March 16, 2011

Springtime improvements

Homeowners look to make changes this spring.

With spring right around the corner, some residents are looking at changes to their homes.

“People are fixing broken stuff around the house, either inside or out,” said Mike McCord, owner of McCord’s Do It Best. “They’re also looking into things for the long run.”

Many people are fixing plumbing leaks, repairing broken pipes, replacing roofs and painting. As for the non-necessities, homeowners are looking into completely remodeling kitchens, bathrooms and basements. They are also considering room additions, installing a new deck or a new pool for the backyard.

John Smith of Shepler Construction said bathroom remodels had been a popular request.

“If you are worrying about the value of your home not being what you want it to be and you have to sell the home, remodeling the kitchen or bathroom will get you more bang for your buck,” McCord said.

Kayle Zimmerer and her husband recently had their master bathroom remodeled by Shepler Construction.

After living in the house for four years, Zimmerer and her husband decided it was time to work on the bathroom, since it was outdated and needed some repairs.

“I don’t think it’s been touched since 1988, which is when the house was built,” she said. “The shower was really deteriorating. That was the main reason — to redo the shower and we decided to do the whole thing.”

Zimmerer decided to go with quality products for the remodeled bathroom, so it wouldn’t need to be fixed again for at least another 10 years.

The floor and shower were tiled. Zimmerer received help from Bill Graybeal with tile size and color choices.

“There were too many to chose from and I’m not an interior decorator, so I need a little nudge which way to go,” she said.

Zimmerer hopes to eventually replace the kitchen flooring, but for now she is pleased with her new master bath.

“It is definitely a major upgrade to our house, and I’m really happy with how it turned out,” she said. “It’s been worth it.”

Smith said homeowners were looking at other projects as the weather begins to turn. Some repairs include new siding, roofs and windows.

“With the economy, people are trying to lower their energy costs and not spend as much a month on gas or electric,” Smith said. “They are doing things to improve energy efficiency, whether it’s new windows or insulation.”

McCord said there had been an increase in interest this year with home improvement projects. When the economy took a downturn a few years ago, many homeowners decided to skip the family vacation and invest the money into their homes.

Last July, however, McCord said the struggling housing market and loss of jobs left people wondering about the future. Therefore, homeowners were hesitant about making improvements.

As the economy begins to improve, McCord said, contractors are buying more and they seem pretty hopeful about the spring work season.

“There’s a better upbeat feeling than there was a year ago,” McCord said.

Vickie Lebo, with Interior Designs by Vickie, said a lot of people are giving their existing home a facelift rather than buying something new.

“Whether it’s freshening with a new window treatment or having me come in a rearrange what they already have and adding a few key pieces,” she said.

By repurposing items, Lebo said, homeowners get a breath of fresh air.

Another new trend has been a three- or four-step program where homeowners start with new paint and then follow up later with windows and flooring.

“I think the economy is on its way up,” she said. “Everyone was so scared at first. They are realizing it’s OK to do things, by doing it in steps.”

McCord suggests that before homeowners jump into a project they get an estimate because it’s important to factor in the cost of labor and materials.

“You may realize you will end up paying more later,” he said. Smith advises homeowners to make sure they have a qualified contractor.

“Never be scared to ask for references, but also keep in mind the contractor is only going to give them the best references,” he said.

Also, ask for a certificate of liability insurance, and even call to see if the contractors had any problems with completed work or inspections.

Lebo suggests homeowners look at the items they already have in their homes in a new light.

“People can feel like they are in a new or fresh space by just reworking their belongings, a fresh coat of paint or by simplifying the window treatments,” she said.

• Denise Massie is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or

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