Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

July 15, 2013

“How much will my _______ remodel cost?”

Understand the pitfalls with “Ballpark Figures” in remodeling.

by Matt Blank

Curiosity led to some of the greatest discoveries mankind has known… and it also killed the beloved cat. Many Lancaster, PA homeowners have thought about remodeling projects for their home, finishing the basement, kitchen renovations, adding a bathroom or family room; but they rarely have any idea what the price tag will be. This isn’t a bad thing. Someone without construction experience rarely understands the remodeling process puzzle, and more importantly, how the pieces fit together: design, selections, demolition, framing, drywall, electrical, plumbing, inspections, etc, etc etc.

This leads to the inevitable question: “How much will my bathroom remodel cost?”. If not their bathroom, then remodeling their kitchen, finishing their basement, adding a room addition…

The difficulty with ballpark figures is the idea that a remodeling project is an item like a car or computer – one product sold by many vendors. Carpentry is a custom art, not just a skilled trade. A company may sell a new bathroom “system”, but that isn’t a custom renovation project.

Custom: No two projects or remodeling companies are the same. The design you choose and the selections you make will determine the cost of your project.

A general contractor may be able to give you an average price for similar jobs; unfortunately “average price” for all of their kitchens, etc, does not mean the same thing as the “ballpark figure” for your specific project. A price range is a reasonable request, just understand what those numbers mean.

Understanding “Ballpark Figure” Ranges:

-Low Price – You think this price is great! However, keep in min this is the bare bones, everything goes right price. Until we actually get in there and see what’s going on, we never really know what work will be involved. Beware when the actual proposal comes back and you are shocked to find the price higher than this.

Or worse, the contractor gives you a lowball “estimate” just to get the job, then you steadily watch the price rise. Learn the warning signs of these Horror Stories.

-High Price – This is usually for a higher end, more expensive selections and design. Beward that you are not scared off from the project before you even discuss what can be done within your budget.

Where to start:

Cost vs. Value for Harrisburg/Lancaster/York. This guide will help you begin to understand the average cost of several different project categories and how much you can expect to recoup in home value on your remodeling investment.

Click here for tips on how to find and interview experienced contractors.

About: Matt & Mike Blank of MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC have been making homes happy since 1999. We have hundreds of satisfied remodeling clients across Ephrata, Lititz, Landsiville, Millersville and everywhere else in Lancaster County.

Meet Mike Blank, CGR CAPS, President of MBC


October 31, 2012



We spend a lot of time (and people spend a lot of money) fixing subpar remodeling work. You might be willing to do just about any home improvement project around your house… but before you tackle any major work, consider two things.

First, ask yourself if you can do the job right. Saving money is one thing, but are you knowledgeable enough about the task at hand to avoid major (and costly) mistakes?

Second—and perhaps more importantly—put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer – even if you’re not likely to sell for years. You might be proud of all your home improvements, but that won’t stop the homebuyer from asking questions about the work. Fair or not, there is an inherent skepticism about homegrown handymen, no matter your talents.

Professionally done work, on the other hand, tends to have a certain “seal of approval” that assures the job was done properly. Plus, most pros guarantee their work for an extended time, which gives buyers even more confidence.

Can you get things done – or can you get things DONE RIGHT?

Just some food for thought!

April 11, 2012

How Much Water Could Your Home Be Wasting? (from

Thank you to for this guest post and infographic!!

From cooking to cleaning and manufacturing to shipping, humans consume excessive amounts of the earth’s most precious resource. Since only 1% of the earth’s water is available for human consumption, we need to reduce the amount of water we use.

Excessive water consumption occurs in our homes everyday. Curious to know how much water your own home is wasting? With the help of our Blog-Off experts, we’ve compiled information on US residential water consumption.

December 5, 2011

Keys to Securing Your Home: 5 Easy Ways to Help Protect Your Home

Many high-tech, high-priced home security products are available today. Fortunately, there are less expensive – but no less effective – ways to protect your Lancaster County, PA home, too.

Check out these smart home security tips!

Eliminate Hiding Places.

Keep all entry points to your house well lit.

Trim shrubs and trees that could provide cover for an intruder. Trim tree limbs that could enable intruders to gain entry via an upper-floor window or balcony and keep items such as ladders locked inside the house.
Don’t be an easy target.

Burglars want to hit the easiest target on the block so give them reasons to skip your house.

Home-security decals or “Beware of Dog” signs are good deterrents. Home security alarms are also good.

A subscription to a monitoring service is a good idea, but even the sound of an alarm is often enough to scare off a thief.

Lock windows and doors.

Department of Justice statistics report more than half of all burglaries occur with no sign of forced entry — meaning a robber was able to enter the house through an unlocked door or window.

Use a heavy-duty deadbolt that is bolted to the door frame with three-inch screws.

Appear to be home.

When you’re away, have someone pick up your mail and newspaper or have them stopped for the duration of your trip. In addition, have someone mow your lawn. Also, use timers to turn specific lights on and off in the house to make it seem as if someone is home.

Know your neighbors.

Make sure neighbors know when you’re planning to be away and how they can reach you in an emergency. Leaving an extra key with a trusted neighbor is a good idea. It’s better than hiding one under a mat or in some other outdoor hiding place.

July 29, 2011

To Move, or to Remodel, that is the question.

At least that is the question a lot of homeowners we meet with ponder: Should I move to a new home, or remodel the home my family is in now? Well, since we at MBC do remodeling in Lancaster County, PA, you should definitely remodel… JUST KIDDING!

With our housing market still down, you don’t want to rush into any decisions involving your largest asset. Does your family like the area and how long do you plan on staying in the home? You want to consider not only what your family will gain from your choice, but also the financial investment you stand to gain down the road. Your family’s well-being and overall happiness should always be at the heart of your decisions.

If your spouse, the kids and yourself love the neighbors and neighborhood, their school and your distance from work, changing the layout or adding space to your home by remodeling is probably a better choice. You will improve your enjoyment of your own home without losing your perfect location.

How long do you plan on staying? The investment in remodeling your home could take 5-10 years to fully appreciate in value, depending on what type of project you are planning. Spending $10,000 on remodeling will not add $10,000 to your homes value. There is no set percentage of gain from project to project or location to location. Kitchens and baths are always the best investments because people spend a lot of time there. Keep in mind you could always break down large projects into smaller sections, or lessen the scope, such as a kitchen re-facing versus a complete remodel.

Also, keep in mind that if your home is already the nicest in the neighborhood, putting on a room addition or renovating the kitchen will really not add much value to the home, only to your enjoyment of it. Now, if you are in a less valuable home, you can remodel to be average or above average with the other homes in the area. One example would be adding another bathroom if you currently have 2 but the others in the neighborhood have 3 to 4.

You must find a balance between Enjoyment & Investment Return to help steer your decision. Talk with an experienced contractor and real estate agent to get opinions and figures on the actual costs you are looking at. Take a look at this list Pro’s and Con’s to consider when you are thinking of remodeling or selling your home:

• You will see at least some return on your remodeling investment when you go to sell your home.
• More functional home, plus you will increase everyone’s enjoyment of it.
• Makes your home fit your family’s lifestyle better.
• Stay in neighborhood/school district you like,

• Certain projects pay off more than others.
• Don’t upgrade beyond what your neighborhood is worth – a $500,000 home in a $200,000 area won’t return the cost of remodeling. If your home is already the biggest and nicest around, it will not appreciate much more when remodeled.
• Remodeling is an invasive process.
• May take 5+ years to fully increase your home’s value.

• The layout you are looking for is already there with no time or work to be done.
• Your budget is the only limit on the size, style and area you move to. Depending on lot size, etc, you may not be able to remodel your current home into the dream you envision.

• Real estate fees– real estate commissions, taxes and closing costs; plus minor improvements in new home, furniture & window treatments, movers, etc
• Selling your current house.
• Cost of moving – time, money and energy spent moving

Free Resources:

Check out these free resources to help guide your decision whether to move, or to remodel.

Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value 2011 report. This site compares the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale. Choose your state to display data for one of 9 regions; choose any one of 80 U.S. cities to download a PDF with local data.’s Cost Calculator. Here you’ll find home remodeling and moving cost comparison tools, articles with advice and tips on remodeling and moving and more.

Thank you for reading our blog. When the time comes for your home remodeling project here in Lancaster County, PA, please call MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC at [717] 371.5136.

December 30, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, many of us focus on our list of resolutions for the New Year. Often times, personal improvements such as healthier diet and a routine exercise plan are at the top of the list. We recognize that we have neglected ourselves, but what about our homes?

When evaluating your possibilities for home improvement, take a moment to think about creating a more efficient and healthier atmosphere. Jump-start your creativity by considering not only cosmetic changes, but also renovations that would pay off years to come. Remodeling Project Cost vs Value is a very important consideration. However, do not underestimate your family’s value; unless you’re flipping houses, investing in your home to better your family’s situation should always be the driving force. Mainly, it’s important to consider how to increase your home’s efficiency and make your home work better to meet your needs.

Here are ten do-able home resolutions for 2011:

Go GREEN! By updating your furnace, water heater, installing or updating your air conditioning system and updating your appliances with energy efficient options, you’ll save on your monthly bills and add to your homes value. An energy assessment of your home is a smart way to find out if updating your home systems is right for you.

Go Healthy by installing a home air filtration system to eliminate allergens and pollutions in your home air. This can generally be installed within one day in most homes.

Get Organized! Are your closets in need of an overhaul? Do you need additional closets added to your home? We’re experienced in maximizing space and adding closet organizational systems in homes of all sizes. Often times our clients remark they are able to eliminate the costly storage units they have been maintaining when their home storage space is maximized and updated.

Curb Appeal Plus! Just as an energy efficient furnace helps your home to run more smoothly and cost-effectively, a well-designed landscape can save to time and money, while adding to the value of your home. Proper placement of trees and shrubbery can save on the cost to cool your home. Ornamental grasses and other perennial plantings are easy maintenance alternatives to annual flowerbeds. Time-saving, automatic watering system can also be installed to take the worry out of hydrating your plantings and lawn.

Get a Face Lift for your Kitchen and Bath! Remodeling your kitchen and bath are two of the best ways to increase the value of your home. We specialize in remodels for all budgets and can work with you on how to maximize your remodel dollars.

Stop the Draft! Whether it’s the heat or the cold, energy may be seeping out around your windows and doors. Proper installation of fiberglass doors and replacement windows will help keep your home more comfortable and at a noticeable savings.

Protect your Foundation by assuring your gutters and downspouts are carrying moisture away from your home. It’s also important to have a well functioning water evacuation system in your basement to prevent mold, mildew and damage to your home’s foundation.

Add a little Color to your Life! Paint is associated with personal energy levels and may help to add a warm and inviting feel to your home. This is a relatively inexpensive way to update your space and bring a fresh look to your home.

Protect your Investment with a Home Security System. The most effective deterrent against criminal invasion of your home is an electric security system. A wide variety of home security options are available to protect your home and your family.

Create a space to help you carry out your personal New Year’s resolutions. Chances are if you have space within your home designated to assist you with achieving your goals, you are more likely to do so. A home office addition may allow you more time with your family. A new work out area will make it much more likely you’ll find the time to get started with your new exercise routine. Make it happen!

Please give MBC a call [717.371.5136] when it’s time to make your home improvement resolutions a reality. Happy New Year!


Matt & Mike Blank
MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC
(717) 371-5136

January 15, 2010

2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report Analysis & more

Hello again! This time around I thought I’d share Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report. This annual report provides consumers with a very valuable resource for finding out how much return they will see from various home improvement projects. First off, it can help you get realistic cost figures for a large number of the home remodeling projects you may be considering. You are also able to compare this to the resale value the projects will add to your home.

The interactive widget* below was provided directly from Remodeling Magazine. Via the widget or on their site you can “compare national and regional averages for 33 popular remodeling projects; you can also download a PDF with project data for any one of 80 U.S. cities.”

Additionally, there are articles about how the Remodeling 2009–10 Cost vs. Value Report was compiled and analysis of this year’s results.

Feel free to leave a comment or email me at if you have any questions.


*For more information on what exactly a widget is, you can go here.

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