Screened Porch Project

Location: Yorktown, VA

Client objective: Existing porch is small and dark, and no longer meets the client’s needs.

Our solution: Demo existing screened porch, and create a new 20’x20’ living space, featuring a cathedral ceiling and skylights.

Jim says: “Good people know good people! The Sommers were referred to us from one of our favorite former clients, Rob & Dale Kutz.” They were a joy to work with and quickly became a ‘crew favorite client’ that everyone in the Production Department wanted to work for.”

The client says: “We enjoy our screen room every day. Jim’s company bought the roofing expertise that was the key to success. Our Project Manager, Haegen Fuller, was exceptionally responsive and easy to work with. Jim stood by his work, and we’re quite happy with the finished project.”

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Add A Second Story Game Room In a York County Home In The Running Man Subdivision

The Klebs have an active family, which means they have boys who are athletes.  These boys are athletic all over their home in the Running Man subdivision in York County! Mrs. Kleb needed a room, besides the living room, for them to “recreate”.    So what’s the most cost effective way to add 252 usable square feet to one’s home for the purposes of a “rec room” or a “game room”?

In the Kleb’s case, the answer was in the top 8 feet of their two story living room ceiling. Here’s what it looked like before we started:

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By converting the living room ceiling back to a one story ceiling, the space above was available to become …. wait for it…….the new 22 foot x 12 foot game room!

Game Room Converted From Second Story Living Room in Running Man Subdivision of York County


What was originally a balcony on the second story that gave a view of the downstairs living room became the doorway to the new game room:

2015-07-03 13.39.11Running Man Game Room Yorktown








But how did the downstairs turn out? Could anyone tell that the living room had not always had a single story ceiling?  You be the judge:

Living Room With New Ceiling After Upstairs Game Room Added in Running Man Home

Here’s a “before” view:2015-07-03 13.32.24

Here’s an “after” view:

Living Room After New Ceiling and Second Story Added in Running Man Home

Another  “before” view:

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And then a few more “After” Pictures:

View From Kitchen Into Living Room View From Living Room into Kitchen


Different House, Same Address: Whole House and Kitchen Remodel in Running Man Neighborhood, Yorktown VA


Mark Lownik grew up in the the Running Man Neighborhood of York County.  After College, his career took him to Connecticut where he met Jennifer and they started a family.  In 2015, with his parents desiring to downsize, Mark found himself contemplating moving his family from New England back to the very neighborhood and to the very home that he had grown up in.   We were referred to them in a quite round about fashion by a friend of a former client that had since moved to Florida.  The circuitous route by which they found us proved to be a perfect introduction to a great family who proved fun to work with when we helped to bring their vision of their new home to life!

Her Vision:

Mark & Jen Lownik had a unique opportunity to move back in to the house that Mark had grown up in but remodel it pursuant to a whole new vision.  Jen envisioned removing a wall in between the kitchen and the den, remodeling the kitchen, installing new hardwood floors, removing and replacing the textured ceilings with smooth ceilings, re-designing the guest bathroom, laundry room and storage room and removing and replacing the stained trim in the house with new white trim.

Always Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing:

The key element to the entire project was the kitchen.  

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The existing kitchen with openings on the left and right that limited the amount of wall space that was available for cabinetry

The cased opening between the existing kitchen and the dining room was so close to the corner of the kitchen that it did not allow for enough cabinet space.  The doorway to the laundry room at the right end of the cabinets also limited how much cabinetry could be on the adjacent wall.

The existing kitchen in the house had a wall that separated it from the den (click on thumbnails for full size) :

The Plan:

Remove the wall to create an open floor plan, move both the opening to the dining room and the door to the new pantry area to maximize the amount of wall space that was available for overhead

Where the wall had once existed, the view was now opened to the entire den:untitled-80

Moving the openings allowed for much more base and wall cabinets: untitled-25_6_7_Smooth

(click on thumbnails for full size)


Rethinking the Garage Entry:

Another area that the Lownik’s wanted  to reconfigure was the entry from the garage to the main house.  The current entry was into the laundry room that also had a spare bathroom and a storage room off of it. (click on thumbnails for full size)

The existing floor layout looked like this:

Lownik as built plan

The existing floor plan for the laundry room, bathroom storage area that connected the kitchen to the garage.

We redesigned it to look like this:

Lownik remodeled plan

Here are some of the pictures from during construction of the new pantry cabinets looking into the new bathroom area (click on thumbnails for full size) :

The Vision Realized

The final result was nothing short of a stunning transformation resulting in a completely different house at the same address.

Contrary to what Thomas Wolfe once wrote, Mark & Jen proved that you could go home again.

Estimating, Design and Construction Process Overview for Jim Hicks Home Improvement

Oftentimes I am asked, “What is your process for Estimating, Design and Contruction?”montana cedar

So I decided to outline for you (because I only want to be a blessing…)


I.       House Call and Free Estimate

  1. I meet with the owner at their property and listen to their vision for the project, take measurements and pictures.
  2. I then develop a “conceptual budget” with a written scope of work to detail what I have priced (because the faintest ink beats the best memory).

II.     Budget Presentation

  1. Once the owner receives the estimate, they then have a good idea as to what the project is going to cost with the scope of work I have provided.
  2. Oftentimes the owner will increase or decrease the project size to meet their budget.
  3. The owner decides if they want to move ahead with a more formal agreement.

III.  Written Agreements.

  1. The initial deposit of any Agreement (contract) will be 1/3 of the entire Agreement amount.
  2. The entire Agreement can include both the Design Phase & the Construction Phase or each can be contracted separately.

a.  90% of the time they are both included as part of the same Agreement

3. If the initial Agreement is the Design Phase only, the Agreement is Titled “Design Agreement”.

i.   Design Phase

1.      Drafted Construction Plans

a.  During this phase our architect (designer) and I meet at the property with the owner and discuss the project as it now stands with the budget.

b. The architect (designer) will generate computer drafts of the project and email them to the owner.

i. This starts a back & forth revision cycle until the owner is seeing in the designs exactly what they want.

ii. This is all done under my supervision so that I am ensuring that all design changes can be accommodated within the stated budget.

2.      Selections

a. During this time, we are introducing the owner to our suppliers so that they can make selections with the allowances in the estimate.

b. These allowances used in the initial estimate are now converted to actual prices.

c. That is, a $250 allowance for a toilet may become $180.43. The budget is adjusted accordingly.

i. Some selections that will have to be made during a typical project: Flooring, Cabinets, Paint, Plumbing fixtures, Lighting fixtures, Floor Tile, Shower Tile, Siding, Roofing.

3.      Confirming Budgets for Construction Trades

a. Once the design and construction plans are finalized, I hold a team meeting on site for all the construction tradesmen that will be involved in the project (example: Plumber, Electrician, HVAC, etc.)

i. I provide each of them a scope of work, copy of the construction plans and a budget of how I estimated their trade.

ii. They are expected to view the plans, scope and spec, ask me and the owner any questions (electricians always have a lot of questions about light fixtures and receptacle placement) and send me confirmation or adjustments (with reasons) to their budget within 1 week.

4.      Conclusion of Design Phase.

a. At the conclusion of the design phase, the owner has the following:

i. A design and set of construction plans that can be submitted to the City for a permit

ii. As many selections as have been made, allowances have been converted to hard numbers.

ii. A confirmed price from the Contractor to build the design with the selections the owner has made.

ii. Construction Phase

1.      Pre-Construction Meeting

a. Director of Production conducts pre-construction job review and briefing on site with owner.

b. Topics covered will be communications, job site access, owners work hours, safety, scheduling, payments, customer expectations.

2.      Construction

a. Each project will be unique, but as a rule, the jobsite will be left in broom clean condition at the end of each work day.

3.      Payments

a. We collect 1/3 deposit upon approval of any agreement. Progress payments are invoiced on a bi-weekly basis on a standard AIA (American Institute of Architects) Percentage of Completion spreadsheet.

b. This allows us to show and discuss exactly where we are in the process of the project with the owner so that they understand what is going on at all times.

4.      Job Conclusion

a. At a point we call “Substantial Completion”, the Director of Production will conduct a thorough walk through and inspection of the project with the owner.

b. Any and all incomplete or unsatisfactory items will be written on the Final “Punchlist”.

c. Once all the items on the Final Punchlist have been satisfied, the Project will be considered “Complete”.

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