebook, Twitter or other social media outlets.

As a result, many employers are then taking disciplinary action against these same employees. As the law on social media evolves we may see some protections develop where an employer takes discriminatory action for a post or violates other state and federal laws.

However, right now there is little in the way of protections for employment actions taken due to social media postings.

As easy as it is for an individual to express an inappropriate comment on social media in a moment of frustration it is just as easy for someone who sees the comment to report it to an employer.

In this evolving world of social media and employment law, it is generally a good idea for employees to understand the thin line that exists between posting on social media in a moment of frustration and an employer taking disciplinary action against them.

Conclusion

When facing employment or wrongful termination issues in Virginia it is important to obtain the advice of and representation of an attorney.  Our law firm advises and represents individuals in wrongful termination matters in Virginia and other jurisdictions. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at 703-668-0070.

Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Pet of the Week: Jack

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Jack, a retriever mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Jumping Jack is such an adorable puppy with that cute little face. At six weeks old and about 6 pounds we think that he is a retriever mix. He will most likely be a nice medium/large size guy when full grown, perhaps around 50 pounds.

This great little guy is a nice friendly affectionate puppy that loves to play and gives great puppy kisses. He can’t wait to meet his new family with whom he can grow and learn.

Are you and Jack a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Pet of the Week: Baxter

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Baxter, a domestic short hair kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Little Buddies Adoption and Humane Society have to say about him:

Baxter is a sweet boy. Enjoys being cuddled. He loves affection and is very playful.

He loves to bat toys, play with a track ball, and chase a laser light. He also loves wresting with his brother, Buster.

Baxter was about 3 months old the first part of September.

(Note: Little Buddies has adoption events every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Pet Valu in the North Point Village Shopping Center.)

Are you and Baxter a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Legal Insider: The Statement of Reasons Leading to Security Clearance Determinations

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John V. Berry and Kimberly H. Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Many individuals come to us when they receive a document referred to as a Statement of Reasons (SOR) which federal agencies issue to individuals when considering the denial of their security clearance. A SOR can be issued to federal employees or government contractors currently holding or seeking a security clearance.

What is a Statement of Reasons?

A SOR lists the factual basis for potentially denying an individual’s security clearance. The SOR will list individual security concerns and provide the individual an ability to formally respond.

Typically, a federal agency will issue the SOR to the individual following the development of a security clearance concern. Subsequently, this security concern will be reviewed by the federal agency’s security office and either be cleared or proceed formally through the clearance adjudication process.

The SOR is the key document to analyze when attempting to avoid an adverse security clearance decision. For federal employees, agencies will generally attach the SOR to a cover letter that references the agency’s intent to revoke eligibility for the employees’ security clearance and provide it directly to the employee. For government contractors, the government will typically issue the SOR through the employer’s security officer.

The following is an example of a SOR issued for a federal employee based on personal conduct:

STATEMENT OF REASONS

Guideline E, Personal Conduct: Conduct involving questionable judgment, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations can raise questions about an individual’s reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to protect classified or sensitive information. Of special interest is any failure to cooperate or provide truthful and candid answers during national security investigative or adjudicative processes.

  1. a. On September 26, 2018 after a fellow employee accused you of theft in the office you engaged in aggressive physical conduct towards him and were subsequently detained by law enforcement.
  2. On September 27, 2018 you falsely recorded the amount of hours you worked on your weekly time sheet.
  3. On October 23, 2018, you lied to investigators when you falsely stated that you worked all of the hours you claimed on your weekly time sheet on September 27, 2018.

How to Respond to a SOR

If an individual receives a SOR, the key for a potential successful defense involves being able to refute the specific factual allegations or to mitigate them. This process begins with hiring an attorney to assist the individual in their response.

In the example above, since it is often the case that mistakes are made in SOR’s or that information is outdated, the first step is to determine from the individual whether the allegations themselves are true, i.e. whether they actually engaged in physical conduct, falsely recorded hours on their time sheet and/or was truthful with investigators during the investigation.

Accordingly, if the facts turn out to be true, the next task is to find out what mitigating factors could be helpful in explaining why the person should still be granted a security clearance.

To do this, one must review the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines for potential conditions that can mitigate the corresponding security concerns. Additionally, the Whole-Person Concept provides overall mitigation factors for security clearance matters.

For instance, in the example above, after reviewing the Adjudicative Guidelines and the Whole-Person Concept, there may be an argument that the issues raised were isolated incidents and do not reflect the overall character of the person.

Similarly, it would also be helpful to understand whether the employee reported the incidents to security officials prior to their discovery. Additionally, letters of character, charitable work, prior military service and/or good work performance can often help to demonstrate mitigation.

Overall, the key to responding to the SOR is to start with the factual allegations, provide a full synopsis of all facts involving each allegation, and then review the corresponding potential mitigating factors. Taking these steps will begin the process of properly preparing an effective response to the SOR.

Conclusion

We represent federal employees and government contractors in security clearance cases. Should you need assistance in a security clearance matter, please contact us by telephone at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Many individuals come to us when they receive a document referred to as a Statement of Reasons (SOR) which federal agencies issue to individuals when considering the denial of their security clearance. An SOR can be issued to federal employees or government contractors currently holding or seeking a security clearance.

What is a Statement of Reasons?

A SOR lists the factual basis for potentially denying an individual’s security clearance. The SOR will list individual security concerns and provide the individual an ability to formally respond.

Typically, a federal agency will issue the SOR to the individual following the development of a security clearance concern. Subsequently, this security concern will be reviewed by the federal agency’s security office and either be cleared or proceed formally through the clearance adjudication process.

The SOR is the key document to analyze when attempting to avoid an adverse security clearance decision. For federal employees, agencies will generally attach the SOR to a cover letter that references the agency’s intent to revoke eligibility for the employees’ security clearance and provide it directly to the employee. For government contractors, the government will typically issue the SOR through the employer’s security officer.

The following is an example of a SOR issued for a federal employee based on personal conduct:

STATEMENT OF REASONS

Guideline E, Personal Conduct: Conduct involving questionable judgment, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations can raise questions about an individual’s reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to protect classified or sensitive information. Of special interest is any failure to cooperate or provide truthful and candid answers during national security investigative or adjudicative processes.

  1. a. On September 26, 2018 after a fellow employee accused you of theft in the office you engaged in aggressive physical conduct towards him and were subsequently detained by law enforcement.
  2. On September 27, 2018 you falsely recorded the amount of hours you worked on your weekly time sheet.
  3. On October 23, 2018, you lied to investigators when you falsely stated that you worked all of the hours you claimed on your weekly time sheet on September 27, 2018.

How to Respond to a SOR

If an individual receives a SOR, the key for a potential successful defense involves being able to refute the specific factual allegations or to mitigate them. This process begins with hiring an attorney to assist the individual in their response.

In the example above, since it is often the case that mistakes are made in SOR’s or that information is outdated, the first step is to determine from the individual whether the allegations themselves are true, i.e. whether they actually engaged in physical conduct, falsely recorded hours on their time sheet and/or was truthful with investigators during the investigation.

Accordingly, if the facts turn out to be true, the next task is to find out what mitigating factors could be helpful in explaining why the person should still be granted a security clearance.

To do this, one must review the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines for potential conditions that can mitigate the corresponding security concerns. Additionally, the Whole-Person Concept provides overall mitigation factors for security clearance matters.

For instance, in the example above, after reviewing the Adjudicative Guidelines and the Whole-Person Concept, there may be an argument that the issues raised were isolated incidents and do not reflect the overall character of the person.

Similarly, it would also be helpful to understand whether the employee reported the incidents to security officials prior to their discovery. Additionally, letters of character, charitable work, prior military service and/or good work performance can often help to demonstrate mitigation.

Overall, the key to responding to the SOR is to start with the factual allegations, provide a full synopsis of all facts involving each allegation, and then review the corresponding potential mitigating factors. Taking these steps will begin the process of properly preparing an effective response to the SOR.

Conclusion

We represent federal employees and government contractors in security clearance cases. Should you need assistance in a security clearance matter, please contact us by telephone at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Pet of the Week: Sophie

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Sophie, a labrador retriever mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about her:

Sophie is an amazingly sweet, friendly and well behaved for such young puppies.

Sophie is good in her crate, being quiet but loves visits from anybody willing to pay her a little attention. She has the cutest way of lifting her paw as if she is coyishlly waving at you!

Sophie is not a wild child, but is playful as a puppy should be. Most of all, she would like her very own home with a family to love.

Are you and Sophie a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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More Than a Job: Millennials See Work as a Way to Do Good

Young people are idealistic: That’s as true today as it was 50 years ago.

But there’s one sentiment that sets millennials apart from earlier generations — from the silent generation, the baby boomers and Generation X. They are also eminently practical. Call them “realistic idealists,” if you will, or “idealistic realists.” Either term applies.

Take their attitudes toward work. Many young baby boomers were skeptical that businesses had the inclination to make the world a better place. But today’s young people feel differently — they expect to give back through their jobs, too.

According to the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, “Many millennials feel unable to exert any meaningful influence on some of society’s biggest challenges; but in the workforce, they can feel a greater sense of control — [as] an active participant rather than a bystander.”

Businesses are responding to these attitudes — both to attract young workers and to make a difference themselves.

“Leading companies aren’t just redirecting profits by giving back to society through more traditional ‘corporate social responsibility’ tactics,” said Robert Haynie, an instructor at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. “They are figuring out how to address social and environmental issues while simultaneously advancing their business interests.”

And this mentality isn’t just limited to the business world. Before venturing into the professional world, millennials are seeking a practical way to integrate this desire to do good within their careers — without their success taking a backseat.

At Georgetown, coursework is designed to serve students who want to make money and make an impact. This approach is driven by the School’s Jesuit values, which emphasize community, social justice and service to others.

Whether you’re a millennial or a business that hires them, the landscape is changing. It’s more important now than ever that the work we do has a purpose and serves the greater good.

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Pet of the Week: Spike

Becky's Pet Care

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

This week’s Reston Pet of the Week is Spike, a terrier mix who enjoys spending time in Reston with his friend Kelli.

Here is what Kelli had to say about him:

He is a super sweet terrier mix at Lost Dog Rescue Foundation. He spends his dogventures with me in Reston and loves walking the trails and enjoying the parks.

Spike is an expert snuggler that LOVES to play fetch with a tennis ball. He enjoys a good snuggle and will keep you warm cuddling with you in bed. Don’t be surprised if he wakes you with kisses in the morning!

Spike spends the majority of his time at Lost Dog Rescue Foundation but can occasionally be found hanging out with his volunteer friend in Reston. He likes to take short walks and has proven to be excellent company while watching football.  Find out more about this handsome little man here.

Are you and Spike a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reno of the Month: Why You Won’t Get Your New Kitchen by Thanksgiving

by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

You finally decide you’re going to tackle that kitchen remodel and you want it done in time for Thanksgiving. The contractor you meet with looks thoughtful and says, “Your project is going to take 3 weeks and cost $20,000″… and then you wake up.

We’ve all seen the TV shows. Much as I love them, reality shows do a disservice to homeowners in terms of setting unrealistic expectations about what it takes to create your perfect space — both in terms of time and cost.

I had the chance to see the Property Brothers speak at an industry conference awhile back and found them not only engaging and insightful… but completely honest! One of the first things they said was “Our shows are not reality”. They went on to explain they don’t charge for their time, most of the materials are donated and a lot of the shows are shot in locations where the cost of living is vastly different from ours.

So where else does reality lie?

  • Design comes first, then construction. Thoughtful design takes time and needs to be finalized before anyone starts pulling out your cabinets.
  • We’re frequently asked, “Can’t you give me a ballpark cost?” We can certainly give you a range, but think of it as car. Want the heated seats, sunroof and rear view camera? That adds to the final cost. Until any remodeler knows if you want the high end appliances, the radiant heating or the custom cabinets, there is no way to give you an accurate cost until you’re further along in the design process.
  • You’ve finalized the design you want, now it’s time to order materials. Quality cabinetry alone can have a 6-8 week lead time. This is where many remodeling projects start to fall off the rails. Your kitchen or bathroom has been torn out, and you are suddenly told the tile you want won’t be delivered for another 4 weeks.
  • No-one should be swinging hammers in your home before they’ve finalized the design or ordered the materials. We have a saying at Synergy, “materials wait for construction, not the other way around.” The contractor you pick should be able to tell you exactly when the construction phase of your project will start and exactly when it will finish.

If any contractor comes through your front door now promising to complete your remodel by Thanksgiving, that’s great and depending on the size and scale of the project, perhaps it will. But do your homework and make sure it’s not just a tactic to get you to sign on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to be taking down your Christmas decorations and they still haven’t finished the job.

This month’s remodel features a single family home remodel in Reston. Our clients wanted to completely open up the space to create a better flow and a more cohesive space. They put their trust in us to deliver the final project on-time and on-budget and that’s exactly what we did!

Find out more about our approach to remodeling. Not ready to remodel and just want to keep in touch? Sign up to receive information directly in your inbox!

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Legal Insider: An Insight Into Reasonable Accommodations for Employees in Virginia

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John V. Berry and Kimberly H. Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Many Virginia employees have come to us to discuss the reasonable accommodation process when they develop a medical condition or disability that requires a change in their duties or other workplace adjustments. We advise and represent private, federal, state and county sector employees throughout Virginia in reasonable accommodation cases.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is an employee’s request to modify their employment conditions, assignments, hours, etc. to allow them to continue working in a position despite having a disability. Notably, the reasonable accommodation process applies to both employees and job applicants in all states, including the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Primarily, under federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which applies to most employees, encompasses and outlines reasonable accommodations. More specifically, federal employees are also covered under the Rehabilitation Act, which incorporates similar protections as the ADA.

According to these laws, employers are required to engage in the reasonable accommodation process with qualified employees unless it would create an undue hardship for them.

In Virginia, many employees are also covered under the Virginians with Disabilities Act, which applies to most employers. Under both the federal and state laws, the goal of the reasonable accommodation process is to enable employees with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy an equal opportunity in employment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides guidelines for reasonable accommodation requests.

Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation

The most typical type of reasonable accommodation involves an employee that has developed a medical condition or disability that requires some modifications or adjustments to their working arrangements.

Usually, an employee will ask for a reasonable accommodation by approaching their supervisor or human resources department, depending on the employer, and asking for one. Accordingly, a request for reasonable accommodation can be either formal or informal. For instance, depending on the employer, some have created specific forms covering reasonable accommodation requests; whereas, other employers simply involve informal verbal discussions between the employee and their immediate supervisor.

Regardless, once requested, there is usually a discussion about the reasonable accommodation requested. The discussion between an employer and employee is often called the “interactive process,” which simply means that the employer must engage the employee in attempting to resolve the reasonable accommodation request.

This process does not mean that an employer has to grant every accommodation sought (or even the specific one requested by the employee); rather, the employer is only required to make a good faith effort to accommodate a disabled employee.

There are far too many examples of reasonable accommodations to list here as they significantly vary based on an employee’s specific disability and their particular needs. However, the Job Accommodation Network provides examples of reasonable accommodations regarding specific medical conditions.

Conclusion

When an employee in the Commonwealth of Virginia needs to request a reasonable accommodation due to a medical condition, it is important to obtain legal advice and/or legal representation. Our law firm is ready to advise and represent Commonwealth of Virginia employees in the reasonable accommodation process.

Should you need assistance in this process, please contact us by telephone at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Pet of the Week: Gumbo

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Gumbo, a Terrier & Chihuahua Mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about her:

My… what big ears she has… the better to hear you with.

She is a sweet 6 month old waiting for her forever home. She is 16 pounds and not expected to be a large girl.

She will make an excellent companion. Play, run and have fun… just what she is looking for.

Are you and Gumbo a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Reston Real Estate: Golf Course Island Cluster

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

I think Golf Course Island Cluster is one of Reston’s gems. From the outside, these contemporary, cedar sided homes look small. But walk inside and it’s like one of those magic tents in Harry Potter — the space just expands. This may be one of the reason’s the community won an architectural design award when they were built in the late 60s.

There is a lot going on in Golf Course Island Cluster right now. Over the last several years, the original owners have been moving out and young families and young professionals are moving in.

As this happens, people are renovating the homes — mostly updating the kitchens. With 188 units, homes come up for sale often — some are fixer uppers, others have been freshly renovated. Whatever you are looking for, you will find it here.

The Golf Course Island townhomes come in various sizes. Most are three bedrooms, although there are a couple with two bedrooms and a few with four bedrooms and lofts.

The hallmark of all is well-designed space that flows, large closets and privacy. Yes, privacy in a town house. The cluster is designed so that every home feels private and secluded — you won’t hear your neighbors through the walls.

Much of the cluster backs Hidden Creek Country Club’s golf course, and the main living areas open to the common areas and green space. While it appears that the private golf course is likely to be redeveloped, the plans we’ve seen so far call for a 100+ acre public amenity in the form of a park and recreational facilities.

The common spaces of Golf Course Island are beautifully maintained. For the children, there is a great playground with wonderful slides in block 12 (there are 12 blocks in the cluster). The children love it.

On most nice afternoons, you will see the neighborhood families sitting on the bench while the children run around the quad in delight. For those with dogs, there are many paths through the neighborhood, and plenty of squirrels to chase.

Each townhome is assigned one carport space, and there is ample open parking for every unit to have a second car. For visitors, there is parking on Links Drive and North Shore Drive. Golf Course Island is about one mile from the Reston Metro, Reston Town Center, and Lake Anne Plaza. And there is easy access to the Reston Association pools and other recreation areas.

Prices are ranging here depending on the condition of the home, but for the most part are in the upper-400s to upper 500s. Check out this beautiful and friendly cluster.

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