Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

January 12, 2011

Your 4 Home Office Options

Home Offices have never been more popular or practical than right now. They give you access to everything you need to get the job done without the rush hour commute and endless birthday parties. Even larger businesses can benefit. Home offices help save money on location and other overhead costs, as well as travel expenses (read: gas and maintenance costs) incurred with routine driving. And less driving is another great way to go green.

The biggest question is: where do you put it? Here are the 4 major options you have for your home office, as well as some pros and cons to think about before you start lugging your desk, filing cabinets and computer in there!

Bedroom: A spare bedroom can be the most convenient spot to put your office. Usually they offer you less room, but no structural or building work needs done to convert them. Remodeling a bedroom is a DIY (do-it-yourself) paradise; painting, drywall, shelving and electrical upgrades to handle more power may need to be considered. If you are not a DIY kind of person, a contractor can still get this done for you cost-effectively. Just don’t forget – will you need the room in the future? You may have to move your office all over again when the Grandkids start visiting.

Attic: Your attic offers a lot of pros but (possibly) one major con. The con? Being on the 3rd floor is usually not in close proximity to the bathroom, kitchen and other common areas. Though, depending how you work, that could be a plus; the attic will offer you the most secluded workspace. If the attic is big enough you can leave a portion for storage, giving the room multiple uses.

Basement: Your basement has some of the similar issues as the attic, just not always as extreme. You may have the option of adding a bathroom. Otherwise, you might only be 1 flight away. Similar to the attic, if you have the room, you can still leave yourself some storage space. Some cons: You may need to run electric, internet and phone wires to the basement. Anyone that has run wires knows that is sometimes easier said than done. Also keep in mind you may be required to add a Bilco door to be code-compliant when you remodel your basement.

Addition: Home additions are always the most exciting home office projects. An addition allows you to completely customize your workspace. You can add a restroom, or an outside entrance, and since you have the option of going up (2nd story addition) or out (room addition), having a smaller lot shouldn’t hinder you. Of course, this will be the most expensive option. The nicest part of when it’s done? Just set up the desk and you’re ready to go, no painting, flooring or worse… drywall.

When it’s time for your home office in Lancaster County, PA – whether it be by bedroom or attic conversion, basement remodel or home addition… – please give MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC (that’s us!) a call – [717] 371.5136. We offer a 5-year Warranty on all work.

March 16, 2010

Insulate Your Attic to Save Money this Year

Spring’s here… well at least on its way, and there’s one part of the house that’s often overlooked when people are getting their homes ready for the heat of summer or the cold of winter: the attic. Proper insulation will help keep the heat out and the cool in during those dog days of summer. On the flip side, heat rises of course, and for this reason having a good bit of insulation in the attic of your home can save your furnace a lot of work, and you a lot of money, during the winter months also. Also, particularly in older buildings, this measure will help keep upstairs bedrooms cooler or warmer at night, depending on the season.

It’s true that a lot of recently built or remodeled houses already have insulated attics, but living in one of these homes doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The insulation that was sprayed into your attic could be a variety of different materials, some of which work better than others, and over time, the insulation in your attic can settle, and begin to lose its insulating properties. Also, many newer materials provide a great deal of flame resistance, which is something many of the older insulating materials did not do. This all means that even if you have insulation in your attic, it might be time for an upgrade, and that this upgrade could save you a lot of money on your energy bill, and can make your house more resistant to house fires. In the long run, it’s greener, cheaper, and safer to have the insulation in your attic done or redone sooner rather than later.

Another point to consider is that although fuel and energy prices are relatively low compared to the huge spike we saw in recent years, the prices won’t always be this low, and you can bet that as the cost of electricity and cooling/heating a home goes up, the cost of upgrading a home’s insulation will also go up. The smart thing would be to insulate your attic now while it’s cheapest, and in time to start saving money on your cooling bill this summer.

Enjoy the beautiful weather!

Mike Blank, CGR CAPS

January 7, 2010

Your home needs attention and it’s time to ‘Spring’ into action!

It may be hard to believe but spring is just around the corner. That means that this is the perfect time to plan for your spring home improvement projects. Spring is the most popular time for projects such as replacement windows, kitchen and bath renovation, new siding and new gutters. It’s easy to understand why, after being cooped up in your home for several weeks you’ve had plenty of time to come up with a healthy to-do-list!

Let’s take a look at some additional home improvement projects that are ideal to have done before summer.

Your Driveway — Once the flowers and buds have fallen off of the trees and overnight temperatures stay well above freezing, consider having your asphalt driveway resealed. This job is a small investment that can prevent an early breakdown and adds curb appeal.

Your Lawn — Invest in your lawn early and you’ll enjoy it through the Fall. Professional aeration, fertilizing and reseeding, will make you the envy of the neighborhood. In the long run you’ll also benefit financially because you’re watering will go further and you’ll have fewer problem areas to deal with the rest of the year.

Your Wood Deck — Having a sealant applied on your deck is important, especially if you haven’t done this in years. It will extend the life of your favorite outdoor gathering spot and by having a professional do it, you can have repairs performed before they become full blown issues.

Your Garage — Do you hate clutter? Of course you do! Then again, the garage is the usual place where all of our stuff tends to gather. Have your garage overhauled with rugged cabinets, shelving, and other organizational helpers. You’ll be amazed at how a professional can turn your garage into one of the nicest rooms in your house.

Your Attic — It’s so easy to forget about your attic until there’s a major problem. Have the flooring, walls and roof checked to see if anything was damaged over the winter. This simple preventative investment saves wise homeowners thousands of dollars.

Your Home’s Exterior — Have your gutters cleaned and covered with gutter protection. Have a professional touch up paint under the soffits, around the windows and shutters, and your doorways. If your home has siding, examine for damage and replace panels as needed. Consider repainting the home if it hasn’t been touched up in years; this is another preventative measure that has the fringe benefit of adding curb appeal.

Your Home’s Interior — Have rooms painted throughout the house or consider repainting every room. If it’s not time for a major bathroom renovation; how about a minor one? Have your shower and tile grouted to keep your bathroom watertight. Have new light fixtures and accessories installed. Have your windows and doors examined. Make sure that they are still doing their job before the summer heat arrives. Arrange an inspection of your central air-conditioning system to make sure that it is ready to go when the first heat wave rolls in.

If you’re tired just reading this article, call us now to discuss your needs! We’ve got the know how to get the projects done right. We’ll do all the heavy lifting and you just get ready to enjoy the summer!

-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

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