(618) 924-0525

Carbondale, IL

READ OUR BLOG

Hero_Image_03

General_Contracting

We can manage the entire construction process from beginning to end. We work closely with your to develop a plan that fits your schedule and budget.

Roofing_Siding

Roofing & siding are important investments you can make for your home, and they should be installed by experienced professionals.

 

New_Construction

We are experienced in all phases of construction, from framing your new home to finishing garages and decks. If you can dream it, we can build it.

Site_Excavation

We clear and level land for your building site and dig foundations. Regardless of the size of your project, it's always important to begin with a good foundation.

Home_Remodel

Transform your home within your budget. We perform home additions, interior or exterior renovations and kitchen and bath remodel projects.

Design_Drawing

We discuss your ideas and needs, and bring our expertise to put together your project plan. Then we create a design to bring your vision to life.

Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Latest Trends in Home Construction and Renovation

The whole point of building a custom home or doing a major renovation is to create a space that is wholly personal, which means you shouldn’t be beholden to trends. But in the interest of education, let’s talk about some things that are happening now.

NATURAL SELECTIONS
Step away from the super-dark, hand-scraped floors for a second. Consider engineered woods with a lighter, more natural finish. Our experts say that white, gray, and washed-wood finishes are making a comeback. Think about bleached, limed, or fumed woods with matte finishes or sealed-only floors. Don’t count out engineered products. They aren’t necessarily cheaper, but you can achieve a more exotic look. You might also consider porcelain tiles. Porcelanosa’s Parker line boasts a “wood” look. Stone floors are also showing up in unexpected places, like master bedrooms.

Fun Fact: To get the look of steel windows, your contractor can match wood on the inside of the window to the color of the outside of the window. Steel versus wood could be a $50,000 difference in price!

CLEAN LINES, MORE OPEN SPACES
Our experts say that, on the whole, new construction is going more contemporary. This doesn’t mean that everyone is moving into glorious, Rachofsky-like glass houses. But on the whole, houses have cleaner lines with less focus on turrets and more use of Austin stone and standing-seam roofs. Europhiles, relax. The Mediterranean isn’t going anywhere—this is Italy Dallas, after all.

Even those who choose to stay with more traditional exteriors are going with modern, open concepts on the inside. That means fewer hallways and tiny, wasted rooms. Open floor plans afford more useable space — the kitchen that opens to the den and possibly dining areas. An abundance of glass and lift-and-slide doors, designed to open and disappear, bring the outdoors in. Again, efficiency is key. Homeowners are better understanding that 100 percent of their spaces should be completely usable.

TAKE SOME RISKS
Even the most risk-averse person should have some fun when building their dream home. Maybe you’re not ready to wallpaper all the ceilings. Fine. But get on board with the glass and metal trends and employ both on your staircase. In fact, why not create a fabulous, floating staircase? Too contemporary? Consider patterned woods, intricate wood designs, or an iron-and-steel combination. (On a side note, you might only need to do one staircase. It seems fewer new homes have two sets of stairs because they take up so much square footage.)

The powder bath is also a great place to try a bold wallpaper, daring paint color, or outrageous tile and hardware. There’s nothing better than stepping into an unexpected and divine powder bath. But what if you hate it? That’s a drag, but it’s not the end of the world. “It’s such a small space, so it’s not significant to change it. That’s why it’s a good place to take chances,” Michael Munir says.

FORMAL REFORMED
There has been a lot of talk about how the formal living and dining rooms have been eradicated from new homes, but that’s simply not true. The rooms still exist; they function differently. The formal living room is now more of a “parlor” or an “away room,” as in, “I have to get away from the televisions that seem to have shown up in every flipping room, including outdoor spaces, in this house.” Many people choose to make it multi-functional — it could be a library and a bar area. It could open to the patio and be more of a party room. The point is, it doesn’t disappear from the floor plan. It just becomes something that you’ll actually use for more than fancy-but-uncomfortable furniture storage.

Likewise, the designated dining room still exists, but it’s more open and casual. It could be the serving space for even more casual parties. Add bookcases, and, it, too could become a library.

KITCHEN CONVERSATION
We’ve all heard it: Kitchens (and baths) sell homes. Kitchens are the heart of the home. Grandma’s kitchen: Tasters welcome. We get it! Kitchens are important. But they’re also expensive. Jennifer Fordham of Poggenpohl Dallas says she tries to educate her clients from the beginning about what things cost and parse their needs. “I have to tell them that they don’t need drawers in every single inch of the kitchen,” she says. “You have to think about the odd-shaped things that won’t fit in a drawer.” She also says ventilation is key—folks come in the showroom and ask if there’s any way around having it at all. “They think it’s ugly, but you need it, if only to pass code,” she says with a laugh.

We’ve come to expect stainless steel and granite in high-end kitchens, but maybe it’s time to expand your horizons. “Granite used to be a premium, but now it’s everywhere,” Michael Munir says. “Most apartments have granite now.” Consider engineered stone and other countertop options.

As for stainless steel, it’s still a thing. But like granite, it’s pretty standard stuff. You might want to take a chance on some of the new designs that Miele is producing — basically glassed appliances in all black, white, or chocolate. Think how fantastic they’ll look with the tasteful Ann Sacks tile and Waterworks plumbing fixtures you’ve so carefully chosen.

For cabinets, think about some of the lighter woods or more natural-colored walnuts, or go bold with some matte lacquers. Fordham says white kitchens are coming back, too.

No matter your tastes, we can all agree that the two most important items in your kitchen will be a Hoshizaki ice maker and the Miele Whole Bean/Ground Coffee System. Sonic ice and caffeine always make everything better.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS
People are recognizing that the backyard has long been under-utilized square footage. In the quest to make every inch of property useful and liveable, indoor spaces are opening directly to the backyard or to patios with pizza ovens and fire pits. But the glare of the spotlight comes at a cost: Backyards are expensive. That outdoor kitchen may cost more than the kitchen inside your dream house. That photo you found on Houzz of the backyard with the swimming pool, lush landscaping, elaborate lighting, and pristine pizza oven could add up to $250,000. So budget accordingly.

As you create your at-home resort, consider stone flooring or interesting concrete finishes. Glenn Bonick says elements like raw or rusted steels are being used for retainers as well as decorative touches mixed with ipe woods for decks. It’s 200 degrees in the summer, so pools will always be a thing here, but many folks are going smaller.

THE NEW MEDIA
As previously mentioned, every single room in the modern home boasts a television, so unless your family insists on a theater setting for viewings of Phineas and Ferb, the media room may be wasted, isolated space. People want a room that’s more accessible and useful, so it’s become more of a playroom for the kids and/or an adult game room. Obviously, the large television(s) remains, but the need for theater seating has subsided. If you incorporate a media room, put it on the ground floor. Builders say that second- or third-floor media rooms tend not to get used.

GO GREEN, GET SMART, AND STAY HEALTHY
Having Energy Star appliances does not make you an environmentalist. That being said, if you employ geothermal pumps, you can get a tax credit — not a deduction. So if you have the money, that seems like a smart thing to do.

The focus is moving toward “healthy homes” or “wellness homes.” People are choosing surfaces that are easier on the body and clean-air filtration systems.

For more information, please visit dmagazine.com.

5 Things to Know Before You Replace Your Roof

The roof is arguably the most important component of your house. After all, it keeps water out of the building. And while nobody likes having to pay to replace a roof, the critical and aesthetic function it serves should help ease the pain of spending $8,000 to $20,000 on the work. (The average, according to 2014 cost data collected by home improvement site Angie’s List, is around $11,000.)

For that kind of money, you want to make sure job is done right. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Shop around

Some roofers don’t worry much about customer satisfaction since replacing a roof is a once-every-few-decades job, which means they don’t have to count on repeat business. Plus, many homeowners (mistakenly) choose their roofer based largely on price, and many roofing contractors hire low-wage workers so they can deliver the lowest possible bids. All of which is to say: You need to be extremely careful whom you hire. Get references from neighbors (or tradespeople or lumber yards) that you trust, and check major roofing manufacturer websites (certainteed.com, gaf.com, owenscorning.com) for lists of certified installers. Then request client references from anyone you’re considering, and check out their reputations on Angie’s List and their backgrounds on ContractorCheck, suggests Stockbridge, Mass., general contractor Jay Rhind.

2. Strip away the old

You’re permitted to have two layers of asphalt shingles on your roof, so if there’s only one in place now, you can have a new layer installed right on top. That will save you as much as $1,000 and a fair bit of mess, but it means the roofer can’t inspect and repair the decking and flashing underneath. If you live in a cold climate, stripping away the old roof allows the contractor to install ice and water shield, a rubber membrane used to prevent leaks at the eaves in the event of ice buildup. The tear-off gets a lot more complicated if you have something other than asphalt up there: If you can see original wood shingles on the underside of your roof when you’re up in the attic, you’ll need not only to tear everything off, but also to install new plywood decking, all of which likely adds $5,000 or more to your costs.

3. Go top shelf

To make sure you don’t have to worry about your roof again—and give you some selling points when you’re ready to move—go for top-quality products. That means: 50-year-shingles (shingles with the longest available warranty add just $300 to $500 to your total cost) with an “architectural” look (varying color and thickness that creates upscale character for just $250 to $750 extra). You’ll also want to opt for copper flashing, the most durable metal for sealing the joints where a roof meets a wall or another roof, which might add $1,000 or more compared with aluminum.

4. Pay attention to the paperwork

For such a quick job—two to five days, depending on the size and style of the roof—roofing involves a tremendous amount of liability and money. Three documents are essential: 1) Most towns require a building permit for a roofing project; this can help to ensure that your contractor follows building code. Plus, your roof warranty is likely void if you don’t get the permit. 2) A written contract that specifies all of the agreed-to details, products, and costs of the project. 3) A letter addressed to you from the contractor’s insurance carrier confirming that the specific project is covered under the roofer’s worker’s compensation and liability plan.

5. Don’t pay until you see the magnet

If you’ve had old roofing stripped off, about 10,000 nails came with it—and most landed on your grass, mulch, and driveway. Contractors have a tool that makes it easy to pick these up—a giant magnet on wheels that they pass over the yard to grab the dropped fasteners so they don’t cause any flat tires or injuries. But workers don’t always remember to bring it to the jobsite. So if you’re seeing nails around (you’ll know), when your roofer comes by for the final payment, ask him to bring the magnet and do the honors while he’s there.

For more information, please visit time.com.

Where Do I Start When Renovating My House?

Eager to get going on a project but not sure where to begin? Read this practical guide to getting started.

Working on your home can be a daunting prospect. Your mind may be flooded with ideas. You may be overloaded with advice from family and friends. You may be grappling with big questions, such as: Should we stay or should we move? Should we extend or simply tweak the space we already have?

The biggest obstacle can simply be knowing where to begin. If this is the case, it’s time to step back, gather your thoughts and apply a little objectivity to the process. Whether you’re planning a whole-house makeover or a fundamental reorganization, here are some ideas for how to go about creating a home that meets your needs in the best possible way.

Plan a methodical makeover. When major work isn’t required but the whole house needs a face-lift, work systematically through each room to establish the extent of the work and outlay required. Start in the hall — it typically needs more thought than you might imagine — and work logically from there.

Think methodically about each room in terms of floor, walls, ceiling, lighting and furnishings. Prepare a list of items to be purchased and building or decorative work to be done. You’re aiming to create a priced inventory of all the material needed for a successful project.

You may find it useful to create a shopping list with relevant dimensions on your phone or in a dedicated notebook for handy reference on the go.

Start with issues, not solutions. If significant alterations or even an extension are envisaged, take time at the outset to reflect on what’s propelling you to undertake the work in the first place.

Think specifically of what your issues are in terms of space, light and storage. Exploiting each of these elements to its fullest is key to creating a home that fits your needs like a glove. Whatever your space and budget, there’s an optimal solution for each part of this home-design trinity.

Also bear in mind the present and future life stages of members of the household — from toddlers to schoolchildren to young adults – and how your home will need to respond to each.

Compare what you have with what you want. Where your issues relate to use of space, start by preparing an inventory of the rooms you have now and how they’re used. Next, itemize the spaces you’d like to have and the uses you need to accommodate. Imagine you’re writing the brief for your ideal home.

Comparing both these lists should identify any “gaps” that need to be filled. The challenge then is to see whether your existing home can be rethought to meet these needs.

For example, can the extra living room you desire be accommodated in a first-floor room? Or in a loft? Can the guest bedroom double as a home office? Be broad in your thinking to achieve best use of your resources, both spatial and financial.

Maximize your existing space. If you feel you need more space, first check that the rooms you already have are working sufficiently hard before deciding whether to extend.

Perhaps you even have an unused room. Could it be reinvented and put to work in a different way? Is it actually a problem room — with issues of light, warmth or arrangement that need to be solved before it can be put to any use?

Could the dividing walls between the rooms at the back of your house be removed to create that coveted kitchen/dining/family room?

If you do decide to extend, make sure that the existing house flows into the extension and that, between both areas, your needs in terms of space and storage are fully met.

Boost natural light. If light is your main concern, a light-filled extension might seem a tempting vision. But bear in mind that such an extension may reduce light in your existing spaces.

Large windows to even the tiniest of external spaces can transform the light levels in any room. So, too, can light tubes, always a powerful source of light.

Where space and planning controls permit, a garden room, such as the one in this photo, can expand your space without impinging on the quality of light in the main house. Depending on the orientation of your home, the garden room may even enjoy better sunlight than the main rooms.

Manage your storage. Your aim throughout the house should be to achieve storage that’s both convenient and appropriate to what’s being stored.

You may think your existing storage is woefully inadequate, but before ripping it out and starting again, ask yourself: Could it work harder?

In the kitchen, for example, rearranging the contents of existing drawers and adding cabinet shelves can free up valuable space. This thinking can be applied to closets, linen cabinets and all other special storage areas around the house. Your main outlay here will be time, not money.

Turn a “problem room” into a successful one. If there’s a room in your home that’s shunned and avoided, you may well have a problem room.

However, there’s always a reason why a room is not used. It may, for example, be physically or architecturally cold, uninviting in its furniture arrangement or just dark and gloomy.

Make an effort to find out what doesn’t work in your problem room, explore possible solutions and get cost estimates for the work involved. Could you take down a wall, as in this inviting, open-plan space? Even moving a door or a radiator can transform a room — and for a fraction of the cost of an extension.

Prioritize the fundamentals. Tackle issues of watertightness, plumbing, electricity and thermal insulation in the first instance.

You won’t see visual benefits, but a warm, snug home is a springboard to greater things.

Seek professional advice. There’s no end of advice available when undertaking work on your home. Everyone around you will have an opinion, and you’ll find a huge volume of inspiration from a variety of sources.

The downside is that, amid all this, you risk becoming addled and even paralyzed, unable to figure out what you need to do and how to do it.

If you do find you’re out of your depth, seek expert, paid guidance. A good professional will advise you on how best to spend your money and help you avoid costly mistakes. The earlier you involve a professional in your project — even if it’s just for a one-off consultation — the better.

Stay focused. Whatever scale of work you take on, resolve to stay focused to the very end. Renovation work tends to be a long and tiring process, and you may be tempted along the way to delegate minor — or even major — decisions to outside parties.

Those decisions you delegate may haunt you. Remember, your aim is to create a home that fits like a glove.

For more information on renovating, please visit Houzz.com.

Curb Appeal Feeling a Little Off? Some Questions to Consider

Curb appeal. What’s it all about? Color, scale, proportion, trim … 14 things to think about if your exterior is bugging you and you’d like to up your curb appeal.

After the front porch has been swept, the paint has dried and the flowers have been deadheaded, you may step back to admire your work and feel your home’s curb appeal is still lacking. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what is off about your home. Go across the street and check it out from a distance, then snap a photo. Keep the picture handy, go through this checklist and see if any of these smart curb appeal investments will help your home look more inviting.

Are the architectural details the right scale and style? Classic columns on the front porch, windows on the sides of the door (sidelights) and an eyebrow dormer are charming touches that make this front door all the more inviting. Your porch posts may be out of scale, or that contemporary door may be out of whack with your traditional home. Analyze each detail and see if they complement the house.

Is the front door neat and clean? The most important thing is that it is crisply painted and clean.

If you have sidelights or transoms, make sure you clean them weekly, inside and out. Coordinate lanterns or outdoor sconces, great hardware, house numbers and a door knocker with your home’s style. These final touches make a big impact.

Is the front door the right color? If your front facade feels ho-hum, a new front door color can rev it up. Not sure which color will suit your home? We have a number of helpful ideabooks featuring a range of front door color choices and how to pick them; Vanessa Brunner has conveniently put them together in one place for you.

Is your screen door or storm door unsightly? A lot of us don’t necessarily notice our very functional but not-so-pretty front screen doors, but they can be the lipstick on the teeth of your home’s otherwise perfectly made-up face. Aluminum doors may be rusty; screens may be jutting out or covering up a beautiful door and taking away from its beauty.

There are many beautiful screen doors out there; some of my favorites are by artist Susan Wallace, who transforms screen doors into works of art with intricate metal designs. There are also cottage-style doors with wood frames and carved wood details. If you want to lose the door and keep the bug-free cross breeze, there are ingenious rolling screens that fit into the door jambs and hide from view when not in use.

Is the trim giving your house the proper punctuation? If your house is channeling the blahs, refresh your trim. Perhaps your white could look crisper or your window trim is calling for a color that stands out. Sometimes dark panes that contrast with the outer trim are the answer. If you’re struggling with a color choice, I can’t recommend working with a color consultant enough.

Are the kids afraid to trick-or-treat at your house? Curb appeal continues from day into night. Make sure your front door and pathway are well lit with fixtures that coordinate with your architecture and color scheme. Extra enhancements on the home here also include the lights on the potted trees out front. A well-lit house also helps keep burglars away.

What’s the state of your front steps? A friend of mine was complaining about her front wooden steps that touch the ground the other day (a termite risk here in the South, not to mention the way they rot and the paint peels), and I realized I’d never given such a thing a thought. Bluestone runs and stone-faced risers are a beautiful option.

Is your front path clear and inviting? A clear view and access to the front door are key; you don’t want visitors being snagged by thorns or tripping. Create a walkway from the sidewalk to the front door that will keep your postal carrier happy.

Can you have a rocking good time out front? Even a small front porch calls for old-fashioned rockers. It’s also a great spot for watching the world go by. Porch swings, wicker chairs and benches are other great front porch seating options.

Do your shutters fit your window size? If your home’s facade is bumming you out, check out your shutters. Are they smaller than your windows? Nailed to the siding? Shutters were made to cover windows and hang on hinges. Find a form that follows this function (or make them at least appear to be functional) and that goes with the style of your home.

Do your accessories go with your home’s style? This woodsy cabin’s charming bucket of logs and wreath suit it well, while if you’re near the beach, you may want something coastal.

Do you need some life out there? Whether ferns or colorful flowers, hanging plants, window boxes and potted plants are easy-to-add touches that give miles of curb appeal.

Do your planters go with your architecture? Match the planters to your home’s style. For example, urns go well with classic and transitional homes, bullet planters work well with modern homes, and rectangular containers pair up nicely with contemporary homes.

Do the scale and style of your car match your home? Just kidding! I just like the way this freshly detailed Mini goes with all the other great details of this home’s facade: a modern font for the house numbers, neat concrete steps, slatted privacy fence and minimalist landscaping with mounds of grasses. (See more cars that match their homes.)

Need more help? Post a picture of your home as a Design Dilemma on our Discussions page and let the Houzz community pitch in with suggestions.

For more information about curb appeal, please visit Houzz.com.

What I Wish I Knew When I Bought My First New-Construction Home

Building a new construction home lets you personalize your house for today’s needs and tomorrow’s dreams. Here’s how to plan your new home for future needs.

When I was designing our dream home 15 years ago, I was chasing around our toddler while laying out rooms and selecting finishes.

Back then, I didn’t let Ben out of my sight and couldn’t imagine a time when we wouldn’t be attached at the hip. So, I selected new-home options perfect for parents of a 16-month-old, never questioning if they’d work for parents of a 6-year-old, or 16-year-old.

Here are things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Kitchen/great room combo: I figured one big space would be great for watching tiny Ben while I was cooking; he’d drum on a pot while I fixed him buttered noodles. But Ben grew up and now likes to watch “Law & Order” on TV while I talk on the phone with my mom, and my husband runs the disposal after dinner. The room sometimes sounds like Grand Central, and I now dream of a separate family room and a little less togetherness.

Two main-floor bedrooms: We downsized our master suite to squeeze in a second bedroom next to us — perfect for soothing a preschooler’s nightmares. Turns out kids outgrow nightmares, but skimpy closet space is forever.

A pass-through instead of cabinets: I gave up two kitchen cabinets to cut a pass-through from the kitchen to our mud-cum-crafts room so I could keep an eye on Ben’s finger-painting sessions. Ben hasn’t dipped a finger in paint in 12 years, and I could really use that storage now.

The Future is Now

If I were buying a new home today, I’d do things differently: I’d crystal-ball my thinking and plan for my future needs. That’s the beauty of buying new construction: You can focus on want-to-dos, rather than to-dos — even if you can’t anticipate all your wants.

Luckily, builders know the life of a new home is a journey, and have consultants who help you fast-forward your thinking about features you can install now that will make life easier later.

I brainstormed with a couple of executives from Toll Brothers and Ryland Homes about some forward-thinking, new-home options.

A main floor den that could be converted into another bedroom as your family grows.

On a related note, see how people are reinventing their living rooms.

Bedroom soundproofing to ensure privacy.

Roughed-in plumbing and electric for an eventual attic or basement bathroom and kitchenette. If you don’t have the resources now, this is a great way to plan ahead. This extra living space not only could accommodate elderly parents or boomerang kids, but will increase the value of your home when it’s time to sell.

A double-deep, tandem garage that can fit three cars now, but can be walled-off later to add indoor space for an extra bedroom or bathroom.
Upgraded structured wiring throughout that can handle a souped-up Internet connection and other tech revolutions. Handy if you telecommute.

Temporary partition walls that attach to hardwood flooring, rather than subflooring. If you eventually want to combine bedrooms — kids move out — you’ll only have to do a floor repair and refinishing, rather than patch a gaping hole.

Plywood sheathing behind drywall and tile in bathrooms. These sheets of plywood let you attach grab bars anywhere without hunting for studs.

Grab bars aren’t just for our later years. They’re also good for kids and aching weekend warriors who need a little help getting into and out of a tub.

An addition. If you can site your home to accommodate a bigger footprint later, plan to run conduit through exterior walls for future electrical and plumbing needs.

Unless you’re psychic …

You’ll never know today exactly what you’ll need in the future: It’s hard for me to imagine life beyond next Tuesday.

But choosing options for tomorrow is one perk of buying new. These forward-thinking selections can mean years of enjoyment as your family changes, and can make it easier to sell if moving — and buying new again — turns out to be the best alternative.

For more information on new construction, please visit HouseLogic.com.