The best part of being a homeowner is arguably that you get to be the master of your domain. While this is a major commitment that requires a lot of hard work and responsibility it is also accompanied by a great sense of pride, freedom and comfort that makes the extra effort and investment well worth it. Especially for those who are making a house into a home that they will live in for the next 10-20 years and even beyond, there are many improvements you can make no matter what your budget is that will add value and enjoyment to your home.
Utilizing Interior Design for a Fresh Look
The main purpose of a house is to be lived in, but as a result, over time it’s easy to get tired of your surroundings and have the desire to switch things up or replace the old with the new. There are numerous ways to go about this, and many local resources that are available to consult and work with across the entire process from concept to finished product. As every project starts with a plan, involving them as early as possible will allow you to evaluate all of the possibilities and to stay on the right track.
“When it comes to redesigning the interior of your home, it’s important to start with the basics and consult with professionals from the very beginning,” emphasizes Sherri Fandrich, co-owner of Sutter Place Interiors. “The issue I see the most with our clients is starting out with the wrong color palette, and then later on when everything is coming together it doesn’t flow as well as anticipated—or even at all for that matter. It can get complicated in choosing the right paint, carpet, art and décor, fabrics for window coverings and furniture and then having everything coordinate harmoniously for the finished product. Especially in the case of picking the wrong paint color, it severely limits your choices. From the basics all the way down to the most detailed accessories, everything plays off of each other. While you may not opt to work with an interior designer throughout your entire remodeling endeavor, it is crucial to at least consult with a professional to ensure you are on the right track or if you’re not, to catch it before it becomes a costly and frustrating issue.
I always advise clients, especially if they are planning to stay in their homes for a lengthy amount of time, to pick out what they love and stay true to their individual taste. Whatever the trends may be, if you pick that out just because it’s ‘in’ as opposed to going with something that’s timeless, a couple of years down the road it’s much more likely that you’ll end up hating it and want to start over again. If you’re not remodeling specifically to sell your home, it’s important to do it for your own enjoyment and satisfaction. Other than staying with the colors and styles that you love, make sure to buy the best materials that you can afford. Quality is synonymous with longevity in this case, so if you’re investing in upgrading your home, really go for it and don’t cut corners. It’s always a shame to see time and money wasted when wear and tear happens easily with regular use that’s expected in a home environment.”
She further explains, “Most of what we do at Sutter Place Interiors is refreshing the look and infusing your current style into your home. Depending on your budget, we can offer you plenty of options. If you’re not up for ripping everything out and starting from scratch, you can always create a fresh new look by adding a few accents or new accessories—small things really can make an impact. As far as major projects go, kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular as it’s important for these spaces to be comfortable and functional. From simply changing up the backsplash and countertop to renovating the entire space, there are plenty of options here as well. Any upgrades you do to your home will pay off in the long run; remodeling is well worth the investment and effort to look into and consulting a professional will allow you to broaden your vision for what is possible.
If you don’t know what style you’re going for, not to worry. We live in a time where there’s plenty of inspiration to be found on TV shows, online, and from apps like Pinterest, and all of that is a great way to gather ideas together so that you can guide the professionals you are working with in the right direction. However, it’s also important to understand that projects aren’t always as simple as they are portrayed on shows or tutorials. Having a designer help you from the very start will save you from making costly mistakes, which I see happen time and time again when it comes to home remodeling. If only at least to get advice, it’s well worth taking the time to look into what your options are. If you enjoy doing your own work that’s great, but make sure to do what you do best (or at least don’t stray too far outside of your comfort zone unless you are prepared to deal with any consequences) and leave the rest up to the professionals.”
In the entire scope of a home remodeling project, flooring is generally last to get installed but not least important by any means. The flooring you choose will tie the other features in the space together, giving it the complete look and feel that you are trying to achieve. EMO Flooring is your local flooring expert, offering a wide variety of flooring options including carpet, tile, wood, laminate and vinyl and excellent customer service including in-home measurement for those who are not sure about the necessary quantities and supplies. With their many years of industry experience installing flooring, they not only offer expertise but piece of mind that the job will be done right the first time. Their in-house designers will work with you to create a space that expresses your taste and lifestyle, with the goal of making your house a uniquely beautiful home. Jacque Lee of EMO Flooring advises, “Especially regarding residential remodeling endeavors, we always try to find out the location of the project, such as whether it is specific to the kitchen or bathroom. There are different factors that have likely already been at play prior to our involvement, such as the color and style of countertops, cabinetry, etc. so we build off of that information in order to get the perfect end result. For example, new cabinets and hardwood we need to know the wood to contrast it or for granite to flow and work together with the flooring instead of fighting each other. Based upon what type of materials our clients choose, we always offer education on how to best care for them after installation. If the customer chooses a hardwood, it is essential to be aware that they will need a certain level of humidity year round and a humidifier will be crucial. At EMO Flooring, we pride ourselves in being able to provide our clients a wealth of information that is useful for just about any type of home remodeling project.”
If you don’t consider yourself to be particularly talented in the area of home remodeling or even if you simply don’t have the time to dedicate to projects around the house, no matter how small or big they may be, a company that offers a wide range of “handyman” services is another example of an excellent resource to utilize. HandyMark Home Improvements and Remodeling has been locally owned and operated for 20 years and offers clients extensive expertise in a wide range of products and services related to residential remodeling. Just a few of these might include basement finishes, bathrooms, decks, egress windows, handicap accessibility, kitchens, restoration, room additions, window and door replacements, roofing, tornado shelters – any request is welcome!
Upgrading Your Home’s Key Systems
For any renovations or projects that will include your home’s major utilities and infrastructure – plumbing, HVAC, electrical, alarm systems, integrated technology and automation systems, etc. – you’ll want to make sure you hire an experienced professional. All things considered, these are certainly not the areas that do-it-yourselfers should attempt to take on themselves.
“John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning is certainly able to help out with your plumbing, heating and air conditioning needs for a home remodeling project,” says Lindsey Reinke of John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. “We can provide free estimates to replace existing plumbing or install brand new so that you have the necessary options in front of you in order to make an informed decision before moving forward. We offer service seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. without overtime, plus true 24-hour emergency service.
A lot of our customers are remodeling bathrooms and kitchens. It’s not only where function is crucial and a lot of time is spent but also where a great deal of value and return on investment lies. We can provide sinks, faucets, drinking water systems, water heaters, toilets, and water softeners… just to name a few! Our technicians carry many of the items on their vans to eliminate the delivery to provide the quickest service for our customers. There are also supply houses around town that have showrooms where customers can go to and pick out specialty items if they want something different. We feel options are very important for everyone!
In our experience customers generally want the newest and best thing when it comes to remodeling and we want to make sure we can provide that for them. This could be a copper sink, or even a sink that looks like a rock! However, it’s extremely important to make sure that before a new item is purchased, it is laid out with the proper measurements to ensure it will fit. Something we are also seeing is that customers are tired of buying bottled water and are concerned with the potential chemicals that could be in the water or coming from the plastic bottle itself. In response to this trend, we began provide drinking water systems that are customized to fit our client’s needs. On demand (or tankless) water heaters are also very common right now as they can provide continuous hot water, and of course we can handle that request too.”
She adds, “The most important thing to any current homeowners, or future homeowners of your property, is comfort! Start thinking about the future and purchasing items that are easier to use, like handicap accessible faucets, toilets, etc. It will only improve your comfort now and be more user-friendly in the future. Also, check reviews and ask your technician or estimator plenty of questions. They’re the ones installing and working on them, so they really do have great advice on what to purchase as well as what to stay away from.”
Pat Killeen, owner of Engineered Controls, offers the following options for integrating control systems and technology during your home renovation endeavors:
“When considering upgrading their home in the areas of new technology, consider this: How cool would it be if you had a house you could control from wherever you are? Or if you never had to remember to turn the lights off again, or worry about losing your house keys, or worry if the kids are home alone? For this reason, every home remodel project is the perfect opportunity for homeowners to upgrade their home’s technology to an environmentally friendly Connected or Smart Home.
By partnering with professional security companies like Engineered Controls, we have proved products from industry manufacturers such as Honeywell and others that provide connected homes technology of the future: a connected home where heating, security and entertainment are fully automated and all of the latest gadgets enable creature comforts with the press of a button or a spoken command. These companies have been providing the desired features of smart home systems for years. From award-winning wireless thermostats and zoning systems to control your home heating and cooling comfort system, to security and monitoring technology like wireless occupancy sensors and IP cameras to give homeowners the peace of mind they are looking for. And the beauty of it is Engineered Controls already has integrated smartphone apps for the end-user interface from both Androids and iPhones.
And the best part is that even if you’re not a technology wizard, you can purchase a household’s worth of sensors, cameras and devices for far less than it would have cost just a few years ago.
Here are some industry projections to add legitimacy to the future of Smart Homes. Strategy Analytics, a research and consultancy firm, predicts some 21 million U.S. households will be ‘smart’ in some sense of the word by the end of 2014. This all results in a smart home market that is estimated to hit $10 billion dollars this year and projected to grow to $44 billion by 2017, according to wireless industry group GSMA.
So according to many indications, the time is now for our industry to make a major push in the selling of smart home system installations and remote viewing of IP cameras within people’s houses. A recent survey by the Coldwell Banker real estate firm of their sales associates shows solid interest from home buyers for smart homes, with 65 percent responding that their prospective home buyers want security systems in their new houses and also want control of their home security, thermostats and devices to be available from their smartphones or devices.
Some people close to the real estate industry have said that in three to seven years, they foresee homes being completely outfitted with smart technology for improving both functionality and lifestyle in our homes.
With the launch of the Apple Watch, a wearable device that does many things besides simply tell the time, current users of the iPad and the iPhone will surely flock to new ‘can’t-live-without’ technology. To date, you will already see many apps courtesy of companies that sell smart home solutions including Lutron, Honeywell, Kwikset, DMP and Savant, to name a few. The Honeywell and Lutron apps have been featured in the most recently aired TV commercials for the Apple Watch.
At a keynote address to shareholders, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave examples of home automation apps that will be launched soon for the Apple Watch including Honeywell’s new Wi-Fi thermostat called Lyric with its geofencing technology app that allows users to access the thermostat remotely and Lutron’s app for wireless lighting products. What does this all mean? We’re going to see more apps from home tech developers like Honeywell, Lutron and more that will allow the wearer to control their home’s window shades, security panels, and probably more, with literally a ‘flick of the wrist.’
Installing innovative technology and smart home systems will not only help protect your home, possessions and family, as well as adding convenience and interest, but it will also increase the value of the home and the salability of that value.”
As most of your home’s critical systems are dependent on a power source to stay up and running, there are many things that can go wrong when the power goes out. A generator is an investment that will protect your home from any damage while keeping things running and your family safe and sound.
Especially in the event that you’re already doing upgrades to the electrical system, it is advantageous to consider incorporating a generator into the plans. “It’s all about peace of mind for the homeowner,” emphasizes Tobias Sommer, owner of Generators For Sale. “Here in the Midwest we are familiar with inclement weather and the potential damage it can cause to our homes and property. This year especially, we’ve seen plenty of disaster and costly damage that has resulted from excessive rainfall. For example, we were just working on a house where the power had gone out enough times that the sump pump blew and there was three inches of standing water in the basement. However, it’s important to note that this can even happen with any amount of rainfall; whether or not it’s a torrential downpour you still need the power to operate the sump pumps in order to effectively keep water out of your home.
The reality of the situation is that if the power goes out during a storm and your sump pump isn’t running you could easily find yourself dealing with repairs upwards of $50,000. It’s fairly common for houses to have two or three sump pumps as well, which further complicates things and investing in a generator is similar to buying an insurance policy to keep your home safe and protected. For the most part people can live without power, but the key issue is that if the power is out for too long many other aspects of your house are at risk for sustaining extreme damage. Even if the power is only out for a matter of a few hours that’s a big enough window of time for major problems to occur. Particularly for those who travel frequently or are away from their homes for most of the day or evening, a generator is an investment that will give you peace of mind that your home is safe from damage that a power outage would cause at all times.
As there are many different ways you can incorporate a generator, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to buy a large unit that will power your whole house. There are plenty of options for smaller units that can run your critical circuits at a reasonable price point. In line with the example of water damage, the cost of the unit will be far less than completely redoing your basement, the loss of your possessions, future mold issues that could arise, and so on. So in addition to the peace of mind you’ll have, the return on investment is significant.
Generac has had some really exciting new load management offerings, which allows the option for a smaller generator that can still handle the necessary power requirements due to the ability to lock out or stage the recovery time. The homeowner is able to control which aspects of the home need to remain up and running, and there is also new technology in the materials that the generators are constructed from that get more output while needing less fuel. Technology with generators is advancing by leaps and bounds, even from just one year ago, and the smaller generators with bigger product and management offerings allow for a much more cost effective system.
I always stress–especially during remodeling projects where work is already being done to the home–that it’s well worth looking into incorporating a generator. Among the list of benefits, our clients most often cite the tremendous feeling of relief that they’ll never have to worry about the power going out or any number of things that could potentially happen as a result.”
Enhancing Your Outdoor Living Space and Curb Appeal
Moving on to your home’s exterior, there are plenty of remodeling projects here to consider as well! In addition to the basics such as windows, siding, doors, landscaping, roofing and so on, modern outdoor living and entertaining spaces have recently gained a lot of popularity among home owners who are improving their property. Just as with the interior of your home and the key systems, there are a wealth of things you can do to improve your home’s exterior that will add value and enjoyment.
“If you’re looking for a great remodeling project that will not only improve the aesthetics of your home but will also improve your home’s energy efficiency, our triple pane window is the way to go,” advises Jason Olberding, owner of J-Tech Construction. “When you replace your windows, you are not just making a purchase, you are making an investment. You will be able to enjoy a beautiful new exterior look without breaking the bank. You could even see up to a 59% improvement in your homes energy efficiency!
If you are searching for a project to compliment your new windows, I would recommend Seamless Metal Alloy siding. Just like replacing your windows, brand new siding can cut back on your energy costs as well as provide a beautiful new look to your home. Our Seamless Metal Alloy siding comes in a variety of colors and is manufactured on the job site to custom fit your home, giving your home a “face-lift” that will wow the neighborhood.
When you are ready to take on a new project my advice is follow these three steps:
1. Make a list of what is most important to you. Maybe you have a specific siding color, or maybe you have a specific brand of shingles you wanted to use—whatever it might be, make sure your list is unique to you.
2. Before you get your estimates, plan your budget. What can you afford right now? Maybe you have a budget that allows you to replace a few windows a year. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed when getting your estimates.
3. After you get your estimates, make sure you do some homework on each of the companies that provided you with an estimate. Are they local? What is their rating with the Better Business Bureau? Are they Angie’s list approved? Getting answers to questions such as these can help you weed out any bad contractors.
Remodeling doesn’t always happen by choice; it can also come about out of necessity. Keep in mind, J-Tech will also work with your insurance company. If you were one of the unlucky homeowners who experienced storm damage, give Your Exterior Experts™ a call and we can help you through the process.”
He adds, “As far as what’s trending, although solar energy is not necessarily a new concept, it has definitely seen a spike in popularity in recent years. When solar panels were first introduced, pricing was a huge turn off to homeowners. Even those who liked the idea and wanted solar energy for their home could not make the investment simply because the initial price was too high. This has changed dramatically in the past few years. Due to a competitive manufacturing market and advancements in technology, the price for a homeowner to have solar installed has decreased substantially.
If you were previously interested in solar energy but wrote it off as too high of an expense, I definitely recommend getting a new estimate. You will more than likely be very pleasantly surprised at how much the investment price has decreased. Call Your Exterior Experts™ if you are interested in more information on renewable energy. For anyone who is in favor of renewable energy, such as solar or wind, I urge you to contact your local representatives and have them vote in favor of LB423. This would allow a state tax credit as well as other incentives on renewable energy. In turn, this will allow for an even lower cost on solar for residential properties. They will be voting again next session.”
As previously mentioned, improving, enlarging and enhancing the outdoor living area is currently very popular. “It seems more and more people want to extend their indoor environment outdoors,” says Bill Budler, owner of Nebraska Outdoor Living. “In fact, HGTV recently ranked outdoor living improvements as the third best return on investment of all home improvements. We have seen in the local market that homes with nicer ‘improved’ outdoor living areas such as decks and patios sell quicker and demand higher selling prices.
Return on investment however is not the primary motivation for our typical client. We have found that the vast majority of homeowners are most interested in making their patios or decks more comfortable. Adding proper exterior shade, comfortable furniture, or other outdoor features like a fire pit or fireplace for their personal use far outweighs consideration for resale.
The current trend is towards extending the times when the outdoor living areas can be used. Reducing the ambient temperature with outdoor shading is huge in our industry. Protection from rain by adding covering for patios or decks is another popular option; however, existing homes often run into zoning issues and structural problems with permanent additions. Dealing with late afternoon sun is a very common problem. As the sun sets it can become very uncomfortable even under a covered deck. A retractable solar screen can block the sun, reduce the temperature by 20 degrees or more, and greatly reduce the glare. This can make an unpleasant evening on the deck comfortable.
When considering outdoor living area improvements one should first consider the objective. Are you looking to use this area mostly for entertaining in the late afternoon or evening? Or, will this be your outdoor breakfast nook? Will it be used for large gatherings or mostly just for the two of you? Perhaps most importantly, how comfortable will it be? Beautiful furniture, nice landscaping, charming water features all are of very little value if you can’t be outside to enjoy them. Primary consideration should be given to shade from the sun and weather issues like rain and wind. Enjoying your outdoor living when you want and not just on the occasional ‘perfect day’ is possible with the proper planning.”
“With more and more families choosing to spend more time at home, the comfort and ambiance of resort style space at your own home is a very popular choice,” agrees Ken Svoboda, owner of Ray’s Lawn and Home Care. “From outdoor kitchens with expansive grill inserts, wine refrigerators and dishwashers to fireplaces and pizza ovens the affordability and choices are endless. Wooden pergolas with LED lights and ceiling fans are growing in popularity. Gas firepits are replacing wood burning firepits for their cleanliness and convenience and fireplaces are becoming more commonplace in neighborhoods throughout Lincoln.
Studies have shown that a well-designed and professionally installed outdoor living space will return approximately 110% of its value at resale of the home. If the family plans a more-long-term future in their home the value of family togetherness is priceless.
As far as landscaping, the popularity of concrete paver systems and decorative yet functional retaining walls have exploded in the availability of new products. Concrete paver systems a few years ago consisted primarily of the standard 4” x 8” brick look or a cobble look consisting of three different sizes of paver. Today, manufacturers have developed pavers that very closely resemble flagstone, large ceramic tile and even wood flooring for outdoor use. Retaining walls have morphed from the straight line row look into a traditional, drystack natural stone look and the popular faux stack stone look seen in so many of Lincoln’s newest neighborhoods.
Homeowners who are looking at undertaking a remodeling project that includes a landscape renovation should first do the research necessary to narrow their vision of the completed project. By being more specific in their wants and wishes, homeowners will better be able to compare the bids they receive from at least two to three landscapers. Once that decision is made the contractor you choose will be more than happy to offer upgrades or provide additional bids for changes you wish to make. Ask for references and addresses of which you might be able to visit to inspect the contractor’s workmanship.
At Ray’s Lawn & Home Care, we take great pride in being one of Lincoln’s finest and most innovative landscape design specialists. We offer over thirty-five years of design and installation experience, and I personally oversee every landscape project and work very closely with the homeowners along every stage of construction.”
Similar to outdoor living spaces, sunrooms are an excellent way for homeowners to add square feet during a remodel while also adding a feature to their home that will provide their family enjoyment year round. Replacing the old with the new is par for the course when it comes to being a homeowner, but it’s important to keep in mind that there are a lot of unique ways you can add to the value and enjoyment of your home in the process. Terri Rediger, owner of Malibu Sunrooms, explains, “Upkeep is just a part of being a homeowner; when our homes are well cared for, our property values go up. Now, there is upkeep, and then there’s the ‘wow factor.’ Landscaping, beautiful decks and outdoor entertaining spaces, or concrete and water features add tremendous appeal to your home. Sunrooms not only add beauty to your home, but also additional finished square feet! I haven’t met one person who was sorry they added a sunroom. Who wouldn’t want to feel like they are outside all year long? And aside from adding a classy look outside of your home, a sunroom adds class, sunshine and architectural appeal from the inside of your home. Most people who own a sunroom will tell you that they literally ‘live’ in their room and the ‘feeling of the outdoors’ is what gets them. No other room in the house will get used as much as a sunroom, that’s for sure!”
Owning a home is one of the biggest and most significant investments you’ll ever make, and as such, it should be the place where you and your family can make memories and be surrounded by your own personal touches that breathe life into your home. There are a wealth of talented professionals in the Lincoln area who can help you turn your ideas into reality, no matter what the scope of the project, so if you’ve been considering remodeling don’t hesitate to reach out early and check out all of the options that are available!