Residential Remodeling in Lincoln, NE – 2018
Have you been thinking about taking on a home remodeling project lately? Is there something that really needs to be done or that you feel would significantly add to the enjoyment of your personal or family living space? Or do you want to improve energy efficiency, upgrade with smart home features, or do any of the other on-trend home updates you’ve been seeing or hearing about? Enhancing the look and/or function of the exterior and/or interior of one’s home can mean a lot of different things as there is so much potential in any given residential property.
Roofing, Gutters, Siding & Windows
These are the main elements of a home’s façade, with both function and aesthetics being important aspects to consider. If one or the other is lacking, a home improvement project is presumably in your future, and then you’ll end up with the best of both worlds.
If not simply due to age, oftentimes repair or replacement is needed to fix damage to these specific parts of a home caused by the myriad of severe weather that’s commonplace in our region. Sometimes this is clearly apparent right away while other times it can go unnoticed, only later to find that it’s what has led to a more serious problem.
“Many insurance companies only allow one year after a storm hits and a home has been damaged to file a claim and repair the damage,” explains Matt Preister with Xcel Roofing. “In Nebraska and the Midwest, there’s always the potential for storms to cause damage to our homes, especially the roofing and siding. We love our communities and keep watch over them Xtensively, weather systems included. Living in your home long-term and raising your family under that roof does go far beyond protecting it from the elements of the weather, though, and we take that to heart at Xcel Roofing.”
With that in mind, he advises on the following two major benefits of maintaining a good roofing system and exterior, including your siding and windows.
Enhanced Energy Efficiency: “Shingles are not just shingles! The same goes for siding and windows, too. There are so many choices on the market now. It’s advantageous to work with a consultant who will educate you on the differences and new and most innovative materials. In the case of shingles, they’ll be able to direct you to the ones that deliver on the promise of reflecting sunlight rather than absorbing it. With siding and windows, minimizing energy loss is a focal point of the products and installation process too. This will help keep your HVAC system from having to work so hard and save energy dollars for your family. But as we think about energy efficiency, let’s absolutely not ever forget about ventilation! As part of Xcel’s roof replacement, we make it a point to go into the attic to confirm that rising warm air can easily escape. Many times this gets missed in the process, which is again why it is important to work with a professional who will make it a point to walk you through the entire process. Using best-in-class shingles and roofing systems like what Xcel Roofing uses, Owens Corning, and earning a Preferred Contractors status, our systems come with a manufacturer 50-year problem-free performance and 5-year labor warranty. This gives homeowners peace of mind knowing that a reputable company that is firmly established in the community is there to take care of them.”
Amazing Curb Appeal: “As homeowners, we all appreciate that a good weather-tight roof, siding, and windows can not only prevent extensive, expensive water damage but also lend a boost to the outside appearance of your home and neighborhood. Specifically regarding roofing, from the different aesthetics that can be created with the various colors and styles to the new Impact-Resistant high-end materials to replace the wood shake shingles, Xcel Roofing’s consultants will help you with selection to achieve your desired look and function. Different homes feature different roof lines and exteriors, but seeing cracked, curled, or even missing shingles is not doing your home any favors and won’t win you any ‘Neighbor of the Year’ awards. A reputable company should be able to guide you through the entire process of a roof replacement from the day you decide on the colors and styles that will complement your home through the final day of installation. Providing you with digital tools to show you what a certain shingle with a certain siding color looks like might just make that process easier for you. You should not only get a new roof that performs well, but has the pride of the homeowner in looks.”
Jim Harding with Xcel Roofing also weighs in, offering the following tips: “If you’re a fan of home improvement shows or if you have already attempted your own DIY work, you’ll quickly learn that remodeling projects can take on a life of their own. Even the most seasoned remodeler can run into issues that would be nearly impossible to anticipate at the onset. To keep the frustration level under control and credit card from heating up, we recommend the following:
- Plan out your project by creating a step by step process you can follow.
- Shop for project materials ahead of time, not as you go.
- Hire a pro if it involves an advanced skill level or special tools to do it right.
- Get a permit from your local municipality if required. Don’t perform unpermitted work.
- Expect that during the process things can go wrong and changes may need to be made.
- Budget what you think it will cost and add in a 15-20% contingency.
- Make sure your pro has proper insurance coverages. Ask your own agent for help with this.
- Get references if you hire a pro. Get help and suggestions if you are doing it yourself.
As for the first part of that last bullet point, homeowners first and foremost need to check out a company’s reputation and make sure that customer service is their first priority. Does their vision for service and company standards meet or exceed your expectations? Look at the information provided by the Better Business Bureau to make sure that this is a company that has been accredited and has good reviews.
Finally, understand what your own goals are in wanting to tackle remodeling projects on your home. How long do you plan to live in the home? Are you remodeling it for sale? Are you fixing a functional problem or a cosmetic defect? If this is your ‘forever home’ and you want it to reflect your own unique style then feel free to go crazy with color and design. It’s your home! However, if your goal is to sell the house in the near future, try to keep the cosmetic changes neutral and any structural repairs permitted and documented.”
He concludes, “The American dream of homeownership is still alive and well in most communities. The purchase of a home remains the single largest investment most people make in their lifetime. Like any investment, it can grow in value or it can simply take your money. The best dollars you will ever invest in your home are in maintenance items. They’re really boring for most people–furnace filters, gutter cleaning, air conditioner checks, exterior caulking, the list goes on and on. Maintaining your home properly really sets the stage for some fantastic remodeling opportunities. Otherwise, it’s just lipstick on a pig. Happy remodeling everyone!”
Now that we’ve covered roofing and siding at length, let’s go more into depth on windows. Gary Shunkwiler with Heartland of Nebraska Windows advises, “New homeowners today are more informed about purchasing a home with high efficiency, triple pane windows. However, existing homeowners tend to overlook the need for new replacement windows. They see the condensation between their panes of glass, they feel the air coming in around their windows, or their windows have become so fogged over they can’t see through them anymore, but they will go for years until their windows finally get so bad they decide to look at replacement windows. But by that time, they have lost thousands of dollars in energy costs.
Replacing your windows is an investment up-front, but you’ll get a significant return on that over time. Most homeowners who haven’t replaced their original windows with triple pane windows with a high energy efficiency rating are spending thousands of dollars in energy bills over a 3-5 year time frame. Investing in Heartland Windows can save you between 48%-52% per year on their energy bills! Typically, Heartland windows can pay for themselves in 5-7 years. Furthermore, Heartland of Nebraska Windows offers a highly efficient, triple pane window at a lower cost than most companies while not sacrificing quality. Even with that being the case, we offer a non-prorated, lifetime warranty on all of our windows too. We install our windows down to the rough opening (not pocket windows), and we warranty our installation. This is how we choose to do business because we believe in giving every homeowner the best product for the best price, treating every customer with the honesty and respect they deserve and every home like it was our own.
As you’re probably aware, there are dozens of replacement windows companies who want you to invest in their windows. Most of them are national companies that will come into your home, give you a big ‘dog & pony’ show up front, and then present you with an estimate that will make you fall out of your chair. The best advice, whether it’s windows or anything else related to home improvement, is to find a locally-owned company that backs their products and their installation.
If you’re paying a high energy bill every month, start with taking a good look at your windows, because they’re probably the reason. Replacing old, inefficient windows with energy-efficient, triple pane windows with a lifetime warranty is an investment you won’t regret, and you’ll probably look back and wish you would have done it sooner. It will pay for itself in just a few short years, while also enhancing the aesthetics of your home and increasing its value.”
Landscaping & Outdoor Living/Entertaining Spaces
When examining your property for potential improvements, what catches your eye first? Is there old, weathered or dysfunctional fencing that needs to be replaced to better fit your needs, or that might simply benefit from a fresh coat of paint or stain? Have you been feeling the need for more privacy and a new fence, or alternatively, establishing a new tree line or hedge screen might do the trick? Is there an area that isn’t being used currently and could instead be transformed into an outdoor oasis, adding square footage of living and entertaining space to your home? Is it time to revamp your landscape design, upgrade your sprinkler system to get your lawn back to a lush green, or perhaps better outdoor lighting is the missing element? Have you always hoped for a nice deck, a pool, an incredible garden, a pond…anything specific come to mind?
Whatever that might be, the sooner you make it happen the happier you will be and the longer you’ll get to enjoy it.
The hugely popular outdoor living and entertaining spaces are worth mentioning here because there’s just so much potential. “The comfort and ambiance of resort-style space at your own home makes it a very attractive investment,” says Ken Svoboda with Ray’s Lawn and Landscape. “In addition to the value based on personal enjoyment alone, it’s been widely studied that landscape and outdoor living space enhancements, if done professionally, can have a return on the original investment of 100-175%.
From built-in kitchens with expansive grill inserts, wine refrigerators or beer taps, and even dishwashers to fireplaces and pizza ovens, the affordability and choices are endless. Wooden pergolas with LED lights and ceiling fans are growing in popularity, as are gas firepits, which are replacing wood-burning firepits mainly due to their aesthetic and cleanliness.
For those who plan a more long-term future in their homes, the value of family togetherness, having a great space to entertain and spend time with friends, and also a place where you can go to relax and unwind is priceless.”
You might have a patio, a deck, or both that could use a little makeover or a lot of work, but whatever the case it’s all worth it in the end when you’re kicking back and enjoying it.
Decks, in particular, have come to be a fairly standard feature of new homes, but as for older ones, it’s never late to add it on!
If you are starting from scratch, the material selection will make a big difference.
“I strongly recommend going with composite, especially if you’re planning on living in your house for longer than 10 years,” advises Dan Waters with Decks Unlimited. “Wood decks are beautiful, but maintenance to make a wood deck last 30 years will far outweigh the initial cost of a composite deck. Even if you’re planning on selling in the near future and need to replace your deck, composite is still the way to go. As a buyer, it is very comforting to know that the deck will not be an issue for a long time to come.
There are many brands of composite out there and choosing a quality product is very important. I recommend TimberTech out of all the brands available; the 30-year warranty speaks pretty loudly. They are a very environmentally conscious company, and their product is made of 70% recycled materials. For railing, I have found powder-coated aluminum is the way to go. I prefer Westbury aluminum railings, as they provide an impressive lifetime warranty.
Altogether, when thinking of adding or upgrading a deck, there are many options and colors. Pick what you love; it’s going to be there for a while. Using quality products and quality installers is very important. If you’re planning to build your own deck, Decks Unlimited is here to offer materials, and answer any questions you have throughout the installation process.”
For any of the special touches you want to add to your outdoor living and entertaining space, or for your landscaping project needs in general, Outdoor Solutions is a one-stop shop. There are beautiful firepits, fireplaces and brick ovens, grills and outdoor kitchen components, outdoor furniture, even pottery and outdoor art. As for project materials, from pavers to retaining and dry stack walls, steps, edging, boulders and landscape rock, mulch and fabric for plant beds–it’s all there waiting for you to take it home and make use of it.
As for plants, Eagle Nursery has the pretty pops of color and the lush greenery that will add a nice accent to your property, from the planted variety in your flower beds and yard to the potted variety on your porch, patio, or deck.
Interior Design & Upgrades
Moving inside your home, there’s probably plenty of things you love – and a few things that fall in the “left a lot to be desired” category. What are those misses for you and what can you do to resolve those issues?
Once you’ve answered those questions, you’ve now got a list of your wish list for future home improvement projects. Now it’s up to you to decide what’s feasible and the order of importance.
“Kitchens and master bathrooms are two areas where investing in remodeling to update them is well worth it,” says Heidi Polacek with Lincoln Cabinet. “When you think about your daily routine and what gets the most use in a home by your family or when you’re entertaining, it’s those areas. They are used daily, need to be functional, and you want them to look and feel nice. For the same reason, an updated kitchen and master bath are going to be attractive to buyers when it comes time to sell, providing a significant return on your investment on top of your personal enjoyment while living there.
With these types of remodeling projects, it’s important to know your budget going into the consultation with a professional. When we know that information up-front, it helps us make the best suggestions for products and design that fall within that range. It’s similar to shopping for a home – if you fall in love with a $60K project, then find out you only have $20K to spend, there’s a feeling of disappointment that overshadows the entire experience.
It’s also important to decide who will be involved in the project and to what extent. A good starting point is being honest with yourself about the amount of sweat equity you’re willing and able to put into the project. If you’re capable of doing the entire project or even just certain parts of it and know exactly what you’re getting into, go for it and save some money! However, if there’s any uncertainty, it’s wise to leave it to a professional. Especially on a big project, it’s worth the money for the expertise you’re getting. No matter the amount, it’s probably a lot of money to you, so the assurance that it is getting done correctly, accomplishes your goals, and meets your needs is pretty important. At Lincoln Cabinet, we do as little or as much as the client needs, whether that’s just getting them what they need to do the job themselves or handling the entire project from start to completion.”
Widely considered to be the “oldest trick in the book,” simply changing the color of the walls can transform the look and feel of any room in your home. Today, there are new techniques beyond just a couple fresh coats of paint to explore. You’re probably familiar with the accent wall, which creates dimension and allows you to play with color and tie in the flooring, furniture, fixtures and art. With the same goal in mind, you’d be amazed at the different designs and textures that can be created with paint.
“People are incorporating impact walls in every room in their house, with the master bedroom and bathroom, dining room, rooms with fireplaces, and powder rooms the areas of the home where this is especially popular,” says Thomas Rajkovich with Thomas Faux Finishing. “Grays and neutrals look like they’re here to stay, but they don’t have to be boring. Glass bead and metallic looks are everywhere in Europe and on the coasts, and it’s been exciting that clients are asking for these here in Nebraska too. Fine faux finishing is one of the quickest and most economical ways to update and transform your home without knocking down walls. Decorative finishes, which is like custom art for your walls, have come a long way too. Whether your style is contemporary or more traditional, you can’t make a mistake choosing a metallic, glass bead, or even a finish with foil. The new wave of decorative finishes fit any style.
If you’re going through the time and expense of remodeling, try something new with color, texture and light! Don’t worry if you don’t have a designer. We have a design consultant to show you our extensive portfolio, which makes it easy to find what suits you best. During the planning stages, clients are able to see a digital recreation of what the finished room will look like so there are no surprises.”
Many choose to update flooring and decorative accents at the same time to tie everything together. The professionals at EMO Flooring are ready to help you with your project, whether it’s floor refinishing or installation of new carpet, hardwood, laminate, tile, or stone flooring.
Project Planning & Execution
Diving right in without a well thought out plan is the last thing you want to do unless it happens to be something relatively simple and straightforward, and even then, proceed with caution. There aren’t an abundance of nightmarish and “comedy of errors” experiences during home remodeling projects out there, especially ones of the DIY variety, for no good reason. Instead of thinking it won’t happen to you, take it as a sign that you better know your stuff or know someone who does, be willing to suffer the consequences of any mistakes you might make on your own, or just hire a professional. Particularly for major projects, especially ones that involve the infrastructure or major systems such as plumbing, HVAC, and electrical, the latter is probably a wise move.
Among the most common home improvement projects with electrical components are outlet replacement, the addition of more outlets or relocation of outlets to be more functional or as a result of other work being done, rewiring for lighting or integrated technology, and panel upgrades that increase capacity to support usage.
Is there going to be an electrical component involved in your project? If the answer is yes, it only makes sense that an electrician is involved. The importance of this is not to be underestimated! It’s not just for your own safety, but also because a professional can direct your attention to anything you may not have considered before it becomes problematic during the project or something you wish you had done in hindsight.
“The electrical system can be easy to overlook until you run into an issue that prevents you from moving forward,” cautions Jon Eicher with ABC Electric Company. “At that point, you may have done yourself a disservice in not consulting with your electrician on project design or having a professional perform the necessary work. For example, are you looking into upgrades of your appliances or integrating smart home technology? Modern appliances and technology also come with increased power demand. Do you find yourself using multiple power strips or extension cords within your home that could be a safety risk? Adding more outlets not only requires rewiring but also thoughtful placement for optimal function. Are you adding components to an outdoor living and entertaining space that require power? You’ll want to make sure your current set-up will support those; otherwise, you’ll need to plan for the work to be done to establish the electrical system infrastructure as one of the very first steps.
Oftentimes with remodeling projects things come up that you hadn’t planned on which can delay completion or become much more costly to address. Consulting with a professional will help you better understand what you’re getting yourself into so that you can plan accordingly and avoid complications.”
Seasoned professionals in the various trades have a great deal of insight to offer that will help you get the most out of your investment and deliver exactly what you had in mind, all while doing it the way it should be done and helping you to avoid any major pitfalls or heartaches that can be a real bummer. This will make the time you’ll spend in the midst of the various stages during a remodel well worth it when you get to enjoy the new part of your home that suits your needs and matches your style perfectly.
Thomas Huston with Honest & Humble Construction offers the following tips on planning for a home remodel:
“A great starting point is to take a good look at your home and picture what you can and can’t live in or with. No one wants to be uncomfortable in their own home or to see something they hate day in and day out.
For instance, do the walls match your personality and lifestyle? Some prefer cozy, some want clean and simple or sleek and modern, some want rich tones for a luxurious feel, and some go for bright colors to match their disposition or active nature. Your color palette and the tones in it will make a big difference in the feel of the room. Or, does your home fit the needs of your family? You’ll want to take a look at functionality, which could necessitate a bigger kitchen or living room, more storage space, or extra bathrooms.
The big thing to consider is two-fold. First, what do you love about your home? Second, what would you like to fix? You may come to find out that simply changing your décor or finishes is what’s needed. On the other hand, you may realize that it’s going to be a more in-depth process to turn the things you don’t like into things you love about your home.
Once you’ve pinpointed what takes priority, if you have the funds, time and/or resources to remodel your home, you can work towards figuring out what would be a much better fit for you.
Now with that in mind, cost is a major factor that will influence the viability of your project. Can you afford to do the remodel? If the answer is yes, then next in the hierarchy of important things to take into consideration is time.
The biggest misunderstanding we face when meeting with homeowners is the expectation going in that remodeling, building, demo, or completing an entire project can happen in a weekend because Dad or Grandpa did it back in the day. When working with construction companies, remember they are performing work to last you 50 to 100 years, following specific guidelines, pulling permits, and then there’s the craftsmanship that goes into it. Unforeseen things also tend to come up during a remodel and those take time, and patience, to either work around or fix the correct way, especially in older homes. Also, how long can you live in/with the inconveniences that come along with a remodel, both expected and unexpected, such as having things torn apart or as issues come up like faulty wiring, messed up plumbing, cracks in the foundation, and so on? How long can you do without your bathroom? What if a window is too big, or a door handle doesn’t fit properly, or the lighting store doesn’t have enough light fixtures? You’ll want to order these items well in advance, then be prepared to make adjustments when issues arise and to make on-the-spot decisions when small things come up.
Going back to cost as it applies to design and material selection as well as the time it takes to complete the project, just keep in mind that you’re the one who ultimately has to live with it. Wouldn’t it be better to be done right and to be good quality so it doesn’t fall apart in a few years? Price versus quality of materials is always a topic of debate. Cheaper options can be attractive for obvious reasons, but you’ll come to find out that it wasn’t necessarily the best decision in the long run. Paint is a big one; there are certain kinds that you’ll often see advertised on television that seem great but can be bad for your walls. Visiting a home improvement center or consulting your construction project manager will help you narrow it down to the best options, which also holds true for just about any selections you’ll be making.
Finally, take the time to shop around for a contractor you are comfortable with and who has experience with the type of project you want to have done. Keep in mind that just because they have the lowest bid it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to shoddy work, or that the company with the highest big is trying to take advantage of you. Ask questions about the differences in costs and about the specifics, compare the bids, do a little research of your own, and then go from there. Always question the contractor if there are changes made, such as if there will be additional costs. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for references from the contractor.
Ask those you know who have done remodeling projects for feedback about their experiences too, such as what they were really happy with or if there is anything they would have done differently. The more questions you ask and information you gather, the better – we are always happy to serve as a resource for homeowners who have questions or are seeking direction.”
Aside from the aspects of the project itself, is there anything else that needs to be planned in advance? This might include alternate living arrangements if you’re displaced during an extensive renovation project. For some, staying with family or friends is doable, while for others, booking a hotel room would be a more suitable option. More commonly, you might need to arrange for safekeeping of some of your belongings in order to remove them from the area that’s being renovated while still having enough space to live comfortably in the other areas of your home.
“With online or in-person reservations, we make it easy to secure a storage space that fits your needs,” says Rod Berens with Store It All. “We have units as small as 5’x5’, which fits a dresser or several boxes, up to a large 10’ x 40’ unit with doors on both ends, which would accommodate furnishings for a 4-5 bedroom house with major appliances. We are also an authorized U-Haul Neighborhood Dealer, so if you need any moving vehicles or supplies, they are conveniently located on-site. We pride ourselves on our customer service, so if you need any assistance with finding the right size of unit for the belongings you need to store or getting set up with what you need otherwise, we are happy to help.”
Hopefully all of this information has left you feeling inspired and eager to take on your next home improvement project! When in doubt, it never hurts to ask a pro and lucky for you, they can easily be found here in Lincoln.
Be sure to keep in mind that if you are remodeling your home with the hope of living in it for an extended period of time, it’s wise to approach your project with the intention of getting exactly what you want (budget-permitting, of course). However, you may decide that it’s best to approach home improvements a bit differently if you have the intention of putting yours on the market and make some compromises accordingly. Be sure to check out our Resell Remodeling feature story in the October issue if that’s more of what you’re going for with your upcoming project!