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Remodeling a Utah Fixer-Upper: Lists, Contractor, Permits

In part one of this multi-part blog series, we went over some basics on how to begin the process of remodeling a fixer-upper home. A fixer home, which requires significant work and upgrades to return it to its optimal state, is often attractive to those who have the time, budget and inclination to make these kinds of changes – but entering this situation with some general knowledge and preparation is important.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we provide numerous home remodeling and home addition services in Utah, including helping our clients prepare for a remodel of any level of fixer home. We’ve assisted with hundreds of fixer-upper remodels spanning numerous different needs or products, and we’ll make your process simpler and easier as well. Here are several other general tips we recommend when it comes to a fixer-upper remodel.

remodeling fixer-upper contractor permits

Making Lists

Usually beginning toward the start of your remodeling process, keeping lists of various tasks or needs handy is a great method to keep yourself and anyone else working with you on-task. The first step here will be jotting down all your primary needs, desires and purposes for the remodel in detail – determining which are your most important priorities, plus the general order and timeline in which you’d like to complete the project.

From here, you can tweak these lists as the project moves forward. Once you begin working with our quality contractors, we’ll take over several of the items for you, as well.

Finding a Trustworthy Contractor

Speaking of finding a contractor, this is a vital part of the remodeling process for a fixer-upper. While there might be certain parts of this remodel that are simple and can be performed on a DIY basis, you’ll almost certainly run into structural, building and other areas that require professional training and expertise, and will be risking both safety and quality otherwise.

In these situations, you need a trusty contractor on your team. We recommend utilizing tools like word-of-mouth, online reviews and others to evaluate the reputation of a contractor you’re considering – practices that tend to lead Utah clients landing on our contractors more often than not, given our excellent local reputation.


One particular area that a good contractor will assist you with during this sort of remodel: Acquiring any requisite permits, completing basic paperwork, and generally getting approval for various improvements you’ll be making. These permits might be required by your state or perhaps by your local government; in other case, they could even be created by a homeowners’ association you may need to deal with. In any situation, we’ll help you navigate these waters.

For more on any of our remodeling services in Utah, including for fixer-uppers, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Remodeling a Fixer-Upper: Budget, Needs and Inspiration

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re proud to assist with home remodels and upgrades for every variety of home our clients might have a need for. One particular type that’s always a treat for contractors, and that we’re happy to work with: Fixer-uppers!

These types of homes, which require significant work to return them to an ideal state, are often targeted by those who have the time, inclination and budget to improve them and, in many cases, obtain significant positive value as a result. And while some elements of your upgrades here might be similar to those you’d take for other home types, there may also be additional challenges or structural concerns as well. This multi-part blog series will look at some general tips we offer clients on remodeling fixers, plus how you can prepare for this process.

remodeling fixer-upper budget needs

Repair Vs. Replace

One of the first big questions as you begin evaluating your new fixer: Which areas can be repaired or upgraded, while which might require full-on replacement? There will be several themes that fit into the former here, such as smaller appliances, minor repair issues and several others – our contractors will advise you on which of these are simpler and which might come with an elevated cost.

You should also evaluate replacement needs, which are sometimes more significant. Any structural concerns or significant safety hazards usually fall under this category, as do items that have simply worn down past their reasonable lifespan range. Making a list of these items in advance will help you lay out your budget for the entire project.

Budget Considerations

Speaking of budget, the early parts of this process are when you should be thinking about several budgetary areas. First and foremost, you should enter the entire fixer purchase process with an understanding that additional funds beyond the purchase price will be needed – and you should have a general idea of what your budget ceiling is here. Be upfront and honest with our contractors about your price points and thresholds, which will help us direct it ideally toward the completion of your project.

Gathering Inspiration

This one is more of a theme than a specific task, but it’s one we recommend to all our clients when remodeling: Find ways to gather inspiration, whether through social media, friends and family, magazines and newspapers, or even directly working with an interior designer. If you’re struggling to find ideas for a certain area or theme, you might even consider an online quiz that will help you understand your own preferences and utilize them to your benefit.

For more on how to go about remodeling a fixer-upper, or to learn about any of our remodeling, home additions or other general contractor services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Garage Conversion 101: Lofting, Lighting and Exterior

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some basic themes involved with a garage door conversion. Whether you’re converting a garage into an office, a recreation area, a living space or a variety of other options, there are several important areas to think about as you go through this process.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re proud to offer assistance with numerous home additions, including garage conversions and several related themes you might be considering. What are some of the other top areas and themes you should be keeping in mind if you’re moving forward with a garage conversion, in addition to those we covered in part one? Here are several.

garage conversion lofting lighting

Lofting Themes

One theme that many homeowners consider when converting a garage space: Lofting the garage, which allows you to retain the parking space that was already present plus create new purposes or uses for the room. Lofting requires that your garage space has some available space in the upper parts near the ceiling, or that you create this space by raising the ceiling.

Once that’s done, there are numerous themes you might consider here. Some choose to install a bed in the lofted space that serves as a guest living area of sorts, while others might convert it into a small office or game room. Whatever your choice, this conversion type makes the garage look and feel luxurious, and often helps add major home value if you decide to sell down the line.

Lighting Considerations

For any garage conversion you’re making with plans to spend significant time in the space, lighting is a vital area to keep in mind. Proper lighting not only enhances your ambiance and the feel of the new room, but it also promotes safety and lack of any hazards that might be present.

For some, a motion sensor light that will turn on when you step in will be ideal – this is also an eco-friendly option that saves energy. For others, actual switches and various controls, such as dimmers, might be needed.

Exterior Complements

Finally, while much of the focus of any garage conversion will be on the interior, don’t forget exterior areas as well. For instance, if you haven’t chosen ideal garage trim that complements both the outside space and the new conversion, this may be an ideal opportunity to do so. In addition, if your conversion requires changes to the exterior, such as window or door installation, you’ll have to plan these out in advance.

For more on how to convert your garage into a useful space of some kind, or to learn about any of our home additions or home remodeling services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Garage Conversion 101: Flooring, Insulation and Electricity

For many, the garage is used primarily as a parking area and storage space. For others who don’t have the same kinds of parking or storage needs, however, the garage is actually one of the top home addition or remodeling areas in the home.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re happy to assist clients with a huge variety of home additions, including those looking to add or expand a garage – or convert it from a more typical garage space into what’s known as a garage conversion. Garage conversions are done with several goals in mind, whether to create a home office, a game room or even an actual living space of some kind. This two-part blog series will go over several of the important features you should be considering for a garage conversion.

garage conversion flooring insulation

Flooring Considerations

There are a number of options out there for those who might be looking into upgrading their garage flooring as part of their conversion. The concrete floor is likely the most common here, but it’s not the only one available to you.

In many cases, which flooring option is chosen for a garage space will also depend on the connected driveway. You may have options for paint or epoxy on the garage floor if you want to change the appearance or sealing quality.


For any garage conversion where people will be spending significant time in the new room, insulation will be one of the most important considerations. The area needs to stay warm in winter and cool during summer.

This involves several forms of insulation, starting with the roof – we strongly recommend concrete roof tiles for any garage renovation or conversion. We also recommend insulating walls, especially if you will not be running any kind of heating or cooling into the garage.

Electrical Connections

Once you’ve got your insulation handled, it’s important to also consider electrical connections. These will include several areas, from basic outlet installation to light switches, light fixtures and any other electronics you need – if you’re converting to a home office, for instance, you’ll need power for items like a computer and monitor.

In many cases, such as if you’re involving several electrical fixtures in the converted space, this will require dedicating a new electrical circuit in your home to this room. It may also involve understanding local building codes and what’s allowed in terms of electricity within the garage space, something our contractors are happy to assist with in several ways.

For more on features to be prioritizing for a garage conversion, or to learn about any of our remodeling or home addition services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Remodeling Vs. New Home: Regulations, Efficiency and Damage

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on whether you should take on a major home remodel or simply build a new home from the ground up. While the latter tends to be more expensive, there are situations where remodels are so significant that their price tags approach the cost of building a new home, especially when factoring in labor and hassle.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re happy to offer both these services, from building custom home frames to performing a huge range of remodels and home additions. What are some of the other top variables you should be considering if you’re deciding between a major remodel and a new home build? Here are several others to think about.

Local Regulations

In certain cases, parts of your decision will be made for you in the form of local regulations or jurisdictional laws. There are many areas, including major metropolitan centers, where it’s much faster and less costly to get approval for projects that involve leaving the existing home’s frame in place – on the flip side, there are those where approval will not vary much between the two types.

There also might be certain specific zoning laws in your area that prevent certain building types or additions. You may have to go before a zoning board and receive permission for a project, or you could be denied. Our contractors will be happy to work with you on zoning and local regulations for any project you’re considering.

Water Damage Concerns

In some cases, the impetus for a remodel or new home build is major water damage that’s taken place in the current home, including significant flooding or heath risks. In these cases, will a remodel of the affected areas be sufficient, or will a tear-down and rebuild of the entire home be prudent?

This generally depends on the extent of the damage. If damage is only on the lower floor and only affects a foot or two of the area, stripping lower wall halves and replacing them in a remodeling format is often possible. If damage has impacted multiple floors and is damaging the structural integrity of the entire home, however, a new build might be both the safer and more financially sound move.

Energy Efficiency

Finally, what are your preferences for energy efficiency and eco-friendly behaviors? If these are top priorities for you, those you’re willing to spend a little extra for, new home builds are the way to go – they allow for numerous energy efficient appliances and features to be installed. It’s a bit tougher to retrofit energy efficient items, though still possible in many cases depending on your exact desires.

For more on how to decide between remodeling your current home and building a new one, or to learn about any of our custom home remodeling or home addition services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Remodeling Vs. New Home: Budget and Qualities

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re proud to provide our clients with a wide, versatile range of general contractor services. We offer both custom new home builds and strong home remodeling services – and you’d be surprised how often choosing between these two areas becomes a legitimately tough call for some of our clients.

This is because, while we tend to rightly think of smaller remodeling jobs as much less expensive than a new home build, this equation can change when the remodel becomes more involved. Certain extreme remodels can even cost almost as much as building an entire new home, as crazy as that may sound. This two-part blog series will look at several variables to consider while choosing between a new home build and a major remodel, ensuring you make the most cost-effective choice for your needs.

remodeling new home budget

Current Home Qualities

In some cases, one of the primary drivers of a homeowner prioritizing a remodel – even an expensive one – over a new home build is the qualities of the current home. Perhaps you have a classic home with unique features that can’t be replicated, or there’s some other specific feature you don’t want to be rid of. In these cases, extending your budget a bit to prioritize a remodel is totally justifiable.

In certain other cases, though, you won’t find an older home worth saving. If too many features or fixtures are worn-down or outright broken, a remodel could cost even more than simply building a new home. A teardown not only allows you to remove any non-functional elements, but also allows for much more efficient and environmentally friendly fixtures in a new build – and these will also save money.

Structural Soundness

Beyond your personal desires, however, it’s important to assess the actual structural quality of the current home. If the foundation of the home is crumbling or in disrepair, for instance, this is a pretty clear sign that you should be building a new home rather than attempting a remodel.

If no such major issues are present, however, your potential remodeling or renovating costs drop significantly. If the home is sound and strong, simpler room-by-room remodeling projects become both simpler and cheaper.


Both with an eye to your current home quality and your future desires, budget should always be the consistent variable in your mind. Your total available funds dictate many of your major decisions here.

One big piece of advice: Remember that when it comes to major remodeling projects, the initial cost estimate is often very low. Remodeling jobs can come with some unexpected events or issues, and you should budget for a bit more than you might have previously considered. If your initial remodeling estimate is in the same range as the cost of a new home build, there’s a solid chance it will end up significantly higher than the new home once all is said and done.

For more on choosing between a remodel and a new home build, or to learn about any of our home remodeling or custom home building services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Sink Style Upgrade Options for Kitchen Remodels, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the options available to you if you’re looking to upgrade your sink during a kitchen remodel. There are several fantastic choices on the market here for modern homeowners, from simple styles to specialty options for those with particular cooking or cleaning needs.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re here to provide comprehensive kitchen remodeling and addition services, including assistance with any sink type you’re envisioning in your new kitchen space. While part one of our series mostly covered the standard and common sink types you’ll see, today’s part two will dig into a few more unique styles that might be chosen for specific needs or aesthetic purposes.

sink style kitchen remodels

Apron Sink

Known in some circles as the farmhouse sink, the apron sink refers to a rustic sink type that’s perfect for many related styles. It’s notable for the way it eliminates counter space at the front of the sink: The sink itself extends over that entire area, similar to an apron (hence the name).

On the sides of the sink, this apron will usually drop lower than a counter space would have. This leads to a very different aesthetic than other sink types, offering an excellent complement to retro-traditional styles. And from a practical standpoint, the apron sink can hold a much larger array of cookware, including deep pans or pots that wouldn’t fit in other sinks.

Prep Sink

For those who perform regular large cooking projects in the kitchen, or simply want more sink space, the prep sink is the ideal addition. It’s notably different from other types we’ve gone over to this point in that it’s an additional sink, not its own – it will be installed alongside one of the other sinks we’ve mentioned, or sometimes in a separate location on an island or bar. The prep sink is most common in larger kitchens where cooking and entertaining take place. It’s also known to help improve property value.

Integrated Stone

For those who are focused on integrating their kitchen sink with the countertops they’re using, there are a couple prominent styles available:

  • Integrated quartz: If quartz is your countertop material of choice, it’s possible to obtain a sink design that matches it precisely. The sink itself will actually be built into the countertop, using exactly the same quartz color and pattern so the design is seamless from the countertops into the sink.
  • Integrated cultured marble: Down similar lines, this theme can be put in place for cultured marble as well. This stone tends to be more expensive than quartz, but can also be customized in special ways quartz can’t.

For more on various sink styles to consider for your kitchen remodel, or to learn about any of our general contractor services in home remodeling or additions, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Sink Style Upgrade Options for Kitchen Remodels, Part 1

There are several major elements you might be considering if you’re planning a kitchen remodel, and one that’s prominent during many such projects is the sink. The sink is often one of the centerpieces of a kitchen, plus is one of the areas of this space that has the most practical usage involved on a daily basis.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, kitchen remodeling is just one of several areas our general contactors will assist you with if you’re considering any kind of home remodeling or additions. What are some of the sink options you have available to you during a kitchen remodel selection process, and what are some of the pros and cons of each as you work toward making your choice? This two-part blog series will dig into this and some other important details on this part of the process.

sink style kitchen remodels

Double-Basin Sink

First and foremost, we wanted to discuss a sink format that should be a primary consideration for any homeowner doing a kitchen remodel in a space that doesn’t already contain this style: The double-basin sink. As the name suggests, this is the much more common sink style you’ll see today, featuring two distinct basins separated by a wall. It makes for simpler workflow and also is expected by any potential future homebuyer – if you’re working with a single-basin sink and performing a remodel, the double-basin upgrade should be one of your first considerations.

Undermount Sink

For those who are looking for customizable sinks that are also very easy to keep clean, the undermount sink is often a great choice. It’s attached from below to a pre-cut opening, allowing for simple sweeping of crumbs or other debris into the basin area without any hassle.

The undermount is also a sleek, modern look for those who want this aesthetic emphasized in the kitchen. However, do know that this style can only be used with solid-surface countertops like granite or marble, so laminate or other materials won’t work.

Overmount (Drop-In) Sink

On the flip side of the undermount sink is the overmount sink, also referred to as a drop-in sink. These are the two most common general types.

The overmount sink is set down into a hole when it’s installed, with the outer edge holding it in place. It’s a very affordable option, generally more so than the undermount sink, and is also a highly flexible design. On top of this, owners note that overmount sinks are very easy to replace; this is countered by the fact that they may build up soap scum and other material under their rim, meaning they need a bit more maintenance than undermount sinks.

For more on the sink styles available to you during a kitchen remodel, or to learn about any of our kitchen remodeling or general contractor services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Common Room Types Available for Home Additions, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the common room types available for those considering a home addition. There are several such room types you might be thinking about, and knowing their basic qualities and variables may play a role in which you select.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re happy to offer a wide range of services in the home additions realm, with numerous past home additions featuring a huge variety of different room formats. In today’s part two of our series, we’ll go over a few additional room types many homeowners consider for their home additions, including some that utilize the space already available inside the structure and do not require adding additional square footage.

room types home additions


Sunroom or California Room

For those who desire more sun and natural light in their space, one of the top options is the sunroom. It allows in plenty of light without actually being outdoors, often built into an existing patio. Sunrooms don’t generally require HVAC connections, which makes them far more affordable than full room additions.

A similar room type here is the California room, which connects to the home with a sliding door like a patio – but has a ceiling and at least two other walls. In some cases, California rooms are simply considered a type of sunroom.

Internal Addition

In some homes, there will be significant space available that can be used for an additional room without adding any square footage to the area whatsoever. This will require a remodeling process of some sort, and the details here will depend on the precise qualities of the space.

In some situations, we’ll be able to remove walls or other obstructions to create a larger, more functional space. We may also be able to convert a closet or another similar unused space into an “internal bump-out” of sorts, adding to the space in a given room. Another common example here is a small bathroom, which can often be created using this method.

Room Conversion

Finally, another popular choice is simply converting an existing room into another format. The most common choices down these lines are attics and garages, which can be converted into a variety of different rooms – home offices, kid game rooms, home theaters or even a living space in some cases. Many attics have been converted into a guest bedroom or simply a reading room; with enough space, you can do virtually anything with one of these areas.

For more on the various home addition types possible if you’re considering such an upgrade, or to learn about any of our general contractor and home remodeling services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Common Room Types Available for Home Additions, Part 1

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re here to serve as your one-stop shop for all home additions and home remodeling needs. Our general contractors have assisted numerous clients with a variety of home addition needs, from simple conversions up to entire room additions within the interior of a home.

The term “home addition” is a wide-ranging one that covers several potential sub-categories throughout the space. What are some of the most common designations and room types often considered for home additions? We’ll go over each of the most popular you might be thinking about in this two-part blog series.

room types home additions

Full Room Addition

When you generally think about a room addition, this is probably the sort of thing that comes to your mind first. The full room addition refers to an entire new, functional space within the home, adding significant square footage and potentially several other fixtures.

Generally, a room addition can feature a wide range of different room types. New bedrooms are very popular, as are guest bedrooms, home theaters, home dens or offices, home gym facilities or others. If you have the time and budget, there are very few room types you can’t achieve as part of a home addition.

Bathroom Addition

We wanted to reserve a specific section for bathroom additions, which are one of the single most common room addition types found in homes. This is for several reasons, but one of the top ones is the way bathrooms raise home value – they often offer a far greater ROI than their initial cost would suggest, a major factor for those considering property value and a potential sale at any point in the future.

Per data from the National Association of Home Builders, a new full bathroom addition can boost a home’s value by up to 20%. Even just a half-bath addition can increase value by up to 10%.

Bump Out

For those looking for a solid home addition but lacking the space for an entire full room addition, the bump out is one of the top alternatives. This is a form of room addition often used in a kitchen remodel, but possible in several areas of the home, that involves extending or adding square footage to a room that already exists.

One great example of a bump out is a window seating area you might see in certain homes – this doesn’t add much square footage necessarily, but often opens up the room in meaningful ways. There are several great themes for bump outs depending on your needs.

For more on the various room types available for a home addition, or to learn about any of our general contractor services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.