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.

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.

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 Scott@MerleBuilders.com.

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.

Is It Better to Renovate Your Home Or Build a New One?

Is it better to renovate or build a new home? That’s a good question.

If you’re looking at an older home to renovate, you have to consider expenses. Would it be cost effective to renovate the house or would it make more sense to just build a brand new one? What are some of the factors that would influence your decision?

Consider the Foundation

Home's Foundation

First, how’s the foundation? Older homes were built long ago when construction techniques were different than they are today. Therefore, your foundation might not meet the standards of today. If you have a basement, it might need all new wiring, heating and ventilation– and these are just the basics. Oftentimes, the really older homes– from the late 1800s or early 1900s for example– are just so old that it’s more cost effective to build a brand new home and start fresh. However, if it’s a home from, say, the 1950s onward, it might make sense to renovate. One thing to consider in particular is the land the house is built on– is it prone to flooding? Is your foundation cracked or sinking? Are your floors level or not? Sometimes the land a house is built on is just not a “good fit” for a home and it behooves you to move and start over in another location. But, for most people, the land below the house is stable and renovations, if not too expensive, make sense.


Next, if you were to build new, you could pick and choose what you want in your new house. There are cost advantages to this “flexibility.” For instance, if you don’t want or need a garage, then don’t get one. Or perhaps you don’t want a fireplace in the new house… or a pool out back… With constructing a new house you get to customize it with regards to your desires.

What’s the Budget

The budget is usually what ultimately guides the decision on whether to renovate or start new. You have to assess your financial situation and decide how much money you can afford for fixing up an older place versus starting fresh with a brand new one. Costs tend to need a little “wiggle room,” so if the estimate is, say, $10,000 to renovate a part of your home, keep in mind that unforeseen circumstances may require an extra $1,000 or two. This is true with new builds, too. And, of course, there are maintenance costs to be considered as well. If you can, come up with a spreadsheet that is detailed with cost estimates, including potential overruns. Look at the sheets, comparing renovation costs with new build costs to get a clearer picture to help influence your final decision. It’s a good idea to write down your end goal(s) and to get advice from experts about your project. 

Home Renovations Vs. Complete Rebuilds


Here’s something to consider: time is an issue. Some people don’t want the hassle of living in a home that is being renovated. And sometimes renovations take a long time. Should they move into a hotel temporarily? Or live at home while workers are coming and going, daily? Then again, waiting for a new home to be constructed will probably take even longer!

Personal Preferences

Ask yourself this simple question: “What do I want most?” Can your existing home get up to par with renovations? Or is it impossible to please you, even with potential renovations? Here’s something to think about… some people live in developments where they’re not allowed to make big changes. The homeowners association has a set of rules and regulations. For example, a house in this kind of community might have been built with a one car garage. But the person living there marries, and his spouse wants a two car garage– but that’s not allowed. In this case, it would make sense for the couple to build a new home somewhere else, matching their wants and needs. 

Financial Implications

Budget for Building or Renovating a Home

For those with a mortgage, did you know some mortgages include clauses that deal with whether or not you can tear down your home to make way for a rebuild? Stipulations might be in place about how soon the rebuilding process has to begin, and some lenders will want to be included in the planning process. In some cases, your mortgage could forbid you from demolishing your home!

Energy Efficiency

Finally, if you’re the type of person who wants a more “green” type of house– one that’s more environmentally-friendly, then you’ll be thinking about more energy efficient windows, siding and appliances. Building a new home basically gives you the opportunity to make the greenest of choices with things like high-efficiency insulation and water-saving fixtures. It can be harder to achieve green goals with remodels.

Are you thinking of renovating your house in the Syracuse area? Or do you want to build a brand new house? Either way, Central New York’s Scott Merle Builders can meet your needs. Please call 315-409-4124 today with your questions. 

What Are the Steps of Renovating Your Home?

Home RenovationsRenovating your home can be a daunting task if you try to tackle it all at once. Rather than overwhelming yourself with a renovation project, work your way through a series of steps to get your renovation going. Here are the most important steps when renovating a house.

Plan out what you want to do during your renovation and make a budget for it.

Before you do anything else, it’s important for you to figure out exactly what you want to do during your renovation. Are you going to renovate your kitchen? Your kitchen and your bathrooms? Your entire main living area? Planning will give you a clear vision of what you want to do within your home. It’ll also help you create a budget for your renovation.

Find a contractor to head up your renovation.

Once you know what you want to do during your renovation and how much you can afford to spend on it, look for a licensed and insured contractor in your area who specializes in renovating homes. Try to track down a contractor who has a lot of experience and comes highly recommended by others. They’ll be able to take a look at your plans and help you come up with a final design for your renovation.

Obtain the proper permits and materials for your project.

After you have a final design for your project in place, it’ll almost be time to get started on the renovation itself. But before you do, it’s essential for your contractor to pull the proper permits and order the right materials for the job. Work with your contractor to get permits and pick out the materials you want to use.

Do demolition within your home.

At the beginning of the actual renovation process, your contractor will need to do demolition on your home. During demolition, they will rip out anything that you want to get rid of, knock down any walls that won’t be sticking around, and prepare your home for a makeover.

Start putting everything back together the way you want it.

Once demolition is done, your contractor can begin putting your home back together so that it looks amazing once the job is finished. As long as you’ve followed all of the other steps listed here, this should be the fun part of the process. You’ll get to see your home come back to life over the course of a few weeks.

Would you like to renovate your home? Let Scott Merle Builders help you out along the way. We can handle just about any home remodeling and renovation project, no matter how big or small it might be. Call us at 315-409-4124 today to arrange.

What Permits Do You Need for a Kitchen Remodel?

Kitchen Remodel Permits If you’re planning on painting your kitchen, installing new flooring in it, or replacing a faucet, you probably won’t have to worry too much about obtaining permits to do it. However, if you’re going to be taking on a more extensive kitchen remodeling project, you will need to get your hands on the proper permits to avoid facing fines and other penalties in the future. There are some instances in which you could even need to redo work done to your kitchen if you don’t get the right permits before remodeling it.

Permits You’ll Need for a Full Kitchen Remodel

There are a couple of permits you might have to get during a kitchen remodeling job. The first kind of permit is called a trade-specific permit. It’s the type of permit you’ll need if you’re going to be doing any electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work in your kitchen. If you’re adding new electrical components to the space or moving your plumbing around, you’ll need to apply for a trade-specific permit to do it. You can usually get this permit within a matter of just a few days without much of a fuss.

The other kind of permit is called a building permit, and it’ll cover you in the event that you’re going to be taking out or adding walls to your new kitchen. You’ll typically need to provide your city or town with your kitchen remodeling plans before you’re able to get this type of permit. You may also need to obtain both a trade-specific permit and a building permit if you’re going to need to do electrical or plumbing work while putting up or tearing down walls.

As you might imagine, it can be a huge hassle to get permits prior to starting a kitchen remodel. Scott Merle Builders will make things easier on you by getting the right permits for any project you ask us to do. Whether you want us to remodel your kitchen or renovate another part of your home, we’ll make sure we get the proper permits before we begin. Call us at 315-409-4124 today to find out more about our home remodeling and renovating services.

How to Prepare for a Home Renovation

Home Renovations Scott Merle Builders builds homes in Central New York. The company also handles home renovations.

If you’ve been thinking about having some work done at your home, what are some ways to prepare for a company like Scott Merle Builders to come to your house and make your dream a reality?

Plan for Finances

First, you’ll want to figure out your finances at the moment. What does your budget look like and what can you do to save and/or get more money to “get what you want?” Perhaps you might apply for a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit to help finance the home renovation(s). Other options include taking out a reverse mortgage, dealing with contractor financing, or applying for a FHA Title 1 loan. You might ask a relative, like a parent, for a loan. Or, if you want to save up money over time, commit to putting away a certain percentage of your paycheck toward the home renovation project each week or two… that way you’ve got a goal to work toward to, with the money all in one spot.

Iron Out the Details

Next, you’ll want to figure out what you really want done at your house, down to the details. For example, say you want to have your kitchen remodeled. Ask yourself, “Yeah, but what does that mean for me?” Maybe it’s something simple like, “Well, I just really want brand new granite countertops put in. They should be black and white.” Or it could be more elaborate, as you make a list of wants/needs, and come up with specific details including colors and materials. Do some research online and in stores to see prices for items you’re interested in, such as new lighting, cabinets, and appliances.

Is DIY a Realistic Option?

Okay, here comes the interesting part: what can you do yourself versus what should you hire someone else to do? For some people, the physicality of renovation work is too much– especially if they have bad backs. Others will tell you, “I wish I could but I am clueless about electricity, carpentry, and such– I can’t even read a ruler right!” So depending on how much you can handle, some of the work can be “do-it-yourself,” while other parts of the work should be done by professionals like Scott Merle Builders.

Finally, it’s important to be flexible. Rather than get your mind and heart set on something, it’s best to leave room for “leeway.” Just like life, expect the unexpected and do your best to roll with it.


Is Winter a Good Time to Refinish Your Basement?

Basement Renovations

50473784 – home improvement.

Most people tend to think of Buffalo or Erie, Pa., as the nation’s snowiest cities, but the truth is Syracuse is. If you check the Golden Snowball Award page on wikipedia for snowiest city, Syracuse keeps winning that title year-after-year.

During a cold and snowy Syracuse winter, it’s a good time to refinish your basement. Think about it: contractors like Scott Merle Builders don’t do as much exterior work in the winter, so they have time to focus on indoor projects, like your basement. They can replace floors, update lights, reroute plumbing pipes, do some painting, and more. Winter months also offer some discounts on things like appliances, lumber products, windows and cabinet lines since January and February are pretty slow at retail, right? Before Christmas, there are sales. After the Christmas rush, businesses get a little desperate for sales in the winter doldrum months, which can benefit a person even more with “rock bottom prices.”

Also, government agencies don’t have as much to do in the winter months, so you’re likely to obtain necessary work permits faster than other seasons of the year.

What are some reasons to have your basement refinished this winter? How about improved storage, creating more rooms you can use (such as a third bathroom or guest bedroom), adding value to your house (especially if you plan to sell it within the next few years), and getting some energy savings as insulation can be added, cracks can be sealed, etc.

For many people, a basement is wasted space, full of some clutter and not much else. But a basement can be so much more. Turn yours into functional space where things are better organized, the rooms are cleaner, better lit, and more attractive, and, if you want, gain extra “rooms” in your house where you can actually spend time doing things you love– basements make for great movie rooms, man caves, tool workshops and kids’ playrooms.

In Central New York, when you want to work with a company that’ll do a great job refinishing your basement this winter, call Scott Merle Builders of Liverpool at 315-409-4124 or email scott@merlebuilders.com.