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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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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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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Secrets of Low-Maintenance Exterior Remodeling

Exterior remodeling is a great way to cut home maintenance time, cost and effort. In fact, a good exterior remodeling strategy can not only improve the value of your home, it can help prevent expensive repairs – and even fires. Here are a few secrets to keep in mind:

Low-Maintenance Siding

Painting is a chore. Plus, in the LA area, wooden siding raises fire concerns. Consider remodeling with brick and stone siding. Stucco is also fire-resistant and can last the lifetime of your home. Fiber cement siding looks like wood but resists insects and can last 50 years. Vinyl siding can last 40 years with an occasional hosing.

A New Slant on Roofing

Wood shingles are high-maintenance and not fire-resistant. Composite shingles are fire-resistant (rated A, B, or C, with A being the most fire-resistant). Metal is increasingly popular and can last at least 50 years. Tile and slate are durable and low-maintenance.

Windows

New windows make a big difference to a home’s exterior. Remodeling with wood windows looks good, and the new stained wood windows don’t need much work to keep them in good shape. Fiberglass, vinyl, and composite frames tend to be somewhat lower-maintenance. And, with good-quality installation and caulking, windows bought today can last 20-25 years!

Decks

Wooden decks can become hazards during LA’s wildfire season, and fire-retardant treatments won’t prevent wood from actually burning. Composites offer varying degrees of fire-resistance and give you a wood look without the fire hazard or the annual sanding, staining and sealing. Capped composites like Trex and Timbertech resist fading and stains and clean with just soap and water. PVC (like Azek) is another alternative for exterior remodeling that reduces maintenance!

Driveways

If you’re thinking about exterior remodeling, it’s an ideal time to rethink your driveway. Traditional asphalt driveways typically only last 10 years. Concrete can last up to 50 years — don’t make the surface too smooth or it will be slippery when wet. In our area, earthquakes are a consideration. A paving stone driveway won’t crack and doesn’t have to be sealed, though there will be weeds. Grass has become an eco-friendly choice — other than mowing, it’s good to go! New on the exterior remodeling scene are water-permeable solutions such as FilterPave, a glittery surface made from recycled beer bottles that lets through even more water than grass does!

The best way to create your own unique low-maintenance home is to work with an experienced exterior remodeling contractor, like us. We can suggest low-maintenance solutions for the specific chores you hate and the expenses you dread.

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Home Remodeler Tips for “Always Fresh” Kitchen Cabinets

As part of re-doing your kitchen, your home remodeler will ask you to select cabinets. There are so many styles to choose from that you won’t find it hard to zero in on cabinets that are perfect for your budget, tastes, and the configuration of your new kitchen. But a question we get a lot from our clients is this: “How do I choose cabinets that won’t look dated in a few years?”

It’s an important question. As home remodeling contractors, we can tell you that cabinets are a big portion of your kitchen remodeling budget. When you make that investment, you want to feel confident that your kitchen retains its “wow” even as styles change – and you can be sure they will! Here are two bits of advice to help you pick cabinets today that will continue to look stylish down the road.

Go with what you love. Today’s home remodeler magazines are brimming with a “new” look in kitchens where cabinets are painted or stained in everything from soft grays and greens to vibrant yellows and blues. If you love colored cabinets, then by all means go with a stained or painted finish rather than maple, cherry, oak or other wood finishes. You may, however, want to stick with softer, more neutral shades for the cabinets themselves – you can always add a punch of color by painting the walls, which is much easier to update than your cabinets.

Consider choosing a minimum of detail. We’re not talking about plain cabinets – after all, we’re home remodelers so it’s our job to give your new kitchen plenty of pizazz! But remember that the more details, the more your cabinets are locked into a particular look. For example, if you decide you want a sleeker, more modern look but have arched-paneled cabinets with elaborately carved moldings, it’s going to be a challenge to achieve the fresh new look you seek. If cabinets have less pronounced detailing, you have more options. In fact, you may be able to make over your kitchen – even take it from classic to contemporary – simply by switching out cabinet hardware and updating your countertop accessories.

Always opt for quality. When it comes to home remodeler tips for cabinets, this is the most important. That’s because nothing dates a kitchen more than cabinets that start to sag, chip, or lose their finish. For cabinets that continue to look good year after year, buy the best cabinets you can within your budget today.

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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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