The lingering recession isn’t stopping Ark-La-Tex homeowners from decking out their decks and patios with the latest, greatest grills, furniture and water features.

It makes sense, after all, to invest in your home if you are spending more time there and less money taking vacations and eating in restaurants.

Here are 10 upgrades that could make your patio your favorite room at home:

Lighting. You can choose from an impressive array of low-voltage patio and deck lights that are as eye-catching during the light of day as they are after dark. Still, place beauty behind function. Place your lights near stairways, steps, deck edges and on railing posts to help you and your guests navigate the area safely once the sun goes down. Be sure to shed plenty of light on your cooking and dining areas.

Fire features. Fire pits and fireplaces are becoming must-haves for ambience and warmth on chilly spring and fall evenings. Save on your outdoor fireplace or barbecue by installing a pre-fabricated version that looks just as nice as custom-built. Stone-look fireplaces and outdoor ovens come in kits that allow you to install them in just a couple of hours.

A powerhouse grill. Almost every deck has a grill. You can opt for a built-in version or save a few bucks with a portable, store-bought barbecue. Prices range from around $100 for a kettle-style charcoal grill to $4,200 for a top-of-the-line gas grill with an infra-red burner and double side burners. A tip: Choose a model with plenty of space for food prep.

Extra seating. Build in some benches, add perimeter walls around the patio that are sturdy enough to sit on and pick out an outdoor “living room” set -a couch, chairs and coffee table – built to withstand sun, heat and rain.

Water elements. Decorative water elements like ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, hot tubs and swimming pools have become extra-popular with “staycationing” homeowners who are using their patios more often.

Carefree landscaping. Choose low-maintenance landscaping, including native plants that need little or no watering, so that you can spend your weekends enjoying your patio and yard rather than working in it. Choose a material like pavers for your patio floor and you won’t need to spend time and money sealing it. For decks, consider composite boards that never need painting.

Water and energy savers. Native, drought-tolerant plants will help you save water and so will a drip irrigation system that targets just the plants that need a drink.

Also, permeable pavers allow rain water to filter through to the ground instead of running off into the street; solar-powered or LED patio lights are energy-savers; and recycled materials are an environmentally sound choice for benches and the patio floor.

Shade. Without shade, you won’t be able to use your patio during the hot summer days. Add an awning, put up a pergola or plant some leafy trees around your outdoor room to block the heat and the sun.

Wireless devices. You’ll use your patio more often if you can watch TV and surf the Internet outdoors. Upgrade your indoor modem to a wireless system so you can get a signal on your laptop or Kindle while you’re sitting outside. Consider investing in a TV or theater system made from durable materials and designed with safety features that make it suitable for outdoor use.

A fence. Enclose your backyard oasis and protect your privacy by building a fence or wall around your yard or patio that will keep prying eyes and curious animals from intruding on your open-air refuge. The “walls” you create will make the patio feel more like another room of your house. A tip: Don’t block your view with a wall that’s too tall or a post in your line of sight from your favorite chaise lounge.

Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, has been president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. Call 318-865-4914 or visit

Make sure to check out our column EVERY THURSDAY in the Shreveport Times!

Posted by: jeb1 | July 5, 2012

Close the Door on Unlicensed Contractors

Close the Door on Unlicensed Contractors

Shreveport Times

June 28th, 2012

It seems like we’re always reading about contractors who have cheated Ark-La-Tex homeowners out of thousands of dollars after working on their roofs, driveways or air conditioning systems.

            Just last week, we learned more about a court case involving city housing inspectors who had been accused of conspiring with contractors by paying for work that was poorly done or not done at all. Charges against the inspectors were dropped, but charges are pending against the contractors.

If unscrupulous contactors can fool even the city government, what chance do the rest of us have when it comes to protecting ourselves against shoddy work or dishonest help? Unless you know a lot about home repair and construction, how can you tell if a contractor is offering quality work for a fair price?

Three words: Do your homework.

Sure, it’s quick and convenient to hire a guy who says he’s done work for your neighbors and can give you a cut-rate deal on leftover materials.

But here’s where you have some control over the quality of the work done at your home. Say, “No, thank you,” and close the door.

Your best bet for protecting yourself from home-improvement scam artists is to call a local remodeling, air conditioning, roofing, painting, paving or other company that is an established business and will schedule an appointment to meet you, assess your job and work up a firm price.  Also, make sure that they are licensed and fully insured.

Here are three common summertime scams to be on the lookout for as you take advantage of the warm weather to fix up your house and yard.

1. Air conditioning. For a regular check-up or an emergency repair, call a licensed air-conditioning technician. If the contractor finds a problem, you’ll get an explanation and an offer to replace a belt, add refrigerant or do another minor repair. For bigger glitches, you’ll get a written estimate and some time to think it over, and you’ll probably need to schedule an appointment for the work.
You’ll suffer a far bigger headache if you hire someone who knocks on your door offering to perform a tune-up or inspection for free. Without fail, the “contractor” will find a major problem during that “free” inspection. You’ll be told you need a new air conditioning system or a complicated repair that will cost thousands of dollars.

This is the oldest trick in the book.  Don’t fall for it.

2. Roofing. You’ll run into the same “opportunity” with roofing contractors after a big storm.The pitch: “I just did some work down the street for your neighbor, and I noticed your roof has the same problem.” If you hire the help, he’ll climb up onto your roof and come down with a report of leaks, broken shingles and other damage. I know one homeowner who says the contractor showed him a photo of the damage on the roof—only it wasn’t his roof! He knew because he had climbed up there to take a look the day before.  Most of us don’t climb onto the roof, so how would we know?

My advice is the same every time this happens: Hire a roofer who has a license from the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors ( who will show you proof of insurance. Call a local roofing company and ask for an appointment—and never hire a so-called roofer who shows up without an invitation.

               3. Painting. You don’t want to mess around with an exterior paint job in the Ark-La-Tex.  The sun does a number on exterior wood, so you need to protect your home by having it painted regularly with premium paint that can stand up to the harsh, outside elements.

If you’ve ever painted your own house, you know it’s not a job for amateurs. It requires scraping, sanding, patching, repairing, priming and maybe even some replacing before the first coat of paint touches the surface.

Hiring someone who offers you a “deal” on a paint job sets you up for wood trim that gets painted without any of that prep work. You could end up with a coat or two of watered-down paint that will look nice for a couple of months and then peel right off because the surface underneath. You’ll also have to have it repainted if you don’t want the summer sun to ruin your trim if it wasn’t tended to.

Again, you end up paying twice when you don’t take the time to research the contractor you allow to touch your most valuable asset—your home.

Whenever you hire a contractor, check for a valid Louisiana contractor’s license. Take some time to look for complaints about the worker with the state licensing board and the Better Business Bureau.  Also, a popular and new company review website is  Look for any issues or complaints that companies’ clients may have had.  Does the contractor’s truck have a logo painted onto it? Many storm chasers have temporary, magnetic signs made so they’ll look like they have legitimate businesses. Also, check the license plate on the truck. If it’s not from Louisiana, you can expect to pay twice for your job: Once to the scam artist, and again to the licensed, local contractor you’ll have to hire to clean up the mess.

Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch, MBA, has been president of Jeb Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting

Posted by: jeb1 | June 7, 2012

Make Your Horizontal Home More Vertical

Jeb Breithaupt, owner/president of JEB Design/Build, now has a column in the Shreveport Times!  Get useful tips and ideas EVERY THURSDAY from the Living Column.  

 Make Your Horizontal Home More Vertical

Shreveport Times

May 31, 2012  
   Does your house resemble this one: Built in the 1950s, it’s got a long, low look, with horizontal brick-maybe as wide as 12 inches-and side-sliding windows that sit so high on the wall you can barely see out of them? Is the family-room ceiling about eight feet high under a roof that’s gently sloped and covers both the garage and the house?   The home that was just described is an example of a contractor-modern style home and northwest Louisiana is full of them.  In fact, more than a million of these homes sprouted up around the country from 1948 to 1955.    So many contractor-modern homeowners tell me they just wish they could get out of those outdated houses.  Yet it’s not a great time to sell a house. So why not change the style of your contractor-modern

home instead so it looks and feels a bit more unique and somewhat less horizontal?

Before Remodeling


Here’s how to start:

1. Replace the windows and doors. You don’t have to tear down your house to change its style. In fact, if you just replace the windows and doors, the place will look like you invested in a lot more work than you did.

            Stand on your front lawn and take a look at your house. Think of the windows as its eyes and the front door as the nose. Does it need a facelift?

            The typical contractor-modern front door is a made from a smooth slab with one or two plain, vertical windows-called sidelights-on each side. Consider replacing it with a paneled door and subtle, decorative sidelights.

            Changing out the windows is a bigger job. You’ll need to make some serious wall modifications if your existing windows are 60 inches off the floor and you would like to lower them. Creating bigger openings also will allow you to change the shape of the windows from horizontal to vertical so they’re taller than wide, and make them larger or smaller. And while you’re breaking through walls anyway, consider adding extra windows. Builders in the ’50s weren’t too concerned about cross-ventilating a home because air conditioning was becoming popular, so your contractor-modern home might not have as much light as you’d like.

           2. Add some vertical elements. Extend the roof of the garage so it juts out from the rest of the house and then add a couple of columns underneath to hold it up. Other ideas: Modify your boxy-looking chimney to give it a peak, so it looks

After Remodeling

like it’s pointing upward. You could add faux dormers on the roof or install vented dormers, which gives the impression of a second story and can help cool your house off during the summer by letting air into the attic or crawl space under the roof.

             3. Keep the roof. It’s a major, costly project to replace the low-sloped roof of a contractor-modern home, so you might want to keep it; even if you convert your house to a new architectural style. The solution: Switch to a style that is different but compatible with your 50s-era abode-like Prairie style. The architecture of both kinds of homes is relatively horizontal and features low-sloped roofs, so you can add touches from the other style that won’t clash with what you’ve got.

            If you want a higher pitch, talk to your contractor about adding a second roof on top of the one you already have. But before you go that route, work with the doors and windows. That might be enough.  One caution as you add some vertical touches to your horizontal home: Avoid mixing too many diverse styles; that can make your home look thrown together. Examples: Shutters don’t “go” with a contactor-modern home, even if you add vertical windows. And a French Colonial door with panels on the bottom and a big window divided by grilles on top could look out of place if the rest of the structure features clean, horizontal lines.

 Jeb Breithaupt, B.Arch.,MBA- has been president of Jeb Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting

Posted by: jeb1 | May 24, 2012

Tips for Updating Your Older Home

Jeb Breithaupt, owner/president of JEB Design/Build, now has a column in the Shreveport Times!  Get useful tips and ideas EVERY THURSDAY from the Living Column.  

Tips for Updating Your Older Home
Shreveport Times
May 10, 2012
 older home

  Are you tired of outdated floor plans and avocado-green or harvest gold colors but you don’t want to move away from a neighborhood you love? There’s a lot you can do to update so you don’t have to uproot.

Shreveport/Bossier City area experienced an “oil boom” growth in the 1900s-1940s, which means there are plenty of homes that were built in that era. Most of those homes are well built and have held up pretty well, so their owners haven’t had to make a lot of changes over the years. However, we have had a surge of requests for renovations among owners of those post-war relics, as families move in and out of the area.

It’s tempting to start by overhauling the kitchen and bathrooms to immediately make your home look more modern, add much-needed storage space and impress your houseguests. But here’s a caution: Before you do the “pretty” part, make sure the “bones” of the house are sound.

Here are eight updates to consider if your home was built in the 1940s, 50s or even 60s:

1. Add insulation to the walls and attic. Because electricity back then was so cheap, it’s likely that your builder added very little-if any-insulation in the walls and attic. Even if he did, that insulation probably has outlived its usefulness, and it’s time to replace it or add to it. Properly installed insulation can decrease your air conditioning bills.

2. Replace the clay pipes. These pipes generally lead from the house to the sewer with plastic. Clay pipes are sturdy and can last for 100 years. But they’re porous, breakable and have multiple joints, so tree roots gravitate toward them. If they wrap around the pipe, they can crush it, and if they get inside, they can block it. Once the problem starts, replacing the pipe is more effective than trying to constantly repair them.

3. Prop up your sagging roof. The typical postwar roof has a fairly low pitch, and some are even flat. Flat roofs require regular maintenance, and even then can collect ponds of water when it rains which often lead to leaks. Choose a new roof with a good “pitch”-or slope-so water can easily drain off of it. If your roof is already pitched and covered with long-lasting shingles, you’ve probably had to replace at least some of them over the years. But if the roofer laid new shingles right over the old ones, the multiple layers can weigh more than the roof was designed to support. Remove all layers of shingles before adding new ones.

4. Update your windows. Swap your leaky, single pane metal windows with double pane, low-e glass. The new windows will cut down on drafts, keep the hot older home windowsair outside and even make your house quieter.

5. Update your electricity. Back in the ’40s and ’50s, we didn’t build homes with grounded outlets, so if your home has its original wiring, you don’t have them. Call an electrician to update your outlets and to inspect your circuits. Older homes aren’t equipped to deal with the demands of today’s energy-intensive equipment, from digital coffee pots to treadmills to home theater components.

6.  Inspect your ductwork. Old air ducts leak-and that can force your central air conditioning system to work harder and less efficiently. It might be time to replace the ducts. It is amazing what can be discovered with our modern energy efficiency tests.

7.  Fix your plumbing fixtures. I’ve seen a lot of 50-year-old toilets in older homes. While it is amazing that they have lasted for so long, it’s time to replace them. A 17 year old toilet is a water hog. Newer models use as little as 1.1 gallons of water per flush, and the standard are just 1.6 gallons. Your old one might use up to five gallons per flush! That is especially relevant now, when our area is experiencing drought conditions and our water supplies are maxed out.

8. Check for termites. Don’t wait until your favorite remodeler is poking into the walls of your older home to find out that they’re riddled with termites. Find and treat any problem now so the bugs won’t delay your renovations-or cause further damage. I remember one remodeling job where we found termites after tearing into a wall, and they had spread throughout 2- 3 rooms of the house.

Once you’ve made your home safer, sounder and more energy-efficient, you can start on the “pretty” renovations. New, stainless steel appliances, solid-surface or stone counter-tops, and beautiful tile floors will seem even more special if you install them in a home that operates as nicely as it looks.

Jeb Breithaupt, B.Arch.,MBA- has been president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting

Posted by: jeb1 | March 13, 2012

Creating a Comfortable Backyard

Tips for a Comfortable Back Porch or Patio 

 A porch or patio that overlooks your backyard can add an extra room to your home for entertaining, eating and relaxing. If you build it right, or remodel your existing porch, you can use it year-round.Here’s how:            1. Size-It Right. You’ll need enough room for everything you want to do outdoors on pleasant weekend afternoons and warm evenings. If you plan to cook and eat on the porch, carve out spaces for an outdoor mini-kitchen and a dining table with chairs. If you like to throw parties, make room for guests to both sit and move around. On the other hand, keep the size of the porch in proportion with the size of your house so it looks like it “fits” on your property. A tip: If you like a grassy lawn and landscaping, avoid building a patio so big that it takes up the whole yard.

2. Shed Some Light On It. The latest low-voltage patio and deck lights are as pretty during the day as they are when they’re lit after dark. Plus, they’ll help your guests navigate your porch safely if you install them near stairways and on railing posts. A tip: Shed plenty of light on your cooking and dining areas.

3. Warm it up. To create a four-season porch, opt to put a fire pit, chiminea, fireplace or a a propane-powered patio heater. A tip: Pre-fab stone fireplaces and outdoor ovens look just as nice as custom-built and come in kits that take just a couple of hours to install.

4. Cook On It. Every backyard porch or patio needs a grill. You can spend a little or a lot for anything from a kettle grill to a top-of-the-line gas grill with multiple, high-powered burners. You can even convert your simple back porch into an outdoor kitchen by adding a stainless steel refrigerator, a wine chiller or even a pizza oven. A tip: Look for  outdoor appliances with a safety stamp from Underwriters Laboratories that ensures the appliance is safe to use outdoors.

5. Make It Easy. You’ve got nearly as many choices for your patio floor as you do for the floors inside the house. Low-maintenance concrete styles range from plain slabs to etched and acid-stained in any color. Concrete pavers come in styles that mimic every kind of stone. A tip: Wood floors don’t hold up well under the hot Louisiana sun and require more maintenance than stone and concrete.

6. Cover it. A roof, awning, pergola or even some lush trees around your outdoor room will help block the heat and sun and make it more comfortable during the summer. A tip: Try to match the porch roof to the one on your house so the addition looks like it’s part of the original structure.

7.  Match it. Repeating design elements from the interior rooms to your outdoor room will help the space “flow” from the house as if it were out there all along.  Columns and archways, colors and even built-in elements like countertops and benches can mimic the indoor design and make the outside space feel more like home. A tip: If you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the porch, that kitchen will get a lot of wear and tear. Consider creating an alternative entryway from the house to the patio.

8. Keep it dry. Add gutters to the patio roof to prevent rain runoff from pouring onto your indoor/outdoor furniture, or on you.  A tip: Subtly slope the porch floor so water will run off of it instead of pooling.

9. Wire it. Spending time outdoors while watching college football is an unbeatable combination. Consider investing in a TV or theater system designed with safety features that make it suitable for outdoor use. Hire an electrician to calculate how much electricity and how many outlets you’ll need to power your patio. Think about lighting, appliances, the heater, and the radio, stereo or TV you’ll use outdoors. A tip: Upgrade your indoor modem to a wireless system so you can get a signal on your laptop or iPad while you’re sitting outside.

10.Plan it. Even if you want to build your own patio, get some advice from a pro before you start. A professional remodeler can recommend materials that hold up well outdoors. A lighting specialist can help you create a dramatic scene around your deck or patio.  Plumbers and electricians can install your utilities properly and advise you about which permits you’ll need for the job. Landscape designers can recommend low-maintenance plants.

Jeb Breithaupt has been president of Jeb Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting




1. Can you verify the name, address and phone number of the remodeler? Some disreputable remodelers change their company name frequently.



2. Can you find the company listed in the phone book or with the Better Business Bureau? What is the complaint record with the BBB?




3. Does the company furnish references? Have you called those references? Remodelers who have been in business for many years will be proud to furnish references from previous clients.



4. Does the company carry insurance to protect you from claims related to property damage or jobsite injuries? Will they provide you with a copy of the certificates? If an accident happens on your property, you will be liable.




5. Does the company have a Louisiana Home Improvement License and are you able to verify the company’s licenses? Any remodeler who performs work on projects over $7500 must be licensed in Louisiana.




6. Does the salesperson pressure you to sign a contract? Remodelers who have been in business for many years do not use pressure tactics.



7. Are you asked to pay for the entire job in advance, or to pay in cash to a salesperson instead of by check or money order to the company itself?




8. Does the remodeler offer, inform or extend notice of your right to cancel the contract within three days? Law requires notification in writing of your “Right of Rescission”. This grace period allows you to change your mind and declare the contract null and void without penalty (if the agreement was solicited at some place other than the contractor’s place of business or appropriate trade premises-in your home, for instance.)






9. Does the company have an established presence and good reputation in the community? “Fly by night” contractors do not.




10. Does the company offer a warranty of their work? Most homeowners want to work with a company that has been in business for many years and that will stand behind their work.




11. Does the remodeler agree in writing to begin and complete your job within a reasonable timetable? Do the remodeler’s references confirm that the company has a track record of on-time delivery?




12. Can you see 3D drawings of your space before construction starts? Using 3D drawings allows the client to see and make changes to their project before it begins. This helps to eliminate unforeseen costs and surprises during the construction phase.




13. Does the company schedule and attend meetings on time? If a remodeler is unable to keep a schedule before construction they will definitely struggle during construction.




 14. Does the remodeler arrange for the building permit? (The person who obtains the permit is the contractor of the record and therefore liable for the work.) If a remodeler suggests that the homeowner does not need a building permit that indicates that he may not be able to get one on his own, due to inability to obtain insurance.







15. Does the remodeler offer an array of options and demonstrate knowledge and experience with a variety of products, materials and techniques? You need a company who can be an “expert guide” for you during the remodeling process.




16. Is the company EPA Lead Paint certified under Section 402 of the Toxic Substances Control Act? If not it’s illegal for the company to do work which disturbs painted surfaces on a pre-1978 house. (As of April 22, 2010)




17. Does the remodeler listen to and understand your needs and wants and work with you to ensure that the plans for your job accurately reflect your expectations? One of the biggest complaints consumers have about contractors is they don’t listen. How will a remodeler know what you want if they do not listen? You should keep a record of all your wants and needs.




18. Does the company handle communications well during the construction phase? If the company does not communicate during planning they will have difficulties during construction.




19. Does the company have open accounts with subcontractors and suppliers? Most suppliers are willing to extend credit to financially sound companies.




20. Does the home remodeler have a track record of successful projects similar to the one you are planning? You don’t want to be the “test case.”




21. Has the remodeler earned any professional designations and degrees? Remodelers who have these credentials are more likely to run your project in a professional manner.



22. Does the remodeler make you deal with several different sources, such as a designer, builder, and interior designer?  Your remodeler should handle every aspect of your remodel and manage your job efficiently.





23. Does the remodeler keep your budget in mind while planning your project? You don’t want to have any financial surprises during construction or when the project is finished.




24. Does the company manage its employees well and are they able to stay organized? If a remodeler cannot manage their employees or stay organized, your project will be poorly managed and unorganized.




25. Does the remodeler require written change orders for any deviation from the contract, including substitutions? These safeguards will keep your job on budget and lower your risks.




  1. Trustworthy Employees & Subcontractors– Studies have shown that about 17% of all construction workers are using some form of drug. Most homeowners are concerned about who will be working in their house. JEB Design/Build drug tests and background checks its’ employees and closely monitors subcontractors and suppliers. This helps homeowners have peace of mind about who is in their house performing work.
  2. Provides 3D Drawings of the Proposed Project-Many homeowners who have remodeled in the past have been disappointed with how a remodeling project appears after it was built. JEB Design/Build provides 3 dimensional views of proposed projects, this saves time and money by reducing changes during construction. Also, projects can be built more efficiently because workers clearly understand what the client wants the project to look like.
  3. Provides Creative, “Up-To-Date” Design Ideas-There are so many products and options to choose from, homeowners can become overwhelmed and concerned that they will choose “out of date” products. Many homeowners want assurance that what their remodeling will not look “dated”. At JEB Design/Build, our designers are constantly researching creative and “up to date” design ideas. This saves clients time and results in a remodeling project that will add more value to the house.
  4. No Financial Surprise-Many homeowners who have remodeled in the past have been surprised by additional bills at the end of their project. Some have reported that their project costs went up 30%-100% At JEB Design Build our process ensures financial predictability, and no surprises.
  5. Efficient Job Management-A homeowner’s time is very important. Clients should not have to “babysit” their contractors and subcontractors. JEB Design/Build ensures a client will not have to manage their own job.
  6. Quality of WorkHomeowners want to work with a company whose standard of work matches their own. JEB Design/Build stands behind their work and assures that your remodel is up to a client’s quality standards.
  7. Warranty– Homeowners want to work with a company that warranties and stands behind their past work. JEB Design/Build offers homeowners a warranty on all completed remodeling projects.
  8. Communication– Homeowners want a remodeler that is responsive to their request, protects their investment and will handle the coordination with the sources necessary to complete a project. JEB Design/Build believes that you must have an open line of communication to achieve these items.
  9. Schedule– Homeowners should not have to wonder if and when their contractor will show up and when the work will be completed. Homeowners want to know before a project starts when the contractors will be there, when milestone projects are taking place and when the completion date is. JEB Design/Build provides a clear, written schedule for their clients, as well as weekly updates.
  10. EPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovator– Homeowners of pre-1978 homes want to be protected from hazardous lead paint dust while they’re remodeling. JEB Design/Build is certified and trained under Section 402 of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Please visit for more information!

Posted by: jeb1 | February 13, 2012

JEB Design/Build: Tile Backsplash Installation

JEB Design/Build's tile guy, Sami Bekteshi, installing a backsplash in a custom kitchen.

  1. Some homeowners who’ve had a bad experience in the past have used a cost-plus agreement. Many times the result in the home owner’s frustration over poor quality, long schedules and cost overruns. At JEB Design/Build we believe the best agreement is a fixed-cost agreement.
  2. Here are some reasons why cost-plus is a bad choice for homeowners:
  • Many times cost-plus results in financial surprise and poor planning and estimating by the contractor. When there is a cost-plus agreement there is little motivation for the contractor to accurately estimate the final cost.
  • Cost-plus agreements lack planning on the contractors part because projects are started before they’re fully planned
  • Many times when homeowners agree to cost-plus there are additional costs, poor quality of work and lack of a schedule. Why should a contractor plan and schedule if he already has your money?
  1. Many times uninsured contractors propose a cost-plus agreement because they can often estimate a lower price to bring clients in.
  2. When using cost-plus, some subcontractors pay the general contractor a “finder’s fee” or “commission” which goes towards the cost of your project.
  3. Material costs usually go up with cost-plus because the homeowner does not know where materials go. Often time, materials “leave “the job site and any materials purchased come out of the homeowner’s pocket.
  4. Cost-plus agreements often have hidden costs and surprises. This is due to lack of planning and scheduling on the contractor’s part.

Please visit for more information!

Here are some questions we recommend you consider, in order to answer the affordability question.

  1. Are the property values in your neighborhood stable or rising? In northwest Louisiana residential property values increased by 5% in 2009, according to Coldwell Banker. In some neighborhoods the values increased even more. If you apply for a loan, this is important for the appraisal. JEB Design/Build can help you look at property values in your neighborhood.
  2. What are your future plans? Are you planning to move in the near future? In our experience, homeowners make up the difference in the cost and the resale value in 5-7 years.
  3. Do you have future maintenance issues that will have to be addressed? Would you be spending money now on the remodeling project, but saving money later? JEB Design/Build can offer options for repairing your house and making it low maintenance.
  4. According to Remodeling Magazine’s “Cost vs. Value” survey, most remodeling projects recoup about 54%-86% of their cost in the first year. So, the longer you stay in your house, the more valuable the remodeling investment you make will become.
  5. Do you have a reliable estimate of the cost? Many homeowners fail to obtain a realistic estimate of the TOTAL cost of their project until well after it is completed. Then, they must borrow much more than originally planned or use other funds. JEB Design/Build has many years of experience and can accurately estimate various remodeling project costs.
  6. Do you have elderly parents who may need to move in to your house? If so, then remodeling for that time can save money and emotional pain. If the alternative is long-term care, that can be very expensive. It is less expensive to add or remodel a bedroom/bathroom for an elderly parent than it is to place them in an assisted living facility.
  7. Do you know the difference between your mortgage amount and your home’s value?  If you know what your house would sell for today and your mortgage amount, then you may be able to borrow the difference. Generally, banks will loan up to 90% of a home’s value less the current mortgage. JEB Design/Build can help you assess these numbers.
  8. Remodeling affordability depends on the banker you talk to. We have seen credit worthy individuals turned down by one bank and granted a generous loan by another bank. When it comes to remodeling loans, there is a HUGE difference in banking expertise. We recommend finding a banker who specializes in remodeling loans. JEB Design/Build will be happy to recommend bankers.
  9. Do you know what your credit score is? You may be able to borrow through an “unsecured” line of credit.
  10. Will you receive tax credits from items in the remodeling, ex. new windows and doors? There are federal and state energy tax credits available for many products. Saving money on energy costs will help your future monthly budget. JEB Design/Build can refer you to tax credit information.
  11. Do you have family members who can extend a loan to you?
  12. Do you have funds available that are not invested for your retirement?

At JEB Design/Build, we will discuss these points with you, in order for you to make an informed decision about whether you can afford to remodel. Call us today for a free consultation at 318-865-4914.

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