Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

December 31, 2009

Remodeling Ideas for Small Bathrooms

Filed under: Bathroom Remodeling & Renovation — Tags: — MBCremodeling @ 5:38 pm

Many homeowners are faced with the problem of having to change the look of a small bathroom. Here are some tips on how to make the most of small bath spaces from bathroom remodeling expert James Chapman:

One of the most popular solutions for small bathroom remodeling is to simply knock off one side. This will allow you to expand in one direction and get more space. The problem though is that this solution is not cheap. Aside from spending a lot to reconstruct a new wall, you would also have to consider paying for extensive changes in plumbing and wiring.

There are options if you do not wish to push back your walls of your small baths. One of them is to simply replace previously large fixtures and features with smaller ones. There are small baths tubs, sinks, small toilets and cabinets that can be installed in place of old ones. You have to make sure though that the largest member of your family can comfortably use these smaller fixtures. Hanging Some Objects are other excellent ideas for small bathrooms design. Large, wooden storage cabinets can take a lot of space. Create more space by knocking down these cabinets instead of the walls. You can opt to install free floating cabinets or metal bar shelves. You can also hang small hampers on hooks on your wall. Aside from cabinets, you can also leave some other bathroom fixtures hanging. A baseless sink and a vanity with a hanging glass ledge are examples.

Small bathroom remodeling will not be complete without a new coat of paint. One technique is to avoid dark colors. Choose lighter ones and pair that with equally light colored tiles and fixtures. The light color will not just be soothing. It can also help create the impression that you really have more space. If you want to paint some designs, choose those that aren’t too large. Moreover, you can use artificial or natural light to create the impression of expansiveness. It is always great if you can simply cut out a large top window. If this puts you in danger of being seen from outside, you can use bright lighting instead. Have a dimmer installed so you can create softer light when your mood calls for it.

Small bathroom remodeling can actually be a lot of fun. The real key is to simply change viewer perspective and utilize every available space you have. The key to a successful project is to talk with an experienced professional who can take your ideas, and theirs, and make them a reality.

Hope this helps!


December 28, 2009

What’s Cooking in Kitchen Design

Filed under: Kitchen Remodeling & Renovation — Tags: , , , , — MBCremodeling @ 1:43 pm

The kitchen remains one of the most popular places in the home.  Even with slowing home sales in many U.S. markets, kitchen remodeling projects continue to provide positive returns at the time of a home sale.  So, instead of major renovations and overhauls, this subdued market has kicked off beautification and smart kitchen re-dos to improve the home.

A successful redesign depends on making choices that enhance the kitchen and its role in today’s families.  The kitchen is not just a place to eat but a place to entertain, to show off culinary skills and to gather with your family and friends.

Remember, not every kitchen remodeling project has to be a total ‘tear it all down’ operation to be an effective one.

Here is a sampling of some hot trends that are simple, yet effective ways to improve the design and look of your kitchen:

  • Consider adding crown molding, corbels and appliqués.
  • New hardware can immediately revitalize old cabinets.
  • Add trashcan pullouts and plate and utensil organizers to improve organization and convenience.
  • Replace older countertops with more popular ones like Corian or granite.
  • Add new cabinet fronts to bring a refreshing look to an older kitchen.

Consider mixing cabinet colors. This is a growing trend in today’s kitchens.


December 23, 2009

How To Choose Your Remodeling Contractor

As anyone who has any experience working with contractors will tell you, finding the RIGHT contractor for your project entails much more than just finding the lowest price. Less tangible items like your ability to communicate and feel comfortable working with your contractor will inevitably prove to be much more important in determining your eventual satisfaction with the job – particularly if it’s a large project.

It’s always good to start your search with local building associations, like the Building Industry Association of Lancaster, National Association of Home Builders and the Better Business Bureau for accredited contractors in your area. You also want to make sure the contractor specializes in Home Remodeling and not Home Building. While they sound similar, they are very different. After you get a few names, the following are important tips that will help you choose the right contractor for your Home Improvement project:

Ask For References

Talk to homeowners this contractor has done work for in the past. Were they satisfied with the work? Did they keep the job site clean? Was the work finished? Did the contractor keep to the agreed-upon schedule? Did the contractor return phone calls?

Get Two or Three Specific Written Bids

Different contractors can vary widely on pricing and level of detail even when bidding for the same job. Make sure and get several estimates on your project, especially if it’s a large project. As much as possible, make sure that you explain the job fully to each of the contractors to ensure each one bids on the same exact job so that you can compare the estimates ‘apple-to-apple’.

DO NOT Automatically Accept the Lowest Bid

The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here. A higher bid may be worth the price in better materials, workmanship and reliability. A large number of complaints filed against contractors are the result of homeowner taking the lowest bid and then being unhappy with the low quality of work. Even when the contractor promises to do the same job, be careful – often contractors will bid a job extremely aggressively in order to get it. When the work takes longer than originally planned, the contractor can feel ‘squeezed’ by the budget and try and cut corners. What you ‘save’ up front could easily cost you when they don’t guarantee the estimate and charge you much more then promised. It could also actually DECREASE the value of your home because of unprofessional work.

Make Sure Your Contractor is Properly Registered

It is very important to know that a license is not an endorsement of the quality of work. It does however provide some financial protection for you, the customer. As of July 1st, 2009 Contractor Registration is required in the state of Pennsylvania. Their registration number should be on all paperwork they show you. You can verify any contractors’ registration with the Attorney General.

Make Sure Your Contractor is Properly Insured

Ask your contractor for a copy of his proof of liability insurance and workman’s comp insurance or the name and number of his/her insurance agent to call and verify proof of coverage.

Most Importantly… Do You Trust This Person to Work on Your Home?

When it comes down to it, the most important thing to check is your own gut feeling. How do you feel about this contractor working on what is probably your single largest investment – your home? Do you trust this person inside your home? Around your children? Can you communicate well with this person about the project? Are they ‘in tune’ to your needs?

I hope you found this information useful. Choosing the right contractor for your project is the most important step to guaranteeing your satisfaction, and will make all the difference in the long term.

[This article was also published in the Lancaster Newspapers Spring Home, Lawn & Garden Issue on Page 2.]

Until next time,

Mike Blank, CGR CAPS

December 21, 2009

Creating New Spaces: Getting Your Home to Work for You

Do you feel as if you have less space in your home than you used to? Do you need a place to house that new set of drums you may have just inherited? Few people can say they’d like to have less space in their homes. Even if you don’t need the extra space, having more square footage in your home can mean higher resale values. So, get your house to work for you with some of these ideas to add space in your house:

* Build an addition.
This is the only real way to “create space.” Most every other way involves changing the existing space in you home. You can do this by either building an addition out or up. Popular examples of outward building are patios, sunrooms, dens, and decks. Building upward involves adding another story. Usually, building outward is easier than building upward.

* Attic Conversions.
Attics are pre-built for “some” foot traffic and have some elements of structure. They also are near utilities, which can be utilized easily. You will most likely have to contend with odd configurations and low ceilings. You may also have to lay down flooring and insulation but it will be much easier than building a new addition.

* Basement Conversion.
This is sometimes the best choice for creating space because the basement is more substantial in its basic construction. The walls and floors are solid. You can put up interior walls to separate spaces for extra bedrooms, home theater rooms or children’s play rooms.

* Take Down an Inside Wall.
While this is technically an illusion of adding new space, you can nonetheless create a new space from an old one. Many interior walls are not load bearing and can easily be removed by a homeowner in a weekend. However, you need to make sure the wall you want to remove is NOT a load-bearing wall. Load bearing wall removal WILL require a professional contractor.

Mike Blank, CGR CAPS, is the owner of MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC based in Lancaster County, PA. You can contact him at

December 17, 2009

The Importance of a Remodeler’s Warranty

I was recently interviewed for (published by Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse) regarding the importance for Remodeler’s to have a Warranty on ALL work. Check it out here.

I recommend you always make sure anyone doing major improvements to your home has a warranty.


Mike Blank, CGR CAPS, is the owner of MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC based in Lancaster County, PA. With over 30 years of Remodeling experience, Mike is past Chairman of the Lancaster BIA Remodelers’ Council and a multiple BIA Design Winner. You can contact him at (717) 371.5136 or

December 10, 2009

Turn Your Basement into the Ultimate Man Cave

Filed under: Basement Remodeling & Renovation — Tags: , , , — MBCremodeling @ 9:30 pm

By Mike Blank, CGR CAPS
MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC

More than half of home buyers say they want a finished basement, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. Real estate experts agree that adding square footage to your living space will deliver the dollars when it comes time to sell. Create the sanctuary of your dreams and enhance your home value at the same time by renovating your basement into the ultimate guy retreat. Here are the top 10 things you’ll need to turn your basement into the ultimate man cave:

1. Finish it: First, finish those cinderblock walls and concrete floor.
2. Get wired: You have to have a big screen TV and music. Getting wired can be as easy as connecting cable to your portable TV and strategically placing a boom box, or as grand as a wall-mounted, high-def, flat screen TV with surround sound.
3. Go wireless: A laptop or desktop is a man-cave must for work and play. But you don’t want wires cluttering up your kingdom. If you haven’t already done so, install wireless connectivity on the primary computer on the main floor of the house. That way, you can use the Internet in the basement without the expense and inconvenience of a lot of wires.
4. Get “guy” with the décor: Nothing says “This space belongs to a guy” like sports décor. Frame and hang your old high school or college jersey. Mount that foul ball you caught in the bottom of the ninth. Put up a wallpaper mural of your favorite sport.
5. Drink up: A wet bar is every guy’s dream, but you can also cool off effectively and economically with a small refrigerator or even a portable wine keeper.
6. Snack attack: The guys are going to work up appetites playing friendly poker and it could get ugly if you don’t have any snacks on hand. Be sure to include space for snack storage in your design, whether it’s a pantry or some cabinets.
7. Sit on it: You’ll need the armchair of your dreams in order to be an armchair warrior. Make sure there’s some comfy, durable seating for your buddies.
8. Work it out: Portable treadmills and exercise bikes are better than ever and easy to store. Set aside a corner of your man room for the manliest activity of all – exercise.
9. Work on it: If you’re a doer rather than an observer, you’ll want a well-equipped workbench.
10. Sit on it: It’s the ultimate man room upgrade – your own private bath.

Mike Blank, CGR CAPS is the owner of MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC based in Lancaster County, PA. With over 30 years of Remodeling experience, Mike is past Chairman of the Lancaster BIA Remodelers’ Council and a multiple BIA Design Winner. You can contact him at (717) 371.5136 or

The Shocking Blue Green Theme. Blog at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,342 other followers