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Homewise Remodelers Blog

Homewise Remodelers has many years of experience helping the residents of our community improve their homes. During this time, we have learned a thing or two about the process that is involved in finding the right solution for each of our customers. In our blog, we post information and tips to help you educate yourself on our products and services. Please contact us if you have questions!

Get Custom with Your Basement Remodel

Posted on December 28 , 2015

Chicago Basement Remodeling

If your basement has become a dumping ground for old clothes or appliances, or if you just want some extra room in your home, a basement remodel gives you the opportunity to create a space that you love. There are plenty of options for Chicago basement remodeling that allow you to create a space that suits you and your needs.

If you love entertainment, whether it's gaming, movies, or binge-watching your favorite TV shows, you might want to create a home entertainment area. Trick it out with surround sound, a projection TV, and comfy seating and you'll never want to go to a movie theatre again. The extra insulation provided by the basement lets you blast the sound without disturbing the neighbors.

Maybe you have a hobby that you are dedicated to. Whether you like to surround yourself with fabric and quilt patterns or you're a dedicated home brewer, your favorite activity can become an oasis in your home with Chicago basement remodeling.

When your children are the center of your life, you might love to gather the family together and play board games or card games. Set up a gaming room, with purpose-built tables and a snack area, to allow your family to spend quality time together. A wet bar lets you clean up messes and stocking a fridge with sodas and snacks keeps the fun going.

Perhaps you have aging parents and you are concerned about them living alone. Remodeling your basement to be a complete living quarters, with a separate kitchen and bathing areas, can give your parents independence while still being close enough to provide support. Alternatively, a complete apartment with a separate entrance could be a source of income property.

When you are ready to consider Chicago basement remodeling, let your imagination run wild. A purpose-built space can make a huge difference in the quality of your life and enjoyment of your home.

 

Increasing Your Home’s Value With a Room Remodel

Posted on December 15 , 2015

room remodeling

There are many intricate details associated with room remodeling in Chicago. With so many options, many homeowners simply can’t decide which room to renovate. Despite the fact that full-scale remodels almost always increase the value of a home, some rooms can be more lucrative than others. Here is a brief list of some of the most value-boosting room remodels in today’s real estate market.

Make Your Kitchen Work for You

Kitchens serve as the heart of the home for many families, so it is only natural that homeowners want a kitchen that is both beautiful and functional. Potential buyers look for a kitchen that is both well-organized and easy on the eyes. Companies specializing in room remodeling in Chicago can help you install new appliances or countertops. But not every upgrade promises a huge return, so homeowners should be sure to consult professionals before they begin.

Transform Your Bathroom Into a Personal Oasis

Much like kitchens, bathrooms are a major selling feature of any home. Homeowners want a bathroom that can serve as their own personal relaxation room after a long, hard day. Features such as whirlpool tubs, heated floors and added storage can take your bathroom from boring to breathtaking. Be sure to consult a company that specializes in room remodeling in Chicago before you start. There are many plumbing and electrical aspects to consider and making a mistake can be costly.

Add Additional Living Space

For growing families, there is simply no such thing as too much living space. Transforming an unused room can offer a huge return and make your home more functional in the process. Bedrooms are multifunctional, and can serve a multitude of purposes. When you remodel an under-utilized bedroom, you have the potential to add a new office, gym, study, etc. Additional closets and storage areas are also highly sought-after commodities.

There are many companies offering professional room remodeling in Chicago, so it is important that you work with one that is organized and has a track-record of success. You should also remember to choose one that you feel comfortable communicating with. If you keep these things in mind, there is no doubt that a room remodel can increase your home’s value.

 

3 Exterior Renovations to Consider for Your Home

Posted on August 31 , 2015

Home Remodeling

It is particularly common to renovate the interior of a home for added value and functionality. If you are considering a home renovation project, it might be a good idea to think about the exterior of your home too. Updating the outside of your home can transform its appearance and improve your curb appeal. Even better, there are several projects you can choose from with the help of roofing and siding contractors in Northern Virginia. Consider these three options for an amazing exterior.

1 - New Windows

Installing new windows is a wonderful way to improve the look of your home from the outside and the inside. Some common windows to consider include the following:

  • Double hung windows

  • Slider windows

  • Casement windows

  • Fixed picture windows

 

The right windows can actually make your home feel bigger inside. Even more, when you have beautiful windows, the exterior of your home will look and feel more custom. Also, new windows often improve a home’s energy efficiency.

2 - Roofing

If you have an older roof, then it may be time for an update. With the help of roofing and siding contractors in Northern Virginia, you can install the roof of your dreams. Your roof can be customized to match the paint and windows on your home. You can also select the right materials for your environment.

3 - Porch or Deck

Some of the best homes have exterior spaces that allow homeowners to talk, relax, and watch the sun go down. A simple porch is not only inviting for guests, but also it provides another space for relaxing. The same concept is true with a deck. These exterior details can also help the outside of a home appear more custom.

These are just a few of the top exterior renovations available from roofing and siding contractors in Northern Virginia. You can also paint your home, add siding, and plant new trees. With the right exterior elements, your home will look amazing.

 

How To Make Your Home Remodeling Project a Better Experience

Posted on August 18 , 2015

Home Remodeling

Northern Virginia home remodeling can be a huge task. Even if you are hiring a professional, you still will have to be involved in the process. Having a contractor tearing up different parts of your home affects everyone. You want the work done as fast as possible and, believe it or not, your contractor does, too, because he most likely has other jobs lined up that are waiting for yours to be finished. Many of the horror stories about people having seemingly endless home renovations or ones filled with hassles at every turn are results of people just not being prepared and not working with their contractor.

To begin your Northern Virginia home remodeling experience, you need to be decisive. Know what you want and make decisions quickly. Contractors are often held up by customers who can’t make a decision. Your contractor may be able to give you helpful information that will make your decision easier, but actually making the decision is up to you. Along the same lines, don’t keep changing your mind. If you really don’t like something, then you have a right to ask for it to be changed, but flip flopping too much can cause delays. Make a decision and stick to it.

Listen to your contractor. If your contractor says something you want won’t work, there is probably a good reason. You need to trust what he says and understand that he has seen many different situations and knows what will and what won’t work. Don’t try to argue with him because chances are that, in the end, you will wished you listened to him to begin with.

Finally, don’t be distracting. Keeps pets and family members out of the work area. Avoid the urge to chat with workers. Let them do their jobs. They will get things done so much more quickly this way.

Having a good experience with Northern Virginia home remodeling really is in your hands once you hire a contractor. You just need to do everything you can to make the process easy for the contractor. Make decisions and stick to them, Don’t argue with your contractor, and don’t get in his way. If you do these things, your project should be a positive experience.

 

What Quality Home Remodeling Companies in Chicago Have to Offer

Posted on July 31, 2015

Home Remodeling

If you live in Chicago and are planning on doing some home remodeling, then consider locating a high quality company with a good reputation to do the job. Such a company will care about its customers and listen to their needs to ensure their happiness. Good home remodeling companies in Chicago will provide the best results for your space and will ensure lasting quality.

Basements

Whether your basement is unfinished or just in need of some sprucing up, a reputable home remodeling company will be able to give you exactly what you want at a reasonable price. They have the ability to transform your space into the basement of your dreams. These companies can additionally find the best way to maximize the use of space in the room.

Bathrooms

If your bathroom is in need of a serious upgrade, quality home remodeling Companies in Chicago can provide you with hassle-free service that that turns your bathroom into a completely new and beautiful area of your house. They will make the process as efficient and affordable as possible.

Home Additions

If space is getting tight in your home, worry not. An established contractor in the area will be able to assist you every step of the way to make building an addition cost-efficient and stress-free. They will help you with selecting the proper design and allow you to choose the way you want your home to look.

Kitchens

When it is time for a new kitchen, a good home remodeling company will work with you to ensure you are getting the kitchen of your dreams. During the remodeling process, they get the job done with as little disruptions as possible.

Exteriors

Whether you are in need of a new roof, windows or a porch, quality home remodeling companies in Chicago will be there for you during the process. They will not take short cuts and will make sure that you can afford the services rather than robbing you of money. A beautiful home exterior is never far out of reach.

 

Homewise Remodelers Earn and Give Respect With Each and Every Contract

Posted on July 18, 2015

Home Remodeling

For many, choosing qualified remodelers is as tough decision as the one that helped them find their home initially. Too many people have stories of contractors who failed to meet the standards established by community ordinances, safe practice methods, and industry experts. For some, the fear of a take-the-money-and-run scenario makes service provider selection even more difficult. Homewise Remodelers, though, takes your needs seriously. What’s more, qualified, committed to excellence, and determined to do the best job possible each and every time, their highly trained staff is ready to earn your respect. Not only will you be glad you chose this excellent team, but you will also hope to secure their services again should other home improvement needs arise.

That is because Homewise Remodelers has the experience, education, and desire to do every job they take on better than the competition. Trained to provide services by means of the best methods possible, they consider their clients health, safety, and investment as crucial to their task at hand, and they will never fail to surpass even the highest standards and expectations with highest quality performance for each and every job.

Experience is key to the success of this well-established team of professionals. In business since 1999, Homewise stakes their name on a well-earned reputation for excellence, and that reputation is based on practices that make them the best in the business. As if the quality of their work and their reputation should not be enough to secure each and every home improvement project for them, this team further commits themselves to affordable pricing, accurate quotes, and financing that makes home improvements a reality for a broader spectrum of people.

Too many home remodelers fail to take the safety of their clients, the quality of their work, and the opportunity to offer fairly priced services seriously. Do not be taken for granted by the service providers you select. Choose Homewise Remodelers for professionals who respect their clients each and every time.

 

What To Consider Before Beginning Your Home Remodeling Project

Posted on June 30, 2015

Home Remodeling

You can improve your living space and make your home a comfortable and relaxing space by deciding to remodel your home. But before you begin that home remodeling project, there are a few things you should keep in mind to help ensure that you are happy and satisfied in the end.

Consider Future Plans

Before you tear out that extra bedroom to make a master suite, you might want to think about the long-term ramifications of your construction plans. Will making one giant room work for your family five, ten, or fifteen years from now? If your children are grown and gone, then a master suite could be a relaxing oasis. But if you have yet to add to your family, or you are looking to possibly move in the coming years, then that specific home remodeling project may not work best for your home. Keeping your future plans in mind can help you to avoid disappointment or remodeling regrets down the road.

Consider Your Home Dynamics

Some families are fine with small bedrooms, because everyone ends up converging in the kitchen or family room. Other families may want more personal space and private bathrooms, and still other families have their focus on lots of storage space. Because each family and their needs are different, consider the specific dynamics of your family and what means the most to all of you in terms of space, function, and needs before beginning your home remodeling project.

Consider the Costs

Obviously, tackling a home remodel will be an expensive task. Before you begin drawing up plans, you’ll need to consider the cost of the remodel and if it is something that can be gained back if you decide to sell or if it is worth it to you—no matter the cost—to be able to improve your living space while you reside there. You can also decide what matters most to you and allocate your funds to those while keeping other projects simple in order to get everything you want.

While a home remodeling project can bring you better flow, dynamics, and use within your home, you’ll want to consider all of the above in order to make the most out of your construction budget.

Finishing Your Basement? Here's Why You Need Professional Help

Posted on June 11, 2015

Basement Finishing

Finishing your basement is a huge undertaking, but it will help you expand your living space, increase your property value and make good use of wasted space. However, tackling the job yourself can be stressful and time consuming, and if you don't have the right skills, you may have to locate, schedule, and supervise various contractors. Your best option to get the most from the space and ensure the job is done right and in a timely manner is to hire a professional basement finishing company to handle the project.

The Work Is Done Properly

One of the best perks of hiring a professional company is that the work will be done properly. There are many different things to worry about when doing construction, such as ensuring that things like floating walls and proper ventilation are handled and any structures are built correctly.

In addition, there are the legal considerations. A basement finishing company should know what permits you need and the building codes for your area. If work is done without a permit, you could face stiff fines. Not meeting building codes could come back to haunt you down the road and could mean a total tear out of the work that was done. Worst of all, improper construction could lead to health risks, like mold growth or a fire.

The Work Is Done in a Timely Manner

An average time for a professional finishing job is six to eight weeks. The average time it takes a homeowner to tackle the same project is about two years. Why does it take homeowners so much longer? Homeowners have a limited amount of free time to spend working on basement construction. Generally, nights and weekends will be the only time to get work done. A professional company can generally work longer hours and devote more time to the project because this is their job. They also should have experience, which often allows them to work faster.

Don’t go overboard with cabinets

Don’t spend the next two years trying to decipher building codes and wasting your precious free time in the basement. The bottom line is that when you decide to take on basement finishing, the work is best done by a professional company that has the time and expertise to get the job done quickly and get it done right.

Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes made by Homeowners

Posted on May 5, 2015

Chicago Kitchen Remodeling

From stainless steel glut to an overload of kitchen cabinetry, from cramped in walking spaces to using the wrong paint colors, there could be endless botches you might be making with your beloved kitchen without having any idea that these are actually some of the biggest design flaws that should be avoided. Here are the top 3 design mistakes that homeowners generally make with their kitchen:

A kitchen that is boring and lifeless

Failing to add a soul to your kitchen is most probably the biggest mistake you are making with your kitchen remodeling project. Adding a soul to your kitchen is about making it warm, inviting and personal. When you are updating your kitchen try not to be boring and incorporate elements that add fun and creativity.

Avoid over-designing

Making your kitchen look extensively gaudy and ostentatious can be another big mistake you are making. When you are designing your kitchen you should have an idea when and where you need to stop. Stopping when you are actually overdoing it is the challenge.

Don’t go overboard with cabinets

Don’t fill the whole kitchen with cabinets. Storage is important but filling the walls with cabinets can completely spoil the new look of the room. How beautiful your kitchen looks depends entirely on how good you are able to balance between aesthetics and functionality.

Homewise Remodelers is a leading home improvement company offering bathroom and kitchen remodeling in Chicago. The company also specializes in basement refinishing, additions to home and exteriors remodeling services at excellent prices. The leading Chicago Kitchen Remodeling company is known for the installation of cabinets and other kitchen fixtures.

4 Ways to Add New Life to your Basement Area

Posted on March 16, 2015

Chicago Basement Remodeling

No, basements are no longer the space for all the discarded items of the house. They demand more attention and a new use. With all the extra space and endless options you can convert your basement into one of your favorite corners in the house. Your basement deserves more attention and with a little planning you can make it one of the most happening areas in your house. Here’s how you can do this without splurging much:

Lighting

Make sure sufficient natural light comes into the basement. For this you can consider adding more windows and doors or replacing the existing ones with larger counterparts. With more light and better ventilation you can make your basement look brighter and vivid.

Bed and Bath

You can consider adding a bedroom and a half bathroom as well. Once you have determined who and how will be using the basement area, add amenities that will add to their convenience making the area an ideal place for them.

Kitchen and Appliances

Adding a mini kitchen in the basement will add to the comfort and ease of the basement. You can consider adding a small refrigerator, a microwave, a dishwasher and other essential countertop appliances.

Improving the Walls

Do not leave the walls blank. The concrete walls can be covered with plywood or paint to give it an aesthetic appeal. By giving a finishing touch to the walls you can make your basement look more like a primary living area.

Homewise Remodelers is a leading basement remodeling company in Chicago offering excellent services at affordable rates. The Chicago Basement Finishing company also specializes in kitchen remodeling, bathroom redesigning and outdoor remodeling services. Homewise Remodelers also create excellent home additions to add comfort and space to your living space.

Bathroom Remodeling Tips for the First-Timers

Posted on March 2, 2015

Bathroom Remodels Chicago

If your bathroom floor has become stained over time, the sink looks outdated and the color of the walls have faded your bath needs a remodeling. For those who are undertaking a bathroom remodeling project for the first time and have little to no idea here are 3 most important things you should know about a bathroom remodeling.

Keep everything accessible and ready

Before you start redesigning your bathroom make sure everything you need is in hand. Things like the vanity, the tiles, lights and the bathtub should be available before you have started to hammer down fixtures. These items are expensive and bulky and may require several days to arrive. It might get frustrating for you if you have already started the work and half of the items are still to arrive.

Research and keep your options open

Consider all the options before settling down for one. Check out with home centers, independent suppliers or shop online for greater options. Shopping online is always great because there you can not only choose form thousands of options but also compare their prices and features.

Keep storage space aplenty

Don’t forget to build an in-shower storage space for your bathing accessories. Your shampoo, body wash, soap etc should be easily accessible from the shower area. Cheap plastic hangers over the showerhead or near the tub can kill the look of your bathroom. A better option is shelves that are built in the wall and do not interfere with the shower.

Homewise Remodelers is a leading bathroom remodeling company in Chicago offering excellent services at competitive prices. Apart from bathroom remodels in Chicago, the company also specializes in kitchen and basement improvement and outdoor remodeling services.

Importance of Basement Remodeling

Posted on November 8, 2014

Basement remodeling chicago

The part of a building which is either partially or completely below the ground floor is known as a basement or cellar. These are very significant parts of a building because of their multipurpose use. They have multiple uses fromhousing boilers, water heaters, abreaker panel or fuse box, etc. or they can also be used for car parking or air conditioning systems. In the cities with high property value, like London and Chicago, etc., the basements could be of great use,even being used as a living space.

So, whenever you need more space, remodeling your basement is the first option that should come to your mind. As everybody knows ,the basement could be a great place for storage and extra space, thus, many homeowners have considered adding a basement to their homes. But when people generally think about basement, they think of a limited area which is moldy and musty. This makes us uncomfortable and gives a spooky feeling; therefore, most of the people don't visit this part of their often enough, to see the space for what it can be. They just use it for storing things which are valuable to them, but are not used on a regular basis.

But, basement remodeling gives you an idea of transforming your basement area into a more interesting, appealing, and comfortable place. With the finished basement space, people can actually save on the whole energy costs of the house, including the upper space as the unfinished basement can have leaks and air insulation. A finished basement can offer various benefits which will range from increasing your home's storage options along with energy conservation and enhancement in a house's value. The various ways in which a finished and remodeled basement can be used are as follows:

  • It can be used as a living area featuring chairs, lamps and tables.

  • It can be converted into a family area with TV and couches.

  • It can be rented as an office space with computer hardware, desks and shelves.

  • It can also be used as a theatre with a large TV or projector.

  • It can be modified into a children's playroom.

Kitchen Remodeling: Things to Consider

Posted on June 18, 2014

kitchen remodeling chicago

A kitchen remodel is an expensive and stressful process. That might not be something that you would expect a contracting company to tell you, but let’s just be honest: unless you have an unlimited amount of funds available to hire a giant crew of interior designers and renovators that know your tastes perfectly and have a supernatural talent for predicting style trends, you’re going to have to put a lot of thought into your remodel and make every dollar count. A great contractor can make things a lot easier for you and give you sound advice during the planning stages of your remodel, but there are still plenty of things you need to think about going into the remodel. It is for this reason that we have started a guide on things to consider when planning your kitchen remodel. Hopefully, this will assist you in your planning so that when your remodel is finished you will have a kitchen that you love and no regrets about how it turned out.

Your kitchen’s new style is something that you need to think about in-depth before you begin spending money. You want your kitchen to reflect your tastes without being too loud or trendy. The reason you don’t want your remodel to be too trendy is because you don’t want your kitchen to date itself just a few years down the road. Certain colors that are loud and in style now, may seem tacky or distasteful in the future. It is one thing to paint your kitchen these crazy colors, but installing countertops and backsplashes that cannot be easily replaced would be foolish. Go for more traditional and subtler colors for these things as they will be the most difficult to replace if their look becomes outdated.

Another thing you should keep in mind when remodeling your kitchen is that stainless steel does not have a very “warm” look to it. While stainless steel does look appealing, saturating your new kitchen with it can give it a cold and almost surgical look. Limit stainless steel to your appliances and sinks, but don’t use it for countertops or anywhere else.

The most important thing you can do for your kitchen’s style is to ensure that it is not boring. While I warned against using loud colors before, that doesn’t mean paint everything white. You can still have a colorful kitchen, just be sure you don’t overdo it. Work with an interior designer or contractor to find out what your color options are for countertops and get their input on what they think looks good. Also, there are a limitless amount of interior design and kitchen remodeling websites you can visit, such as Houzz that provide a limitless amount of images that are categorized by style. Some of the photos you come across will even provide the names of the manufacturers of cabinets, countertops, and hardware featured within them. This will allow you or your contractor to track down the exact components you want for your kitchen.

There are a few things to remember when laying out your kitchen, otherwise you might find it inefficient and difficult to cook in or clean. First off, don’t ever place an oven by itself. As a matter of fact, it’s often good to keep things you use frequently close together. One of the main rules I’ve seen different contractors abide by is that you want to keep the stove, sink, and refrigerator close together. This will make cleaning and cooking a much smoother process. Obviously, you want the dishwasher within arm’s reach of the sink. While it is healthy to exercise, you don’t want to jog a half mile after washing off a dish just to put it in the dishwasher.

One mistake people often make with the layout of their kitchen remodel is under planning countertop space. Make sure you give yourself plenty of counter space, as you will not only use it to prepare food, but also to place various kitchen appliances. Juicers, blenders, toasters, mixers, and various other gadgets that you use frequently should have their own spot on the counter, as it is a hassle to store each of these things in a cabinet and then retrieve them back out to use them again a few hours later.

A few other things you want to consider when laying out your new kitchen are the lighting and ventilation systems. It is dangerous to cut food when you can’t see it, so make sure you install sufficient lighting in every nook and cranny of your kitchen. Once again, it is possible to have a well-lit kitchen without overdoing it and having it be too bright. As far as ventilation goes, make sure you have a good vent hood over your cooking area and a ceiling fan at the very least. Even the Gordon Ramses of the world burn things from time to time and you don’t want that smoke billowing up with nowhere to go.

The last thing pertaining to layout that I could recommend is that you place an island carefully. If your kitchen is big enough to have an island without looking cluttered, go for it. Just make sure you leave about 42” around it so your kitchen doesn’t feel too claustrophobic and present too much of an obstacle.

Cabinetry is something that you do not want to go cheap on. Cheap cabinetry is easy to sniff out amongst even the most inexperienced home buyer. The cheap premade cabinets they sell at Lowes and Home Depot are basically garbage and should never be used for your kitchen remodel. They will break and are not resistant to water damage in the least. Make sure your contractor can install high quality cabinets that have a solid warranty.

The placement of your cabinets is also important. I recommend running them up to the ceiling so you don’t lose out on any storage space. Open walls are not something that you usually want in a kitchen, with the exception of where the backsplash is or in the area behind the counter. Inadequate storage is something that ranks high up there in the kitchen remodel regrets category, so don’t waste any space.

There are just a few other things I can tell you when it comes to planning your kitchen remodel. Make sure that you utilize your space efficiently. While you want plenty of storage, make sure your kitchen doesn’t feel crammed. Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to watch your budget closely during the remodeling process. Unless you are positive that you don’t want to ever move and will only settle for the absolute best materials and designs, spending more than 20% of your home’s value on a remodel is almost a waste of money. Lastly, try to stick to your plan. Don’t let your contractor sway you away from your dream kitchen for the sake of taking a shortcut or making you spend more money. Good luck!

Checking Up On Your Roof

Posted on May 27, 2014

roof repair chicago

Unless there is a major storm that results in serious damage, or you notice some leaks coming through your ceiling, it is easy to forget about your home’s roof. Your roof falls under the “out of sight, out of mind” category of home maintenance, so it often goes without the periodic checkups that it deserves. Without checking your roof on a regular basis, you could have a problem that goes unnoticed for an extended period of time, resulting in a major disaster that could end up costing much more than fixing the problem earlier on. For example, a roof failing due to a problem that went unnoticed could lead to damage to the interior of your house, as well as further damage to the roof itself.

Note: If you are of able body, then grab a ladder, otherwise find someone to check your roof for you, and never attempt to inspect your roof by yourself. Always have another person with you as a safety precaution.

Typically, the first place to check on your roof is from within your house. Study the ceilings in every one of your rooms for signs of leaking. You’ll see darker areas of the ceiling in a concentrated area where a leak has occurred. If you see a leak, then you know for sure you have a problem with your roof. Either way, you should continue up into your attic to check for additional leaks, as well as visible holes in your roof or flaws in the framing. If you notice that parts of your roof look saggy or wobbly, then you have a problem on your hands. It’s also a good idea to see if you can detect sunlight coming into your attic from the roof, as that could mean there is a gap in your roofing or perhaps a roof vent, pipe, or chimney is not properly sealed off with metal flashing.

The next place to inspect is on the roof, itself. First, scan for areas that might be sagging or uneven. This could be an indicator that there is an issue with your roof’s structure and is a major red flag. I would not recommend walking on your roof any further if you see something like this, and immediately call a professional to come and look at it. Next, take a look at your gutters. Make sure they are clean and clear of any debris and will route water away from your house to where it needs to go. Also, make sure your gutters are tightly in place. As stated before, double check all of your roof’s fixtures for metal flashing, as that can easily lead to a leak. Of course, you want to make sure the entire area of your roof, with all its nooks and crannies, is completely clear of any sort of debris.

The final step in checking your roof is taking a close look at the shingles. Shingles can be an easy indicator of your roof’s condition. For example, if you notice that some of the shingles are curling or have darker areas on them, you could be due for a new roof.

How To Give Your Home Curb Appeal

Posted on May 20, 2014

curb appeal chicago

One of the most important factors of a house is its curb appeal. Just ask any real estate agent and they’ll tell you the same thing. Curb appeal greatly affects the value of your house and is especially important if you plan on selling it in the near future.

So just what is curb appeal? Curb appeal is the wow-factor of your house. When people are driving down your street, you want them to slow down a little as they pass your house to soak in the glory. “What gives a house great curb appeal?” you may ask, well there are a number of things:

Awesome Exterior

Whether your house has brick, vinyl, or any other type of siding, you want it to be in tip-top shape. Siding with splotches of black rotting wood or faded paint look terrible and greatly decrease your house’s curb appeal. Not only does shoddy siding look awful, but it also can lead to energy leaks that cost you a great deal of money during the summer and winter months. Do plenty of research on what type of siding works best for you and get a contractor or three to come out and give you their opinion and a quote on fixing your exterior.

Once you’re sure that your siding is in good shape, you’ll want to have a good coat of paint put on it. Before you decide on your own, or have your tacky Aunt Beatrice tell you what color to paint it, make sure you talk to a few realtors to find out what colors and styles of paint are currently appropriate and desirable for your neighborhood. Just because you love the color turquoise does not mean painting your house that color will give it great curb appeal; it might actually make your house look much less appealing.

Windows

Windows are where it’s at when it comes to curb appeal. Make sure all of your windows are kept very clean and are in good shape. A broken window is a HUGE no-no when trying to build your house’s curb appeal. People love houses that have giant, beautiful windows, but if your house doesn’t have these you can work around it with custom shutters or by accenting them with your garden. Having your curtains or blinds drawn in your front living areas will make your house look nicer; just make sure everything inside your house that can be seen through the windows in the evening is in good order.

Once again, I highly recommend working with a contractor that really knows windows when replacing them. A window is a very important component of your exterior both cosmetically and functionally. Make sure all of your windows not only look great, but are also functional (open and close completely). A window that doesn’t open can be dangerous during a fire and one that doesn’t lock can be a security breach!

Garden

Now gardening is not something that we’re all good at. I have what my wife calls a “brown thumb,” meaning everything I touch that is of a botanical nature is bound to die within a few days. If this is the case, enlist some help. That being said, gardening is something that most people love to do, as it is a relaxing outdoor activity. If you don’t have any sort of plant life in your yard, your curb appeal is probably just as dead as the tomato plants I tried to plant in my backyard last week. There is a plethora of gardening blogs, both organic and conventional, that will let you know what to plant in your area during this time of year.

If you need ideas of what kind of garden looks good in your area, just drive around your neighborhood and take notice of the gardens that jump out to you. Take note of what people are doing with their gardens and how they bring out the best in the person’s house. Many people grow vegetables in their front yard, making their gardens not only cosmetically appealing, but useful, too.

Your Front Porch

How many times have you driven by a house and seen a porch that looks so cool that you wished you had one just like it to hang out on? Even if you don’t spend much time on your front porch, you should make it look like a place that you would want to. If you have the room, get interesting decorations and seating for your front porch. Seasonal decorations for your front door that don’t look too tacky are a must. Rocking chairs or porch swings, etc. always make a front porch seem more like a place one would want to spend time; and part of the whole idea of curb appeal is making your house look like a place that one would want to spend time, is it not?

Other Tips

Okay, so you’ve got the awesome siding/exterior, paint job, windows, garden, and porch going, what next? Well, here are some other things you need to keep in mind when looking to boost your curb appeal:

· No trash or clutter ANYWHERE in your yard… Ever! – instant curb appeal killer.

· Keep all fences painted and in good order. – no gaps or missing posts allowed.

· Pick up animal poop! – gross.

· No broken down vehicles in yard or driveway – you’re not Jeff Foxworthy.

· Mow/rake your lawn – You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but…

· Political signs – This might be controversial, but save it for the voting booth.

· Your cars affect your curb appeal - even if your car is older, wash it if it’s going to be parked in your driveway.

· Your mailbox affects your curb appeal – whether on your porch or at the front of your yard.

I’m sure there are countless other things I could write about curb appeal, but this should at least give you some ideas on where to start. Now go get your house looking great!

Kitchen Remodel Add-ons and Tips You Might Not Have Considered

Posted on April 19, 2014.

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A kitchen remodel is something that you have been planning for months, and now it’s time to begin. But wait! There are still a few things to stop and think about including in your remodel that might add convenience to your day-to-day life. Let’s look at some things that make food preparation and cleanup faster, give your kitchen extra storage space, and make your kitchen a much more pleasant place to spend time, shall we?

Oatmeal, instant coffee, tea, thawing foods- the list goes on forever! “What list?” you may ask. Well, it’s the list of reasons why you should strongly consider incorporating an electric hot water dispenser into your new kitchen sink. Hot water dispensers usually float around the $200 range, but when you consider that time is more valuable than money, they pay for themselves. Just the amount of time you save boiling water for hot cocoa during one winter justifies the purchase. It can also make cleaning crusty tomatoes off of your pots and pans a much quicker experience. Usually you can find a dispenser with a faucet that fits in with your style of remodel.

Backsplash! No, it’s not a painful dive you do to impress your friends at the pool, it’s an effective way to improve the look, and value, of your kitchen without spending a whole lot of money. Usually made out of some sort of tile, backsplashes go on the wall of your kitchen behind the counter. Behind the stove is a good place to focus your backsplash. Some people will even shell out for more expensive tiling behind their stove, and use less expensive tiling elsewhere in their kitchen. A backsplash only needs to be big enough to cover your wall in areas that might get splattered with tomato sauce or the contents of a poorly-covered blender, but sometimes people run them throughout the entirety of their kitchen. It’s really up to you, but stick with what looks good, otherwise what’s the point?

Now, most kitchen remodels and upgrades include a replacement of cabinets, but don’t get so caught up in how they look that you forget what they’re there for: storage! One thing we all waste too much time and energy on is shuffling through our kitchen drawers and cabinets as we either search for what we’re looking for or try to make room for something that we’re unloading out of the dishwasher. By using drawers that extend out further and incorporating taller drawers, dealing with the organization of your pots, pans, Pyrex, and all the assorted lids that come with them can become a much easier and streamlined process. For years, I had to bend over and reach far underneath my stove and restack all of my pots, but in my current kitchen the entire bottom of the cabinet acts as a drawer that extends out for much easier access to my cooking wares. Not only does it save time, but it also saves my back.

Speaking of drawers and cabinets, did you know there might be some more places you can add storage in your kitchen that you may not have thought of before? Measure the space that will be above your fridge and see if it’s tall enough to place matching cabinets. Cabinets above your fridge are perfect for storing things that you will only use seasonally, or perhaps not at all (the recipe book your parents gave you). If your fridge is going to be near a corner of your kitchen and will have a wall near the left or right side of it, make sure you leave enough room to open its door without it banging into the wall. If you have to create a gap to keep the fridge away from a wall to its side, you can use that gap to install a tall cabinet with shelves on the inside of it (perfect for storing wine or spirits). The more storage your kitchen has, the less cluttered it will feel.

One thing that always makes my kitchen feel cluttered is the trash. That’s right, you have a giant receptacle in your kitchen meant for collecting trash. The best way to deal with it is to give yourself some space to store your trash underneath one of the counters or behind a corner in your kitchen. You can install a TrashRac to the inside of your kitchen cabinet door to keep the trash out of your sight and away from your naughty dog(s). The only problem with the TrashRac is that it’s only 3 gallons, so you have to empty it frequently.

One last thing to consider before you commence your kitchen remodel is how easy it will be to clean. The two pointers that I can give from experience are that tile is much more difficult to sweep than linoleum or hardwood flooring, as the grout between the tiles is recessed and will collect and hold dirt and that recessing your sink into your counter will make cleaning your countertops way quicker, as you can just brush all the crumbs and other junk into the sink and wash it down the drain (as opposed to having it stick to the sides of the sink that are coming up over the countertop). I’m sure there are plenty of other things you can add on to your remodel or consider to make your life much easier, but sometimes you don’t figure out what they are until it’s too late; so be sure to spend as much time researching and thinking about your remodel as you can.

Prioritizing Your Home Renovation

Posted on April 8, 2014.

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Your house’s condition can be in one of many states of disrepair. It might be dilapidated and falling apart, or it might be brand new and sparkling. Most people’s houses are somewhere in the middle, livable but with some needed love and attention. Often times a house’s problems are in the eyes of its inhabitants, such as an annoying bathroom layout or a kitchen counter with an unappealing color. Regardless of what needs to be fixed in or on your house, you can easily feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out how to prioritize repairs and renovations for it. Well, hopefully these pointers will help out.

Obviously, the safety of your family is going to take priority over everything else on your list of things to fix. If you have wires dangling out of your walls or a ceiling fan that is hanging by a thread, you would probably be wise to address these issues before you throw a new coat of paint onto your garage. When making a list of things to fix, you should always put a star next to the items that could harm your family, or damage yours or your neighbor’s property (such as a dangling tree limb). Leaky pipes are another problem that should take priority over more luxurious renovations, as they can lead to a slew of other problems, such as mold and water damage. If you have a broken window, you should probably put that near the top of your list as they leak energy and could compromise the security of your house.

Now that we have the more obvious urgent renovations out of the way, let’s look at some of the more difficult decisions that you need to make when figuring out what to work on first. Taking the next step in prioritizing your renovations requires you to know whether or not you plan on staying in your house for the long term, or if you’re going to sell it in the near future (five years, or less). If you are planning on selling your house in the near-future, you want to make renovations that will make it more appealing to the current housing market. I always recommend finding a realtor you trust (perhaps the one that sold you the house) to discuss what the current housing trends are. Perhaps everyone is looking for kitchens with a particular type of countertop or a certain color of exterior paint is more disirable than others; regardless of what the trends are, you need to know about them before you start making renovations. Another great way to figure out which renovations you should make when preparing to sell your house is looking up what the estimated return on investment is for each type of project. Also, remember that curb appeal has a great impact on your house’s market value, so plan on doing some painting and landscaping.

If you are planning on staying in your house for the long-haul, deciding which remodels to give priority to can be a little more difficult. Once you have the safety/practical renovations out of the way, really think about which aspects of your house you feel would have the greatest positive impact on your life by improving. Given that this is not always obvious, there are a number of things you can consider when deciding which renovations to take on first. Are there any rooms of your house that cause you discomfort? Do your closet doors drive you bonkers every time you are getting ready for work? Is the back burner on your stove broken, and does it throw you off every time you try to make dinner? It is the daily annoyances like these that you should concentrate on fixing first, as your life will immediately start improving when they are fixed. Improving your life is the entire point of renovating a house you plan on inhabiting for the long term, so focus on what will actually improve your life!

Once you’ve taken care of the minor (or major) annoyances in your house, figure out the grand scheme of what you want your house to be like when all of your renovations are finished. Really sit down and think about it. Write down your ideas and go over them with your partner; renovation is expensive, especially if you don’t know what you want when you go into it. It’s also important to develop a phasing plan when prioritizing your renovations, as you don’t want every room of your house torn up at the same time. For example, if you tear up both of your bathrooms at the same time, you might have to resort to the use of a bucket or a neighbor’s bathroom, and that, my friend, is no way to live. Another way to prioritize your renovations is by looking at the budget for each project. Many people knock out all of their smaller renovation projects first, before deciding whether or not they can afford to take on a major one. For example, you probably want to fix up the existing rooms in your home before you start adding on an expensive expansion. Speaking of budget, I always recommend allocating an extra 15-20% above what you are quoted for your renovations to pay for any unforeseen surprises that might arise during the renovation, such as an unknown termite colony living inside the walls or bad wiring.

Once you have prioritized your renovations, prepare for life while they are happening. Go into the renovation process understanding that your life will feel messy or cluttered while the renovations are taking place, as parts of your house may be torn up and unusable. If you go into the process knowing that your life might be a little bit more uncomfortable than it usually is, you will be less stressed out while it is happening. Also, just keep in mind how much better your life will be once the renovations are completed!

How To Keep Pests Out Of Your Attic

Posted on March 27, 2014.

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One method of discovering that you have unwanted houseguests is by finding their droppings. If you enter your attic and observe droppings, it is very important that you take care of your pest problem immediately, as these droppings can harbor dangerous diseases, many of which can be spread throughout your house’s ventilation system. One such disease is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can cause a lot of very nasty symptoms and is contracted just by inhaling particles from infected droppings. Health issues aside, having poop lying around any part of your house is just plain gross and unsanitary, so the problem should be addressed immediately. Also, be sure to clean up any sort of droppings in the proper manner to prevent the spread of germs.

Another way to determine if you have pests is by finding holes in any sort of screens that are between your exterior and attic. Raccoons and squirrels will jimmy their way into your screens by prying them open or gnawing at them to gain access into your attic. Here is an excellent video on how to repair damaged screens to prevent them from regaining entry to your attic. Thoroughly check all of your siding and where your exterior meets your ceiling for any holes and use caulk, steel, and wire mesh as demonstrated in this video to seal them. Some rodents can gain access to your house through holes that are as small as a quarter, so be sure to be thorough while checking your siding and roof. After you have sealed the holes in your exterior, you need to find a good means to remove the pests from your attic.

When it comes to removing the pests, there are many approaches. If you decide you want to be lethal, which I do not recommend for bigger rodents, you can use poisons and larger snap traps. The reasons I do not recommend these methods for bigger rodents is that if you cannot reach the corpse of the dead animal, it will start to stink. Also, poisons run the risk of hurting your pets and possibly your family if accidentally ingested. For nonlethal removal of pests, use small baited cages and check them on a daily basis. Some local municipal animal control centers will rent these out to you for free, and even come pick up the cages for you if you catch anything. Mothballs can be used to deter larger rodents from your attic, as can fox urine (gross!). The most important thing about using live-catch methods is that you check the traps daily, so you don’t end up torturing an animal by starving or dehydrating it. Once your pests have been removed, periodically check the areas that you have sealed off and look for droppings or other evidence that they have returned. If they have, double check for more holes, or to make sure the seals you have put in place are still intact.

Tips on Making a Homeowner's Insurance Claim

Posted on March 1, 2014.

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Owning a home requires a lot of attention and periodic maintenance to keep everything in proper working order. Even if you are on top of all that needs to be done to keep your house in good shape like changing your AC filters, painting, sealing your deck, etc., there will inevitably be something that goes wrong. Anything from a severe weather storm to a burglar can cause damage to your home or the possessions within, leaving you with the need to contact your homeowner’s insurance company to file a claim. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when filing a claim to help things run smoothly and ensure the best possible outcome.

File You Claim ASAP

By waiting around to file a claim after property is damaged or stolen, you are risking having your claim being denied by adjuster. Most insurance companies have a window of around 14 days to file a claim after damage occurs. Also, if you’re dealing with an issue such as a water leak, more damage could be caused by not being proactive such as mold or damage to wood from moisture. As soon as you notice damaged or stolen property, call your agent and discuss your best course of action.

Take Pictures

As soon as you notice that your property has been damaged, get out your phone and start taking pictures immediately. In most cases, the insurance company will send out an adjuster to take pictures, but it is a good idea to take some immediately, just in case. You never know when an adjuster will try to minimize the extent that your property is damaged to avoid paying out on a claim or reducing the claim payout. Also, these pictures can help you get proper estimates on repairs so you can decide if a claim is worth making or if you would be better off paying out of pocket instead.

Is It Worth It?

It is a good idea to get some estimates before filing a claim if the damage to your home does not look significant. Filing claims on your policy causes your premium to go up, and some insurance companies will even drop your coverage if you file what they consider to be an excessive amount of claims (in my case, I have three claims in the past three years and I am having trouble finding new coverage!). If you can afford to pay out of pocket for a repair that will not break the bank, go ahead and do it. While it is still always a good idea to discuss things with your insurance agent, repairs that cost just over the amount of your deductible are almost never worth filing.

Protect Yourself From Having to Make Claims

A lot of property damage is preventable. Trimming branches that hang over you or your neighbor’s house, installing smoke detectors, and putting in a security system are just a few of the things that can help protect your from being in a situation where you might have to make a claim on your policy.

Look Out For Yourself

During the claims process, you need to pay attention to everything that is going on. Make sure you look over all of the paperwork. Don’t let the extent of the damage or amount you’re being paid for it be minimized by the insurance company or claims adjuster. Often times, the insurance company will try to offer you a settlement or agreement that will let them get out of paying for the full claim. Don’t let them do that. Also, when reporting your claim, don’t add in what you think happened or what you think should be done about it- only report the FACTS of the situation. Mentioning that you think that there might be mold or some other thing going on with your property is always a bad idea. Also, never lie or be dishonest about what is going on- it will immediately have your claim denied and could land you in jail!

If you feel like you are being mistreated by your insurance company, don’t hesitate to let them know- but do so in a civil manner. Never except a check from your insurance company unless you are sure that it will cover the full extent of your damages. As a side note, some people would advise hiring a lawyer during this process. If there is a lot of money involved and you have a bad feeling about the way your claim is being handled, it might be worth doing so. Patience is a virtue, and it also happens to be something that you’ll need a lot of when dealing with an insurance company during your claims process. If you run out of patience, you could end up accepting an offer that won’t cover your repairs!