The housing market is pretty wild for sellers and buyers right now. According to Redfin, in May 2021, Lincoln home prices were up 7.6% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $237K. On average, homes in Lincoln sell after five days on the market compared to 11 days last year. Many families are choosing to sell because there is an opportunity to turn a major profit from what they originally purchased their home at. Others are holding on to their homes and continuing to watch the home values increase. This extra equity is why home remodeling projects are extra popular right now. With such a competitive market, the nice houses are going to be fought over and people are going to pay more than maybe they are actually worth.

We wanted to talk to a few financial institutions about home equity loans for residential remodeling projects, as well as the designers and contractors themselves. What are the trends? What advice do they have for our readers who are taking on a remodeling project in their home for the first time? What adds the most value to home? Let’s see what the experts had to say!

Breaking It Down

Noelle Jacquot

First you have to know what is available to you. Noelle Jacquot, Senior Mortgage Sales Manager for FNBO (, breaks it down for us.

“When it comes to funding a remodeling project, most banks have several different options to meet your needs,” said Noelle. “At FNBO, we provide Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit, as well as Home Improvement Loans. The difference between the Home Equity Loan and Line of Credit is that the loan has a fixed term and payments. The line of credit allows the consumer to reuse the principal balance that they’ve paid back (like a credit card). Both products use the current equity in your home as collateral for the loan.”

“While money is still inexpensive to borrow, some options may come with a variable rate, so it’s important that the consumer understand all the terms being presented to them,” said Noelle.

Home Equity Loans

For smaller remodel, or home improvements, Lincoln Federal Savings Bank ( (Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.) offers Home Equity loans and HELOCs (home equity line of credit). Both products offer fixed or variable rate options and would not require that the first mortgage is paid off. Lincoln Federal Home Equity Loan proceeds are paid out in a lump sum and repaid over 10 to 15 years with the payments starting right away. Home Equity loans are best suited to pay for home improvement projects if the improvements you are making are pretty straight forward and can be done quickly, for example, new roof, windows, or deck.

Ben Huber
Lincoln Federal Savings Bank

“Our HELOCs (home equity lines of credits) are available with a five-year draw period and a 15-year repayment period,” said Ben Huber, consumer loan officer at Lincoln Federal Savings Bank. “The rate can be fixed or variable during the draw period and is adjustable during the repayment period. During the draw period, borrowers make interest-only payments based only on what is borrowed on the line. The line of credit provides flexibility if the project is going to take longer to complete or if the costs are going to accrue over a period of time.”

According to Ben, a Lincoln Federal construction loan is probably the better option for more significant projects. This is an interest-only loan, and the loan proceeds are advanced through draws. After completion, the construction loan is usually paid from an equity loan or from a refinance of the mortgage. These options enable the customer to utilize the equity in their home to increase its value.

In terms of current market trends, Ben noted that purchase prices have been increasing with houses being listed and sold very quickly, so some homeowners are realizing that their best option is to stay in their current home and make home improvements. With rising home values, homeowners have the potential to use this new equity to update the interior or exterior of their current property.

“For people wanting to buy a home, with so many offers being made, sellers are expecting to see offers that are not contingent upon the sale of the buyer’s house and that buyers are ‘prequalified’ for a mortgage loan,” said Ben. “Lincoln Federal does have products for these situations. A Bridge loan utilizes the equity in the buyer’s current home to be used for the down payment on the new home. The Bridge loan is paid from the sale of the buyer’s current home. Lincoln Federal provides a free prequalification. Just contact any of our mortgage lenders.”

Ultimately, Ben confirmed that now is a great time to make these updates and to utilize the additional home equity.

“Many homeowners have refinanced their first mortgage with historically low mortgage rates in the last year or so,” said Ben. “A second mortgage is one way to take advantage of this situation without affecting the interest rate on their first mortgage.”

In addition, Ben shared that kitchen remodels and basement finishes are typically the types of improvements that add the most value to a home, and adding livable square footage.

“Deck additions and flooring updates can also help with the appeal and value of the home,” said Ben. New exterior siding and window replacement can help with the upkeep and also add and renew the value to the home. Remodeling your home adds enjoyment to your current residence while boosting the home’s value without the hassle of moving into a new home. When homeowners are considering a refinance in the future, an appraiser will take these renovations into account when estimating their home’s new value.”

When asked what his one last piece of advice to customers considering a remodel would be, Ben said: “A higher home value means you’ll have more equity and a lower loan-to-value ratio for your next refinance or when you sell your house, not to mention the satisfaction that comes from the renovations. My last advice would be, while some projects may be done as DYI (do it yourself), most projects should be done by a professional.”

We couldn’t agree more! It can be tempting to try to do something yourself to save money, but what often happens is the project doesn’t get done right and time and money ends up getting wasted. So, it’s time to meet the professionals who can do the job right the first time!

Seeing Is Believing

Kayla Stock
KayStock Design

We talked to Kayla Stock, owner of KayStock Design (, about why it can be so worth it to work with someone who knows what they’re doing.

“As an interior designer, I encourage all my clients to explore their own design taste,” said Kayla. “There are so many things that can be done to improve a home or commercial space, and so many different styles. If the thought of that is overwhelming, hiring a design professional can be very helpful. It’s all about visualizing a design before executing it. No one wants to spend a bunch of money on something they think will look good once completed, just to find out it’s not what they actually want. A professional can offer guidance when picking out colors, flooring, furniture, you name it. We know what to look out for such as how lighting effects a room and what will comfortably fit in a space.”

Kayla is constantly looking for new products, materials, and other design features to ensure that her company provides forward-thinking design that is modern and unique. She also use 3D software and hand-rendering skills to explore custom designs with her clients.

“For one of my most recent projects, I’m working with a client who bought an office space in an old industrial building,” said Kayla. “We are turning it into a modern tech company office with the use of polished concrete floors, custom walnut design features, and bold black accents,” said Kayla. “I really love bold design concepts—bold colors, patterns, woodwork, etc. Things that are eye-catching and make a statement.”

A Professional Touch

Kristina Hill HomeShield Roofing & Exteriors

“Doing remodeling projects can seem daunting, selecting a reputable, local contractor will help take away some of that headache,” Kristina Hill of HomeShield Roofing & Exteriors ( “At HomeShield, we try to make the process as easy (and fun!) as possible. We love taking your vision and creating your dream home. We will help check with your neighborhood associations to ensure that the changes you’re looking to make fall within the parameters they have set out.”

HomeShield Roofing & Exteriors can handle any exterior remodeling projects. They specialize in roofing, siding, windows, gutters, and stone.

“Recently, we have been seeing a lot more homeowners adding stone to the exterior of their home,” said Kristina. “According to the 2021 Cost vs. Value report for remodeling, by adding stone veneer to the exterior of their homes, homeowners recoup 97% of the job project costs when reselling. It’s an easy way to boost curb appeal and with so many different options to choose from, you can really change the look of your home.”

“Another fun remodeling project to update your home, is changing the siding,” said Kristina. “We can do combinations of vertical and horizontal, accent shake shingle siding to add character, and even pair your siding with some different stone choices to really make an impact. The options are endless. Plus, if you’re anything like me, sometimes I need to visualize things before making big decisions. We offer an option to see a 3D model image of your home and can play around with different design and color options to help you visualize what your home will look like before work ever begins. We can easily help you visualize what your house will look like with a more modern, minimal look or a traditional, earth-tone feel. We encourage you to drive around and snap pictures of houses that catch your eye so that we can help recreate something unique to your styles and tastes.”

If it’s your first time taking on a remodeling project in your home, you’ll benefit from some words from the wise. Here is what Kristina offered up for advice.
“I’d suggest taking a few minutes and making a list,” said Kristina. “On your list, include groups of items that are top-priority, ones that are a like-to-have, and then a list that are dream items. This will help you set your budget and have realistic expectations. We’d also suggest having a budget and being completely upfront with your contractor about what you are hoping to spend. That way, we can guide you to products that will help achieve the look you are going for without breaking the bank.”
“For first-time remodelers, I’d also say to be prepared for some longer material delays,” Kristina added. “Right now, we are seeing certain materials take longer to get in than others. If you are on a tight deadline, be sure to make that known right way. Your contractor should be upfront with you if that timeframe is doable and help set realistic expectations.”

“As far as 2021 trends go, we are seeing a lot more homeowners switch from the traditional weather wood roofs to the darker grays and black,” said Kristina. “We’re also seeing more homeowners switch from their vinyl siding to the more durable James Hardie or LP SmartSide that offer a huge variety of color options, textures, and accent options.”

First Impressions

Patrick Lowe
Neemann & Sons

For 40 years, Neemann & Sons ( has been remodeling the exterior of homes around eastern Nebraska. We talked to Patrick Lowe, siding project manager for Neemann & Sons, about how their company stands out in the residential remodeling sector.

“Our work spans from roofing, siding, gutters, windows, Halo Lighting, and all the different varieties within those subjects,” said Patrick. “As a company and our years of experience from our project managers to our foremen, this gives us the ability to install basic products to even the most extensive products. Daily, we have crews installing asphalt shingles to DaVinci Shingles, vinyl siding to James Hardie cement board siding, standard seamless gutters to commercial seamless gutters, wood soffit and fascia to aluminum soffit and fascia, and Halo Lighting. We are a preferred installer for several shingle brands and a gold standard installer for James Hardie. Our specialty as a company is being able to do virtually anything exterior on your home while only having to work with one contractor to complete your dream.”

Something that has kept Neemann & Sons unique for 40 years is how simple they have made the process.

“Any exterior project for homeowners can be a difficult and confusing time because it is a whole new language for them,” said Patrick. “Neemann & Sons has always kept their project managers in the front line to be available when the phone rings to answer every and all questions. Neemann & Sons does not believe in growing fast while leaving customer service behind. Our focus as a company is to do the basics every day, doing them well and doing them every day. To sum up what makes us unique as a company is to say that we are Neemann & Sons, a family business that has been here for 40 years and plan on being here for many more years.”

We asked Patrick what his advice would be to people who are considering improving, redesigning, adding on, etc. to their home but have never done projects like these before.

“No matter the extent of your project, changing any aspect of your home can be (especially as a first timer) confusing and sometimes sticker shock,” said Patrick. “The confusion will occur due to the different ‘language’ that is used during a construction process. We have learned that the customers who ask more questions tend to have a better and easier process. Neemann & Sons have learned to bridge this by having a foreman or a project manager on the job. The second thing anyone should expect when asking for an estimate on a project is to understand the sticker shock. Many homeowners will collect multiple estimates from several companies, which is a smart thing to do, to find what each company offers. Some will only focus on the dollar amount and many times the homeowner will get exactly what they paid for. Please keep in mind that while you think those higher prices are expensive, imagine having to pay for a project twice since it was not done correctly the first time!”

According to Patrick, one of the greatest trends he is seeing is homeowners choosing products that will require less upkeep on their homes.

“For the roof, they are choosing Class 4 Impact Resistant shingles that hold up better to hail and other weather and insurance companies will give premium discounts,” said Patrick. “For gutters, they are choosing to upgrade to the larger size as well as adding gutter covers. For siding, they are choosing to upgrade from vinyl to James Hardie cement board siding. All these upgrades are coming at a higher cost; however, they understand that what they are putting on their home is something that is to last.”

“Neemann & Sons also sells continuous Halo Lighting that allows homeowners to have multiple different styles and color designs,” Patrick added. “Halo Lights allow the homeowner to spruce up their home for the holidays or to even add simple accent lighting for all other days.”

Kitchens & Bathrooms

We know that kitchen and bathroom remodels are the money makers. We spend a lot of time in those rooms of the home, so they are where we want to feel the most comfortable and happy with the design. They are also what buyers are looking at the most. Sometimes, small changes can make a big difference in these rooms. For example, old counter tops can really date a space. By giving counter tops a facelift, you give your kitchen or bathroom a whole new look.


Tim Zeng
Zeng Granite

Zeng Granite ( offers excellent customer service and communication for anyone desiring to remodel their kitchen or bathroom. They have over 20 years experience working with residential units and homes. Their inventory is updated once every business day. They have full slabs and remnants to select from. Zeng offers both granite and quartz countertops, which will each provide you with years of low-maintenance beauty and a high level of utility.

“A natural stone, such as granite, has a larger degree of variation and movement in its patterning— resulting in a completely unique and organic look for each countertop.” said Tim Zeng, owner of Zeng Granite. “Engineered stone, such as quartz, allows for a wider range of colors, and has better pattern consistency. Quartz is sealed during the manufacturing, and is just a bit easier to clean and maintain.”

If you go online to the Zeng Granite website, you can scroll through their wide inventory of natural and engineered stones. You can actually call or email them to receive a quote and put a “Hold” on any of the items you see. They will hold your selection for up to two business days. Remnants are sold as a special reduced price. All remnants are sold “As Is” and “First Come, First Sold”. There is also a more complete inventory at Zeng Granite’s Lincoln location, 3035 N 35th St.

Another element in kitchens and bathrooms that can be updated and give the space a whole new look and feel is the cabinets. We asked a local expert what cabinet trends are hot right now.

Jason Krueger
Kitchen Tune-Up

“White cabinets are always on the top of the list for trends,” said Jason Krueger, owner of Kitchen Tune-Up in Lincoln ( “Some light grays are creeping into the arena, as well. Two-tone is popular too. I’ve had clients do white on top and gray on bottom or white cabinets and gray island. The other thing that we are doing a lot of lately is more kitchen organization instillations such as roll-out drawers, roll-out trash cans, lazy Susans, and other things that help folks age in place and make the kitchen more user-friendly for the older homeowner.”

What makes Kitchen Tune-Up unique is their speed, affordability, and quality. They can typically do a kitchen or bath update in 1-5 days.

“No one else offers some of the services that we do,” said Jason. “All the way from a one-day Tune-Up to a full remodel. We can just spend a day to do a wood restoration and help your kitchen look better, or help you sell a house. Once we start a project, we finish it before we move on to the next one. You won’t have to wait on us and live with a torn up house for months.”

“There are lots of little details that people usually don’t think of when trying to do a remodel,” said Jason. “We try and take care of all of that and help manage the whole thing if our client wants us to. Coordinating all of the moving parts can be daunting to a first timer. We try and take that stress away when we do our projects.”

And Beyond!

Another local company that provides unique cabinet solutions is Usher Custom Cabinets ( With 40 years of experience, Usher has built a reputation for excellence in cabinetry and craftsmanship. In addition to their superior kitchen and bathroom remodeling work, they can also go beyond those rooms where storage and sleek design are need.

Neal Chloupek

“Whether you are dreaming of shoes and coats neatly put away or a custom library to hold hundreds of books, we are here for you with custom cabinet solutions for every space,” said Owner Neal Chloupek.

Past projects the Usher Custom Cabinets has completed include libraries, home theatres, bars, pantries, fireplaces and mantles, entertainment centers, display cases, curios, gun cabinets, and more. They can present 3D rendering and virtual walk-thrus so that they can give their clients an accurate look at the remodel plans.

What About Your Garage Door?

It might be a feature of our home we don’t think about right away when making a wishlist of improvements, but garage doors can actually take up a lot of the front of a home depending on where they are located on the house. If you’re wanting to boost your curb appeal a bit, ask yourself how attractive your garage door is. Companies like Overhead Door of Lincoln ( offer gorgeous garage doors for residential properties. Here are some types to choose from:

  • Modern Aluminum—Sleek and sophisticated, Overhead Door’s Aluminum and Glass Garage Doors offer a unique look for contemporary homes.
  • Courtyard Collection—Designed with the beauty of traditional carriage house doors, these insulated steel doors enhance the look of any home.
  • Signature® Carriage—Featuring expert Amish craftsmanship, these detailed carriage house doors feature the look of the swing-open doors with the functionality of sectional garage doors
  • Carriage House Collection—With high-design, thermal performance and the durability you need, these doors combine elegance and strength.

Hopefully, after hearing from the experts, you feel a lot better heading in to your next remodeling project! We all want our house to feel like a home, and this happens through great construction and design efforts—and they don’t have to break the bank. You can work with local companies to turn your existing space into something off of your Pinterest board.