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

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.



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. 

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.


Residential Remodeling Ideas to Sell Your Starter Home and Buy New

Some people love watching home improvement shows about people who fall back in love with their home after a residential remodeling job. While some people decide to love their home, others realize their home is worth so much more after home improvements that they can afford a step-up home. By working with a custom home builder who also handles residential remodeling, you can enjoy a seamless experience fixing up your starter home to sell and planning for a new home. The first step is to figure out the best resale value remodels for your home in Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky. According to a recent article by, people who remodel their home to sell need to stay focused on limited home improvement dollars.

  • Updating a kitchen

If you have an old, outdated kitchen, you can increase the value of your home. Prioritize according to the return on the investment as opposed to your design tastes since your goal is to sell. An article by HGTV says people spend the most money in the kitchen and baths. Experts suggest sticking with traditional wood cabinets, stone countertops and sleek appliances.

  • Adding square footage

Another good place to spend your remodeling dollars is on more living space. HGTV suggest adding new living room space, but other wise moves include a second master bedroom suite with adjoining bathroom addition and walk-in closet. With the multi-generational household trend, you can add living space for large families to appeal to buyers with aging parents or adult children. Even if you don’t add a new master bedroom, consider remodeling the one you already have.

Other important ways to spend your remodeling dollars include replacing old showers and tubs with modern glass or stylish ceramic tiles and changing out toilet bowls, sinks, vanities and lighting fixtures. According to, don’t waste your renovation dollars on kids’ spaces that are often too personalized. Pools and wine rooms are great if you plan to stay put, but not if your intention is to sell.

At J. Schmidt Homes, we can help you figure out the best way to remodel your existing home in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as well as plan a custom dream home that’s perfect for your family. For more information on our residential remodeling services, please contact us.

4 Tips for Keeping Residential Remodeling Projects on Budget and on Time

As experts in the residential remodeling and custom home building business, the pros at J. Schmidt Homes understand that adherence to a strict budget and timeline are crucial aspects of a successful project. In fact, we have discovered that there are four tips that keep virtually all home remodels on time as well as on budget.

Decide on the Details Early On

You want to remodel the guest bathroom. Great! Staying on budget can be as simple as discussing ahead of time if you want to go for a designer look that commercially available materials can offer or if you want to use custom-made products from local artisans. These details affect the budget of your project and – to a certain degree – the timeline.

Plan on Surprises

Adding an extra ten to 20 percent to your budget is always a good idea. This is even more important when you are undertaking home remodels because of fire or water damage. In addition to the obvious damage done to your property, there is the hidden damage that does not immediately become obvious until we open up walls or remove soiled materials.

Keep it Inexpensive but not Cheap

There is a huge difference between buying cheap materials and opting for inexpensive ones. The latter offer you a great value for the money. We routinely work with our clients to get excellent deals on a wide variety of remodeling or new construction materials. Since we have been in business for a long time, we have built countless relationships in the industry and know to anticipate bargains before other contractors do.

Stick to the Plan (as much as possible)

There will be times when you change your mind. You walk through the eclectic home goods store and simply fall in love with a vintage sink, a claw foot tub or the type of stove that your grandmother had in the old country. No problem! Yet when you change your mind on design plans quite frequently, you rack up extras to your budget. In addition, these changes take time to realize, which makes it difficult to stick to the timeline.

We know that you have plenty of questions about residential remodeling and project budgeting. Contact us today for more information on these and our other services.

Points to Consider When Insuring A Green Home Built by Your Custom Home Builder

The rise in green living has caused quite a few industries to scramble to catch up. This includes the insurance industry, one of the slowest industries to embrace new technologies and ideas. The insurance industry is about risk. It’s about embracing that which prevents it from paying out for an accident. When the Affordable Care Act was enacted, the insurance industry gazed in wonder at a new system about which it had no information whatsoever. Premiums were frightful the first years of the Act, because there was nothing to which to compare them. Now the system has evened out somewhat with premiums settling to a more workable level.

The beginning of green building practices is another subject about which the insurance industry had little information. Some years later, there is basis for comparison, which means premiums and policies have been adjusted. For example, homeowners wishing to live in green structures may take out a policy insuring existing green things like Energy Star appliances, energy efficient windows and doors as well as energy and water saving innovations. Another policy may be taken out by homeowners wishing to replace their present domicile with a green home from a custom home builder if anything happens to them. These policies will be a little expensive, but somewhat less than replacing a monstrous carbon footprint structure.

Going Green

Homeowners ready to remodel their Lebanon or Cincinnati structures think about going green. In addition to energy saving windows and doors as well as Energy Star appliances, there is siding to consider. The sticks with which the house was built might not be green, but homeowners can always work around that. For example, siding the house in fiber cement is a green practice that will net the homeowner years of attractive siding with little to no upkeep. Fiber cement is made of sand, cement and often recycled wood fibers. It is water-resistant, fire-resistant, weather-resistant and termite-resistant. It can be devised to look like wood, stucco or vinyl siding in any color or stain the homeowner finds attractive. It’s a little more expensive than other types of siding, but it lasts darn near forever. It’s great insulation, too.

Other Green Building Practices

Another remodel project that thrills insurance companies is green roofing. When they don’t have to pay out on hurricane or tornado damages, they love it. Modern green roofing materials include recycled steel or aluminum in 75 percent of the roof. This is great for saving energy as well as making the roof just about impregnable. Here, fire resistance is another facet of green building about which insurance companies are concerned.

More Fire-Resistant Information

Homes are often breeding grounds for bacteria and germs that cause respiratory troubles in susceptible family members. Asthma and allergy symptoms appear when the HVAC unit needs to be replaced. This is also a fire hazard, because older units are not energy efficient and often cause house fires. Homeowners’ power bills will decrease with the installation of an energy efficient HVAC unit in addition to lower insurance premiums. The family will be healthier and the house won’t catch on fire.

LEED Certified Homes

Green homes following Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEEDS guidelines often receive discounts on homeowners insurance. Some innovations in green building are not covered by every insurance company, although most are seeing the light. States differ in their certifications, so homeowners seeking LEED certification should check with Ohio building codes offices. Insurance companies embracing green building practices include AIG, Travelers Insurance, Nationwide and State Farm, to name a few. In fact, homeowners driving hybrid cars could get a bundle price on their insurance products.

Now that homeowners and those wishing to build a green home know a little about insuring them, it’s time to locate a green-savvy custom builder. J. Schmidt Homes has you covered. Buyers will have every choice and every chance to consider costs in green materials as they build a green, energy efficient custom home that will be the envy of all who see it. 

Hot Trends in Flooring for Your New Construction Home or Remodel

flooringWhether you hire an experienced builder for a luxurious new construction home or to update your existing home, flooring defines your home’s aesthetic. Many new construction homes in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas have hard and soft surfaces throughout. When renovating or building, choose colors that blend and complement the interior design. According to a recent piece by, the styles for flooring choices are always changing. As a homeowner, you can embrace or discard the latest flooring trends for new construction depending if you have pets, children or aging relatives living in the home who need non-slip flooring.

  • Dark hardwood flooring

Dark flooring isn’t the right choice if you have light-colored pets, but it’s extremely hot to choose ebony stains. Experts point out other downsides of the darker colors is that they show scratches. Another option is gray hardwood now that interior designers call gray the “new neutral.” If you want a lighter color, choose white washed floors that remind you of a country home.

  • Wide plank flooring

A rustic interior design appeals to many people living in Ohio or Kentucky. Wide plank flooring makes a space feel more modern as well as rustic. When customizing your new construction home, ask about increasing the width of your wood planks by just a few inches.

  • Earth-friendly flooring

One of the most common “green” flooring choices is bamboo because it’s one of the fastest growing hardwoods. Many lines of bamboo mimic the look of other hardwoods. Other earth-friendly choices include reclaimed wood from antique floors and old beams.

  • New twists on the old

If you want to impress your guests with stunning floors, consider large format tiles in sizes such as 12″ X 24″ and 36″ X 36″. Another new twist on an old favorite is a cork floor in new colors. Luxury vinyl also comes in new patters and colors. If you want carpet for the bedrooms, get as creative with the colors and fibers as you want.

At J. Schmidt Homes, we help you choose all of the design elements for your custom home in the Greater Cincinnati area and Northern Kentucky. Let us know what kind of look you hope to achieve and we’ll help you elevate your lifestyle. For more ideas about new construction flooring and features, please contact us.

Custom Home Builder’s Tips for a Timeless, Contemporary Kitchen

Kitchens are the hub of any home, which is why kitchen design decisions become paramount when building a custom home. Your custom home builder will advise you on how to create a timeless kitchen look so your new construction home doesn’t seem outdated in just a few years. When working with your home builder in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, get inspired by home improvement shows, other new homes and kitchen design images online. According to an article by, contemporary kitchen trends don’t necessarily conflict with a timeless look. It’s all about bringing in high-tech and electronic features with classic materials and finishes that never go out of style.

A smart kitchen

Your kitchen isn’t just a place to cook and sample different dishes. It’s also an area for entertaining and gathering with family. In addition to custom cabinets that automatically close, consider a wall-mounted high-definition television, a coffee machine enabled by your smart phone or tablet.

Warm metallic materials

After more than a decade of the stainless steel trendy, design experts suggest warming up your Midwest home with gold, copper and bronze. You can incorporate the materials in kitchen cabinet pulls and knobs, faucets and even backsplashes.

An open, airy feel

To achieve an open and airy feel in your kitchen consider using open shelving. Open shelving is popular with the farmhouse kitchen look, but can work in a contemporary kitchen. Another way to make the kitchen more open is to opt for a mobile kitchen island. People who like the industrial look choose islands with steel wheels and stainless countertops.

Whether you are relying on a custom home builder to construct a new home or to remodel your existing one, focus on ways to add excitement to your kitchen space. A recent article by Huffington Post says you can make your kitchen less boring with more color, a see-through dishwasher, mixed metals and blackened stainless steel appliances.

At J. Schmidt Homes, we are a custom home builder committed to our new home clients in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas. Let us help you design the kitchen and home of your dreams. For more information and ideas for your custom home, please contact us.


Residential Remodeling: Boosting Home Value by Staying On Trend

When it comes time to sell your home in Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky, it pays to look into residential remodeling ideas that are on trend. Most experts recommend reserving any far-out or overly creative remodels for smaller space such a guest bathroom. Choosing an on trend, timeless and tasteful remodel for your kitchen and master bathroom will likely substantially increase the value of your home. According to an article by, the average kitchen renovation that includes replacing all the appliances, cabinets, floor and adding a kitchen island costs about $56,000. A minor kitchen remodel could cost around $20,000. Experts say you’ll recoup between 68 and 78 percent of the cost of renovating a kitchen, but it could also mean the difference between a home that sells quickly and one that sits on the market.

Updating the kitchen

Trendy kitchen updates bring your old-fashioned kitchen into the modern era. After meeting with a Cincinnati home builder to talk about residential remodeling idea, you might decide to stay put instead of sell your home. According to a kitchen design trend report by HGTV, look for kitchen cabinets with hydraulic doors for greater functionality. Sensor-activated lighting and other kitchen technology will also get your home into the 21st century. Instead of going with basic white or stainless steel, consider appliances and sinks in eye-catching colors. Glass mosaic backsplashes and decorative lighting create a little drama.

Remodeling the bathroom

Your bathroom is a spa-like retreat so you feel pampered after working hard all day. To boost your home value, follow the latest trends in bathroom renovations. According to a piece by citing a survey by Houzz, some important features in today’s bathrooms include radiant heat flooring, LED shower heads, touch-operated showers, larger showers, double sinks and wall sconces. The Houzz survey showed 50 percent said they plan to spend more than $10,000 for a master bathroom renovation. Of those, 14 percent planned to spend $25,000 to $50,000. Almost 70 percent said they would rely on a residential remodeling professional rather than taking on a DIY project.

At J. Schmidt Homes, we work with our clients to figure out the most elegant and exciting renovations for their kitchen and bathrooms. We are in Lebanon Ohio and serve clients in the Greater Cincinnati area and Northern Kentucky. We also build custom homes when you are ready to step up to a better lifestyle.