Posts

Addition

Ever tried to make an omelet without breaking an egg? If you were searching for an analogous challenge in residential remodeling, it would no doubt be adding a second story addition without pulling off an existing roof with the help of some commercial roofing companies in Aurora Colorado.

STRITE’s president, Bob Mundy, is hardly one to walk away from a challenge — particularly when it’s structural in nature. Among the pleasures of being in our industry, after all, are the problem solving opportunities inherent in working within existing constraints rather than building from scratch.

We recently finished up a project in which our clients wanted to add around 200 square feet to the second story of their home, in what had been dead attic space, in order to create a dedicated quilting room for the wife. The attic was located above the first floor dining room, with about half an inch separating the two, floor and ceiling. Seeing this, along with identifying a bearing point on the common wall with the kitchen, Bob decided to do something STRITE had never before attempted. When our clients realized that in taking the approach he recommended they could continue to live virtually undisturbed in the rest of their home during the course of the remodel, and without adding cost to the project, they were only too happy to consent.

bob

How could you not trust a face like Bob Mundy’s?

“Basically, what we did was hire the expertise of roofers from this website to take the single story truss roof off one side of the house without affecting the entry, another side, or rear of the home,” Bob explained. “This is very unique.”

STRITE’s construction team began the process by cutting a hole out of the trusses, after removing all the insulation from the attic. “We then ‘sistered up’ 2x12s to the existing trusses to give them strength, and began to cut the trusses out,” said Bob.  We covered the hole so we wouldn’t go into the dining room,”  an accomplishment that our clients greatly appreciated.  “We could be sitting at the table having dinner and not know that anything was going on above us,” observed the husband.

“I came up with the idea of doing this from seeing what was structurally possible based on bearing points down below,” Bob said. “We found a bearing point on the common wall with the kitchen and then put a header on the back of the house to carry the weight of the floor system and the roof.  The trusses are attached to the new house wall in line with the existing roof. It’s a first!” We counseled with our friends over at northern california roofing to make sure we didn’t mess anything up.

While it may be a “first,” it is hardly an “only.” Said Bob, “We’re doing something similar in Surprise Valley…overcoming single story trusses. Rather than take the whole truss off the back of the garage we’re just cutting it back so that as you look at the back of the house you’re seeing a wall that has now become the point of strength for the house. In the old days you would just have pulled the whole roof off. This approach maximizes the homeowners’ square footage, which adds additional value to the house as well as saving them thousands of dollars.”

We love thinking outside the frame — and having someone with Bob Mundy’s experience makes doing so second nature to us, and a source of professional satisfaction.

 

President, Bob Mundy

Inside Strite

For most of us, it goes without saying that the more experience we have with doing something, the better we get at doing it. While this may be true for individuals, however, it isn’t necessarily the case with organizations — especially in an industry where every job is a “custom build.”  Where the rubber meets the road is in how an organization builds “repeatability” into its processes — and how it in turn inculcates those processes (think “standard operating procedures,” if you will) in its staff and associates.

For STRITE, this “repeatability” resides in large part in our project database — a rich data history of how we approached a project, the costs associated with that approach, the challenges that arose, and most important, how we managed those challenges.  The benefit of capturing the experience that comes with having done nearly 400 kitchen remodels, for example, is the ability to predict problems before they arise in our next kitchen remodel, and to offer options that add value and/or reduce costs (knowing that a truss can be successfully used in place of a beam, for example, can save a thousand dollars alone).  Although our clients sometimes perceive this ability as some form of “x-ray vision” on our part, the apparent magic of seeing beyond what is in front of you comes from the hindsight of having seen something similar before — many, many times before — from the perspectives of both design and production.

Beyond the ability of our systems to replicate success, however, there is a more fundamental level of experience that our staff brings to every project. STRITE’s president, Bob Mundy, has spent 50 years in the construction business in both residential and commercial markets, while our founder, Jim Strite (now retired), travels the country helping other remodeling businesses improve their practices by sharing the knowledge we’ve gained over nearly four decades.  After all, experience counts for little if it can’t be shared.

 

Bob Mundy

Industry Trends

STRITE design + remodel has once again been ranked by the trade publication Qualified Remodeler as among the top 500 remodeling companies in the U.S.  While this is a notable achievement in itself — especially considering that we operate in a much smaller market than most of the other companies in this prestigious ranking — the larger story behind this recognition is something worth sharing for what it reveals about our industry and the environment in which it currently operates.

To gain some insight into the dynamics of the Treasure Valley residential remodeling market, I turned to a veteran of both the upturns and downturns of our industry: STRITE’s president, Bob Mundy.  I asked Bob to characterize and contrast the current remodeling environment with what was happening in our industry just a few years ago.  Whether you are a homeowner who is contemplating a residential remodel, or simply a keen observer of our local economy, his perspective is worth noting.

If the remodeling business is a less volatile place to be since the bursting of the real estate bubble five or so years ago, some credit is due to an overall improvement in the regional economy.  However, this explanation only goes so far.  For one thing, while STRITE has seen its estimated revenue for 2013 improve by roughly 20 percent over the previous year, the pace of economic growth in the Treasure Valley has been far less robust.

From Bob’s perspective, the improvement STRITE has seen in the remodel market can be attributed to five factors that, while they may not constitute a “perfect storm” of business opportunity, at least point to a more sustainable environment in which to continue to do what we’ve been doing for the past 37 years.  In no particular order, Bob Mundy characterizes these factors as follows.

Pent up demand — After a lot of fear and trepidation regarding their economic future, home owners are deciding to no longer put off their home improvement goals.  “People are deciding to live their lives, and they want to genuinely add more value to their homes, and to their experience of their homes.  Folks are just more positive about the future.”

An acceleration of new products and technologies — Not that many years ago, the pace of new products and technologies being introduced into the home improvement market was much slower than it is today.  “We used to wait for five years to entertain new products in the market place.  Now, the quality that is coming out is really exciting to both us and our clients, and we can move forward with much more confidence because of the improved quality of innovations in lighting, materials, colors — things that are really having an impact on peoples’ lifestyles.”

The role of the Internet — In a trend related to the one previously cited, the Internet is fueling an increased awareness of new product and design trends — especially through social media sites such as Facebook, HOUZZ, and Pinterest. “Thanks to the Internet, people are not only exposed to new ideas, but they are able to share them and create conversations around them that add to the ‘buzz’ taking place in our industry.”

The desire to update rather than move — Moving is no guarantee that people will be able to more closely align their lifestyle needs with their homes.  This is especially true if they want to stay in the neighborhood where they currently live.  In that regard, remodeling is an option that allows homeowners to have their cake and eat it too — or at least redecorate it.  “Builders are hard pressed to respond to all the new design ideas that are out there today, so they tend to stick to more generic products and designs.  Remodelers don’t face that constraint.  More than ever, if you want your home to reflect the latest design and product innovations, remodeling is the best avenue.”

Adapting to lifestyle needs — As more people choose to invest in the long term livability of their homes, they are taking a more critical look at how they use their living space.  “We’re seeing less of an interest in adding space through additions, and more of an interest in better using existing space through changes in layout.  This is going to be an even more pronounced trend as the aging ‘boomer’ population increasingly looks at ‘aging in place’ as an option to retirement communities or assisted living situations.”

This last trend points to a broader and more fundamental factor that STRITE believes will contribute to a more sustainable growth in the remodeling business over the next decade: the growing interest in universal design.  “While the new construction industry may continue to experience ups and downs along with the economy, the interest in adapting homes for changing lifestyle needs such as aging in place will be more significant as time goes by.  People will always have an interest in updating the look of their homes, but improving the livability of their homes is a more fundamental investment in value that bodes well for our business.”

For some additional perspective on the Treasure Valley remodeling market, read our blog “The New Normal.”

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Mundy, Strite Design + Remodel in Boise, Idaho

We hit a sewer line – no worries, all fixed up with absolutely no inconvenience to the home owners. Watch Bob Mundy, our production coordinator, explain what happened: