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Celebrate the Summer Season at Exo Apartments’ First Annual Pool Party

Join Exo Apartments on Wednesday, August 22nd from 4-7 p.m. and dive into summer.

Enjoy summer sips from local brewery Lake Ann Brew House. Snack on fresh baked pretzels and local food truck bites. Explore all that Exo has to offer, and snag summer essential giveaways along the way.

DJ Alkimist will be supplying the sounds of summer while you relax poolside. Swimsuits not required, but highly recommended. Grab your free ticket to the first annual pool party here!

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Reno of the Month: Why Do Renovations Go Wrong?

Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

Have you ever wondered why renovations go wrong? Here are some of the most common complaints we hear from homeowners:

  • The contractor said the work would be completed by the end of June. It’s August and there’s STILL no end in sight.
  • The estimate they provided at the start of the project bears no resemblance to what it’s actually costing me.
  • Why am I the one driving the project and making all the design decisions?
  • There seems to be an endless stream of people in my home but I’m not sure who’s actually in charge!

Does any of this sound familiar?

Most complaints are the result of remodelers not having a clear pathway and strong synergy between the design and construction phases of a project. They’re all too eager to get started and give you a ballpark estimate with no reality around allowances for your design choices, the complexity of your remodel or they have no project plan in place to get you to your end game.

No one wants a “I wasn’t expecting that!” moment in the middle of a remodel which inevitably adds time and cost to your project.

That’s why we created the Renovation Roadmap™ as our way to help you navigate the remodeling process. Think of our proprietary system as your ticket to an exceptional remodeling experience. We take care of every step of the process from plans and designs to providing exact costs and a detailed timeline for quality construction.

Why is this important? It eliminates change orders, unexpected bills, delays, frustration and — most importantly — it allows you to have some fun along the way!

Our Reno of the Month features a kitchen remodel in Fairfax Station. Our clients had a poor experience with a previous remodeler and had been searching for another partner to work with for 4 years!

Friends and family said there was no way we could finish on time (having not had that experience with remodels themselves) and our client took great delight in walking everyone through the completed spaces ON TIME!

Why was our client so happy? Because they felt completely taken care of from start to finish.

Learn why our approach works and sign up to receive our free Renovation Roadmap™ brochure!

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Legal Insider: Self-Reporting Duty for Security Clearance Holders

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

By John V. Berry, Esq.

We represent and defend security clearance holders and applicants in security clearance investigations and appeals. One of the lessor understood aspects of holding a security clearance is the continuing duty of a government contractor or federal employee to self-report new security issues which arise.

The federal government is slowly moving towards a system of continuous evaluation for security clearance holders, but there is still a duty for a clearance holder to self-report significant security concerns that arise between investigations.

This is often a misunderstood issue. Many government contractors and federal employees understandably do not want to essentially report themselves for new issues that arise and either don’t think about reporting new issues that arise or report them in the context of later filling out a new SF-86 or e-QIP application during the next background investigation.

It is very important to understand when issues should be reported and to do so promptly in many cases.

Types of Reportable Security Concerns

There are many potential types of security concerns that should be reported to the government contractor’s / federal employee’s security office. Each federal agency that issues security clearances offers their own guidance, which can vary, but remain mostly the same.

Some issues are harder to evaluate than others when it comes to deciding whether or not to self-report them, which is why counsel is often needed. Some examples of security concerns that may need to be reported as soon as possible include:

  1. An arrest (DUI, assault, any type of criminal issue, etc)
  2. Marriage to a citizen of another country
  3. Excessive unpaid debts (or bankruptcy)
  4. Certain civil lawsuits
  5. Use of illegal drugs
  6. Contact by a foreign country
  7. A wide variety of other security concerns (too many to list)

Results of Reporting a Security Concern

The first step in self-reporting a security issue is for the individual to notify their security officer. Documentation may be needed from the security office and/or an interview may then be needed.

As a result of self-reporting, a contractor or federal employee may need to deal with ramifications of a clearance review or investigation. That is not always the case and many incidents are noted simply for the security file and nothing else occurs. However, not reporting a security issue, when it is required, can create a greater likelihood that the individual will lose their security clearance because they will have to deal with both the underlying issue and also the fact that they have not reported the incident previously.

In many cases, self-reporting can be viewed as a mitigating factor in the clearance adjudication process.

Conclusion

When facing security clearance or employment issues it can be important to have the assistance and advice of counsel. If you need assistance with a clearance or employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation.

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

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Reston Real Estate: Remember “Cost of Ownership” When Buying a Home

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.

Originally published November 30, 2013

Question: “I’m a first time buyer. I’ve been looking (online) at townhouses and condos in the Reston area.

It seems like I can buy more if I get a townhouse because there won’t be any condo fees. My father says that the condo fees pay for things that I’ll have to pay for eventually.

What do you think?”

Answer: I think your Father is a pretty smart guy. Let’s look at the question from a different perspective. For most things we own there is something called the “cost of ownership” which means simply it costs money to maintain things.

Cars need maintenance. Pets need to go to the vet. Some clothes can only be dry cleaned.

It is the same with property. It requires maintenance and repair and to maintain its value.

Hopefully part of your plan to purchase a property includes understanding what it will cost to keep it in good repair.

When you purchase a condo some parts of the property maintenance are the responsibility of the condominium association. Your condo fees include a contribution to both the day-to-day operations and something called the reserve and replacement fund.

The reserve and replacement fund is where the money for things like a new roof, replacement flooring in commonly shared hallways, maintenance of parking lots, garages and all the other things that the condo owners share in common.

What that includes will vary from condo to condo but it typically includes the entire exterior except for windows and doors.

When considering the purchase of a condo it is important to look at the condo’s financials and audit report to confirm that the reserve fund is large enough to cover anticipated repairs; an under funded reserve account is a future special assessment.

A special assessment occurs when something breaks and there’s not enough money for the repair — the condo association then has to collect extra money from the members to make the repair.

So, the short answer to your question is that your dad is right. If you buy a townhouse you’ll have to take charge of saving to replace your roof, your water heater, your furnace, etc. In a condo some of that will be saved for you through the payment of your condo fee, but you’ll want to make sure that the condo association is well run and in good financial shape.

Follow this link to a more detailed blog post about understanding condo fees.

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Legal Insider: Employment Investigations in the Workplace

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

By John V. Berry, Esq.

We have represented both employees and employers in connection with employment investigations. This article talks about the issues involved when an employer conducts an investigation in the workplace. Employers conduct workplace investigations into employee complaints generally because they can face legal consequences if they do not do so.

As an example, if an individual alleges sex harassment or discrimination at work and the claims are not investigated, an employer can be more readily held liable by employees. The same type of investigation is necessary when dealing with claims of whistleblowing or other alleged inappropriate conduct at work.

What Happens During a Workplace Investigation

Usually, in most employment investigations, the employer will usually hire an outside law firm (or occasionally use internal counsel) to conduct an employment investigation and will act as the investigator.

Once the investigator is appointed, they will start their investigation. Keep in mind that the employer’s goal in these investigations is to minimize liability for the employer.

While an investigator may find an individual employee at fault, the investigator ultimately wants to find and document that no fault on the part of an employer occurred.

The following steps usually take place in an employer investigation:

  1. The investigator reviews the complaint and plans for a thorough investigation;
  2. The investigator interviews the complainant or complainants;
  3. The investigator interviews the employees with knowledge of the issues in the complaint;
  4. The investigator interviews the accused employee or employees;
  5. The investigator conducts follow-up interviews of any witnesses as needed;
  6. The investigator reviews any relevant documentation, emails or other evidence involving the complaint;
  7. The investigator issues a final report with recommendations to an employer.

Results of Workplace Investigation

Once the employer’s investigation is over, the results can vary. A report is usually prepared, along with recommendations on actions to be potentially taken.

The investigation can result in the termination or other discipline for an accused employee. The investigation can also vindicate the accused employee.

An employer must be careful in avoiding retaliation against a complaining employee, even when their complaint is found to not be justified.

Each investigation is different, and different employers vary in how they handle workplace investigations. The proper handling of an employment investigation can protect employees in the workplace and also reduce employer liability.

Conclusion

If an employee or employer needs assistance with an employment investigation or other issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at our website to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or connect with us on Twitter.

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Reston Real Estate: Is Condo Living Right For You?

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’ve lived on Lake Anne Plaza for about 16 years now. Rick and I originally purchased our first condo, a 1 bedroom in the high rise, to help out one of our kids who needed a stable place to live while struggling with the transition into fully launched adulthood.

As we painted and prepared the condo for our daughter we were smitten with the property. Later, as we watched the community embrace and support and care about our daughter, our infatuation grew and we knew we’d found a place where we wanted to connect.

It wasn’t long before we sold our single family home and moved into a townhouse in Washington Plaza Cluster — a few years after that we moved into a large condo in the high rise on Lake Anne Plaza.

Throughout our time on Lake Anne we’ve been active in the community. I served for years on the condo board, the landscaping committee, ran the Saturday Craft Market and was active in the Merchant’s Committee. Rick has served on the condo board of directors for the past 10 years.

Whenever I work with clients that are considering condo living I try to explain the unique environment that is created when people live in such close proximity to one another. It puts a little more demand on one’s ability to interact with others in a civil manner.

It’s not that there aren’t all kinds of disagreements and even out and out feelings of hostility — but to give in to those ignoble feelings has much deeper consequences when one lives in community. It’s hard to pass someone in the hall way that you’ve publicly demonized; it divides and tears down the community.

I used to joke that living in the Lake Anne Village Center has taught me a lot about forgiveness — because when you live this close to people your only real choice is to forgive them — otherwise at the end of your first year or so you’d have to lock yourself in your condo.

I think often of hearing Bob Simon saying he wished everyone knew “how nice it was to live in close contact with your fellow humans.” I don’t think Bob was being saccharine when he said that — he was a realist about people’s short-comings, but he understood the great richness that living in community brings into one’s own life; certainly for me a great gift.

Current Market Conditions in Reston

  • 203 Active Listings
  • 139 Pending Listings
  • 144 Sold in the past 30 days

Average Days on Market = 31

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Legal Insider: Tips for Social Media and Employment

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

By John V. Berry, Esq.

For the last few years, we have been advising employees on the proper use of social media in connection with their employment. Social media is one of the most unique and changing areas of employment law today. This article provides some basic tips for employees and a summary of their current rights in Virginia.

Social Media Tips — Things to Avoid

  1. Friends & Supervisors: Avoid (where possible) becoming friends or connected with supervisors (and sometimes co-workers). It has often been the case that we have had employees face discipline resulting from Tweets, Facebook or Instagram posts that even well-meaning individuals forward to the employer. For instance, we have seen posts ridiculing a supervisor eventually make it to the supervisor. It tends to create an atmosphere ripe for retaliation and discipline.
  2. Avoid Workplace Criticism: Avoid mentioning problems or other issues that arise at work. We have usually found that even a well-meaning friend can pass on information to a supervisor or company official that can lead to discipline or, at minimum, a less comfortable work environment.
  3. Don’t Discuss Company Clients or Projects: Avoid mentioning clients or other work specific information from your employer in your social media posts. Sometimes these clients get word of the post, see it online, or it makes the news. As a result, the employer often then takes disciplinary action against the employee.
  4. Avoid Social Media During Work Hours: While this may or may not be feasible for everyone, it is a good idea to avoid social media posting while at work. We have seen employees written up for social media posting during work hours or when using employer computers. In some cases, employers have argued, where social media posts include the time and date posted, that they have not been working their duties while getting paid.

Social Media Employee Protections in Virginia

Some states have begun to legislate initial protections for social media accounts held by employees. This is the case in Virginia. While the relatively new law in Virginia doesn’t protect an employee from the content that they post online, it offers some protection for employees. Specifically, it bars employers from demanding or requiring access to an employee’s social media information as part of their employment.

Virginia Code § 40.1-28.7:5 protects employees from employers (1) requesting their sign on information to media accounts; and (2) requiring an employee to add a company manager or representative as a friend or contact on the social media account. I suspect that we are only at the initial stages of the laws that will define employee social media protections in the workplace with more to come.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that not all companies take offense to social media posting and can have lax policies. The best idea is to find out company policy from the employer as early as possible. When facing employment issues it can be important to have the assistance and advice of counsel.

If you need assistance with an employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook page.

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Reno of the Month: Who is in Your Home?

Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

Many homeowners make assumptions about the general contractor or remodeling firm they pick for their remodel. You get a great first impression from the initial sales meeting, but, odds are those aren’t the same people who’ll actually be in your home doing the work every day.

Carpenters and construction crews will be in your life, around your kids and overseeing your investment each day of the project, so don’t forget to ask questions during the selection of a remodeling partner about the people actually doing the work:

  • Are your carpenters in-house employees or subcontractors?
  • Do I have a dedicated lead for my project?
  • What training or certifications do workers have?
  • What standards will the staff follow while they’re in my home?
  • Who will have access to keys while work is being completed?

So much of a home remodel depends on labor, so it’s important you’re comfortable with the field expertise of your team.

While all of our carpenters are in-house team members, and one will be assigned a specifically oversee your project’s quality, safety and security protocols, not every company operates that way.

It takes a lot of trust to invite people into your home and we don’t take that lightly. Although many of our clients live in the home while we’re remodeling, others schedule their remodel while they’re out-of-town, or even relocating from outside of the area!

Regardless of who you choose to remodel your home, the point is to go beyond the initial sales call and find out who will actually be doing the work and overseeing your project.

Our Reno of the Month features a client who was living in Massachusetts during both the design and construction phases of their project.

We took all the necessary measures to ensure we delivered a perfect renovation while respecting safety and cleanliness, leaving nothing behind but a gorgeous, transformed home. Their neighbor even commented, “Thanks again for the neighborly way the crew handled everything. It’s really like we never knew you were there!”

Want to learn more about our team? Find out Who We Are!

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Legal Insider: Severance Agreements

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

By Kimberly H. Berry, Esq.

Severance agreements are agreements that compensate an employee in exchange for their departure from an employment position.

Most employees are considered “at will,” which means they can resign and/or be terminated at any time. When employment ends, an employer may offer a severance package to an employee in exchange for the employee’s waiver of right to sue.

However, employers, in the absence of an employment contract, generally have no obligation to provide employees severance pay. If severance pay is offered, an employer will offer the employee a Severance Agreement.

Severance Agreements

A Severance Agreement is a contract between an employee and an employer that specifies the terms of an employment termination. Severance Agreements are also offered to employees who are laid off or facing retirement.

In addition, depending on the circumstances, a Severance Agreement may be offered to an employee who resigns or is terminated. The Severance Agreement must have consideration — i.e., something of value to which the employee is not already entitled.

Employers are usually required to provide an employee time to consider the Severance Agreement before signing. An employee typically has a 21-day consideration period to accept an employer’s Severance Agreement unless the employee is over 40 years of age.

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) requires that an employer provide employees over 40 years of age with a 45-day consideration period and at least a 7-day revocation period.

There are various ways that Severance Agreements are used:

  • An employee is terminated and the employer then offers a Severance Agreement;
  • An employee has been terminated, no Severance Agreement was proposed by the employer but the employee approaches the employer seeking one; or
  • An employee wants to resign and seeks to negotiate severance.

Some of the issues to consider in a Settlement Agreement may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Financial terms
  • Tax consequences and timing of severance payments
  • Confidentiality
  • Continuation of employment benefits
  • Rights to unemployment compensation
  • Release of Claims
  • Non-Disparagement
  • Re-employment possibilities
  • Scope of non-competition
  • Preservation of trade secrets
  • References
  • Recommendation letters
  • Applicable law
  • Consequences of violating the Severance Agreement

Severance Agreements often include a General Release (Waiver) that stipulates the employee cannot sue his or her employer for wrongful termination or attempt to seek unemployment benefits.

Before an employee signs a Severance Agreement, he or she should consult with an attorney to discuss the rights that he or she may be waiving and the terms of the Severance Agreement.

Conclusion

When facing a severance agreement it can be important to have the assistance and advice of counsel. If you need assistance with such an agreement or other employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook page.

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Reston Real Estate: Road to Less

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.

Last week I wrote about what drives a move. It’s rarely as simple as “I want a different house” and almost always “I want or am being driven into a different life.”

I think that one of my strengths as an agent has been to listen carefully for the driving cause of a home move and to be sensitive to the other issues associated with that cause. One of my favorite kinds of clients are the downsizers, or empty nesters. It can be such a great time of life — but one that can be fraught with a potent mix of excitement and nostalgia.

I remember the day my husband Rick and I knew it was time to give up our single family home on Buttermilk Lane. It was the fall; we were bagging up our 100th plus bag of leaves on a cold blustery November day and I thought, “Wow, I am so over this.”

Our youngest daughter had left that August for Georgia Tech so we were rattling around in our house, forever shouting to one another from the upstairs to the downstairs. It wasn’t a huge house but it was so much more than we needed and more importantly so much more than we wanted to maintain.

It seemed every weekend was dedicated to house maintenance or other related management. We were both seriously over it!

Our downsizing journey started on that cold afternoon in November. We made a side stop in a lovely townhouse overlooking the Van Gogh Bridge and ultimately landed in our perfectly sized Lake Anne condo. The townhouse was ultimately still too large and too vertical but was probably a necessary step for us in the transition process.

At the time that we decided to sell our Buttermilk Lane house I was not a real estate agent so we engaged an agent with good understanding of the Reston market and scheduled a walk-through of our home to discuss what needed to be done to get it ready to sell.

Our place was in pretty good shape — we had a few things to do but the vast majority of our effort was in purging the house of the accumulation of 15+ years’ worth of junk.

I was shocked at how long this step took. We started in November and were listed about 12 weeks later and it took every bit of those 12 weeks to get it ready.

In the end we had less junk, less to take care, less to worry about and lots more time. We also moved into a great community where a snowy day becomes a reason to host a casual pot-luck. Not a bad exchange.

Here are a few great downsizing options.

Open to different kinds of houses but want a great walkable community? Check out these great options.

Want a more urban experience with tons of dining options? Check out these Town Center options.

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Legal Insider: Future Employment Laws Hopefully Coming to Virginia

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

By John V. Berry, Esq.

A number of states serve as laboratories for new employment laws that eventually make it to the Commonwealth of Virginia and other jurisdictions.

As we go through 2018, there are a number of new employment laws and bills that have been proposed or enacted by different states to improve employment conditions for employees. It should be interesting to see which ones eventually get enacted by Virginia or other counties and municipalities.

Here is a sampling of 5 new state employment laws in various jurisdictions:

1. Parental Leave: California has enacted a new law (SB 63) which requires businesses with at least 20 employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid and job protected family leave for employees to bond with a new baby, an adoptee or for a foster care placement. The law would also prohibit an employer from refusing to pay for regular health care costs during the period of family leave.

2. Employer and Salary Information: California has enacted (AB 168), a new law which would prohibits an employer from seeking the salary history information of an applicant or relying upon the applicant’s salary history information as a factor in hiring or in setting an appropriate salary. Connecticut has passed a similar law (PA 18-8)

3. Social Media Information Protection Law: Vermont has enacted a new social medial privacy law (21 V.S.A. § 4951) which prohibits employers from requesting or requiring an employee to turn over their social media account information or to allow employer access to their social media accounts.

Virginia has been ahead of many states in these types of protections, enacting their own version of social media protection for employees (Virginia Code § 40.1-28.7:5). The new Vermont law has more enforcement mechanisms than the Virginia law should an employee be affected.

4. Ban the Box — Prior Criminal Conviction History: California has enacted a new law (AB 1008) which prohibits employers with more than 5 employees from asking applicants about criminal convictions on employment applications or at any time prior to receiving a conditional offer of employment.

After an offer has been extended, the employer may deny employment based on prior convictions, but must provide the applicant due process before a final decision is made. The new law also prohibits employers from considering or disseminating information about prior arrests not leading to convictions when conducting background checks.

5. Sexual Harassment/Domestic Violence Leave: California (AB-2366), New York and a number of other states have put forth bills that would give or enhance the ability of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to use leave or receive accommodations from employers without being subject to retaliation.

Conclusion

When facing employment issues it can be important to have the assistance and advice of counsel.

If you need assistance with an employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook page.

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Reston Real Estate: It’s Not Just About the Houses

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.

One of the biggest surprises of being in real estate was realizing how little the work turns out to be about houses, and how much more it is about walking with people as they navigate different life transitions.

I love the HGTV real estate shows where the real estate agent shows a buyer 3 homes and voila, they pick a house, write a contract, move in and the next time you see them they’re at a house warming party — all this in 30 minutes.

As is often the case with realty TV, it’s not very real.

In real life people are dealing with all kinds of events that are driving them from one place to another place. Some are happy, some are sad, some are speculative, but it is mostly about life changes, marriage, births, deaths, retiring, divorcing, new jobs and lost jobs.

Sometimes it’s about more than one thing, a new marriage and a new job.

Change is almost always hard for people; we are rarely at our best when we’re moving through transitions. Real estate agents spend a lot of time with people who aren’t at their best, but they might be more real than if you had met them at a cocktail party.

It’s one of the things I like about my job, the connection that is made if only for a short while.

Here are the Reston numbers. There are currently 227 fully active properties on the market in Reston. We have 172 pending properties which leaves us with a little less than two months inventory. The Condo market is sluggish with days on market longer than other types of property. Pricing continues to be critical no matter what type of property you’re trying to sell.

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Reno of the Month: Busy Person’s Guide to Choosing a Remodeling Contractor

Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

It’s summertime and the last thing on your mind is hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year.

It seemed like a great idea at the time when you committed, but now you have 24 people coming, it’s already June and you need to get going on your remodel.

If you don’t have time to remember to defrost something for dinner, how are you supposed to find time to pick a contractor who suits your project, fits your family’s crazy schedule and — equally as important — your budget?

If you’re already feeling swamped and overwhelmed, understanding and then aligning your renovation needs to the type of service a particular contractor provides is a HUGE time-saver.

There are many ways to renovate, so knowing what you need is the first step. Which one of these scenarios best describes you?

  • You like a good DIY project on the weekend, but you know this one is above your level of expertise. If it doesn’t involve major design or architectural changes, it could be an easy ‘add’ for you to manage the little details of working with a handyman and coordinate with other trades for your project
  • You’ve done a lot of remodeling before and you feel pretty savvy about what it takes to project manage a remodel. You love making design and material selections and don’t mind ordering materials yourself. In this case, you may find it easiest to work with a general contractor who will focus mainly on install and execution of your vision
  • Your plate is full and you just don’t know where to start. Although you love design (HGTV is your go-to channel), you’re not confident on how to pull everything together and are afraid of making a mistake. When it comes to construction, you don’t want to be coordinating anything! In your case, a full-service design-build firm will guide you through your project from design all the way through to construction, do all the heavy lifting as well as project manage it along the way

Our featured renovation was for a client who fell into the 3rd category. They needed a whole home remodel for an active family with 2 teenagers who wanted spacious, bright, stylish but functional design that matched their busy lifestyle.

Knowing they didn’t have the design vision or time to project manage such a large remodel themselves, they quickly came to realize a design-build approach was the way to go.

The entire remodel was done while the family lived in the home.

Their new Kitchen is now the “heart of the home” and includes a stunning 9-foot plus island with rich blue cabinets and a White Himalaya polished granite countertop.

The new Mudroom/Laundry space has built-in cubbies for storage and even includes a tech-charging station.

The Master Bathroom is now a spa-like sanctuary, with a beautiful tiled shower and relaxing soaking tub. Additionally, a hall bath, guest bath and powder room were transformed into bright, modern spaces.

You can see more before and after projects on our website and learn how we help homeowners throughout Northern Virginia Renovate Happy!

Not sure which remodeling approach is right for you? download our free “Ways to Renovate” guide to help get you started!

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Legal Insider: Workers in the Gig Economy Start to Get Employment Rights

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

By John V. Berry, Esq.

A substantial portion of the workforce has flocked to new types of employment, such as working for Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, TaskRabbit and others.

These employees have largely been classified by employers as contractors, instead of regular employees, to avoid paying their employment taxes and providing benefits. However, this may be starting to change with a recent decision from California.

“Gig” or “New economy” workers, such as drivers for popular driving services like Uber and Lyft, appear to be seeing a shift in their employment status under a new decision from the Supreme Court of California.

The case will make it significantly more difficult for companies in California to classify these drivers as independent contractors and avoid paying them wages and benefits as required by state law and may start a trend in other states, like Virginia.

Court Issues ABC Test

The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of workers for a document delivery service company, called Dynamex Operations West, who were seeking employment status.

The drivers for the delivery service brought their case to court several years ago, arguing that they were required to wear the company’s uniform and display its logo, while providing their own vehicles and incurring all the costs associated with the deliveries.

In the Dynamex case, the court instituted what it called the ABC test to determine whether workers should be considered employees or contractors using new and specific criteria.The new test presumes individuals are employees unless the company proves the following three criteria used to classify the individual as an independent contractor:

  • The worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact;
  • The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
  • The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.

It is believed that this decision will have a significant impact on companies that use independent contractors, such as Uber/Lyft, Amazon, Instacart, GrubHub and TaskRabbit. Notably, the decision could require such employers to apply this “ABC test” to their drivers and couriers, representing a change in the regular tests that typically apply to these types of employers.

Some other state courts have also begun adopting this new ABC test to determine employee status in light of changes to the types of employment in the new economy.

Conclusion

When facing employment issues it is important to have the assistance and advice of counsel. If you need assistance with an employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook page.

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Reston Real Estate: The Walking Trails of Reston

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.

It was a really cold Spring. After last night’s crazy storm, it might not feel fully safe to venture out, but the good weather is upon us. It’s time to get outside.

I’m super excited about the outdoor season this year. On March 1 I had total hip replacement and am feeling stronger than I have in the past two years — so I’m excited to talk about the walking trails of Reston.

Reston Association maintains 55 miles of foot paths that cover every neighborhood in Reston, and they are a wonderful community asset. Even in Winter RA does a fantastic job of plowing the paths so you can still use them.

Fairfax County has a wonderful interactive map of all the paths so that you can plan your route before you head out. Wandering the RA paths is one of the best ways to get to know both North and South Reston. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite walks about town — but don’t stop with these.

Town Center to Lake Anne, North Reston

This walk is just shy of 1.5 miles and winds through a few of North Reston’s original neighborhoods — Coleson Cluster and Hickory Woods (I have a great house for sale in Coleson — check it out here).

It’s fun to have brunch at Town Center than wander down to Lake Anne to shop at the farmer’s market (starting in early May through November).

Lake Thoreau Loop, South Reston

This loop is just over 2 miles and circles around charming Lake Thoreau (where I guarantee you’ll decide you want to live) and past the Reston Regional Golf Course. Begin and end your loop at South Lakes Village with a coffee or delicious lunch.

Walker Nature Education Center and Glade, South Reston

There are many options for a walk from here. From the Center, follow the trailhead and see where it takes you! There is a short loop (probably a half mile), or you can venture off on the RA path that follows Glade. Whatever you choose, you will feel like you are miles from civilization. It’s a wonderful place to recharge.

North Point Loop, North Reston

This is a 4 mile loop for those who want a little more exercise. This trail is great because it really gives you a sense of the North Point community. I recommend starting at Lake Newport pool.

These trails take you through several charming neighborhoods, and you’ll notice an abundance of RA pools and tennis courts (in fact, if you do this in the summer, pop into one of the pools for a refreshing dip). After your brisk walk, cross the street over to North Point Village for coffee, ice cream or a hearty lunch!

Tall Oaks to Lake Fairfax Park, North Reston

I’m not entirely sure how long this walk is, but the park loop takes about a half hour — longer if you’re with a dog who needs to investigate all the great smells.

Park at Tall Oaks Village Center, cross under the underpass and head toward the wooden bridge. When you hit a dirt trailhead, take a left and follow the trail into Lake Fairfax Park. You’ll cross a little creek and then the path opens to what is a large loop. Go left or right and just follow it around.

It’s a gorgeous walk in the woods! Just be careful — mountain bikers train here. They’re very courteous, but they’re also usually going pretty fast!

The trails of Reston are, in my opinion, one of the greatest features of our community. You really can get anywhere you need or want to go on foot, and it’s always fun to discover a new trail and see where it takes you. I’m most often on the trails around Lake Anne — wave if you see me!

Photo by Charlotte Geary

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