Exterior Remodeling: Curb Appeal That Can Curb Energy Bills, Too!

Whether you live in a newer home or an older home, exterior remodeling can make a big difference in the way your home looks and feels – and in your energy bills, too. If your renovation plans include updating the exterior of your home, we can suggest ways to upgrade energy performance at the same time.

Energy savings “on the side.” If you’re just changing your home’s siding as part of your exterior remodeling project, one proven contractor secret is to add rigid-foam sheathing under replacement siding, installing insulated siding. This makes a big difference in keeping air from leaking out of your home and improving the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.

Insulated siding has rigid foam insulation fused behind the exterior surface of the siding panel. This reduces energy costs year-round. As contractors, we like these materials because they’re low-maintenance for homeowners. And, on the design side, many forms of insulated siding have the look and texture of real wood.

Windows and Doors: Your Opening to Energy Savings. If exterior remodeling includes replacing windows and doors, you have a wonderful opportunity to choose the latest energy-saving products. High-performance windows provide warmer interior surfaces during the winter and cooler interior surfaces during the summer, so your home always feels just right. Today’s exterior doors often fit better and are better insulated compared to older-style doors.

Installation is critical to how well your doors and windows will perform energy-wise. We’re one of the best contractors in this area and we stay fully up to date on energy-saving techniques that not only tackle heat loss around frames, but optimize the energy-efficiency of the exterior walls surrounding the windows and doors.

The bottom line is that exterior remodeling does more than make your home beautiful — it can make it beautifully energy-efficient, too!

Visit our website to learn more about our exterior remodeling services!

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Home Additions: What’s In, What’s Out

Instead of putting their homes on the marketing, many homeowners are staying put. But staying put doesn’t mean homeowners want to stay stuck with a home that’s too small. This is why home additions are “in” and contractors like us are being asked to come up with fresh new ways not only to create new space, but to use the addition to enhance the entire home’s style and livability.

With that in mind, here are a few “ins and outs” to consider if you’re planning a home addition:

OUT: Additions with built-in desks and lots of bookcases.
IN: Flexible “nooks” for laptops, iPads and flatscreens.

Today’s technology takes up less space! Plus, we’re wireless so we don’t need a fixed “station” to do our work, surf the Web, listen to music or look up recipes. As a result, the kinds of desks and built-in bookcases that were priorities in home and kitchen additions just a few years ago aren’t at the top of the list today. Instead, the trend is toward creating flexible spaces. In the kitchen for instance, we might design in space for a flatscreen monitor cooks can pull up recipes from the computer and have them displayed right at eye level as they cook.

OUT: Kitchen additions with heavy wall cabinetry.
IN: Windows … and big storage closets.

The trend is to make kitchen additions look less “storage heavy” and more like the other living spaces of the home, with plenty of wall space for artwork. But when you take away cabinets, you take away storage. So, an important feature in kitchen additions is to have contractors find space elsewhere in the layout to include really large closets or even storage rooms that can handle everything from kitchenware “overflow” to warehouse-sized packages of household staples.

OUT: Additions with fewer walls.
IN: Open floor plans and natural light.

Homeowners today want to bring the outdoors in! That’s why many home additions for which we’re doing serving as general contractor are going light on walls in favor of more windows. Even bathroom additions are including larger windows. Interior walls are coming out in favor of a more seamless integration of kitchen and living spaces. Where walls are needed, we might use glass to keep natural light flowing throughout the addition.

Visit our website to learn more about our home addition services!

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Bathroom Remodeling: Picking the Right Faucet

Have things gotten a little out of date and worn in your bathroom? Remodeling can do more than update the way your bathroom looks: it can also improve the way it functions. Faucets, for example, are an important element and it’s important to consider more than just “eye appeal.” As bathroom contractors, we consider a variety of factors to help our clients choose a faucet that’s perfect for their newly remodeled bathrooms. Here are some of the things to look at:

Handle Style. Faucets come in both single- and dual-handle models. Single-handle models allow you to adjust the water flow and temperature with just one hand. Faucets with two handles generally provide more design flexibility and more precise temperature adjustment. Handle styles can vary dramatically in shape or design, and on some faucets, handles can be switched out according your bathroom remodeling design.

Finish. The finish and color of the faucet should coordinate with the décor of your remodeled bathroom. While chrome remains popular, other choices include nickel, stainless steel, enamel-coated colors, ceramic, pewter, gold, platinum and bronze. You can also choose between brushed or polished finishes. Remember that brushed finishes show fingerprints a little less!

Spout Style. The style of the spout should be determined by the size of the bathroom sink. While larger spouts have design impact, you may find that a more compact, lower-profile spout will make it easier to wash your face or hands.

Faucet Construction. The reliability and durability of a bathroom faucet is determined by its valve quality. As all bathroom remodeling contractors will tell you, the best faucets have solid brass, brass-based metal or corrosion-resistant workings. Compression-valve faucets are very reliable and can be maintenance-free. And remember, installing a high quality, name brand faucet now, can be less expensive than buying a cheaper model and having to replace it sooner.

Scald Protection. Anti-scald features include safety devices that restrict how far a hot water handle can be turned, valves that balance the hot or cold water pressure, and thermostats that maintain a pre-selected water temperature. Like most experienced bathroom contractors, we advise clients to consider this a “must” when remodeling a bathroom that will be used by children or older adults.

Hands-free. Hands-free electronic faucets are becoming increasingly popular from a convenience and energy-savings point of view. They use motion detection to turn on and off. Again, this is a “plus” in a children’s bathroom or in remodeling a bath for anyone with arthritis or mobility issues.

Visit our website to learn more about our bathroom remodeling services!

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Great Products for Your Bathroom Remodel

When you’re planning your bathroom renovation, take some time to explore new products being offered. Some may surprise you and some could be just the thing to create that spa-like feeling you’re after.

As a bathroom remodeling contractor, I get a chance to attend the home shows and see what types of products are being offered. I wanted to share just a few that I feel can really make a difference in the way your bathroom looks, feels and functions for years to come. Maybe they’re not all for you, but you may well find some ideas you love!

  1. Heated floors. Imagine never stepping onto an icy-cold floor in the bathroom! Remodeling that includes electric or radiant heating keeps even those tiles nice and warm.
  2. Mirror defoggers. Installing a new mirror as part of your bathroom remodel? Include a defogger that automatically warms the mirror so it stays clear, even through hot, steamy showers.
  3. Mirrors that tilt. As a bathroom remodeler, I especially loves ideas that make one bathroom work for everyone in the family. Tilting mirrors do just that — kids may not even need stools to see themselves, and no more stooping or standing on tiptoe for tall or short adults.
  4. New shower systems. From rainfall showerheads to multi-jet shower systems, make sure your bathroom remodel takes full advantage of the great products on the market. Those rainfall showerheads, for example, offer a soothing, gentle downpour while multi-jet systems can also offer high-pressure flow to massage achy muscles.
  5. Hands-free faucets. Motion-activated faucets are a great way to save water and save elbow grease when it comes to cleaning the bathroom. Renovation that includes these fixtures rewards you for years – kids won’t accidentally leave the water running, teeth brushing won’t waste water, and you can rinse your hands without getting shaving cream, soap or hair dye on the faucet. Delta also has a nice line of faucets you can touch anywhere on the spout or handle with your wrist or forearm to start and stop the flow of water.
  6. High-arc spouts. For a pedestal tub or a sink in the bathroom, remodeling with high-arc faucets can create real visual impact. The high arc also makes it easier to wash your face without bending so far down over the bathroom sink. They’re an especially good choice for above-counter sinks. Finishes we like include the always-popular chrome plus satin nickel, bronze and even brushed gold.
  7. Towel warmers. We know people who wouldn’t be without these! As part of bathroom remodeling, we can include warmer bars or drawers just like they have in spas. The drawers are great for warming bathrobes and slippers, too.

Visit our site to find more information about our bathroom remodeling services!

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Could a Home Addition Hurt Resale Value?

Fact is, not all home additions are created equal. Whether you’re doing a room addition or a multi-story addition, the way it’s documented, designed and built at the start will affect your enjoyment of the addition and your home’s resale value as well. That’s why it’s so important to work with a reputable home addition contractor who will get things right for you, right from the start. Let’s take a look at what getting home additions right means.

  1. Get permits and build to code. Even if you’re just adding on one room, addition contractors must be scrupulous about pulling the proper codes for everything from construction to electrical and plumbing. If the zoning in a neighborhood does not permit certain things – like adding a full second kitchen to the property or keeping a multi-story addition to a certain height, you want your contractor to abide by the zoning and build to code. If you don’t do this, you can run into problems with resale. Plus, you could even find yourself having to tear down your brand new addition if neighbors complain or county inspectors find your home addition contractor failed to pull the right permits or keep to code.
  2. Pay attention to the integrity of both design and construction. As a home addition contractor, we’ve often advised clients that the way they want an addition to function may be so unique to their family or tastes that it may become an issue if they ever want to sell the home. It’s best for resale and, usually, for day-to-living in the home, if a room addition is smoothly integrated with the look and flow of the home’s other spaces. Also, you want to work with a room addition contractor who pays attention to construction details. A few years from now, you don’t want to be looking at a cracked foundation or cracks in the interior walls that signal unstable construction. You want the home addition to be well-planned and well-constructed so you’re not dealing with constant repairs – or a home inspection that finds deal-breaker problems with the addition.
  3. Integrate the room addition for curb appeal. It’s very important that your addition look like the rest of your house. It will definitely affect resale if you overpower a one-level home by adding an out-of-scale multi-story addition to one side. We also see homes that sit and sit on the market because someone has simply “stuck” a small, plain one-room addition onto an existing home without making any effort to integrate the rooflines, design elements, or to exterior materials that don’t match or even relate to the existing home’s exterior.

Visit our site to find more information about our home addition services!

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How to Do a “Back to Basics” Kitchen Remodel

Like many kitchen remodeling contractors, we’re seeing a back-to-basics trend with kitchen renovations. Now, basics doesn’t mean bare bones, Far from it. Homeowners still want a beautiful kitchen with luxurious extras, but they want kitchen remodeling to focus on functionality and personal style rather than on a “statement” kitchen remodel that features high-end everything and ornate flourishes everywhere.

Here are a few examples:

Streamlined cabinets and shelving. Cabinets make or break the look of your kitchen renovation. Even if you’re committed to repurposing as many elements as possible, chances are you’ll still want to make new cabinets part of your kitchen remodel because it can be surprisingly costly to repair, refinish and repaint existing cabinets. Open shelves are an increasingly popular option that can also save considerable money. The shelving itself can be anything from sturdy wood to elegant glass. In terms of style, even homeowners who prefer traditional style to a more contemporary feel are leaning toward sleeker cabinets without a lot of embellishments.

Something simpler. Granite countertops continue to be the standard for upscale kitchen remodeling, but more homeowners are telling kitchen contractors that polished granite countertops are too “showy” and too predictable. Quartz (Zodiaq, Silestone, Caesarstone) offers the look of stone, but without the maintenance of granite. The cost, however, is about the same as granite. Beautiful countertops also can be created from eco-friendly recycled glass and cement. As to hardware, kitchen remodelers often specify prefer cabinets without pulls. Where pulls do show, they’re simple and chrome is often chosen instead of the more expensive brushed nickel finish.

New flooring choices. I’ve been a kitchen remodeling contractor for a while, and it’s interesting to see more homeowners asking about wood flooring for the kitchen rather than tile which has been popular for so many years. I think wood is popular for two reasons: it helps unify the kitchen remodel with the surrounding spaces in an open floor plan and it adds a warm element to a kitchen design to balance very sleek cabinets, lighting and counters.

Visit our site to find more information about our kitchen remodeling services!

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New Concepts for Home Remodeling

No matter how much you’re planning to spend on a home remodel, taking a look at high-end “concept homes” is a great starting point. Sure, the house remodeling contractors have been given sizeable budgets to approach these home renovations. But the creativity of each home – construction, layout, design and products – can spark ideas that we can translate for your own budget. The secret is looking not just at the high-end execution, but at the smart thinking behind each of the design elements you love. Let’s take a look at what you can discover from a concept home.

As a home remodeler, we’ve seen many clients want to do a major remodel when the kids leave home. We felt the recent BUILDER 2012 “Gen X” home was filled with great ideas not just for empty nesters, but for families that include kids – and perhaps even elderly parents. Plus, the ideas can be scaled for new home construction down to simple home remodeling projects. Here are some examples.

Double-purpose spaces. The house remodeling contractor for the BUILDER 2012 home did a great job of building a courtyard that doubles as an impressive entryway and as a spacious outdoor seating area. Even if you don’t have the space or the budget for the fountain, fireplace and other amenities in the concept courtyard, renovations can still create a private entryway that’s perfect for welcoming you home and for outdoor entertaining.

Simple yet elegant details. The interior doors in the concept home remodel the traditional six panel door into a more clean and contemporary look by using handsome molding to frame the smooth surface of the door. The takeaway might not be the actual door, but what it represents for your home – renovation that emphasizes sleeker, simpler design.

Exterior textures. The stone veneer on the concept home resembles saw-cut limestone. Even if you don’t like this particular material or think the look is wrong for our own area, the takeaway is that if you’re doing a major remodel, let us do our job as your house remodeling contractor and help you explore all the new materials and possibilities that exist for creating a distinctive look for your home.

Construction that blurs indoor-outdoor boundaries. On the Gen X home, we loved the 90-degree seamless corner window. It takes that open floor plan and literally opens it out to the exterior living spaces. Even if your home remodel won’t involve something as dramatic as the concept home’s large, floor-to-ceiling glass corner, we can find way for bringing the outside in – on any budget.

So don’t “pre-compromise!” Go ahead and look at all the upscale concept homes you can. Bring us the ideas you like and we’ll use our years of experience as a home remodeling contractor to translate them into beautiful spaces and cool new features for your own dream home.

Visit our site to find more information about our home remodeling services!

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Home Remodeling Trends: Staying Put

As a home remodeling contractor, one of the biggest changes we’re seeing is a trend that has come to be known as “staying put.”

For most homeowners, the turbulent housing market changed the notion that a home or condo is a fast-growing investment that can – and should – be traded in for a bigger, more expensive one every few years. With the “trade in” mindset, home remodeling priorities were about making improvements that would increase resale value rather than focusing on the personal preferences and unique lifestyle of the current homeowner. The goal was, after all, to move up to a bigger, better home that would ultimately have all those personal touches and comforts.

Now, however, it may take years for homes just to get back to their former values, not to mention gaining enough equity so that selling makes sense. Instead, staying put makes sense. And, instead of looking to the “next” home, remodeling contractors nationwide say their clients are increasingly looking to customize their current home for their own unique tastes, lifestyle and dream features.

Like other contractors, we’re seeing this shift from remodeling for resale value to remodeling to improve “right now” livability. For example, instead of looking to safe, generic choices (like stainless steel and granite in the kitchen), clients are thinking carefully about what they really like and making very creative choices in terms of everything from materials to home layouts.

In terms of what homeowners are choosing to remodel in our area, kitchens continue to be top priorities. After all, if you’re going to live with a kitchen for years to come, you want it to look good, function well and not be cut off from what’s happening in the rest of the house.

Traditional layouts are also getting a fresh look. For example, while a real estate agent might recommend leaving a center-hall Colonial layout just the way it is because future buyers might value the separate living room and dining room. “Staying put” homeowners, however, might want us to remodel those rarely used spaces into a more open floor plan that works better for their own family right now.

The take-away is that “staying put” doesn’t mean homes have to stay the same! When you’re remodeling for yourself – instead of for someone who may someday buy your home – you’re free to make choices that are creative, custom … and just plain fun!

Visit our website to learn more about our home remodeling services!

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