Should You Remodel?

Houses built during the boom that seemed new are now pushing ten years or more of age. That’s not old for a house by any means, but updating for whatever reason, whether it’s for reselling purposes or reflecting your tastes and lifestyle, involves a careful thought process. Residential remodeling may not be rocket science, but it’s a lot more difficult than some of the remodeling shows on television lead you to believe.

One way to start is to look at Remodeling magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value report. As a rule, remodeling projects don’t return a dollar-for-dollar value when you re-sell, especially in the short term. Some projects do have a fair return, such as siding replacement with fiber cement (and so do steel front doors). Over the years, kitchen remodels have fair returns, whereas large projects, such as swimming pools, do not.

But dollar return isn’t the only consideration, since people have emotional attachments to their homes. Lifestyle changes, such as a better job, children getting older, kids moving out, and so on happen as life goes on. But understanding how much bang you get for your buck is still a good place to begin.

Once you’ve decided what work you want, be sure to develop a Scope of Work, which describes in detail the work being done. Even something as simple as window replacement should have a Scope of Work of some kind, since they all have different installation instructions, screw and nail requirements, and flashing types.

If you’re not working with an architect or interior designer, meet with your contractor and develop the Scope. Yes, it will take some time, but the payoff is important. It will help the owner focus on the details of the project and create an accurate budget. It helps the contractor get better bids than he otherwise would. And it helps both owner and contractor stay on the same page, not just for the contract, but during the progress of the job.

What owners should absolutely avoid is telling a contractor, especially one they don’t know, what they want, and then ask for a price. It sounds straightforward enough to say, for example, that you’d like your bathroom updated with a new shower, double sinks, a low-flush toilet, and tile. You really need to get into the details of, say a Grohe or Koko brand shower head, and apply the same thinking to all the fixtures. You even should know in advance such details as whether or not the toilet paper holders will be built in and the exact kind of tile. Ask if the contractor will produce shop and working drawings, and say goodbye if the answer is no.

Homeowners considering residential remodeling projects have consulted with us for years, and if you have something large or small, contact us

Two Things You Don’t Know About New Home Construction

As a custom home builder, we have worked with countless customers on new home construction projects. There is always an excitement in the air as the customer finally gets a home that is customized and made to suit the individual or family. Yet there are two decisions that these folks are frequently not prepared to make. Do you know what they are?

Do You Want this Lot or the One Down the Street?

Selecting the right location for your new home is more important than you think. There is more to this choice than selecting the right ZIP code, neighborhood and closeness to amenities. For example, one lot will cause your home’s bedrooms to face the rising sun. If you are early risers, this is not a problem. Another lot’s setup on the same street causes the sunrise to send the first rays of light through your kitchen window. If you are a breakfast aficionado but like to sleep in occasionally, this is a great idea. In another scenario, your bedroom windows may face the street or the neighbor’s deck. Which would you prefer?

Custom Millwork, Paint Colors and Closets – oh My!

New home construction makes it possible to build a home that fulfills all of your needs and plenty of your wants. Sometimes, customers are astonished at the sheer volume of choices they get to make. This is a far cry from selecting one of three model home floor plans. Spend some time discussing such things as closet space – sizes and layouts – and millwork as well as paint schemes with your family. These are the types of decisions that you do not want to have to make by yourself and on the spot.

Working with the Right Professionals Matters

The professionals at J. Schmidt Homes understand that building your dream home calls for decisions that you may not be prepared to make right then and there. For this reason, our custom home builder walks you through the project at your pace. Enjoy the confidence of seeing your dream home take shape, one decision at a time. With an in-house realtor service, lot selection becomes a snap. We show you how your dream home will fit on the lots that you have your eye on. Once you have all the facts, making decisions is actually fun! Contact us today to start on your journey to a customized home.

Realtor Service Experts Find the Ideal Location for Your Custom Home

Working with your custom home builder, you have put together a property plan that incorporates all the must-haves of your dream home. The proposed structure will have the bedrooms needed to give everyone space. It will feature the creature comforts your family enjoys. In addition, it gives you the visual aesthetics you crave. Finding the ideal location for your custom home is now up to your realtor service experts.

Location Does Matter

You already know the adage that it is all about “location, location, location.” While you may have been willing to make some compromises when buying your last home, you are not willing to do so when you have a custom home built. In addition to finding a place for your home that is budget friendly, consider also the school district, the distance to shopping venues and the recreational options that the neighborhood supports.

Looking Beyond the Stats

A seasoned expert helps you to see the neighborhood through the eyes of a resident. Learn more about it than the stats sheet offers. Perhaps you are retired, an empty nester or are starting out with a young family. Building your home in a community with like-minded neighbors and those who are at similar stages in life adds to the overall enjoyment you will experience in this setting.

Positioning Your Home

It sounds odd, but remember that you want to have gorgeous views from your windows. When purchasing the piece of land where you will build, have your expert help you with the positioning of the structure. If the views are at odds with the setup of the home or the streets, even the most idyllic parcel will not work well unless you are willing to compromise. It takes an industry insider to combine your preferred floor plan with a site that supports its setup as well as the neighborhood amenities you desire.

At J. Schmidt Homes’ Realtor Services, we understand not just the custom building aspect of your project, but we also specialize in finding you the right location where to erect the structure. Contact us today to discuss your home building needs with our friendly experts.

Tenant Build-outs: Making the Most of Your TIA

The tenant improvement allowance (TIA) is one of the most carefully negotiated clauses in a commercial lease agreement. It specifies the funds the landlord is willing to allocate to your alterations of the space, which then make it suitable for your business. After all, a cross fit gym has different spatial requirements than a call center or a bank. How can you make the most of the allowance for tenant build-outs and avoid unduly tapping into your own resources?

Work with Industry Insiders

While the new hotshot in the trade may have wowed other companies with innovative designs and finishes, remember that industry insiders have used their decades in the business to build relationships. These professional relationships frequently result in preferred pricing for materials and sometimes also subcontractor labor. In addition, the established builders can create an innovative look just as easily as the newcomer to the trade – but you pay less for the privilege.

Gauge Success by Timeliness

The trick to making the most of your TIA is the builder’s ability to get the project done on time. While the remodeling is taking place, you are probably already commissioning signage that specifies an opening date and placing ads that invite neighbors to your grand opening. Concurrently, you are also working to hire staff members for the location. If your builder is known for completing tenant build-outs on time (or early), you are in good hands. Check the professional’s track record before you make your selection.

Getting Started on Your Project

A successful build-out begins with a consultation. This is the time that your chosen builder will discuss your spatial needs, budget and timelines. Since customization is a key element for this type of project, be prepared to make decisions that involve the removal or addition of walls, alterations to the plumbing, and structural changes that affect sanitary drainage, fire protection and exit points. Contact us today for more information on tenant build-outs and related commercial construction.

Top 3 Questions to Ask Your Residential Remodeling Contractor

Choosing a residential remodeling contractor is a big step. Whether you are undertaking extensive home renovations, a bathroom remodeling project, or custom millwork additions, finding the right professional has the potential to make a huge difference in your enjoyment of the finished project. It can also save you quite a bit of time and money.

There are three questions to ask your remodeling contractor.

  1. Are you an industry insider? An insider has formed working relationships with a broad range of suppliers, contractors and other professionals. This benefits you because it results in favorable material pricing, accurate estimating and realistic scheduling of your project.
  2. Do I need a permit? With the exception of a few handyman-type jobs, the majority of home renovations may need one or more permits. A seasoned remodeling contractor knows this and should have a process in place, which ensures that permits are pulled and work is scheduled with inspections factored into the flow of the labor.
  3. How long have you been in business? Although everyone has to start sometime, you do not want your kitchen-remodeling project to be a remodeling specialist’s first job. The longer a company has been in business, the better its professional reputation is likely to be. A company that does not pay its bills, does shoddy work or fails to finish on budget and on time is unlikely to stay in business for more than a couple of years. Look for a time frame that is measured in decades.

At J. Schmidt Homes, we believe that our ranking among lead-free EPA certified firms and feature on Houzz bespeak our expertise, workmanship and quality of customer service. Contact us today for more information on our remodeling and home building services.



New Home Construction: Is an Open Floor Plan Right for You?

Are you in the process of working with a designer on your new home construction? If so, then certainly this can be an exciting process, but what you’ve also probably noticed by this point is that there are so many decisions to be made. When it comes to your main living spaces, your designer probably wants to know whether you’d like an open or closed floor plan. While open floor plans are extremely popular in new builds today, it’s a good idea to weigh the potential pros and cons before you decide what’s best for your needs.

Pro: More Conducive to Entertaining

Perhaps the biggest advantage of an open floor plan is that it’s more conducive to entertaining; when you have people over, people in the kitchen can easily communicate with people in the living room and vice versa. Furthermore, with an open floor plan, the space doesn’t feel disjointed like a closed floor plan often does.

Con: Less Privacy and More Noise

Of course, fewer walls in an open space also means less privacy and more noise, especially when you’re not entertaining guests. Because there are fewer walls in an open space, sounds will have a greater capacity to travel and echo. If you’re the type of person who values your privacy/peace and quiet, then you may want to think twice before opting for an open floor plan home.

Pro: Better Sight Lines Throughout Home

Many parents of small children enjoy open floor plans because they give moms and dads the ability to keep an eye on their children more easily. For example, mom or dad may be in the kitchen preparing dinner, but can still have sight lines to the children playing in the living room or dining area. The same simply cannot be said of a closed floor plan.

Con: More Challenging to Decorate

Finally, open floor plans can be slightly more challenging to decorate. Because an open floor plan consists of separate living spaces that blend together, finding a way to incorporate a seamless design from one space to the next proves difficult for some homeowners. It may be necessary to bring in an interior design specialist to help make the right decisions in this regard.

Still not sure if an open floor plan is right for you? Have further questions about your new home design? We invite you to contact us today for the professional assistance you’re looking for.

Tips for a Successful Tenant Build-Out Project

Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, there are a number of factors to consider when approaching a build-out. It is important to understand all the issues before beginning construction. This helps to avoid potential problems in the future. Comprehension of the agreement and planning the details saves time and money. Here are a few tips to assist with tenant build-outs.


Both parties need to be fully informed of the details in a build-out agreement. A construction agreement should include the following information:

  • Describe what improvements are to be made.
  • Define who will deliver and pay for the improvements.
  • Provide a timeline of when the project will reach completion.
  • Determine finishes (standard or above standard).
  • Outline the cap on construction costs, if one exists.

Project manager option

Some people choose to hire a project manager. This person oversees the construction process and can help to avoid conflict between the tenant and the landlord. A project manager handles the following:

  • Scheduling
  • Budget
  • Permits
  • Plans
  • Vendor selection
  • Installation

Your design team

It is helpful to bring everyone together early in the planning phase. This includes the architect or engineer and the contractor. Having everyone on the board early helps estimate costs and time. Issues are dealt with before construction begins, avoiding delays and unexpected costs. It is recommended that you build a solid design team and do so early in the construction process. Communication is key to a successful outcome.

Take the necessary time to plan your tenant build-out. Make sure all details are clearly outlined for all parties involved. This will give you optimal results. Contact us for more information and assistance. 

Tips for Choosing the Finishing Touches with New Construction

When you buy a new construction home, your first considerations involve the architectural style, layout and size of the home. For many people buying new construction in Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky, the new home building process culminates with the interior finishes selection. The finishing touches are often a powerful design statement that either overpowers the architectural style or enhances your vision for the home. According to an article by, design details let you express your personality. One of the special bonuses of buying a new construction home is the fact that you can control everything from the flooring in the guest bathroom to the size of the kitchen cabinet pulls. Orchestrating the details is less daunting with the help of an experienced home builder such as J. Schmidt Homes. By following a few tips, you will select the best finishing touches for your custom home.

Collecting ideas

After choosing a particular architectural style, begin collecting ideas, color samples and photographs of your favorite design features. Some of the choices you can make when building a custom home include the doors, appliances, trim, flooring, molding, countertops, cabinets, lighting and plumbing figures. Some homebuyers pull out fabric swatches for drapes to make sure the style doesn’t clash with other interior finishes. Although you don’t have to select furniture until after closing, some people like to buy the furniture for their new home to use as staging props for their current home that’s listed for sale.

Setting a budget

Talk to your homebuilder about the budget for interior design finishes. Your builder is able to get you a better deal on cabinetry, floors and other interior selections because of buying power and contacts. A new construction builder provides you with the help you need so you aren’t spending thousands of dollars on a private designer.

Staying on trend

It is important to buy kitchen backsplash materials and choose colors that are on-trend but not trendy. Trendy design features go out of style in one to two years, while someone on trend typically lasts at least a decade. For example, the modern look of stainless steel continues to shine as a home selling point even after decades of popularity.

The best advice for new homebuyers is to keep it fun when planning for a new construction home. By sticking to classic details, you preserve your home’s value. At J. Schmidt Homes, we take pride being a custom home builder who helps clients in the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati area. For more information on design detail ideas for your custom home, please contact us.

Interviewing Custom Home Builders? Ask About Custom Millwork!

If you are thinking of building your dream home from scratch, you are in good company. Plenty of folks are looking for a custom home builder to make their dreams of the ideal family home become a reality. Yet before you sign on the dotted line with the first professional who sends a flyer to your address, ask about custom millwork.

Why Millwork?

It seems like such a small thing. After all, molding and paneling is something that you pick up at the big box home improvement store. Rarely does a homeowner consider the impact of bed molding or crown molding on the overall look and feel of a home. Yet it is the serious custom home builder who realizes that paying attention to these details makes a huge difference in the overall satisfaction you experience with your new home after moving in.

Is Molding Really a Big Deal?

Did you know that shelf edge molding is something your home builder can put over the built-in book shelf edges that you commissioned for the family room? Customize the look to help set the tone for the room. Do you favor a minimalist approach? Perhaps you like a more ornate appearance that goes with your ranch-style décor. This very same shelf edge molding is also used to affix your screen to the screen door. When your porch opens up to the family room, using this same customized millwork is an excellent method of providing visual continuity of the look and putting your personality into another aspect of the structure.

Why work with a builder who does not worry too much about the custom millwork? When you decide that it is time to see your home dream become a reality, work with someone who considers the details of the job. At J. Schmidt Homes, we handle all the custom aspects of your home construction. From the size of the home to its location and budget (and the millwork), our professionals work hard to transform your dream into a reality. Contact us today for more information and to get started on your design.


3 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Realtor Service

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in the near future, then you’ll want to work closely with a Realtor service every step of the way. This way, you can ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible and enjoy professional guidance from your Realtor as needed. Before you select a Realtor to work with, however there are some questions worth asking in an initial consultation that will help you find the right fit for your needs.

“Will You Handle Every Aspect?”

When you work with a Realtor, it’s beneficial if you can have one point of contact throughout your entire buying or selling process. Some Realtors, however, may have assistants or other agents that they will delegate certain tasks to. If this is something that would bother you, consider asking a prospective Realtor whether he or she will handle every aspect of your real estate transaction. This will help give you a better idea of what to expect.

“How Many Buyers/Sellers Are You Working With Right Now?”

Another good question to ask a prospective Realtor is how many clients he or she is working with at this point in time. Generally, the most successful Realtors also tend to be the busiest, but it’s important to make sure that a Realtor isn’t so busy that he or she won’t have enough time to dedicate to you. If your Realtor is working with a lot of clients right now, be sure to ask about what you can expect in terms of communication; how often will you hear from him or her, and how long should you expect to wait for a response to an e-mail or message?

“Is Your License in Good Standing?”

Last but not least, it’s important to ensure that the Realtor’s license is in good standing. In most cases, it will be, and this is not something you will have to worry much about. However, it never hurts to double check by checking the Realtor’s name through your state’s Department of Real Estate. This will help give you added peace of mind in making a decision.

Choosing the right Realtor can make all the difference in your real estate experience. If you’re looking for a team that’s dedicated, experienced, and knowledgeable, be sure to contact us today.