Sunday, May 18, 2008

Addition in Oceanport, New Jersey

After moving into their new home, the owners wanted to add to the view of the river behind the house. Their vision was a three-plus season room. They looked into patio rooms, but were disappointed with the construction and felt the look did not blend well with their existing home.

The next move was to inquire about a traditional addition. The homeowners wanted one
design + build contractor to handle all aspects from concept to completion. Their list of concerns included matching the exterior look of their home and not interfering with the second floor terrace off the master bedroom.

Developing the 3-D
CAD layout to illustrate how the addition would tie in plus how it would look from both the inside and outside was a needed relief for the owners. We now had a design and plan in place to build their room. A gas fireplace was added to get the most use of the room and add ambiance without the expensive of extending and upgrading the existing heating and cooling systems.

The 16’ x 16’ one-story addition was designed and built with 45° clipped corners. A 9’ three-section hinged door and several windows gave the room an abundance of light and view. The elliptical top of the back center window enhances the river view. The look is similar to that of a patio room but with the substance of traditional framed
construction. The ceiling was vaulted and finished with a wainscoted look. The floor is ceramic tiled. Paver blocks were removed and reinstalled from the new room to the driveway. The exterior was finished with vinyl shakes and a dimensional roof. Those items combined with the Andersen windows and door made the room a truly natural extension of the existing home.

It was rewarding for all to have the project produced as initially designed and within
budget. The final result is extremely pleased homeowners with a beautiful room that they have used every day since completion!

FOUR More Awards for Mark of Excellence Remodeling

Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc. of West Long Branch, New Jersey is proud to announce that it has won four “Innovation in Construction Awards” from Remodeling News magazine. The exclusive winners for each category are selected amongst hundreds of annual award entries from architects, designers, builders and remodelers representing various states. Mark of Excellence Remodeling won the following categories: “Best Design and Room Addition under $100,000” for a project in Oceanport, “Best Design and Room Addition over $100,000” for a project in Sea Bright, “Best Bathroom under $30,000” for a project in Tinton Falls and “Best Marketing Program”.

Danielle Prescia, the company’s Marketing and Project Coordinator, oversees the marketing efforts and is most proud of the fact that over 50% of Mark of Excellence Remodeling business is generated through previous clients and their referrals. Certified Lead Carpenter Neal Robinson and Paul Williams were the project leaders for the winning renovations. Design Consultant Jason Parsons and Neil Parsons, VP of Sales and Marketing, created the award-winning designs for the projects.

Company President and owner
Mark T. Elia, a local resident who was raised in Oceanport and currently resides in Long Branch, is excited about the national recognition that Mark of Excellence Remodeling receives for its work throughout Monmouth County over the past 20 years. Mark, a Certified Graduate Remodeler, attests, “It is quite rewarding to help a homeowner from the initial planning stages through the final details of their home’s transformation. I am honored to be a part of the process and I especially enjoy exceeding the expectations of the clients in my own community. That is important to me since my name is on all of our signage.”

Renee Rewiski is the Editor and Publisher of Remodeling News magazine as well as the President of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Renee commented, “The Mark of Excellence Remodeling entries were extraordinary, professional and well deserving of the honors.”

Mark of Excellence Remodeling with its
award-winning projects and marketing program will be featured in the May 2008 issue of Remodeling News magazine. Contact Danielle at 800-734-3737 to receive more information and reprints when and as available.

Recent Trends in Kitchen Designs

Kitchens have always been, and continue to be, the heart of every home. Less traveling and more entertaining have made certain that dust doesn’t gather on most countertops. Also, many socio-economic factors have made household sizes grow to numbers that were last seen fifty plus years ago. While some lifestyles have come full circle, today’s kitchen does not resemble any predecessor from another period.
Kitchen renovations continue to be a common request by homeowners across the country. Hanley Wood Publications does a comprehensive annual study of remodeling projects nationally and by region. The article is printed in its Remodeling Magazine and named “Cost vs. Value”. The study reviews typical projects and the average investment amounts for a midrange and upscale options. The midrange kitchen remodel is listed to have an average national investment of $55,503. The upscale version for a 200 square foot kitchen, which includes stone countertops, cherry wood cabinets, gourmet appliances and an extensive lighting package, is valued at $109,394. Every project is individualized for each client and home, therefore pricing and options vary tremendously. While not the definitive price list, “Cost vs. Value” has served as a helpful, planning guideline for homeowners for the last twenty years.
Neil Parsons, VP of Sales and Marketing at Mark of Excellence Remodeling, has seen many remodeling requests and trends evolve through the years. Kitchen remodeling is no exception. Neil lists five items or features below that are being incorporated in today’s kitchen designs that were usually not included or even discussed as recent as ten years ago.
One item is a convection oven. Convection ovens utilize fans to force heated air across the food. The forced air breaks the thin insulating layer of air that surrounds food. This process decreases the cooking time or the temperature required for the food preparation. Convection ovens are typical the second oven in a kitchen as part of a double wall oven unit or as microwave-convection oven combination.
Beverage centers can be found free standing or built into base cabinets. Beverage centers are smaller refrigerators designed to store wine, beer and soft drinks. The more expensive units have the ability to set separate temperatures for each shelf making the multi-use beverage storage possible and enjoyable for all tastes. It cuts down on the use of the much larger main refrigerator. Sizes, features and prices will vary. The price range is typically $200 to $2,000.
If the room or area permits,
fireplaces are on the wish list of many families. Direct vent, natural gas fireplaces are the common choice. The options here are plentiful. Free standing, simulated wood-burning stoves require only a small area and are reasonably priced. Built-in units with a stone wall, hearth and a wood mantel can transform any room.
A generation ago every kitchen had a telephone on the wall with a phone book and note pad in the closest draw. Today cabinet layouts often contain a work station. A place for a chair, leg room and counter space. Yes the telephone is still there but it is usually accompanied by a personal computer, laptop or PDA, therefore the phone numbers are stored electronically or located on the internet. These work stations are a convenient place for note taking, children’s homework and home office use.
Now what room is not complete today without a television? Yes, televisions are on most
kitchen design surveys and many families want to see them included in the final plan. While placing a television in the kitchen is not completely new the difference between placing a portable unit on the counter with cords and cables dangling and having an under-cabinet unit with a flip-down flat panel screen is vast. These built-in televisions often have other media or internet capabilities. When working in the kitchen cooks can by companioned by the news, soap operas and of course the Food Network.
Mark of Excellence Remodeling has been Appreciating Homes Since 1987. The New Jersey design + build remodeling firm has been honored with several awards for its projects and business acumen. The company has been featured in various national publications throughout the years.
One of Neil Parsons’ kitchen designs, currently being built in Monmouth County, incorporates four of the five features listed above. The addition and kitchen area has been referenced to as the
“Gathering Room” from the onset of the design and development. If you would like pictures sent as the project progresses and completes send your request to or visit the website

Mark of Excellence President Appointed to Builders Committee

Mark T. Elia, CGR and President of Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc. has been appointed Vice Chairman of the Shore Builders Association of Central Jersey Remodelers in Lakewood, New Jersey. As a founding member, Mark will work closely with other remodelers and industry associates regarding business acumen, current topics and issues.
The Shore Builders Association is the local affiliate chapter of the National Association of Home Builders – Remodelers.
NAHB Remodelers represents and serves the interests of its remodeling industry members. NAHB Remodelers is committed to improved management and technical competency of remodeler members, excellence in service to the consumer, and effective government representation of remodelers' interests at the federal, state, and local levels. Working in partnership with locally-organized Remodelers Councils at more than 150 NAHB-affiliated state and local builders' associations, NAHB Remodelers provides information, certification, education, and recognition programs geared to keeping remodeler members competitive.
Mark T. Elia has gained the accreditation of CGR through continuing education programs sponsor by the NAHB. Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) is an exclusive professional designation designed to emphasize business management skills as the key to a professional remodeling operation.
Mark was raised and continues to reside in
Monmouth County, New Jersey. He is a well respected local entrepreneur and graciously gives back to the community in many ways on both business and personal levels.
Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc., located in West Long Branch, NJ, has been renovating residential homes since 1987. Its geography of service includes Monmouth and Northern Ocean Counties of New Jersey. Mark of Excellence Remodeling specializes in
design + build remodeling projects. Projects range from whole-house renovations and additions to kitchen, bathroom and exterior remodels. The company also has a Professional Handyman division for smaller projects and home maintenance. Mark of Excellence Remodeling has received many local and national awards including “Best of the Best” in Monmouth County, “Best Design + Build Addition Project” and “Best Marketing Program”. The company has been featured in Remodeling News, Design NJ and Remodeling magazines and the Asbury Park Press. Mark of Excellence Remodeling was selected to “The BIG 50” among the nation’s remodeling contractors.
More information about the National Association of Home Builders – Remodelers is available at:
More Information about Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc. is available by calling its
Product Selection Center at 800-734-3737 or through its website:

Decorator and Remodeler Will Work Together to Achieve Excellence!

Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc. is proud to announce its newest elite level Trade Partner, Ann Marie Elia, an experienced and accomplished Interior Decorator. All Mark of Excellence Remodeling clients currently rave about the attention and detail they receive from its design staff. The addition of Ann Marie Elia will provide another level of exceptional service from Monmouth County’s premier Design + Build firm. Mrs. Elia will work with Mark of Excellence Remodeling clients in conjunction with Design Consultant Jason Parsons and Neil Parsons, the VP of Sales and Marketing. Together they will continue to produce award-winning renovation projects.

Ann Marie Elia (aka Annie), owner of The FarmHouse on Broadway, practices what she preaches when it comes to Interior Decorating. Visit the FarmHouse on Broadway and you’ll see why. She is a gifted Interior Decorator with 15 years of experience, who can work with any budget and style for your home whether it is one room or the entire house. Besides residential Interior Decorating, Annie also specializes in Real Estate Home Staging for homeowners who are serious about selling their homes.

Annie offers a variety of
Interior Decorating services such as color consultations, floor plans (furniture arrangement), window treatments, kitchen and bath design, living and dining rooms, furniture, master suites, children’s rooms, nurseries, finished basements, outdoor spaces and accessory shopping to help pull a space or room together tailored to any budget.

Homeowners have numerous challenges and questions at the onset of any project. Sometimes the biggest problem is not knowing what to ask or who to turn to for answers. How does an experienced
Interior Decorator save you money? Have you invested both your time and money into a decorating project in your home only to end up less then thrilled with the results? Did you know that 40% of all paint sold is a result of incorrect color choice? Have you bought beautiful furniture only to realize it was too big or too small for the room? Wondering if you should knock that wall down between the kitchen and family room to make one large room? These are all valuable decisions that Annie can help make to save a client both time and money.

Ann Marie resides in Monmouth County with her
husband and two dogs. She is active in the community. She enjoys movies, books and vacationing in St. John. Ann Marie work is her true passion, making Monmouth County more appealing one home at a time.

Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc., located in West Long Branch, NJ, has been renovating residential homes since 1987. Its geography of service includes Monmouth and Northern Ocean Counties of New Jersey. Mark of Excellence Remodeling specializes in
design + build remodeling projects. Projects range from whole-house renovations and additions to kitchen, bathroom and exterior remodels. The company also has a Professional Handyman division for smaller projects and home maintenance. Mark of Excellence Remodeling has received many local and national awards including “Best of the Best” in Monmouth County, “Best Design + Build Addition Project” and “Best Marketing Program”. The company has been featured in Remodeling News, Design NJ and Remodeling magazines and the Asbury Park Press. Mark of Excellence Remodeling was selected to “The BIG 50” among the nation’s remodeling contractors.

More Information about Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc. is available by calling its product Selection Center at 800-734-3737 or through its website:

Ann Marie can be contacted directly by calling 732-263-1124 or email or visit the website:


Family lifestyles have changed dramatically in New Jersey over the past five to ten years. The changes are a product of several factors and occurrences during that period, some positive, some negative. The metamorphosis can be seen in how families live, the make-up of their homes and their recreation choices. The end result is multiple generations living under one roof, in the same home. This cocooning effect has been dubbed by some as “Nuclear Nesting”. One contributing factor has been the rapid rise in real estate values, which greatly outpaces the rise in household income. Home affordability is in question for a large portion of the New Jersey population. Add to the fact that people are living much longer than ever before due to medical advances, which is wonderful. However, at the same time, the cost of health insurance and nursing care are constantly rising so this has become a great financial burden to many.

These issues are prompting many families to add space to their homes. This space usually consists of a bedroom, closet space and a
bathroom, but can also include a kitchen, sitting room and/or an exercise room. In the past, this type of an addition was often referred to as an “in-law suite”. Today these suites are being constructed for more than just parents. They are being utilized by grown children who cannot afford a home of their own. Also, many existing owners want their own retreat, separate from the main living space. Since these suite additions have become more popular and the uses more diverse, the staff at Mark of Excellence Remodeling, Inc. in West Long Branch, Monmouth County, NJ, has coined the term “Lifestyle Suites”. They have even gone so far as to create standard design layouts and package pricing – “traditional”, “upscale” and “luxury”.

These suites are designed to satisfy a family’s individual requirement, but the additional space maintains its value as an overall investment, especially when it comes to re-sale. Many prospective home buyers have similar needs and are looking for the same solutions in their own living space. Trained and certified remodelers and
designers, like those at Mark of Excellence Remodeling, look to add “Universal Design” elements to these projects. These items can include wider doorways and easier-access fixtures and appliances. If applied correctly to the design, the finished look is appealing to all as well as useful to a much broader group.

Having three generations or extended family living in one household is not something new. This was not uncommon in the United States 50-plus years ago. While society and the economy are different today, this lifestyle does hold a few advantages. The percentage of households in which both parents work full-time increases year after year. Having family at home to help with the children helps financially and tends to be beneficial for all. Most will agree that having family together, more often, has a positive impact especially with children.

The September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and ensuing threats have kept many families from traveling and vacationing as frequently as they once did. This has created more time spent in and around the home as well as more entertaining of friends and family. Families feel more comfortable and secure at home with their loved ones. This expanded use of the home has created more demand for extra room and non-traditional space. Outdoor kitchens,
media rooms, home gyms, game rooms and lounges are some of the project requests that have been on the rise recently. The New York Times has invented the word “Insperience” – the art of staying home and not being bored. This new term can be found in many of the Times’ articles in its lifestyle section.

The planning and preparation elements of these projects have also changed. “Ten years ago clients simply asked for a 300 square foot family
room addition”, states Neil Parsons, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Mark of Excellence Remodeling. “Today, additional space will have a pre-planned concept and the initial designs integrate furniture placement, media components and decorative elements. Computer-aided design and three dimensional virtual tours help us and the client put the project together efficiently well before the construction begins. Long gone are the days of a two-dimensional floor plan on graph paper.” This process is crux the Mark of Excellence design + build remodeling process the company refers to as the “Path to Excellence.”

Whether people embrace or reject these lifestyles, there is little debate that they will be a part of many New Jersey homes and family lifestyles for some time to come.