How to Choose the Right Remodeling Contractor
You’ve finally decided to do some major renovations in your home. How do you hire a reliable contractor? How can you be sure you won’t be defrauded or left with a half-finished job?
For most homeowners, finding the right remodeling company is more difficult than choosing the perfect kitchen cabinets or floor tile. Renovations can be expensive and stressful and sometimes uncover unwanted surprises like leaky pipes, rotting sub-floors, or sub-standard electrical work. Choosing the right contractor will make the difference in whether you have a successful remodeling project or a nightmare.
Depending on the size of your project, you may need a general contractor or just a handful of tradespeople such as electricians, plumbers, or carpenters. Some homeowners decide to be their own contractors, and while this may save money in the short term, it can also be time-consuming and more expensive in the long run.
Taking the following steps will help you find the Milwaukee’s best remodeling contractor, stay on time and budget, and keep your project running smoothly.
Decide What the Project is Going to Be.
Before you call any contractors, decide what you want to be done. Look at catalogs, shop at big box stores, and choose a few finishes. Your estimates will be more accurate if you can be specific.
Ask co-workers, friends, or neighbors who have had similar work done. Would they hire the contractor again? Were they easy to work with? Was the work area clean? Is the final product satisfactory?
Interview Several Prospects
Find companies who do the work you want to be completed. Just because someone did a great job remodeling your neighbor’s bathroom doesn’t mean they can build your addition. Compare written bids from every prospect. They should all include the same projects and the same materials. Ask for a list of employees; find out if subs do any of the work. Be prepared to negotiate price and never sign a contract until everyone is satisfied. And don’t be surprised if the contractor you choose can’t start immediately. The best ones are busy!
Make Sure to Check References
Check References and Licenses
Although rules change from state to state, most subcontractors and all general contractors should be licensed. Check the Better Business Bureau, Yelp reviews, and court records for potential litigation or problems. Look at their license and talk to recent clients.
Signing a Contract
Be sure the contract lists what work will be done, the exact materials used (including model numbers), deadlines, and payment schedule. Unless everything is documented, it’s nearly impossible to prove if it’s been done correctly. If you don’t feel the contract is detailed enough, write your own and have both parties sign it. A change order should be written listing new materials, cost, or work if there are any changes during the project. Put in writing when the workers can enter your home, what bathroom they’ll use, how often the boss will be there, and who to contact in case of problems.
If expensive materials are needed immediately, contractors may ask for 30 percent up front. If not, don’t pay more than 10 percent before the job begins. The contract should include a timeline of payments. Be prepared to spend at least 10 to 15 percent more than what was agreed by the end of the project. No matter how careful you are, hiccups happen. And never make the final payment until the job is finished and you’re completely satisfied.
Communication is the key to a great finished product. It’s easier to fix a problem sooner than later, so speak up if you notice something. You may need to talk to the contractor every day, and frankly, it’s better to hire someone you feel comfortable with. Even if it means spending a little bit more money.
Following these steps will create a much smoother remodeling project.
Top 5 Home building Trends of 2017
The way most people see it, through the years, house building hasn’t altered drastically. After all, houses are still built from the ground up, piece by piece, until the desired finished product is achieved. Ask someone truly in the know, however, and you will soon see that new life is being pumped not only into homes being constructed in 2017 but into the housing market itself. These modifications are being done through improved home design and intelligent utilization of the latest home building trends. These trends provide lifestyle benefits and will increase the value of your home.
Let’s take a brief look at five of the most in-demand home building trends in 2017.
1. Neutral Is the New White
It seems like just yesterday that stainless steel appliances and white-hot kitchens were all the rage. Today’s designers are going a different route. Kitchens with neutral backgrounds are the latest and greatest trend when it comes to the room in which many of us do our best culinary creating, kids do homework, and the family sometimes dines. Gray and black matte appliances are taking over. Cabinetry is turning more toward the mid-tone wood. On the outside of new homes, however, the opposite is true. To accent fenestration openings and building forms, grays, blacks, and other contrasting colors are being incorporated on a far more frequent basis.
2. Two-Car Garages Get a Makeover
Astonishingly, there are still new home communities that are governed by local ordinances requiring attached garages to be dual-garage bays. But in these ever-changing times of Uber drivers and other shared car services, fewer families need an over-sized two-car garage. Today’s homes are making use of that living space by remaking the interior of these garages into family rooms, game rooms, guest rooms, offices, etc.
3. Modern Times Call for Modern Designs
In 2017, home designers see less and less of a demand for old-school motifs. Styles are turning decidedly more contemporary. Flat panel cabinets, glass garage doors, geometric faucet designs, horizontal fireplaces and more are flooding the market when it comes to the decoration and design of today’s new homes.
4. Charge It!
The ever-present wireless gear of today (i.e., tablets, smart phones, etc.) is undeniably a staple in homes, offices, cars – everywhere. But they don’t charge themselves. Because of this, charging stations are popping up everywhere you look – in bars, restaurants, hotels, you name it. So, it comes as no surprise that modern home builders and designers are installing charging stations under kitchen countertops, behind bedside tables, within office cabinets, even in bathrooms.
5. The Master Bath Experience
Households of today spend an astonishing amount of time in the bathroom – particularly when the master bath is designed with some of the latest trends in mind. Because this is where most couples begin their day, modern bathrooms are sporting flat screen TVs and emphasizing more room in which to move around, without bumping into each other.
Customize Your Home With these Latest Home Building Trends
Ending your day with quality time spent in your master bath is now a distinct possibility. Luxurious ottomans create a sitting room type of atmosphere; exercise or yoga areas offer mind and body health, and over-sized, freestanding baths provide the opportunity for a relaxing, warm soak.
These trends barely break the surface on a sea of new and exciting concepts being offered by home designers in 2017. For a complete breakdown of what is available and which new concepts will best serve your needs, contact us to learn more.
5 Tips to Tailoring Your Floor Plan for Your Lifestyle
One of the biggest investments in your lifetime is your home! It is the place that you go to wind down, relax, entertain, cook, and raise your family and work. The best thing about building a custom home is that you won’t have to force your family’s lifestyle into a floor plan!
In a day in age of outsourcing, Joseph Douglas Homes offers two experienced in-house CAD designers that work directly with you, our customer, on every single project. Because of our commitment to finding you the best design for your home, we can easily tailor an existing floor plan or create a one-of-a-kind custom plan for you. We always work hard to help you design the home that fits your family’s needs. No matter if your family is downsizing or expanding, we work with you to build the home that is the best for you all while staying within your budget.
Even though we make working with Joseph Douglas Homes as easy and straightforward as possible, you are bound to need ideas at times! For some tips and thoughts about picking your perfect floor plan, look at these 5 tips to choosing the right floor plan for your home below:
- Choose a plan based on your design style
Are you traditional and prefer a closed off floor plan or do you have a modern style where an open floor plan would fit better? Some families prefer everyone to gather in one spot and others work better when there are separate rooms to meet in. Think of things like your furnishings and imagine how you will decorate your home!
- Pick what size of home will be the best for your family
The size of your home should be one of your first thoughts. Every family doesn’t need a huge home and every family won’t feel comfortable in a small one bedroom. Choosing a floor plan should begin with how large of a home you want and how that will fit into your lifestyle. Think about how many bedrooms you will need for kids and how many bathrooms are enough for your lifestyles.
- Know your budget before choosing a floor plan
Let’s face it; there is always the side of us that wants to go bigger and better than we ever imagined. Before getting your heart set on one type of floor plan – know what the costs are associated with the layout.
- Understand the pros and cons of your floor plan
There isn’t ever going to be a perfect floor plan. There will always be some kind of pros and cons. You and your family will need to decide what are your priorities are and what can you learn to live without. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons when looking for the perfect floor plan.
- Ask us for help
While you may know what you want in your future home, we can always help you consider a different point of view. Factors such as energy savings/costs, building times, and maintenance experience are factors that a professional can give their guidance on. Best of all, we can semi-customize your floor plan to fit your lifestyle.
Tour Joseph Douglas Homes Carlisle Model at the 2017 MBA Parade of Homes
Beginning in mid-August, potential buyers can experience 22 brand new homes constructed by some of Southeastern Wisconsin’s select home builders of the Metropolitan Builders Association.
Discover the latest in decorating trends, cutting-edge technology, sustainable building techniques, and the best in exterior, interior, and landscape design. Interact with some of the Greater Milwaukee Area’s top builders; ask questions and gather ideas regarding remodeling your current home, buying a new home, or building your dream home.
Each Parade Subdivision will feature several builders and their best designs. For example, in Menomonee Falls, Joseph Douglas Homes is showcasing The Carlisle as their 2017 Parade of Homes Model. Starting with their most popular floor plan with a first-floor master bedroom, and then adding a personality of its own, the architects at Joseph Douglas have created a top-of-the-line residence. The Carlisle is a “must see” on this tour and is considered to be the “little sister” of their very popular Newberry and Somerset models.
The Carlisle’s two-story foyer creates an impressive grand entrance, and a wall of windows fills the family room with tons of natural light. A chef’s kitchen is nearby, hosting a great prep island, a walk-in pantry, and a spacious casual dining area. Nearby is a “flex” room which can be used for a formal dining area, an office, or a study. Toward the back of the house is a laundry area with a separate mud room complete with lockers and a big storage closet – perfect for muddy shoes, school books, and sports equipment. A powder room is right near the garage entrance.
Along with the luxurious first-floor master suite – which includes a private screen porch and a bath with spacious tile shower, and a walk-in closet – The Carlisle also has three additional bedrooms, a full bath, and a loft on the second floor. This home is perfect for a growing, active family. Be sure to put this house at the top of your list of homes to tour.
The Parade of Homes began in the 1940s and showcased the best subdivisions and must-see model homes in southeastern Wisconsin built by the area’s most experienced builders.
Tickets for the 2017 MBA Parade of Homes will be available online, at several advance ticket locations, and at Parade entrances. You will be allowed into each subdivision only one time. The Parade of Homes opens on Saturday, August 12th and runs through Monday, September 4th.
Don’t suffer the pain of high energy bills in your next home
Do you cringe each month when your utility bill arrives in the mail? If high energy costs are getting you down, don’t blame your electronic devices. Heating and cooling are the largest energy expense for most homes, reports the U.S. Department of Energy.
If you dream of building a new, custom home, you must make some fundamental decisions about how the home will be built in order to avoid thousands of dollars in wasted energy costs each year.
When you picture your dream home under construction, you likely think of hundreds of wall studs (the skeleton of a building) creating the frame of your home, as that is how many U.S. homes are built — from tract homes to custom-built mansions. So-called “stick framing” has been the standard practice in home building since the 1800s. Yet, this method is notoriously difficult and expensive to make energy efficient, leading to high heating and cooling bills.
More custom home builders have discovered an advanced method of building that can help reduce a home’s heating and cooling energy consumption up to 60 percent compared to stick framing. The system is structural insulated panels (SIPs), which can be used to form walls, roofs and floors in big sections (24 ft. each) that install quickly and easily. SIPs panels are made when structural wood sheathing is laminated to a rigid foam core for superior strength and insulation. Compared to traditional two-by-four stud walls, SIPs have thicker and more continuous insulation for exceptional insulating power, and have far fewer gaps where heated indoor air can leak out.
Making a home airtight is the most critical thing you can do for high energy efficiency. In one custom home Strong built for the O’Meara family in the snowy foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, the large SIP panels leave few spaces for gaps and help super-insulate the home. This high efficiency allowed the home to supply 90 percent of its heating and cooling needs through passive solar energy.
Likewise, when it came time to design her own home, Montana architect Becki D. Miller, AIA, used SIPs to help create a structure that she estimates is about 30 times more airtight than a conventional home. In addition to being energy efficient, Miller notes that SIPs help simplify and speed construction. “In one step, you can have the walls up and they’re insulated and sheathed,” says Miller. “With SIPs, we had the walls up in only two days.”
“While SIPs are an advanced building method, they’re not new,” says James Hodgson, general manager of Premier SIPs, a manufacturer based near Tacoma, Washington. “SIP homes have been built in the U.S. since the 1960s, but with new interest in energy-efficient construction, more people are asking for SIPs.” Hodgson notes that manufacturers continue to innovate with SIPs, including new types of insulating cores. His company’s Platinum SIPs, for example, use a new type of insulation that increases the panels’ insulating power by more than 20 percent.