Category Archives: Our Blog

Understanding Focal Points in Kitchen Remodels

While part of any kitchen remodeling project involves the kind of direct detail you expect from a construction project, there’s another part that’s a bit more down the artistic and creative pathway. Kitchen design is often a vital part of a home, from its aesthetics to its actual value, and determining important parts of it during the kitchen remodeling process can help define the space.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, the kitchen remodel is one of our numerous specialties when it comes to home remodeling and general contractor needs. And while we’re always on top of your construction and material details during such a remodel, we’re also happy to provide tips and expertise on the creative side of things, including what industry pros would refer to as “focal points” within the kitchen. What are these, and what role do they play in kitchen design? Here’s everything you need to know.

focal points kitchen remodels

Focal Point Basics

Broadly speaking, a focal point in any room is one that draws attention from those who enter the room. As you might imagine, this can be a widely varied category – depending on the general design theme, numerous different items or areas might draw eyes.

In many cases, focal points are found in major art pieces, accent lighting areas, wall-mounted screens, fireplaces or brighter-colored areas in a generally darker room. Contrasts play a big role here: If most of a room is a given color or theme but a certain area diverts from this significantly, this area often becomes a focal point.

Kitchen Focal Point Options

What are some of the common focal points that open up in the kitchen? Here are a few to consider:

  • Island: One of the most popular remodeling themes is a kitchen island, which increases workspace and is great for social activities. Islands are virtually always focal points, meaning they need to be carefully designed and kept clean and uncluttered.
  • Backsplash: The material that covers the kitchen wall between countertops and cabinets is the backsplash, and many homeowners choose to make it a focal point as well. Specifically, the area directly behind the range or sink is one where eyes will go – consider making it a catchy color or something that differentiates from the rest of the kitchen.
  • Sink: The sink itself can be a focal point as well, especially if you utilize modern items like stainless steel, undermounts, fireclay and more.

Organizing Kitchen Focal Points

Now, it’s important to keep track of your number of focal points and how they complement each other within the kitchen. Too many focal points will be distracting, but too few will lead to a bland, boring kitchen space. The important theme here is balance – you want focal points that support each other and the other designs in the kitchen, and never compete with one another for attention. The larger the space, the more focal points it will require.

For more on focal points within a kitchen remodel, or to learn about any of our home remodeling, home additions or other general contractor services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Water Conservation Themes During a Bathroom Remodel

Home remodeling projects can be done for a variety of purposes, from improving aesthetics to upping home value and several in between. One additional area some homeowners consider when thinking about a remodel: Improving efficiency or decreasing utility costs in some specific way.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’ve assisted with numerous such remodeling projects, including one particular type that’s becoming more and more popular today: A bathroom remodel that, among other things, looks to incorporate water conservation into the new space in several areas. Here are several of the elements you might consider in such a bathroom remodel to not only upgrade the visual and practical elements of the space, but also to help conserve water.

water conservation bathroom remodel

Showerhead Options

The shower is a commonly remodeled area within the bathroom, whether to switch to a walk-in option, expand the space or change the showerhead configuration. Within this latter area are multiple options when it comes to saving water, including options that do not require any reduction in comfort.

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of water-saving showerheads available today:

  • Low-flow showerhead: This is an option that limits the water pressure used in the shower, sending the water through smaller holes. Those who have used these will tell you about their expert designs that allow you to still experience similar flow rates without using up so much water.
  • Aerating showerhead: This is a type that mixes the water being used with air, reducing the overall volume of water that’s required. This will create a bit of a different shower experience, one our general contractors will be happy to explain to you.

Low-Flow Toilet

One of the single most common home upgrades today is the low-flow toilet, which comes in a variety of types and models on today’s market. There are dual-flush options, which have one button for solid waste and another, which uses less water, for the liquid waste option.

Previous generations may have worried about the aesthetics of a low-flow toilet, but this is a thing of the past. Today, they are manufactured in stylish and modern formats, allowing you to maintain a modern room upgrade without sacrificing quality.

Bathtub Considerations

Finally, when considering a bathtub change, think about how often you utilize the bathtub to begin with. Do you take a bath every day or multiple times per week, or just occasionally? If it’s the latter, you might consider a walk-in shower that does away with the bathtub altogether. If it’s the former, a water-conserving bath that takes the shape of your body and limits the amount of water you use should be a strong consideration if this is your goal.

For more on water conservation themes to consider during a bathroom remodel, or to learn about any of our general contractor or home remodeling services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

How Hiring a General Contractor Benefits You

Whether you’re looking for home additions, single room remodeling or even a custom home built from the ground up, you need an experienced, high-quality general contractor on your team. This is a professional who not only physically completes several areas of your required job, but also has the knowledge and expertise to hire out other sub-contractors and coordinate your entire project to ensure it meets the high standards you require.

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re proud to serve as Utah’s best general contractors, offering services ranging from custom home framing to a wide variety of home remodeling services, plus everything in between. Why does it pay to hire a general contractor rather than attempting to coordinate every individual contractor on your own? Here are several reasons, ranging from ease and convenience to saving you time and money.

hiring general contractor benefits

Understanding Codes and Regulations

One area that many homeowners simply aren’t fully up to speed on is varying building codes and regulations that must be followed in detail. Our contractors have significant experience here, meaning we’ll keep everything in line in terms of meeting code at all times. We know all the local codes and any possible variants present – individual sub-contractors or building managers generally don’t maintain the same level of knowledge.

Licensing, Insurance and Worker’s Comp

In addition, working with a general contractor covers you in the rare case where something goes wrong. Our general contractors have not only a state license, but also liability insurance and worker’s compensation in place.

This shields you from liability for any accidents or incidents that come up – these are very rare with our team, but we want you to be protected just in case. This means we understand safety standards and will keep conditions optimal on your job site at all times.

Saving Money

Some think that hiring contractors themselves “cuts out the middleman” and saves money, but the reality is essentially the opposite. For one, general contractors can buy materials in bulk to lower the costs – you’ll spend less in this major area.

For another, general contractors are far more likely to get the job done right without any concerns. This stops expensive mistakes and also brings a higher return-on-investment and home value.

Saving Time

And finally, a general contractor who is experienced like ours will streamline your entire project from start to finish. From acquiring permits all the way to putting the final touches on your remodel or home addition, the general contractor serves as your broad project organizer, saving you huge amounts of time you might have spent researching sub-contractors, calling around for price quotes and sourcing materials. If any issues come up that threaten the schedule, the general contractor can deal with it while leaving you to attend to other areas of your life. General contractors often take weeks or even months off your overall project timetable.

For more on why a general contractor is the right choice, or to learn about any of our services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Comparing Home Remodeling to Home Renovations

At Topp Remodeling & Construction, we’re proud to offer a wide range of home remodeling services to clients throughout Utah. Whether you need a basement finishing job, a bathroom remodel or a home addition, our general contractors are on-hand to assist you with every step of the job.

One of the single most common questions we’re asked by current and prospective clients: What’s the difference between “remodeling” and “renovating” a home? And while there’s nothing wrong with sometimes using these terms interchangeably – especially when dealing with pros like ours who will go into great detail to understand precisely what your needs are – they technically are not the same thing. Let’s go over the proper definitions of each, what they generally refer to in today’s construction world, plus how you can often accomplish both within the same project.
comparing home remodeling renovations


The term renovation comes from a Latin root word “renovare,” which can be defined as “to renew, restore or revive.” Its application within construction basically follows this definition: Renovations are generally performed to restore a given area or item to a previous condition.

So in many cases, renovations are done to buildings that are in poor condition and need to be restored to a better one. This is often due to aging or lack of maintenance. Some renovations are massive projects, such as building up an abandoned home into a livable property. But others can be small and relatively specific.


Remodeling, on the other hand, can be defined simply as “to model again.” This means taking an existing, generally functioning element of a given structure and changing its form or structure in some notable way. Maybe you’re looking at a room in your home and visualizing it with a different appearance, and/or a different form or function.

You might turn a previously unfinished basement into a living room area or a play-place for the kids, for instance. Another popular remodel is the kitchen, which has numerous practical and aesthetic areas you can consider changing out.

Both Together

Now, it’s important to note that not only are these terms interchangeable and often irrelevant in the end, you can also combine them even if you’re sticking to the technical definitions. Take a bathroom that’s still somewhat functional, but has worn down in several areas and also looks bad – you can restore this area in a renovation, but also change its appearance and form through remodeling services simultaneously. This really all depends on the precise nature of your needs, the current state of the area and what you want it to look like when you’re finished.

For more on the differences and similarities between remodeling and renovating, or to learn about any of our home contractor services, speak to the staff at Topp Remodeling & Construction today.

Custom Home Designs to Fit Your Lifestyle & Budget

Building a custom home lets you create the perfect living space for your lifestyle and your budget. The design of your home should reflect the way your family lives and create a comfortable, livable space with all the amenities you desire.

But how much should you base your design and finish selections on current trends?

The answer to this question depends on how long you plan to say in your home and how much you may be willing to compromise your own design sensibilities to maximize the future value of your home.

Custom home builder serving Salt Lake City

Choosing Your Custom Home Design & Layout

One of the most important benefits of designing and building a new house is how flexible you can be in your selections.

When you purchase a house in an established new home community, you are limited to the elevations and floorplans offered by the builder. You have some degree of flexibility to make changes; however, most tract builders limit your options and charge a substantial premium for design changes.

The current trend – which has been firmly in place since the 1990s – is an open concept floorplan. This creates expansive, open spaces for common living, typically encompassing the kitchen, dining and living areas. Some plans do have separate formal living and dining rooms, but these separate spaces are becoming more of a rarity. Instead, that space is now being used for more practical purposes, in accordance with how families live today.

If an open concept doesn’t suit your preferences, you can design your common areas to be less open. However, that may mean that it won’t appeal as much to future buyers.

The same can be said of your interior finish choices. If you prefer a more eclectic style – orange cabinets or lime green countertops – you should be prepared to renovate before you sell your home or recognize that it might be more difficult to sell.

Finding Compromise to Maximize Value & Livability

When you work closely with an experienced custom home builder, you can find compromises that allow you to have the home you want and still ensure its future value to potential buyers.

For example, your builder can recommend ways to partition off common spaces that can later be removed without extensive renovations. Or you could add innovative rolling doors and partition walls that fold away or roll up when you wish to open up the space.

For those eclectic finish selections you prefer, your builder can recommend a specific type or style of cabinet that can easily be re-faced in the future, for example.

Designing Your Ideal Custom Home

When you choose an experienced builder, you can rest assured that you will have a high-quality home that will endure the test of time. Aesthetic choices such as paint colors, tile selection and other interior finishes, can always be changed over time, as your preferences change and new trends emerge.

Topp Remodeling and Construction, based in Murray, Utah, specializes in assisting clients throughout the Salt Lake City area and along the Wasatch Front. Our team works closely with you to establish a design that suits your needs while working within your budgetary constraints. Contact us today to learn more, or to schedule a consultation to discuss your new Utah custom home.

Updating Your Home Before Listing it for Sale

If you’re preparing to sell your home, it’s time to consider any issues that could jeopardize a sale or reduce the perceived value of your home.

Potential buyers typically can’t see past certain things, such as clearly dated interior finishes and obvious signs of neglect. The more you can make your home appear modern and updated, the higher value it will bring. Likewise, if potential buyers can sense that you have kept up with regular maintenance and repairs, they will be less hesitant to make you a viable offer to purchase.

Home remodeling in Murray UT

Home Repairs to Complete Before Selling Your House

Although every real estate transaction is different, potential buyers almost always have a home inspection performed during their due diligence period. And, because most buyers are not construction-savvy, certain things stand out to them as being major red flags. Addressing red flag issues before you put your home up for sale will help remove these objections.

Some of the biggest red flag issues for potential buyers include:

  • Broken roof tiles
  • Foundation cracks
  • Evidence of leaks or water damage (e.g. stained drywall)
  • Anything resembling mold in the home’s interior
  • Moss or mold growth around the home’s exterior
  • Drywall cracks that could suggest settling
  • Stiff plumbing valves at sinks and toilets

In addition to these items, have a contractor in to do a check of your home’s major systems, including the electrical, plumbing and HVAC. You don’t necessarily have to perform any major repairs that you aren’t inclined to, but this will help you anticipate issues that a potential buyer could bring up in the negotiation process.

Updates that Can Help Get Your Home Sold

Some of the best home remodeling and renovation projects you can choose, in terms of return-on-investment (ROI) include:

  • Upgrading to energy-efficient windows
  • Replacing your home’s front entry door
  • Repainting the exterior of the house
  • Updating your front landscaping
  • Updating your home’s lighting fixtures
  • Replacing laminate countertops in the kitchen
  • Replacing cultured marble countertops in the bathroom
  • Updating shower surrounds and doors

Of course, you don’t have to do all of these updates (or any of them, if you’re working on a tight budget). However, the more you can make your home appear to have been updated, the better price your home will bring once it’s on the market.

Updates & Renovations You Might Want to Avoid

One of the biggest dilemmas that homeowners face when getting their house ready to sell is what to do about worn or dated flooring, especially carpeting. Replacing carpet is the one of the least expensive ways to update flooring. Unfortunately, most buyers really don’t want carpeting – at least not in most parts of the home – and that poses a dilemma.

Many real estate professionals recommend cleaning the carpet to the best of your ability (have the rugs professionally cleaned at the last minute before listing) and leaving the existing flooring in place if you can. You can then offer potential buyers an allowance – whatever you were going to spend on carpet replacement – to put toward the flooring of their choice.

As for other remodeling, renovation or updating you may be considering before selling your house, use common sense if you do proceed and select neutral colors and finishes that fit the current trends. If you aren’t sure about any particular project, an experienced remodeling contractor can guide you through the process and help ensure you make cost-effective choices.

Located in Murray, Utah, Topp Remodeling and Construction provides commercial and residential renovation, remodeling and construction throughout northern Utah and the metropolitan Salt Lake City area. Contact us today for an on-site consultation and recommendations about the upgrades you can make to help get your home sold more quickly.

Consider Window Installation in Your Home Remodeling Project

If you’re considering a Salt Lake City home remodeling project, you might not have considered making a change to your existing windows. But, when you consider the benefits of replacing your windows, you might want to reconsider.

If you plan to undertake a home renovation project, your general contractor can discuss various options with you, providing detailed cost estimates and help you make this beneficial upgrade a reality.

Window installations in Salt Lake City

Benefits of Window Installation When Remodeling Your Home

The most impressive benefit of replacing your home’s windows is how much money you can save on your energy bills. You will also increase your home’s comfort, make it more soundproof and lessen the impact of UV rays on your flooring and furniture. You’ll enjoy improved security and less maintenance.

And, depending on the current availability of incentives, you could qualify for substantial rebates when you install energy-efficient windows in your home. This could go a long way toward offsetting the cost that this upgrade adds to your home renovation.

When Should You Consider Window Installation?

If your home’s windows and doors are more than 10 years old, this home remodeling project could provide serious benefits. Likewise, if you have low-quality or builder-grade windows or exterior doors, consider making a change even if they aren’t that old.

Another reason to consider window replacement is the aesthetic value and curb appeal of your home. If you’re planning to make any exterior improvements, you can substantially improve the appearance of your house without spending a lot of money. This is especially true if you plan to list your home for sale in the near future.

In fact, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), you could recover as much as 80% of your investment in window replacements upon the sale of your home.

And, if you’re planning for a home remodeling project anyway, adding window installation won’t cause substantially more disruption than you’ll already be prepared for.

Choosing a Contractor for Window Installations

For any home remodeling project or window installation in Salt Lake City, choosing the right general contractor is critical to making your project a success. This is no time to try to cut costs by hiring a relative or a handyman you find on Craigslist. You need a licensed and insured general contractor who has experience with home additions and renovations.

Your new windows will come with an impressive manufacturer’s warranty – some are 20 years or longer – but, unless you use a duly licensed contractor to handle the installation, you could void that warranty. Licensed home remodeling contractors will also provide a warranty on their installation work so, if anything goes wrong later (leaking, etc.), they will be there to take care of the problem.

In Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas, Topp Remodeling and Construction is the locally owned and operated expert for basement finishing, room additions, home remodeling and more. We are fully licensed and insured and we are accredited by the Utah Better Business Bureau, where we proudly maintain an A+ BBB rating. Contact us today to learn more about how affordable and beneficial window installations can be, when included as a part of a home remodeling project.

Office Build-Outs: Gray Shell vs. Vanilla Shell Tenant Improvement

Office build-outs, also known as tenant improvements (TIs), typically occur when businesses move into a new space that has not previously been occupied by anyone else.

The purpose of TI projects is to adapt a space to fit the needs of the new occupant. Because every company has unique space planning and finishes needs, developers and property owners typically provide an unfinished or partially finished space along with an allowance that the new tenant can use for their office build-out.

This aspect of the commercial construction industry can be confusing, as it uses terms and concepts that few businesses owners have experience with. This is especially true if you haven’t previously been through a TI project. The most common confusion arises over the state of the space before starting the build-out. Typically, you’ll see spaces referred to as gray shells (sometimes called dark shells) or vanilla shells.

Office build-outs and TIs in Murray UT

Gray Shell Office Build-Outs

In a gray shell tenant improvement, the space is typically an open box (shell) with virtually no improvements inside. Dark shells usually have no ceiling grid, no drywall on the exterior walls and no stub-outs for utilities or systems. In other words, no improvements have been made to the space whatsoever.

In this scenario, you are responsible for every aspect of your build-out. Both the cost and time to do a gray shell TI can be substantial, as compared to a vanilla shell starting point.

Vanilla Shell Office Build-Outs

The term vanilla shell typically refers to a tenant space that has ceiling grid and drywall in place at the demising walls (outer boundaries of the space). This type of space should also have stub-outs for HVAC, plumbing and electrical. A vanilla shell may even have restrooms installed along with the basics of a heating and cooling system.

The cost for a vanilla shell build-out should be lower than it would be for a gray shell project, simply because some of the work has already been done for you. The time to complete this type of build-out is also much shorter in most cases.

Making Sure Your Tenant Improvement Is a Success

Although most commercial property managers and owners are ethical and above-board, beware of anyone who tries to force you to use their TI contractor. If your lease agreement provides a per-square-foot allowance for your build-out, you should have the freedom to solicit bids and choose your own general contractor.

In fact, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced commercial office build-out contractor before you sign a lease. If the provided allowance isn’t sufficient to complete the build-out to your specifications, you must either pay the difference yourself or finance a portion of your Tis. Or, preferably, you can negotiate with the developer or property manager to increase your TI allowance.

Having an experienced general contractor will help you keep costs as low as possible while ensuring quality and timely completion. Topp Remodeling & Construction is northern Utah’s tenant improvement expert. We are located in Murray but we assist clients throughout the Salt Lake City metro area.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with all your TI and office build-out needs.

Add Value to Your Utah Home with a Garage Addition

A garage addition is the perfect way to improve convenience and security at your Utah home, but it can also provide a big boost to your property value and make your home more attractive to potential buyers.

Depending on the type of addition you choose, this is also one of the most cost-effective renovation projects, potentially providing a high return-on-investment with minimal time or disruption to your life.

Utah garage additions

Why Consider a Garage Addition or Expansion?

Most homeowners consider adding garage space when they don’t have sufficient room for storing their vehicles inside, away from the northern Utah weather extremes. In other cases, homeowners may want more storage space for their toys – motorcycles, ATVs, wave runners, etc. – sporting goods, yard equipment, etc., or to build a workshop.

You may also want to consider this renovation if your home doesn’t have a garage. This may occur because, at some point in the past, someone converted an existing garage to living space. Or your home may have been built with only a carport, which was a common practice during the housing boom that followed World War II.

Types of Garage Additions

Garage additions can take a variety of forms. This may involve enclosing an existing carport, adding on to an existing garage structure or building a standalone structure.

Doing an addition to the existing structure is typically more cost-effective than a standalone addition, simply because a portion of the structure is already in place. However, the extent of any room addition or home renovation project will be affected by the local zoning requirements and building codes in your area.

Whether you want an attached or detached garage addition, you must also consider the degree to which you want your addition finished. The higher the level of finishes, the greater the cost. However, if you plan to build a workshop or spend a lot of time in your new space, consider addition an HVAC system and, if possible, running plumbing and sewer to the space for added value and convenience.

Is a Garage Addition Right for You?

If you’re considering a garage addition to your Utah home, the best place to start is by talking to a local general contractor who specializes in home renovations, remodels and additions.

Your contractor can walk the property with you, learn about your needs and make recommendations to help you achieve your goals. This is also the right time to discuss your budget and preferred timeline.

Based in Murray, Utah, Topp Remodeling & Construction has been northern Utah’s go-to expert for residential and commercial construction and remodeling since 1995. Contact us today for more information or to request your personalized cost estimate for your garage addition or other home renovation project.

Why Working with a General Contractor Makes Good Sense

Are you required to work with a general contractor for your upcoming Murray, Utah, construction project?

Although you are not required to do so in most cases, working with a general contractor simply makes good sense if you plan to remodel, renovate or build a home or undertake a commercial build-out project.

Unless you have a background in managing construction projects, a general contractor (GC) can save you money and time and ensure that your project gets done right. Working with a GC also provides critical legal and liability protection.

Why should you work with a general contractor

Why Should I Work with a General Contractor?

If you’re considering a room addition for your home, you will need plans, a permit and cost estimates from multiple trade contractors and material suppliers. This might include concrete contractors, plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors, framers, carpenters, drywall contractors, painters, cabinet suppliers, etc. – the list goes on indefinitely.

You’ll have to get insurance to cover anything that might go wrong. You’ll have to schedule each trade contractor in at the correct time and make sure they complete the work correctly. You’ll have to handle paying all your subs and obtaining releases, so they can’t put a lien on your property.

There’s more involved but, as you can see, this isn’t something that most homeowners or business owners are equipped to do.

Won’t I Save Money by Being My Own General Contractor?

If you think you can save money by acting as your own GC, you may want to look a little further into the process.

How much is your time worth? If you assume that you will breeze through the architectural and permitting processes, get great bids from responsive subcontractors, bring the schedule together with precision and get final sign-off from the building inspector, how much of your time would that take – and how much is that time worth?

Now consider that local GCs provide subcontractors, tradespeople and material suppliers with a steady supply of work and, in return, get more favorable pricing than you can get. The insurance liability alone is likely to cost more than the GC’s fees.

The bottom line is that, in almost every case, you won’t save any money – and you could end up losing money – by attempting to be your own general contractor.

Choosing the Right Utah General Contractor for Your Project

In Murray and throughout the Salt Lake City metro area, you have hundreds of licensed general contractors to choose from. So, how do you decide which GC can best serve your needs?

Start by identifying GCs who specialize in the type of project you’re planning – choosing a contractor who specializes in bridges, highways or high-rises might not be wise if you’re planning to refinish your basement.

Local experience is paramount because that assures you the GC knows local building codes and how to navigate the permitting process. It also means that the GC has established relationships with local trade contractors and material suppliers, allowing them to keep your costs as low as possible.

Topp Remodeling & Construction has served clients in Murray and throughout the Salt Lake City area since 1995. As a locally owned and operated company, we understand the importance of providing the highest quality work and customer service along with fair and transparent pricing.

If you’re considering a building custom home, doing a renovation or remodel, basement finishing or a commercial build-out, contact us today to learn why we are the Murray, Utah general contractor you can trust with your project.