What Should You Look for in a Home Renovation Company?

Home Renovation Drawings

So you have a house and you like it, but you don’t love it. You want to renovate it. What should you look for in a home renovation company?

What’s the End Goal

First, consider what you want to accomplish. For example, maybe you want a new kitchen and bathroom on the first floor, renovated bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor, and a two-story addition with a family room added on to the side of the house. It’s good to make a list of your wants and needs.


Next, think about what could go wrong. What if you have a conflict with a contractor? Or what if you and your spouse disagree on preferences which hold up the project? What if contractors find unexpected termites, mold or faulty wiring? Make a list of some “what ifs.”

Now you’re ready to do some research, which can be online and in-person. For instance, you can go online and search area contractors to see who’s in the area. Furthermore, you can visit their websites to get a feel for who they are and what they offer. You can also look for online reviews and testimonials to see how others thought about using their services. What about friends and family? Ask them if they’ve had any renovation work done, and who they used. Find out if they liked their experience or not. If you want, visit the offices of some of your potential choices to meet in person with staffers and see how they treat you. Do they answer your questions satisfactorily? Do they seem friendly and willing to help you? Do you feel heard?

The Right Expertise

There are many people who can work on home renovations, from architects to designers, and construction firms to contractors. You might use one or a combination of all of them depending on your needs. Sometimes you’re able to find a firm that ticks all the boxes, offering you everything you want in one company. Other times you might have to have a hybrid– working with one person from one company and another from a different company in order to achieve desired results. Do you want to only deal with one person/one company or are you open to working with multiple people and companies?

Home renovator measuring windows for project

Once you narrow down some choices you’ll want to make sure the good ones are licensed and have insurance. Do they provide written contracts and warranties? They should! How long have they been in business? Can they give you references to check?

Fair Pricing

A lot of the final decision comes down to money. Can your home renovation company accomplish what you want done within your budget? If yes, that’s great! If not, you might need to look elsewhere. It’s always a good idea to discuss costs when talking with companies, since you don’t want to be blindsided. After all, home renovations aren’t cheap– you’re investing money in your personal space and you want it all to work out well.


Ask what services are covered under a contract. Ask to see a sample contract. How many design drafts are included in the contract? Who will be the project manager and do they stay on site all day or not? Are subcontractors used? When could the job start and when could it finish? These are just some basic questions worth asking a potential home renovation company you’d like to work with.

When you do talk with companies, you should be able to clearly define (to them) your project. They can then give you a written estimate for the work they’d perform. If you want, get quotes from three area companies and compare them. See which company seems to really want your business versus which one barely communicates with you or doesn’t fill out much detail in their paperwork. You can get a good feel for how companies operate based on how thorough or not their work quotes are.

Go With Your Gut!

Finally, trust your instincts. If you don’t feel good about a particular person or company, you don’t have to choose them! Instead, you should go with someone whom you feel you can trust. They should answer your questions and treat you with respect. Having a good rapport with the person or team renovating your home can make all the difference in the end.

Ideally, you want good results. You’re taking time, money and brain power to make a home renovation happen– so it had better be great! Go with a home renovation company that has good reviews and a good reputation, as well as experience and an overall cost you can afford.

If you’d like to renovate your home in the Syracuse, NY, region, consider hiring Scott Merle Builders to do the work. Please call 315-409-4124 to get connected and share your plans.

Are Bathroom Remodels a Sound Investment?

 man applying ceramic tile to a bathtub enclosure wall.

When you go into your bathroom, do you find yourself wishing it wasn’t so outdated? Could you use more counter space? Or storage space in cabinets and such? Does the color scheme bother you?

Oftentimes, people move into a house and the bathroom looks the way the builder or original inhabitants wanted it to look. And most people just accept it, and go about living their lives, using the bathroom that someone else designed. However, the longer you live in a house, the more it becomes yours, and it makes sense to remodel the bathroom to better suit your particular taste(s) and need(s).

The Benefits of a Bathroom Remodel

What are some benefits of a bathroom remodel? Well, not only will it help increase your home’s value (if you intend to sell sometime soon), but it also makes the bathroom more up-to-date, which should make you feel good. After all, this time around, you get to call the shots. You can pick out the new toilet. You can figure out if it’s time to replace the bathtub with a convenient walk-in shower. And you can add some grab bars in key places since you’re “not getting any younger.” Meanwhile, you can upgrade the lighting, too. You’d be surprised at how many people have fairly dark bathrooms where it’s hard to see their own reflection in the mirror. Brighten up the room!

You might have an old bathroom that’s costing you too much money. Maybe it’s time to replace leaky faucets and inefficient toilets that use too much water. Modern replacements can help save money on utility costs.

Is your current bathroom a cluttered mess? Make it a less stressful room by having it remodeled to better accommodate your towels, toiletries and medicines. The room can be reconfigured to maximize the space.

In Central New York and specifically the Syracuse area, Scott Merle Builders can remodel bathrooms. Please call 315-409-4124 for more info.

Create More Functional Space By Finishing Your Basement

beautiful finished basement with bar and fireplace

Ever since the COVID pandemic started around March 2020, more and more people are spending time at home. Their home is truly their sanctuary.

With that in mind, do you have a basement? Is it finished? A lot of people have basements that are “bare bones” whereas they might have a furnace, water heater and some other equipment down there, and perhaps a washer-dryer combo. Then it’s pretty much piles of cardboard boxes and “stuff” that’s being stored. However, these days, it’s time to start thinking of the basement as functional space– not just unused or storage space.

Finished Basements = More Space

Can you create more functional space by finishing your basement? Definitely. You could actually make your basement so nice that you’d actually want to hang out down there. What are some uses of a finished basement? A lot of men like to create their “man cave” featuring a bar, movie screen, comfortable chairs, and a place to play video games or poker. Women might like to create a “craft room” where they can not only store their crafting supplies, but also have a well-lit table to do their work on– nice! And what about kids? Why not finish the basement and have a giant kids’ play area, complete with lots of toys and perhaps a jungle gym or pool of colorful balls to jump into? This is especially nice during a cold, snowy Syracuse winter.

Some people decide to finish their basement because their family is growing and they need more bedrooms. They might even want to add a “downstairs toilet and shower” for longtime overnight guests.

Finishing a basement helps expand a home’s square footage without having to do a room addition to the house. It can also help increase your home’s value.

Do you want to explore the idea of finishing your basement? Scott Merle Builders in Syracuse, New York, can help you figure out “the plan” and then make it a reality. Please call 315-409-4124 for more info.

Is Building a Custom Home Worth It?

Here’s a great question: Is building a custom home worth it? Well, it’s worth it to some people and not worth it to others. For those who have a dream home in their mind(s) and want to see it come to life, and they have plenty of money to make their dream possible, then a custom home is totally worth it! For those who have major financial “issues and challenges,” a custom home might not be the right choice, at least at this time…

Now, for those who want to build their dream home, a custom home makes sense. Why? Well, they can have all sorts of input on its design, from how it looks to what color(s) it is, and from how it’s laid out, to where it is located and what direction it faces.

Production Homes Vs Custom Homes

Custom Homes

Sure, you could go with a “production home,” and that would look a lot like all the other homes in an area… or you could go with a custom home that makes you stand out from the rest. A custom home is distinct and unique. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to “look like everybody else,” and you don’t want to be “plain,” then a custom home is worth it.

With a custom home, you generally would find a builder, like Scott Merle Builders of suburban Syracuse, NY, and work with him to see your plans to fruition. You’ve got ideas in your head which can then be put on paper and dealt with, professionally. For instance, you want a fireplace in the living room and you want a hot tub in your bathroom– is that possible?

The builder will give you options and explain what makes sense and what doesn’t. With home construction there are certain norms and rules, of course, but every now and then a builder can break a norm/rule and go a little wild. Say, for instance, you want to have a spiral slide stairs between floors or a hidden room to keep your wine or valuables– a custom builder can probably make those out-of-the-box ideas a reality for you. 

More Customization = Fewer Future Changes

If you get “more customization now,” then you’ll have “fewer expensive changes later.” After all, you’re starting from scratch rather than trying to remodel an older place and turn it into the look and feel of what you want. Sometimes it’s easier to just start new! Custom home builders offer you many options that a production builder wouldn’t, such as designing your unique floorplan or adding on amenities like a pool and deck in the backyard. Meanwhile, custom home builders are flexible when it comes to mixing styles. Even if it’s not “conventional” or “normal,” they’re pretty open-minded about your eclectic taste(s).

Roofer sheeting new home

Are you worried that having a custom built home will be too expensive? Keep in mind that builders are flexible. While you may not be able to include absolutely everything you “want” in your home, you can probably afford most of the things you’d need and appreciate, and builders have a way of helping you sort out your wants and needs so you’re happy in the end.

If you’re looking for a “forever home” where you plan to live the rest of your life, then why not have a custom home built to your liking? If you’re going to be there for several decades, you might as well have a place designed exactly to your liking– corresponding well with your style as well as your functional needs. 

When searching for a home, it can be hard to find one that “ticks all the boxes.” It can be difficult finding an existing home for sale that has everything you want and need for a reasonable price… in the area you want to be in. Therefore, it makes sense to have a custom home built on land you pick out, with a look and feel that’s best suited to your lifestyle. 

If and when you decide to have Scott Merle Builders build you a custom home, keep in mind there’s no competition among other home buyers– it’s just you and what you want! Since everything will be new, you shouldn’t have to worry about repairs and replacements anytime soon. You’re the first owner of the house and you play a major role in its creation. Meanwhile, it can be built to meet current building codes, with updated features you wouldn’t find in other homes. 

Why not call Scott Merle Builders to discuss a custom built home? You can discuss a site, the scope/size of the home, the structure’s complexity and specifications you’d like to share. Call 315-409-4124 or email

Is It Better to Remodel Your Home to Build a Brand New One?

Is it better to remodel a home or buy a new one? This decision is a big one, for sure… and it can cause you a lot of headaches. You have to decide if where you currently live is a place where you want to stay, or if you’d prefer to be in a new location. You also have to take into account the size of your current home and figure out if you’d like something smaller or bigger. Then, of course, there’s the time element– do you have several weeks or months to put up with remodeling projects or do you just want a new place that’s “move-in ready?” 

The Time to Remodel…

Home Renovations Vs. Complete Rebuilds

Remodeling a house is a good idea if you like where you live and just want to make some changes to improve the place you already have– freshening it up, and perhaps expanding a room or two. If you think about it, even if you were to buy a new house, you’d probably end up doing some remodeling there, since not everything is as you want it. So, remodeling an existing home is easier than buying new because then you don’t have to move all your stuff to the new place and you don’t have to literally adjust to a new location, which means different neighbors, restaurants, schools, etc. Meanwhile, “move-in ready” houses can be quite expensive. Are you ready to pay upwards of $300K for a new home? 

What are some key questions you can ask yourself? How about, “Is staying where I’m at important to me?” You should also ask, “Do I have the budget to make renovations to my current place or buy a new place all together?” Some other things to consider would be can you renovate your existing home without changing the floor plan and will remodeling projects increase the home’s value? Finally, “What’s my long-term plan for what I want out of a home?” Sometimes people know they want to move and start over, brand new, while other times they’re perfectly happy staying put and just making some cosmetic/functional changes. Moving to a new place could affect your property taxes and your mortgage. 

If you do consider moving to a new home, expect a long search to find/build a new home in a new location. This can be a stressful task. Yes, relocating means new beginnings, new surroundings, new people and new experiences. But it can also mean loneliness, buyer’s remorse, and increased costs, including higher taxes. Then there’s the issue of actually making the move to a new house– transporting all your stuff to the new place can be overwhelming. Are you ready to sort stuff? Will you throw away some things? Do you have the time and energy to do that sort of thing? 

Even though the allure of a new house may seem magical to most people, there are also a lot of costs and headaches involved. That said, it’s oftentimes easier to just decide to remodel the house where you currently reside. 

What are some of the main advantages of renovating a house? Well, it costs less because it’s on a room-by-room basis. You don’t generally remodel everything in a house. Instead, you pick and choose what rooms need updating, such as the bathrooms and kitchen. Also, when you choose to have some remodeling work done, you get to pick features and colors and things you want, such as the addition of a walk-in shower (to replace the bathtub you don’t use or like) or the addition of an island in the kitchen so you’ll have more counter and storage space to make the room more functional. Plus, there’s the issue of time. You don’t have to do everything all at once. You can choose to remodel one room this year, and another the next, etc. If you were to move to a new house, you’d be faced with the big task to fill all the rooms with your stuff in a very short time, and that can be exhausting. 

The Time to Build a New Home…

Building Custom Homes

When would it make sense to buy a new place instead of remodel? Well, if your current house is literally crumbling and in near-shambles, it might be time to move. If you look around and think, “Every single thing in this house needs updating,” then it’s probably better to just buy or build a new place. Also, if you’re the kind of person who absolutely hates a mess in your house and doesn’t want to be bothered with construction workers in your house for several days, weeks or even months at a time, then consider a new house rather than remodeling. One more thing: if you’ve recently come into money and cost isn’t an issue, then have your custom dream home built! 

Typically, most people choose to buy a new house when they’ve totally outgrown their smaller, older one. Say, for instance, you and your spouse have lived in a nice little “house for two” for a couple years. But then your first baby arrives, followed by one or two more a few years later. Soon you’re noticing that your current home doesn’t have the amount of bedrooms or play areas your kids want and need… so you start thinking, “Maybe we could have an addition put on to this house.” For some people, with money, physical space (to build) and time on their side, this works well. For others, it’s “Nope, we need a new, bigger house and we need it now!” 

As you’d imagine, deciding whether or not to remodel versus move to a new house involves a lot of thinking and planning– it’s not a simple decision to make. 

Need some professional help weighing your options? Call Scott Merle Builders of Syracuse, NY. Scott Merle Builders does home renovations as well as new home constructions. The number to call is 315-409-4124. 

Consider These Winter Home Renovation Ideas

Scott Merle Builders of Baldwinsville, NY, knows that winter in Syracuse (and Central New York) gets downright cold! Winter is the time of year when most New Yorkers don’t go outdoors as much as they would in the summer (unless, perhaps, they ski)… While indoors this winter, why not have Scott Merle Builders do some home renovation work at your house?

Renovating Bathroom

What are some winter home renovation ideas?


How about adding insulation to your house? If you’re like most homeowners, you barely know the insulation is there, let alone check to see how it’s doing over the years. That said, there could be some spots in your house that would benefit from improved or new insulation. When you pay special attention to your home’s insulation, you can expect to improve your home’s overall energy-efficiency. That, in turn, should equal less costly utility bills.

New and Better Technologies

Consider having Scott Merle Builders install a new programmable thermostat. Thanks to technology, your thermostat can be programmed to adjust the temperature in your house at certain times, thereby increasing the energy efficiency of your home. Why not have the programmable thermostat heat your house to 65 during the day when you’re not home, but make it 70 at night when you want to be warm and cozy in bed?

New Flooring Systems

What about your floors? If you have old flooring in your kitchen or bathroom, winter is a great time to have it replaced. A lot of times, old flooring is ripped, coming apart, buckling, or just plain ugly after years of wear and tear. Imagine how nice new flooring would look in your home, making it look more up-to-date and attractive? Best of all, you get to pick what you want, rather than “what was here when we bought the place.”

Bring Dream Bathroom to Life

Finally, there’s the bathroom– a room you use often, right? Winter is a good time to have the bathroom renovated to gain more storage space, adjust the lighting, and improve the functional space and overall look to your liking.

This winter, call Scott Merle Builders and find out what we can do for you, to make your home more energy-efficient, attractive and comfortable; Our number is 315-409-4124.

Reasons to Have Your Basement Professionally Finished

Finished Basement

Are you currently utilizing your basement or is it just “there” and not really being used? Maybe it’s time you have  your basement professionally finished…

Increase Property Value

Basements can increase the value of your property if they’re finished because they add value to the house. You can have a nice living space created in the basement, and it can be used for a variety of purposes. 

More Versatile Space

Sometimes people get their basement finished because they need another bedroom or two. It’s easier to finish the basement than it is to add on a whole other section of the house. Say you and your spouse have kids… and more kids… and you need bedrooms for them– why not use the basement? As long as the basement has two forms of egress (ways to get out safely in case of a fire), you should be good. Also, to be considered a bedroom, the room must have a closet.

In addition to bedrooms, people often want to add an additional bathroom, and they can have it in their basement! If you add a bedroom and a bathroom to your basement, these improvements significantly increase the value of your property, especially in a market where people are looking for several bedrooms and bathrooms in a house they buy. Plus, if there are zoning restrictions that don’t allow you to make certain additions to your property, you can use your basement and still gain functional space. 

A Place for Hosting

Finally, people like getting their basements finished to add space for out-of-town guests, as well as storage and/or recreation purposes. Maybe it becomes a place for kids to play and run around in, or where teens gather at a ping pong table or a pool table. Or it’s where friends stay overnight when they come to visit… 

Are you thinking of getting your basement finished? In the Syracuse area, have Scott Merle Builders do the job; call 315-409-4124 for more info. 

An Overview of Home Renovation Loans

Do you know about home renovation loans? Generally, these happen when you’re buying a home that needs to be remodeled or repaired. A bank gives you money to pay for repairs as part of your first mortgage on the home. What about when you’ve already purchased a home and/or you want to remodel/renovate your existing home? In this case, it’s still possible to take a renovation loan but these are generally qualified for and approved differently.

The Advantages of a Home Renovation Loan

Home Renovations

If you’re buying a fixer-upper and want to literally fix it up, a home renovation loan is nice because you only have one application and one mortgage to qualify for… and to pay each month. The loan gives you the ability to borrow more money based on the expected value of the upgraded home. The loan can be especially helpful if you plan to restore an older home. Money-wise, expect a lower cost because the interest rate is typically low and you’ll have a longer time period to pay back the loan. And, since you’re taking out only one first mortgage, then the interest (including the cost for renovation) will be tax deductible.

Are There Risks?

Keep in mind that if you do take out a home renovation loan there’s some risk involved. Will the renovations increase the home’s value enough in order to justify the cost of its purchase and renovation? Furthermore, you’re also set up to deal with all the headaches that come with actually making the renovations– challenges and expenses can quickly add up!

Find a Reliable Home Contractor

Thinking about renovating a house but you don’t want to do all the work yourself? Scott Merle Builders Inc. is a home remodeling contractor serving Central New York since 1975! Have Scott Merle Builders handle your renovations, which might include additions, window replacements, finished basements, sunrooms, and/or kitchen/bath remodels. Custom home renovations help increase a home’s resale value, making it better for those who live there now and for those who might live there in the future.

Now’s a good time to call Scott Merle Builders Inc. to discuss renovations you’d like; Call 315-409-4124. You can also email

3 Reasons to Redo Your Deck This Summer

Backyard Deck

The year 2020 has been unlike any other. After a large portion of our population was cooped up for months, it seems like we’re all ready to get back to enjoying the outdoors. Nevertheless, as the pandemic continues on, this may be a summer where it’s best to enjoy the outdoors at home, rather than a more public setting.

That’s of course one reason why you should consider redoing your deck this summer or having a new one installed. Here are some more.

New Decks Increase the Resale Value of Your Property Without Much Maintenance

Redoing or adding a new deck to your home is one surefire way to make your home more attractive to a potential buyers if or when you decide to put your home on the market. What’s more, thanks to new technologies and better materials, modern decks require little maintenance. So, it’s something you can enjoy for the years you live on your property, then recoup part or all of your investment when it’s time to sell.   

A Deck Can Serve as an Exterior Focal Point

Undoubtedly, a deck can beautify any property, and serve as an outdoor, exterior focal point in your home. There are a wide range of paint and stain options, ensuring you can match the overall look and décor of your home. What’s more, it provides myriad landscaping opportunities, as perhaps you could feature certain bushes, shrubs or a garden around or near your deck.

A Place to Bond

Someday, when things go back to normal, we’ll once again be able to enjoy large parties and gatherings. And as a host, is there anything better than grilling out side in the summer and hosting and a large group of friends and families? It’s a good time for all…especially when you have a renovated or new deck to show off.

If you’re interested in redoing your deck or having a new one installed in the Baldwinsville, NY area, contact Scott Merle Builders today.

Here’s What You Should Know About Home Renovation Loans

Home Renovation Loan

Have you always dreamed about buying a so-called “fixer upper” and turning it into your dream home? If so, you might be able to do it by applying for a home renovation loan. These types of loans can provide qualified home buyers with the money they need to fix up a property when they first move into it. Learn more about home renovation loans and see if one might be right for you below.

What is a home renovation loan?

First things first: Let’s discuss what a home renovation loan actually is. It’s a loan that you can take out when you’re buying a home that gets wrapped up into the mortgage loan that you’re getting to purchase the home. This type of loan will give you an opportunity to buy a home for a low price point and fix it up to make it more valuable in the end. There are some people who utilize these loans to turn fixer uppers into their dream homes.

What can a home renovation loan be used for?

If you’re able to secure a home renovation loan from a lender, it can be used for almost anything that you want. You can use this type of loan to remodel a kitchen or bathroom. You can also use it to replace an HVAC system. You can even use it for things like mold remediation if you would like. However, more often than not, people use these loans to make a beat-up house look dramatically better once it’s done being renovated.

How can you obtain a home renovation loan?

To obtain access to a home renovation loan, you’ll need to find a lender that specializes in offering them. Many mortgage companies have started to offer these types of loans, but not all of them do. Once you’ve found a lender willing to extend a home renovation loan to you, you’ll also need to figure out how much extra money you want to borrow for your home. This will require you to come up with a home renovation plan so you can decide how much it will cost you to pull off.

Considering taking out a home renovation loan to fix up a house you’re going to be buying? Scott Merle Builders has experience helping homeowners carry out the renovations they want to perform. Call us at 315-409-4124 to learn more about how you can use a home renovation loan to your benefit.