Finding the Right Contractor

Many of you reading this may have attended the recent Milwaukee NARI Spring Home Improvement Show at the State Fair Park Exposition Center. For more than 30 years, Callen has been a member of what has blossomed into the country’s largest chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Callen is one of the more than 700 members of the Milwaukee NARI chapter, which allows area homeowners to have peace of mind when contracting with remodeling companies. Callen’s focus on professionalism and commitment to the customer enables it to maintain its good standing within the association.

Many listeners of my “Remodeling Show” on WISN-AM News Talk 1130 have asked on and off the air, “How do I find a quality contractor, one I can trust?” Good question, right? Remodeling contractors are often in your house for weeks at a time, working around your family, pets, etc. and you want to find the right fit.

What other inquiries should be made when selecting a contractor? Here are some questions I believe are imperative to have answered before moving forward with a contractor on a remodeling project:

  • Are they good at what they do?
  • Are they professional?
  • Do they have insurance, including coverage in case of an on-site employee injury?
  • Do they pull the proper permits?
  • Are they working up to local codes?
  • Are they courteous, clean, and respectful while in your home?

These are all valid questions you should not be shy of asking. When dealing with Callen, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES! This is why Callen is part of NARI and other professional organizations.

In addition, being part of an organization like NARI allows Callen and its staff to have access to timely industry information and educational opportunities. This is a benefit to you, the homeowner, as you know that Callen is staying current with industry trends.

Through its Milwaukee NARI membership, Callen has regularly participated in the Wisconsin Remodeler of the Year Awards competition, winning awards in the kitchen, bathroom, and exterior remodeling categories for 18 consecutive years. Over the last dozen years, I have had the pleasure of serving as the emcee of this event several times and Callen’s projects stand out for their excellence and commitment to detail.

Completing a remodeling project should be exciting and something you never regret doing. Companies such as Callen have proven they work at a high level through continuing to play an active role in the NARI chapter here in Milwaukee.

We are in the final stages of winter (thankfully) and spring and summer are right around the corner. I know it is held in February, but the Home Improvement Show is called the “Spring Show” because the remodeling season starts now. Don’t wait until summer to plan, or you likely won’t be enjoying your completed project until late this year at the earliest.

Do what I have done many times and Call Callen, so you can be like me and my family – enjoying the comfort and amenities of a remodeled home completed by an experience and quality home improvement contractor.



It Takes a Team to Bring a Remodel to a Successful Finish

In my last blog I talked about how relocating the laundry room led to a whole-house remodel and our home being on Milwaukee/NARI’s annual tour of homes, the Spring Home Improvement Showcase. I touched a little bit about enlisting the help of an interior designer to pull things together and coordinating with other craftsman on the project.

Even though I am in the home improvement business, I don’t profess to have a vast knowledge of interior design and the step-by-step process and finishing touches that go into making a home beautiful and special. That’s where our interior designer Faith Wolf comes into play. We were introduced to Faith by a neighbor and, after some conversations, we knew we could work with her to create the living area we always wanted. Coincidentally, Faith worked with two of our Callen Design Group designers when all three were employed at another firm. Getting a thumbs-up from the Callen designers solidified our relationship.

I do want to point out that our Callen Design Group designers were very involved in our kitchen, bath, and sunroom remodels with space design, fixture and appliance layout, and assistance with choosing countertops and cabinetry. They also were involved with other aspects of our main floor remodel including the laundry room, the starting point for this project. But even with attic and lower-level conversions, our designers leave furniture placement, accessories, and the like for the homeowner to decide. That’s why for our living room project, we needed someone whose expertise was not only space planning, but also her ability to select furniture, drapery, window treatments, and accessories taking in account our lifestyle and the purpose of the room.

The process began with Faith asking us many questions on how we saw the room being used, how many people we envisioned seating and what type of feeling we wanted to impart. Those were the starting points. Then, she worked with our construction crew as our fireplace was gutted to the studs and window replacement eliminated an unused window seat, giving us additional living space.

But as can happen with remodeling projects, there were a few surprises. The soffit we wanted to remove in the fireplace area was actually housing a second-floor support beam. Our project manager’s solution was to put a footing in the basement floor and a new support beam. Relocating that support beam gave us additional ceiling height and room to put recessed cabinets on both sides of the fireplace.

After the construction, it was time to begin pulling all the living elements together with the help of Faith. Bonnie and I chose a granite hearth for the new gas-burning fireplace and that was a starting point for color. Faith and Bonnie went furniture shopping and selected pieces that were comfortable when it was just the two of us at home, but also additional pieces that would add seating when we had company.

An advantage to using a professional like Faith is that she had access to showrooms, was familiar with all the materials and fabrics, and was able to streamline the process for us. Besides furniture and paint color, she also helped with lighting, window treatments, area rugs, selecting fabric for pillow covers, vases and all the extra touches – plants, art work, and tabletop accessories.

And last but not least, when we decided that our home would be on the tour, Faith was able to make sure every element of the room, large or small, arrived in time and was placed where it should be. Bonnie and I of course wanted everything picture perfect for the tour-goers and Faith made sure the tiniest detail was taken care of. But a home is meant to be lived in, not just looked at. That’s what made having an interior designer so critical. Not only is everything simply beautiful, it’s also simply easy to use. We can relax and be comfortable as well as entertain either casually or formally. We like that.

Everyone worked together on this project to give us the remodel we wanted. Our fireplace installation from Best Fireplace in Oak Creek, our Callen Construction carpenters and trade contractors, Callen Construction project manager, Steve Turzinski, who made sure everything ran smoothly and communicated with Bonnie every day, and Faith who took our input and created a room that was exactly what we wanted.

And that’s how a project comes together – team work between all involved.