A Panel of Experts

Men laying new hardwood flooring

Each year, in conjunction with our anniversary, we rebuild our editorial advisory board to guide us in giving our readers an ever-expanding base of knowledge and expertise. We recently gathered our board for 2005-2006 to talk about the issues facing the home-improvement industry as a whole.

While the members of our advisory board range from landscapers and interior designers to organizers and remodelers, they all agreed on the most important thing for us to educate and inform our readers about: setting realistic expectations.

At the root of the perception problem is the abundance of home-makeover TV shows and the shortage of accurate information about cost and time frame, the experts agreed. We see these television shows where they go in and do this project in three days and spend $1,000, but theres $47,000 worth of donated products, said kitchen and bath design expert Lee Woodall. That creates unrealistic expectations of what things cost. Theres so much that goes on [behind the scenes] that people dont realize.

Even the most practical of homeowners may not know where to start, said home inspector Keith Gipe. Sometimes the only question were asked is How much do you charge for a home inspection? People dont know the other questions that they could ask, he said.
The key to success for any home-improvement projectwhether its decluttering a room, adding a deck or redesigning a landscapeis managing the expectations of both the homeowner and the professional doing the work, added professional organizer Allison Carter. If youre remodeling, which days will be the noisiest? Which will be the messiest? Renovation expert Jesse Morado agreed homeowners need to know what questions to ask to be prepared, and he suggested we offer our readers expectation-management tools to help with the process.

With that goal in mind, we are eagerly planning new ways to help you enter into your home-improvement projects with more educational, informative and, above all, realistic articles, illustrations, checklists and guides than ever before. And were sure our expert board members will let us know how were doing!


Jesse Morado is the owner of Renovation Coach, a residential renovation-consulting firm. He is the current president of the Atlanta chapter of National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and has been a Certified Remodeler since 1994. Morado has been active within NARI as the Education Committee Chairperson for seven years. He has 28 years of remodeling, new construction and construction management experience and owned and managed his own remodeling firm in Atlanta for 10 years. A former Federal Housing Administration loan compliance inspector, he has performed seminars for lenders and real estate investors on distressed properties and rehab loan programs. He also currently sits on the construction advisory board for Gwinnett Techs construction program.


Lou Alvarado is the founder and owner of Handy Husband, an Atlanta-based company specializing in minor home repair and care services. He also is a member of the board of directors of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and serves as the chairperson of the Ethics Committee for NARI. After serving in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Aviation Electronics technician, Alvarado received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1987 from Georgia State University. He then worked as a project coordinator for Equifax before starting his own business in 1994. He also has served as a guest expert on HGTVs Room to Improve and Fix-It Up, as well as the Do-It-Yourself Networks DIY to the Rescue.


Carlene Collins has nearly two decades of experience as an appraiser and became a senior member of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) in 1991. She and partner Sally Wood run Collins & Wood appraisal firm in Newnan. Collins is certified in personal property/antiques and decorative arts appraisal, and she holds a masters in valuation from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. and a bachelors from the University of Georgia. She has served as an officer and Georgia deputy director for the Atlanta chapter of the ASA and is personal property chairman for the Atlanta chapter. She has been an avid reader and collector of antiques for more than 35 years.


Zak Campbell, who has worked in the landscaping industry for more than 20 years, is director of training and recruiting for HighGrove Partners and president of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (MALTA). While he was in high school, he began working at a garden center and taking vocational horticulture classes, and he became a member of the Future Farmers of America. He attended Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College, earning associates degrees in landscape management, golf turf management and commercial turf management. In 1990, Campbell went to work for Post Landscape Group, now HighGrove Partners, as a grounds person, working his way up through the ranks to the positions of account manager and branch manager before taking his current position there.


Mary Kay Woodworth is a DeKalb County Master Gardener and owner of Practically Gardening, a consulting business designed to troubleshoot and offer solutions to problems in the home landscape. Formerly horticulture program assistant and Master Gardener coordinator for the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service, Woodworth continues to help educate in all areas of gardening, horticulture, environmental awareness and conservation as a volunteer Master Gardener. A frequent speaker at area schools, garden clubs and civic organizations, she also has been a guest speaker at the Atlanta Garden & Patio Show, the Atlanta Home Show and the Southeastern Flower Show.


After attending interior design school in Atlanta, Muriel Sackey, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers, worked with several interior design firms before founding her own, sakInteriors. Through her firm, Sackey provides residential services including consultation, space planning, furniture selection, finish selection, lighting design, kitchen and bath design, window treatments, bedding and accessorizing. Her approach to each project is to create aesthetically appealing and functional settings that suit each clients lifestyle. What interests her most about design is the use of a special mix of colors, texture, shapes and proportion to create an interior that is detailed, serene and sophisticated.


Lee Woodall is a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer, as well as an Allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers. She currently serves as president of the Georgia/West Tennessee chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). Previously, she served as NKBA chapter representative and vice president of programs. Woodall has won numerous design awards and has been published in trade and consumer publications. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. She has been a resident of Atlanta since 1983.


Keith Gipe has more than 25 years of construction experience as a builder, remodeler and building inspector and has performed more than 1,300 home inspections in the past nine years. Gipe has been an instructor for the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors (GAHI) for four years and has jointly taught the 2000 International Residential Code to more than 800 builders. He serves on the Housing Institute board of directors and is a seminar instructor and curriculum developer for the Tim Birch Technical Academy at GAHI. In addition to being a member of GAHI, he is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a code-certified building inspector with 12 International Code Council certifications.


Allison Carter started her own organizing business, The Professional Organizer in Marietta, after working for several years as a national assignment editor for CNN. Through working with a life coach, Carter defined her values and needs for her next career. A busy mother, Carter says she emphasizes family dynamics and finding ways to organize a whole house with the entire family involved. She also has developed a home-manager filing system that has a place for everything a family needs to keep, including schoolwork, keepsakes and activity information.


The HGTV series Ground Breakers put Joe Washington on the home and garden scene five years ago. A long time do it yourselfer, Washington has parlayed knowledge gained from numerous home-improvement and landscaping projects at his own home to local home and garden trade shows. His professional background encompasses 30 years of broadcast and cable television, corporate television, narration and trade show work. He attributes his growing base of knowledge to Atlantas fine community of designers, landscapers and gardeners.


Carl Seville consults with building professionals and homeowners on sustainable building and general business issues. Seville founded the nationally recognized design/build firm SawHorse Inc., and served as its vice president for 25 years. The more than 100 industry awards Seville and SawHorse received include the Green Remodeling Project of the Year and Green Building Advocate of the Year from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), four Excellence in Design awar
s from Environmental Design and Construction magazine, and the Southface Energy Institute Award of Excellence for Environmental Stewardship. Seville chaired the committee that created the EarthCraft House Renovation program and serves on the board of the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders, the Green Building Subcommittee of the NAHB and the Green Renovation Education Committee of NARI.


Joni Alpert is one of the producers of The Clark Howard Show on WSB Radio. Since 1991, Alpert has assisted Clark Howard in dealing with all types of consumer issues. Her persistence in dealing with difficult situations has earned her the reputation of being, as Howard calls her, the pit bull of consumer problems. Alpert has had a lifelong interest in consumer issues, and she worked on getting the Lemon Law passed. Originally from New York City, Alpert has called Atlanta home for 20 years. She has a bachelors degree from City College of New York and did graduate studies at both New York University and Georgia State University. Before joining WSB, Alpert was a second-grade teacher in Cobb County and also was a behavior disorders consultant with the DeKalb County Board of Education.

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