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Nov 19 2015

Keeping Up with the Joneses

By Jim Zaja, Certified Lead Carpenter
You’ve been in the neighborhood for many years or maybe you just purchased the home that you always wanted. Take a look around your home, is it falling out of sync with others on your block? You never want to exceed your neighborhood norm, but you definitely want to keep up with it. Brining your home up to speed doesn’t mean you have to spend six figures to do so. Small scale projects or renovations will do double duty: They’ll make your home more attractive and also make for a more comfortable home to live in. Here are some project or small renovations that will keep you up with the Joneses.
Expand or reorganize your closets.Homes built before the 1970s often have very little closet space and usually have one pole and a shelf. Maybe an adjacent room has some space you can use to make the closet more accommodating. Let’s say you have a window that’s centered in the room, adding closets on each side with a window seat is an excellent way to get that space you really need and it also looks nice. Another inexpensive way to make those closets user friendly is to add a closet system.
Update your kitchen.Your kitchen is usually the gathering area of your home. Updating your kitchen doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; here are a few ways to keep it budget friendly.
1]A simple paint job
2] New countertops and appliances
3]New flooring and woodwork
4] Removing a wall to open up the area into a dining room or family room.
Freshen up your curb appeal. Consider adding new flower beds, retaining walls, trees, a new paver side walk, new exterior paint job or maybe that dream BBQ area in the back yard. You can’t go wrong with any of these improvements.
Letting your house slip behind your neighbors’ could lower your home value and cost you when you want to sell your house. So, go ahead and take a look around, and see if there are smaller tasks you can take on and we hope you call us for your bigger projects.

Nov 13 2015

Handy Girl

Handy Girl
by Juel Scherf
As far back as I can remember, I would help my Dad around the house on his remodeling projects. From installing 6-panel doors, windows, and vinyl siding to designing and building the 26’x14’ deck in the back yard. It’s no wonder that I came to love building and design from an early age. One year, I had asked my husband for a power drill for Christmas. He didn’t get me one because he thought I was either joking or crazy (What wife wants a drill for Christmas?). I went out to buy myself one a few months later. I’ve realized how unique I am when I went to a networking event at Milwaukee Tool and witnessed grown women using power tools for the first time in their lives. That same weekend, I was helping my husband tear down the wall between our kitchen and living room. I cannot imagine not being able to change a light fixture or climb up on the roof to clean the gutters. Now, as an architect and sales associate for Brillo, I help other homeowners remodel and improve their homes.
I have also seen a lot of mistakes when the homeowner tries to DIY their renovation themselves and it doesn’t quite turn out as easy or fast as it looked on television. Most projects are just better left to the trained professionals.
Homeowner: “Why can’t you start my kitchen remodel on Monday and be done in 3 days?”
Contractor: “We just met 2 minutes ago…”
I see a lot of homeowners who are eager to get to the end result of a remodel, but they're not as eager to do the proper preplanning before starting. The worst thing you can do in remodeling your home is to jump into a contract before knowing what you are doing; this can lead to numerous change orders and a finished product that is not exactly what you wanted. Just today, I had a homeowner tell me she wanted to switch the locations of her refrigerator and stove, but what she didn’t think about was that when the fridge door was opened, it would hit whomever was at the sink. These kinds of simple ideas can turn into big problems if you don’t take the time to discuss prior to starting a project.
In a standard kitchen remodel, you can assume to take anywhere from 3-6 months of planning before demolition, and about 2-3 months for a bathroom remodel. Some additions can even take over a year to plan before you can start depending on scope and time of year. The design and planning stage can entail getting a floorplan and design ready with elevations and a section for additions, organizing the cabinet layout, picking fixtures, selecting stain colors, countertops, and paint colors. Once you do these things, the products still have to get ordered and delivered before starting the project to not have delays in the timeframe. If you are having an addition done or changing any aspect of the exterior of the house, you also have to think about having the design approved by your municipalities “Design Review Board” and getting the appropriate permits. These are all things that homeowners forget to take into account when wanting to upgrade their home.

Sep 30 2015

Milwaukee NARI Workforce Development Committee Initiatives

September 28, 2015                                                                
Bingo Emmons
Milwaukee/NARI, Creative Construction of WI
Milwaukee/NARI Establishes New Workforce Development Committee and Initiatives; Cultivating Future Workforce to Perpetuate Trade Jobs
Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee’s Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (Milwaukee/NARI), through board action, has recently formed a workforce development committee and is working with its non-profit foundation, area technical colleges, regional workforce development agencies, youth organizations, and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to educate and recruit people into careers within the trade industry.
“If we don’t take steps now to stem the looming shortages in trade jobs, the availability of these services will become harder to secure and most likely, remodeling costs will go up at an accelerated rate because of labor shortages to perform this type of work,” said Tom Callen, co-chair of the Milwakee/NARI Workforce Development Committee and retiree from Callen Construction.
The committee planned its first Job Fair in February, 2015, as an adjunct to its annual Home Improvement Show. The success of the first job fair proved the need for attention to the future trades’ workforce and the committee is already planning future job fairs. To further aid future workforce, the committee added a Career Spot button to the Milwaukee/NARI website to make it easy for people interested in the trades to post their resumes and search for current career openings.
“The hardest perception we face is that the remodeling industry lacks the sizzle of professions that only come with four-year college degrees and this perception is not reality. Careers in the skilled trades are in demand, require creativity and provide family-sustaining salaries,” said Bing Emmons of Creative Construction and co-chair of the Milwaukee/NARI Workforce Development Committee .
Milwaukee/NARI is an elite collection of the best home improvement professionals in the area. They vet and stand by their network of contractors – assuring the highest quality and standards, exceptional service and total honesty to consumers. Milwaukee NARI has been educating consumers and cultivating its membership base for more than 50 years.
For more information about Milwaukee/NARI, please visit:
Sep 28 2015

I'm a Carpenter, not a Writer

By Paul Hurst, Carpenter

I grew up on West Allis, Wisconsin in a very tight knit community.  As kids, my friends and I were involved in many sports such as little league baseball, football and basketball.  I was also in Boy Scouts where I participated in the Life and Learn program.  There I learned many skills as well as life values that I still use to this day.  After school I would use these skills to build forts with my friends in the park near my house.  It was then that I knew I wanted to become a carpenter.
Shortly after high school I began working in the trades as a laborer for a small contractor for about five years.  When I started working for Brillo I quickly realized that Brillo was more than an employer; they were a family.  I was immediately welcomed and soon I was playing softball with Mike and later joined Todd and Mike’s bowling team.  Mike even played a few games on my flag football team.
Brillo reminds me of the community and friends that I grew up with.  I like that they are always willing to help you with your own home improvements and projects.  They also plan events throughout the year that allow us to hang out and have fun outside of work.  We have annual golf outings, cookouts, an ice fishing event, Brewer and Packer games and an annual picnic.
Over the eight years that I have been a part of Team Brillo I have learned many new skills and techniques to perfect my craftsmanship and I hope to further my knowledge base so I can continue to provide quality work for our clients.