Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

March 19, 2013

Designing Your In-Laws Quarters Home Addition

Budget: A major step, and one of the first places you should start is developing an investment budget for the project. This isn’t always easy; without experience in these types of large home addition projects, you may have no idea what to expect. If you aren’t sure where to even begin, try our Addition Cost Calculator.

Style: Maintaining the style and aesthetics of your current home are very important when considering an addition. You do not want an eyesore stuck to your house just to cut costs – it is better to be patient and save so you can do it right the first time. Potential buyers will notice this right away… and will keep on moving.


Create a Wish List to start: Bring ideas to the meeting. Involve your family members as much as possible in the interior designing, colors, flooring, bathroom fixtures and all of the other selections made during the design phase. This is a fun family activity, but also since they will be the one living there, their input is important. An experienced contractor can help you make the right choices to keep your budget intact while making sure of a win-win-win project design process.

Location: Should we go off the back? Add a 2nd story? What about a master suite and garage addition? Maybe we should do a garage conversion? You might have several options as to where to put the addition; or you may not. Working with an experience general contractor will give you some trusted guidance as to the pros and cons and feasibility of the different addition placement options you are considering.

Choosing Your General Contractor: Have they done the type of addition you are looking for? Putting a room on the back of a house is not the same as opening up the roof to add a second story. Always ask for work samples, state registration information and references. Check their website for evidence they have the quality and experience you desire.

From Lititz to Conestoga, Columbia to Manheim, MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC knows Lancaster County, PA home additions.

July 5, 2012

Lancaster County, PA Home Addition Calculator

Most of the Lancaster County, PA homeowners we talk to have no idea the cost of building some sort of home addition, like a sunroom, family room, master suite or garage. Now there are many different projects that fall under the addition category, and they aren’t just all the same cost of course. You should plan to invest anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000+ depending on the type of room addition project you and your family are planning.
Now I’m sure you are saying, “That is a ridiculously big range… What about my sunroom?”… or mudroom, or garage, et al.

Answer? We created this Addition Investment Calculator for Lancaster County, PA to help you get a realistic idea of what you should plan on investing in your specific room addition project.

Major Investment Calculator Factors: To get a clearer idea of where your project may fall in the range below, you must consider a lot of different things. The following are just some of the factors that typically affect the cost of adding on to your home.

Size: The first major investment consideration is the square footage you envision on your project. No matter which project you are planning, bigger will always require a higher investment.

Exterior Finishes: The type of siding you choose plays an important role on the cost of your addition. Also, your door styles, roofing material, and any exterior lights you want will add to the bottom line.

Interior Finishes: Inside, there are a lot of ways to increase your position on the addition calculator below. What are we going to need? The type of flooring; total number and sizes of windows; trim work? If you are adding a kitchen, bathroom or other family area, you may need to choose cabinets, fixtures, countertops, tub material, paint and/or extra outlets.

Types of Additions:
Sunroom: $20,000 – 70,000+

Mudroom: $15,000 – 35,000+

Family Room: $50,000 – 70,000+

Bathroom Addition: $35,000 – 70,000+

Kitchen Addition: $35,000 – 100,000+

Garage w/ or w/o In Law Quarters upstairs: $50,000 – 140,000+
Additional garage building considerations: 1 story or 2? # of windows and entry doors? Number and style of garage doors? Finished drywall inside? In-laws quarters: bathroom and kitchen finish/appliance considerations?

Master Suite: $100,000 – 200,000+

2nd story: $150,000 – 200,000+

About this calculator:
• These estimated numbers are based on our long experience in the Lancaster County, PA remodeling field and Remodeling Magazine’s 2011-2012 Harrisburg, PA Cost vs. Value Report.
• All additions are structural buildings, meaning they require building permits, foundations must be dug and poured, Township inspections, etc.

These price ranges are very large, so contact us to get an exact quote on your Lancaster County, PA home addition! We can also help you with financing, design and floor plans.

May 31, 2012

Do you want a 4-season Sunroom or a 3-season Porch?

Sometimes while discussing a 4-season sunroom with our Lancaster County, PA clients, we get on the discussion of an alternative option: a 3-season room. Most of the time people were not aware of the term 3-season room or what it was, even though they usually have seen one after we explain it.

Here is a quick rundown of 4-season and 3-season rooms, their pros and cons and even an idea if you’re considering your own addition!

What is a 4-season room? A four-season room is a heated room addition. These are structures added to your home. The most common types are sunrooms and mudrooms. With a sunroom, you have large windows to let in the sun! A mudroom is usually a place of entry into the home, used for umbrellas, shoes and storage, or even a nice breakfast nook!


These usually allow the perfect place to relax with your family during the beautiful sunny days, but no matter what the weather outside is doing you can enjoy these rooms 365 days a year.

• Air-conditioned and heated for year round enjoyment.
• Enjoy the natural light. Sunrooms with a lot of windows give you an “outdoor” feeling with out leaving the AC!

• This is a structure like your home, meaning it needs a foundation dug and footers laid. This adds to the cost of building the new room.

• Cover your whole sunroom roof with windows for a complete outdoor experience!

What is a 3-season room? A 3-season room is a windowed room that is not heated, therefore it is (usually) unusable in the cold winter months. They are however perfect for those cool nights of Spring and Fall, as well as being outside on a hot Summer day without the sun beating down on you and your family. You can either enclose an existing deck or porch, or build a completely new one.

Tip: When adding or enclosing a porch, use four-track windows for the best performance of the room.

• Less expensive.
• Can take as little as a few days to complete an enclosure of an existing porch.

• This room is usually not in use during the Winter months.

• Consider Sunspace four-track vinyl windows. They are custom, durable and affordable, so replacing the screens on your existing porch is a breeze.

I hope that covers it! If you have any questions or are ready for a sunroom or enclosed porch in Lancaster County, PA, please contact Mike Blank, CGR CAPS and MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC in Millersville!

December 28, 2011

MBC Whole House Remodel Award Winner!

This year brought us another award! Pictured here is our Building Industry Association Whole House Remodel award-winner done here in Lancaster County, PA. On this project, we added a kitchen room addition and moved a chimney out of their bedroom, plus completely resided the whole home when we were done!

This homeowner had quite a dilemma. They LOVED their location… but their house was getting cramped for their growing family. We opened up the back of the house by removing the existing mudroom and wall that was there separating it from the kitchen. Then, we expanded the kitchen space by putting on an addition, which also allowed room for a dining area. Along with that, we moved a chimney out of a bedroom to add square footage to that space as well.

Also, energy efficiency on this 1920’s house was becoming an issue. Over the years the roof, siding and insulation had worn down. We solved this by putting new high-quality siding around the whole house and by repairing and replacing the roof.

Check out these pictures to see exactly why it won. Now they have the home of their dreams!

Front Porch Remodel by MBC

Front Porch before.

Front Porch Remodel After Photo by MBC

Front Porch after.

Kitchen Addition by MBC

Kitchen addition and siding before.

Kitchen Addition after by MBC

Kitchen addition and siding after.

Kitchen Addition inside before

Kitchen Addition inside before.

Kitchen Addition after

Kitchen Addition inside after.

June 23, 2011

MBC Project Spotlight #2: Mudroom Addition

What started as an idea to help keep the house clean turned into this beautiful mudroom.

This home addition was designed to allow family and guests a beautiful place to enter the home without having to go directly into the kitchen of this old Lancaster County, PA farmhouse. Not only could this bring dirt, mud and more into the house, the kitchen is for enjoying family and food, not for wiping your feet and hanging your jacket. The customer was understandably concerned with matching the style, look and feel of the home.

Mudroom Addition by MBC
The room addition was much more than just a closet space though. Wood ceiling and slate flooring were chosen; don’t they accentuate the built-in breakfast nook perfectly? What would be more beautiful than starting your day with coffee and Lancaster County countryside?


MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC as a whole were thrilled to work on this project, and our passion poured through. Professional Remodeler’s from across the state of PA chose this mudroom addition for a Building Industry Association (BIA) Award of Excellence in 2009.

April 13, 2011

More Family Time: The Important Benefits of Home Additions

There are several types of Home Additions we do here in Lancaster County, PA. Believe it or not, every room addition we’ve ever done was unique…seriously! Additions are custom designed to your exact dreams and needs, and the needs and dreams of every family are different! However, there is one unifying theme of all of the families we work with; when you create the home of your families dreams, your family dreams of spending more time at home.

More Family Room:
Sometimes a homeowner wants to add rooms, both bedrooms and bathrooms, for their growing family. Two or second story additions allow you to add exactly the rooms you want at exactly the right size and color you want them. Since you have the option of going up (2nd story addition) or out (room addition), there is no need to go through all of that hassle moving to an entirely new neighborhood!

By adding more family space, you will not only enjoy your home more, but it will up the square footage and home value as well!

Garage Addition: What makes a garage addition so great? No stepping outside in the cold winter, the rainy spring or the hot summer. No matter what the weather, you can start up your cars and trucks in the comfort of your own garage.

Do you need a space for all of your Christmas stuff, bikes or sporting equipment? More storage is the name of the garage addition game. And again, since you are customizing the space, you can have as little or as much storage room as you want.

Have you been considering finishing your basement? (Possibly even your very own Subterranean Sanctuary or Man Cave) Unfortunately, sometimes our basements just do not have the square footage or layout to really become the room we are envisioning. A garage could house all of those art supplies, tools, exercise equipment or toys downstairs or up. Many garages we build have a room above turned into a master bedroom, but this space could be used for anything you want.

Home Office: As I mentioned in a previous blog post “Your 4 Home Office Options”, home additions are always the most exciting home office projects. An addition allows you to completely customize your new workspace. You have the capability of your own bathroom plus an outside entrance for customers. What better way to be close to the family than working from home?!?

Another benefit? You just set up the desk and you’re ready to go, no painting, flooring or worse… drywall!

Mudroom: If you are getting tired of everyone tracking mud through the house, you can add a small mudroom. These are the perfect place to store the kid’s (big and small) coats, shoes, bags and more! You could also add a breakfast nook with a beautiful window looking out at your yard.

Screen(ed) Porch: No matter what you call them, a screen or screened porch is the perfect place to enjoy the spring, summer and fall with your family, from big kids to little grandkids, everyone enjoys spending time outside. Screened porches are perfect for entertaining events, such as birthdays and graduation parties.

Sunroom: Nothing brightens your mood more than sitting down in your very on sunroom to relax! Sunrooms offer complete natural light and heat, so they usually don’t use much energy, even during the coldest parts of winter. Reduce stress and reap the physical and emotional benefits of natural light in your very own home.

I hope these benefits of home additions helped you. There are of course many other benefits as well as drawbacks. When you are considering your own addition here in Lancaster County, PA, be it a second story, mudroom, home office, garage, screened porch or sunroom, please contact us for more information.

Thank you,

Matt Blank
MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC
[717] 371[.]5136

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.

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

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