10 Exterior Home Improvement Solutions
Some of Santa Clarita's most reputable home improvement professionals have weighed in on common household problems. Solutions to your biggest issues are just moments away.
April, 2008 - Issue #42
Problem #1: You Need More Space but don't want to Move

Solution: by Greg Aliano of Top Construction 775-9945
When deciding between entering a struggling housing market or upgrading their existing home to work better for their family, many homeowners are selecting the second option. In these cases, "add ons" often are the solution.
By adding onto the back of the home, we can see a substantial increase in the size of kitchens, breakfast nooks, family rooms - even an additional bedroom or office. In the front or side of the home, three-car garages can be converted to accommodate two cars and additional living space. Vice versa, a two-car garage can be converted to a three-car garage, allowing for a significant increase in storage and work space. Whatever you choose, by working with an all-in-one general contractor, you'll only deal with one reputable professional.

Problem #2: Small Backyard, Big Pool Dreams

Solution: by Jesse Garnee of SCV Pools, Spas & Masonry, Inc.
Many of the 105 pools SCV Pools built in 2007 were size-challenged backyard spaces. Our expert design team is amazing at working with small spaces. A major part of swimming pool building relies on the art of layout. The award-winning backyard pictured is a perfect example of how a very small backyard can be transformed into a beautiful, comfortable and useable space for entertaining, privacy and relaxation. Pictured is an eight-foot high fireplace with seat benches on a raised deck area of stamped colored concrete, raised water feature with water staircase into the pool, raised planter boxes and spa and a full sized masonry BBQ built in Saugus.

Problem #3: Energy, and Money, are Going Out the Window

Solution: by Shauntel Anderson of Action Window & Door
Update your old single-glazed aluminum windows with new low energy EXTREME glass from International Windows. These new windows come with or without grids in many different patterns, and all of these options can be done without breaking the bank. The best part is that you'll spend substantially less on heating and cooling your home.

Problem #4: Your Stucco and Wood Trim Needs Maintenance

Solution: by Michael Overton of Executive Painting 816-7455
Stucco is a durable construction material, but it does fade unevenly in the sunlight, and cracks in the surface are common. When the appearance of stucco deteriorates to an extensive degree, its time to patch it up and either color coat or paint the surface. This is something that may have to be done as often as every five years, but may not be required for as many as 20 years.
One thing that probably should be done every five to eight years is painting the eaves and the wood trim around the house. Exterior wooden surfaces need to be protected. Paint that is in relatively good condition probably only needs minimal repairs: to be lightly sanded, primed and then painted with a good quality exterior top coat. Cracked and peeling paint may require extensive preparation before it can be repainted. This can be very costly. It makes sense to be proactive and paint before the decade is up.

Problem #5: Your Warped Wood Fence is Driving you Mad

Solution: by Madlen Hagopian of Valencia Vinyl Fence
Few things can make your property look worse than a warped, leaning fence that has long ago lost its luster. Santa Clarita's heat, coupled with heavy winter rains, can destroy wood fences, patio covers, gazebos, decking, railings, gates and more. The expense of replacing the wood is coupled with frustration; you know you'll have to do it all over again sooner rather than later.
It's for these reasons that so many SCV families and companies have made the smart decision to go with vinyl solutions. With vinyl, there's no painting, no decaying, no yellowing, no splintering, no cracking and no warping. The results are beautiful, sturdy and maintenance free.

Problem #6: Love the Landscaped Look, Hate the Work

Solution: by Mark Berrol of MHB Landscape Construction 297-5169
Unless you hire someone to maintain your property, a little TLC will be required to keep your yard looking great. However, there are some simple ways to reduce your efforts. With a dash of forward thinking, you'll be spending lots of time enjoying your yard and a lot less time doing yard work. Here are my suggestions: Do not over water. Use ground cover to keep weed growth down. Have designated areas for pets to relieve themselves to eliminate damage to lawn areas. Cultivate soil and fertilize properly. Use plant material that does not grow excessively or drop a lot of leaves. Use plants that can survive Santa Clarita's extreme climate changes. Power wash hardscape occasionally to avoid mineral deposit build-up. Use a high quality sealer on masonry and decorative concrete and re-apply as needed.

Problem #7: You Desire a Deep-seated Outdoor Patio Set but Worry about the Elements

Solution: by Amy Boswell of Oasis Garden & Patio 255-9909
Sitting outside on a warm spring evening with friends is much more comfortable in a traditional seating arrangement like you would have inside your home. The concept of having a cushioned deep-seating set outside seems risky to some when you don't know about the material being used on the cushions. To ensure the longevity of this investment, you want to choose a well-made, reputable brand of furniture that only uses Sunbrella acrylic fabric. Sunbrella has tough, long-lasting fabrics that can handle the worst Mother Nature can give, year after year. It is true you can pour bleach on this fabric and it won't fade, so it is obviously safe to be in the hottest sunshine. We stock great brands lik Hanamint, Tropitone, OW Lee, Summer Classics, Castelle and Lane Venture - all of which stand up fantastically to the SCV climate.

Problem #8: You want to "Go Green" without Spending too much Green

Solution: by Greg Johanson of Solar Electrical Systems
A solar electrical system for your home has been the number-one remodeling project for the last three years running, especially in the inland valleys. First, there are huge utility rebates and federal tax credits that pay for 60 percent to 70 percent of the project cost. Second, a solar electrical system provides fixed electrical costs for you and your family for the next 30 years, with 10- and 20-year warranties. Third, systems add value to your home without increasing your property taxes. Finally, they provide shade on your roof, which lowers your AC bill in the summer months. Rebates, roofing issues, permit and SCE interconnection agreements can be tricky and are best handled by an experienced contractor with local references.

Problem #9: Water, Money and the Environment are Literally Going Down the Drain

Solution: by Jeff Leatherman of SoCal Sports LLC 805-497-7302;
People are listening to the warnings we are all getting from our water officials on the future in Southern California and the lack of water to supply the growing demand. On average 70 percent of the water we use at home is used on our landscaping, and with water prices expected to increase 30 percent to 50 percent in the next five years, artificial turf will pay for itself in five years and last 15 to 20 years. Who thought your lawn could make you money, not to mention look great all year and help save the environment? SoCal Sports are the leaders in synthetic lawn development and we encourage homeowners to check out the new SoReal turf; it is made from 85 percent recycled materials, so it really is "greener." We called it SoReal because that's what everyone who sees it and touches it says!

Problem #10: Creating Outdoor Living Space without a Clue

Solution: by Tami Smight of Tami Smight Interiors 430-0127;
To create a beautiful and functional backyard retreat, inject the following elements into the design: Color Furnishings and fabrics in shades that blend with the home's interior create a restful atmosphere and visually tie the outdoor living space to the interior of your home. Water Adding the sound of running water in a fountain creates a peaceful element and can mask unpleasant noise. Lighting The right lighting makes all the difference in how your evenings will be enjoyed outside. Strategically-placed candles, lanterns or outdoor lamps create effective mood lighting. Fire Elements that stir the senses are a natural component of an outdoor retreat. This element can be as simple as candles or as grand as a fireplace.
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