Basement Remodeling will Expand Your Living Space

Basement Remodeling – Should You Tackle It?

Basement Remodeling – Is it a good idea to expand your living space?  Well, I think most of us would say yes.  It really just depends on if you have the time and the money to invest at this point.  Basement remodeling is a great way to expand your living space.

Structure is Already in Place

Having the structure already in place is one of the best benefits of remodeling a basement.  With a home addition, for example, you need to call in the heavy trucks, dig out an area and pour concrete.  With a basement, the concrete is already in place.  But now is the question:  How do you finish off the area and what is the purpose for the remodeling?

Top Reasons to Remodel Your Basement

Most of my customers finish off their basement for these following reasons:

  • Entertainment Area
    • Holidays
    • Teen Hangouts (Grandchildren too!)
    • Major Sporting Event Parties
  • Additional Place to Relax
  • In-Home Office

The list could go on and on.  What’s important is your reason.  You probably won’t get a 100% return-on-investment, but the return on investment is more of a sentimental one of all the additional memories you will create in this new space.

Put a plan in place, set your budget, and contact a reputable remodeling contractor so that you can pass all city inspections.  

Additional Home Improvement Videos

Converting Basement into a Bedroom

Bathroom Remodeling – How Long Does It Take?

Choosing Exterior Paint Colors | Six Home Styles and Best Colors

 Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

It’s that time of year and you probably need the exterior of your house painted or stained.  One of the biggest challenges our clients seem to have is choosing exterior paint colors.  Mostly it is because it is such a large investment, they just don’t want to choose the “wrong” paint or stain color.  Let’s address a few things to help you out.

Home Styles in the Midwest

Honestly, home styles play a part in the exterior paint color selection process.  What colors work for one home style would look silly or horrible on another.  Let me try to break it down for you.  There are five or six style homes that we see here in the Midwest and some of the tips that I give to folks.

  1. Contemporary Home Style –  Integrate Beautifully with Plants and Environment
  2. Cape Code Home Style – Steep Pitched Gabled Roof
  3. Colonial Home Style – Dutch Lap Sided, Front Porches
  4. Georgian Home Style – Brick Houses, Big Columns
  5. Tudor – Wood Cladding around Windows with Contrasting Colors, High Gables
  6. Victorian Home Style – Looks much like a Dollhouse, Gingerbread House with Ornate Millwork


Contemporary Style Home:

The contemporary style home really is designed to flow with the surrounding environment, by which I mean the trees, background, and typically has earth tone colors to match nature.  I guide my customers to a one-color or two-color application.  I think the best look is not a dramatic contrast either between the two colors, but subtle.  I call the subtle 2-color look for this style of home tone-on-tone.

Cape Cod Style Home:

I typically don’t see many cape cod style homes.  I love Cape Cod homes for their simple, less ornate look.  I would call a Cape Code home quaint with it’s larger lap siding.  One of my favorite paint colors to use on a Cape Cod is a light yellow, marigold or buttercup yellow.  This turns out very stunning.  Most times, homeowners paint even the corner boards or soffits the same color as the siding.  We might accentuate the dormers or shutters, but the front door is the star of the show in a Cape Code.  The front door should make a bold statement.  With a yellow home, I like to use for the front door a bright red, burgundy, cranberry, deep blue, deep greens, teal blue, charcoal, and slate.

Colonial Style Home:

Colonial homes are light in nature.   I would say 7 out of 10 most of the colonial style homes I see are either are white or some version of an off-white or Navajo white.  With this white, there typically is a very stark contrast like a deep color for the shutters like a deep plum, black, or charcoal gray.  This contrast is color should pick up the roof line.  The front door, again, is the star and should make a real pop or impression with a bright, bold color.

Georgian Style Home:

Georgian style homes are generally mostly brick with tall columns and white trim work.  White is typically the big driving color with a contrasting color for the shutters, such as black or charcoal slate color.

Tudor Style Home:

Believe it or not, the typical exterior paint color for most Tudor home styles is actually called Tudor Brown.  The stucco panels and trim work are white or a Navajo white.  Also, a tone-on-tone looks amazing as well.  An amazing color is Sail Cloth by Benjamin Moore.  I am actually not a big fan of doing a contrasting front door on the Tudor style home.

Victorian Style Home:

Victorian style homes have no real hard and fast color rules.  You pick a color and roll with it.  The color options are endless.  I’ve seen Victorian homes with as little as five colors and as many as twenty colors.  I love yellow on the outside of Victorians, otherwise known as Painted Ladies.  I think the yellow paint colors give such a unique, classy look to the home.  My favorite is Benjamin Moore’s Hawthorne Yellow.  There are many ways to accent the yellow too with Benjamin Moore’s Montgomery White, or blues, plums, black, deep black or charcoal.  With a Victorian home, color can be determined by how much money you want to spend on the home.  The more colors, the more costly the exterior paint project will become.

Choosing Exterior Paint Options:

Another great way to get ideas for exterior paint choices for your home is to just drive around the neighborhood. Find homes that you really love their exterior colors.  But keep in mind, you need to make sure their roof color matches yours.  Your exterior colors have to blend well with the exterior roof color too.  So when looking around the neighborhood, keep that in mind.

Secondly, drive over to your neighborhood professional paint stores like J.C. Licht which carries Benjamin Moore or a Sherwin Williams store.  They are multi-billion dollar companies and they make these paint charts up for a reason.  They typically now have not only the exterior colors selected for you, but also accent colors were chosen which would go well with that siding color.  

Call up an interior designer who specializes in color selections.  Ask the designer if they are comfortable picking out color choices for the exterior of homes.  They are great to work with because they take into account all the surroundings as well, like your trees, perennials, and bushes.  

Other Home Improvement Videos:

Exterior Paint or Stain:  Which One Should Use?

Woodpecker Holes – How to Repair Cedar Siding


Choosing Interior Paint Colors | What Tools & Options Are Available?

What Tools Are Available?

What tools are available to help you choose interior paint colors.  Most of my homeowners get a bit overwhelmed when it comes to choosing interior paint colors.  They don’t know where to turn to, who to call, or how to go about the process.  

Thankfully, you truly don’t need to paint your interior but every three to five years.  That timeframe just depends upon wear and tear and keeping your home current with design trends & styles.  You might be tired of those out-dated colors and now interested in something new and vibrant. We recommend to our clients a couple different ideas on how to choose interior paint colors.

Color Visualizers

If you’re looking to do just one room, we would recommend going to some of the major paint manufacturers that provide color visualizers. You’ll need to spend a little time here on working with them, but it is a great way to see what color looks good in the freshly remodeled kitchen. These color visualizers are available in the paint stores at Benjamin Moore Color Visualizer and Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer.  

Another great place to find color selections is on the internet. We recommend going to Pinterest or Houzz to get some great ideas for your home. Check out my Pinterest board for interior paint color choices.  

Local Paint Store

Keep it simple. Seems obvious, but sometimes going to your local paint store is your best bet.  I’d recommend you go to a professional paint store and not a big box store.  The local Sherwin Williams or J.C. Licht store will have staff there who know what are the current paint color trends and be able to guide you in the right direction.

Your local paint store will have many paint charts that have been put together by interior designers back at their corporate offices.  Guaranteed to look great!

Color selection in the end comes down to you and your vision to make your home inviting and comfortable to all that are welcome. There are many options available now to everyone and when you know how to choose interior paint colors, the selection process can be quite fun. 

Other Related Home Improvement Videos

Interior Paint Brushes to Use

How to Prepare a Room for Interior Painting

Bathroom Painting Tips and Ideas | Bathroom Problems & Solutions

Common Bathroom Problems

Bathroom painting tips.  Some of the biggest challenges we see are peeling paint, mold in certain locations including the ceiling and hairspray.  Let’s look at each one individually:

  • Peeling Paint:  Usually located in ceilings above shower or bathtubs.  Typically paint peels because drywall wasn’t primed properly or there’s a lot of moisture that’s condensing on a ceiling;
  • Mold:  You’ll find a lot of molds where water is reoccurring in a similar spot such as bottom corner outside edges between the drywall where it meets the tile because of either the shower doors don’t close properly or where a shower curtain is located.  When you come out of the shower and possibly drip on the floor, water can puddle and mold can occur.
  • Mold on the Ceiling:  Exhaust fans sometimes are not properly vented and when that air is sucked out of the bathroom, it’s supposed to go to an outer vent.  That’s a real key observation.  So once we recognize that we’ve got some mold and mildew here, we want to make sure we treat the mold and get it cleaned off there.  As far as the exhaust fan suggestion, read below for more info on this.
  • Hairspray:  That’s usually a big problem.  Wax in hairspray or some sort of sprayed product for your hair can hit the back wall behind you or the door frames.  



Bathroom Painting Tips:  Types of Paint

So what are some great bathroom painting tips?  First and foremost, it is the types of bathroom paints that work best for bathrooms, considering the typical problems we mentioned above? Common problem areas that we see probably 90% of the problems, let’s talk about paints that work the best.  We want something that is mold resistant. There are a couple different products that I’ve used over the years that I really like.  I hope you like by list of bathroom painting tips for brands to use:

  • Benjamin Moore Bath and Spa has a nice product.  It goes on great and very do-it-yourself friendly.  Two products that I like to use
    • Benjamin Moore Regal Select eggshell finish;  and
    • Benjamin Moore Regal Select matte finish
  • Sherwin Williams has two products I like as well.  They are durable, excellent products just like the Benjamin Moore products:
    • Sherwin Williams Emerald eggshell finish;  and
    • Sherwin Williams Duration Home eggshell finish
  • Benjamin Moore Century is a new product.  Century paint is small-batched, craft-batching of paint. Benjamin Moore is making small batches, in 75 colors.  Sort of like craft beers.  Has a super unique feel. When you run your fingers over it, feels like velvet or velour.  Definitely, a way to have your interior home painting look unique from anyone else in the neighborhood.

Bathroom Light Fixtures

This is a great time to change out your bathroom light fixtures.  I see in many homes that old dressing lights, some people call it Hollywood lights some call it costume lights.  You know it’s basically just a strip of bulbs going across the top.  This is a great time when fixing other issues to install new bathroom lights that are more trendy and styles.

New Shower Doors

Now’s the time to change out that old brass color that is the typical style shower door brass metal framing. Everyone now starting to go to the frameless shower doors.  

Bathroom Exhaust Fans

As mentioned above, exhaust fans can either have bearings that go bad or you have too small of an exhaust fan altogether.  What do I recommend for ease of replacement?  Braun has a plug-and-play for easy swapping out. Try to go to a larger fan to help with extra moisture.  A larger fan will get rid of moisture quicker and more efficiently. Make sure where the fan is located is a good position as well.

Caulk Transition Area

Caulk the transition areas.  Use a small tube of clear silicone caulk.  If there’s a baseboard that runs up to the porcelain tile. Caulk where the tile and the baseboard meet.  I will also caulk the bottom edge about 12 to 18 inches out, where the baseboard touches the tile the floor tile.

Other Related Home Improvement Videos:

Bathroom Remodeling – How Long Does it Take?

How Much Does it Cost to Remodel My Bathroom?



Kitchen Sink Styles and Trends | Kitchen Design Ideas

Kitchen Design Trends

Kitchen Sink Styles and Trends. What are the current trends in kitchen sinks?  I get asked fairly often by my customers what sink would be best for them.  Well, honestly, that would be something they need to answer.  Every family is different and there honestly is a sink for each type of family.


Popular Kitchen Sink Styles

Let me tell you what we’re installing and what I’m seeing in the marketplace. We are seeing a lot of the following:

  • Solid surface countertops such as granite and quartz with under mount sinks or apron style sinks.  Most of the under mount sinks are made of 3 types of materials;
  • Stainless steel sinks are the most popular sink type we install;
  • Acrylic sinks are our next most popular sink style; 
  • Composite sinks such as Kohler’s Neoroc, which is a combination of quartz, resins, and hardeners formed under extreme temperatures; and
  • On occasion, we have installed hammered copper sinks.

Kitchen Sink Depths

As far as depth goes, the deeper the bowl the better. This gives you more area to leave those extra dishes if you don’t feel like cleaning them or putting in the dishwasher.

Number of Sink Bowls

When It comes to the number of sink bowls, two bowls is still the standard. On occasion we find some customers that just like to have a one-bowl sink, That’s what I installed in my kitchen and really seems to work best for our family’s needs.

While talking with vendors recently, there is a slight uptick in Corian sinks that are integrated with Corian countertops. It’s a little more pricey than your standard stainless steel but a great product none-the-less and incredibly durable. For the last 30 years, we have not seen much of a change in kitchen sinks.  We find that price, durability, and quality of material generally drive our customer’s selections. 

Check Out Our Related Home Improvement Videos:

Laundry Room Remodeling Benefits Video

Master Bathroom Walk In Shower with Bench Video


DIY Projects or Hiring a Contractor

DIY Projects – Are You Capable?

DIY Projects or Hiring a Contractor – This is the age-old question, “Are you capable of doing a DIY (Do It Yourself) project on your own.?”  In most cases, of course, you are!  But some projects either require expertise knowledge that only comes from years worth of knowledge or some require specialized tools and licensing.

Home Remodeling – Unexpected Problem

Let me tell you a quick story. One of our customers asked us to help him on a remodeling project, oh, about 6-10 years ago.  He was handling all the mechanical trades and asked our company to handle only the finishes such as painting.  I told him that typically on most remodeling projects, there are unexpected issues that can come. This is because you never know what is behind the walls until you get “into the project”.  


He was in charge of ordering cabinets.  After he ordered his cabinets, he found out there was an old cast iron drain pipe behind the wall which would affect the cabinet installation.  I was not contracted for this portion of his project, but here is where sometimes taking on too complex of DIY projects might not be a good idea.  My customer was not equipt to handle what to do.  He came to me for advice.  I told him to call the custom cabinet company to see if they could adjust the construction of the cabinets to allow room for the drain pipe.  If not, it could have cost my customer upwards of $4,000 for additional plumbing.  

Nothing Compares to Experience

What was learned from all of this – my customer relied on my remodeling knowledge to figure out how to handle the unexpected problem without adding to his bottom line budget.  Sometimes, you can tackle DIY projects with no problem if the project isn’t too complex.  But I typically would suggest that any remodeling project is done by a professional contractor who has experience.

diy projects - bathroom remodeling

Bathroom remodeling is a home project that, in most cases, should be handled by a remodeling professional.

You know it comes down sometimes also to your budget and if you don’t necessarily love to do the work.  I always tell folks to save your money for when you want to remodel.  When you are, let’s say, installing some kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanities.  If you don’t feel comfortable handling the project yourself, wait.  If you don’t have the money then save money until you can hire a contractor.  Find someone that is incredibly qualified to do the project.  You will be happier in the long run.  It really can be worth the wait.

Related Home Improvement Projects

Have you ever wondered how long does a bathroom remodeling project take?  Or how to tackle installing recessed lighting.  Check out these video links to help you with future remodel projects.


Priming Exterior Wood Siding on Home

Is Priming Exterior of House Necessary?

You’ve heard it many times, “You should be priming exterior of your wood siding of your home.  Make sure you prime before you paint.” But do you know why?  Some homeowners are confused on if they need to paint their siding or stain their home’s siding.

Priming Exterior – Reasons to Prime Your Home

Priming is one of the best ways to have good protection when painting wood. So before priming your house siding, there are two other steps that need to be taken care of prior.

  • Make sure the siding and areas to be painted are properly cleaned, scraped and sanded.
  • So now that the house is power-washed, scraped and sanded the next step is priming the raw surface.

Penetration of Primers into Wood

Primers are designed specifically to penetrate and seal surfaces that they’re going on. So naturally, on the exterior of your home, the primer is designed to penetrate and also to block out some of the natural tannins that the wood will create over the lifetime of the home. I’ve seen some painters over the years just paint over wood and I found that the paint generally doesn’t stick very well. This is because it’s not designed to penetrate the wood surface as well as a primer. So it might look good for a couple of years but when it starts to fail, it does so in a quick manner.

Purpose of Primers

Primers are designed also to help the paint application last longer. We have found over 30 years that a surface that is properly cleaned, prepared & primed with two coats of a high-quality latex paint, will last anywhere from 8 to 12 years. There are two types of primers on the market.  When not prepared, sometimes the trim can rot.

  1. First would be an oil-based primer;
  2. The second would be an acrylic based primer.

Both of these products work extremely well. Sometimes it comes down to the individual professional and what they like to work with. I want to stress that the proper preparation of your home, especially applying a house primer is the key to having a long-lasting exterior paint job.

priming exterior


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Hiring a Contractor – Tips & Checklist to Hire the Right Person for your Home

Checklist to Hiring a Contractor


This is a quick, short checklist when hiring a contractor.  Since I’ve been in business 30 years, I think I have a great handle on what customer’s need:

  1. Due Diligence:  What I mean by due diligence is to make sure they carry proper insurance required by your state.  Also, have a detailed contract given to you; and
  2. Referral List:  Get a referral from a trusted friend, neighbor or relative.

Hiring a Contractor – Due Diligence

One of the most important items you need in place BEFORE you sign a contract is to make sure your potential contractor is properly insured for the state you live in.  You should always have a Certificate of Insurance issued in your name, dated for the current month of the job starting, and showing they have both general liability and workman’s compensation insurance.

Secondly, get a detailed contract submitted to you.  Make sure the contract shows the product name they are using (i.e., a brand of paint), the number of coats, and to where the paint is being applied.  If remodeling, make sure you have specifics line-itemized for each are of the remodeling project.  When remodeling a bathroom, for example, make sure they itemize what they are doing for the plumbing, electrical, cabinets, etc.  

Referral List – Ask for One

Before signing a contract, ask for a referral list.  Call everyone on the list.  Make sure you get positive and any negative feedback from each customer.  When a contractor can only provide you 1-2 names, ask for at least 5-10 names.  Also, what specifically they did for that customer.  If you are looking to hire a kitchen remodeler, and all he has on the list are bathroom remodeling customers, ask for kitchen customers.  Same applies to hiring a deck stainer.  Make sure his references are for deck staining customers and not for interior painting!

hiring a contractor tips and checklist

Of course, there are more things you can look into when hiring.  But I believe these are the most important ones to start with.  When having contractor conflicts, here is a great video to help you resolve the issues.  

Rotted Trim on Your House – How Should You Repair It?

Rotted Trim – Where is it Rotting?

Rotted trim shows it’s ugly side every year.  Here is what I have found in the past 28 years of where we see trim areas that rot the most.

  • Bottom areas of Door Frames
  • Bottom Areas of Window Frames (the sill area); and
  • Fascias Behind the Gutters (especially at the corners)

So what is going on here and how can we solve this?

Rotted Trim – Door Frames & Window Frames

First, let’s take the bottom of the door frames and bottom of the window frames. Generally, things are not properly caulked, not properly primed or painted.  They are generally sitting on a concrete surface next to a brick surface. What the challenge is here is that concrete and brick have a tendency to be extremely porous. So, let say it rains, water can penetrate the brick or the concrete and have a tendency to leach or weep up into the wood and stay there. So if you have it properly sealed and properly caulked, you generally won’t have any issues that is one of the big challenges.

Rotted trim, if not addressed, can start to attract critters such as insects.  Once the insects make a home within your rotted trim, then woodpeckers start to come around your house which will require siding repair.  We can also take care of any rotted siding boards or woodpecker damaged siding boards too.

Rotted Trim Behind Gutters

The second one that I find is one the big challenges for rotted trim is behind a gutter at a corner.  Actually, where the gutter meets at the corner. It is not properly flashed and/or the gutter has a hole in it and water gets behind the fascia board. It is a tricky area to fix so you want to make sure your gutters are properly sealed.  Have good flashing.  Make sure you have caulking going on everywhere and all your surfaces are protected.

rotted trim near front porch

Sometimes you can have other areas on your home’s exterior that are starting to rot or dry out as well, such as warped wood siding.  This needs to be fixed and repaired as soon as you notice it happening.

Contractor Conflicts – Solving Problems on Your Job Video

Contractor Conflicts – How Can You Solve Them?

Contractor conflicts can sometimes arise at your home or office, understanding the 4 personality types can really help you out. There are 4 basic personality types:  sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic, and choleric. They are all a little different. Most people are a combination of two of those.  I am going to go through and explain what each one is so you know how to apply the understanding of these personalities to any contractor conflicts.

Four Personality Types

A sanguine type of person is real optimistic, social, loves to have a good time, and likes the party kind of thing.
A melancholic person is very analytic, serious and quiet.  The phlegmatic type of person is kind of more relaxed, kind of peaceful. Then the choleric is quiet, real fast-paced type person.  So when dealing with contractor conflicts, by understanding the type of personality you are working with, might help you decide the tactic or method of resolution.  I always tell folks don’t panic.  Everyone is wired a little differently. Meet them where they at.  Remember, the end goal is to get resolution.

Don’t Panic – Relax

First, take a step back and realize it happened so what can you do to resolve it?  So don’t panic.  Step away from the problem for a second and then revisit with the service person on how you going to be able to solve this problem moving forward.  And be quiet and be respectful.  Listen to what they have to say.  And if it is not really what you were expecting, I always say then reiterate what they said to you and kind of put it back onto the service person.

Select Contractor Personality

So this goes back to your personality type and the contractor’s personality when you decide to choose one for your project.  If you have hired true professionals, they should really understand what they do and how they take care of you as a customer.  They want your business for a long time because it is important to them.  That shows a real

contractor conflicts - how to resolve

sign of a true professional.  But when choosing between different contractors, understanding their personality type might be more important than you think!  How us can you pick a reliable contractor?  We are big believers in contractors should have many photos and videos to show you of his past work.  Check out our video explaining this.  Here is another video explaining many ways to choose a contractor.


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