December 2015>

Reduce the Cost of Your Exterior Remodel with Smart Shortcuts

Remodeling Shortcuts

When you’re on a limited budget, some exterior remodeling shortcuts can help you get the job done without putting your bank account in the red.

Cutting corners in some areas in order to be able to afford what you want in others is a good strategy, but you have to know what’s OK to do on the cheap and what’s not.

Take a look at our short list of suggestions that might help you save money.

1. Landscaping

Your yard has a huge impact on your curb appeal, there’s no doubt about that. The most beautiful home can look ugly behind overgrown hedges and a brown, patchy lawn, so it’s critical you consider this in your makeover and plan. However, depending on what you have in mind, this can get expensive.

According to Modular Today, a site for buyers of modular constructions, landscaping is the third-most expensive part of new home constructions, with the average being $11,500. Take heart, however — this includes a whole new lawn and a driveway.

First, ask yourself if you can do any of the work on your own. If you have time, clearing brush, weeds and other yard clutter doesn’t take any special skill. You also may be able to give your lawn a helping hand by aerating and fertilizing it and putting down some weed killer. Re-seed thin patches and your lawn will perk up in no time.

Absence of mess, however, isn’t really the same as looking good. Buying trees, bushes, shrubs and flowers can run up a bill. Some carefully placed containers of plants or flowers on your front steps, along your sidewalk or hanging from your porch can make a big impact for a small amount of money.

2. Vinyl

Sure, cedar and fieldstone are beautiful, but they’re expensive too. If your home’s exterior is a mess and you’ve just got to do something about it but you have two kids in college and your car is making a funny noise, this might not be the time to take on more debt.

Vinyl is great because it covers up a multitude of sins in a heartbeat for a bargain-basement price. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s cost-effective and it gives your home an instant facelift. You can choose practically any color you can imagine and it won’t fade, warp, crack or need any maintenance except maybe an occasional hosing off.

3. Accents

Choosing the right accents can help in several different situations. Suppose you took our advice and went with the vinyl, but you still ached for a touch of class that separates your home from the others on the block. Spend a little more on the accents. Get custom shutters, erect a cast-iron fence or select elegant sconces or hanging lighting fixtures.

On the flip side, if you’ve spent all your money on the exterior of your dreams, save on these extras. Skip the fence and plant a hedge instead. Buy low-end lighting fixtures — they may not last as long, but they will look similar and they’ll buy you the time to save up for something better later.

If your home’s exterior needs help fast, call Renovation by Burbach. We’ll sit down with you and go over your budget and your priorities and show you how to get what you want. Check this space soon for our next blog — what shortcuts not to take on your exterior home remodeling project.


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Exterior Remodeling Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Remodeling Mistakes

Last week we gave you tips on how to save on exterior remodeling projects by taking a few shortcuts, and now we’d like to tell you about some areas where you definitely don’t want to skimp.

1. Paint

Lots of homeowners try to save money by buying cheap paint, but like cheap wine and cheap dates, little good will come out of it in the end.

The lion’s share of the cost of painting is for labor. The average cost of an exterior paint job in Salt Lake City ranges between $3,000 and $5,000, depending on the size and type of house you have.

Paint can cost anywhere from $25 to $50 a gallon (and actually up to $100 a gallon for the very best). Your price for cheap paint would be about $500, or around 10 to 15 percent of the cost of the job. 

A paint job should last a minimum of five years (hopefully more), but you might only get three or four from cheap paint. So you see, the extra $500 you spend on decent paint can end up saving you thousands in the long run.

2. Assimilation 

We know, your parents told you not to go along with the crowd, but they were wrong, at least when it comes to blending in with neighbors’ homes. Yes, you want your home to be unique, but in a tasteful way

If you live on a block of split-levels with nicely manicured lawns, don’t turn your home into a McMansion with a waterfall and koi pond out front. Even if you choose a tasteful finish, like natural stone, your home may end up looking like a medieval castle if it’s in a neighborhood of staid brick colonials or modest ranches.

You also won’t get nearly as high a return on investment in these situations. If you are dead set on your castle — complete with turrets — when it comes time to sell, you won’t recoup nearly as much as you put in.

Unfortunately, the rules of buyer preference in real estate depend on the surroundings, and if you could pick up your house and put it in another neighborhood with similar houses, you could get more. But you can’t. So don’t waste your money, unless you are sure you’ll never move.

3. DIY Strategy

Even if you’re handy, if you plan to install your own exterior siding, you might be biting off more than you can chew. Unless you’ve done a similar project before from start to finish, this may not be the time to give it a whirl. Your mistakes can end up costing you more than you expected to save.

If you can’t be stopped, at least conceptualize the project as a road down which you are traveling without expecting to get to the end. See how far you can get before you call for help. Sometimes it ends up being more a matter of available time, not skill or mastery (as your wife can likely attest to).

If your home is in desperate need of a fresh covering, come down to Renovation by Burbach for a free consultation. We’ll listen to what you have in mind and give you feedback and maybe even some new ideas. Either way, our experience can help you avoid costly mistakes on your exterior renovation project.


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Planning Stucco Repair? Wait!

Stucco Repair

If your stucco is cracked, you might think you should repair it right away, but it’s best to wait. Why? Freezing temps and stucco patching just don’t mix.

It’s likely that if you look hard enough, you can find someone to do any job you want done, but a true professional will not take a job that he or she knows will not turn out right or will not last. Experience, skill and honesty are three important traits everyone working on your home should have.

Stucco Through the Ages

Stucco dates back at least to the ancient Egyptians, but the finish on your home isn’t likely to last as long as the pyramids, though some of the same ingredients are used in each. Traditional stucco was made of lime, sand and water, but lime eventually was replaced with cement for a more durable product.

Stucco used to be installed over brick or stone, the result a fortress-like residence. Later, the switch was made to wood for the base — a lighter material that made wall building easier and faster. The stucco finish was attached to an outer layer of lath, or thin strips of wood the provided a reliable base to which the stucco could adhere properly. Over the years, this type of lath was replaced by the superior metal lath, which is like a heavy screen and holds the material better.

Not Immune to Damage

Despite all these advancements, stucco sometimes still requires repair. Because it is so rigid, it’s not unusual for stucco to suffer some cracking, either due to the building settling or suffering some type of impact — being bumped with a vehicle, hit with a ball or struck in some other way.

If the crack is merely cosmetic, it can be repaired fairly quickly and easily with specially made caulk. Some homeowners feel they can tackle this job themselves, but know the process before you try. The crack has to be widened and prepared correctly in order for the caulk to work properly. Watch this video by Quikrete to see if you think you’re up to it.

Patching small holes is a similar process, but your result depends on two major caveats: temperature and availability of color.

Mild Weather Necessary

Applying stucco or even applying caulk or patch to stucco in temperatures below 40 degrees can do more harm than good. Stucco gets its strength from the drying process, which should be allowed to occur slowly. If the water in the mixture freezes up as soon as its applied, the product won’t last.

Professional stucco installers have access to a wide variety of colors for patches that can’t always easily be found at your local hardware store. No stucco patch will ever match exactly, but the professionals come closer than most handymen can on their own.

If your stucco is cracked, call the professionals here at Renovation by Burbach. We will come out and assess the damage, ascertaining if it is merely cosmetic or requires more work, and we’ll get you on the calendar to have your stucco repaired as soon as the snow starts melting.

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Some Home Renovation Companies Are More Equal Than Others

Home Renovation

When you are considering a major home renovation, you want to make sure you choose the right contractor for the job. You want a good price, but you also want the work done correctly — you’re likely going to be looking at it for years to come, so you want to be happy with it.

What should you look for in a home remodeling contractor?

Responsiveness — When you call a business, no matter what kind, you want to be able to talk to a real person. Even if a machine answers the call, you want to eventually be put through to someone live. You don’t want to hear, “Your call is important to us,” while waiting on interminable hold, or worse, to be told to leave your name and number so someone can call you back, which they will inevitably do when you are driving on the interstate instead of sitting at your desk.

Reliable Scheduling

Taking the step to make the call to a contractor usually means you are ready to move on the project. Some homeowners are still tentative, still hemming and hawing, when they call, but most eager to get started. So if the person you talk to on the phone can’t set up a consultation for weeks, how long do you think it will take him or her to get a crew out to start work on your home?

It’s true that good contractors are busy, but winter is the perfect time to arrange a consultation, make some decisions and get on their schedule for spring.

Free Consultation

Anyone offering to sell you anything should offer a free consultation. After all, this is the company’s chance to demonstrate the value of their product. If you have to pay for a sales pitch, you should look elsewhere.

Have a list of questions ready for your consultation so you have the information you need to make a decision.

Groundbreaking Technology

Blueprints used to be drawn with a pencil, nails used to be pounded in with hammers and renovations used to only be seen in the mind’s eye, but no more. Sophisticated, new technology allows contractors to show you what your home would look like in a seemingly limitless choice of finishes and colors. This takes the guesswork out of choosing your materials — you know ahead of time exactly how it will look!

Accessible Team

Once you decide to move forward with your project, you should be able to meet your project manager and team leaders. These are the people who will make sure the work gets done, and that it gets done exactly how you want it. They will address all of your questions and concerns throughout the project, so you want to make sure you’re comfortable with them from the start.

If you are considering home exterior remodeling, give us a call here at Renovation by Burbach. A live person will answer the phone and set up a free consultation for you. We’ll use our modern software to show you what your home will look like after renovations, and we’ll introduce you to our team. Start planning your home renovation project with us today.

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Your Home’s Exterior Wants Attention

Home Exterior

Monochromatic is out, two-tone is in. Your home’s exterior is not a tabula rasaYou want people to notice your home and its style and beauty. How do you achieve this? With professional help.

No matter what material you use for your home’s exterior, you want it to look smart and polished. Let’s take a look at a few ideas for different materials.

Vinyl — Vinyl comes first because it’s the No. 1 home covering in the United States. This is likely due to the fact that it’s inexpensive and easy to maintain. But it’s not like a wash-and-wear haircut — just because you have vinyl doesn’t mean you can’t have style. 

The vast majority of homeowners are going to choose beige and call it a day. Yawn!

At the very least, choose two different color vinyls. Put the darker one on the gables and dormers and the lighter one on the walls. Or get crazy and choose two completely different colors. Blue and gray go nicely together. Or maroon and a neutral color like off-white or tan.

Stucco — Stucco is great because you mix the color right in — there’s never any peeling or flaking. It can fade, however, so if you’re comfortable with going a little darker, your color will last longer.

Shades of adobe are popular with stucco, and you can mix some lighter and some darker, depending on how many architectural features you have. Stucco also looks good alongside brick, either on the foundation, porch or portico posts, or along a wall out front.

Wood — This natural resource offers a lot of flexibility. You can paint your wood siding or shingles different colors, or you can stain them different hues. Heck, you could paint some and stain others. Or use different types of wood on your walls, porch or garage. Variety is the key.

Trim Healthy Home

Whether your home has vinyl, aluminum, fiber cement, stucco, wood or stone, the trim is important. Most homeowners just go with white because it’s clean and it’s easy, but it can be a bit boring, too. Consider a contrasting or complementary color for your trim.

Another way to show your style is with shutters. Various designs, shapes and colors are available, and if you get wood, they might not last as long, but you can pick your own custom color. 

Try an Accent Wall

The best — but not necessarily the cheapest — way to make your home a standout is with a stone accent wall. It instantly adds character, distinction and strength. An exterior made entirely of stone can get expensive, but an accent wall is doable for many. If the price still seems steep to you, consider faux stone — hardly anyone will be able to tell the difference.

If stone isn’t in your budget at all, consider vinyl siding with a wood accent wall — either siding or shingles. Used sparingly, this can be the feature that makes your home one of a kind.

If your home looks like every other one on the block and you have grown tired of it, call us here at Renovation by Burbach. We are the experts in home exteriors and can turn your house from blah to beautiful.

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