Archive for the ‘Home Improvement’ Category

Green Remodeling Part 2 of 2: Using Green, Energy-Efficient Products as You Remodel

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Last week we focused on planning for a green remodel, Energy saving remodeling MNwith the intention of saving you money and energy down the road.  This week we’re going to discuss green products you may want to implement as you remodel your home with energy-savings in mind.  Consider these important categories:

Electrical: Research newer light fixtures that utilize less energy.  And choose energy-saving light bulbs to go with them!  Energy-saving light bulbs can make a long term difference in your energy bill — changing out just one lightbulb in your home to an energy-star certified lightbulb can save you $6 a year in electricity costs and more than $40 over its lifetime.  Imagine that number times all of the lightbulbs in your home!

Plumbing:  Less is more when it comes to water!  Many new plumbing products exist today that are high-effeciency or low-flow, ultimately saving 20-30% more water than the previous generation of products.  Water efficient toilets, showerheads, and faucets have all taken the market by storm.  Not sure where to turn for more details or what facts to trust?  The EPA’s WaterSense program labels water-efficient plumbing fixtures that have been independently tested and certified to meet efficiency and performance standards.

Windows & Doors:  Look for features like low-emissivity (low-e) glass ratings, which represents a window glazing that can help control solar heat gain and loss.  Multiple panels of glass, a good window frame, and additives such as argon between glass panels for insulation are also features to keep an eye out for in windows and doors, keeping heat in during the winter and out during the summer.  Adding a skylight to a room when remodeling is also a good way to save electricity — it can greatly reduce energy costs when properly placed.  Want a clearer understanding? Energy.gov offers performance ratings for windows, doors, and skylights.

These are just a few areas that can effect the overall functionality of your home.  If creating a green environment and eco-friendly home is important to you, then take the time to evaluate all of the products you bring into your home during the remodeling process.

  • Check product facts, making sure that hype translates to a product that is truly green.
  • Evaluate the lifespan of your products and whether they can be recycled or reused later.
  • Consider product ingredients and materials to see if they’re toxin-free.

Making smart choices will bring you one step closer to the healthy, eco-friendly, and energy-savings home you want to have!

Remodeling questions?  Connect with us here at Sass Construction to evaluate your project today!  Serving Chanhassen, Chaska, the West Metro area, and surrounding Twin Cities MN suburbs. 

Enjoy the Ambiance of the Kitchen Throughout Your Home! – Incorporate the Kitchen Into the Rest of Your House

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The kitchen is today’s modern gathering place.  Kitchen EntertainingWhen families and groups gather at a home, it tends to be around the eating area.  Why are we drawn to the kitchen?  We love to eat, to lounge at the high countertops, to chat with the host or hostess while they prep, and the generally warm and well-lit ambiance of the kitchen space.

Want to spread your guests out, create a spacious atmosphere, and enjoy company throughout your home?  Try incorporating the kitchen into the rest of your house!  Here are some ideas:

Put in a Sunroom
-You can incorporate a sunroom directly off your kitchen, dining room, or living room, giving guests a new space to munch and lounge.
-They provide a warm and sunny atmosphere similar to many kitchens.
-While outdoor eating options (like decks and patios) are great, they’re temporary in seasonal climates.  Sunrooms are most popular in colder areas like ours.

Add a Kitchen Island
-Even smaller kitchens can benefit from a kitchen island or a high table for lounging or extra prep space.
-A kitchen island provides additional counter space at standing height, great for guests.
-An island is a great place for activities for kids and the whole family, whether it’s homework or game night.

Merge Three Spaces Into One
-Combine your kitchen, dining, and living room areas into a spacious open room.
-Removing walls will especially benefit a smaller kitchen, turning it into a bright and open area with space for gathering.
-Or keep the walls and add spacious, open doorways between the kitchen and living or dining areas, creating an airy pathway for guests.

Want to discuss more ways to create a dynamic, open feeling to your home?  Connect with us here at Sass Construction to talk about kitchen remodeling, creating an open space in your living area, and more!  Remodeling services for Minneapolis, the Twin Cities, and throughout the West Metro area of MN, specializing in interior and exterior remodeling.

 

Give Your Home a Facelift: Ideas to Refresh the Front of Your Home

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Big or small, there are many ways to give the front of your home a new look.  Whether you just need a dash of color or want a whole new look, here are some fun ideas for refreshing the exterior entry of your home:

Change That Front Door – Make a statement Home front entrance exteriorby painting your door a traditional red, or surprise the neighbors with trendy orange instead.  Prefer a neutral color, but want something beyond the typical wood tone?  Try a rich camel color or a charcoal gray finish that lets your wood grain show through.  Ready for a bigger change?  Put in a whole new door made with charming windows or rustic wood tones.  Peak here at some front door and entry accent ideas from Better Homes & Gardens.

Add Accessories – Add some bold planters featuring deep hued greens to each side of the door, put down a colorful rug, or upgrade your mailbox!  And house numbers aren’t just practical anymore, they’re full of charm as well – try something modern or something uniquely vintage for an easy, affordable new look.  Houzz features no shortage of house number inspiration.  Placing solar lighting around the edge or your entry will also give it a spruced up vibe.

Give Your Porch Some Charm – Adding a few architectural details to the porch you have now can take it to a whole new level.  Update those columns and railings, use some bead board on the ceiling or sides, add some brackets and hang some permanent lanterns.  Installing a ceiling fan or new lights can give even the ceiling of your front porch an updated look.  No porch to update?  Consider building a small platform with an accent roof at the top of your staircase like these homeowners did from our project feature last week.

Re-do Your Steps and Walkway – Concrete walkway giving away?  Maybe it’s time to replace your yellow brick road.  Consider flagstone for an earthy look, or natural square tiles to create a patio-style entrance, guiding visitors to your home sweet home.  Create a complementing look with your stairway as well.  Not ready to dive in that deep?  Try one of the new concrete cover-up paints to refresh the look in any color you please.  Read some tips on painting concrete here.

Go for a Complete Makeover – Perhaps even your siding needs an update.  Try something creative, like using a two-tone effect, different siding styles on the top and bottom of your home.  Add new posts, update that door, decorate galore, and make sure your walkway and porch are more welcoming than ever!  Click here for some great visual ideas for reviving your entire exterior from Better Homes & Gardens.

Whether you have a day, a week, or a month to add some cheer to the exterior of your home, here are some more great ideas, sure to inspire.  Now get outside and bring the exterior of your home to life while the weather is still good!

Need assistance updating the exterior of your home?  Get in touch with us here at Sass Construction for a consultation today!  Interior and exterior remodeling and building throughout Chanhassen, the West Metro, Minneapolis, and the Twin Cities, MN.

Wood and Composite Decking Materials | Twin Cities Deck Builder

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Ready to plan your new deck?  Visualizing the final result and knowing which materials to use are two very different parts of the process.

Though there are multiple types of decking material on the market today, here at Sass Construction we regularly work with both wood and composite, which offer a range of options within their categories.  Here we offer some helpful information for you on materials we regularly use and recommend:

Within the composite decking market, we recommend:

AzekAzek is a PVC decking that is 30-40% lighter than most composite decking.  A few of the benefits of this composite decking brand include:

  • Low maintenance
  • Minimized expansion and contraction
  • Mold resistant
  • Paintable

In regards to wood used to build decks, we have a few favorites too.  Different woods react differently to the elements and are some are easier to work with and more durable long term than others.  Here are four wood types we would recommend for a deck with a few details about each:

Tigerwood

  • You don’t have to refinish Tigerwood, but it is recommended that you oil it for the first few years
  • Harder and more durable than Pressure Treated Southern Pine, Cedar, and most other woods

Cedar

  • A soft wood that is often selected as a more affordable option to a composite or PVC
  • Lasts about 15-20 years if cleaned and treated properly
  • Should be cleaned and sealed every 2-3 yrs

Pressure Treated Southern Pine

  • Lasts about 15 years
  • Important that it is sealed well the first time after installation
  • After that, it is recommended the deck is cleaned and sealed about every 2-3 yrs

Ironwood

  • A very dense tropical hardwood
  • Lasts about 25 years
  • Costs a bit more than composite

Wood maintenance note: we do not recommend pressure washing a wood deck.  Only sand a deck (sanding will clean it).  Then seal with an oil-based sealer only — stay away from water-based alternatives.

Though the decking options on available today may seem overwhelming, these are the woods and brands we consistently recommend.  Start dreaming of your new deck today and contact us here at Sass Construction with questions or to start your Twin Cities deck, patio, or remodeling project!

Create the Perfect Outdoor Kitchen & Entertaining Space

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Now that beautiful weather has arrived here in Minnesota, we are anxious to get outdoors — and stay there!  Beautiful Outdoor Kitchen & PatioWhat better way to enjoy the weather than by bringing your kitchen outdoors for the summer!  From simple to luxurious, here are some fun ways to create a cooking, dining, and entertaining area right in your own backyard.

The Grill – Whether you prefer the old school charcoal method or the latest and greatest in gas grills, selecting a grill for your space is absolutely necessary to preparing and enjoying meals outdoors.  If you’re space is smaller, consider adding a rolling cart or tall table nearby your freestanding grill to help with preparation space.  If you’re looking to add a more elaborate backyard kitchen, then including a large built in grill along with stonework and a countertop area are a must.  For true outdoor kitchen inspiration, look to Better Homes & Gardens here.

Outdoor Fireplaces – Not just for keeping warm, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits can add entertaining ambiance, give off evening light, or just provide a place for roasting marshmallows.  If you’re building an outdoor kitchen, include one in the countertop arrangement to add height and variety to your luxury look.  If you’re keeping things simple, purchase a small portable fire pit and surround it with inviting seating.  For some beautiful ideas peak at these hgtv photos & these from BH&G.

Phantom Screens  – Do you have a covered patio area off your house that extends into or includes your outdoor eating area?  A phantom screen can be a great accent to your space.  Designed to keep insects at bay, provide shade from directly sunlight glare, and enhance your patio privacy, these motorized screens are simple to use, providing benefits without blocking your outdoor view!

Heaters  -  No need to take the conversation inside on a relaxing evening just because the temperature drops a bit.  Keep the outdoor ambiance strong and stay cozy at the same time with a portable outdoor heater.  Heaters are also fabulous accents to poolside setups for guests who are damp and need some extra help warming up.   Not sure what type of heater to get?  Read more here from the experts at hgtv.

Bar Area – Classy and practical, an outdoor bar area means less running in and out of the house as guests need beverages.  Affordable and decorative, you may want to use a simple rolling cart with drinks and glasses that you can maintain and restock each time you entertain outdoors.  If a more elaborate bar is in your plans, you can either purchase an outdoor bar as a freestanding furniture piece, or build one into your luxury countertop cooking space.  Houzz offers no shortage of outdoor bar ideas shown here.

Seating & Décor – Don’t forget to make your space visually appealing and comfortable as well.  Make sure you have lots of cozy seating, and consider benches for fitting multiple guests in a smaller space.  Add outdoor pillows as accents, and pots and vases in bright colors – and don’t forget freshly cut flowers from the garden!  For more ideas on stylish touches for your space look to the inspiration of BH&G here.

Wishing you a beautiful season of cooking and entertaining while the weather is at it’s best!

Ready to add a patio, deck, or some outdoor brickwork?  Need help with your outdoor kitchen construction plans?  Connect with us here at Sass Construction for Twin Cities / West Metro / Chanhassen remodeling and building help today!

Home Projects to do Now Before Summer Arrives!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Yep, we’re all antsy for summertime here in Minnesota, but making good use of your spring now can enhance your summer experience that much more.  Here are some home projects you can tackle now to be ready for the long awaited summer:Spring Yard & Home Projects

Windows  –  Springtime is the perfect transitional season for putting in new windows, once we’re finally ready to let some air in.  Installing new windows now will help keep your home cooler this summer (and warmer next winter).  Adding new windows will not only improve the look and feel of your home, it can benefit your pocketbook, as ENERY STAR rated windows provide as much as a 30 percent reduction in energy use.  As summer approaches and the sun stays around longer each night, beautiful new windows will also bring a welcoming ambiance to your home’s interior.

Patios & Decks  –  Come summer, everyone in Minnesota is ready to get outside; but wouldn’t summer be that much sweeter with a new deck or patio to enjoy?  Making your deck and patio plans now will mean that installation can begin before summer grilling season does.  With more product choices for your deck than ever (treated wood, cedar, or composite), designing a durable retreat space for your family is worth the effort before summer begins.  Planning your outdoor space?  Read here for some more ideas from HGTV.

Siding  –  Whether you’re simply not in love with the color of your home or your old siding has taken a beating and needs a serious upgrade, it may be the perfect time to replace your home’s siding.  Vinyl siding has come a long way in recent years and new options for homeowners are bountiful.  New sidings, such as fiber cement from Hardie Plank and polymeric cladding from Everlast are even more durable than vinyl, designed to stand up to the harshest weather.  While you’re at it, upgrade your home’s insulation, an effective barrier for storing air, hot or cool.

Entries & Mudrooms  –  Summertime means lots of moving between the outside and in!  Is your entryway ready for the extra storage, gardening boots, and kid traffic the outdoor season will bring?  Update your entryway or mudroom now to include coat hooks, a bench for shoes (& sitting), and ample storage, such as cubbies or cabinetry.  Also make sure all door hinges are ready for the extra swinging and give them a good dose of oil if need be.  Need some fabulous mudroom makeover ideas?  Check out these!

——————————————————————-

Need assistance with spring home remodeling projects in the Twin Cities or West Metro area?  Check in with us here at Sass Construction to get started on your home remodel project or addition today!

Why a Bigger Remodel Might Just Be Better: 4 Reasons to Remodel Multiple Rooms in Your Home at the Same Time

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

If remodeling part of your home seems like a daunting task, then remodeling more than one room at a time may seem even more overwhelming.  But in reality, there are a lot of great reasons to undertake more than one remodeling project at a time.  If your home needs a few changes, read on to see why making them all at once might just be the best decision you can make:remodeling MN

1. Less Mess
Remodeling projects generally kick up a lot of dust.  They often require a dumpster to be present at your home.  And living with piles of boards and paint cans isn’t generally the type of home decorating you want long term.  So why invite a second bout of clutter and deal with more dust later when you’re ready to tackle “the other room”?  Utilize that dumpster for more than one project and get it out of the driveway for good instead!  Live with the inconvenience one time around while remodeling multiple rooms and be done with the mess all in one shot.

2. Better Use of Time
Remodeling projects done simultaneously are ultimately going to be finished quicker than tackling them separately.  Sure adding a bathroom remodel to that kitchen upgrade will stretch the whole project out a tad, but with a crew already there and materials already being ordered, adding on an additional room is really just an extension of what is already being handled.  Plus it’s a better use of your own time as well — all those trips to the home store or afternoons spent picking out paint colors are doing double duty and won’t have to be repeated.  Using your time wisely also means enjoying your remodel sooner.  What fun is a beautiful new kitchen if you’re avoiding the outdated dining room and living room nearby?

3. Less Cost Overall
No doubt, the more rooms you remodel, the higher the cost.  But in the end, doing them at one time will save you money over remodeling them separately.  With the plumber, tile layer, or electrician already involved, you’ll save money over having them come out for an entirely separate project.  Creating your design all at once may also prove a better value, allowing you to tackle all hurdles at once rather than running into new ones that could have been avoided as you remodel and design rooms individually.

4. Better Home Value
Yes, remodeling that kitchen of yours will increase the value of your home.  In fact, according to the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report 2013 a minor kitchen remodel in the Midwest is predicted to bring you a hefty 75.4% return on your remodeling investment.  However, savvy buyers are going to have a hard time looking past the crowded mudroom they walk through on the way to your beautiful new space, or that outdated bathroom off the remodeled kitchen.  Showcasing more than one remodeled space makes for a better impression and higher bids once your house is on the market.

Ultimately if your home needs an update, it’s worth putting the time and money into multiple spaces now in order to save time and money later.  Not to mention the amazing outcome of a fresh new look for your entire home, adding ease and ambiance to your family’s lifestyle.

——————————————————————————————-

Sass Construction specializes in remodeling and building projects in the Twin Cities / West Metro area of MN.  Located in Chanhassen, we are your local, full-service remodeling team, completing affordable, safe remodels for over 30 years.  Contact us to inquire about your remodeling project today!

Spring Home Checklist: Getting the Exterior of Your Home Ready for Spring

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

As we start to see those tulips pop through the snow, Spring Home Checklist / Tulips in Snow MNwe know that spring is on its way!  As a homeowner, spring means it’s time to double check the exterior of your home for any damage that may have occurred over the winter.

Freezing temps and excessive snow can cause various types of damage to the exterior of your home.  Taking the time to complete a spring home checklist will help you catch small problems as they arise, and potentially avoid larger more costly repairs later.

Spring Home Checklist:

Siding
It’s a good idea to clean siding with a pressure washer to keep mold from growing.  Take the time to check any wood surfaces (including decks) for weather damage and peeling or worn-off paint.  If wood is showing through, it may be susceptible to rot and mold.  To remedy, sand or scrape loose the area and apply a waterproof primer coat before painting.

Gutters
It’s important to check your gutters for any debris or corrosion, and also look for joint or fastener problems.  You’ll want to pull leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts, and reattach gutters that have pulled away from the house.  To check for proper drainage, you can run a hose on the roof and watch where the water goes.  If you discover leaks, dry the area and use caulking or epoxy to seal the leak.  Make sure you also flush out the downspouts and clear leader pipes, which should extend at least five feet away from your home’s foundation.

Shingles
Get on that roof! (Or hire a professional to do it for you).  In the long run, preventing leaks and making proper roof repairs will be worth the effort.  Check your roof for discoloration, loose, cracked, curled, or missing shingles, mold, and rust.  You may want to inspect your rafters, ceilings, and interior walls for any signs of leaks as well.  Make sure all shingle repairs are done accurately and that any leaks are stopped before simply patching the problem.

Roof Vents
Roof vents, such as exhaust fan openings, bath and stove vents, and of course chimneys need to be inspected thoroughly.  Home leaks are most likely to occur around an inadequately flashed chimney, skylight, or other roof opening.  Check the flashing around them to ensure they don’t leak as the snow is melting on your home, which will also serve to prepare your home as we approach the rainy season of spring and summer.  Make sure all roof vents are properly secured, not just hanging on, which can cause excessive damage later.  Also, don’t forget to look for any animal nests that may have popped up in your chimney or pipes!

Need home remodeling or restoration solutions?  Contact us at Sass Construction in the Minneapolis / West Metro / Chanhassen, MN area for affordable and safe solutions to your needs!

New Windows! Understanding the Home Energy Savings of Energy-Efficient Windows

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Shopping for new windows for your home?  Then energy efficiency is probably at the top of your list!  New, energy-efficient windows eventually pay for themselves and can help minimize your heating, cooling, and lighting costs.  You can gain as much as a 30 percent reduction in energy use and boost your curb appeal at the same time!  Some energy companies, such as Alliant Energy, even offer rebates for each new energy-efficient window you install.

Here we want to give you some details on what to look for as you’re shopping for new, energy-friendly windows.

1. How do we identify the efficiency of a window?Window

Windows can lose heat in 4 ways:

  • Conduction
  • Radiation
  • Air Leakage
  • Convection

Based on these factors, a window is assigned a U-factor to help you identify its efficiency.  The U-factor represents the rate at which the window conducts non-solar heat flow.  The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the window.

2. How does the style of the window effect efficiency?
What parts of a window are most important in making it energy efficient?  All if it!  Glazing features used on the windowpane as well as the frame itself both make a difference.

Glazing reduces winter condensation and helps reduce solar heat gain.  Sophisticated technology has made glazing very dynamic over the last few years.  Glazing options may include:

  • Single glazed
  • Double glazed
  • Double glazed, low-E coating
  • Double glazed, low-E argon gas filled
  • Triple Glazed, two low-E coatings, argon-gas filled

Your window frames can make a significant difference as well!  Approximately 46% of manufactured windows are made with wood frames, 36% with Hollow Vinyl, and 17% with aluminum.  Choose your window frame material carefully.  Though wood windows are the most expensive, they aren’t necessarily the highest quality or best fit for you.  Wood windows often involve more maintenance and can be subject to rot, shrinking, and swelling in certain conditions.  Read more about the pros and cons of window frame options here.

3. Why does my climate make a difference in what windows I choose?
Don’t forget that you want your windows to be efficient in both hot and cold weather, based on where you live.  Here in Minnesota, we have both extreme summers and winters to think about.  Understanding the Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) will help you decide what type of window is best for your climate and window orientation.  High SHGC ratings are more effective at collecting heat during the winter and low SHGC ratings are more effective at blocking heat during the summer.

With so many options and variables to understand, it makes sense to weigh your options before making a final decision on which windows are the best fit for your home.  One thing is certain however, replacing your current windows with high-efficiency windows will ultimately produce home energy savings, benefiting the environment and lowering your energy bill!

Selecting the Right Tile for Your Kitchen Backsplash (part 2 of 2)

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

So you’re trying to decide what kitchen backsplash tile is right for your home…  Last week we talked about the first three steps in narrowing down your backsplash tile:

1. Knowing your tile options…
2. Considering your tile needs…
3. Deciding on the overall look and feel you want for your kitchen backsplash…

This week we’re going to get further into the details, talk about patterns, and understand how to avoid mistakes.  Our final two suggestions for deciding on your kitchen backsplash tile are:

4. Consider Solid Repetition vs a Pattern
Do you want a fresh, monochromatic repetition of all the same tile, or would you prefer a pattern or accent border?  If you opt for a design, look for tiles that come with accent pieces and colors.  Sketch out the layout you want clearly, or borrow the expertise of your designer or remodeler to help you create a design that is impacting, balanced, and also practical in how it will be installed.  Some manufacturers, like Crossville, offer tools like their Backsplash Builder to help you layout your design.

5. Be Savvy with the Details
Whether you plan to order your own tile from a supplier or are connecting with your remodeler on the project, be aware of these potential issues:

  • Confirm that the tile you want to use is thick or thin enough to install on the wall you have to work with.
  • Don’t forget trim pieces  –  you may need a corner trim or edging.
  • Make sure your pieces coordinate in glaze and finish.  Try to purchase your tile all from one batch to avoid batch discrepancies.
  • Be prepared to wait if your tile is not in stock.  Set aside time to make your decisions and order far enough in advance that it won’t set your remodeling project behind.

Creating a beautiful kitchen backsplash, whether it be with neutral tones of natural stone or a colorful pattern of painted tile, is an exciting part of your kitchen remodel and ultimately reflects your own style and the style and needs of your home.  Choose what you love, plan ahead, and double check the details.  In the end you’ll have a successfully installed kitchen focal point that you will enjoy for years to come!

Sass Construction loves helping homeowners fall in love with their home all over again.  Whether you want to add a stunning kitchen backsplash or do a complete kitchen remodel, contact us today to get the answers you need to get started.