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Posts Tagged ‘home improvement’

Get Permission Before You Build

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Know the Rules about Building Permits

While many homes being built today look similar to everything build around them, people use home improvement projects to make these spaces truly theirs. Even minor repairs, such as a new coat of pain or updated lighting and fixtures, can make all the difference when it comes to redecorating a home. However, major renovations can be a little trickier. While this usually involves the hiring of a home improvement professional, it also involves building permits and inspections to ensure the safety and viability of all the changes. Here are some things to take into account before starting on your next remodel.

Why Get Building Permits?

First and foremost, building permits are required by law for a range of projects at your home. Furthermore, there are multiple reasons that cities require permits. First, obtaining permits ensures that contractors agree to follow health and safety guidelines. Also, following certain codes ensures uniformity in construction which makes things easier for inspectors, real estate appraisers, and others.

What Projects Require Permits?

There are quite a few projects that require permits. Additionally, one must file the correct paperwork with the local building and zoning authority to obtain the permit. Projects that require permits include new construction projects (homes, buildings, gazebos, sheds, etc.), new additions (new rooms, garage, patio, decks, etc.), major remodels (complete kitchen/bathroom remodel), structural changes (foundations, footings, etc.), electrical work, and plumbing changes. Be sure to check locally to ensure you get the right permit for the right project.

Do I Also Need an Inspection?

Not only will you need to obtain a building permit before starting, but you’ll have to adhere to certain inspections throughout the process; this ensures all construction and renovations ad here to current building codes.

What are the Consequences?

The consequences of not obtaining a building permit can vary depending on the project and the part of the home. Also, without a building permit, and the subsequent inspections, you may forfeit some homeowner’s insurance coverage. However, you may also expose you and your family to shoddy workmanship, which can provide dangerous and even fatal (think electricity…yikes!).

Local Requirements

Requirements for building permits can vary depending on the governing body that you fall under. You’ll want to start locally, in your city. Apply only for the permits that your planning and zoning board requires.

Simple Projects You Can DIY

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Simple Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Season!home improvement projects collinsville il

Getting sick of how things look in your home? Many decide to take on home improvement projects to increase their satisfaction with their surroundings. Unfortunately, many times remodeling projects can cost a pretty penny and take up months of your time. However, there are simple projects that can be undertaken to give our home something extra. Consider these options when it comes to remodeling and save you time and money!


This is a great way to revamp the look of your home while saving a little money. Whether you change the color, texture, or pattern; you’re sure to notice the improvement of bright color on your walls.


Another relatively inexpensive way to improve your home is through the use of lighting.  Changing bulbs or lighting fixtures can give any room a whole different feel.

Storage & Organization

One way to improve your surroundings is through the use of storage and organization. Clean up the clutter in your home to allow for more space and a streamlined look to every room.

Baseboards & Mouldings

Restain or replace baseboards to add something different throughout your home.


From door knobs and cabinet handles to light switches and more, change colors and styles for a fresh change on doors, windows, cabinets, etc.

Energy Efficiency

While this won’t pay off in any aesthetic way, improving energy efficiency could help you save for your other home improvements. Contact a heating and cooling professional for details on how to increase your energy efficiency!

Plant Life

Another way to update your home is by adding plant-lift throughout. Whether it’s hanging flower baskets on your front porch or various plants throughout the homes; natural plants brighten up the home!

Move Furniture

Moving furniture could prove to be the best option when it comes to remodeling.  This can open up more space or help divide rooms in the house!

Power Washing

A good power washing for the exterior of your home may be just what you need to get your house sparkling like new.  Power washing proves effective at removing years of built-up grime.

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Home Buyers Beware of Old Home Pitfallshome buyers collinsville il

Buying a new home is one of the most exciting (and frustrating) things one can experience. The prospect of picking out a home that checks off all the boxes on your list can be daunting yet rewarding. Furthermore, many home buyers are drawn to older homes. Whether it’s the style, floor plan,  or just the ambiance of owning an older home, it’s not all cake and watermelon afterward. If you plan on purchasing an older home, take these things into account before signing off, and be sure to get two inspections before making any decisions!

Foundation/Structural Issues

A home with a sinking foundation or structural problems will show cracking and other dangerous signs throughout the house. Likewise, repairs for a sinking foundation can be quite expensive.

Termite/Bug Infestations

Termites can serious affect the structure of any home, and their presence may require costly services and even repairs, depending on the extent of the damage.

Outdated Appliances

Keep appliances in mind when it comes to looking at old homes. Outdated models will have to be replaced at some point, and they may even be dangerous; depending on their age.

Outdated Plumbing

This is another area that could cost thousands to repair. Old homes have old pipes and old systems; make sure you know the age and condition of these systems before entering into a sale.

Doors & Windows

Many times the cycle of hot and cold weather causes cracks, gaps, and holes to open up around windows and doors. Be sure to make a note of these and seal them should you decide to buy; these can be major energy wasters.

Heating & Cooling

You’ll also want to have comfort systems inspected to ensure their functionality. Furthermore, homes with older systems may need to be updated, which could tack on thousands to the cost of owning the home.

Siding & Roofing

With an older home, it’s more likely that these will need to be replaced. Furthermore, many old homes were constructed of materials that are no longer common (i.e. wood siding) and may cost a pretty penny to replace or restore.

Lead Paint

Lead paint is safe when it’s on your walls, but unsafe when it’s been flaked off, or particles are floating around in the air. You’ll want to get rid of interior and exterior lead-based paints, which could get expensive if it covers your entire home.


Mold growth is serious and could point to some problems that home buyers should beware of. Additionally, mold causes health problems and could be difficult and expensive to get rid of if the problem recurs.


The use of asbestos was much more prevalent in older homes and has been tied to some forms of cancer. Replacement isn’t usually expensive or necessarily hard, but you’ll want to make sure it gets taken care of.

Hire the Right Help For Your Home

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Choose a Trusted Contractor for Your Project!

We love our home improvement projects. The ability to take something and make it completely ours is a desire for many home buyers and homeowners. While remodeling can be a fun and exciting time, it can also prove stressful and time-consuming. That’s why it’s important to employ the help of the right contractor when it comes time for remodeling at your home or business. Choosing a quality contractor can save you from some of the more popular remodeling pitfalls. Here are some tips for hiring someone for your next remodeling project!

All Contractors are NOT Create Equal

You’ll want to hire your contractor to fit the job that you need to be done. Depending on your project, you may want to hire a general contractor or a specialty contractor. A general contractor handles all parts of the remodeling job including permits, managing workers, scheduling inspections, and more. Additionally, a specialty contractor comes in handy if you need a very specific job done. Make sure you know what type you need before starting on your project.

Look at References/Work Examples

You won’t just want to take the contractor’s word for it when it comes to your remodeling job. Pick a remodeler with an excellent reputation, easy-to-find examples of their work, and written references that vouch for the quality of the work.

See Proof of Bonding/Insurance

Asking your prospective contractor about their bonding or insurance is never out of bounds. They should have this information readily available. Contractors and Worker’s Comp Insurance protects you, your family, and the people working at your home. Likewise, bonding ensures the repair of sub-par work and other problems.

Provide Guidelines for the Work to be Completed

The agreement with your contractor should be clearly communicated, so both they and their team understand the expectations you have for the finished product. Additionally, let workers know about pets, scheduled cleaning companies, and anything else that may catch them off-guard when they start the job.

Put it in Writing

Be sure to outline your expectations, pay structure, and other important details in the contract you draw up. While it’s important to find a contractor that you trust to uphold their end of the bargain, without it in writing, you may end up fighting a long, hard legal battle if the work isn’t completed to your standards.

Know How you Can Help

Whether it be leaving a spare key so laborers can fill up on water and take a break or making sure the garage is open to ensure them a workspace, know what they need from you so that the job can be finished to your complete satisfaction!

Alternative Decking Materials

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Think about Alternative Decking Materials for your Home!outdoor living space collinsville il

With spring and summer come barbecues, pool parties, and other reasons to enjoy our backyards. For many, the crux of summer fun is the deck. Whether your back doors open to a pool, garden, or just a quiet oasis to escape from the hot summer sun, our decks provide a serene spot to pass the time as the days get longer. The functionality of decking makes it a top priority to many remodelers. However, it’s a serious investment; don’t rush the decision without all your facts, Here are some thing about as you start your research:

Decking Dimensions

How big will your outdoor living space be? How big does it need to be? Do you plan on entertaining or retiring here in solitude at the end of a long day? These are all things that need to be answered when you decide how large your deck needs to be. This will affect building costs, maintenance costs, and the cost to replace or repair. Additionally, some decks may affect the value of your home; ask a real estate professional about how this may affect you. Think long and hard about including space for tables, chairs, a grill, and other outdoor accessories that suit you.

Decking Materials

After you’ve decided what type and size of deck you need, it’s time to talk materials. The three main materials used in deck construction include wood, composite materials, and metal. Be sure to think about where you live, weather conditions, maintenance cost, and more when making this choice.

  • Wood – Pressure-treated lumber is sturdy, durable, relatively inexpensive, and highly customizable. However, it requires maintenance throughout its lifespan which could cost you big, depending on different factors
  • Composite – Materials like Trex is on the higher end of the cost spectrum when it comes to decking materials. Boards can range from smooth to wood-grain style that visitors won’t notice isn’t real. While not as customizable as wood, composite decking can b virtually maintenance-free.
  • Metal – While this is the least popular of the decking materials (being more used in commercial decking), it is an option to think about. Possibly the most expensive material, metal decking offers a durable material that is long lasting and low-maintenance.

Decking Contractors

One of the most important parts of this process is who you find to build your deck. Be sure to trust an experienced professional that can offer plenty of references. Or, you can contact the friendly folks at 4 Aces, and let them find someone for you. They’ll take your project requirements into account and connect you to a licensed contractor with the skills and experience to complete the job right!

Hidden Costs of Homeownership

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Plan your Budget to include Common Home Maintenance Projects!roofing collinsville il

The prospect of homeownership is exciting for those that are lucky enough to achieve. A painstaking process; people save money for down payments, upgrades, and more and the whole process can take as long as it needs to (weeks, months, even years). However, the real cost of owning a home doesn’t just include your down payment and final purchase price; it also includes any home maintenance projects you have to undertake while you’re the owner. Some studies suggest saving at least $1 for every sq. foot of home you purchase. There are other models and rules of thumb, but the point is that you’ll hardly be done paying for your home after the last mortgage check gets sent. Look out for these home maintenance projects and save your money, accordingly!


Depending on who owned your home before you or how long you’ve owned your house, a roofing replacement may be in order. Roofs should last anywhere between 15 and 30 years depending on materials. Additionally, repairs and maintenance is needed to ensure your roof the longest lifespan.


Like roofing, siding can last for about the same amount of time depending on the material you choose to use. However, siding may be susceptible to storm damage and other elements that require periodic maintenance throughout its lifespan.

Windowswindows collinsville il

Whether you’ve noticed drafty spots by your windows or a stray baseball traveled into your living room, it’s safe to say you’ll probably have to replace a window (or windows) at some point during your home ownership.


Doors are all over our homes. Front doors, garage doors, bathroom doors, closet doors, etc. While typically, interior doors last the entire lifespan of the home, exterior doors and garage doors require maintenance to keep them in good shape. These may be expensive to repair or replace.

Comfort Systems

Most likely, you’ll need to repair heating and cooling systems at some point during homeownership. While these are fairly resilient and reliable systems, you may be replacing them in an older home. At the very least, maintenance is recommended for max energy efficiency and system reliability.


Unfortunately, the major appliances in your home are not made to last forever.  Whether it’s your oven, dishwasher, etc., you’ll probably have to replace something at some point. Additionally, broken appliance costs usually pop up at the most inopportune moments; leaving, even more, a reason to save some room in the budget.

Flooringflooring collinsville il

Whether you’re not a fan of the shag carpet from the last owner or a plumbing break has ruined your floors, these may be an expensive repair if you have to redo the entire home. While it depends on what material you choose, it still won’t be a cheap fix if your floors need to go!


The plumbing will go awry at some point. Whether it’s a water heater that produces cold water or a plumbing clog that brings the whole home grinding to a halt, regular maintenance and repairs of these systems should be expected.

General Remodeling

Do you plan on buying the perfect home of your dreams and never wanting to change a thing? Sounds ridiculous, right? Leave room in that budget for any remodeling you want to do now or in the future!

Waterproofing/ Foundation Repair

Many homes have issues with waterproofing during times of heavy rainfall. Additionally, homes in low-lying areas are especially susceptible to problems with flooding. Foundation repairs, sump pump installations, and more might be needed to ensure your home stays dry!

With all the things that could go wrong, how do you know who to call? Well, you don’t need to. The friendly professionals at 4 Aces know a contractor for all your home maintenance projects. Let them find one for you, today!

Prep your Home for your Next Trip

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Check these items off your list before your Vacation!

Ready for a vacation? As temperatures warm, it’s a goal of many to get out of town and see something new. Whether you travel with family or friends, it’s nice to immerse yourself in a new culture while enjoying some much-needed rest and relaxation. However, while it’s exciting to think about traveling, there are some things to take care of at home before you go. Be sure to check these things at your house before leaving to ensure a stress-free vacation and happy return home!


This goes without saying; turn the lights off. This wastes energy that you’ll have to pay for later, not to mention any bulbs that you’ll have to replace when you come back. Smart travelers use light timers to make it look like someone is home and protect against burglars.


Make sure all windows are shut too, and blinds are closed. While you may want plenty of sunlight for your plants, open windows waste energy and allow thieves to see unimpeded inside your home.

Small Appliances

Your coffee maker, microwave, toaster, etc.; unplug all of them. You won’t be using them, you don’t need them on, and this is an energy waste that you’ll regret later.

Large Appliances

Make sure larger appliances are taken care of as well. I recommend cleaning perishables out of the fridge to make sure you aren’t coming home to a rotten-smelling kitchen. Additionally, the water heater can be turned off or put on “vacation mode” to ensure you don’t waste water and energy on your trip.


In fact, it might be a good idea to shut off your water main for the duration of your trip. If you have a house-sitter, leave it on for them. If you’re just leaving your home, this will protect against leaks and breaks while you’re gone.

A/C & Heating

Depending on the season, set the temperature in your home to ensure the comfort systems aren’t running the entire time you’re gone. This is another great waste of money and energy that you don’t need.

Lawn Care

An unkempt lawn can be a sign to a burglar that you’re not home. Be sure to have this taken care if you’ll be gone for an extended period. Local lawn companies or even a neighborhood kid should suffice to keep a well-manicured yard.

Make Necessary Arrangements

Other things you’ll want to take care of before skipping town include suspending mail service, finding a pet sitter, and much more.

Keep you Home Value Intact!

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Renovations that Hold Home Values Steady

Homeowner’s all over seek to increase their home values for the day they decide to resell. However, many take little caution when it comes to these improvements; opting for big, showy renovations instead of practical and valuable remodels. Whether that day is fast approaching or still off in the distance, there are some things that homeowners should take note of when planning a home improvement to increase home values. Here are 5 places you could choose to improve your home, and how it could affect you!

Sidingsiding collinsville il

Siding is one renovation that does help increase the value of a home. Home siding needs to be replaced after a certain period of time due to rot, discoloration, and many other signs of aging. If your siding is nearing the end of its lifespan, you’ll want to replace it before putting it on the market. Siding in poor condition is a bad sign for potential home buyers and won’t net you any more cash. Additionally, new siding can help energy-efficiency for you and the future owners.


A new roof won’t necessarily increase the value of your home, but it can certainly decrease it. Generally speaking, prospective home buyers assume that faulty roofing is taken care of before putting a house on the market; as this is a major red flag for anyone buying a home. While you may not add value, you won’t lose any and won’t scare buyers off because of a leaking roof.

Windowsroofing collinsville il

New windows have the potential to add some value to homes, depending on what you install. Adding additional windows lets in extra lighting, which adds value and decreases the need for electric lighting. Furthermore, new insulated windows help regulate the temperature
and could cut down costs on energy for future owners.

Kitchens & Bathrooms

While adding value to
your home may end up being a game of trying not to lost value, majorly upgrading a kitchen or bathroom is something that home buyers tend to pay more for. However, this comes with a disclaimer. Kitchen and bathroom renovations that indulge too many personal tastes may end up scaring buyers away. Of course, you want to make the kitchen your own, but make sure someone else can see themselves cooking in it!

Applianceswindows collinsville il

Lastly, appliances are another place that home values can drop. Outdated, inefficient, eyesore appliances turn many buyers back, due to the extra cost of replacing them. If you’re serious about moving your home, replace old appliances that you’re not proud of. Likewise, make sure new appliances don’t adhere to much to personal tastes; over-the-top colors and unnecessarily expensive appliances could work in the opposite direction.

In conclusion, there’s no formula to follow for increasing the value of your home. Keeping up with routine maintenance is a big part of it while improving upon small or dysfunctional spaces can help increase the home value, but only if you’re truly making smart and practical home improvements.

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Smart Home Suggestions for true Home Improvement!smart home collinsville il

While some may be afraid of the term “smart home,” it shouldn’t be nearly that frightening. It doesn’t mean your home will rise up against you, or conspire to control your daily life. Making your home smart means making it in tune with your daily life and make things easier. While home technology is wide-ranging and ever-evolving, here are a few of our favorite technological advancements we suggest you make to your home during your next home improvement!

LED Lighting

Many may not think of this as being much of a technological advancement, anymore. LED lighting has been on the scene for years, but it is just starting to gain popularity in home building. LED lights use less energy and last longer; making them a no-brainer to include in your remodeling project.

Tankless Water Heaters

A smart home may also feature a tankless water heater. By instantly heating only the water you need, these innovations cut down on wasted energy and water. Additionally, they eliminate the need for a huge tank; units are easily attached to the wall.

Smart Home Accessories

There is an endless amount of smart accessories on the market today. Apps that pair with everything from your oven to your security system, wireless controls for the home entertainment system and pool, and other capabilities make the hassles of daily living non-existent.

Solar Power

While still not as cost effective, solar power has become increasingly utilized in residential construction. Solar panels that can be placed on the roof make it more cost-effective to power everything in your home and helps save on energy bills. However, you’ll pay a pretty penny for installation.

Scratch-Resistant Materials

While these are far from futuristic, scratch-resistant materials such as laminate, vinyl, and others save your surfaces from scratches, stains, and more. These especially come in handy for remodelers that have to keep kids in mind.

Essentials for your New Basement Design

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Make the newly finished basement the favorite room of your home!finished basement collinsville il

Looking to make your basement into more living space? A finished basement becomes a valuable part of any home. Whether it’s for getting together with friends or getting away from it all, your finished basement should have all the amenities as those enjoyed on the upper levels of your home.  Make sure you add these things into your design to ensure a functional and comfortable finished basement.

Kitchen Area

While some basement remodelers opt for a simple bar and sink for mixing drinks, it can be beneficial to include more culinary ability in the basement. Whether it’s the addition of a microwave and mini-fridge or a full kitchen; you’ll be glad you aren’t running up and down the stairs with drinks and snacks.


The same principle applies to a bathroom. It’s easy, convenient and saves the up and down when it’s time for you to go. Furthermore, it can be a lifesaver to have an extra bathroom available even when you aren’t entertaining downstairs. Family and other visitors may be directed to the bathroom in the basement, which saves you from snooping guests in the upstairs bedrooms!

Storage Space

It can be easy to get caught up in decorating and not save any space for functionality. Saving a little space for storage is still needed in the basement. From holiday decorations to old clothes and more; be sure to include plenty of storage to help ease clutter throughout the house.

Lot’s O’ Lighting

Remember, folks. You’re in a basement. The lighting situation isn’t going to be spectacular even if you do have a window. Be generous with lamps and lighting to ensure a light, joyful place for friends and family to gather.

Workout Space

It shouldn’t just be all about laying around and doing nothing. Be sure to include a way to stay active even if you can’t get outside. Whether it’s saving space for a treadmill, elliptical machine, or just some free weights; the basement is also a great space to get in a quick workout when your outside plans don’t work out!


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