A New Patio Canopy: Anything But A Coverup

102617_JNS Builders_Patio Canopy2.jpg

You don’t neglect it on purpose. It’s just that nobody finds much enjoyment out there. We’re talking about the patio. It would be a pretty awesome place if it just offered a bit more shelter and privacy.

Three cheers for patio covers! This affordable addition is the perfect way to turn an underused area of your home into an inviting place for family and friends to congregate.

Lightweight and Maintenance-Free

At the top of the patio cover popularity list are those that are made of aluminum arms with retractable awnings. They’re manufactured to last and most are pretty much maintenance-free. But it may not be wise to simply purchase one of these and put it up. You’re adding to the structure of your home in most cases, so you may need to comply with local building codes.

The best way to approach it is to opt for professional installation. Your exterior renovation partner will make sure that the patio cover complies with standard municipal load ratings, as well as other local building codes.

What people love about these retractable canopies is that they can get out of the way when you want some serious sunshine - and extend out to reclaim your patio on a rainy day. There are standard sizes to cover most standard patio configurations, but an exterior remodeling company can help you create a custom solution that can extend even further than your patio to help you reclaim even more of the outdoors.

What About the Wind?

Many people ask about the danger of a gust of wind coming along and wreaking havoc on their new patio canopy. Manufacturers have got you covered - if you’ll excuse that pun. The canopy material will block the sun, but not air movement. Others offer solid covers that instead rely upon sensors that will automatically retract the canopy if it gets too windy. Some even feature wind-release technology that quickly protects your canopy investment from gusts.

Not everybody is a fan of aluminum, so manufacturers offer options such as galvanized steel. It's stronger, for sure, and it makes a bold statement. If you're looking for something that blends in with the custom wood deck you'd like to install in place of a patio, your exterior remodeler can help you with what is known in the industry as 'Alumawood,' which feels and looks like wood. You get the look, but not the problems, such as peeling, warping, and being snacked on by termites.

We have great ideas to help you pair a patio or custom deck with a canopy. Give us a bit of information on what you're thinking about in terms of exterior remodeling, and we will give you a free estimate.

Detached Garages: The Pros and Cons


Your home was either built without a garage, or you’ve decided that it is time to grab that space and incorporate into the rest of the house. That's because - of course - you plan to build a garage to replace it.

The big question is whether it should be added on to your home or built as a detached structure. Here are some things to keep in mind if you decide to build a detached garage.

Insurance Considerations

This detail seems to catch a lot of people unaware. Yes, your homeowner’s insurance policy covers all buildings on the property. It doesn't matter whether it is a gazebo or your storage shed. Your insurance offers protective coverage. It's just not the same level of coverage as the house itself.

Insurance companies each have different approaches, so you'll want to check with your agent for confirmation. Most insurance policies, however, do not offer full value coverage for detached buildings - and that includes a garage.

Generally, homeowner’s policies commit up to 10% of the face value of the property for coverage of detached buildings. That means if your policy limit is $250,000, the most you can expect to receive if your garage is destroyed in a fire is $25,000.

Keep in mind that you can purchase more coverage if you want to increase the coverage. That decision often is based on the value of the detached garage, as well as what you keep in it.

Building Costs

And speaking of costs, the budget to build a detached garage may include more than just the structure itself. You may need to pour a new concrete driveway - and perhaps have the old one removed.

On the other hand, this garage isn’t going to be a part of your home. Insulation isn’t as important. It may however still play a role during cold weather months, but that may be reduced, as you basically just want to make sure there’s sufficient insulation to keep things in your garage from freezing.

The same thing goes for windows. Double or even triple-pane windows are a wise investment for your home, but you can go with windows that are less energy-efficient for your detached garage. And you do want windows. The construction cost to add them is worth it to let natural light in.

Your house may have brick or some other type of premium exterior décor. The choice for your detached garage simply has to complement it - not duplicate it. You may decide to go with low-maintenance vinyl siding, for instance.

It’s also not really necessary to finish all the walls on the inside of your detached garage. Pegboard is a popular alternative. It hides the framing and any necessary insulation, but it provides plenty of space to put up shelves and hang tools.

Design Considerations

Your detached garage needs at least one main door - for the humans - that should be placed on the side that will face your home. Consider a windowed door so you can feel safer by seeing the house when you exit the garage at night.

Many people splurge on upgraded garage door styles. The current trend is for carriage doors or doors that open and close laterally. Consider adding some extra appeal to your property by leaving room in your budget to include attractive garage doors.

Talk to us about what you’ve got in mind for that new garage design. Our experience as garage builders has allowed us to build up an impressive portfolio of designs we can share with you.

I See A Stain On My Ceiling. Do I Need A New Roof?

ceiling stain.jpg

Uh, oh. How long has that been there? Sometimes we can be at a loss as to how long a ceiling stain has been up there. It´s always been a part of our house, but we tend not to go around inspecting the ceilings. 

Of course, once we see a ceiling stain, we wonder how we could have missed it. The bigger question, though is: How long has it been there and what is the cause. 

Foregone Conclusion

The worst-case scenario is that there is roof damage. That's the logical assumption. Moisture is often cause most of ceiling stains. 

The discoloration you see might be a puddle of rain, but it also might be a plumbing leak in the attic or an adjoining wall. Do you live outside the city? The ceiling stain could be a urine stain from wildlife that has made their way into your attic. 

Don't be so quick to conclude that it's time to pay for a new roof. It could just as easily be a problem with your air conditioning that´s causing condensation. Or maybe it´s defective shower pan from the upstairs bathroom. 

Quick Action

Obvious cause or not, your response should be to find a quick resolution. Paying for pest control is far less expensive than a new roof - but you'll want to act quickly if it turns out to be roof damage. That ceiling stain could be a sign that your roof is in trouble. This trouble can spread and impact your home's structural integrity. Don't make guesses - find out for sure.

Roof Inspection

It's wise to start with the assumption that roof damage is the cause of the ceiling stains. Roof damage can spread easily and quickly become worse. A licensed roofing contractor can provide you with a professional inspection. 

Roof damage is bad news, but catching it early because you noticed a ceiling stain and acted on it gives you the opportunity to do some upgrading along with the roof leak repair. An exterior remodeling project such as a new roof is an excellent way to add curb appeal and instant property value. 

Talk to us about roofing inspections, repair, and replacement. We warranty all of our craftsmanship and are able to provide extended material and labor warranties on all our installed roofing products. 


Exterior Additions To Enjoy The Fall Weather

fall weather.jpg

You can already feel it. It's cooler in the evenings and the light is changing too. Fall is in the air. But it doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to the enjoyment of spending time outside. The cooler and more comfortable evenings are perfect for stepping up your entertaining. 

It's time to embellish the perimeter of your home. Make this part more inviting with a new porch. Add a fire pit or exterior fireplace. An outdoor pizza oven, maybe? The best way to enjoy the cool evening colors of this time of the year is with come exterior improvements. Here are a few specific suggestions. 


Transform your back porch into a 3-season outdoor room. Enclosing it can add weeks or even months of use. Consider insulating it with R13 value fiberglass for an extension of the time you can spend in this room. 

Outdoor Fireplaces

Evenings spent enjoying the latent radiation from the pool decks gives way to looking for a different kind of heat source. An outdoor fireplace fits the bill. Have it built for the double duty of serving as a grill. Whether it burns gas or wood, you'll appreciate the evening glow of a fire that can also cook the last of the season's hotdogs. 

Fire Pits

What is the difference between a fireplace and a fire pit? The latter has a more open design. They can also be free-standing or incorporated into an area with surrounding seating. And while you can have them fitted to burn fire, most people prefer to burn wood logs in them. The log fires add an extra taste dimension when it's time to roast marshmallows. 


Extend the area undercover with a pavilion. These beautiful architectural additions give you the opportunity to break up the symmetry of horizontal lines that often become the hallmark of backyards. Hide overhead radiant heaters in the pavilion's roof so you can take the chill off the evening as you enjoy one last glass of wine outside before bed. 


It's going to be getting darker earlier, so you'll want to plan to include appropriate outdoor lighting to cast the perfect glow on the new additions to your backyard. What's trending right now? Why not incorporate an elegant outdoor chandelier into your design? The sound of the crystals in the gentle evening Autumn breezes can be hypnotizing. 

Don't let the cooler weather of fall chase you inside - extend your enjoyment of the backyard by adding some exterior excitement. What does your dream backyard porch or custom deck look like? We can work with you to bring it to life. 


Built To Last: Roofing Materials Ranked By Longevity

101217_JNS_Roofing Materials.jpg

It's time for a new roof - but what kind of material should you use? If your choice isn't driven purely by price, you'll want to consider material by how long it will last for you. Here is a ranking of the average of the most common materials used for roofing, from shortest to longest. 

Composite Shingle Roof: 15 to 50 Years

Many people are surprised that the most popular form of roofing for their home has one of the shortest lifespans.

Your composite shingle roof might only last around 15 years, but the material is relatively inexpensive to install. Longevity estimates vary widely for composite shingle roofs because of the quality of the material used. High-end shingles now come with warranties of up to 50 years. Just make sure you understand that the manufacturer is not guaranteeing that your roof will last that long. 

Wood Shingle Roof: 25 Years

Wood is an organic material, which means that it is prone to weathering and decay. Even so, the wood selected for roof shingles is dense and naturally prone to weather-related damage before it is harvested. They’re thin and flat, and they don’t add much weight. 

You can make your wood shingle roof last longer by keeping an eye out for split shingles. Replace then immediately and be sure to control the growth of moss. 

Standing Seam Metal Roof: 30 to 50 Years

These roofs are as beautiful as they are durable, and they´re no longer extremely expensive. Although they’re going to be a more expensive investment than, say, a composite shingle roof. The color is often a baked enamel coating, which often designed to attractively fade. Otherwise, the exterior is the metal itself. Copper metal roofs are extremely beautiful, but you’ll want to consider the extra effort it will take to keep that color. Otherwise it will burnish over time. 

Clay or Spanish Tile Roof: 100 Years

If you use a tile roof, it’s likely to be the last roof you put on your house if you live there the rest of your life. Unlike composite and wood shingles, you won´t have to worry about decay. You will have to be concerned, though, if a tile cracks. This is usually rare, and the cause likely is that someone has walked on them. While they are extremely durable - a single human misstep can ruin them. 

Slate Roof: 100+ Years

You can find slate roofs on buildings that were first installed during the time of Shakespeare. Slate is actual stone, and it is even more durable - at least to being walked on - than clay or Spanish roof tiles. This type of roof tends to be relatively expensive, not only because of the cost of the slate tiles but also because you’ll need additional truss to support the weight of all that stone on your roof. 

Roofing replacement gives you plenty of options to change the look of your home, and now you have some ideas to help you decide how long you can expect that look to last.

Residential Facelift: Choosing A New Exterior For Your Home

101917_JNS_Residential Facelift.jpg

Is it time for a facelift? For your house, that is. There are a lot of things to think about, from little details like the selection of washroom ceramic tiles and kitchen cabinets to much more considerable, long-lasting decisions, such as the exterior facade of your house. 

In the past, these outside options were limited. You picked one look or style, and it was the theme for your entire house. Today´s exterior trim ideas let you go in multiple directions with a theme. 

It’s Going to Be There for Quite Some Time

An exterior remodeling can be one of the most substantial decisions you’ll make while you live in your home. It requires careful thinking. You'll want to be happy - for a long time to come - with the results. Here are some suggestions. 

Accentuate the front of your home by integrating siding products such as vinyl, block, rock, or stucco. It can make a dramatic change. Today’s vinyl siding is basically maintenance free. Manufacturers have finally gotten with the program, too. They offer an amazing selection of architectural elements that complement the siding, including color shading. It is possible to create a complete multicolored theme that changes to match the surroundings by using corresponding vinyl trim and architectural elements. 

Multitasking Solutions

You no longer have to find ways to ensure that the new exterior design also works to help insulate your home. Residential siding manufacturers now offer insulated products in a pleasing variety of styles and shades. And yes, they make matching trim and architectural elements to complete the look.

This gives you the option to go bold with vertical boards or battens. Then team it up with a skirt of stucco, brick, or rock. The complete change in your home’s personality will surprise you. 

Design trends have made 6-inch or wider siding profiles extremely popular. There is a reason for this. The width helps to break up wide exterior wall expanses made even more exaggerated by narrow spans of sidings. Vinyl is the most popular material choice because of its hands-off maintenance record; however, you can also find these wider design choices in natural wood that’s been treated to keep it looking awesome. You get the beauty of grain and texture without an upkeep headache. Even better, many manufacturers offer it with rigid foam core backing so that it will add to your energy savings. Your exterior renovation material choices can now help pay for themselves. 

Picture This: A Picture Window Can Change Your Perspective, Outside And In


Exterior renovations give you the opportunity to do something constructive from an interior perspective. Either because of style or budget, most houses are built with far less windows than can be added. 

It makes for an aesthetically bland exterior, and it can create dark, less-than-inviting inner living spaces. One way to remedy this is by installing one or more picture windows. 

What is a Picture Window, Anyway?

You usually recognize them by their size. Picture windows feature a single, span of glass ranging anywhere from 24 inches to 966 inches either in height or width. The largest ones can scale a wall. Picture windows do not open. 

Some people refer to these as fixed windows. Technically, there is a difference - but not a big one. Like a picture window, a fixed window is nonfunctional and can be strikingly large. Fixed windows have larger frames. It's an architectural treatment that helps the massive size complement the rest of the windows. Compared to a picture window, a fixed window with its larger frame will create a bolder and more contemporary look. 

Beyond the Living Room

Because of their ability to bring in so much of the exterior view, picture windows can give the illusion of bringing outside...inside. The most common location for a picture window is in the living room. 

A picture window can be added to any room. Including one on a large expanse of wall that faces the street helps to add style to the exterior. Don't consider a picture window if your exterior renovation plans call for windows to add ventilation or airflow. These windows will add character to your exterior and brighten the interior, but they're not going to open. It's not such a bad thing, actually. Because they don't open, they get excellent ratings for energy efficiency because of insulation. There won't be any gaps or seams. 

Plays Well with Others

You can get around the obstacle of not opening by pairing a picture window with casement windows on either side. Pared down, picture windows also create an excellent focal point for a bay window. 

They  are large, and they are intended to make a statement. Adding them during an exterior renovation will dramatically change the look of your home without dramatically busting your budget. 

Talk to us if you are thinking about updating the look of your home's exterior. Windows are a cost-effective way completely redefine the statement your home makes to people passing by.

You Want A New Garage...But Does It Want You?


It´s too small. Or, maybe it doesn´t exist at all. In any case, you´ve decided you want a garage addition. That is an important decision in and of itself, but you´ll likely find it starts an army of decisions. Here are some things you'll need to keep in mind. 

Code Restrictions and Zoning

Is it physically possible to fit a garage or garage addition on your property? You may think so, but your local planning department has the final approval. There are restrictions that can impact the actual amount of space you think you have for a garage or garage addition. 

For example, some communities require deeper setbacks for garages. Local rules also often put restrictions on driveway designs and even the percentage of your lot that can be covered with what is known as impervious surfaces (pavement and roofs). 

Freestanding or Attached?

Cost often determines which way you´ll decide to go. An attached garage usually costs less. Homeowners also usually select an attached garage because of convenience. Because it is part of the house, you can also use some of the space as a pantry or even a mudroom. It is also more secure, as you can drive into the garage and then step right into your home. 

Detached garages have their appeal as well. If you are concerned about the weather, you can add a connecting breezeway. A detached garage also makes sense if you plan to use some of the space for a hobby or a workshop. 

Relationship to the House

Your new garage should look like an accessory to the house. Homeowners often want to take advantage of adding as much enclosed space as they can, as cars can share a garage with storage. And you can even add additional living areas above the garage.

The challenge is to scale the garage or garage addition so it doesn't overwhelm your house. This is easier to achieve with the detached garage. If you are going to add it to the house itself, consider setting the front of the garage farther back from the street than your home's main entrance. It will tone down the dominance of the addition. 

Another option is to face the garage doors to the side. Add windows and other architectural details to the front wall facing the street. That may not always be practical of course, so you can also consider a roof overhang for your garage that matches the style of your house. 

Talk to us if you are thinking about a garage renovation. We can help you plan out what you can do on your property by collecting the building codes and restrictions for your property. We can make it part of the free-estimate we create for you. 

Why Stop at Twice the Benefit? Triple Pane Windows Offer Even More Energy Savings.

Replacing old windows with new, stylish, and energy-efficient ones is one of the best ways to increase your property value and upgrade the exterior aesthetics of your home. It offers year-round benefits, keeping out the cold weather in winter and the high temperatures outside during the summer.

This type of exterior remodeling and renovation is popular because of the dramatic changes it can make to your home. You’ll also appreciate the difference in your utility bills. Double pane windows used to be the way to go. Like most things, more is better. Now it’s triple panes. 

Triple the Benefit

If you’re familiar with the idea behind double pane windows, you won’t have any problem understanding the upgrade to triple panes. These windows are made of three panes of glass. Spacers separate the three layers of glass. These spaces are often filled with an inert gas that acts as a highly efficient insulation. The outward facing sides of the exterior and interior panes are glazed to help them repel water stains and dirt.

Feel Safer

Triple pane glass windows offer even more security and protection than double pane windows—and much more than the single pane windows that are still common in older homes. 

If you’re in the business of breaking into homes, you know triple pane windows as soon as you see them. They’re an interesting deterrent to intruders because the triple panes of glass are more difficult to break. Extra time. Extra force. Lots of extra glass. 

A would-be burglar may just move on. Of course, installing triple paned windows is no substitution for a home security solution. It will be a wise compliment, though. 

Make Mother Nature Mind Her Own Business

Glazed double pane windows have been offering homeowners significant utility bill savings for years. Glazed triple paned windows simply increase that benefit. There are two main reasons for this.  

  1. The glazing lowers U-values. “U” in this case stands for Ultraviolet. The lower the U-value, the better the windows are at stopping the transfer of ultraviolet radiation. The glazing helps to reduce this, which prevents heat transfer during the summer, and heat loss during the winter. It’s the glazing that offers ultraviolet protection, so three layers rather than two (or maybe none at all if they’re old windows) increases your energy efficiency.
  2. Ultraviolet rays do more than carrying heat energy in or out of your house. While you might welcome it when you’re at the beach so you can get a tan, daily ultraviolet light exposure is bad news for your wood floors, carpeting, and furniture. 

Peace and Quiet

Do you feel like you’re always hearing what’s going on outside? It can be a sign that you’ve got single pane windows. Exterior sounds travel right through the single pane of glass and into your home.

Triple panes of glass offer superior noise insulation. Your home will be quieter. You’ll appreciate the outside noises being kept at bay not only for the stress-relieving quality but also because there are multiple studies showing a relationship between noise pollution and physical health problems—including cardiac disease.

Talk to us about replacing your old and energy-inefficient windows. It’s an exterior renovation project that has an excellent return on your investment. Your home will look better. Replacement windows will save money on utility bills. You might even get a better night’s sleep. Those crickets can be loud. 

These 4 Exterior Remodeling Projects Can Add Selling Power To Your Home

We all know that the kitchen and bathrooms are what can make—or break—a sale when you’ve got your home on the market. It’s often where people put their focus and dollars with the objective to get the biggest return on their investment.

But before a potential buyer ever sees the kitchen or bathrooms, they’re going to drive up to your house and see the outside. What will it say to them? Certain exterior remodeling projects can send strong signals to potential buyers. That’s according to the National Association of Realtors. They recently released a study called the Remodeling Impact Report. Here are the exterior remodeling projects they say can put more value in your property.


The NAR’s report determined that this exterior remodeling project has the highest money-back value. You can’t always see the roof when you approach a house, but potential buyers will be pleased to hear that it’s new. Based on their estimates for the project, you could recover 105% of the costs.


It’s one of the few moving parts of this area of your home, and it’s likely showing its age. A new garage door will add instant curb appeal. Will you get every penny back when you sell? NAR estimates you can recover 87% of this investment. That ROI may vary and become even more if you include the entire garage in the exterior remodeling project. If it has a small footprint, it might be time to enlarge it to make your property more sellable.


This exterior remodeling project has multiple benefits. While it certainly spruces up the outside appearance of your home, exterior siding can also improve your energy efficiency. That’s an important selling point for buyers. The NAR has determined that you can see an 83% return on this investment.


Nothing beats natural light streaming into your house—especially when you’ve got it staged to sell. Beautiful new vinyl windows help brighten your interior and improve the looks of your home’s exterior. Older windows often are often extremely inefficient, so hearing about newly replaced ones is something that’ll get potential home buyers excited. The NAR estimates that you can recover 80% of this exterior remodeling project.

Consider these four exterior remodeling projects even if you don’t plan to sell your home. The return on investment is high, and it sustains or even increases your property value.

Talk to us about helping you prepare your home for a sale. Exterior remodeling for curb appeal is just as important as interior renovations. We offer a complete range of services. We warranty our work, and you can see examples of our craftsmanship here.