5 Tips to Prevent a Stressful Remodel

Some people find that remodeling their home is fun and exciting — making big plans, dreaming about how it will look, selecting design options, picking colors and fixtures, and then watching as your house is transformed into your dream home. But  if you’re someone who finds making design and remodeling-related decisions stressful, and the thought of having people working in your home is anxiety-producing, have no fear!  Though you may have heard horror stories of remodeling projects that have gone bad, we have some tips that can get you through the process — large project or small — without waking up in a cold sweat  in the middle of the night.

1. Priorities. Start by making a list of changes you’d like in your home and then put the items in order of importance: what you must have, what you’d like to have and what you’d like but can live without.  A clear idea of your priorities and budget  helps everyone know what to expect.  We’ll design a plan for your project based on what’s most important to you, so that you’ll have NO surprises.

2. References. Talk to people who have remodeled to find out if they loved their contractor and would refer them.  Hearing someone’s personal experience  can be one of the most helpful factors in giving you a solid basis for making a decision. Think about the importance of the trust factor: learn about the contractor’s licenses, insurance, professional affiliations (such as NARI), certifications and more. We’re happy to have you talk to clients we’ve worked with in the past.

3. Design Guidance. There will be lots of decisions to make during the design and remodeling process. Getting the fine details of a design just right is important. We are always willing to provide you our expert guidance in both design and construction, even when you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or confused trying to select light fixtures or faucets. With the comfort of knowing you are getting the best advice and making the right decisions, any stress you might otherwise have can be greatly reduced — if not eliminated.

4. Communication. The ability to get questions and concerns addressed quickly during a remodeling project is extremely important and calms any fears you may have. We let you know what to expect at each step and what information we need from you. We put an emphasis on clear communications not only between our staff and you, but also among our staff members and our specialty trade contractors.

5. Type of Process:  While we are happy to work with your architect,  we generally recommend a faster, less complex process. We offer the “Design Build” remodeling process for homeowners who would like the peace of mind, simplicity and ease of working with one trusted company from concept to completion and a single company that will be responsible to solve any issues relating to the project. We believe the “Design Build” process is less stressful for most homeowners and for most types of home remodeling projects.

We know our reputation depends not only on providing you with a beautiful, well built, trouble-free project but also on making sure your remodeling experience with us is so good you are comfortable — maybe even eager — to use us in the future and recommend us to your friends.

If you would like to lessen your chance of getting stressed out by your next home remodeling effort, be sure and contact us about the project.  Don’t sweat the small stuff; let us do that for you!

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Home Remodeling: Start With What You Love About Your Home

If you’re thinking about home renovation, it’s easy to start by telling your home remodeling contractor everything you don’t like.  Now, yes, home construction should take into account fixing anything you feel is out of date, broken, or that doesn’t give you the feel or functionality you want. We understand that these things are top of mind because they’re what’s prompting you to remodel in the first place. But from a simple home remodeling project to a whole house remodel, I can tell you from years of experience as a house remodeling contractor that we find it equally important to know what you do like.

So, when you’re making your list of home remodeling priorities, don’t just list things you want to change: also list things you want to keep.  That way, we not only focus on solving problems and giving you new advantages, we also keep what you already love best about your home.

Visit our website for more information about home remodeling services in and around the Western Los Angeles area.

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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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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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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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A New Trend in Bathroom Remodeling

When you call in a bathroom remodeling contractor, you want more than just a new bathroom. You want a bathroom that looks new, too. Achieving that means doing more than just having new cabinets and fixtures. You also want a fresh look for the “footprint” of your bathroom.

Remodeling today is about opening up floor space so that rooms feel airier. In the bathroom, this trend can be seen in a variety of ways. Here are three ideas to consider for updating your own bathroom to have a more open, spa-like feel:

  • A free-standing tub. Bathroom remodeling today often means rethinking those built-in Jacuzzi tubs. Today, these big, blocky elements can look clumsy and dated. Instead, like many bathroom remodeling contractors, we have more and more clients asking for elegant free-standing tubs. These can be sculpted and ultra modern, or contemporary takes on the classic claw-footed tub. What makes the look especially fresh is having the tub “float” by placing it on an angle with space on all sides rather than flat against the bathroom wall.
  • A large, open shower. Again, many of the bathrooms we’re remodeling have a dated look because the showers are too small and blocky. Even having a glass door and a glass wall look old-fashioned today. What updates the look is going larger and with a much more open feel. Some of the extra space can often come from removing the large built-in tub as described above. Showers also include amenities like a built-in bench with walls of seamless glass (none of those outdated brass or chrome edges from the ’80s and ’90s!). Another trend is doing away with shower doors by constructing the enclosure to contain the water.
  • Cabinets and vanities that float. Today’s freshest looks for bathroom remodeling include cabinets that have legs instead of having doors go all the way to the floor. Vanities themselves sometimes have no legs at all – they are constructed as ledges without floor supports. Open shelving adds to the open feel. Vessel sinks remain popular because they also lift up the look of the bathroom instead of weighing it down.
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Kitchen Remodeling You Can Love “Forever”

One of the most interesting trends I’m seeing as a kitchen remodeling contractor is this: couples in their 40s and 50s designing kitchens today so the counters, lighting and layouts will continue to accommodate them when they’re in their 70s and 80s. Even if you don’t necessarily plan on being in your current home forever, the reasons behind this trend are solid – and worth considering as part of your own kitchen remodeling project.

For starters, the features that make the kitchen friendly to people who may have disabilities or mobility issues when they’re older also make the kitchen friendlier to the whole family today. Kitchen counters of variable heights that might one day accommodate a cook in a wheelchair, for instance, are also the perfect height for adults of different heights and for inviting children to help in the kitchen. Activities like kneading bread and chopping are also easier with counter heights of 30″ rather than the standard 36″.

Lighting is another factor to consider. The more natural light you can bring into the kitchen, the better. Aging eyes need far more light to see well, and today’s cooks can enjoy a sunshine-filled kitchen. In addition to windows, glass blocks, skylights and other sources of daylight, a forward-looking kitchen remodel should also include a variety of lighting: ambient sources for general lighting and brighter, more focused lighting for tasks.

With thoughtful design, today’s kitchen remodeling can even find elegant ways to incorporate safety features. Today, for example, the sturdy bar across the front of a sink holds kitchen towels. Down the road, it will also become a grab bar that can steady the balance while reaching down to pick up something that has fallen to the floor. Contrast is another key to safety. As our eyesight dims, it can be harder to see where the floor ends and cabinets, doorways or even stairs begin. By looking ahead now, you can use colors and textures to create strong contrasts – and extremely handsome designs as well!

Remember that today’s kitchen remodeling contractors have access to an amazing array of fixtures, finishes, products and materials. So a kitchen that’s designed for “forever” can still look stylish – and gorgeous – today.

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What’s the ROI on Exterior Remodeling?

Does lack of curb appeal or the need to replace windows or siding have you thinking about exterior remodeling? Contractors always look at both the up-front cost of the remodeling and the pay back over time. Here’s what we see:

What you’ll pay depends on the scope of the exterior remodeling you have in mind, from simply replacing and updating what you have to rethinking the entire look and configuration of your home. We’re always happy to help you explore options – including options you might not even know are possible within your budget. And, once you’ve picked specific products, finishes and materials, we can give you a very specific cost. But that’s just the starting point. You also want to see what that investment will buy you.

For starters, we always think in terms of the “daily dividend” – the everyday enjoyment you get from a home that is more beautiful and that works perfectly for your family and lifestyle. That has a value, but of course it’s hard to quantify in dollars and cents. Still, it’s a major part of the pay-back on exterior remodeling.

You can quantify other types of ROI, however.

For starters, installing new windows and energy-efficient siding can immediately begin paying you back in terms of lower heating and cooling bills. They can cut the time and expense of maintenance, too. We have a great deal of experience as exterior remodeling contractors and can share data on average energy savings associated with all types of projects, materials and building techniques. It’s worthwhile to see what those savings could be this year … and each year thereafter.

Next, consider how much today’s exterior remodeling can add to tomorrow’s resale value on home. It can be substantial. In fact, four exterior remodeling projects top the list of Remodeling Magazine‘s Cost vs. Value Report. Here’s the estimated resale value:

  1. Remodeling your front door: 102.1%
  2. Remodeling your garage/garage door: 83.9%
  3. Installing fiber-cement siding: 80%
  4. Remodeling/installing a wood deck: 72.8%

You might be surprised at how your perspective on the cost changes when you factor in the savings and eventual resale value!

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What Type of Home Addition is Right for You?

When home addition contractors ask what type of addition you’d like to build, we don’t expect you to say, “A shed two-dormer pop top.” Instead, what we’re really asking about is the functionality of the home addition you’re looking for.

Examples: Do you want to expand your entire kitchen, or just add space for a mudroom or a sunny breakfast nook? Do you want to build an all-new great room, or just loosen up the space of an existing family room? Do you just want to turn a carport into a garage, or also turn the space over the new garage into a separate wing for teenagers, guests or in-laws?

The more you can tell us about what you want the space to do, the better job we can do of mapping out initial ideas. For instance, if you tell us you want to add two bedrooms and a bath to your house, we can explore many different options to see what is the best type of home addition for you.

Second-story home additions – including attic conversions and “pop-tops” – can be a very good solution since they don’t require building a new foundation. But if you want larger rooms or more flexibility in the windows and floor plan, it might be better to build a full second-story addition.

There are also cases where “while you’re at it” thinking can reward you with major extra living space. For example, if you have a two-story home and you’re thinking of doing a first-floor kitchen/family room addition, “while you’re at it” you might want to build the addition as a two-story structure and add a spacious new master suite over the newly expanded kitchen.

We’ve been a home addition contractor for years, and in our experience the best home additions come from taking the time to get a clear focus on what kinds of spaces you’d like to add to your home, as well as the “feel” you’d like them to have in terms of windows, openness, and architectural interest. Then, from small bump-outs, porches, sunrooms, two-story additions or entire wings, we can design the most functional and the most beautiful home addition for your needs, your lot, your existing home, and your budget.

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