Quick Kitchen Tips

We’ve come up with some good habits and guidelines to practice in your kitchen so you can start your year off right!

1. Don’t Procrastinate
Most of us usually have that one project in the backs of our minds that we just never seem to get to. Weather it’s a DIY paint fix-up, cleaning behind the stove, or replacing a major appliance, just do it. It’s time to get it done and feel the weight lifted off!
2. Do The Dishes Before Bed
It’s very easy, especially after a long day to just say, “I’ll clean this up tomorrow”. Make it a point not go to bed with dishes in the sink anymore. Become better at cleaning as you go to prevent an intimidating mountain from forming in your sink.
3. Stay Organized
Provide yourself with the tools you’ll need to create easier access in your kitchen, and ones that will help you maintain a clean environment.
4. Clean Up A Little Each Day
Little tasks along the way can make larger cleaning projects much easier in the long run. For example, sweep the floors everyday, clean up any spills as they happen, and wipe the counters with a disinfectant cloth after every use.
5. Prevent Sink Build Up
Kitchen sinks go through a lot of wear and tear. Build up happens, and happens fast. Clean your sink on a regular basis to prevent mold, soap scum, and grime.
6. Plan Out Larger Cleaning Tasks
Create a calendar of cleaning tasks that should be done on a weekly and monthly basis to promote the longevity of your kitchen and appliances.
7. Keep Fridge Organized
Don’t let food go to waste! Avoid spoiled food and unpleasant odors by keeping everything in sight and well organized. A good practice is to rid your fridge of any past due items and reorganize before putting new groceries away.
8. Donate
Are excessive canned goods taking up space in your pantry? Take them in and donate to your local food bank. It’s important to help others. This is a small start, but one that will go a long way.
9. Take On Cooking Ventures
Allow yourself to experiment with dishes you’ve always wanted to test out, and don’t be afraid to fail. Take on a challenging baking project, or maybe even sign up for an ethnic cooking class.
10. Treat Yourself
Splurge on something you’ve had your eye on. It’s important to give yourself a gift once in a while!

Bathroom Remodeling - To Do's and Things To Avoid

 

Budget for the unexpected
Hidden water damage is a common problem in bathrooms, whether from a leaky shower pan or running toilet. Other issues are truly hidden, for example a vent stack inside a wall that you thought you were going to knock down.  We will do exploratory work early in the project to sniff out as many issues as possible.  That’s why it’s important to build a 10 to 15 percent cushion into your budget. If nothing goes wrong, you’ll have a nice little windfall.

Hide the toilet
A master bath that’s stylish and functional can also be discreet. That’s why it’s nice to hide this fixture away, either in its own “room-within-the-room” or behind a half wall. A piece of furniture—an armoire or dresser, say—can create the necessary barrier without the expense of a framed wall.

Do choose appropriate surfaces
Your master bathroom’s surfaces do more than just contribute to the overall aesthetic. They also take lots of abuse. Porcelain tile is a favorite among designers, for use on the floors and walls alike.  Larger tile sizes to minimize grout lines, easing the upkeep. That might mean 18-by-18-inch tile on the floors and 12-by-12-inch on some or all of the walls, perhaps transitioning to 6-by-6 tiles on the diagonal with a glass mosaic transition strip.

Porcelain is also a popular option for bathroom sinks, though it proved prone to chipping. Enamel-on-steel sinks were especially durable and stain-resistant, as were stainless steel sinks, which are becoming more popular for use in bathrooms. Solid-surface sinks are another durable option that allows the sink to be integrated with the vanity countertop and, if you like, the adjoining cove or backsplash.

When it comes to the countertop, granite and quartz are a good choice.  They deliver durability and visual interest. Laminate and solid surface are still popular as well, and can be cost-effective options, though both scratch easily. 

Splurge on the shower
The empire of the Roman tub is officially over. Many people find they rarely use the tub.  Instead, consider using that space to create larger showers with his and her showerheads, body sprays, and even steam generators.

To create this sensual experience, you’ll need a shower stall that measures at least 4-by-6-feet, larger than the 3-by-3-feet box that used to be standard. If you can take the stall up to 5-by-7-feet, you may also be able to do away with the door, since the showerhead(s) can be directed in a way that the spray doesn’t reach beyond the shower area (an L-shaped design is helpful). This will eliminate a sizable expense, especially if you were planning on a frameless door, which can be pricey. One caveat: Don’t eliminate the bathtub if there aren’t any other bathrooms in the house with a tub.

Consider water efficiency
Showerheads, toilets, and faucets have all become more water-efficient in recent years, thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency’s voluntary WaterSense program, which labels products that are 20 percent more efficient than federal standards. 

As for toilets, several WaterSense-qualified models that use just 1.28 gallons per flush make the recommended list of our latest toilet Ratings. That could save the average family of four 16,000 gallons of water and more than $100 per year if they’re replacing older, inefficient toilets, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Choosing a faucet with an aerator can reduce the water flow in your bathroom sink by 30 percent or more.

Make room on the vanity
Since grooming is the main task at the vanity, it’s important to have plenty of surface area to put things down. While the his-and-her double sink configuration has been popular in the past, it often makes sense to have a single sink and more counter space. Couples usually find that the second source of water is less important than the additional countertop.  Besides maximizing the counter space, opting for a single sink vanity saves you the expense of the second sink and faucet. And eliminating a set of plumbing expands the available storage space inside the vanity.              

Provide adequate ventilation and light
Moisture not only breeds mold and mildew, it can take a toll on finishes and painted surfaces. A bathroom fan is the best defense. Guidelines from the National Kitchen and Bath Association call for a ducted system that’s at least 50 cubic feet per minute, though you may need twice as much ventilation if the space is larger than 100 square feet or if you plan to install a steam shower. Consider a humidity-sensing unit that will automatically turn on and off depending on the amount of moisture in the air.

As for lighting, the goal is to bring different layers of illumination into the room. A ceiling fixture is suitable for general lighting, but it will cast shadows on your face when you’re seated at the vanity. That’s why you’ll also want sconces or other vertical fixtures mounted on either side of the vanity. Some medicine cabinets are available with vertical lighting strips.

The shower and toilet should also have a dedicated task light, such as a recessed canister light. Consider fixtures that use LED bulbs. Many provided bright, even illumination in our lightbulb tests with the promise of 50,000 hours, though they do cost more. Remember to put the fixtures on dimmer switches so that light levels can be adjusted depending on the mood and task at hand.  

Here are some common things that we'll help you avoid    


Don’t rush the process
Now that you’re committed to the idea of a new bathroom, you probably want it done tomorrow. But poor planning is the leading cause of cost overruns on these projects. Depending on the size and scope of your bath project, you should spend several weeks to a few months on the planning process. If you don’t have a Pinterest account yet, consider one. This website lets you keep a digital ideas file of inspiring images you find on the Internet, say for tile styles, favorite fixtures, and clever designs.

As you plan the space, try to come up with a design that keeps the major plumbing lines in place. Moving the toilet from one wall to another will mean relocating a 3-inch drain line in a home, which can cost thousands. If you can keep the toilet, shower, and sink where they are, you’ll save significantly on the project.            

Use an experienced contractor (Like us....)
The do-it-yourself approach can be an effective way to trim costs, but it’s best to focus on the front and back ends of the project, say, ripping out the old tub during demolition and handling the finish painting. Leave the more complicated installations to professionals, ensuring they’re highly skilled. A good tile setter can make a low-cost tile look expensive, but you could spend a fortune on tile, and a bad tile layer will make it look cheap.

Given how many trades are required for a typical bathroom remodel—plumbers, electricians, tile setters, cabinet installers, and more—it pays to use a top-notch general contractor to manage operations. 

Don’t cut corners on key materials
Another common mistake is cheaping out on those items that get the most use. Lifetime warranties that cover leaks and stains have become more common on all but the cheapest faucets. PVD (physical vapor deposition) finishes resisted our best attempts at scratching them, but drain cleaners can stain them slightly. Chrome was also pretty durable in our tests, but can be scratched if you rub it with a heavy-duty scouring pad.

Tile is another material that you touch and feel each day. While you can find quality options for $5 per square foot, super cut-rate tiles may have slight size inconsistencies. The results will be crooked lines that make a bathroom look shoddy.

So where can you save? Light fixtures tend to perform the same across most price points—it’s the high design that costs more. You might also find that opting for a basic finish on faucets and fixtures saves you hundreds of dollars without compromising quality. And you definitely don’t need to blow your budget on a luxury toilet with a motion-activated lid and built-in bidet. Those are cool features, but toilets costing as little as $300 are just as durable and reliable.                               

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
You may be the picture of good health today, but you can’t predict the future. What you can do, however, is ensure that your bathroom will serve you and your loved ones regardless of your abilities by following the basics of Universal Design (i.e. aging in place). 

And you don’t have to worry about ending up with an institutional look. Many universal design features are now part of mainstream bathroom design. For example, the larger shower stall that’s in favor today offers easy access and universal use, provided it has a zero-threshold and a built-in seating platform. The bench is also a nice place for an able-bodied women to sit and shave her legs.  Regarding toilets, so-called comfort-height models that are easier to get on and off of are now just as common as standard-height models. Even grab bars have enjoyed a design upgrade; many now match towel bars and other accessories. And they’re not just for the elderly. Grab bars make it easier for pregnant women or young children to get in and out of the bathtub.

Even if you don’t incorporate every element of universal degisn into the bathroom now, it’s worth putting in the structural framework, such as blocking in the walls for future support bars. Make sure your contractor makes a drawing of the wall so that you can find the blocking if, and when, the time comes.

Don’t forget to factor in water use
Bathroom fixtures have become more water-efficient, especially if you choose WaterSense-qualified models. But the trend toward tricked-out showers, often with his-and-her “shower towers” that might include multiple showerheads and body sprays, will likely result in your water and energy use going up. It also means your bathroom’s existing drain and plumbing lines might require an upgrade. You may need to resize your water lines from half-inch to three-quarters, an upgrade that can add hundreds, if not thousands, to your project.

Thirsty fixtures may require you to upgrade your water heater as well, say, from a unit that holds 50 gallons a day to one that holds 80 gallons. That could cost you another $1,000 or so—figure on roughly $2,000 if you choose one of the energy-efficient hybrid water heaters that Consumer Reports' test have found to be good long-term investments.

Don’t buy products online without seeing them in person
Going online is great for researching products and design ideas. But materials and finishes aren’t always as they appear on your computer screen. That blue-gray quartz vanity top might be more blue than gray in real life, or the light fixtures that look understated online could overwhelm your actual space. That’s why we always recommend visiting a showroom or design center before you buy. While you’re there, you may even get the showroom to meet or even beat the online price.  

Don’t forget about storage
Running from the shower to grab a towel from the hallway linen closet gets old—and cold—fast. A closet inside the bathroom is ideal, though an armoire or even just a simple chest can handle the essentials. And a medicine cabinet is still the best place for your various health-care and first-aid essentials.
 

 

When investing in a home remodeling project, we always want to work with you to make sure that the results not only please you but add value to your home and save you money on energy and water as well. 

Winter Home Remodeling Projects

Winter is an ideal time to focus on interior home projects that need completing.  Often during the summer months we ignore these indoor projects, so wintertime is an opportunity to concentrate on changes that can make staying inside during these cold months more comfortable.  Here are some indoor projects you may want to consider

1.      Bathroom Remodel

 Install a new sink, medicine cabinet, new faucets, or a water saver toilet, which can help save you money on your water bill.  If you feel up for a complete remodel, pick out a new tub and shower.  Accent your new fixtures with a fresh coat of paint and/or accessories.

2.      Kitchen Remodel

Outdated kitchens can be an eyesore. So why not go with a simple face lift or a complete tear out remodel? Painting, installation of new counter tops, refinishing your existing cabinets can give a whole new look to your kitchen.

If it is time for a full remodel, talk to us about new cabinets, wall trim or other options. It will improve the look and feel of your kitchen while adding also value to your home.

3.      Flooring Remodel

Winter is a wonderful time to focus on re-flooring. You can choose from all sorts of materials including stone, terracotta, marble, carpet, tile or wood— the flooring of your home can help shape the look and feel you want.

 Wood floors are quite affordable. The winter air ensures a quicker drying time for any adhesive involved, and new wood flooring tends to insulate better than old, worn flooring.  Replace worn down carpet padding if necessary. This will increase the comfort in your home.

4.      Painting

Painting is a relatively small investment that can dramatically change the look of a room. Hint: Paint one room at a time (maybe one per month).  Simply move the furniture from room to room and then take your time painting.

5.      Garage/Basement Remodel

 Have an unfinished garage or basement?  Winter is the ideal time to install insulation and sheet rock.  Finish these areas to add value to your home and will give you a nice work area, or refinished game, utility, guest, or family rooms.

6.      Touch Ups

 Perform little touch ups around your home. Consider putting up crown molding, refinishing a banister, adding baseboard, or weather-stripping your doors. There are always small projects around the home that can give a fresh, updated look and feel.

7.      Light Fixtures

Add some light and warmth to your home. Your home gets less natural light in the winter, so brighten up your kitchen with some added light fixtures.

8.      Insulation and Weatherization

Increase the insulation in your attic. This can reduce your heating bills. Buy rolls of insulation and install as directed. Also, stop heat leaks around your home by caulking windows and door frames.

If you're considering some home remodeling this winter, call us and we'll go over all the options  with you!

Watch Your Roof For Ice Issues

You may be feeling cozy and warm in your home as the snow serenely falls outside. But, up on your roof, a dangerous situation could be forming – one that can compromise your roof and lead to water damage inside your home. It’s all the result of an ice dam. If you live in a snowy area and you’re not familiar with what an ice dam is, it’s imperative that you read on.

What Is an Ice Dam?

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms along the edge of your roof and prevents snow melt from running off. It often occurs because heat from the attic warms the middle of your roof, causing snow to melt. When that runoff reaches the eaves, or overhang, of your roof, the cooler surface temperature (there’s no heat rising from inside your home to this part of the roof) can cause the water to refreeze. As this happens over and over, an ice dam forms, preventing melted snow from running off your roof.

Do Ice Dams Cause Damage?

Yes, ice dams cause the water from melted snow to back up under the shingles of your roof and into your home – the water doesn’t have anywhere else to go. This can damage your roof, not to mention your interior. And, remember, water damage can lead to toxic mold inside your home.

How Can I Prevent Ice Dams?

An easy way to help prevent ice dams is to keep your eaves, gutters, downspouts and drains clear. This way water can drain away from your home as snow melts on your roof. It’s ideal to have your gutters cleaned out before snow season even begins. While you’re at it, install gutter screens for added protection.

Here are some other ways to help prevent ice dams:

  • Keep your attic cool. Proper insulation between your living areas and attic will help keep warm air from escaping into your attic and warming your roof. Ideally, during a snow storm, your attic won’t be more than 10 degrees warmer than the temperature outside.

  • Remove snow with a roof rake. Only if you can safely do so, remove accumulated snow from your roof using a long-handled roof rake, a specialized tool for clearing roofs, that won’t damage your roofing material. Do this from the ground. Never climb on top of a snowy roof.

  • Update your roof with materials that help prevent ice dams. These include a rubberized, water-repellant membrane underneath the shingles and a heating cable along the eaves. For either installation, consult a professional.

Ice dams may not be the first thing you think about once the snow stops coming down. After all, there’s the sidewalk and driveway to clear. But, for the sake of your roof and the integrity of your overall home, it’s important to keep an eye out for this winter roof danger.

So, how can you spot ice dams? Icicles may be a sign of ice dams, a buildup of snow and ice along your eaves that blocks water runoff. Discolored ceilings or walls may indicate that your ice dam has turned into a leak.

Remember, in the midst of this harsh winter, it’s important to keep your gutters clear, your roof updated and an eye out for the signs of ice dams. If you suspect trouble, call a trusted us at once.

7 Reasons Why Winter is the Perfect Time for Home Remodeling Projects

Winters can be long and harsh. Winter is a good time to focus on your home and undertake updating the interior or addressing repairs you may have been putting off. Some homeowners we’ve worked with have found that winter is the perfect time for home remodeling projects. If you’re finding that you need extra space, winter can be a great time to start a basement remodeling project.

If you’re thinking about a home remodeling project, here are seven reasons why winter may be the best time to do your project:

1.  Convenient Project Scheduling

It is usually easier for contractors to schedule work in winter months especially if painting, replacing flooring, updating lighting and plumbing are involved because there is a lot less exterior work being done. This will free up a contractor’s schedule for interior projects such as painting, replacing flooring, repairing drywall, updating lighting and replacing cabinetry.

2.  Contractor Availability

During the winter you may find that your contactor may have more time to work with you in planning and designing your project. This would be a good time for refining the details before the work begins. This process may take longer as work picks up for your contractor in the spring with outdoor projects.

3.  Avoid Manufacturer Spring Price Increases

Now is the time to look for and take advantage of reduced prices. If you’re remodeling your home, you may find close-out prices on appliances and be able to purchase materials before manufacturers increase prices. Typically, we experience price increases for lumber products, windows and cabinet lines in the spring. During the winter, manufacturers may feature special offers to reduce inventory.


4.  Clean-up

While some homeowners will wait until spring to remodel because of concerns about dust, fumes and areas for staging the work, current technologies and clean-up methods do control these problems. Fans with negative pressure, plastic zip doors, and sealing off heat ducts with a filter will contain dust, debris and fumes to the work area.


5.  Permit Approvals

Government agencies are usually less busy in winter, which makes it easier and quicker to obtain necessary permits.

6.  Outside Projects

If the weather cooperates, you may be able to work with your contractor on outside projects to get ready for spring. While we wouldn’t recommend outside painting during the winter, we have built decks, porches and additions for our customers in winter.


7.  Vacation Time

If you are planning a vacation this winter, it may be an optimal time to have work done in your home to avoid disruption of your daily activities.

How to Prepare Your Home for the Cold, Holiday Season

Anyone who owns a home knows that it takes hard work and loads of love to keep a house running. Our guest blogger Laura has a fantastic checklist of all of the things you need to do in November to prepare your home for the coming winter months. Are you ready?

Stay on Track

With the days growing shorter (and chillier) and holidays coming just around the corner, November is bound to fill up fast with necessary preparations for winter and the holiday festivities. Stay on track during this busy time by checking these to-dos off your list, and you can greet the turn of the seasons with calm. 

Do a winter safety check. Prevent slips and falls on ice and snow by making sure pathways and exterior stairs are cleared of debris and in good condition. Check that railings are secure, and move gardening and lawn-care equipment into a protected area for storage until spring. Test exterior lighting and change bulbs as needed.

Remove the last leaves. Aim to fit in a final raking and gutter-clearing session after the last leaves have fallen but before the first snow.

Trim trees. Have an arborist care for trees in late fall, when they’re dormant. 

Make a strategy for the holidays. Whether you’re hosting, visiting or traveling, having a plan in place will help things go more smoothly. Hosts can tackle some tasks in advance (like polishing silver and laundering linens) to relieve last-minute pressure. If you’re traveling, book your pet sitter or house sitter, buy plane tickets, and boost security around your home (adding a few motion-sensing outdoor lights would be a good start).

Ready rooms for guests. If you plan on hosting overnight visitors during the holidays, check that you have the necessities: 

Enough beds to go around (borrow or buy an air mattress if space is tight)

Fresh bedding and pillows for each bed

Spare towels and blankets for each guest

A basket of sample-size toiletries

Privacy in the form of window coverings and a door that shuts

Beef up entryway storage. Do you have enough hooks and bins to handle your coats, mittens, scarves and hats — and those of visitors? Clear away stuff that doesn’t belong or can be stored elsewhere, and put in a coat tree, garment rack or extra wall hooks to hold bulky winter wear.

Deep clean the kitchen. Start all that holiday cooking and baking on the right foot by giving the kitchen a thorough scouring. Degrease the range hood and clean the filter, dust open shelving and light fixtures, wash windows, and scrub appliances big and small.

Think of your furry friends. As temperatures drop and days get shorter, being outdoors becomes more dangerous for cats and dogs. If the weather is very cold, The Humane Society recommends taking your dog out for frequent walks and exercise (small dogs may be more comfortable wearing a sweater), but allowing them to stay inside the rest of the time. If dogs must stay outside, be sure to provide a warm shelter. If you have an indoor-outdoor cat, think about keeping kitty inside for the winter — if you’re worried your pet will get bored, you can always make a cat playground

Clean carpets. Take large and delicate area rugs out for professional cleaning, and launder small, washable rugs at home. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, hire a carpet cleaner or rent a steamer and clean the carpeting yourself. 

Give back. The holiday season can be especially trying for people in our communities facing homelessness and other challenges. Consider donating goods, time or other resources to a local food pantry, family shelter or seasonal program like Toys for Tots. No matter where you choose to give, it’s always helpful to contact the organization first to see if there are particular items it especially needs. Related: Daylight Savings Time Ends This Month, Don’t Forget to Adjust Clocks

Schedule heating-system maintenance. Make sure the winter months will be as toasty and cozy as possible in your home by keeping up with the regular maintenance and cleaning of the boiler or furnace.

Keyless Locks & Smart Phone Apps

We have been getting lots of requests for "smart home" ad ons over the past year.   One of the main ones has been keyless locks.  Keyless locks have gotten much smarter, and even simpler. A free app or a small FOB allow you to unlock your door without digging in your bag for loose keys. Plus, it's easy to let a repair person or the cat sitter in when you're not home. 

Lockitron
Install this quickly and easily, on the inside of your door, right over the existing deadbolt. Log in once, and your door will now unlock itself when you approach, then lock itself behind you. Grant or remove others' access, remotely lock and unlock it yourself, and get notifications when someone else uses the lock or even just knocks on the door. It works with any mobile phone -- if your smartphone doesn't support the Lockitron app, control it via website or text. Your existing key still works, too. Cost is are around $180  https://lockitron.com

SimpliciKey Remote Control Electronic Deadbolt
Unlock your door with the touch of a button on a wee remote with a 50-foot range. It comes with two remotes and two regular keys, and there's a backlit keypad, too. It can remember up to 16 changeable codes. It's battery-powered, requiring no wires, and only needs Wi-Fi for set-up. (The SimpliciKey Connect, available this summer and currently available for preorder, will add cool Wi-Fi-enabled remote-access features for a $15 yearly fee.) About $200 http://www.simplicikey.com

Keypad Deadbolt by Schlage
This straightforward standard-lock replacement comes preprogrammed with two codes you can use right away. (This is Schlage's most basic unit -- gain lots of cool remote access and programming capabilities with the newer Touchscreen Deadbolt, which requires both home Wi-Fi and subscription to select security and automation systems.) About $130 http://www.schlage.com/en/home/products/products-keypads.html

Kevo Smartphone - or Fob-Operated Lock by Kwikset
Load an eKey onto your smartphone, and simply touch this lock with your finger and it opens. (You need only have your smartphone on you somewhere, not out.) Also assign unlimited (and free!) guest eKeys, which disable after 24-hours or can be deleted at any time. It comes with two regular keys and one key fob, which works in place of a smartphone. (Purchase more separately.) Kevo's currently only compatible with newer models of the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod Touch for now. About $220 http://www.kwikset.com/kevo/default.aspx

Prepping Your Home For Fall

For homeowners, each season brings its own unique set of challenges and maintenance tasks.  Trust us, we know from experience that prevention is always easier and less expensive than repairing something that’s broken. As fall approaches, consider protecting your home by taking the time to assess and address any issues in the following areas:

Insulation from the cold. As the weather gets colder, poor insulation can be both uncomfortable and expensive, as your furnace or heating system struggles to produce more heated air faster than it leaves your home. Make necessary repairs where possible, and consider installing heavy drapes over windows that you know may cause a draft.

Ventilation. If you have an indoor fireplace, clear out the ash and make sure the chimney is clear – consider hiring a professional for this task so it is performed correctly. Check air ducts for dust and other debris, and change air filters to keep your family healthier as cold season approaches. Now is also a good time to clear the dust out of your clothes dryer exhaust duct and the space beneath the dryer.

Water pipes. Just as you need to check your home for insulation problems, you also need to check caulking around sinks and tubs to prevent leakage. Furthermore, if you’ve been noticing a dripping faucet, now is the time to deal with it! Fixing a leak now will be much easier than repairing a broken pipe that froze. Your water heater may also need attention, especially if your water is hard, as mineral deposits will accumulate over time, blocking water flow.

Clean the gutters. Check for and clear out leaves, nests and other debris that have accumulated and could clog the gutter, and remember to continue to do so as the autumn leaves fall, especially if your home is surrounded by trees.

Fire safety. As temperatures fall, the risk of a house fire rises for homeowners across the country. Check for and eliminate hazards such as frayed wires, loose outlets, and overloaded extension cords, and have your furnace inspected by a professional. Inspect your smoke detectors and make sure you have a functional fire extinguisher accessible and ready to use, just in case.

Lawn and garden care. Depending on your home and climate, maintaining your yard area could be minimal or quite extensive. Make sure that exterior water pipes are insulated to prevent freezing as overnight temperatures drop, and drain irrigation systems if necessary. If you are putting away gas-operated lawn equipment for the colder months, make sure to ensure that any gas in the tank is depleted.

Having A Healthy Home

A recent study found that nearly 50% of all American homeowners want to remodel just to prevent potential health problems!  Some issues can take some time to fix, but there are 10 easy tips homeowners can do right now to make their homes healthier:

 

10). Know Your Noxious Gases:  Radon and Carbon Monoxide are two gases found in homes across the U.S.  Both are colorless, odorless, and deadly.  It’s cheap and fast to have your home tested for radon, and ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE AN ATTACHED GARAGE you need to have a carbon monoxide detector mounted according to manufacturer’s specifications.

 

9). Fire the Flame Retardant: We’re starting to learn that the same chemicals that make our furniture slow to burn are getting some unwanted attention from home safety experts.  While the jury is still out somewhat on this subject, and increasing number of flame retardant chemicals are winding up on the “Red List”—as potentially harmful to human health

 

8). Get the Lead Out:  If your home was built before 1978 there is a chance at least one of the layers of paint includes lead and right now lead is in the news.  There is several major health reports linking elevated levels of lead in the 1970’s to violent behavior.  And as lead has been phased out in our communities—those levels of violence are dropping.  Lead may be expensive to remove, but it’s very cheap and fast to test for.

 

7). Move Your Cans:  Those cans of paint, pesticides, and herbicides…they need to go.  And at best they need to go to a licensed recycler, but until that time make sure they are—at a minimum—not in your conditioned space.  In other words, time to move the cans to the shed.

 

6). Do You See the Light?  In the recent healthy homes study, healthy homes were better lit than “non-healthy” homes.  When it comes to natural light and artificial light a home considered to be healthy will have more of both kinds of light. 

 

5). Wall to Wall Wash:  There are some rooms where wall-to-wall carpet is a perfect fit.  However, left unmaintained a carpet can act like a giant sponge.  Most carpet manufacturers require that carpets are cleaned at least twice a year—and ignoring that advice will void the carpets’ warranty.  Increasingly we are seeing homeowners going with hard surface floors and then throwing down an area rug if they feel the need.  The area rugs can be pulled up and cleaned more thoroughly.

 

4). How Tight is Too Tight? Newer homes are built much tighter than their Pre WWII counterparts, and at first that seems like a good thing.  However, if there are toxins in the home the lack of ventilation is a problem.  A home is supposed to have a certain number of “air exchanges” every hour.  In other words, all the air that’s in every room has to be “changed out” and replaced with fresher, conditioned air.  At some point it’s worth a few dollars to have an HVAC expert come in and ensure your home is meeting its minimum number of fresh air exchanges per hour.

 

3). Change the Batteries and Do the Drill:  Yes, everyone tells you to change the batteries in your smoke detectors at least twice a year (unless they’re ten year batteries).  But for those of you with young children, have you trained them to the smoke alarm?  You would be surprised how many kids will actually sleep through an alarm that’s going off inches from their head.  Education is cheap—the results are priceless.  Teach your kids that the smoke alarm means business.

 

2). Mind for Mold:  If there’s the tiniest leak in your home likely it will start to damage wood in the crawl space first.  And as moisture starts to damage wood in the form of mold, it also attracts some unwanted attention from termites and other nasty critters.

 

1). Change the Filter:  This is an easy tip, it should take about ten minutes to do, and should cost less than $50 dollars.  Change your furnace filter.  Yes, your furnace has one, and likely it is covered in dust, hair, and more dead dust mites than we even want to imagine.  You can actually reduce your heating bill and improve the smell in your home by changing the filter.  And, ideally, this should be done twice a year.

DON'T SKIMP ON YOUR REMODELING

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to home renovation is they try to be cheap when they buy materials. However, you're going to get what you pay for.  Take the advice of the professionals; if you're going to do it, do it. If you can't afford to do it, wait.

DON'T SKIP THE PREP

No one likes the tedious prep work that goes along with building, restoration and painting, but doing it can save you lots of time and money.   

Measure twice...cut (or tape, paint, etc) once.  An inch or even sometimes a half an inch can make a difference. And if your dimensions are off and it's not equal and symmetrical, you're not going to get the full impact and effect that you want. 

GUT OR NOT TO GUT

Maybe you don't need to gut a room or home.  Have a well-set plan before you start your renovations.  You might be able to work around some areas. For instance, before you decide to you HAVE to paint an area, consider what it will impact...will the color work with the current furnishings, will you have to paint other areas, change other aspects of the room, etc


TOOLS

Make sure you have the right tools for the job ahead.  If not, there are three big issues you may encounter

1.You can wreck the tool

2. You can wreck the project you're working

3. You can get hurt and wreck yourself


SMALL BATHROOMS
Be sure to pick the right fixture for a smaller space. Don't try to put full-size fixtures in a tiny, tiny bathroom. It's just going to be crowded.  Look for narrower sinks and toilets to fit the space. 


DON'T BE TRENDY

Don't go too trendy with your house. People often make the mistake of wanting to be too hip and trendy in their home by picking the latest, hottest, coolest things.  However, trendy is short term and will look dated before you know it.  Consider looks and items that have and will stand the test of time.  Classic items, designs and colors will last and better serve your home.  

PAINT
Using the Wrong Paint Type
People often make the mistake of picking the wrong paint for whatever particular project they may be working on.  There is paint for just about every surface.
Flat is for your ceilings and sometimes for your walls. Whereas your semigloss would be for trim in a bathroom or in a dining room. The glossy will give it a more upscale look.

SAFETY FIRST
The most important things you can have on a job site for your own personal safety are goggles to protect your eyes, ear protection to protect your hearing, gloves to protect your hands and good boots for your feat.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Know what you're undertaking before you start the job.  Even if you're not doing the work yourself, know what to look for, what your contractor is doing. That way you can keep a close eye on the project and know when something's getting out of hand.  It's important to do at some preliminary work.  You want to be able to have enough information to know what questions to ask.

ELECTRICAL
People sometimes forget about electric when they've been renovating because it's costly and it's hidden.  Walk through the house with the electrician before you start to talk about outlets, where they are, where you want new outlets, three-prong outlets. Make sure everything's up to code.

PERMITS
The bottom line is if you do perform work without a permit and something serious happens, your homeowner's insurance will not cover it.   Get permits!

SET A REALISTIC BUDGET
People often underestimate what it's going to cost to do a big renovation, and part of that is because they don't realize the biggest cost in a renovation usually is the labor.  You never know what's going to happen once you start the demolition process. As soon as you open up a wall, you never know what you're going to find behind that wall, so you need to pad your budget, and you need to be realistic.

Projects To Leave To Professionals

There are many home projects that you can do yourself and there are those that, if done wrong, could cost a lot of money to fix. A class at your local big box hardware store is not always enough to get the job done properly. Here are ten tasks that you should leave to a professional.

Cutting down trees, or even removing branches requires climbing and working with dangerous tools from a high distance off the ground. This is disaster waiting to happen, and definitely something better left to professionals who are trained and paid to do this!

Knocking down walls might seem like a simple task, but behind those walls could be electrical wiring, gas pipes and plumbing that can cause huge problems in your home. Rather than taking a chance, consult a contractor first!’

Paving stones can turn a boring driveway into a focal point. And while they look relatively simple to install, the reality is that the measuring and positioning of paving stones can be tremendously time-consuming. A team of professionals can cut installation down to a day, depending on your driveway size.

It’s one thing to flip a fuse switch to the power in your home on or off, but another to attempt to repair faulty wiring or any other electrical issues without professional help. Working with electrical wires can be deadly and the proper precautions and knowledge are crucial.

Unless it’s something simple like unclogging a toilet or fixing a drain, messing with plumbing can cause major dilemmas It’s always better to ask a plumber before trying to tackle any plumbing issues on your own.

Above ground pool repair is extremely dangerous. All it takes is one loose piece of siding, and the entire pool could collapse.

Besides the fact that working on top of a roof is very risky because one could easily lose their footing and slip, it can also be detrimental to your home’s structure if you don’t know the proper way to install or repair roofing. If you are going to check the roof for damages or cleaning gutters, bring a friend and proceed with caution.

If done properly, siding can last for years. But if siding is not securely installed, weather conditions can tear it off, or seep underneath, causing harm to the frame of your home. Rather than taking this chance, it’s safer to have a professional install it properly.

Specialized tools and methods are required to properly install new windows to make sure they are well insulated and secure. While it can be costly, a professional can ensure that you’ll be comfortable in your home for years to come.

We’re the first to admit outdoor kitchens are fantastic, but attempting to put one in yourself could be disastrous. It might seem easy enough (a little flooring and a grill-station) but you could end up with a half-finished patio and plumbing gone awry. So while it might be tempting to build one in your backyard, ask yourself if you’ll really use the kitchen year-round…and then, of course, call in a pro.

 

Kitchen Backsplash Tips

Kitchen upgrades are one of the top suggested home investments and they don’t have to cost a fortune.  If you want to refresh your kitchen but can’t afford a full-scale remodel, a smart place to start is with a new backsplash.  You can switch out a backsplash without moving cabinetry or appliances, and the sky’s the limit in terms of material choices, colors, and patterns.


Always create a focal point around cooking areas.  If you are going to splurge on more expensive tile, use it only above the stove and use more affordable tile in the rest of the kitchen. Or if you are using the same tile throughout the room, try a different color or pattern around cooking areas.  Complex or colorful backsplashes look best with solid counter and don’t clash. To save money, use more expensive glass or handmade ceramic tiles as accents for a backsplash of less expensive tiles. You’ll still have a memorable look but at a fraction of the cost.  Wrapping the backsplash around the entire room gives a sense of visual continuity, which can help a small space seem larger. It can be expensive to get the exact same color for all the tile in your kitchen (particularly when you mix in custom accent tiles), and it’s visually uninteresting. Instead use complementary colors. 

Before you install a backsplash, try “walking” tiles up a wall to make sure you aren’t left with a thin sliver where the tile meets cabinetry. Hold the tiles against the wall at the bottom of the backsplash area and move them hand over hand up the wall following your desired pattern until you get to the top. You may find you have to start with a half-tile at the bottom to be sure at least a quarter-tile fits at the top. Mastic or thinset are the adhesives used for the tiles. Use white thinset or mastic behind glass tile. It shows through the glass, and colored thinset or mastic can change the look of the tile.   Creating complex patterns is easier if you layout all your plans with a pencil. To do this, first prep the surface to be tiled by skimming the entire area with a layer of white thinset (mastic won’t work) and let it dry. Now you have the perfect surface to write on, as well as the ideal surface to accept the installation thinset or mastic (either work for the second layer) that you will use to set the tiles.  

6 Quick Ways To Fix Up Your Bathroom

Clean Out Your Drains

The cleaning process runs in several stages: first you’ll need a wire hanger to pull out hair or debris. Then pour ¾ of a cup of baking soda into the drain and half a cup of white vinegar right afterwards (they produce a chemical reaction that breaks down residue.)

Paint Your Baseboards

The key to painting this woodwork is to ensure that protective tape is accurately masking any adjacent areas. Another tip to keep in mind is preparing the paint in a separate room ahead of time as to avoid spills

Fix A Dislodged Tile

To reinstall these wobbly pieces, purchase any appropriate adhesive (as recommended by a reliable tile provider) and fill the missing space. Then press the tile firmly and let it dry for a few hours.

Install A Towel Rack

Most towel racks come with templates, so use them to mark where you want it to be installed. Once you’ve measured and made sure you marks are level, drill the mount to the points.  

Replace Your Shower Heads

First, you’ll want to remove the existing shower head using pliers. Before you attach the new shower head onto the spicket, make sure to wrap the threads of this piece with Teflon tape (to avoid leaks). 

Change Your Light Fixtures

Nothing makes a bathroom look more dated than an old fixture, and swapping it out for a new model is usually quite easy. Make sure to turn off the circuit breaker before unscrewing and exposing any wiring. Then note which wires are twisted together and replicate this configuration with the new addition. Lastly, screw your new hardware into the ceiling.  

If you are considering a larger scale bathroom remodel, let us show you the latest in products and materials.   Our design experts can help you come up with a design that will fit both your family and budget!   Call Pipkorn Construction at 414 916 4642

6 Tips To Maximize A Small Kitchen

Not everyone is able to have (or maybe wants) a large kitchen.  For singles, couples and smaller families, a large kitchen may be secondary to a larger family area or multi use room.   If you do have a kitchen that is a bit smaller than most, with a few tips you can “trick” yourself and others into making the area feel more spacious and increase the function as well.   Here are six ideas to consider…

  1. A mirrored backsplash gives the illusion of more space and opens up the area.
  2. Go to the ceiling with cabinets and add space.   Stacked cabinets create the illusion of space and add more function in a small space.  Worried about reaching items?  With a foot stool and a few steps …problem solved. 
  3. If you have an eat-in kitchen, use chairs without arms or stools for seating.  This adds some flexibility and space when such items are tight. 
  4. Use baskets and trays to organize collections, materials in the kitchen. Light wood trays, baskets and chargers (as well as light walls)  make tight areas feel more spacious.  
  5. Keep colors, patterns and materials consistent.  It will keep the eye from “stuttering” in a small space.  When you mix a wide variety of colors and items, it can make a space feel more confined.
  6. Utilizing open shelving and cabinets can create the feeling of more space.   When you can’t spread out, consider spreading up!

8 TIPS FOR HOME REMODELING

When it comes to home remodeling, what you do is just as important as what you don’t do.  Make sure you have a quality, trusted contractor on your side before you sit down to plan your remodeling project.  If you want your remodel to go well, the best thing to do is make every single decision before work starts. A good builder can talk you through the list of situations that might come up on your job.

1. Don’t change your mind (too much). Even though it’s inevitable that you’ll change your mind about something on your project, know this: Every time you change your mind, it’ll result in a change order. Although the change may seem minor, there are always added costs — even if it’s only the time spent discussing the change.  Scheduling can be affected too. Everyone working on the job needs to be informed of the change so no one’s working on the old plan. Everyone makes changes, and that’s OK — just be aware of the potential to disrupt and delay the job.

2. Don’t buy your own materials. It seems like an obvious way to save money — a builder is going to mark up the cost of materials and pass that added cost on to you. That’s true, but the builder may get a better price than you to begin with, meaning that even after markup, you’ll pay the same price.

3. Don’t put lipstick on a pig. Though a builder will rarely come right out and say this, some houses should be knocked down rather than have money put into them to fix them up. Though this is a rare situation, it’s common for people to put money into fancy cabinets for a house with a sagging foundation, or into a high-efficiency furnace in a house with no insulation. Listen to the professionals who come to look at your job. Be open to their suggestions.

4. Don’t work without a contingency fund. If you find out that the work you wanted to do costs more than you expected or budgeted, you’re in good company. It’s almost unheard of that a person sets a realistic budget for a project. But don’t eat into your contingency to stretch the budget. If you follow rule number one and make every decision ahead of time, you can probably get away with a 5 percent contingency if you have a good general contractor.

5. Don’t let kids and pets get in the way. Though the people working in your home will often try to accommodate your pets and kids, they shouldn’t have to — it’s just not safe to have children or animals around construction.

6. Don’t live in the home. Most people ignore this rule, and for good reason. Remodeling is expensive, and moving out just adds to the cost. If you can’t move out for the whole job, try to schedule some time away and set up a clean, comfortable place to retreat to when you can’t handle coming home to a messy and stressful construction site.

7. Don’t be a distraction. It may sound harsh, but every minute someone working on your house spends talking to you, they are not working on your house. Is the conversation important and one that will have an impact on the job? That’s one thing, but the electrician on the job isn’t getting paid any more to spend 30 minutes talking about your vacation plans.

8. Don’t work without a design. Some projects require an architect, some an interior designer, and sometimes a talented builder will get your aesthetic and help you come up with a good plan. Whatever you do, don’t start a remodel without a detailed floor plan. A lot of elements interact in a space — put them all on paper and you’ll catch problems before they are built. You may be able to build a functional space without a plan, but if you want a functional and beautiful space, hire a designer.

If you are thinking about starting your home remodeling project but are not sure where to begin contact the friendly contractors at Pipkorn Construction they can answer all of your remodeling questions and assist you with all of your remodeling needs.

BUILDING AN ADDITION ON YOUR HOME

If you’re looking at creating more space in your current home, you may want to consider an addition.  Make a list of what you problems you’d like the space to solve, what you’d like to include in the addition and your overall goals for the project with regard to time and money.   Once you have this handy list, sitting down with a skilled contractor can help you prioritize and develop a firm plan for your undertaking.

Before you build, you should look into the legal restrictions of what can be built on the property. Most cities have setback restrictions that govern how close a structure can be built to property lines, height restrictions, building area ratios, design covenants, and historic-district preservation ordinances.  Your contractor should have a list of numbers and groups that you’ll need to contact. 

When planning, remember that it’s not necessary to make huge additions to see a significant change. As you plan, consider stealing space from adjacent closets or hallways to keep your addition at a modest size. In the kitchen, a small breakfast nook only requires a few feet of space, yet it can transform the entire kitchen.

Keep the original design and materials of your space in mind as you plan.  Using the same woods and materials can help bring a cohesive look to your addition.   If it isn’t possible to map to the original design, choose materials of the same vintage and tonal range but with slightly different textures, for example, creates a pleasing harmony that respects the old while setting off the new.

Along with the keeping true to the original materials, remember that you’re addition should be in scale with the overall house itself.  You don’t want your new master suite to look like the addition that ate the house. Nor do you want to add a mudroom so small that it looks more like a toolshed than an entrance. Keep things in proportion.

With an initial idea in mind, working alongside a trusted contractor, you can review all aspects of the coming project.   Detailing materials, timeline and costs at the outset will help keep the project on track and free of any major “surprises”.

What To Do With A Small Bathroom

Just because a room is small doesn’t mean it can’t be inviting and more functional.

When dealing with a small bathroom, it’s usually a smart call to go with brighter or softer colors that will “open up” the space and help prevent it feeling claustrophobic.

When it comes to space,  a pedestal sink is a must for a small bathroom. Pedestal sinks were designed and made for small bathrooms. Unlike a bathroom vanity, it doesn’t take up valuable space at your feet or in one end of the bathroom. You may lose some cabinet space, but you gain valuable square footage, both in looks and feel.

Arched ceilings are a great way to add the idea of extra square footage to any small bathroom. Having recessed shelves in showers or other areas of the bathroom can be great space savers.    Recessed lighting saves space and create the feeling of more space in a small area.  

Utilizing a large mirror will work with the light to create a wider look for any bathroom.  Therefore, you should always go as big as possible when it comes to mirrors in a small bathroom.

For storage, blocked shelving on the walls are great for linens and when paired with baskets and bins, you can save a lot of room!

Even with limited square footage, you can create a luxurious bathroom.   Talk to our designers at Pipkorn Construction and they can help you develop a space to fit your need and budget!

Home Upgrades You Actually Need Before Selling

With housing prices at their highest annual gain since 2005, homeowners may be considering placing theirs back on the market and upgrading themselves. Compound the rising prices with low interest rates, and it’s hard not to jump on the bandwagon. It’s important to make your house stand out with some home improvements before you put it on the market to give you an extra edge. Be smart with the changes you make and ensure that they are both economic and practical. 

Get your roof ready.   Your roof is the first thing prospective buyers will see when they pull up to your home, so make sure it’s in the best shape possible. Get a contractor you trust to look over your roof inside and out.  If changes are necessary, look at costs and talk to the contractor about options.  You may even want to change the roof style entirely, depending on the style and climate of the location your home is in. The money you spend to upgrade your roof will definitely increase the value in your home, and may even help you get a break on your taxes.

Front door is the first impression.  Your front door is the next thing your potential buyers will be looking at, so you want to make sure it makes them take notice. Unlike your roof, your front door may not need to be completely replaced: a fresh coat of paint can make it seem new without cutting into your remodeling budget.  Look at replacing hardware such as door handles, hinges and mailboxes as needed with matching, updated pieces that grab attention.  

Walkways and porches are important.   Make sure your porch and walkways are looking good and are in good condition.  Spruce up, paint and patch (unless there’s a larger problem with structure). 

While there may be many things you WANT to do, they may note be the best ideas if you’re planning to sell.   Here’s a few things you may want to avoid;

Kitchen renovationsmay seem like a good idea, but they can be expensive and may not make your home any more appealing to potential buyers.   While you may want new cabinets and love a particular style, a potential buyer may have other design ideas.   Don’t waste the money on a kitchen upgrade if you’re selling.  That said, IF….your kitchen is truly outdated and in need of repair, consider making only the necessary changes to make it functional for a new buyer.

Bathroom renovations are a lot like kitchens. If you’re selling, it’s not the time to redo showers and lavatories.  As long as the bathroom is functional, save the funds and put them to use in other areas. 

When it comes to putting your home on the market, a simple coat of paint can make a world of difference—good or bad. Instead of getting crazy on remodeling to set your house apart from others on the market, only spend your hard-earned cash on investments you know will return value to the home.

Ways To Increase The Value Of Your Home

Plan your remodel. Whether you just bought a house or you have lived there for a while, the fastest way to increase your home’s value is having a logical plan and budget that you stick too.

“Sometimes people dive into a project with plenty of enthusiasm but no real plan,” said Jason Pipkorn, owner of Pipkorn Construction in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “What often happens in the home owner finds the idea they had in their head or photo they clipped out of a magazine is not easily adapted to their space. These kind of issues can lead to additional expenses and frustration for the homeowner”.

Having a solid plan can save both time, money and nerves! Home improvement projects cost about 20 to 25 cents on the dollar. The other 75 to 80 cents spent go directly back into the home through increased value.

Start slowly. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If your home is new, get to know it. If you have already been there a while, get started. List the things you want to change and the updates you would like to make. Don’t worry about organization, just write it all down. Take a guess on how long you may want to live in the house. If you’re planning on selling, talk to your realtor and make a selling plan.

Take the list and categorize by how much it may cost, including your time and money. Be realistic. It’s OK to list an outdoor pool with a waterfall, but keep your financial picture in mind.

Once you have a categorized list, take a look and prioritize what is a real “must have” and what is more of a dream. See if you can come away with a reasonable balance.

Once you have made a plan, do research or talk to a realtor to see what sort of return those improvements may bring. Some improvements will add considerably more value to your home than others.

Tackle one room at a time. How can you harness the energy that comes from new ideas and still be smart when you make those improvements? Make the commitment to tackle one room at a time. Whether it’s a simple coat of paint or knocking down a wall, by tackling one room at a time you keep projects achievable.

Make a list of all the things you dream about doing, break your list down into categories based on cost and write down how much time each project may take. What this does is help you get results. If you only have a day or a weekend, choose a project that fits within your timeframe, comfort level and financial commitment.

Small improvements can really pay off. Are you torn between improving your home’s decor, versus making upgrades you know will increase your home’s resale value? Many homeowners are surprised to hear that doing a little bit of both will actually pay off.

Start by making two lists — upgrades for your home value and upgrades just for you. Upgrades for your home may consist of replacing old faucets, permanent lighting and doors. Upgrades for you are furniture, artwork and window treatments. Gone is the dartboard approach to picking projects and wondering if what you are doing is really making a difference. With this plan, you will see real progress.

Clean your house now for profits later. If your house is on the market, a bright and sparkly home can attract buyers like a magnet. A house can never be too clean. If you were a buyer, would you choose the house that is slightly dingy or the home down the street that is clean and welcoming?

Remember, de-cluttering is a form of cleaning. Just as dirt builds up, so does clutter. Don’t waste money moving your junk around. Get rid of it now. When it’s time to sell you will feel confident about what you are presenting to the buyer.

Curb appeal counts. Want a fresh perspective on the value of your home? Walk across the street, turn around and ask yourself, “Does my house have curb appeal?” Does your home look attractive, welcoming and structurally sound at first glance?

Make a list of ways to enhance the positive and eliminate the negative. If you have a nice curvy walkway, accentuate it with flowers or lanterns. If the first thing a visitor sees is your big wide garage, try to guide their eyes into a beautiful front yard, or paint your front door red to guide the eye there. These things add value.

Upgrade the kitchen. Ask any real estate expert what the No. 1 upgrade with the greatest return is, and the answer will be the kitchen. - Add a splash of color with a new backsplash. - Stainless steel is a hot item for buyers. - Transition your appliances as they wear out and go with a similar metallic look in your light switches.

Beautify your bathroom. Of all the rooms in your house, the bathroom is the workhorse. There is lots of wear and tear, so you want to keep it functioning well and make good looking upgrades along the way..

Go granite or marble with your countertops. If you are toying with the granite idea, your bathroom counter is most likely smaller than your kitchen counter and less expensive. This is a great place to start your first granite project.

Upgrade your bath area. With an 85 percent return, install a shower with body sprays and stone surround tile. If you are not selling right away, you will feel like you are in a Zen garden every time you step into your bathroom.

Weigh the benefits of upgrading versus selling. Should I stay or should I go? It’s a question staring many homeowners in the face. Look at what it would cost to move, then what it would cost to remodel. Add in the X-factors such as friends, schools and neighbors. When all is said and done, you may find you get more equity by staying in your home and remodeling

Hire a certified home inspector. You go to the doctor for physical exams and take your car in for checkups. Why not do the same for your house? A home inspection can be a valuable thing, whether you are selling or not.

Pay down the principal on your loan. As you make all those home improvements, don’t forget the cash. Your financial strategy can boost your home value in a big way. Many different loan features can be added together to give someone a loan that is comfortable for them; give them an opportunity to do home improvements and to invest in their future

Adding Value To Your Home With Summer Remodels

While some hope to spend a lazy summer lounging by the pool or cruising the lake, many American homeowners intend to be more industrious. According to the Zillow, 60 percent of homeowners have remodeling on their summer agendas, including additions.

Among the most popular home improvements are outdoor spaces (40 percent) and the median cost per project is $1,200. Homeowners with kids, however, are willing to spend a little more: $1,500. Younger respondents and those with children also are more likely to tackle three or more projects in the coming months.

According to Jason Pipkorn, owner of Pipkorn Construction (www.PipkornConstruction.com) there many remodeling project options that can increase your home’s resale value, and add plenty of enjoyment as well. “In today’s economy, big ticket renovations aren’t as common or sought after as they were 5 years or so ago,” said Pipkorn.   

Today’s budget-minded buyers want a home that is sustainable and energy efficient, so they can have a home that will last a lifetime. As a result of this, it is important to know what improvements will best increase home value without going overboard. Homeowners planning to remodel should concentrate their efforts on projects that are energy efficient and add character and comfort to their home.

Siding Improvements              

The first thing people notice about a house is it’s curb appeal, and upgrading a home’s siding can result in a significant increase in both curb appeal and overall home value. According to the 2009-2010 Cost vs. Value Report, a mid-range siding replacement increased home value with a 79.9% average return on investment. Since prospective buyers are looking for sustainability when house hunting, it is important to pick siding that is eco-friendly.

Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen is the place where families spend the majority of their time together, making it one of the most essential selling points for prospective buyers. According to HGTV, homeowners can expect a 60%-120% return on your investment on a kitchen remodel. A complete kitchen overhaul might not be necessary, but it is important to consider energy-efficient appliances that use 10-50% less energy and water than ordinary appliances. New kitchen appliances can add appeal and functionality to even the smallest of kitchens, and are a great investment for anyone looking to increase the value of their home.

Deck Addition

Adding a deck increases the value of any home, and increases the area of the existing space by opening up new places to entertain and relax with family. Deck remodels and additions also make the house more appealing to prospective buyers when the homeowner decides to sell, as HGTV claims that they can expect a 65%-90% return of their investment just by adding a deck. With more and more people choosing to stay home for vacations, outdoor living spaces have become more desirable, and this is a great option whether the owner is looking to sell, or just add a new space for their family to relax this season.

New Paint Job

A new paint job is one of the most inexpensive and time-effective ways to give any home a crisper and newer look. Fresh paint, in modern colors, can go a long way towards updating the look and feel of any room. When choosing the perfect paint, color isn’t always the only factor to look at. Homeowners might want to consider using low-VOC paint, which makes their home more eco-friendly, and allows their family to avoid breathing in dangerous chemicals like benzene, the off-gas from regular fresh paint.

Adding Energy-Efficient Windows

In today’s market, buyers are shopping for homes with energy efficiency in the forefront of their minds. To these prospective buyers, outdated, drafty single-pane windows are a major turn off. Adding a new set of windows to a home can give it a more open and updated look. In addition, Energy Star also claims that adding Energy Star-rated windows like can save homeowners up to $500 a year in heating and cooling costs, and HGTV claims that homeowners who install Energy Star-rated windows can also expect a 60%-90% return on their investment.

Although summer may seem like it is coming to an end there is still plenty of time to start your summer remodeling project today and increase the value of your home for tomorrow.

Since 2003, J. Pipkorn Construction has been building and remodeling residential and commercial real estate throughout southern Wisconsin. From kitchen, baths and new home construction to retail space and restaurants, the experienced designers and craftsmen at J. Pipkorn Construction will deliver your job on time and on budget. For more information on Pipkorn Construction, call us at (414) 916-4642, visit our website at www.pipkornconstruction.com or follow us on Facebook by clicking HERE.