Category Archives: Home Improvement

Home Improvement: 6 Tips for Converting Your Garage Into a Home Office

More and more people are working from home at least part of the time, and the trend is one of the major reasons a growing number of homeowners are looking to retrofit their houses to include home offices.

Since it often isn’t possible to re-purpose premium interior space, many people end up converting their garages into their primary office space. The good news is that the home office is one of the more affordable options when it comes to converting your garage into living space.

On the surface, this would seem to make a lot of sense, particularly if the garage is being underutilized and you don’t use it to store your vehicle. However, there are a lot of little practicalities to consider, which you should take into careful account during the planning stage to ensure your full satisfaction with the final outcome–and no regrets!

Home Improvement: 6 Tips for Converting Your Garage into a Home Office

6 Essential Things to Consider when Converting Your Garage Into a Home Office

The first thing you should think about is whether or not your proposed conversion meets municipal bylaws for safety and approved building use guidelines.

If you’re not sure whether your idea conforms to local laws, or what kinds of permits you’ll need to acquire, contact municipal authorities and find out before proceeding. The last thing you want to do is invest time and money into a project that will wind up trapped behind bureaucratic red tape.

Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, you can plan your project using these proven tips and ideas to guide your thinking:

  • Consider costs. While actual costs vary depending on exactly what you plan to do, a good guideline is to budget for about $120+ per square foot. From insulating walls and ceiling, to installing heating and cooling, electrical service upgrade, and replacing doors and windows, there are many options to consider. Remember that such projects often run over budget, so be sure to allow for some unexpected expenses and contingencies.  Also, don’t forget to set aside between $1,000 and $1,500 for a building permit as well.
  • Perform a survey. Create a detailed survey of the existing garage, noting the material that covers its floors and walls, where the windows are located, and the condition of the wiring and lighting. These elements will largely stay in place once the conversion is done, so you’ll need to integrate them into your ideas at a very early juncture.
  • Think about systems. Garages, especially detached ones, often aren’t serviced the same way as your main house, so you may have limited options when it comes to running water and climate controls. One of the key things you’ll need is a way to keep the space warm during the winter and cool during the summer, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time in your new home office. Space heaters and window-mounted air conditioners are great alternatives, as long as their electrical needs and ventilation requirements are both taken into careful account.
  • What about the door? Chances are you’ll want to replace the main garage door with a wall, window or other element that makes your home office feel more like a part of the house. Don’t forget to include this in your budget, as it will likely be one of the costliest aspects of the project.
  • Create a plan. Once you’ve considered all these details, put pen to paper on a detailed plan. Many people find themselves in need of help at this point, so this is often a good time to involve a professional if you haven’t already.

Unless you’re a seasoned DIY expert, chances are you’ll enjoy better results if you trust the execution of the conversion to a general contractor familiar with the ins and outs of succesful home improvement.

Once you’ve made up your mind regarding the scope of the project, interview local contractors and ask them to make competitive bids for the job. Jacek Kaznocha at All Roofing Solutions offers an important tip here: “The easiest way to compare multiple estimates is to make a checklist of everything you need, and have each contractor submit competitive bids based on what you want. This gives you a quick overview of which company is offering the best products and services at the lowest possible price.”

Make sure you look beyond the bottom-line price. Communication between yourself and your contractor is vital – choose one with whom you have a good rapport.  Quality of work is critical, however, as garage conversion could be a substantial investment in your home’s resale value. A high quality garage conversion project can return 60% or more of its initial cost.

Converting your garage into a home office is a project you don’t have to tackle on your own – call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement for help.

We are a family owned and operated Virginia home improvement contractor with over 40 years of experience in residential construction & home improvement.

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote

Build the perfect home office!

Get your no-obligation quote!

Want An Energy Efficient Roof? Proper Installation And Materials Are Key

As more and more people are looking to save on utility bills and reduce their home’s carbon footprint, energy efficient roofs have become increasingly popular in the last decade. And when it comes to energy efficiency of your home, your roofing structure can make a significant impact.

For one, some types of roofs are more energy efficient than others. Additionally, the way a roof is installed will influence whether the heat gains during summer and losses during winter are mitigated efficiently.

If you’re looking for a new roof and you want to optimize your home’s energy efficiency, it’s crucial that you evaluate different types of roofing materials and also shop around for a quality contractor skilled in those materials. This will ensure your new roof will be a great investment for decades to come!

Want An Energy Efficient Roof? Proper Installation And Materials Are Key
Photo: Standing Seam Metal Roof Installation by LGC Roofing

Choose Energy-Efficient Roofing Materials

Not all roofing materials are made equal when it comes to enhancing energy efficiency. Ideally, you want to choose a roof system/type that creates a strong barrier between your home’s interior and the outdoors. This prevents energy losses and helps inhibits the effects of exterior environmental factors.

Conventional roofing materials, like shingles and wood, reflect only a small portion of the sun. Most of the sun’s heat is transferred to the sheathing below the roofing material, into the attic and then the rest of the house, requiring air conditioning to work harder. On the other hand, efficient roofing materials reflect 20-80 percent of the sun’s rays back, depending upon regional climate, the direction your home faces and the specific material you choose. Less heat is transferred inside, leading to lesser demand put on your house’s cooling system, which ultimately saves you money on your energy bill.

Experts recommend metal and slate as best materials for superior energy efficiency.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are considered among the most energy efficient types of roofs. They reflect a greater share of the sun’s rays and, depending on any coating applied to the metal, homes may see a savings of 20 to 30 percent on air conditioning costs.

Bottom line: steel, aluminum and other metals reflect a great deal of sunlight, plus are fire- and insect-proof and flame retardant, as well as other “green” benefits. Minimal maintenance and superb durability are additional perks you can’t ignore!

Tile Roofing

Clay and concrete tile roofs withstand the weather particularly well, offer natural thermal resistance and create a natural ventilation that provides a thermal barrier for heat transfer to the roof deck (since they’re installed individually with airspace around the tiles). Additionally, tiles can be painted with a reflective coating further increasing their energy efficiency.

Bottom line: tiles are natural, recyclable, energy efficient and environmentally-friendly, and last 50 years or more!

Reflective Coating

If you’re still drawn to the relative affordability of roof shingles, one thing you should do is apply a special reflective coating.

Without a reflective coasting, asphalt shingles absorb upwards of 75 percent of the heat that strikes them – and most of that heat will end up penetrating your home. By contract, shingles treated with a coating reflect about 80% of the heat they’re exposed to, boosting home energy efficiency in all seasons.

Bottom line: coating your roof will reduce heat energy costs and increase UV and waterproofing protection for the roof. Additionally, roof coating gives strength and longevity to roofing materials while maintaining the aesthetic appearance of any structure. Cool roofs are sustainable and environmentally friendly too!

Other Materials

  • Improve roof insulation – poorly insulated attics do not provide a home with the protection required to combat temperature extremes and keep energy costs down.
  • Build a radiant barrier in your attic – barriers inhibit heat transfer, helping you dramatically reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Keep your home well maintained – updating caulking and weather-stripping, replacing heater filters or sealing ducts can go a long way.

Proper Installation Is Key

Professional roof installation is the best way to ensure your roof performs at peak energy efficiency. Shop around for a local quality roofing contractor with experience and expertise in the type of roofing material you decide to go with.

When choosing a roofer, be sure to select an experienced, licensed, and insured company that’s local to your area:

  • Pick few top contractors and collect multiple estimates you can compare.
  • Ask about both indemnity (liability) and worker’s insurance, noting the coverage end dates.
  • Check the length and types of warranties they provide. Both materials and workmanship warranties can vary greatly, and some roofers offer comprehensive systems warranties as well. A minimum warranty of one year is standard for the roofer’s labor, but many roofers offer longer warranties.
  • Lastly, and this one is important here, make sure that your roofing contractor has a proven experience in installing your particular roofing material – some roofing manufacturers require certification and training in the installation of their products.

And don’t forget to check with your tax professional about energy efficiency tax credits too; you may be able to deduct a portion of your roof’s cost because you chose to go green!

All Roofing Contractors is a Bear DE roofing company with nearly 20 years of experience in residential/commercial roofing, siding, and gutters installation/repair. Call (302) 722-8228 in Delaware or (610) 572-7334 in Pennsylvania to request a free estimate on your next project!

Kitchen Remodel: Homeowners Guide to Countertop Choices

Kitchen renovations are among the most popular home improvement projects. In most homes, the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms, making it an obvious area of focus when the time comes to upgrade. Remodeling the kitchen is also a great way to boost the resale value of your home, and when it’s done with care, you can even generate a positive return on your investment in the form of appreciation.

If you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen, chances are you’re looking long and hard at your countertop options. A kitchen’s counters are one of its most visible elements, and you’ll need a good balance of beauty and practicality, while not breaking the bank. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most popular options to help you narrow down your list of possibilities.

Kitchen Remodel: Homeowners Guide to Countertop Choices by Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement

Performance Characteristics of Popular Countertop Materials

It’s important to look beyond the surface when evaluating the various materials on the market. A certain option might look great, but it may not be the best fit from a performance standpoint.

Here’s the low-down on 10 popular countertop materials:

  • Bamboo. This environmentally friendly option looks great, especially when it’s new. However, moisture can warp it, making it a poor choice for use near sinks. It’s also easily damaged and stained, so you’ll have to take extra precautions to protect it.
  • Butcher block. Like bamboo, butcher block isn’t a great idea near sinks, as water can damage it. However, it is an economical option for larger areas, especially if you like the look of natural wood. It also has outstanding stain resistance characteristics.
  • Concrete. Excellent at resisting moisture, concrete is also very stain-resistant. However, heat can damage it, and it can also crack and chip easily. Expensive, but worth the investment if you take care of it.
  • Granite. This is one of the most popular options for a reason: granite is extremely versatile, and holds up very well under practically all usage conditions. It’s also available in a broad range of colors and patterns, making it easy to match with any design scheme.
  • Laminate. Be sure a cutting board and this economical option will never let you down. Knives will damage it, but otherwise, it holds up well against heat, stains, and moisture.
  • Limestone. If your counter is serving a more decorative than functional purpose, limestone is worth considering. However, it’s not the most practical option for everyday use and heavy wear and tear, as it scratches easily. Limestone does excel at resisting heat, though.
  • Marble. Another premium option, marble is fantastic as long as you’re careful not to chip or crack it…and it tends to chip quite easily, so proceed with caution.
  • Quartz. Designed to look like stone, quartz is a high-performing option with very few drawbacks. It’s easy to care for and maintain, and resists abrasions, chipping, heat, and moisture with ease.
  • Recycled glass. Another eco-friendly option, recycled glass is prone to chipping, but otherwise, it performs well and is a great way to add a colorful, vibrant feel to any kitchen.
  • Soapstone. While it can chip, scratch, and stain easily, soapstone is highly resistant to heat and looks dazzling, especially when it’s new.

Still not sure? A home renovation expert or professional contractor can help you sift through options and decide which style will work best for you.

Whether you need to upgrade your kitchen, add a bath or paint your interiors, call Mid-Atlantic Home Improvement. We are a family owned and operated Virginia home improvement contractor with over 40 years of experience in residential construction & home improvement.

Call (804) 647-0649 or (800) 852-4142 or Request Your Free Quote

Build the kitchen of your dreams!

Get your no-obligation quote!