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DESIGNfirst Builders Blog Near Chicago, Illinois

Don’t Believe These 4 Myths About Home Remodeling

Before you decide to take on a remodeling project on your own, it might be best to dispel some myths about remodeling projects. The better informed you are prior to taking on a remodel, the better prepared you will be, and the more likely you are to see the results you envision.

Following Design Trends

It’s tempting to follow the latest housing trend and add a specific color or feature to your home that might modernize it. Most trends only stay popular for a small moment, however, before other trends replace them. Blindly following trends can cost you money on an addition that will date your home years from now. Always focus on durability and timelessness instead.

Adding a Pool

mythsMost people believe that adding a swimming pool will increase their home value. This is probably true for people living in areas with a warmer climate. For everyone else, pools are often unappealing because they require extensive maintenance work that most owners aren’t willing to do. Installing a pool often costs more money than it’s worth.

Any Remodel Adds Value

Not every single remodel will automatically add value to your home. Some materials may be more expensive than the return on the investment will show, or certain home additions may price you out of comparable homes in your neighborhood. Conduct research on return of investment (ROI) for each remodel and investigate rival homes in your neighborhood before you start a remodel.

DIY To Save Money

mythsSome people truly believe that they’ll spare expenses by performing remodels themselves. While you can handle some minor upgrades, repairs, and touch-ups, a professional group should handle larger remodeling projects. They have more expertise on what to do and will use the right tools for the job. In addition, their knowledge allows them to complete remodels faster, safer, and with the most efficient materials. You’ll likely end up saving money and get to enjoy your home sooner by requesting help.


Do you want to enjoy the benefits of professional home remodeling? Contact DESIGNFirst Builders today for a free consultation with our trained staff to discuss your remodeling project.

4 Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value

Sometimes you need to update your surroundings with a new aesthetic. Remodeling can give you that same thrill as when you first move into a new home, and it can also offer you financial benefits. Certain remodels are a better investment than others, however, so carefully consider what you choose to remodel in order to increase your home’s value.


home's valueA kitchen remodel is a great choice, and is a favorite with real-estate agents and potential buyers. Complete kitchen remodels offer a return of investment (ROI) of 62%, so if you spend $65,000, for example, you can realize a $40,000 increase in value. You will need to decide how specific upgrades, such as granite or marble counter tops fit into your remodeling budget. It is also a good idea to know the comparable value of homes in your area, to avoid spending more on the remodel than you will actually see in a return.

Landscape and Curb Appeal

home's valueImproving the outside of your home is critical, since this is the first thing a potential buyer will notice. A fresh coat of quality paint for the outside of your home can translate into as much as 110% ROI. Consider freshening up your garden and making sure the lawn is well maintained. Outdoor spaces are currently in demand and are a great reselling point. If your budget allows consider upgrading your outdoor patio area or deck space.

Wood Flooring

Replacing your carpeted areas with wood flooring almost always pays off, with a 91% ROI. Hardwood floors cost around $2,000 more than carpet to install, but have a longer lifespan and are easier to clean. Laminates can be a less expensive and easy to install product, allowing homeowners to do the installation themselves.

Basement and Decks

Renovating a basement into a playroom or a leisure area can result in as much ROI as 63%, with an average increase of $25,000. This is a great option for increasing the living space without increasing the square footage. Adding an outside deck is also a desirable addition, as it’ll help you recoup up to 80% of your investment at sale time.


Whether you choose to remodel your kitchen, your bathrooms, or your basement, DESIGNFirst Builders will assist you in every step of the way to add value to your home. Call us now to schedule a free consultation.

3 Top Home Renovations for This Winter

Most people think of summer as the remodeling season, but winter offers a lot of advantages. Though it can be tough to do some renovation jobs in winter, for those you can do there are some distinct advantages.

Why You Should Remodel for the Winter

Even though winter isn’t a time you usually consider for remodeling, it does offer some valuable advantages over other seasonal remodels.

  • Off-season discounts and lower prices
  • Greater contractor availability due to lack of demand
  • Faster permit approvals because of low activity
  • Less inconveniences from work or school

Winter is the perfect time for certain renovations and remodels for your home.

Indoor Painting

Though you may not be able to repaint the outside of your house, you can always give your home’s interior walls a fresh coat of paint. With most people away from home, it’s the perfect time for indoor repainting. Plus, you can add some vibrant color to mitigate the winter blues. Just remember to keep your window open to keep the area well ventilated.

Replacing the Floor

Another renovation project that you can prioritize during the winter is replacing your floor. Do you seek the warmth of carpet? Do you prefer the convenience and flexibility of a hardwood floor? Use this low activity time to replace the floor at your convenience.

Bathroom and Kitchen

If your home will not receive as many visitors during this time, you can also tackle some of the bigger, more ambitious projects, such as bathroom and kitchen remodels. You will appreciate the work done on them when you’re indoors most of the time. If you do anticipate visitors or a scheduled event for the winter, make sure to schedule your professional remodeling crew long before the event.


If you are in the market to get some remodeling done during this winter season or any of the other three seasons, consider DESIGNFirst Builders. Our team is available for your renovation needs throughout the entire year. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Keeping Your Home Warm During Severe Winter

Winter may be getting closer to its end, but some of the coldest temperatures of the year are still ahead of us. During severe winter temperatures, your plumbing system is one of the most vulnerable areas of your home. Frozen pipes can burst and cause major damage to your home.  You can protect your home’s plumbing system from extreme winter conditions by following these tips.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

One of the most important tasks when preparing for extreme winter weather is keeping your plumbing system from freezing. Unprotected pipes may burst and result in water damage. The following tips will show you what you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing this winter.

  • Make sure that you keep a small amount of water running through the faucets. Prioritize faucets that run along the outside walls or connect to pipes that run through unprotected spaces.
  • Locate the pipes in your basement and your crawl spaces. Wrap them with heat tape or insulated sleeves or covers.
  • If your plumbing system has pipes located around your garage, remove all the snow and ice that gathers around your garage door. Make sure to keep the garage door shut tight.
  • During the severe weather, make sure to keep all doors, windows, and chimney flues shut as well. At the same time, allow your cabinet and pantry doors to remain open. This tactic allows warm air to spread around the kitchen and bathroom.
  • If your cupboards back up to an exterior wall, keep them open to allow the warm air to circulate.
  • If your furniture is blocking your heating vents, rearrange it. You want to have open heat flow. If you have wood floor vents, you can remove them to improve the heat flow.
  • Keep the thermostat temperature consistent as much as you can throughout the day. If you are leaving your home, hold the temperature to at least 55 degrees.
  • Find the water main shut off valve in your home. You might need to shut the valve off in case of emergency.
  • Shut off and disconnect your garden hoses, house bib, and all your outside faucets. If needed, drain the faucets by opening the valves. Cover the faucets by installing insulation covers on them.

Additional Heating Advice

The following tips will allow you to warm up not just your plumbing system, but your home as well.

  • Switch your thermostat from setback mode to hold.
  • If you want to bring in humidity and a warmer temperature, boil water and make food such as stews or foods. Avoid using the oven or a grill.
  • Make sure your boilers and radiators with outside pipes are clear from snow and ice. For instance, a 90% furnace or boiler has exhaust and intake pipes outside your home that you may need to clear.
  • Most home heating systems cannot handle temperatures between -20 and -30 degrees, even with functioning vents, furnaces, or boilers. The temperature drop at this rate is inevitable. Just make sure the system continues to operate and keep the thermostat at 70 degrees or more.

Dealing with Frozen Pipes

Despite your best efforts, sometimes your pipes will freeze. There are a few actions you can take to mitigate the damage if you are careful.

  • Find or estimate the area where the pipe was frozen. Pipes are more likely to freeze either where the water service enters your home, or anywhere along the outside walls.
  • Once you find the area, if you can, try to warm the section of the pipe where the frozen spot is located. You can do so via a portable space heater, a hair dryer, or heating pads. Do not try to directly warm the affected area, as the extreme temperature differences can weaken the pipe and cause it to break.
  • Keep the faucets open. If the pipe starts to warm up, water can start flowing. By running water through the pipe, you can help speed the ice melting process.
  • In the event your pipes burst, it is urgent that you locate the water main shut off valve and turn it off as soon as you can.

Increase the Function of Your Kitchen with a New Island

Kitchen islands add flexibility to your food preparation space. They offer more counter space, extra room for appliances, and even more seating options. They also act as focal points to tie the room together visually. Kitchen islands are one of the most requested items in remodels and new homes. If you are considering a kitchen remodel, consider the benefits of adding one to your design.


Decide the function of your kitchen island before you launch into the design process. Is it strictly for food preparation space or does it also need to seat your family and guests? The more functions you can include in the plan, the more versatile your island. Consider any appliances that will live in the island and how they will impact your preparation space. Countertops that are too thin or short quickly decrease your workspace. Once you know the function you need out of your island, you can create a plan that accommodates the flow.

Space Requirements

Think about the space you have available in your kitchen. The island needs to work with the current features of the kitchen. It can’t block walkways or impede access to your cabinets. The wrong measurements can hurt the resale value of your home down the road as well. While we know you want to squeeze every inch of counter space out of your island, it is important to make sure you will be able to work around the island’s design.

Key Features

All islands have different features built in. Too many features can make your island cluttered. You must find the balance between clutter and proper use of space. Some features you can put into a kitchen island include:

  • Cabinets
  • Sinks
  • Wine refrigerator storage
  • Extra refrigerator drawers
  • Multi-level surfaces
  • Specialized storage
  • Appliances like a microwave, steam oven, or stovetop

Choose the elements that best fit your lifestyle to add the most function to your new island. Talk with your designer to find out how to incorporate the features you want for best aesthetic effect. They will be able to help you figure out the best layout, providing you with maximum space with the most beauty.

Use the Space Above

Don’t forget about the space above the island. Now that you have this beautiful island in the middle of your kitchen, it provides you with the opportunity for even more storage. Add hanging racks to display your best pots and pans or your stemware. Consider interesting lighting fixtures above your island. The possibilities are endless.

If you are ready to start on your new kitchen island, we are ready to help. Our design team handles everything from start to finish. Visit our showroom to see all the options we have available and get a free consultation today.

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