Everything you need to know about your next mountain cabin remodel
by Leo Wolfson, brought to you by Breckenridge Building Center
Autumn is an exciting transition period for Summit County residents as the hills shine bright with amber and gold hues, crisper air starts to settle in and home remodeling season enters its peak. Fall is the most popular time for remodel in the mountains as many homeowners try to complete projects before the winter arrives.
A certain necessity of owning a home in Summit County — especially for vacation homeowners — is keeping up a house’s value. Summit County is a popular housing market and falling behind neighbors on revamp can make for a difficult home resale and loss of property value. There’s no exact right or wrong time to get a remodel, but chances are if it was an item was made in the last century, your time is up. If there’s a leaky roof or a plumbing issue, an alarm clock should be exploding in your head.
“There’s a lot of outdated properties in the county and they tend to get outdated pretty quick. I just think if you’re in a condo and your neighbor remodels, you’re almost forced to keep up with them,” explained Tim Scanlan of Raptor Construction. “I think it’s a perpetuating situation in some of these condo units. We’re kind of constantly updating them.”
Many second-home owners keep their vacation properties for the purpose of, unsurprisingly, vacationing. Few people want to work on home repair when they visit, so a trend towards low maintenance, sustainable materials has developed. This includes metal railings, composite decking, stucco and stone versus natural wood surfaces that tend to decay quicker in the harsh Summit County climate. Deck maintenance is particularly popular because of this.
There has also been a movement toward a more modern, chic style in mountain architecture, drawing away from the rustic, cabin-style design that defined Summit home construction in the ‘70s and ‘80s. This has been most prevalent on the interior of homes — specifically in kitchens and in bathrooms.
“People are always trying to come up with a different counter surface or different tiles, different flooring, accents for walls, and bringing in natural materials or tiles that look like wood,” said Scanlan. “Mountain-modern is a term that I think is getting a little overused or cliché but it’s definitely more contemporary design that’s working its way in up here.”
These new trends in remodel construction also tend be more environmentally friendly. Reclaimed wood is commonly used in Summit County construction for floors, siding and sheds, while metal can also be used for wall accents and siding, eliminating the destruction of trees altogether.
“It’s kind of … trying to use similar materials in different ways with a little more modern twist,” explained Scanlan.
But as exciting as this might all sound, every remodel comes with a price tag, and more often than not, that “little” revamp costs more than you think. The best way to reduce the price tag shock value is by taking a do-it-yourself approach to the construction. If the project is big enough that it needs a building permit, you’ll likely need a licensed electrician and contractor, but that doesn’t mean that simpler tasks such as painting and tile-work have to be hired out. It may sound intimidating but with a little research and some good ol’ fashioned hard work, you can achieve nearly the same end-result from doing these projects yourself. This can make a big difference on your bill for the present and for future remodel projects.
“There’s a lot of painting that goes on up here just because of the UV and the weather that we get…. So painting’s kind of a never-ending endeavor,” said Scanlan.
The fall remodel season typically runs through Halloween and then gradually drops off towards Thanksgiving when second-home owners start to trickle back into the county. To some it may sound exciting and to others it may seem like more of a headache, but whether you like it or not, keeping a house up to date is an important part of home ownership.
“It’s a unique market and the remodel thing never seems to go away — there’s no shortage of it,” said Scanlan with a chuckle.
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