Uncategorized /

Is it cheaper to knock down and rebuild or renovate your house?

Renovating versus Rebuilding: A Complete Guide


Refurbishing (or renovating) is one of the most exciting ways to renovate. It’s all the fun and glory of shopping without the dust and hideous expense of a rebuild. Kitchens and bathrooms can be transformed into something magazine-worthy by replacing old and worn fittings.Here’s what you need to know as you contemplate renovating versus rebuilding in Chicago.


Bedrooms come up a treat with freshly painted walls and living areas can be made to look more modern with new window treatments or floor coverings. Yep, by the end of this guide, you will realize that renovation versus rebuilding in Chicago has a lot going for it.

Renovating versus Rebuilding in Chicago

By the end of this guide, you will realize that renovation versus rebuilding in Chicago has a lot going for it

What Does True Renovating Mean?

A true refurbishment means leaving the structures of the room as they are and replacing the accoutrements—the fittings, paintwork, skirtings and floorcoverings. A refurb leaves the ceilings, wall structures, floor structures, electrical wiring and plumbing intact. It is more like a redecoration than a renovation.

Renovating vsersus rebuilding in chicago

It’s up to you what you want to spend on a refurb

The sky is the limit with a refurb you can spend a lot of money, but you can also do it on a tight budget. For example, a cast-iron bathtub might cost $8500 while a plastic tub might cost around $150.You will pay the same amount of money to install and fit either bathtub, but the cast-iron one might last 10 times longer. It may also be out of fashion within five years. It’s up to you what you want to spend on a refurb but don’t forget that budget is still a prime consideration.

The Rules of Refurb

While it’s always best to refurbish rather than rebuild (your stress levels will thank you), there is no point spending money on a refurb when the property is screaming out for structural renovation.

Refurbishing a poorly laid-out room or one that really needs the walls re-plastered or the ceilings replaced is a waste of money. You will only have to rip up your expensive refurbishments to fix the underlying structures later—ouch, that will hurt the overdraft.

Remodeling versus renovating in chicago

ou need to assess what you want to do and how much money you have to spend

Naturally, the rules of renovation planning apply here. You need to assess what you want to do and how much money you have to spend. So, just like you did in the last chapter for maintenance and repairs, you need to do a room assessment and plan how you want to approach the refurb.

Renovating versus Rebuilding in Chicago

Many factors are considered when deciding to renovate or build a new house. Whereas renovation takes a shorter time. Building takes more time and more resources. However, it depends with circumstances leading to either renovating or bringing down the old home and constructing a new house. Some of factors considered are cost, time & change.

Should you renovate?

Value: once a house is renovated it appreciates its value immediately, if the owner would wish to sell it in future, this is an added advantage. It would fetch more money and even attract potential buyers thus selling it to the highest bidder.

renovating cersus rebuilding in Chicago

Remember your renovation mission statement.

Locality: Living in a place for some time gives someone a sense of belonging. Accesssibility to facilities will not change.

Beauty: Someone is able to spruce up house features as she/he pleases.

Space:  Depending on how big the house is, you can partition the lager spaces hence creating more rooms.

Challenges: The extent of renovation might increase due to structural defects.

Movement disturbance:  to create room for renovation, there has to be relocation from one room to the other.

Getting the refurbishing sequence right

You can easily minimize the cost of refurbishment if you spend loads of time planning. Once you have planned the elements you need for a refurbishment, it is easier to shop for cheaper materials, get competitive quotes for labor and choose the finishes and fittings you would like. Planning gives you the freedom to choose cheaper options—but only if you have time up your sleeve to exercise those options.

Desires and Budgets

Remember your renovation mission statement. Also, remember your budget. Don’t forget that your bank manager/mother/partner will want to kill you if you spend more than you can afford. Refurbishing is more expensive than plain old maintenance and repairs so you need to get a handle on costs before you start.

  1. First things first. Create a floor plan and work out how many square meters need renovating, then use a guide to costs to get a rough estimate.
  2. Estimate. Assess the materials you need to buy and the labor you need to hire to get a more accurate costing. You can also ask tradespeople and suppliers to give you quotes on jobs.
  3. Final budget. Work out exactly what materials you need and their costs, and how much you will pay for labor.
  4. Estimate. Work out how much time you will need to spend on getting quotes, overseeing suppliers, donating labor.

Refurbishing and your time

The longer you can take to refurbish a room, the cheaper it will be. Time gives you the luxury of shopping around for cheaper tradespeople and materials. It might also enable you to do some components of the job yourself—like stripping out and rubbish removal or painting.

A long time period could also make it easy for you to project-manage the job and schedule the plumber, tiler, electrician and painter yourself rather than paying a builder to oversee the renovation. If time is of the essence and you can’t go without a proper kitchen for three months, it is worth spending the money on a builder. Or you can employ a kitchen or bathroom company to do the renovations in a timely manner for a fixed price (just make sure you check reputations before you sign any contracts).

Two easy ways to renovate

renovating versus rebuilding in chicago

You can move and do everything at once or do it room by room

Move out and do everything at once

Pros: Can be quick and relatively cheap and painless, which adds to the gratification.

Cons: If costs or schedules blow out, it is more frustrating. Finding suitable rental accommodation can be painful.

Do it room-by-room

Pros: Less pressure and disruption to life. You can also get a better handle on costs; if the bathroom blows out, you can save on the bedroom.

Cons: Slowly, slowly it can drive you insane. You might also pay more in call-out fees for tradespeople, as well as find it more difficult to buy materials in bulk.

The Most Valuable Rooms to Refurbish

Common wisdom suggests bathrooms and kitchens are the best rooms to refurbish for the resale value of a property, but this doesn’t necessarily hold true. Louis

Christopher, a property owner from Arlington Heights, says buyers need to know that new kitchens and bathrooms actually depreciate over time. ‘Renovations just for the sake of renovations don’t really add any value,’ Louis says. ‘Most people would rather pay more money for simple things like a double garage or an entertainment deck—features that really add to the lifestyle value of a house.’

The most common renovations are

  • New kitchens and bathrooms
  • Second storey additions
  • Ground floor extensions
  • Garages and decking

The most common trends buyers are looking for in homes relate to ease of lifestyle outdoor entertaining areas, open-plan living with the kitchen as the hub of the house, luxury bathrooms for pampering, rooms to capture views or outlooks. So refurbishing rooms that offer to improve the lifestyle value of a house is probably the most valuable thing you can do.

Outdoor Refurbishing

It is probably fair to assume that opening a small lounge room to the outdoors by installing glass doors will be more valuable than just upgrading a kitchen. But if you have a squalid outdoor bathroom and still decide that installing glass doors to open up the lounge room to the outdoors is a more valuable move, then you need your head read.

The only accurate way to get an idea of the most valuable rooms to renovate is speak to your local real estate agents about what is selling in your area and which features potential buyers are demanding. In some suburbs, an in-ground swimming pool is a great asset to a property; in others it is considered a drawback due to high maintenance and ongoing costs. Get to know what works in your local area, and refurbish your rooms according to the demands of the local real estate market.

What experts say

Real estate agent Debbie Saunders, who specializes in selling prime Chicago real estate, says refurbishments that are clean, simple and uncluttered have the most market appeal. ‘People are more attracted to white tiles in the bathroom than tiles with three colors. They want simplicity,’ she says.

renovate versus rebuilding in chicago

Expert advise is by far the most useful input while exploring renovation costs and ideas

The key to refurbishment and spending your money to best effect is to work within the current layouts of rooms, especially the kitchen and bathroom. If you don’t need to move services like plumbing and electricity then your main costs will be stripping out, buying new fixtures and fittings, retiling and painting which will be kinder to your budget.

However, if the design of a room or the structure is fundamentally flawed, forget the refurb and save up for a rebuild. Don’t waste money on cosmetic work for crap rooms which will always be crap.

Refining Your Refurbishment Plan

With the confusion over the many tasks and trades involved in a refurbishment, it makes sense to use some revised planners to help keep your thoughts and budgets on track. Try filling in the following blank planners to summarize the planning steps you have already been through.


Rebuilding is the last resort, the worst type of renovation. It is expensive, time consuming and very dirty—do not do it unless you really have to. There is no way you can rebuild cheaply or without inconvenience—you will need to engage a range of professionals and very possibly move out of the property while work is being done.

rebuilding versus renovating in chicago

A newly rebuilt home











For the purpose of this guide, rebuilding means:

  • Moving doors
  • Moving windows
  • Removing walls
  • Removing floors
  • Replacing structures such as roof supports, walls, footings or decks
  • Rewiring electricals
  • Replacing old plumbing
  • Demolishing structures.

If a property has any of the following faults, it will probably need rebuilding, at least partially.

Crumbling Walls

Brick walls that are close to the sea or very old may have crumbling mortar or rusted arch bars. You can repair crumbling walls if the extent is not that great. In some instances, however, it is cheaper to demolish and reconstruct.

Failed plumbing

Old clay plumbing pipes are often cracked and broken; even 20-year-old homes can have leaky or blocked pipes or inadequate stormwater drainage. In many older structures, the only way to replace the plumbing is to break open the wall cavities. But if you’re lucky the pipes are more accessible. Perhaps only requiring a bit of digging. Sub-floor areas allow easier plumbing renewal.

Old electrical wiring

You should consider replacing wiring that is more than 30 years old. However, if you insulated the wires well and hid the insulation within brick walls, you are safe. You also have to have good quality sockets and switches. If this is the case, you can consider not replacing the wiring system. All this is for your own safety more than anything else.

Extensive rotting or decay of brick or timber structures

If your building is poorly maintained, refurbishing is necessary. This is to maintain the structural integrty of the building. For example, they shake when you push the walls or the floor is unsound. Sometimes a structural engineer can restore and repair the area.

Inadequate roofing and roof supports

You can fix leaking roofs. There is no need of removing the whole roofing system. However, the timber supports for a roof can rot or be damaged by termites, and in these cases you have to rebuild them.

Wide-reaching termite damage

When termites damage the supporting beams and bearers of a building, the only option is to exterminate the pests and rebuild the damage.

Demolishing To Rebuild

A growing trend is the ‘knock it down and rebuild’ market, where people demolish an existing house and build a well-priced new home on the same site. This is extremely cost effective, especially in areas where land is in short supply.

It is cheaper to build project homes. This is because builders can buy materials in bulk, saving on cost.

Most brick-veneer project homes can be built for $900–1300 per square meter. This price does not include demolition of the existing home (site costs), landscaping or fencing. Take a good look at your renovation estimate. It might be more cost-effective to build a new home.

What about apartments?

Just like houses, apartments have design features that are worth refurbishing. It goes without saying that individual apartment owners cannot renovate an entire building. That is the responsibility of the collective owners (the body corporate, the executive committee, the owners’ corporation). You can, however, make some improvements to your apartment.

What History Has to Say

There were two major booms in apartment construction in Chicago the 1930s Art Deco era and the 1960s.When upgrading the interior of these apartments; it is well worth retaining some of their original features. These include:

Art Deco – Patterned ceilings, leadlight windows, curved windows, glass doors, timber windows, timber floors, timber skirtings and picture rails, original plaster cornices, original tiles and light fittings.

1960s These are often maligned as brick bunkers, but many have excellent solid brick and concrete construction, simple room decoration (no cornices, minimal skirtings), parquetry floors, and sometimes interesting laminex or tile finishes.

What about Chicago?

Apartment styles vary across Chicago, but generally more modern apartments are not as well constructed as earlier styles. Apartment construction is booming but it’s important to note that not all constructions are alike. The very best modern apartments offer a view or outlook. The poor alternative being staring at a brick wall or another apartment block.

Renovating versus Rebuilding in Chicago

DIY plans come in handy while deliberating on renovating instead of rebuilding

They also have good natural light and ventilation, often with open plan living and dining spaces that connect to a small balcony or courtyard. Poorer-quality apartments have no solid walls, minimal floor space (to maximize developers’ profits) and low ceiling heights. Sure, a modern apartment with stone bench tops and stainless steel appliances looks like it will never need renovating, but in another five or ten years those fittings may start to look dated.

Repair and Maintenance

Maintenance is the easiest way to renovate—it is the cheapest and most cost-effective way to make a property seem like new again. There are essentially two

Types of maintenance:

Scrub-up maintenance – This is the maintenance you do not make periodically. Scrub0-up maintenance contributes to the permanent look of the house.

Regular maintenance – These are the boring drudgerous tasks you need to undertake on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to keep the property looking neat and tidy.

And finally

Maintenance is intrinsic to a property’s value. A well maintained and clean kitchen or bathroom can seem just as valuable to a potential purchaser as a renovated kitchen or bathroom. Qualified professionals will tell you that a well-maintained and tidy property is more appealing than a renovated but poorly maintained property. While debating renovation versus rebuilding in Chicago, the tiniest bit of information could make a huge difference.

While many renovators rush to put in new kitchens and bathrooms, falsely believing it will ‘add value’ to their property, they forget the mantra of maintenance. Maintenance will pay you back ten-fold if you invest your time in it.

For more insight and advise on whether to renovate or buy altogether, you can contact us for comprehensive and personal consultation.






Uncategorized /

Porch Remodeling Ideas for Chicago – Ultimate Guide

Porch Renovation Ideas for Chicago – Ultimate Guide

The porch is one of the trickiest places to renovate for good reasons. You are split between making it beautiful and sustainable. It is a possibility that can invest a whole lot of your time and resources but still not get value for money. You will need a porch that can withstand adverse weather. While thinking of renovating, you will of course consider some factors. Weather patterns in your area will be your first consideration. Your budget will also determine the extent of the renovation. The following feature is a complete guide of all the options you will need to explore before renovating. But first, check out these porch renovation ideas for Chicago.

The most renovation-sensitive components of the porch


Experiment with different types of lights available. You will need sustainable lighting to take you through every season. The lights should complement your paint work. Halogen bulbs bring an essence of warmth, style and color. Fluorescent lamps are the best if you decide on bright colors like shades of white and cream. You can also install lighting that you can easily adjust according to preference. Try and keep everything adjustable.

porch renovation ideas for chicago

Warm white halogen porch lights


porch renovation tips for chicago

If you have young ones around, do not install ceramic, they will get hurt













Tiling your steps makes it easier to clean, but can be hard to maintain. If you have young ones around, do not install ceramic, they will get hurt. Consider wooden steps. Depending on your budget, you can make the steps stand out by using inexpensive material like cement. However, for a truly amazing finish, ceramic steps are the most ideal. If you live in the countryside, renovate the steps with easy to clean material. The steps are easily neglected, but if you do things right, they will most certainly stand out.


The space above should also compliment the paint work you will use. More likely than not, you will suspend something from the ceiling. It is important to consider this before installing the ceiling. This is where expert advice from your designer or architect comes on handy. You could suspend potted plants, lamps or even a fan. Durable ceiling will take you through the year effortlessly. Concrete ceilings are a terrible idea. The ceiling is permanent so you will need to invest in a durable ceiling that can withstand adverse weather.


porch renovation tips for chicago

The size of the porch will determine the size of the swing(s)

The porch is a great relaxation area. Good old traditional swings provide a sense of tranquility when you need some time alone. However, you might need to rethink the painting and type of material you will use while installing the swings. You could build your own swing from scratch or install a ready-made one. The swing should complement the furniture you will install. You could then add style and comfort by adding cushions with the same color and design as the furniture around. The size of the porch will determine the size of the swing(s)


porch renovation tips for chicago

You can install permanent furniture or temporary ones you can replace at your own convenience

This is perhaps the most complicated of the renovation process. However, if you do it right, you will enjoy what you see. The weather is your most important factor before coming to material and design. Install weather-proof furniture if rain or snow makes its way through the sitting area. You can install permanent furniture or temporary ones you can replace at your own convenience. The color of the furniture should be something close to the wall furniture. That goes without saying. A key reminder; since the patio is outdoors, keep things inexpensive if you travel a lot.


Porch lamp renovation ideas for Chicago

Depending on the theme of your renovation exercise, you could go modern or vintage

Install lamps that you can easily replace in the future. Depending on the theme of your renovation exercise, you could go modern or vintage. It would be weird to install vintage lamps in a modern home. The vice versa is also true. The color of the bulbs is also a consideration if you are installing totally new lamps. Ikea sells amazing lamp designs but you can also get some unique outdoor lamps at your local convenience store.


It is obvious that the siding would be similar to the one the house is built with. However, while renovating, you can take down the existing one and install a totally new one. Depending on preference, wooden sidings are the best but would require insulation for the cold season. There are several types of sidings you can use, depending on your preference. This might be a big project if you are taking down the existing one and that is where we come in. we can advise you on the best way to approach this step of the renovation process.


Painting your porch is by far the most exciting of the whole renovation process. You get to experiment with so many different colors and themes. Even the more exciting is the fact that you can do it all by yourself. To paint correctly, start by setting a theme. A theme will be your guide to everything including furniture, the ceiling and floor. It would be advisable to use oil based paint. It’s glossier than water-based paint. It’s also easier to clean. You can browse catalogs or consult an expert if you are not sure.


porch renovation ideas for chicago

There are tens of inexpensive roofing types and patterns to consider before settling on one.











Light roofing is recommended for the front pouch. You can choose the pattern of the roof and what material to use. There are tens of inexpensive roofing types and patterns to consider before settling on one. Furniture can transform the look of your porch. Even if the porch is old, appropriate furniture can make the porch area an awe for your family and visitors.

How Renovations Affect the Value of a Property

A renovation will hold its value if it creates a property which will be in high demand but is of limited supply in the local area. A renovation will also hold its value if it complements the style and integrity of the original property. Even the most ungainly looking house or apartment will have some style and design features that are worth retaining, complementing or improving—these usually relate to the proportions and style of the original property.

Renovators in the 1970s would have laughed if someone said that open fireplaces would become a valued feature of a Victorian house: fireplaces were routinely boarded up to make rooms easier to furnish and seem larger, a desired lifestyle amenity at the time. Now, those houses with boarded-up fireplaces are worth less money than similar properties which still have their original features.

Retain the house’s original features

Without getting into an extended heritage debate, it is important to retain valuable ‘original features’ in a property rather than destroying them to create something new. These original features are integral to the long-term value of a property as they cannot be easily re-created and therefore are in limited supply.

This in turn means demand for original features cannot be easily met, so the price of properties with original features becomes higher. Even properties built in the 1960s and 1970s will have features worth retaining. It is important to understand the intrinsic design features of each property before embarking on a refurbishment which could destroy its future value.

Generally, alterations and additions to a property should be in a similar form and use similar materials to the original structure; it is worth retaining the roofline and the look of the house from the street.

Questions to ask before renovating the outdoor area

  • What activities do we use the area for?
  • How frequently will you use it?
  • Are the garden beds and garden paths in the right places?
  • Is the entertaining area large enough for our needs?
  • Is there room for the herb garden/flower garden/plants we would like?
  • Does it add to the street appeal of the house?
  • What about maintenance?
  • Are the sympathetic to the house and street scape?
  • The mailbox, is it in a secure and obvious position?
  • Are the plantings sympathetic to the house?

Porch Renovation Cost Analysis

There are so many materials and types of labor involved in renovation. There are literally thousands of combinations of materials and trades which can be used on just one property. Professional estimators can work out the costs of a job for you, which is useful if you’re doing a big renovation as an owner-builder.

However, most of us have to make some estimates ourselves—and don’t know where to begin. The list below is not exhaustive, but is a good place to start for most renovation jobs. You would need to order some materials weeks in advance.You can order others at the hardware store when need arises. Simply fill out the lines that apply to you and add new materials to the list as required.

When is the best time to schedule renovations?

There are some basic rules of programming or scheduling renovations. All builders and project managers break down a renovation into the smaller jobs that need completing. They schedule the small jobs and, based on their extensive experience at understanding trades and material deliveries, that’s how they can efficiently program an entire project.

porch renovation ideas for chicago

You need to schedule a renovation hen most convenient for you

Renovations, especially those coordinated by people without extensive experience in the building industry cannot be scheduled as effectively as the building of a new home. It is a fact of life that a tiler might be held up for two days on another job, delaying your job by two days and then delaying every other job further down the schedule. There’s not much you can do about this accept that it may happen.

It’s all about scheduling

Working out a schedule for your renovation gives you direction. It maximizes time-efficiency and minimizes cost, chaos and stress. A schedule means that you don’t need to keep calling out tradespeople for small jobs. You can book a mason to do several things at once or you can book two or three for the same day (but ONLY if all the tradespeople agree!).

A schedule means that you will be without a kitchen or bathroom or home for as minimal a period as possible. However, you must be realistic about how much can be achieved in a timeframe and you have to develop some understanding of subcontractors and the tasks involved. For example, the plumber should be booked to install bathroom taps, vanity unit and shower taps on the same day that the kitchen needs new taps installed, but BOTH rooms need to be at the right building stage for the plumber to come in. Or, if you’re painting the lounge room, paint the dining room or hallway as well, so that the time preparing rooms, cleaning brushes and getting paint in your hair is minimized.

A few Pointers before Concluding

Before starting on any kind of building work in your home or business, you need to know exactly what your objectives are, the resources that are available to you and how you are going to achieve those objectives.

You also need to consider whether or not your ideas are practical and achievable within your anticipated timescales. Do remember that the planning of any work, whether it is on a large or small scale, takes time and patience. The scale of the project will obviously dictate the amount of time it will be necessary to spend on the planning.

Don’t ignore the details

If you think that your project is too small to warrant the time spent on reading all of the content and issues in this article read it anyway. You may be surprised how some of the bigger issues can be scaled down to help in the smaller projects.

If you have little or no knowledge about the technical aspects related to your project or the logistical problems that building work involves, you will need to contact an architect or specialist designer, depending on your requirements. For example, any work that involves alterations to internal or external walls will require the advice of experienced people.

What Architects Will Do for You

While builders and contractors will have had experience in carrying out the work, it is important that you satisfy yourself in the first place as to whether structural calculations and drawings will be required.

Architects, engineers and designers will also know what is required to obtain planning permission (if needed) and building regulation approval. If the architect has submitted drawings, calculations and any other information to the local authority in order to obtain planning approval/consent, there may also be additional disbursement costs that you will be liable for.

Before engaging in any type of contract, it is worth getting estimates first. Architects and designers are market-led and in boom times may have many months’ work booked in advance. They will therefore have the upper hand when negotiating fees, so be patient and shop around.

And finally

It’s hardly surprising that renovation can easily turn to disaster. Little jobs make up a renovation process. Painting, polishing, plumbing, removing, demolishing, rewiring, rebuilding. It’s enough to send even the most organized person into a tailspin. Successful renovating is all about planning. And it’s all about fully preparing yourself for the financial and logistical burdens of improving a property.

It’s about feeling in control because you are in control. It’s about spending to your budget because you understand every task and job that you will be paying for. Most importantly, it’s about navigating the minefield that is renovating in Chicago. In a way that’s easy, simple and fun (although I can’t promise it will be quick or cheap!).








Uncategorized /

Cost of Gutting a House and Remodeling in Chicago: A Professional Analysis

 The Cost Of Renovation Analyzed

the cost of renovation in chicago

Most people focus on the financial part of the cost of renovation.

More likely than not, your renovation endeavors are hindered by your ability to fund your ideas. Truth be told, you need cash to renovate. It even gets tougher by the day with the rising cost of hardware. Everything starts with a plan. Everything else is secondary. With a plan you can outlay everything from start to finish. The cost of renovation in Chicago can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be.


Most people focus on the financial part of the cost of renovation. They tend to forget other aspects that in the end will amount to costs. By the end of this analysis, you will be able to know the true meaning of the cost of renovation.

The five rules of renovation planning

  1. Set your desired outcome according to your time and money. Decide what you want. A totally slick pad or just a nice kitchen to work in? If you want a slick pad but only have $5000 to spend, then you’ll need to prioritize how you will accomplish it all.
  2. Survey the scene by creating a floor plan. Plan an attack and THEN act. Use the planners and tables before you embark on any dust-inducing action. It’s the old tradesman’s rule of measure twice, cut once. Plan hard, renovate sanely.
  3. If the hardest job isn’t finished first, don’t waste your time or money on other things. Don’t paint a room until you’ve replaced the rotten architraves. And don’t waste five hours scrubbing an old bath if you plan on replacing it in three months’ time. Well, unless you have five hours to spare and really want to . . .
  4. Always, always, always choose the easiest method of renovating to your desired outcome. It will save you time, it will save you money and it will save your sanity. Don’t go overboard just for the sake of it.
  5. Make maintenance a mantra: Don’t undo all your good work by forgetting the little things that devalue a property and take hours to fix. Look after your property and your renovation work—that way you won’t have to revisit the process again for a long time.

The Cost Of Renovation in Chicago

The cost of your time

the cost of renovation in chicago

Overseeing a renovation is time-consuming.

Overseeing a renovation is time-consuming. Even if you choose to outsource everything and leave it in the hands of capable professionals. For example, if you earn $60 000 a year for a 40-hour a week job, the time you give to your employer is worth around $32 an hour. Even the buck starts here. 11 employing professionals to organize and complete your renovation will take at least 20 hours of your time.

The cost of stress

renovating in chicago

If you are a person who hates stress, then the cost might be higher than you think.

If you fail to follow a plan or method when renovating, things will go wrong. Costs will blow out. You will fight with your partner, or your bank manager, or anyone who comes near you. If you are the type of person who can handle pressure, then the cost of stress may be negligible to you. If you are a person who hates stress, then the cost is high.

The cost of chaos

If you renovate a kitchen, how do you plan to cook meals each night? Your bathroom is inaccessible for three weeks, where will you shower and how much will it cost to rent a Port-a-loo? What if anyone in the family is asthmatic, they cannot live within coo-ee of a dusty renovation. What might these things cost you in terms of money and lifestyle?

the cost of renovating in chicago

where will you stay? Will you have to rent temporary accommodation?

The cost of temporary relocation

If you need to move out for a refurbishment or a rebuild, where will you stay? Will you have to rent temporary accommodation? What are the costs?

Working Out What You Can Afford

Most normal people don’t have unlimited funds or savings which allow them to spend all that they want on their desired renovation. It’s hard enough just buying a property, let alone finding more money to fix it up.

Yes, when you read magazines and watch TV it does seem that renovators are quite happy to splash out $200 000 to put the charm back into their little shack, but most mere mortals do not have access to that kind of cash without hitting the redraw button on their mortgage account.

renovating in chicago

you need to carefully consider your budget before you start taking down ceilings











That means you need to carefully consider your budget before you start taking down ceilings and opening your own can of renovation worms. Nowadays, flexible mortgage arrangements mean it’s relatively easy to borrow extra money against your property to finance renovations.

While banks make this sound very simple, the catch is that you must have a reasonable portion of equity in your home to make this work. If you have less than 20 per cent equity in your home and think that you should borrow some more money to renovate, you need a smack on the hand! Do not even consider borrowing money to renovate until you own a good stake in your home.

The other hideous problem with borrowing to renovate is that interest rates can rise over time, and the borrowed renovation money can end up costing you a lot more than you originally thought. That means a $50 000 renovation on today’s money will cost you $110 848 over 25 years at 7.5 per cent interest, but if interest rates increased to 10 per cent in three years’ time, that same renovation would cost you $136 305 over 25 years.

The Art of Guessing Estimates

Guesstimating costs can be difficult for people who have little experience with building. There are building industry publications that outline all material and labor costs for building and renovation; they are updated every six months.

architecture costs in chicago

‘We have people getting prices from builders and the quotes can vary by as much as 150 per cent,’

Professional developers, architects and builders use these guides to keep up to date with costs, but it is unlikely that home renovators would be able to access labor and materials at the ‘trade’ prices unless they are tradespeople. These publications are published by quantity surveying firms Cordells and Rawlinsons and can be bought from specialist building bookstores.

Robert Caulfield, managing director of Archicentre, says renovation costs can be scientifically worked out with ‘costs guides’, but the ultimate price can still vary markedly. Archicentre specializes in offering affordable architectural services for home renovators. ‘We have people getting prices from builders and the quotes can vary by as much as 150 per cent,’ he says.

Some common retail material costs

  • Plasterboard sheet $20–30
  • PVC pipe 3 m $60–70
  • Concrete $10–12 for 40 kg
  • Some common labor costs
  • Electrician $40–55 per hour
  • Plumber $40–55 per hour
  • Bricklayer $35–55 per hour

The industry publications also show regional differences in prices. Some cities have higher demand for trades and material but restricted supply; others do not.

Research suggests that Chicago has the highest variation in renovation costs, with some suburbs reporting renovation costs of $3500 per square meter. Most cities have similar costs for building project homes, but there can be huge variations in renovation costs depending on the type of housing, the accessibility of the site and the access to materials and labor.

What Determines Property Values in Chicago?

Every suburb and every property within that suburb has a unique set of conditions that create the value—or potential selling price—of the property. Regardless of actual prices, properties always hold a value in relation to other properties. I call this the ‘totem pole’ value of a property, and whether prices are booming or busting, properties always stay true to their totem pole value.

chicago renovation cost analysis

You will need to work out the value of your property on the local totem pole











A house that is worth 10 per cent more than the house down the road will always be 10 per cent more valuable, whether the house is worth $2 million or $200 000.You will need to work out the value of your property on the local totem pole, as it can give a more accurate reflection of how much you are really investing in a renovation.

There are just two components of a property’s value:

The land value (this can often be worked out as a rough price per square metre). The improved land value (the value of the house, fences, outbuildings, landscaping and other ‘improvements’ to the land). There are loads and loads of factors that influence the land value and improved land value of a property, and these vary from city to city.These factors essentially the real value of renovating relate to supply (how many properties are on the market) and demand (how many buyers there are for that property).The market factors that influence supply and

Demand can include:

  • Population growth
  • Employment
  • Availability of finance
  • Land-release policies (Are government authorities in the area willing to lease land?)
  • Local council planning policies (can you build more apartments in the area?)
  • Factors which reduce supply include national parks, natural coastlines and strict
  • Council controls.
  • The quality of the property will also influence its value; these factors can
  • Include:
  • Proximity to places of employment (ever since the industrial revolution, there
  • Has been demand for properties close to workplaces)
  • Proximity to shops and transport (people have to eat, people have to get out
  • And about)
  • Style of housing—Californian bungalows, federation houses and Victorian
  • Houses are rarer than modern project homes, and often command higher prices
  • Than newly built homes in the same area
  • Views—water views are especially valuable, but views of parks, golf courses, city
  • Other sought after factors include the skyline and bushland
  • Position—is the property in a good street, is it overlooked by adjoining houses,
  • Is it next to a factory, etc.
  • Lifestyle features of a property, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

It is important to note that the lifestyle features of a property are only one of six things that influence the perception of quality—that means that renovation might not always be the ‘value adder’ that you think.

So How Do I Work Out The Value Of Renovating?

I have a personal theory of renovating to add value, based on the ‘totem pole’ of property value. Every property is unique. Therefore worth a different price, it is impossible to compare an unrenovated house in a street with a renovated house around the corner on a larger block of land. But my totem pole theory helps to assess the true value of a property.

cost analysis chicago

Every property is unique











You can consult us. Professionals can help you determine the true value of your house. That said, you will need to follow your local property market, actually inspect the properties that are similar to yours and work out the price ranges in your suburb or district.

Lastly, remember the kitchen renovation can be easy and at the same time hard. Gather as enough information as possible before you start renovating. It’s interesting how just simple tips can make your renovation exercise hassle-free.

While Budgeting for Renovation, Follow These Three Simple Steps

If there is one thing this book will emphasize, it is this: plan, plan, plan. If you double the time spent planning, you will half your renovation time. You will also avoid all the stress, hassle, and hell of renovation that seasoned property-improvers talk about. The most important place to start planning is with your money.

There are very few ways that normal, everyday people who work full-time jobs to service a mortgage can renovate cheaply. Sure, you could take annual leave to do some laboring with your builder or paint a few rooms, but is that really the way you want to spend your holidays? It is one of those lifestyle-television myths that renovations are easy to do yourself for minimal cost.

The only way to save money is to undertake as little structural or refurbishment work as possible. Remember, time, labor and materials are the three costs of renovation. The lower the price, the lower the quality of materials and the more time some DIY-er has had to put into it.

If you cannot afford the minimal range of a renovation, then you simply cannot afford to refurbish or rebuild. You will, however, be able to put in some elbow grease and a few dollars at the local hardware store to spruce up your property.

Let me explain this better

Jerri was interested in buying a unit which had an asking price of $299 000. This was immediately recognized as a ‘bargain’ since all other units in the area were priced between $300 000 and $360 000. Jerri knew the unit was cheaper because it was in poor condition—there was a mysterious lump on the kitchen floor and the bathroom was pokey and unrenovated.

Tenants had been living in the unit and it had not been cleaned properly for years. Similar units that had been well maintained were selling for at least $25 000 more. This unit had a lovely outlook opposite a park but was in a bigger block than Jerri would have liked.

He, an owner-occupier, knew that investors would be turned off by such a big renovation job, so she made an offer of $290 000, knowing she would need to spend $20 000 to take the unit to the higher end of the price range for local units. He will never change the size of the unit block, but the excellent position and outlook will remain as permanent features and therefore entice other buyers. Jerri realized that she had an opportunity to buy a unit on the lower-priced section of the totem pole that renovation could take to the midprice range.

What does this mean?

Unlike Jerri, most people mistakenly think they can take a lower-priced property and turn it into an upper-priced property by virtue of their wonderful renovation. This, of which they also delude themselves into thinking they can do for virtually no cost with their own marvelous DIY skills).That is bulldust.

You need to understand that it is extremely difficult to make lots of money by renovating to turn a lower-priced property into an upper-priced property. It might be even more difficult to take an upper-priced property and extend what the market will currently pay for it. It is much easier and more realistic to make money by turning a lower priced property into a middle-priced one. You could also turn a mid-priced property into an upper-priced one. The totem pole behaves in certain ways, regardless of whether the market is growing, declining or flat.

Here are some basic rules about the value of renovating a property:

  1. Location – a renovation process will not raise the market price of a property if it’s location determines it’s price.
  2. Structural condition – Renovating the structural condition of a home could raise it’s market value. However, you should be careful not to overspend as renovating does not always guarantee this.
  3. Standards – While the standards of a house could raise its price significantly, raising the standards of each room might not reflect as significantly in the final price of the house. By standards I mean, for example, making the house a luxury home.
  4. Suburbia – If the property is in good condition and in the best position in a high-demand suburb, the renovation could stretch the market to pay more.

And finally

I believe that the more money you spend on renovating a property, the more difficult it is to recoup the money. However, in high-demand locations like the inner city or beach suburbs, where supply is short, an expensive renovation that makes your property stand out from the crowd and creates buyer demand can give excellent returns.

To renovate for profit is a lofty goal that requires thorough knowledge of the renovation local real estate market, real estate cycles, building costs, and project management.

Renovating your own home, however, is a different story. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to consult with us.



Uncategorized /

Basement Remodeling Ideas

Basement Renovation and Remodel Ideas for Chicago

The basement is all but habitable. You are thinking of renovating but you have no idea where to start. You are lost, but that’s okay. The land down under can be turned into practically anything you want. The basics of basement renovation and remodel ideas for Chicago start here.

For a good reason…

There is no standard or recommended way to build the basement. You just have to know exactly what you want and pivot from there. You could choose to build a

basement remodel ideas for chicago

Include your spouse and kids in your basement renovation plans for approval purposes













  •       Living room
  •       Home cinema
  •       Guest room
  •       Gaming room
  •       Bar
  •       Private sanctuary
  •       Safe
  •       Bomb shelter (for purposes of context completeness)

The list is endless. At the end of the day, it’s what your pocket allows you to do. Your preferences also matter. Don’t be selfish, however. Include your spouse and kids in your plans. You might want to include them in case something goes wrong.

Basement Renovation Basics

The walls

Are the walls straight and level? Most walls are slightly off (even builders don’t usually get them as level as they would like), but check for bulging and dampness at the base, which indicates rising damp and potential structural problems.

basement renovation ideas for chicago

Check the base of wooden door frames and posts for termite damage during basement renovation

Is there sub-floor ventilation? Good airflow beneath a wall is critical for long-term survival against termites and damp. Check weatherboard for rotting.  Then, check the base of wooden door frames and posts for termite damage. Check the mortar in bricks.

If it is crumbling and missing, it will need replacing or cement-rendering. Look also for rusted brick ties, which could indicate that water has penetrated the wall. Check the underside of the eaves. If there’s water staining or mold, you could have roof problems.


Check the line of the roof. Are there any dips in the roof? Check a corrugated steel roof for sarking (an insulating underlay—it looks a bit like foil) and insulation and check that the steel sheets have been installed correctly (e.g. overlapping joins, enough screws in each sheet). Next check tiled roofs for broken or missing tiles. Also, check that gutters are secure and not rusted out. Check old brick chimneys, especially for bricks that are coming free from mortar, which can make them structurally unsound.

Inside the roof space

Basement renovation ideas for Chicago

Look around for mouse and rat poo or signs of possums

Check for sagging roof framing, cracked tiles, rusted steel roofs, leaking ridges or valleys. All are signs that materials need replacing. Look at the quality of the electrical wiring. Most modern wiring is well insulated, but older wiring may have cracked insulation. Have a sniff. If it smells moldy and damp, there are probably leaks. Look around for mouse and rat poo or signs of possums. Vermin in roofs can lead to leaks and problems.

Timber floors

You must check for borers, termites or fungal decay. Borers leave squiggly worm holes in timber, termites leave mud tunnels, and a pale powdery mould is often found where there is fungal decay. Scratches or patches of missing varnish or finish aren’t troublesome. Jump up and down on the floor above to check the strength of the bearers and joists—the older the timber floor, the stronger the timber will be (it seasons over time).

basement remodel ideas for chicago

Check the integrity of what is holding up the floor

Check what is holding up the timber floor—piers, stumps or walls. Then, check the integrity of what is holding up the floor (brick piers often crumble, timber stumps can rot and dwarf walls can have damp problems). More so, check if the timber floor is level (most are not) but, more importantly, look for gaps between the floor and skirting boards or door frames. These gaps will show you how much the house has ‘moved’ from its original position.

Concrete floors

Check if the concrete floor is level. Homes built on a concrete slab should have more level walls and floors than timber floors—but sometimes they don’t. Check if the orange plastic membrane which is laid under the slab is exposed; this could indicate the slab was not laid properly. Make sure there are weepholes or ventilation holes in the external brickwork close to the ground and that these have clear airflow. You might need to consult an expert for this. 

Look for cracks and shrinkage in the concrete—this is evidence of structural problems. Sometimes builders don’t let slabs cure for long enough before tiles or carpets are laid—check if tiles are buckling or if carpet is mouldy; this could mean the moisture from the slab is transferring to floor coverings.

Interior walls and ceilings

Check if walls and ceilings are straight and true—if they deviate by more than 5 mm, it could be a sign of warped framing timbers. Are the walls made of ‘frame and plasterboard’ or cement-rendered brick cavity? Check the type of construction—it is easier to rewire and fix plumbing in framed walls. Check that the underside of windows is not moist—poorly flashed window leak and cause structural problems (flashing is used to make windows waterproof).

Look for cracks or signs of movement in the ceiling, especially near cornices. Check for mould and waterstains on ceilings; this could indicate leaks in the roof. Make sure all windows can be opened properly; if there is excessive condensation on the glass, it could be a sign of dampness.


Check if all light switches and power points work and make sure there is no sign of burning or melting around switches, fittings and fuses. Make sure a safety switch, not just a circuit breaker, is installed on the main board. Safety switches save lives and are worth paying for. The law also requires you to do all this.


Fill the bathtub and sinks then unplug and check how quickly and efficiently the water drains away. Look for damp ground around external drains—this can be caused by cracked pipes or poorly plumbed drainage. Make sure downpipes on the outside of the building are connected to the stormwater drain or a collection tank rather than expelling water near the house where it may cause damage. Water hammer, a loud sound in the pipes, indicates poor plumbing. While you can fit a device to stop the sound, eventually you may need to replace the pipes.

Overall design

basement renovation ideas for chicago

Altering existing buildings can be fraught with danger

Are the rooms in the basement the correct size for your needs? Rooms less than 2.5 m wide are usually too squeezy. Do the living areas flow to the outbound? This gives you the feeling of more space without building more rooms.

Remodeling As Alterations

Alterations and additions make up the largest proportion of the Chicago renovation market in most capital cities—especially the addition of open-plan family rooms with upgraded kitchens. There is a rough rule of thumb that if more than 60 per cent of the house needs to be altered, it is cheaper to knock it down and build a new house from scratch.

However, there are some good reasons to alter rather than demolish, including:

  • Sustainable re-use of existing materials
  • To maintain the architectural integrity of the house
  • To maintain old building approvals that would not get council approval today,
  • Such as distance from the street or other buildings and height limits.

Altering existing buildings can be fraught with danger. No doubt the Can of Worms factor must be taken into account once walls are pulled apart, myriad building problems can be revealed. More than with any other type of renovation, you always need more money than you initially budget if you are going to rebuild.

If you are building the basement as a living room (in most cases this is what happens) then here’s your checklist.

A Living Space Checklist

  • How many living areas do you need? Can your family share one open space or do parents need their own area?
  • Does the living space need to be larger? Or would it appear larger if it was better connected to the outdoors or was opened into an adjoining room?
  • Is there any unused space in the house? such as an attic or garage—which can be turned into extra living space?
  • Do your living spaces need a lot of natural light? If so, then they need to be on the northern or eastern wall of the house.
  • Does your living space need hardwearing, durable floors or are carpets better for your needs?
  • Which items really need to be stored in the living space? Can the books and DVDs be stored in a nearby study?

If you are considering the basement to be an extra bedroom, here’s your checklist.

Basement bedroom checklist

  • What size bed do you need? An ensemble will take up less space than a bed with a frame and bedhead.
  • What type of lighting do you need? Overhead lighting, bedside lighting and lighting to get dressed by?
  • What sort of storage do you need? Built-in or freestanding?
  • Do you want cosy rugs or carpets on the floors or serviceable floorboards?
  • How dark do you want the bedroom to be? Do you need to pay the extra for block-out blinds, shutters or curtains?
  • Is the bedroom cool enough in summer to sleep well? Will you need a ceiling fan?
  • Heating bedrooms can be expensive, especially if you’re paying for warmth while you sleep, when a good-quality doona will suffice.
  • Do you need chests of drawers or bedside chests?
  • Can you fit extra storage under the bed?
  • Where can you hang a full-length mirror?
  • Do you need to add a study alcove or reading area to the sleeping space?
  • What are the ceilings like? This is the only room where you will regularly look at the ceilings.


Basement remodeling in chicago

Simple lighting ideas can transform your basement to something amazing

Lighting is the easiest way to create a mood or atmosphere. Good lighting can create a warm atmosphere, highlight a beautiful object or transform the character of an interior by introducing areas of light and shadow. Bleak, overhead and bare light bulbs make a space seem unfriendly and unrelaxing, while a few table lamps or uplights can make a room seem soothing and welcoming. Light that’s too bright just dazzles and drains, and a dim, dark room is depressing.

There are three different types of lighting:

‘We needed some office space, but couldn’t sacrifice a bedroom. So we transformed our laundry into an office and washroom by installing a few extra power points, a phone line and task lights and a pull-out desk inside some big cupboards.’


Arlington Heights, Illinois

AtmosphericAmbient or atmospheric refers to a room’s overall lighting and the mood it creates. Living spaces and bedrooms feel more comfortable with soft light that fills the entire room. Often, in these areas, the main source of ambient light is a pendant lamp in the center of the ceiling. You can also use table or floor lamps to illuminate dark corners and provide a softer overall effect or fit dimmers on lamps and ceiling lights to allow you to change the mood.

Task – Task lighting illuminates places where you do things: kitchen benches, desks or reading spots.TV-watching requires task lighting, too: the light should come from behind the viewer.

AccentAccent lights highlight particular features in a room, like a painting, indoor plant or even a great sound system. Downlights can be good at focusing attention on certain spots in a room.

Living room style basement

basement lighting ideas

Concealed lighting can work well to bounce light off ceilings.

In living rooms the lighting needs to be versatile. Seating areas need lights at a low level, positioned so a book or magazine is illuminated from beside the reader. Working at a desk is similar, but the light source must be in front of you, but not shining into your eyes, to avoid your shadow being cast over the work.

Concealed lighting can work well to bounce light off ceilings. That said, there are all types of lights to create atmosphere in living spaces—pendants, downlights, wall lights, recessed lights and lamps. Dimmers are a great idea to easily change the mood of a room.

In bedrooms, bedside lamps are basic requirements but you can also fit concealed lights into a bedhead to create a different atmosphere. Dressing tables may need their own light source, while wall lights or downlights in the ceiling can create the atmospheric lighting. In children’s rooms, bedside lights need to be tamper-proof or even avoided.

You need to calculate how many power points you want in a room. With the advent of pay television, broadband, surround sound and smart wiring, you will also need to think about the other wiring or data connections you want in a room. It is better to put in more power points than you need, than to scrimp on them. Oh, and quad power points probably make more sense than single or even double power points.

The Floor

There are all types of floor coverings which suit living and sleeping areas, but the main choice is something soft (like carpet) or something durable (like tiles). Of course, within these two options the range is infinite:


Most carpets are made from a blend of wool and acrylic, although you can get carpets made only of wool, which is considered more hardwearing than acrylic. Moreover, he nature of the pile is important to its feel and appearance, and the underlay is integral to the look of the laid carpet. Carpet must be vacuumed regularly and can also be damaged by insecticides, bleach products and the rigours of children’s textas.


These can be made from solid timber or thin timber veneer. This is because they are easy to maintain, and hold their appeal, but can get scratched and dented easily by moving heavy furniture across them or wearing high heels. The timber industry is recommending that timber floors be finished with tung oil or something similar, rather than polyurethane, which scratches. Hardwoods are better wearing than softer woods like cypress pine.


Vinyl floors are soft underfoot and also extremely durable and easy to clean. Of course the more expensive they are, the better the quality. The backing on the vinyl is critical to its quality and the vinyl must be laid on a flat and dry surface. There are new interlocking vinyl floors that are easily laid, look similar to floorboards and are very cheap.

Quarry tiles

Slate, terracotta or stone tiles can add a nice finish to living spaces. They can also be cold (although new underfloor heating systems are alleviating that problem) and create harsh acoustics.

Ceramic tiles

These are available in a range of styles and can be cost-effective but they need to be laid on a hard, level surface. They can also feel hard and cold underfoot, especially in kitchens, where you stand up to work. This is because they may chip if hard items are dropped on them and you need to be careful in wet areas as they can be slippery.

And finally

basement remodeling chicago

The best thing about renovating the basement is that you will turn it whatever you want.

So, there you have it. The basement is one intimate living space. You should however not make it too cozy for your teenagers; they tend to like the comfort too much. However, The best thing about renovating the basement is that you will turn it whatever you want. What about the wine cellar? What’s stopping you? Go ahead and install a sauna… there are simply no shortages of basement renovation and remodel ideas in Chicago.

If you have any questions relating to basement any type of renovation, do not hesitate to contact us!

Uncategorized /

Renovating With Professionals – Masonry Services in Chicago

Renovating With Professionals – Masonry Services in Chicago

Hiring masons and builders are the only way to proceed if your renovation involves rebuilding. If you think you can save loads of money by doing it yourself, think again. All plumbing and electrical work in Chicago must be done by a licensed contractor. Unless you’re a mason, there is no way you can do everything yourself. You might want to hire masonry services in Chicago.

masonry services in chicago

Unless you’re a mason, there is no way you can do everything yourself.

People who spend their lives working in offices with highly competent staff around them have no idea how hard it is to employ a mason or builder (let’s call them subcontractors). Human resources managers, recruiters, and senior executives may have an inkling about the difficulties of hiring subcontractors. I am here to tell you something loud and clear. Along with living in dust and dirt, hiring people to renovate your house is one of the most difficult aspects of renovating.

 Read this before thinking of a DIY Project

Unless you’re a mason or builder with some skill or experience in renovation, you’re going to experience what I call the Renovation Hiring Gap. This is a big black hole which represents a dearth of knowledge about how subcontractors in Chicago operate. This book attempts to help bridge that gap, but the only way to fill it is to spend time working with subcontractors and build up your own experience.

Hiring subcontractors is a bit like taking your car to a mechanic when you don’t know much about cars—trust your mechanic to do the job you want them to do for the best price. Just like some car mechanics, some subcontractors will try to exploit that trust—but the crummy rip-off merchants don’t stay in business too long. Generally speaking, any subcontractor with more than five years’ experience is going to be excellent at their trade . . . but will you be able to get on with them?

There is a plethora of masonry services in Chicago. Professionals with skills you need to renovate your property. Each one will have the basic skills of their trade, but some will also have special skills they have acquired over the years. For example, some carpenters have great skill at re-using old materials, others excel at measuring and getting structures square. Some plumbers are brilliant gasfitters but only so-so at drainage. Some builders are experts on brick veneer while others are better with weatherboard.

Is it worthwhile to hire a Mason?

Every subcontractor is uniquely skilled, but they will all have individual personalities as well. Some are extremely professional and courteous, others swear like troopers. Some turn up on time, others fail to turn up for weeks. This can be frustrating for people in the Renovation Hiring Gap, but once you understand the nature of subcontractors and expect them to behave like human beings as well as professionals, the process runs more smoothly.

Planning takes time and patience

What to consider while in Chicago

Before starting on any kind of building work in your home or business, you need to know exactly what your objectives are, the resources that are available to you and how you are going to achieve those objectives. You also need to consider whether or not your ideas are practical and achievable within your anticipated timescales. Do remember that the planning of any work, whether it is on a large or small scale, takes time and patience.

The scale of the project will obviously dictate the amount of time it will be necessary to spend on the planning. If you think that your project is too small to warrant the time spent on reading all of the chapters and issues in this book read it anyway – you may be surprised how some of the bigger issues can be scaled down to help in the smaller projects.

Choosing the Right Mason in Chicago

It is hard enough for a skilled builder to select suitably skilled masons. Here are some questions to ask and attributes to look for.


What professional skills do they have? How long have they been doing the work? What type of property do they generally work on and where?


If they say they will turn up, do they? While working with masons, time is everything. Sure you have the right professional, but will they complete the work in the desired time?

Ability to communicate

Make sure the way you communicate about the job is clear, the materials are specified and there is an estimate of how long it should take to complete. Unforeseen things happen on all jobs but talk to the mason in an easily understandable manner.


Good tradespeople and builders usually have at least a few weeks’ continuing work ahead of them. It is important to source subcontractors well in advance of the time when you need to book them. Be aware that lots of builders and tradespeople may give ridiculously high quotes if they are in demand because they don’t really want to do your renovation.

What if I Can’t Afford a Mason? The Real Cost of DIY

Doing it yourself can save labor costs, but only if the labor you are supplying is of equal value to the labor you could be hiring. Someone without experience at tackling a job will inevitably take longer and use more materials than someone who is experienced. The other pitfalls of DIY are:

Doing it yourself can save labor costs, but only if the labor you are supplying is of equal value to the labor you could be hiring

  • Lack of planning, knowledge or skill
  • The financial and lifestyle cost of using your time
  • Potential for accidents and injury
  • Ruining the materials and having to start the job all over again
  • Damaging unrelated parts of the property while doing the DIY task.

Why You Should Always Sign A Contract with Masons in Chicago

You can go contract crazy when embarking on this renovation lark. There are contracts for kitchens, contracts for bathrooms, contracts for this, contracts for that. Some contracts are just verbal (not a good idea!) and some are twenty pages long. You’d have to be a lawyer to decipher this contract caper without going mad.

Generally a contract can be in a standard form (offered by organizations like the Mason Contractors Association or Mason Contractors Association of Greater Chicago) or it can be specifically written by yourself, the subcontractor or a solicitor. Design and construct builders often use their own standardized simple building contract.

What about Masons in Chicago?

Every state has different laws governing contracts, but generally, the front page must state the parties to the contract, the amount of money involved and whether the price can be varied. It may be best to use standard, approved contracts, especially if you are borrowing from the bank to renovate. The basics that MUST be covered include:

  • Who is on the contract (the client and builder or tradesperson)?
  • The payment amount and scheduled payment options (legally, builders cannot ask for more than a portion of the entire contract sum as a deposit . . . don’t let them take all your money before they’ve done the job).
  • Any documents that make up part of the contract, such as plans, elevations, specifications, evidence of who holds the land title, insurance required.
  • The standards of construction, an extension of time and warranty or accuracy of the work details.

Minimizing the Initial Cost

  • You can minimize the initial costs by putting together as much information as possible. This will cut down on the amount of time the professionals would normally spend in extracting your ideas from you and is where speaking to other people who have had similar work carried out may be of help.
  • It is easy enough to explain to someone what you want but, as the saying goes, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. Basic sketches can help to avoid misunderstandings and will help to avoid redrawing plans and incurring costs for abortive work. You may like ideas that you have seen in this website, magazines or photographs – these are all visual aids that will assist in the initial concept of what you are proposing.
  • This will also help to speed the whole process up, as some professionals will use the design element as a pretext for taking their time to provide drawings, particularly if they have a heavy workload. Remember, though, from conception to on-site development may take more time than the building process itself – this is generally the case with small domestic projects.

When Things Go Wrong

When you think of all the things that can go wrong, it seems surprising that every renovation doesn’t turn out to be some kind of disaster. There are hundreds of elements to any type of renovation and any one of them can come back to bite you on the behind. The most common problem is misunderstandings between subcontractors and clients, especially inexperienced clients like owner-renovators.

masonry services in chicago

Don’t be on the receiving end when things go wrong

When things go wrong, it helps to remember the obligations of the client and the subcontractor. The client agrees to:

  • Give the subcontractor uninterrupted access to the job
  • Pay progress payments as required in the contract, even if certain things are in dispute
  • understand the contract
  • Request variations only when problems are unforeseen.

The Mason/subcontractor agrees to:

  • Complete the work within a specified time
  • Carry out satisfactory work
  • Require progress payments within the law
  • Comply with all regulatory requests and guidelines.

 ‘I hired a reputable kitchen company to do our kitchen but then it took twice as long as the contracted time and there was nothing I could do about it. Once I signed on the dotted line with them, there was no way I could get out of the contract even though they weren’t fulfilling their end of the bargain.’

Sarah, Naperville, Illinois

What are conflicts with masons arise?

The best solution to renovation disasters is mediation. This can often be supplied by state government authorities. Sure, it takes time, but it can solve problems within a few months. The next big step is legal action. It is best to avoid this—it is time-consuming, costly and stressful, even for the party that wins.

Openly communicating with subcontractors. Checking that their work complies with building codes and other regulations will usually keep disasters at bay. Most professional subcontractors will not risk their reputation by refusing to rectify faulty works. It’s only when clients behave like spoilt brats that they refuse to come back to fix things.

Oh, and holding the final payment up your sleeve until you drag the sub-contractor back to fix things usually works. Just don’t break any of your contracted payment schedules to do it!

Contractual terms to know

masonry services in Chicago

A word of mouth contract is not always the best

Bill of quantities

A detailed list showing the quantities of labor and materials which are needed to carry out the works detailed in the contract. A quantity surveyor usually does this from working drawings and specifications, and it allows all builders to tender a uniform bid for the job.

Certificate of Practical Completion

A certificate issued by the council or certifying authority to show that works under the contract have been completed except for minor defects which shouldn’t inhibit the use of the works.

Contingency sum

The amount of money included in the contract to cover unforeseen items.

Contract documents

All the documents which make up a particular written contract often include the names and details of both parties, working drawings, and specifications, bill of quantities, terms of payment and other such details.

Defects liability period

A specified period of time within which the subcontractor has to rectify any faults at his or her own cost. The period usually commences from the date that the Certificate of Practical Completion is issued.

Final Certificate

The contractor has to issue the client with a final certificate in finality. The contractor obtains the final certificate from a government authority. In this case from the Chicago Municipal Council.

Final completion

The stage when all work under the contract has been satisfactorily completed and the contractor sign a release from all claims. The security deposit can then be returned if necessary.

The stage when the completion of the work done under the contract is done. The contractor signs a release from all claims. The contractor can now return the security deposit.


The formal handing over of the site back to the owner.


The right of a contractor to hold property of another party to the contract to secure payment – a good clause to stay away from!

Liquidated damages

The contractor under liquidated damages clause has to pay for damages if they cannot complete the work under scheduled time. The client can deduct the sum from the agreed upon lump sum.

Lump sum contract

A contract engaging a subcontractor to perform the work for a fixed price. Practical completion: The practical completion stage is when the contractor can obligatory say they have completed the work. The contractor can then proceed to sign a release form.

Prime cost

An amount included in the contract documents to cover the purchases of items such as bathroom fittings. Usually, the quoted price is lower than the prime cost.

Provisional sum

Sometimes you need to secure a mason, but you cannot avail all the information at the time. A provisional sum comes in handy. You will be able to secure a mason without saying what the job is about.

Retention of monies

A specified percentage of the building cost the building owner retains as limited security to make sure fulfillment of obligations. Normally, you can release one-half of the retention monies to the contractor at practical completion and the other half upon issue of the Final Certificate.


An addition to or alteration to work under a contract. It usually costs more money

Importance of a Specification or Brief

The worst thing you can do with masons or builders is to give a vague instruction like ‘I want to turn my fourth bedroom into a bathroom’. If you haven’t made up your mind yet about the paint colors or tiles you want, then explain that in your specification.

You can consult an architect or quantity surveyor anywhere within Chicago. An architectural consultant can develop the documents for you. Sometimes you do not need to pay the consultant for such kinds of consultations. However, you can develop one by yourself if you are working under a budget.

And finally

Writing specifications yourself is complex, you can contact a professional to guide you through the construction of one.

Detailed design plans are also effective and are vital if you are moving doors or windows. An architect or building designer will give you the best-quality plans, but a draftsperson can simply draw up the job to your specification leaving you to do the room planning. Detailed plans are vital to show the builder or mason what you want.

Don’t forget to check out the PMPCArch licensed masonry contractors of Chicago  before committing yourself.


Uncategorized /

PMPC Architects: Green Architecture and Environmental Friendly Construction

Green Architecture Home Improvement Guide for Chicago

Green architecture also known as sustainable building simply means applying environmental-friendly construction, operations, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction of a building. With the increase in global warming as a result of pollution, many countries and states are adopting environmentally friendly tactics to reduce pollution. Here’s a Green Architecture Home Improvement Guide for Chicago

Green Architecture Home Improvement Guide for Chicago

Many countries and states are adopting environmentally friendly green architecture tactics to reduce pollution

Chicago is lead city in the USA that is so keen on improving and adapting the green architecture. This article explains more on the green architecture home improvement ideas for Chicago.

The 2017 Paris Climate Change Pullout – Architects React

President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement signed last year (2016). The agreement, signed by over 195 countries worldwide sought to

  • Reduce emissions and eventually reduce the environmental impact of such emissions
  • Reduce the rising global temperatures that are melting the ice caps
  • Eventually, prevent drought and worldwide hunger

The American Institute of Architects weighed in on the matter. The AIA vowed to continue maintaining and withholding the standards and practices that contribute to energy conservation and the use of renewable sources of energy.

Green Architecture Home Improvement Guide for Chicago

The AIA vowed to continue maintaining and withholding the standards and practices that contribute to energy conservation

The President said he would try and re-negotiate the terms of the agreement. The agreement, according to the President did not have America’s best interests at heart.

The Architecture community clearly has not taken the news positively. The community is taking a stand and insisted to continue maintaining sustainable and renewable energy standards.

 Green Architecture in the City of Chicago

Buildings have been ranked as the number one source of greenhouse gas emission in Chicago. As a result, the Chicago city is determined to reduce its emissions and waste while conserving resources and energy. This is done by embracing building with more efficient and sustainable designs. The city of Chicago has set policies on green building in order to meet its goal of reducing emissions and waste.

Green may be costly to get started but its benefits are worthwhile. In the long run, it’s all about creating sustainable energy. While installing renewable energy sources might seem expensive, architects construct green buildings with the future in mind.

Take for example the new Apple Campus in California (below). The campus will not be connected to the power grid. It will instead derive its power from the sun. In addition, it will utilize renewable sources of energy.

Chicago green energy

The Apple Campus will not be connected to the power grid. Green Architecture at its best.

Benefits of Creating Sustainable Energy

green architecture in chicago

Green architecture goes a long way in redefining a city’s ecosystem

1. Reduced water wastage

2. Conservation of natural resources

3. Protection of biodiversity and ecosystem,

4. Reduced operational cost and

5. Minimizing the strain on local infrastructure

 Green Standards

The green architecture has standards known as the green standards that must be meet before a building can be considered as a green building. These standards include

  • Energy star that checks on the energy performance rating of a building
  • The forest stewardship council which ensure that all forest products needed for construction are acquired legally and they come from well managed forests,
  • The cleaning industry management standard
  • Green building that sets the key elements of quality, dependable and sustainable cleaning operations, among many other standards.

The City Of Chicago’s Initiatives towards Green Energy

The city of Chicago has made notable initiatives in promoting green building that is in renewable energy and urban greening. Many buildings have adopted green roofs. Green roof entail growing of plants in the roof tops of building with an aim of restoring vegetation.

Green Chicago architecture guide

Wind energy as a form of sustainable energy

Gardens have also been a key factor in vegetation restoration in homes and in offices too. Water harvesting is also another method of reducing water wastage that is being adopted. Water treatment are reusing is also common in reducing wastage.

Green Architecture Installation Guide

Use of renewable energy sources in the building helps in reducing energy wastage. Renewable energy goes further ahead to reduce overreliance on natural resources that also pollute the environment. Solar energy and energy from wind driven turbines is used to power the building reducing overreliance on petroleum products and coal. Construction of buildings using bricks is also gaining popularity easing the demand for wood products for construction of the buildings.

Health And Safety Considerations

There are particular health and safety regulations for the construction industry which are very comprehensive. Your builder should be aware of these regulations

However, the domestic side of the construction industry is not regulated to the extent that it should be. Nevertheless, domestic builders are beginning to understand that they have a responsibility to you as a client and their own employees with regard to health and safety.

When you employ the services of a builder in a building you intend to use as your residential home, you are undertaking a moral health and safety obligation. Understanding the importance of health & safety is something that cannot be ignored. Any person who has contact with the project has a right under health and safety law to be protected from danger.

green energy chicago

Green Architects employ industry standards to ensure sustainability of the manufacturing industry

If you are going to employ individual contractors to carry out the work (for example, carpentry), they should have their own public liability insurance and work to good building practices. All necessary measures should be taken to remove or reduce the risks of accident by introducing methods of controlling the risk. When you consider employing the services of individual contractors or a main contractor, it is important to satisfy yourself that they are competent and can work safely.

If you are in any doubt about the health and safety precautions or procedures that you need to consider, contact the Health and Safety Executive helpline.

Personal Protective Equipment

One important element to pay attention to is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE is inexpensive and should be used in conjunction with other control methods. The use of basic PPE such as hard hats, masks, goggles and gloves, is all too often ignored in the domestic side of the construction industry.

It is important to select and use the right type of equipment. Your local PPE supplier should be able to help you identify your exact requirements. Plant hire shops will usually provide some of this equipment as part of their service. PPE that you would expect to see on a construction site of any nature could include: hard hat; goggles (specifically for grinding or cutting with a disc cutter);

If you are responsible for the site and a person is injured due to negligence on your part, they could take legal action against you.


It is very important to establish a procedure for inspecting all works on a regular basis. Ensure that you inform the contractor in writing of anything that is giving you cause for concern. For example, short-term bar charts can be used to highlight areas of high activity and when there will be factors which affect incoming services such as electricity and gas. These charts can also be used to update the main timescale program. By leaving spare lines, any additional or extra work can also be inserted.

It would not be unreasonable to ask the builder/ contractor to accompany you on these inspections as it is much easier to explain your dissatisfaction with or indeed your approval of the work as it proceeds. This will also give the builder/contractor the opportunity to give explanations. For example, it may be that the work is not ready to be offered as complete. It is always advisable to inspect the works as items progress or as they are completed.


If you are financing the project yourself, it is advisable not to pay money up front if you can help it. You need to make any potential builder/contractor aware of your estimated budget and that you will be making stage payments.

When there is plenty of building work available, or if a builder/contractor has had a bad experience whereby he did not receive full payment from a previous client, he may ask for money up front.

However, it is not advisable to pay any money in advance as you will not have any control over the project if you do. If a contractor comes recommended to you and fulfills all of the criteria for being able to carry out the work but is asking for money up front, you would be advised to explain that, due to constraints on your financial arrangements for financing the work, you can only pay for work carried out.

Valuations for stage payments

A mortgage company may finance a project on the condition that payments are made on completion of certain stages, and may have a surveyor/inspector visit the property to ascertain the value of work carried out.

These stages are the basis on which the valuations are made and include the amount of labor and material that has been put into the project. You need to be certain that the contractor understands these requirements and is prepared to finance the project up to these stages.

Operation Manuals

With all new installations, whether they are mechanical, electrical or other, such as windows, doors etc., there are always operating instructions. You must ensure that the contractor hands these over to you and where necessary arranges a demonstration. If you do not receive sufficient training in the operation of the installed equipment and as a result manage to break something through the application of force or by following the wrong procedure, you may invalidate any guarantees that apply.

All new equipment does take a little time to understand how it operates, particularly now that many systems are controlled digitally. Do not be afraid to ask for the time necessary for you to understand how the equipment works – remember that people who install such equipment work with it on a regular basis and may become complacent about other people’s lack of technical knowledge.

If you have arranged for the equipment to be supplied and have asked for it to be installed during the project, you may find that the electrical contractor for argument’s sake may not be as willing to spend the time to give you a demonstration. In fact, if it is equipment that he is not familiar with, he may not understand how it operates himself.

Always ensure that, if you buy equipment from a shop, you fully understand how to operate it. Shops will normally be happy to spend the time required, particularly if it secures a sale!

Maintenance Manuals

Again, maintenance manuals should accompany all new installations. It is vitally important that these are read and understood, as any guarantees may be affected if they are not complied with. Do ensure that if a certain piece of equipment requires periodic tests and inspections these are marked on your yearly calendar or in your personal diary.

Depending on the piece of equipment involved, there may be a requirement that it be maintained or tested by a particular company which is certified to carry out such work. This is something that needs special attention, as a person or company not certified by the manufacturers could invalidate the guarantee if maintenance is carried out wrongly, or if the maintenance manuals are not stamped with the appropriate certificate technician’s stamp.

Test Certificates

During the course of the works there are certain elements that require tests to be carried out and certified. It is advisable to ask the contractor for copies of such tests to add to your documents. These tests are normally associated with mechanical and electrical work. However, there are other inspections that the builder/contractor is obliged to inform the building control officer about.

Environmental Issues

Chicago green architecture

There are laws governing the burning of waste material and the disposal of material

There are laws governing the burning of waste material and the disposal of material such as asbestos etc. It is very important to discuss the possibility that there may be hazardous waste on your project even if you are uncertain. You need to be satisfied that the main contractor knows his obligations in this matter. He is to inform you of any such findings.

Health and Safety Issues

During the course of the project there will be progress meetings. These meetings will have a set agenda for the main issues. However, before the project starts you must discuss the potential risks with regard to anyone living at or visiting the property during the work.

Typical questions to ask include the following

  • Is there going to be a scaffold, and if so what measures will be put in place to stop unauthorized persons gaining access outside of normal working hours?
  • What measures will be taken to avoid excessive dust and noise affecting you and your neighbors? (particularly where there are cars close by)?
  • How often will the debris be removed from site, and by what means?
  • If there are to be any deep excavations, what measures will be taken to avoid anyone falling in?
  • Can you see a copy of the main contractor’s health and safety policy? Employers with more than five employees are required to produce a written statement of their policy on health and safety. This also includes the organization and arrangements that are in place to bring that policy into effect.

The city of Chicago and other cities in Illinois promote the green architecture home improvement by

  • Educating and working with house developers on green building principles. Also, guiding them on how to build their capacities to reinforce LEED for home projects.
  • The city through volunteers provides education to homeowners, home buyers and sellers and renters on the benefits of green homes and LEED for homes.
  • The city also provides outreach to homeowners through regional Green Homes 101 programs. Also the city supports home retrofits for disadvantaged families through volunteer work days.

Many organizations, government departments and networks research and promote green building in the US and internationally. They have come up to address and promote the green architecture in other cities. This extends to other countries as well. These include Alliance to Save Energy, American Solar Energy society,  Healthy Building Network, National Renewable Energy Laboratory are among some of such organizations.

And finally

In conclusion the green architecture is the way to go to reduce pollution and wastage of necessary natural resources. As stated in the article green architecture is reducing over exploitation of the now scarce natural resources. Also there is a great decrease in the emission of greenhouse gases associated with buildings. Green buildings have also come up with strategies on how to recycle and reuse waste products from the buildings. You harvest water, for example. Waste water is treated and re-used in the same buildings. Glass is one of the constructing materials that have been used to replace concrete. Glass also natural light to penetrate into the buildings thereby reducing lighting cost.


Uncategorized /

Kitchen Renovation Ideas for Chicago [ With Images ]

Kitchen Renovation Ideas for Chicago 

If every time you look at your kitchen and the thought of transforming it crosses your mind, you probably need to. The key word here being ‘’need’’. Maybe you have putting off the idea of renovating for financial reasons or you are waiting for the right time. Well, the truth is there is simply no right time to do it. That little voice at the back of your mind is the head start you need to finally get that new kitchen counter or new lighting. First and foremost, let’s look at the best kitchen renovation ideas for Chicago.

kitchen renovation ideas for chicago

Maybe you have putting off the idea of renovating for financial reasons or you are waiting for the right time

A popular misconception about the kitchen is that the space is just for cooking, so you probably don’t need to upgrade the furniture. After all, the room is just about food. The most visited room in the house is the kitchen.

Simple, modest ideas can transform that little space your stomach loves and your waist frowns upon into a marvel of design and architecture. Cheap, DIY ideas or even professional help can make an exciting impact for you and your family.

Kitchen Renovation Basics

There are three basic kinds of renovation

  • Repair and maintenance

Repair involves using what you already have and making something more beautiful and attractive with it. It would probably cost less to repair than replace. However, if you really want to transform the look, you are better of refurbishing and enhancing.

  • Refurbishing and enhancement

Refurbishing and enhancement involves making something totally new out of what you already have. It could be that your Oakwood kitchen counter gets ruined every time it comes into contact with a knife. You would opt to refurbish it with stone or ceramic. Depending on the extent of this renovation exercise its more expensive than repairing. It is however cheaper than rebuilding.

space in the kitchen is always more desirable

  • Rebuilding

Rebuilding involves doing away completely with what you already have. Destroying the kitchen counters and installing new ones. Anything with no sentimental value becomes obsolete. You might want to consult a professional if you are rebuilding. This is the most expensive of the three kinds. You will probably need a budget of some sort before starting.

Before you start your exciting renovation journey, here’s a few ideas you can scan through to ignite your idealistic side.

Open up the kitchen

Not unless you have dust problem in your home, or just like keeping things out of site, open shelves are a thing now. Designers have it that the more open your kitchen is the more spacious it looks. Why not show off that fine china collection? Replace the kitchen cabinets with open shelves. It might even prove cheaper. Plus, there are a number of shelve design ideas you can explore.

Invest in high-end energy saving appliances

Truth be told, kitchen appliances are not that expensive. The truth is, if you invest in quality, you will get beauty as an added bonus. You are renovating and probably the next time you will be doing the same, you kids will have left for college. New appliances are also energy efficient; they will pay for themselves in energy savings. That said, remember to keep everything energy-star rated and you will see for yourself at the end of the month.

Add detail to your finish

The smallest thing like the water tap, knobs or light bulb could go a long way in making your kitchen stand out. Consult your renovation expert for advice on what’s trending. Glass and marble go well with aluminum. Adding lighting that compliments these two is a guaranteed win-win. The devil is in the detail, even the tiniest of them.

No boring ceilings

From coffered ceiling to tray ceiling to vaulted ceiling. Gone are the days when the area above was left plain. The kitchen ceiling should complement the colors you choose to use. It should also compliment the lighting you will install or already have. That said, do not forget the ceiling.

Why subway tiles?

kitchen renovation ideas for chicago

Subway tiles are the new kitchen remodeling revelation

You have probably heard this before, and if you haven’t then here goes… Subway tiles are clearly the most popular tiles to install in your kitchen. They are inexpensive and very stylish. You can even use tiles that mimic exposed brick to get that rugged feeling. Moreover, its what’s trending at the moment.

Bright white for more light

White reflects light, so it’s a guarantee that your kitchen will be brighter. Moreover, it will look cleaner too, if you are a clean freak. We are not just talking about white, we are talking bright white. This is the glossy, shiny, very bright white.

kitchen renovaion ideas for chicago

Bright white for more light

The white you only see in make-believe imagery. You might want to keep paintwork to a minimum. Ceramic and marble are the best options. You can finish off the walls and cabinets with glossy, oil-based paint for easy cleaning and maintenance. Avoid Formica, it depreciates easy over time. Want to make things even brighter? Make the ceiling and floor white too!

Kitchen lamps and lighting

If you happen to shop for kitchen lights, ensure your shopping is extensive. There are literally hundreds of lighting ideas out there. Some of them are just boring but if you know what you are looking for you are on your way to kitchen lighting supremacy. Do not worry about energy consumption, just look for lamps with an energy star rating.

kitchen renovation ideas for chicago

The kitchen is the most exciting place to renovate

What type of kitchen do you need?

In my experience, there are four types of kitchen renovators. It helps to decide what type of kitchen renovator you are so you know where to invest more of your budget. Remember, a cheap kitchen renovation can start at $1000 but fitting a whole new kitchen can be as expensive as $55 000.

The Glamor kitchen

Many renovators simply want their kitchen to look more modern and to become a design feature of the home. This renovator will spend money on high-quality finishes like cupboard doors, splashbacks and appliances. A budget of at least $10 000 is necessary.

The Chef ’s kitchen

Some renovators will live without the décor as long as they have the right appliances and configuration to whip up a dinner party. For this renovator, spending money on appropriate appliances and cooking services is important. A budget of at least $13 000 is necessary.

The Functional kitchen

Some people go batty trying to cook every day in a kitchen that has no bench space or can’t accommodate two people. This renovator just wants to change the configuration. This could be achieved with some ingenuity and a budget of as little as $1000.

The budget kitchen

kitchen renovation in chicego

A budget kitchen

Other renovators don’t care much about the function of the kitchen, but need it to look presentable for resale. Of course, for this renovator, cost is the most important consideration. If the current fittings and fixtures are serviceable and all that is necessary is some maintenance, paint and the replacing of door handles and splashbacks, a budget of as little as $1000 may be adequate.

Main Kitchen Components

Kitchens are expensive because of the amount of materials used. These include:


The expensive part of the cupboard is the door. It can be melamine, timber veneer, solid timber or polyurethane.The doors are attached to the carcasses, and with the benchtops this assembly forms the common kitchen cupboard. You can buy carcasses cheaply from suppliers and fit your own doors to save money, or you can engage a kitchen company to look after all supply and installation. Cupboards can be custom-made by a carpenter or architect, but it is cheaper to use a kit kitchen.

These usually consistent of melamine carcasses with hinged doors or drawers attached.The carcasses are propped up on legs to which a kickboard is attached. Kit cupboards are mass-produced in factories and then assembled onsite in your home. These are the most common type of cupboards for kitchens. They are used in most new apartments and houses as well as in renovations.


kitchen renovation ideas for chicago

A bamboo benchtop

The finish of a benchtop is dependent on price—laminate is the cheapest, with granite and stone at the expensive end. Benchtops are fitted on top of cupboard carcasses, at a height of between 850 mm and 950 mm, with holes cut out for sinks and stoves. If you are handy, you can try installing them yourself but, if your measuring is slightly off, it can cost you a lot for a new linear strip of benchtop material.

Door handles and hardware

‘Hardware’ refers to the hinges that hang the cupboard doors and the drawer runners. Look for good-quality solid metal hardware rather than plastic. Moreover, if you’re refurbishing or just maintaining and repairing, remember that shiny new door handles will revive a tired old kitchen.


There are dishwashers for all applications and they can range in looks from standard white to stainless steel or integrated models which look like another cupboard. Most are 600 mm wide, but there are also 450 mm wide models to save space (although these usually cost around the same price as the 600 mm ones).

Fridges and freezers

kitchen renovation ideas for chicago

The fridge is a standout appliance in the kitchen

Leaving space for the right fridge or freezer is important when planning your kitchen, as they vary widely in size. You can also choose to buy integrated refrigerators that are concealed as part of the kitchen cabinetry. That said, the size of the fridge or freezer you buy will depend on the number of people it has to service. Couples who live in the inner city and eat out will need something much smaller than a family with three kids.

Stoves and ovens

You get what you pay for when it comes to cooking equipment. Moreover, separate stovetops and ovens are more flexible, as you can lay out your kitchen in a way that suits you. Ranges (with the oven and stove in one unit) are often sturdier. Electric cooking equipment has gone high-tech and now can be just as efficient as gas. The better the cooking equipment, the more powerful the heat and the more control you will have over it.

Exhaust systems

The more you spend on powerful cooking equipment, the more you will need to spend on ducting the cooking fumes out of your kitchen. This is because any cheap apartments or project homes have a rangehood that vents into the ceiling cavity, which is not good if you cook a lot of stir-fries at high temperatures. No doubt, the steam carries droplets of fat into the ceiling cavity, leaving your ceiling prone to damage and your house smelling like a fast-food outlet. In this case, the cheapest rangehoods are the single-motor slide-out types starting at around $500; the good quality, top-ducting rangehoods with stainless steel canopies can cost between $1500 and $5000.


Lighting your kitchen the right way can make a whole lot of difference

Task lighting is important in the kitchen—you need good light over the sink, the stovetop and preparation areas. That said, plan your lighting needs in advance and go for washable and hardwearing light fittings.


You need one good-quality kitchen tap—usually a mixer. Moreover, most taps, regardless of price, will do the job you need them to do, but some people are prepared to pay a lot more for the right design.


If you change the configuration of a kitchen, the power points to run the dishwasher, rangehood, fridge and stove may need to be moved. It is also wise to plan where you need benchtop power points and install ‘quad’ points rather than ‘doubles’.


The kitchen sink, garbage disposal unit and dishwasher should be the only kitchen features that require plumbing. However, these can be moved, but bear in mind that it is cheaper to leave any plumbing where it is as moving drains and pipes can be expensive.

Laundry facilities

Installing laundry facilities in a kitchen can be a useful space saver, but make sure you check the latest Building Code of Australia requirements and amendments. Moreover, there are two key issues when it comes to creating a concealed laundry within a kitchen. One is making sure that there is enough ventilation in the cupboard for the washing machine and dryer to run efficiently (some cupboard manufacturers are creating ventilated—and expensive—doors for this purpose) and the other is creating space for a separate laundry wash tub.

The most common kitchen layouts

Most kitchen design experts agree that you need a ‘work triangle’ between the sink, fridge and stove (above).These are the appliances you will use the most and you need an unbroken walk, of 3.5–4.5 metres, between them. Here are some examples of kitchen layouts:

The L-shaped layout

kitchen renovation

L-shaped kitchen

This is suitable for small or narrow rooms, especially in terraces or semis. Thus, there will be a lack of bench space, but adding a roll-away chopping block can help.

The U-shaped layout

kitchen renovation

U-kitchen layout

This is the most space-efficient kitchen, offering the most bench space and a good working triangle.

The galley kitchen layout

Another good use of small space, but beware of fridge doors blocking the thoroughfare.

The island bench layout

kitchen renovation

Island bench layout as a style for kitchen renovation

The classic country-style kitchen, this layout is great for large rooms or kitchens near open-plan family and dining rooms. Beware of making the working triangle too large to be efficient.

How to Save Money On Kitchens

Planning is the best money-saver. For this reason, use the kitchen grid planner to form your designs and know your plans and measurements off by heart. If you come across a bargain, you will then know instantly whether it will work in your kitchen. It’s no good paying 15 per cent less for a fridge if it doesn’t fit in the cabinet space.

Sometimes, paying a kitchen company to re-do the kitchen is the most cost-effective way for a busy family to renovate a kitchen. That said, there’s no point in putting up with a makeshift kitchen for three months to save money if it means forking out for takeaway for a family of four for 92 days!

If money is extremely tight…

For the budget-conscious, you could spend less than $10 000 on a kitchen renovation provided you have the time to invest in shopping around and you can do things yourself. Often, you can re-use existing kitchen components and spend money on the things you really need—maybe a new stove or a modern splashback?

Seconds and second-hand kitchen fittings are easily obtained through factory retail outlets, auction houses, the Trading Post, and demolition yards. Auction houses can sometimes take your plans and, for as little as $3000, give you a standard U-shape or L-shape configuration which you can tailor to fit your home.

Buying a second-hand kitchen through the Trading Post or eBay can save you thousands, especially if you know what you are looking for. However, if you just need new appliances, search only for good appliances. Check the auction listings in the newspapers. Accordingly, sometimes manufacturers auction their end-of-year stock and run it out for half the retail price.

Talk to other renovators about how they saved money on a kitchen or where they think they blew their budget.

Uncategorized /

Violation Alert: A Comprehensive Guide of the Chicago Building Code

What Is The Chicago Building Code?

The Chicago Municipal Council developed the Chicago Building Code in partnership with the American Legal Publishing Corporation (ALPC). The ALPC provides codification services to over 2000 municipalities across the country, including the Chicago Municipal Council. The ALPC develops and updates the Building Codes of its clients around the country. The following is a comprehensive guide of the Chicago Building Code

Almost every city in the United States had adopted some form of the regional building code. These codes were non-standard and varied from city to city. The City of Chicago adopted American Legal’s codification process which includes

Chicago Building Code

The ALPC develops and updates the Building Codes of its clients around the country.

  • Recording, republishing and reformatting local government codes
  • Providing supplements for existing codes
  • Researching and analyzing local government codes and ordinances

It is important to note that building codes are not retroactive, but are meant to mitigate imminent hazards. The Building Code applies to any construction be it new or an alteration of an existing one.

The City of Chicago in the recent past has experienced a tremendous rise in construction of buildings, both residential and commercial. There is, therefore, the need to have a standard set of building codes that are in tandem with the city’s special needs.  The Chicago Building Code sets these standards, and the construction industry adopts them as a standard mode of practice.

The Chicago Building Code Decoded

As of mid-December 2016, the City of Chicago published the most recent Chicago Building Code. The code is of threefold; the Building Code, the Municipal Code,  and the Zoning Code.

The Municipal Code Overview

It contains details of the City’s

  • Occupation and consumer protection
  • Health and safety, offenses affecting public peace
  • Environmental protection
  • Fire prevention, land use and all codes affecting streets, public ways, parks, airports, rail and all other modes of transportation
  • It also contains details related to the government and administration, revenue and financing, housing and economic development.

The Building Code Overview

The building code excerpt details

  • The codes governing the duties and powers of government officials,
  • Permits and fees,
  • Construction documents,
  • Inspections, regulation certificates and licensing.
  • It also details the relevant boards and commissions the City has mandated to oversee the administration of the Building Code.
  • The code further outlines the details on how to obtain a building permit. The code is an administrative guide containing details of the mandate of all the boards and commissions involved during the construction process.

Division 4 of the code details the special detailed requirements of buildings based on use and occupancy. The division details the codes that govern high-rise buildings, motor-vehicle related occupancy, special institutions, special amusement buildings, combustible storage buildings and hazardous materials.

The Building Code further outlines the codes that govern the height and area limitations, fire resistive requirements, fire protection systems, accessibility requirements, lighting, and ventilation. Also included in the code are details concerning structural tests and special inspections, soil and foundations requirements, types of construction material and special construction guidelines.

The Zoning Code Overview

This is Chicago’s Zoning Ordinance and Land Use Ordinance. It details the city’s zoning plans with relation to construction while factoring in the city’s planning and development strategies, both short term and long term. The City’s planning department while issuing out licenses has to follow the code’s guidelines. About land use, the code details the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection guide, flood control areas, the City’s manufacturing districts and enterprise zones.

The Chicago Zoning Ordinance code contains details affecting residential districts, business and commercial districts, downtown districts, manufacturing districts and special purpose districts. The code also outlines regulations affecting overlay districts, planned projects, parking and loading zones, review and approval procedures, landscaping and screening, enforcement and penalties, signs and nonconformities procedures.

These codes are available online through the American Legal Publishing Corporation website, or physically at Chicago City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street – Room 107, Chicago, IL 60602.

Chicago building code violations

Chicago building code violation

The City of  Chicago skyline.

On May 19, 2012, the Acton Justice Department convicted a man for violating the Building Code when he constructed a residential complex labeled ‘’Phonehenge West”.  The Los Angeles County penalized Alan Kimble Fahey, 60, a former technician in a telephone company to the tune of over $80,000. He was also required to perform two months of community service for not obtaining the required building permits. He was found guilty of 12 counts of Building Code Violations.

Building code violations are more or less the same in all the 50 states with variations being at the municipal level. The Commissioner of Building administers the Chicago Building Code under the Office of the Mayor.

All permits as outlined in the Chicago Building Code can be obtained from City Hall, although permits for minor construction can be obtained at the local county offices.

What is a code violation?

A code violation is a failure of a building’s structure or setup to pass the required standards of construction and occupancy, as laid out in the Chicago Building Code.

The Most Common Types of Building Code Violations

Research by the Common Code Violations Survey reveals that 45% of inspections have resulted in a code violation revelation and failure of the building to pass the inspection. The International Codes Council (ICC) and National Association of Home Builders periodically release reports of the most common types of code violations. We have compiled a list of ten of these violations that match the findings from these two organizations. These are the most common reasons a home builder or remodeler will fail a standard building code inspection.

  1. Incomplete Documentation

Chicago Building Code

The building department mandates the inspector to stop any work where any of these documents were not available on site.

This is the most common of the reasons, the cheapest too correct and easiest to avoid. Most builders and remodelers do not obtain all documents required before commencing work. In efforts to mitigate the violation, the department of housing now requires that all buildings under construction have the necessary documentation on site.

If any site does not have all the documents required, the inspector would have to issue a Stop Work Order. The documents are an Engineer’s Foundation Letter, structural plans for the building, truss drawings, HVAC Duct Work, gas pipe installation and the energy code documents. The building department mandates the inspector to stop any work where any of these documents were not available on site.

  1. Unsafe Anchor Bolts

Chicago building code analysis

he new regulation requires that all anchor bolts be installed at the center-third of the width of the foundation plate.

Improperly placed anchor bolts are second on the list. According to the Department of Building, previous inspections revealed improper rebar placing to be the biggest violation when it comes to footings and foundations.

Further inspections revealed that improperly placed bolt locations that do not correctly match the mudsill joints to be the most common violation. In 2015, the IRC reviewed the regulation concerning anchor bolt placement. The new regulation requires that all anchor bolts be installed at the center-third of the width of the foundation plate.


  1. Incorrect Bathroom Venting

Chicago building code violation

A correctly vented bathroom

There is nothing wrong with installing humidity-controlled venting fans in the bathroom ceiling. However, if the space above the bathroom ceiling is closed up, say for example that is here the attic is, you are in violation of the Building Code.

The code requires that the humid air from the bathroom gets expelled out into the open air through a 16 square inch ventilation outlet. A good example of an approved vent is the Soffit vent. All this is to prevent the humid air from the bathroom from causing mold problem or rotten wood problem. Summer in Arlington Heights, Glenview, Bridgeview and the like is always hot and humid, thus the need for such a code.

  1. The Junction Box Conundrum

chicago building code violation

A metallic junction box

Junction boxes are installed mainly to prevent electric fires, by protecting electric connections in and around a building. Junction boxes come in all shapes and sizes depending on the size and type of the building and depth of wiring. If you do not have the right junction box installed, you might be in violation of the Chicago Building Code. There are a few guidelines you could use to ensure your building passes the junction box inspection. Your junction box

  • Must be visible to the naked eye and easily accessible
  • The wires inside the junction box must be at least six inches of length for ease of establishing accurate connections.
  • No loose wires should be allowed to linger inside the box and all must be clamped onto the box to prevent unsafe movement.
  1. The Stairs

chicago building code

The code requires safe terminal installations both at the return and at the top

Staircase rise or run problems occur when a builder runs out of enough space to make evenly spaced stair-steps. Most builders ‘’solve’’ this problem by making uneven spaces on the stair-steps.

This would result in a rise that is too steep or steps that are too narrow. These squeezed steps are a danger to anyone using the staircase the uneven steps present an unforeseen but imminent accident. Residential staircases require 7.75-inch risers and six ft. 7inch of headroom. This is also the minimum for commercial stairways.

  1. Stair Handrails and Guardrails

The building code requires stair handrails be 34 inches above the tread but not more than 38 inches high. The code also requires the connections to the walls be firm and secure. Weakness is brought about by poorly installed handrails that tend to loosen up with time. The code requires safe terminal installations both at the return and at the top, of the guardrails or simply end inside the wall. This is to ensure that the handrail does not catch on garments causing a fall. This regulation is also in line with the fire safety code to protect firefighters’ equipment from being caught up at the end of the rail.

  1. Smoke Detector Placing

The smoke detector alarm is the first line of defense against fire. The code requires that they are installed in any sleeping area and outside every bedroom entrance. The code also requires that the alarms be four inches clear of walls. Any smoke alarm installed on the wall should be 4-12 inches away from any wall-to-ceiling intersection. There should also be a 3-inch space between any smoke alarm and an HVAC vent, a lighting source and ceiling fan. All smoke alarms require hard wiring, with a DC battery backup in case of power failure. All smoke alarms should go off at the same time, meaning all smoke alarms should be connected to each other in a series connection as opposed to parallel connection.

  1. Faulty or Missing GFCIs

cicago building code violation

GFCI’s detect faulty wiring among other electric problems

Outdoor circuits require a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter; a form of protection against electric short-circuits or fire. This also applies to the kitchen, bathroom and garage area. The GFCI works to cut power to a circuit if there is an unprecedented change in current that would, as a result, cause an electric shock. To steer clear of this violation, you can test for the presence of the GFCI within the circuit. This is done by using a GFCI receptacle tester that detects the presence of GFCI once plugged into a power outlet. The receptacle also detects faulty connections including reverse polarity or open grounds. The gadget is available in convenience stores for not more than $15.


  1. Insecure Ledger Boards

building code violation

The load capacity of the beam should exceed the weight of the load itself

To ensure the deck is properly attached to the building, the code requires correct deck flashing. Deck flashing involves installation of flashing equipment that prevents the deck from detaching from the frame or siding of the building. Ledgers tend to pull loose from the attachment point and flashing prevents this from happening.

  1. Weak Joists and Beams

Sometimes beams and joists are not strong enough to hold the load attached to them. With time the attachments weaken, creating vulnerable points. This weakens the structural integrity of anything attached to the joists and beams. The load capacity of any hanger in and around the structure should exceed the actual load carried so as to compensate for any additional weight not accounted for during construction.

The Chicago Building Code and the International Code Council (ICC)

Chicago is yet to adopt the International Building Code, developed by the International Code Council more than a decade ago.

There is already discussion surrounding the need for the City to adopt the internationally accepted code, with industry stakeholders calling for uniformity of the codes across the country. The Chicago landscape and skyline is continuously undergoing improvements. Northbrook, Oak Park, Park Ridge, River
Forest, River Grove and Riverside are growing steadily. That said, he existing codes are not as up to date as the IBC. With changes in technology that goes into construction and home improvement, certain progressiveness movements are hot on the council’s heels to adopt the new codes.

Advantages of the International Building Code against the Current Chicago Building Code

The International Building Code is up to date – The ICC is continuously updates its codes to match changes in the industry regarding technology, innovation, and new regulation. That said, the accuracy, reliability, and efficiency of the information contained in IBC’s regulations are more reliable compared to the Municipal Council’s codes.

Uniformity – The International Code Council develops uniform codes and those who adopt the regulations get access to standard codes. This ensures standardization in the industry, and thus efficiency and reliability of the codes.

Access to information. The IBC provides vital statistics and information to administrations that adopt their codes, alongside the actual codes. This information can be useful to industry players both in the public and private sectors.


Chicago is yet to adopt the new codes involving fire and life safety. It is currently the only major US city yet to adopt all the building codes set forth by the ICC. The last time the City Council made attempts to adopt the new codes and standards was back in the 1990’s. The codes that made it through include plumbing, electrical, energy, building mechanics and elevator codes.

In addition, he new regulations require technological support and infrastructure that the city is yet to incorporate into its administrative system. However, with the world that has already adopted the newest and most effective ways to regulate buildings, the Metropolitan setup, and safety of citizens, there has never been a much better time to cross over to 21st century standards and codes.







Uncategorized /

27 Split Level Exterior Remodel Ideas For Chicago

If you are planning to, have already started or just curious about remodeling the exterior of your home, these 100+ ideas can help you get to turn your imagination into reality. Remodeling your home can be easy and hard at the same time. It all depends on how much you are willing to put into the work. That said; check out these ideas, guaranteed to transform your old tired home into an awe-inspiring work of art.

100+ Split Level Exterior Remodel Ideas For Chicago

Light up your front yard with lamps of your choice. You can use halogen, fluorescent or incandescent lamps depending on your preference.

Front Yard

The grass should always be greener on your side of the fence. Start off with knowing your options when setting up green on your front lawn. Planting the right kind of flora that will go through all seasons; warm or cold is the first step.


Halogen, LED, Fluorescent and incandescent lights are the best for lighting up the front yard. You will want your neighbors to have a second gaze at the beauty that is your front yard. You can nver go wrong with lamps. If the added energy costs are off-putting to you, you always have the option of solar-powered lamps.


This is by far the simplest way to spruce up your front yard. While looking for appropriate flowers and bushes for your front yard, keep in mind the season, the color of your house and the surrounding vegetation. Well manicured gardens stand out from a distance.

Fountains and pillar exterior remodeling ideas

Adding a fountain or sculptures at the front add detail and beauty to your home


Flowering and gardening ideas

Summer flowers and green that go together with the color of your house adds the marvel of nature to your front yard


Fountains, Sculptures and Garden Statues

Water fountains, carvings, statues, and sculptures can really make your front yard stand out. Did you know that you do not have to dig deep into your pockets to get amazing works of art to your home? While shopping around for these artifacts, don’t go for the extremely rare ones with deep historical significance. You just want things that will add vigor and life to your front yard effortlessly.


There is a lot you can do with your driveway apart from getting your car off the street. The driveway is one of the best locations for potted flowers and plants, intimate lighting, imported gravel, pavement or tiles.

Paving your driveway

You want a pavement that is both cost-effective, stylish and durable. Concrete slabs and bitumen-based surfaces are sure options while laying gravel is also an option. When considering your pavement options, the more permanent the better. Gravel does not require regular maintenance, but rigid concrete is prone to cracks and would require maintenance from time to time.

Gravel Remodeling Ideas

Gravel is cheaper and easier to maintain. It is also a great DIY opportunity you can try out


Tile your driveway if you prefer a cleaner and more characteristic drive-in experience


Alternative Driveway Experience Ideas

Do not limit your imagination. There are cooler ways to build your driveway with the right professionals.


However big or small your budget is, you can always find something that works for you. One of the best things about renovating your driveway is that you can actually do most things yourself! You can choose from great DIY options or ideas from experts.


While most houses have standard two to three steps at the front pouch, you can make the most out of what you already have.


Your imagination and exterior design expertise will be needed to make the front pouch a marvelous work of art. If you prefer an open-plan front pouch consider adding potted plants and lamps that complement the color of the paintwork of your pouch. If you want the pouch closed up, allow as much natural light as possible by installing top-bottom windows and glass doors. You can then add lamps for the night, when the moonlight is not enough. Meanwhile, you can ensure your energy options when it comes to lighting the driveway.

Front Pouch Remodeling ideas with lights

Wooden floor front pouches are here to stay. Add some lighting and rocking chairs, you have peace and serenity right at your doorstep


Closed Front pouch remodeling ideas

You can turn your front pouch to an extra room with large windows and sliding doors if you prefer a more intimate doorstep experience.


Front pouch lighting

Incandescent lights bring a warm feel to your front pouch


Hanging pouch swings adds vigor and comfort to your front pouch.


If you have enough space, for example, you can add pouch swings, plantation or even lighting for your quiet time moments outside the house. Make your front area stands out with these amazing ideas.

Patio Furniture

There are tens of patio furniture out there, it all depends on the size, your preference and the design of the patio. Furniture options include all-weather chaise lounges, hammocks/swings, chairs, sofas and others.


There are tens of roofing ideas you can work with during your renovation process. Whether its Asphalt shingles, slate and tile roof shingles, metal or flat floor roofing, there is always something you can work with.

Roofing Options

Asphalt Shingles. Probably the most popular roofing types, asphalt shingles are known for their durability, cost effectiveness and ease of installation. They can withstand extreme weather and have a life expectancy of 40-50 years.

Slate and Tile Shingles. These are expensive but very attractive. They are built with upscale customers in mind. Their luxurious and stylish finishing make them popular with modern houses. They are durable, fade resistant but would require extra maintenance efforts.

Slate and Tile roofing

Slate and Tile Roofing


Asphalt roofing

Asphalt shingles roofing


Metal Roofs. Metal roofs are inexpensive, easy to maintain but would require expert attention while installing. They come in all sorts of styles and colors, and you can always repaint them if the shine fades. They can withstand adverse weather but have a shorter time-span of 10 to 20 years compared to other roofing options.

Wooden shakes and cedar shingles


metal roofs

Metal roofing


flat roofing

Flat roofing


Flat Roofs. If you require a certain visual appeal, flat roofs are the way to go. These roofs are usually concrete slabs supported by pillars as they tend to be very heavy. You will need to regularly clean out debris and stagnant water. Technology has improved flat roof installation, as more heat resistant options are coming up.

Wood Shakes and Cedar Shingles. These are the ”green roofs” as they are made of environmentally friendly and renewable sources of material. This is because they are a sustainable roofing option, and durable too, with a lifespan of up to 20 years. Fir the environmentally conscious, this is the best roofing type.


Windows have that hidden ability to transform the overall look of your house, whether you are looking to flood the interior of your house with natural light or prefer the vintage square framing, there are a lot of options to choose from.

Large windows remodel ideas

Large windows stand out from afar effortlessly


Top to bottom windows remodel ideas

Top to bottom windows can make your house look taller, and allow more natural light


Tall windows and doors remodel ideas

Sliding doors and windows are a great alternative to traditional framed windows


Backyard window remodeling ideas

Add more windows to the back area of your house for that shiny and clear ambience


While shopping for window replacements, get to know the types of windows that compliment your home. From transom windows, stationary, bay or bow windows to awning windows, there is always that one type that will give your house an opportunity to stand out from the rest.

Window options

Casement Windows. Casement windows open at the turn of a crank, either outwards or inwards. They are essentially best for the kitchen area as they are huge allowing natural light in.

Awning Windows. They are hinged at the top and open either inwards or outwards. If you value scenery and views, these are your type of windows.

Slider Windows. Slider windows are simple to install and are popular with most types of houses especially split-level.

Stationary Windows. Stationary windows are designed not to open but you can customize their shape to any design. Install stationary windows in contemporary or modern houses for areas of the house that need natural light.

Bay windows split level ideas

Bay windows provide extra space on the inside of the room

Bay/Bow Windows. These windows protrude outwards and can be a great idea for colonial homes, split-level houses and mansions. They provide extra room on the inside of the house and you can show off your drapes with these types of windows.

Exterior Siding

Do not limit yourself to the boring adage brick, concrete or wooden sidings. Add color, décor, and definition to the siding of your home with alternative exterior siding ideas. Sidings highlight the uniqueness and special features of your home.

Stone siding remodeling ideas

Stone siding can be very attractive especially for country houses


Siding remodeling ideas

Working with one theme for the whole house, especially for wooden sidings.


Brick remodeling ideas

Bricks are durable, attractive and never disappoint. You can also leave the interior bricks exposed


Depending on how much you are willing to spend and the scope of renovation you are undertaking, there are tons of siding options to choose from. Check out these siding ideas you and your architect or remodeler can explore.

Siding Options and Ideas

Wood Sidings. Wood sidings are popular with classic and colonial homes and can be a warmer alternative to concrete. They are however high maintenance as wood tends to wear out with time.

Fiber-Cement Sidings. The latest development in exterior siding, cement fiber sidings are made of recyclable material, are easy to install and maintain, are durable and very attractive. Cement fiber sidings are not as expensive and you can experiment with different shapes and sizes.


fiber cement

Fiber Cement Siding


Vinyl siding

Vinyl sidings. Vinyl sidings are both strong and durable. They mimic wood-grain sidings but you can straight away know they are not made of wood once you feel the texture and weight. Of course the upside with Vinyl is that you will not have to repair or maintain it for the next 20 years. The downside is that they cost $2-$7 per square foot, making them considerably costly to install in large houses.

Synthetic Stone Sidings. Synthetic stone is a fusion of cement, sand and aggregate. With technology, manufacturers have been able to develop synthetic stone siding to resemble most stone types including gemstone and limestone. What you have in return is a beautiful stone-like finish for your siding. Synthetic stone is very durable, customization is limitless and they are strong. the only downside is that they are fairly more expensive than most types of sidings.

Garage Area

If your garage area is part and parcel of your renovation process, there are several ideas you can take up to transform the look entirely. The garage door is perhaps one of the few stand-out installations that can transform the overall look of your house’s exterior.

Garage door remodeling ideas

Over the years, designers have come up with alternative garage door ideas. Explore your options before settling one

Wallpaper garage door design ideas

Wallpapers for your garage door are a great way to make heads turn

Your imagination is your limit. If you love contemporary artwork, try wallpapers instead of the adage garage door painting


Garage door remodeling ideas

Sliding garage doors save on space and can be more attractive than alternative garage doors


Get to know about what’s new in the market when it comes to garage doors and pavements. You can actually select a theme that will go along with your house’s look. Check out these garage area remodel ideas you can use as inspiration.


The balcony is perhaps one of the most exciting features of a split-level home. You can explore your options while remodeling the balcony area to maximize the limited but invaluable space. The balcony can be a great relaxation point especially if you are living upcountry.

Balcony remodeling ideas

Your balcony is your relaxation area. Add furniture and potted plants for comfort and tranquility above ground

Balcony remodel ideas forchicago

If you love nature, the balcony is one of the best places to set up a small garden above ground

Or just a simple balcony area for scenery and tranquility day or night


Enjoy the view and a royal sensation as you enjoy the scenery from one or two floors above ground. With the right professional assistance, you can get to know your options and actually know if you can create one, if not several balcony areas if you do not have one.


You do not have to blow your budget while remodeling your backyard. For example, you can work with what you already have to create an awesome backyard. Depending on the space, you can stretch the limits of your imagination with these backyard renovation ideas to complement the needs of your household.

Bakyard remodeling ideas

Why not keep the cold away with a chimney area in your back yard

Cottages at the backyard are an amazing way to transform the backyard for intimate family moments

Backyard remodeling ideas

A barbecue area, fountain and clay brick surfacing for your backyard

Backyard remodeling ideas

Artificial fountains can be magical and should add life to your remodeled backyard

Pool area remodeling ideas

There is so much you can do with a pool area at the backyard besides just leaving it squared off and isolated

Whether you want to create a great barbecuing spot for friends and family; a playing ground for your kids or even a pool area, these ideas should inspire your journey of backyard transformation!

And Finally

Always consult professionals before you start remodeling to avoid costly mistakes along the way. That said, there is always that voice at the back of your head that tells you to consult someone with the right expertise and experience. With the right professionals, You can transform your house into an unimaginable and blissful home you and your family will live to admire for years.


Uncategorized /

40 Smart, Interesting And Innovative Home Improvement And Renovation Ideas

While lifestyle and comfort go hand in hand, space utility and limitations are also as important while remodeling your home. Technology and innovation are changing the way we build, furnish and renovate our homes. With that in mind, here’s the smartest, most interesting and innovative home improvement ideas.

Technology and innovation are revolutionizing home improvement. There is no telling what will be reinvented or redeveloped next. With the rise of the cost of living, space becomes valuable, not unless you live in Glenview or Kenilworth with 20,000 square foot of living space.

Here are 40 Smart, Interesting and Innovative Home Renovation Ideas

(With Pictures)

1. Smart Bedroom Remodeling Ideas For Small Rooms

When space is the limitation, innovation is your closest friend. You will need to make the most of the little spaces that are otherwise left unaccounted for. Raising your bed above ground creates space beneath and utilizes the already existing above.

Bedroom Furniture remodeling

There’s so much you can do with 30 sq ft of floor space

2. Maximize your living space with space-saving furniture

This is a great idea for studio apartments and lofts in the city. You can save up to 400 square foot of living space with this smart renovation idea.

Living room remodeling

Who says you need more than one room for all your furniture?

3. Convertible furniture

Convertible furniture comes in handy when you have the need for an extra bed for those who choose to sleep over. Sofa by day and bed by night. This is perfect for one bedroom apartments where every inch of living space is valuable.

These amazing furniture ideas save a lot on living space

4. Balcony renovation ideas

You can free up some space on the inside and utilize the balcony area instead. While shopping for furniture, make sure you get all-weather furniture for your balcony as well as the roof top area.

Balcony renovation

Transform your apartment’s balcony area to a relaxation point for tranquility and peace

5. Backyard renovation ideas

If your backyard area is not that spacious, you can try and use transformable chairs. they save on space and are easier to set up. All weather furniture is always available.

These simple but highly effective ideas utilize the limited backyard area space

6. Do It Yourself Jacuzzi ideas

DIY Jacuzzi is a great idea for a home project. They are becoming even more affordable by the day. Alot of innovation has gone into making Jacuzzi installation affordable and available no matter the size of your home.

Jcuzzi installation

Easily install your own Jacuzzi at your back yard

7. Ceiling Renovation Ideas

You can create space almost everywhere, you just need an innovative mind and will to renovate the smart way. This is where professional advise comes in handy. While looking for storage space, your architect can advise you on where you can redesign  create more storage space.

Some books are just to valuable to dispose of. Turn your basement’s ceiling to a bookshelf

8. Cheap Wooden Sheds Renovation Ideas

Cheap wooden sheds create that extra storage space for things you don’t need lying around in the house. While wood is becoming even the more rare by the day, there has never been a better time to invest in lumber construction. Lumber is cheap to build with and very easy to renovate, repair and maintain. It is also warmer than concrete.

Timber sheds

Got extra space in your back yard? These cheap and easy to build timber sheds will provide shelter or storage space


9. Swimming Pool Area Renovation Ideas

Your swimming pool area bears so much potential, only if you know what to do with it. The swimming pool area is perfect for hosting guests, relaxing or partying with friends and family. While considering renovating your swimming pool area, your architect or designer should advise you on how to maximize your resources and space.

There is a lot you can do with your swimming pool area

10. Cheap Container Homes Renovation Ideas

No longer are containers considered storage and transportation mediums. The space has been deemed enough for homes. Engineering and architecture has come a long way in developing alternative homes. Container homes are gaining traction in the industry. You can even make your home mobile, since it’s a container, right? Let’s hold that thought… Moving on!

Cntainer homes

Container homes are a thing now. They are cheap, reasonably spacious and easy to renovate and remodel

11. Cheap Iron-Sheet Homes

These houses are perhaps the most ideal country homes. They do not need a foundation, are solar powered and made of iron; very easy to renovate. Need I mention they are cheap too?

Homes on wheels

Solar powered homes on wheels provide a home away from home

12. Outdoor Stars Installation and Renovation

Sometimes getting into the house through the front door is not always that easy. You can make minor adjustments to the way you move in between rooms in your home. Outdoor spiraling staircases can be installed as emergency exits or just alternative routes.

Split-level homes need more than one access routes

13. Sliding Garage Door Installation and Renovation

Garage doors should have ”sub-doors” when you are entering your garage on foot.

Alternative garage door

Conveniently operate your garage door without extra muscle with innovative garage door alternatives

14. Smart Fireplace Area Renovation and Installation

If the fireplace is that important to you, then there are some nifty ideas architects and designers have come up with. As technology and renovation redefines the way we design our living space, the fireplace cannot be left out during this transformation.

alternative fireplaces

If you like fireplaces, you will love what your remodeler has in store

15. Suspended Bed In Living Area Renovation

Space and more space. If you live in the city especially, you need this. While renovating your small living space, it is always idealistic to consult home renovation experts to know what your options are.

suspended beds

Suspended beds are a great way to maximize living room space for small apartments


16. Garage Space Renovation Ideas

If you are not that keen on keeping things hung or organized in the garage, there are options for you, example these retractable roll-out shelves.

garage space utility

Organize your garage area with innovative space utility shelves


17. Garage Renovation and Space Creation

This is not a wallpaper, you can actually stack your cars in the garage, if you have that many.

Nifty garage storage ideas

Never park any of your cars on the street

18. Cheap And Transformable Sheds

More ideas for sheds. Combining innovation, technology and the goodness of mother nature could be your one way ticket to convenience and smart saving.

shed ideas

Nifty siding ideas for your shed

19. Pre-assembled Roofing Ideas

If you need things built faster, and you hate lengthy construction work you can get them pre-assembled. Then you can ship to your location. Roofing has come a long way and no longer are iron sheets the only way to roof.

preassembled roofing

Pre-assembled roofs are an innovative way to save on construction time

20. Garden Shed Renovation

The garden shed is one of the best places to store away what you do not use regularly. With the advent of renovation ideas, you can transform your shed to anything you want. The one below, for example is was a shed some time ago. It is now a peaceful area where the owner can have some quiet and alone time.

Innovative shed renovation

Create your little peace of heaven at the back of the main house

21. House On Wheels

If you travel and choose to take the whole, or part of your home with you, you will need all the space and innovation possible.

House on wheels remodeling

Renovate your house on wheels and take advantage of nifty makeover ideas

22. Backyard Relaxation Area Renovation

There are hundreds of ideas for your backyard, and you don’t need a pool area to wow your friends

Garden living

Turn your garden are into a serene and beautiful relaxation area

23. Barbecue Area Renovation and Installation

Always be ready for the holidays with improved barbecue areas, modified for convenience, comfort and style.

backyard kitchen

A kitchen area in your back yard


24. Home Courtyard Renovation

Open plan courtyards are a thing now. Ever wondered the best place to host friends and relax ith family over drinks and what not? Make use of the space in the backyard by installing or renovating the courtyard area.

backyard renovation

Your back yard should complement your style of living

25. Kids’ Bedroom Renovation Ideas

Who says you need a bedroom for each little one? You can work with what you have and come up with something for everyone.

decked beds

One room fits all! Maximize your kids’ bedroom space with double or triple-decked beds

26. Bedroom Furniture Renovation

smart renovation beds

Rethink bedroom furniture with smart renovation ideas


27. Kids Play Area Renovation and Installation

Play-dates for the little ones are a great way to keep your kids occupied while you do important things. It is even better if the play area is within your watch.

kids playground

Remodeling and renovation ideas for your little ones

28. Smart Kitchen Renovation and Space Utilization

Check out these kitchen renovation ideas, featuring retractable working stations, roll-out cabinets and space-saving furniture.

smart kitchen

Retractable kitchen fittings are a great way to maximize your kitchen space

29. Pre-assembled Backyard Installation

Backyard renovation

Awe-inspiring backyard renovation ideas

30. Sauna Remodeling and Installation Ideas

Sauna renovation

Ever fancied your own sauna? Get to know your options

31. Innovative Space-conscious Shower Remodeling and Installation

Your studio apartment needs one of these transformable showers.

Shower options

Shower options for your studio apartment or loft

32. Spiraling Staircase Installation and Renovation

Spitaling staircase

Wooden spiraling staircase add beauty and sophistication to your house

33. Loft Remodeling And Renovation

Suspended beds

Your small living area can be as big as you want it to be


34. Attic Renovation and Remodeling

The attic, if not used for storage can be an extra room, if you need one. You might be amazed by how much space there is up there.

attic renovation

Turn your attic into an extra room with smart renovation ideas

35. Basement Remodeling And Renovation

It might be costly to redo a whole basement, but once it’s done, you will not regret a penny. There are so many things you can do with a basement. Home cinema, gaming room, gym, wine cellar, bomb shelters, bunkers, etc. you never know…moving on swiftly

basement remodeling

Got room below ground level? Renovate it the best way possible with the right remodeling experts


36. Staircase Space Utilization Ideas

Who knew the space beneath the staircase is big enough for a whole toilet! Well, I did and maybe it is, just get in touch with a home improvement professional to find out.

extra toilet

The space beneath the staircase can use a bit of facelift. Why not add a toilet If you don’t already have one

37. Lighting Renovation and Remodeling Ideas

Absolutely nothing beats concealed ceiling lights. It might be tricky to replace the bulbs but that’s a thought for another day. Now, all you need to think about is make your home more beautiful than ever.

lighting ideas

Make your living space come alive with these smart and cool lighting ideas

38. Studio Apartment Renovation and Remodeling


cool renovation

Maximize your living area space with cool and luxurious renovation ideas


39. Backyard Cottages Installation and Renovation


renovated patios

Create a serene relaxing point at the backyard with renovated patio ideas

40. Pre-assembled Homes

Pre-assembled homes are by far the easiest and quickest ways to build. They are cheaper too as they require fewer labor hours. Thanks to innovation and technology, you can now build a home within a week.

innovative preassembled renovation ideas

Pre assembled homes are here with us, get to know your options

Top Trending In Home Improvement And Renovation

What’s trending? Analyses from top designers

Matte Appliances

Smart home renovation ideas

Matte Appliances

There is nothing wrong with making your kitchen all-white. However what’s currently trending is matte. An alternative to aluminum, matte brings out the shine in your kitchen, you will forget stains and muffs around the kitchen and they are very easy to clean.



Marble Home Decor

smart innovative home improvement

Marble as an alternative to ceramic

One of the most liked home improvement ideas on Pinterest revolves around marble. The kitchen, bathroom, and fireplace can use a marble touch.  Marble is shinier than glass and ceramic, making it even the more desirable. Anything that was once ceramic including sinks, the bath tub, wall dividers for the bathroom and toilet could use marble. Choose a theme you can work wit as there are a variety of designs and colors you can work with.

Refined Wood

smart innovative interesting home renovation

Coffee table made of refined wood

smart interesting home improvement ideas

Furniture and Flooring from refined wood

Gone are the days when we used to upgrade from wood furniture to leather or ceramic, wood is making a comeback and it is huge. From carved tables to polished wooden floors, wood, especially hard wood and rare types of wood are becoming even the more popular. Blackwood, mahogany, afrormosia, amazon rosewood, marple tree among others are some of the rare exotic woods that are making a huge comeback, when it comes to home remodeling.

Tiles Decor

smart home improvement and renovation ideas

Beautiful wall tiles

Exposed brick is a classic. With technology and innovation, you do not have to have actual brick walls to mimic exposed brick. These new tiles resemble actual brick, which is European. Subway tiles are an alternative to this and boy don’t they look surreal! Tiling has come a long way over the past century, and with the need for more awesome decor ideas, tiles are paving way for the future.

Smart Homes

smart renovation home improvement ideas

Smart homes are the future

Forget automatic garage doors, smart homes are new trends that are slowly turning our houses into gizmo havens. Your smoke detector, home security system, fireplace, lights, thermostat, infotainment system and even drapes can be automatically operated from your smartphone.

And Finally

Before starting a home improvement project, you need as many ideas as possible. The right professionals can guide you through your options. Home improvement should be fun, productive and timely, and at PMPC we do just that.