Category Archives: Our Blog

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.

Adding a Dream Closet to Your Utah Home

If you’re like most Utah homeowners, you never seem to have enough closet space. Adding a closet or remodeling an existing one are both great ways to increase your storage space and improve its efficiency.

Are you ready to add your dream closet? If so, these tips will help you get started.

Working with an experienced remodeling contractor will ensure that you get the results you want at a price that make you wonder why you didn’t tackle this project sooner.

How to add a dream closet to your home

Identify Your Needs for Closet Additions or Remodels

Before you launch your project, think about what your storage needs are. Do you simply not have enough closet space in your home? Or is your space poorly laid out and inefficient for your needs?

During this phase of the planning, don’t think too much yet about where you might put your new closets – that’s something your remodeling contractor will help you determine.

Right now, just decide whether you need more room for shoes, full or half-height hanging bars, drawer space, a dressing area, etc. By making these determinations now, you’ll help ensure that you get the space and configuration that you need.

Common Options for Increasing Closet Space

Depending on your needs and the configuration of your home, your general contractor will likely recommend one of the following options for addressing your closet shortage.

Remodeling an Existing Closet

Sometimes homeowners have plenty of closet space but, because it’s poorly configured, it doesn’t provide sufficient space. Renovating your closet typically involves removing everything down to the walls and starting from scratch, to create the features you need.

Converting Found Space

Often, renovation contractors can repurpose existing space to create your dream closet. For example, you could take some space from a guest room or home office that adjoins the master. Space under the stairs, in the attic or in the basement can also be ideal for this type of project.

Bump-Outs and Micro-Additions

If you aren’t ready for a large-scale room addition, your contractor may work magic with a bump-out or very small addition. These tiny additions cost substantially less per-foot than their larger counterparts and they’re ideal for adding a closet or increasing one that’s too small for your needs.

Full-Scale Room Additions

This is the ultimate solution for adding space of any type to your Utah home. Your contractor can work closely with you to create an addition that matches seamlessly with the existing structure.

Choosing the right renovation, remodeling and room addition contractor will help ensure that your project is a success. Topp Remodeling & Construction serves residential and commercial customers in Murray UT and throughout northern Utah. With over 25 years of experience in the Salt Lake City area, we have the knowledge and experience to help you add a dream closet (or closets) to your Utah home.

6 Steps to Building Your Utah Custom Home on a Budget

You’ve dreamed about building a custom home for years – maybe for decades – but you haven’t taken any definitive steps toward making that dream a reality.

The most likely reason you’ve been stalling is that you’re worried about the cost. What you might not realize is that building a custom home can be easy and affordable if you approach the process the right way.

Start today, using these six simple steps, and you could be all settled in your gorgeous new custom home by this time next year. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to bring your dream to life.

How to build a Utah custom home on a budget

Step 1: Establish Your Custom Home Budget

You can build a new home on virtually any budget – you just have to know what the number is. If you plan to get a construction loan to complete the work, start by talking to a local home loan professional. They can help you work out the details and establish a preliminary budget.

Step 2: Select a Utah Custom Home Builder

Choosing your builder this early in the process is the key to making the rest of the process go smoothly. A residential construction expert has the resources to coordinate the selection of your lot, the design of your construction plans and your interior finish selections. If you attempt to coordinate all those tasks on your own before you choose a builder, you will blow your budget – and, likely, your top – before you ever break ground.

Step 3: Select a Preliminary Custom Home Design

Some residential architects and home designers recommend taking this step before choosing a custom home builder, but that’s a recipe for disaster. Your builder will help ensure that the home plan you choose works with your budget and time schedule. Once you select a custom homesite, you can make minor modifications to the design, if necessary.

Step 4: Select Your Custom Home Lot

Much like step no. 3, some experts recommend choosing a lot before you select a builder or a home design. Although you can certainly reverse the order if you prefer, the lot you select may require costly and time-consuming site prep. Worse, you may have to design a custom plan specifically for the site. If you’ve already got your builder and a preliminary design, you can select a lot that works with your plans.

Step 5: Select Your Interior Finishes

Although this is the step that everyone likes to call the “fun part,” this is the point where you’re most likely to blow your budget. You may really love travertine tile and top-tier granite but, with the help of your builder, you can select lower priced alternatives that will look great and be just as durable.

Step 6: Finalize Your Custom Home Budget

At this point, your builder has everything they need to finalize their line-item construction cost estimate. You shouldn’t have any surprises at this point, as long as you’ve been following the advice of your home builder.

Once you have your cost estimate, you’re ready to finalize your construction loan approval. And from that point on, your builder will work their magic to bring your new home to life.

Based in Murray, Utah, Topp Remodeling & Construction serves residential and commercial customers throughout the Salt Lake City area and northern Utah. For almost a quarter-century, we have provided high-quality construction and remodeling services to our many satisfied customers.

If you would like to discuss the most cost-effective way to build a custom home, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Construction: an Evolving Industry

Construction has always been an evolving industry. The future is expected to be no different when it comes to advancements in construction. The industry can jump ahead so quickly it is hard to say ahead. Mechanical, electrical and digital advancements are coming at us from all directions.  Topp Remodeling and Construction is taking advantage of some of these trends to help our clients get a better job done right.  

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensors like the visual, hearing, smell and even touch and feel.  The overlaid sensory information can be constructive (moved into the area) of the natural environment and is seamlessly interwoven with the physical world such that it is perceived.  A real-world environment, where the user’s real-world environment is simulated into an Augmented reality.  Example: Imagine building your home, moving walls and stairs, rooms and even picking up the fridge and putting it on the other side of the room. You can move around and change things. You can design in real time and know exactly what you want. Your front yard, back yard, flowers, and the deck and pool all done in VR. This type of information is going to make building details much more available. Many think that instead of using safety glasses we will use 3d goggles. We’ll start planning and plotting sites before we even break ground. Just think, before the construction begins, providing a much more efficient process.

Keeping it Green

Eco-construction is a growing field.  Buildings and plans incorporate green technology into the construction and layout of homes and buildings.  Eco- Construction is a process of building or taking on jobs and making sure you build natural protective area around the construction in an Eco-Friendly environmentally responsible and efficient way. From planning to design, building, tearing down, it’s all included. This is a big and changing part of what we do, we only see that growing and becoming more standardized in 2019.

Construction Software and Data Ecosystem

Real-time collaboration software is already regarded as an essential component of the entire building process. Nevertheless, its impact on the sector is expected to increase substantially in the near future. It goes without saying that data has played a huge role in construction today.
Data-rich community and ecosystem where all the players of the industry come together and share data, experience and project knowledge is closer than we might think. And it is no exaggeration to maintain that it’s the only way forward for construction.

Self-Healing Concrete

Word is we will start seeing self-healing concrete being used on roads, buildings, and homes. Self-healing concrete is a new form of concrete that heals itself when it comes into contact with air and water that then produces an outer protective layer. This is going to save the industry a lot of time in the years to come. They even predict that by 2030 there will be 5 billion metric tonnes of concrete used in the industry.


Drone technology continues to change, and along with the drones ability to save time, increase safety and keep projects on constant track. It will enable contractors of the future keep clients up to date on projects at any time of the day because it will be able to take images on an ongoing basis throughout the project, getting views that are not possible by a human. The use of drones will enable projects to run much smoother due to being able to send them into a building instead of a person, which will improve the safety of the industry.

Are you looking to move ahead in 2019?  Topp Remodeling and Construction is ready to help you move ahead on your future needs.