A Home Addition Contractor’s Perspective on Cost v. Value

As an established home addition contractor, we talk with many clients who ask us what type of addition will give them the biggest payback. To provide the answer, we need to ask a question of our own: “What type of payback do you mean – resale or lifestyle?”

If you’re thinking in terms of resale value, sources in the home addition contractor business say some types of home additions do seem to recoup more of the initial investment than others. For example, Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost v. Value Report* documents that – on average – a two-story addition seems to offer the biggest payback at resale. Master suite additions and family room additions are virtually tied in second place, followed by bathroom additions and then sun room additions.

Remember, however, that local housing prices and the demographics are the most important factors in determining which type of addition will make the most sense purely in terms of resale. As a home addition contractor in this area, for example, we see variation literally neighborhood to neighborhood. In pockets of the community popular with older couples who are downsizing, a master suite addition might bring a higher resale ROI than a two-story addition. The sooner you may be putting your home on the market, the more weight you’ll want to give to the resale value of your addition.

Still, how many of us are thinking purely about resale when we consider a home addition? Contractors like us get calls mostly for other reasons, such as a growing family needing more living space, bedrooms or bathrooms.

If you’re thinking in terms of lifestyle value, the home addition that will give you the greatest ROI is the one that solves the real issues triggering your need for more space. For example, two families might say they need more space. But for one family, the need is actually for more private space, while the other family needs more space for being together and entertaining. So, for one family the highest-ROI solution that a home addition contractor can recommend is a master suite, while the highest-ROI addition for the other home is a spacious new family room.

Both resale and lifestyle should be considered when planning a home addition. We can tell you, however, that the best ROI comes from an addition that is built to meet today’s needs while keeping your home attractive to the likeliest type of family to buy your home down the road.

*SOURCE: Hanley Wood Remodeling cost v. value report 2010-2011 http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2010/costvsvalue/national.aspx
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Kitchen Remodeling Photos Offer More than Inspiration

When you’re thinking about kitchen remodeling, photos are a great starting point for collecting ideas for what your own new kitchen might look like. In addition to inspiration, kitchen remodeling photos can also help you work with your remodeler to get the absolute best results on your own project.

For example, our website has a portfolio of kitchen remodeling photos. Going through these photos with our clients opens conversations about the type of kitchen they’re looking for and it helps us quickly get an idea of what they do and don’t like. In fact, even kitchen remodeling photos they don’t like are helpful in alerting us to particular styles, finishes or types of appliances to avoid. This can save design time and help make sure that the ideas we do present are in line with clients’ tastes and right for their particular lifestyle.

Taking the time to review a variety of kitchen remodeling photos before you finalize your choices of appliances, finishes, and fixtures can also help reduce change orders and raise satisfaction once the actual remodel begins. For instance, you may love a particular cabinet line, but when you see those same cabinets paired with a certain countertop or flooring choice, they may look heavier or “busier” than you’d imagined. So, done early in the planning of the kitchen remodeling, photos can help you get a better idea of what the actual kitchen will look like.

Finally, seeing photos of actual kitchens helps you imagine yourself in the room. Is that where you’d like your refrigerator? Is that really the height you’d like the breakfast bar or island? If the stove isn’t close to the sink, should you have a tap installed so you can fill heavy pasta pots right there on the stove?

Again, we have quite a few kitchen remodeling photos on our website. We would also be happy to show you many more photos that we have from manufacturers to help you visualize how everything will come together. The more you “look” up front, the more you’ll love the results of your kitchen remodeling. Photos really do make a difference!

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Exterior Remodeling Projects That Make a Difference (part 2)

What types of exterior remodeling projects make the biggest difference?

From adding new shutters and trim, to completely redesigning the façade, all types of exterior remodeling projects make a difference to the look of your home.  Some projects can also make a difference to how much you spend on home energy and how much time, money and effort it takes to maintain your home.  Let’s take a look at just a few of these “double duty” home exterior remodeling ideas.

Exterior surface.If you’re tired of painting siding or trim or it’s time to replace your sad vinyl siding, stone and brick can dramatically change the look of your home. Exterior remodeling materials like these last a lifetime and require very little maintenance.  If you don’t want the look of brick or stone (or the cost), new types of siding offer attractive options.  Fiber-cement siding, for instance, is guaranteed for 50 years, insects can’t bore into it, and it actually serves as an extra layer of insulation for your home — which can lower your heating and cooling costs.

Windows, Doors and Skylights.In addition to giving your home a fresh “look,” new windows can improve your home’s energy efficiency.  Plus, redesigning the way windows and skylights are placed – and even incorporating products like solar lighting tubes – can help you use natural daylight to significantly reduce your lighting bill.  Remember, however, that just buying new windows and doors won’t automatically reduce energy costs.  If they’re not properly installed as part of a professional exterior remodeling job, you can still find yourself paying to heat or cool the great outdoors.

Roofing. Having a new roof certainly improves curb appeal and pays off during a home inspection if you’re trying to sell your home.  Even if you’re not selling anytime soon, a new roof pays off in less worry during storms. While you’re at it, you may want to consider a new exterior, remodeling the roof line to add dormers, extend the roof over a patio, or create a new covered entry way. Plus, even small changes in the roof line can transform the character of your home, giving an ordinary ranch or split level the charm of a country cottage or a sleek modern profile.  Roofing materials can include anything from terra cotta tiles and slate, to cedar shakes and standard asphalt shingles.  But even if you choose shingles, today’s choices include all-new colors.  That’s important for energy costs because a hot black roof conducts heat into the home’s interior, running up your air-conditioning bill.  In fact, a cool white roof may be able to save you as much as 15% on energy costs.

Fire Resistance. You don’t need to be reminded that some of the homes in our area are in areas where wild fires occur all too often. If your home is in a danger zone, you should definitely explore with us the use of exterior remodeling materials that are designed to be fire resistant for homes in and near wild fire areas.

The bottom line is that even if you’re not thinking about selling your home, exterior remodeling can be well worth the investment – paying you back with daily enjoyment, greater functionality and – if you do it right – significant savings in energy and maintenance as well.

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Exterior Remodeling Projects That Make a Difference (part 1)

What’s the ROI on exterior remodeling?  New curb appeal, resale value, daily enjoyment, greater functionality and – if you do it right – significant savings in energy costs and maintenance as well.


Resale value isn’t the only reason to think about exterior remodeling. Curb appeal also means having an attractive, well-cared-for house that welcomes you home every day of the year. Stand in front of your home.  How welcoming is it? If it isn’t up to par, exterior remodeling can make all the difference. Best of all, whether you’re thinking of a major exterior remodeling project or small improvements, today’s new materials can help you build in lower energy costs and maintenance at the same time you’re enhancing your home’s attractiveness and eventual resale value.

Why invest in exterior remodeling?


1.       Exterior remodeling is as part of another remodeling job, such as a home addition.  Instead of just having the extra room “stuck” on, the entire exterior of the home is remodeled to integrate the new living space with the existing structure.

2.       Resale value prompts homeowners to use exterior remodeling to improve curb appeal and update the look of the home.  Adding a new entry door, for example, is a popular upgrade that continues to give homeowners a high ROI in terms of resale.

3. Repairs and replacements often lead to more extensive exterior remodeling. For example, when replacing old windows, homeowners can rethink not only the type of window, but the sizes and shapes – transforming those 1960s picture windows into French doors, Palladian arches or even Craftsman-styled windows and transforming the home’s exterior to match the new style.


4. Enjoyment is also a big factor. Homeowners may like the idea of exterior remodeling as a quick way to give their home a different look, adding a friendly front porch, covered entry or new deck and outdoor living room.


Our next post on this subject will be about the types of exterior remodeling projects that make the biggest difference.





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Bathroom remodeling: Put more “Aaaah” in the Spa

Bathroom remodeling gives homeowners the opportunity to enjoy the relaxing, rejuvenating powers of a spa right at home.  The shower is one of the most important elements in creating your spa experience.  From steam showers to multiple showerheads mounted on the ceiling to create the feeling of gentle rain, you have so many new options!  One very interesting product is KOHLER’s BodySpa.

As bathroom remodeling contractors, we appreciate the fact that this innovative shower incorporates features we love in bath tubs — the beautiful waterfall and hydro-massage from whirlpool jets.  But it sets these features vertically in a shower-like enclosure. Plus, unlike whirlpools that can take time to fill, the BodySpa offers an instant massage by using air to propel the water.

BodySpa systems are designed to include seats, jets, headrests, foot rests and lumbar supports.  These are all ergonomically designed and an electronic touch pad lets you adjust water flow intensity and direction for just the right degree of massage action.  The systems include an integral heater that helps maintain the original water temperature during the entire hydro-massage experience.   The BodySpa system is fully customizable and can be configured for an alcove or corner shower.

We have been bathroom remodeling contractors for over thirty years,  and we are pleased to be able to offer such unique and thoughtful new products.

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Handyman and maintenance services

iStock_000006799014XSmallWith the recession still upon us, many of our clients are choosing to do smaller projects than they did in the past.  Everyone has a list of small, annoying items about their home that they would like to have fixed.  Painting, drywall repair, plumbing, electrical, and heating problems, roof repair, sticky doors and windows, etc.

At Simril Design and construction, we are aware of these needs and ready to serve them.  All our employees are jacks of all trades and can take care of your “To do” lists quickly and efficiently.  And when you have a specialized job that is beyond the skill of our handyman employees, we will quickly hook you up with the proper subcontractor.

We will also be happy to perform a complimentary inspection of your home to determine if there are any unsafe or non-working items that should be repaired.  Then you can choose which of the items you would like to do now, and which can be postponed to a later date.

Our motto these days is “No job too small”.  Please call us and let us take care of your list.

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Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors

Home Interior

Who can argue with tax credits, especially when they help you improve the value of your home, make your home more comfortable, save money and energy as well?  The Federal Government is offering Energy Tax Credits good towards 30% of material costs, up to $1,500 for qualified energy efficient windows and doors. But the program is scheduled to end this year.

This is a great opportunity to upgrade your windows and doors. Many of our clients still have single pane windows. These are major sources of heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. The new windows not only are double pane, but they have “Low-E” glass, which is a metallic coating inside the window which further increases energy efficiency. Despite the double panes, the manufacturers have worked hard to insure that they keep the look and “feel” of classic windows, either with or without mullions in the glass.

You can have your choice of wood, fiberglass, aluminum or vinyl windows, depending on the style of your house and your budget. All of these windows (assuming you get aluminum or vinyl “clad” wood windows) will never need painting on the outside. Fiberglass is a great alternative to wood. It looks very much like wood, is very strong and energy efficient, and can be painted or not, as you choose. Vinyl is the lowest cost option, and will never need maintenance or painting. Of course you can get traditional wood windows and paint or stain them if you wish.

Since virtually all “replacement” windows are made to fit inside the existing window frame,  the installer does not need to demo and patch stucco and drywall,  re-apply trim, or paint, this brings the cost of window replacement down. In addition, labor prices are currently low, due to the recession, so for what you would have to pay for a slap dash window and door installation project before,  you can now get a quality installation…from say…us.

The Energy Tax Credits and lower installation labor cost will not last forever!  Besides, why wait to save on energy costs?

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The Many Shades of Green Building

greenimageMore and more people are becoming interested in green building. But most people don’t realize there are many different ways to make a home environmentally friendly, and that you don’t have to plant a windmill in your backyard to have a green home.

Here are some ways that green buildings can help the environment:

  • They use products that are made of renewable, non-toxic, non-endangered materials
  • They use materials that do not require much energy to produce
  • They use materials that provide the homeowner with a more energy-efficient home
  • The materials are recyclable or biodegradable
  • The construction method and design use less material, making the home more energy efficient or energy independent
  • The products and equipment in the home are energy efficient and do not contain or create greenhouse gases or have toxic materials in them
  • The production technique minimizes waste and the need to use landfill space any more than is absolutely necessary
  • The materials are made locally and do not require much energy to transport to the job site
  • The home/project is positioned to take maximum advantage of the sun, shade, the topology of the land, and winds in order to reduce the energy needed for heating and cooling
  • Building science and technology are used to help maximize the home’s energy efficiency

This is only a partial list of the benefits green homes can have, and, with advances in technology, new things will keep becoming possible.  For example, in the future, look for solar cell technology that will look like roofing materials and is efficient enough to provide your home with all of its electricity and even let you sell some back to the electric company.

Reposted with permission from Continuum Marketing Group LLC copyright 2009 all rights reserved.
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