Energy Efficient Sunroom and New Kitchen Countertops in Newport News

Andy and Jackie had a great sunroom at their home in Newport News. The problem was, it was too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer. Multiple sliding glass doors lining the walls leading out to the deck gave an unobstructed view, but they were very drafty.

In the kitchen, the homeowners wanted to update the countertops and sink, eliminate the raised breakfast bar, and add a new slide-in electric range.

New energy efficient windows and door were a must in the sunroom. We installed 10 new Low E/Argon filled double hung windows and one new sliding door. Above that door we also replaced the 3 picture windows and the arched window, keeping the same size and style of the originals. The entire room was painted, in the same cheerful yellow and white the homeowners loved.

The layout of the kitchen still worked for the homeowners, and the cabinets were in great shape, so they were left as-is. The laminate countertops and raised breakfast bar no longer worked, so they were replaced. The homeowners selected a beautiful Quartz countertop, with a new undermount sink and faucet, accented with a new tile backsplash. The single-level countertop allowed room for a new slide-in electric stove, while still providing a comfortable place for meals.

This sunroom update gave the homeowners a space that is now comfortable year-round, and the new energy efficient windows and door will save them money on their heating and cooling costs. The new Quartz countertop in the kitchen looks great and is much more functional.

Andy and Jackie tell us, “We were more than pleased with the sunroom and kitchen work.  You have a good team that was a pleasure to work with and we will consider you for future projects.”

Thanks for your kind words! We enjoyed bringing these beautiful updates to your home!

Estimating Siding in Carrollton, Windows in Norfolk, and Load Bearing Walls in Williamsburg

Each week I go out to Joust Windmills! and by that I mean, meet with homeowners that have called and requested a free estimate for Home Improvements.  We are making a better world, one home at a time!

Don Quixote by Picasso
Don Quixote by Picasso

Hopefully, the homeowners I meet will see us as the best value for their hard earned money, select our firm to perform these services and in them we acquire a client, a raving fan, and a new friend!

Sometimes my efforts are rewarded, sometimes I refer them to another firm that can serve them better, sometimes I get used and abused.  No matter; I still go.  I am reminded of what Don Quixote sang:

“And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star”

Foundation Repairs Needed in Hampton

Monday I went to Hampton to meet with an 88 year old gentleman that was concerned about major cracks going on in his ceilings and walls in his home. I asked him when the home was built he thought it was built in the 1930’s. I guessed 1968 when I checked Zillow later I saw that I had been built in 1969. He was very concerned about the structural stability of the home. I saw that this was probably a job for the good guys at FSI: Foundation Systems Incorporated. I called them on the phone and told them about what I was seeing and set up a time for them to come out and see the gentleman to evaluate his situation and give an estimate. He was concerned about the cost and if insurance would cover foundation issues. I told him I didn’t know about insurance but I answered all his questions about foundations and framing and how it would affect the cracks in the walls and ceilings. Nice guy, I hope everything works out for him. I know I left him in good hands with FSI!

Moving Walls in Williamsburg

Later that same day I met a great couple who wanted to remove some load bearing walls and make their kitchen and living room and open floor design. They had attempted quite a bit
of remodeling work themselves and were finding it just a bit more difficult then they make it seem on HGTV.
They wanted to replace all the ceilings in the downstairs with a flat untextured drywall because the previous owner had used a heavy stomped ceiling texture that made it look not unlike a Baked Alaska cake.

Heavy texture on ceiling can looked like "Baked Alaska"

Heavy texture on ceiling can look like “Baked Alaska”

They also wanted to replace all the floors in the downstairs area which would include demolishing a mud set tile floor in the foyer, hardwood floors in the living room and dining room & a laminate floor in the kitchen

In the den, they had some faux beams across the ceiling that they wanted removed and new recessed lights put in, ceiling drywall repaired and then painted.

faux beams in den
faux beams in den

Upstairs the owner had tried to do some drywall finishing work in the bathroom until he realized that the extent of his skills did not include the “artwork” that is drywall.  He wanted us to redo the drywall in the master bathroom.

On the rear of the house they had a balcony coming off of the master bedroom that they had previously removed.

Rear of home where balcony has been removed
Rear of home where balcony has been removed

Because of the Tudor style of the house the stucco was very damaged where the balcony had previously existed. They wanted a price for re-siding the rear of the home with Hardieplank lap siding.

My estimate for all of the above: $17,532

They also had a problem with their air conditioning ducts being extremely dirty and they wanted the air conditioning ducts cleaned.This is the inside of an AC Duct

This is the inside of an AC Duct

One of the problems that we noticed with the air conditioning ducts is that there was a commercial style insulation inside the ducts so I referred them to Chuck Worley with The House Call Company.

Leaking Windows in Norfolk

Picture taken by tenant of the top of the window leaking
This is a picture of the leak taken by the tenant. Note the water drops on the top rail of the single hung window
Leaking Mullion between single hung and half round window
The arrow and yellow line shows the area of the mullion that is allowing water to enter the window assembly

I went to Norfolk to take a look at a rental property that we had previously worked on in the past. We had found a roof leak in the past and that was due to a bullet that had lodged in the roof and created a leak. We also replaced the rear patio door that had been leaking on this home in the past. This time the leak was coming from a large window assembly and the master bedroom on the second floor. There was a large half round window that was mulled to two 3 foot wide single-hung windows beneath it.  The mullion that attached the half round window to the single-hung windows was allowing water to come in during rainstorms.  The permanent fix to this would be to replace the entire assembly (due to the fact we had no idea who the window manufacturer was or how to get replacement parts for the mullion). However, because of our long-standing relationship with the property owner, I was willing to try a “gamble repair” of just caulking the mullion in between the half round window and the single-hung windows on the chance that that might solve the leak. I told them it would definitely be a maintenance item and there be no warranty on it, but the cost savings would definitely be worth the gamble. They agreed.

Front Porch Addition in Hampton

I went to the Chesapeake Avenue area of Hampton to meet with a young Coast Guard man who was interested in building a front porch of his house. After discussing the different designs for the front porch, looking at what his neighbors had,  talking about what he wanting to do and discussing his budget constraints, it quickly became apparent that he was not anywhere near the point where he really knew what it was exactly that he wanted. I referred him to David DiSpirito of Homesite, Inc. so that he could hire David to develop a design that he could then have priced.  Otherwise, I could see us wasting a lot of time going back and forth and him never getting something that both he and his wife could agree on. He was pleased with that idea and then he asked me to come inside the house and look at some of the other remodeling ideas that he had that he wanted to do himself. We looked at the kitchen, we also looked at removing a load bearing wall in the 1940s era house and some of the opportunities and constraints that the current layout of the house had. It was a good meeting  and we parted on good terms. samurai txtHopefully he pursues the design idea with David DiSpirito and we get a design in the future that we can price and get the opportunity to do some work for him

 Vinyl Siding and Paint in Carrollton

I went to a siding estimate in Carrollton Virginia.  A very large house that the owner’s husband had done a lot of work on. He had passed away just 18 months ago and it seemed like they were taking some of the life insurance money and doing a lot of repairs to the house. They wanted to install new vinyl siding on the house which is currently all stained cedar siding.
The owner was getting very frustrated with the carpenter bees attacking the wood trim and the siding. The bees were definitely “out in force”  the day we were out there.

These are what the carpenter bees looked like that day.
These are what the carpenter bees looked like that day.
It was interesting to talk about her recently deceased husband having been in the Air Force and  he had also worked in the career field that I had worked in in the Air Force.
The owner was very interested in what I had to say about the siding and my recommendations as to how to handle certain details on the home as opposed to what others may have said about the siding. It was interesting that she didn’t want to share what the others had said but I had wonder… it was almost like I was there for an exam!
One of the issues was that on the side of the house the siding had been run on an angle and other contractors had told her that vinyl siding could not be run at an angle (which I knew was untrue…I have since located the specification from the manufacturer that will allow for this.)cedar siding run on an angle So that was a point of discussion.
She had gutters on the house and some of the fascia boards had been wrapped with pvc coated trim coil at the same time as the gutters were installed and there was discussion about having Carefree Gutters remove the gutters prior to our start and replace them after we were done.
She also wanted many of the doors repainted on the house.
My estimate for this work: $20,317

Room Addition in Chesapeake, Virginia

Chesapeake Room Addition (6)
Finished Picture of Custom Room Addition Jim Hicks Home Improvement Designed & Built in Chesapeake, Virginia

Our clients came to us with a dream for a sunroom addition where they could be comfortable and look out upon their gardens in which they enjoyed investing many hours and much care.

Chesapeake Room Addition (7)
Custom Made Windows and PVC trim ensure the beautiful details of the room addition will not suffer rot or deterioration over the years to come.
Chesapeake Room Addition (5)
Interior finished pictures of the room addition. The large windows bring in the gardens to the home.
Chesapeake Room Addition (4)
The cased opening in the background was once a kitchen window. The brick is the original exterior wall of the home. The mini-split air conditioner over the cased opening heats and cools the entire room.
Chesapeake Room Addition (1)
The interior lighting is provided by sconces and ceiling fans with light kits.
Chesapeake Room Addition (3)
The floors are tile
Chesapeake Room Addition (2)
The sizes, locations and numbers of the windows were very important to our clients. They wanted everything to have balance and symmetry.

But how did it all come together? How did our clients progresss from concept to finished product? When we first met our clients they had clipped pictures from different magazines for inspiration.   Each picture had a detail or an element they wanted included in their project.  The pictures were very helpful in understanding the vision our clients had.

Chesapeake Room Addition Inspirational Pictures (1) Chesapeake Room Addition Inspirational Pictures (2)These are pictures I took of the magazine clips.






The rear of the house when we first saw it looked like this:

Chesapeake Room Addition Before

We commissioned Dave Dispirito from Homesite, Inc. for the design.  Dave did a fantastic job of putting to paper the images our clients had in their heads.  After several revisions to get it just right, work began on the room addition. (If you liked this room addition, you might also like this one: Family Room in Seaford)

First the footers were dug and poured:Chesapeake Room Addition in Progress pix (2)

Chesapeake Room Addition in Progress pix (5)
The block foundation in progress
Chesapeake Room Addition in Progress pix (6)
The driveway became the staging area for all the materials that would be needed for the new room addition
Chesapeake Room Addition in progress pictures (3)
The floor was framed
Chesapeake Room Addition in Progress pix (14)
The walls were framed. The large openings are for the huge windows, that will bring the outside into the new room.
Chesapeake Room Addition in Progress pix (7)
House wrap is what keeps the water out of the house. No matter what kind of exterior cladding is used: siding, trim, or brick – it will all leak. House Wrap keeps the framing dry and the water outside.
Chesapeake Room Addition in Progress pix (24)
The foundation’s brick veneer, designed to match the house, is almost done!


Chesapeake Room Addition in progress pictures (4)
Windows are in!
Chesapeake Room Addition in Progress (1)
Our clients wanted a flat roof detail but were concerned about it’s reliability. Thankfully, we have a strong background in roofing! We installed a tapered self adhered two ply modified system.
Chesapeake Room Addition (8)
All done! The trim details were custom designed by our Production Director and our Client and made on site from PVC. They will never rot or suffer insect damage.

The windows were custom made from Custom Vinyl Products with Low E/Argon energy efficient glass. The room was conditioned with a new mini-split air conditioner.  The floor was tile. Interior lighting included sconces and ceiling fans with light kits.


Chesapeake Room Addition (7)

Learn more about room additions in this article: Room Addition Interiors

Kitchen Remodel

The Most Popular Kitchen Picture of the Month!

Kitchen Remodel

We have a lot of fun on our Jim Hicks Home Improvement Facebook Page !   Our fans never hold back with their opinions on what they like, what they would do differently or which kitchen or bath they prefer.  We love hearing about it!

This picture was the most popular we posted in the month of February.

After a fair amount of research, we believe it was done by Greenview Homes in  Lincolnshire, Illinois. Can you guess why it was the favorite?  We think it’s because of the amazing unique perspective it was shot at!  It showcases this newly remodeled kitchen so well!  You can clearly see the hardwood floors, the backsplash,  the range and oven, the different colors of the base and wall cabinets (some with glass cabinet doors) as contrasted with the island, not to mention the different color granite countertops of the perimeter counters and the island.

Here’s another perspective of the same kitchen:

kitchen, remodel, yorktown

Many kitchens these days are installing skylights to bring natural light into the most popular room in the house, whereas this kitchen enjoys a skylight type tunnel extending down from a dormer window.  To supplement the natural light provided by the dormer window, the glass patio door and the window over the sink, the kitchen also has can lighting and a centerpiece light fixture.

If you like pictures of kitchen and other great remodels, we’ve got more than you’ve ever seen on our Facebook page!  You can visit by CLICKING HERE!

Kitchen Sink With Open Shelving And Granite Countertop In Yorktown, Virginia

This was the most popular picture on our Jim Hicks Home Improvement Facebook Page in July!

 To See October’s Shoe Closet Organizer: Click Here!

This picture of a stainless undermount kitchen sink with granite countertop,tile backspash, kitchen cabinets and window was the most popular picture on our Facebook Page in June
This picture of a stainless undermount kitchen sink with granite countertop,tile backspash, kitchen cabinets and window was the most popular picture on our Facebook Page in June

 This picture is of a kitchen that was certainly done well, but this time it’s not our work.  We would love to know whose work it is to give full credit where it is due! 

We asked the question “If you could have one thing from this picture in your kitchen what would you choose?”  The answers from our Jim Hicks Home Improvement Facebook Page Fans ranged from: the granite counter top, the huge stained wood window over the kitchen sink, the stainless kitchen sink, the natural light in the kitchen, the open shelving next to the kitchen cabinets, and the tile backsplash.

Open shelving is becoming increasing popular in today’s kitchen cabinets designs. Laura Gaskill advises the following on open shelving in kitchens:

Do: Think about what you use daily. As for the lower shelves, be practical about what you choose to place there. This is a good spot for favorite coffee mugs, everyday plates and bowls, and basic water glasses and wineglasses. If you find that not all of your everyday stuff fits on your shelves, put some away. Do you really use 30 mugs or wineglasses daily?Don’t: Put extremely heavy items on top shelves. Even if you rarely use that big, heavy pot or casserole dish, think twice before hoisting it onto the highest shelf. Lifting and lowering heavy items from high places can be unsafe, and even if your shelving is strong, open shelves in general are not meant to hold as much weight as regular cabinetry. Be on the safe side and stow your biggest pots down low.

Granite Countertops remain the popular choice for today’s kitchens.  While they are still quite a bit more pricey than laminate countertops they are less expensive than Quartz.   When shopping for a granite countertop, the #1 piece of advice we give our clients is to NEVER pick out your granite from a “swatch” of granite sample like you might for a paint color or carpet.  Because granite is a natural product there is a lot of inconsistency from one piece to the next – also called “movement”.  This is what make granite so stunning and each piece unique!   You cannot begin to see what a given slab of granite will look like as your kitchen countertop unless you go down to the supplier and see the entire slab of granite.  Reportedly, this is why the Big Box stores that sell kitchens and only have granite samples on hand, have as high as a 50% return rate by dissatisfied customers who picked their granite color from a small sample.   Granite is beautiful, but as a best practice never pick your granite color from a sample, go select the full slab.

The tile backsplash in this picture is also unique and brings to mind the debate that we also hear from homeowners about tile backsplashes:  should the tile come all the way down to the countertop or should there be a 4″ border of the same granite material?  This is a very stongly opinionated subject among kitchen designers.  Usually when you have strong opinions, they form from personal taste.  What are we talking about exactly?   Here are two pictures that illustrate the difference in how to install a tile backsplash and a granite countertop: with and without the 4″ granite border.

This picture shows the tiled backsplash finishing at the granite countertop
This picture shows the tiled backsplash finishing at the granite countertop
granite countertops with border
This picture shows the tiled backsplash finishing at a 4″ granite border.

You’ll notice in the picture above, the electrical plates have not been installed yet.  This picture was taken of a kitchen in the progress of installation, but we think it illustrates the detail of the backsplash well.

What about the window?  Do you prefer a stained wood or a painted wood?  Do you like grids in your windows or no grids?   How about the size of the window? Can you have too much light in a kitchen?   Would a different style window be better?   Some of our clients don’t want to reach over the sink to lift the sash of a double hung window and enjoy a crank handle of a casement window.

There are so many details when designing your home improvements.  We like to say “the hard work is done before the first nail is driven”  because it’s all about the design.  But the design can be a fun adventure and what make your remodel unique and special to you and your personal taste!

If you enjoy pictures and discussions like these, please give our Jim Hicks Home Improvement Facebook Page a “Like”  and join in the conversation!   One fun thing about our Facebook Page,  our Fans aren’t shy about voicing their opinions and there certainly are a range of preferences!

Room Addition Interiors from Yorktown to Virginia Beach

Room additions are a fantastic way to expand the usable area of your home while adding value to what your home is worth.  Many people ask us for different types of additions:  family room additions, kitchen additions, bathroom additions and master bedroom additions.

But one often neglected topic in many home improvement discussions is the design and interior decorating of the addition after it is completed.  Below is a room addition interior that we recently completed in York County, Virginia.  You’ll see that the owner used the same colors and and finishes as the rest of the main house, even to the point of seamlessly matching the hardwood floors between the original dining room and the addition.

The colors chosen for the interior of the addition matched those in the rest of the home.
The colors chosen for the interior of the addition matched those in the rest of the home.
room addition, Yorktown, Seaford, York County, Virginia
Notice how well the hardwood floor blends with the original floor on this near side of the cased opening

You can see more pictures of this project here: Family Room Addition in Seaford, Virginia

Another style of addition may use a completely different interior design.  We recently shared this picture with our fans on our Jim Hicks Home Improvement Facebook Page:

room addition, Yorktown, Virginia Beach,  Remodel
Vaulted Ceilings and Can Lights give this addition a “larger” feel

As you can see, the vaulted ceilings and can lights give this room a completely different feel that the previous addition.  It also has hardwood floors and large windows, but our fans felt that it lacked color.  Here are some of their comments:

room addition remodel Yorktown Virginia feedback
Feedback from our Facebook Fans re: the room addition interior

Still another unique interior is the project we did for a basement remodel in Stonehouse, near Williamsburg.Basement remodel with floors, stone accent walls in Virginia You can see all the pictures here: Interior Remodel

Ultimately, your enjoyment of your room addition will have more to do with the design and decor of the interior than that of the exterior.  This is why we like to say “The hard work is done before the first nail is driven:” design should drive the construction and not the other way around!  Spend some time on the Jim Hicks Home Improvement Blog, Website and our Jim Hicks Home Improvement Facebook Page to get ideas and inspiration.  Another great website to visit for inspiration is Houzz, you can check our profile on Houzz here: .

Room additions, Home additions, Kitchen Additions or Bathroom Additions can be the best thing you can do to make your home a better place to live, raise the value of your property and adapt it to your changing lifestyle without leaving the neighborhood that your kids have grown up in or changing the school they’ve come to love!   What does the construction of a room addition look like?  Well, for starters, here’s a neat video that our friends in Atlanta put together that we thought you might enjoy:

YouTube video




room addition, Yorktown, Seaford, York County, Virginia

Family Room Addition in Seaford, Virginia

These are pictures of a Family Room Addition in Seaford, Virginia that we just completed for a great couple!

The Whites needed more room for the growing family when the grandkids would come and visit. They had an existing deck that they never used so they asked us to remove the deck and build a room addition where it used to be. They had a beautiful backyard and still wanted to be able to enjoy it. To accomplish this we used large picture and double hung windows to give a full view of the trees in the backyard. The part of the project that we were most pleased with is how we matched the new hardwood floor to the existing hardwood floor in the dining room.  David DiSpirito did the design, Kris Austin was the estimator, Justin Foreman was the Project Superintendent, JD Talley was the Foreman.

We received this fantastic card from the White’s that just made our day!

click on picture to enlargeThank you Note from Client

click on each picture to enlargeRoom addition in Seaford, Virginia with large windows and beautiful hardwood floor Room addition, Seaford, Virginia, Windows, Hardwood Floors Room addition Seaford Virginia (3) Room addition Seaford Virginia (4) Room addition Seaford Virginia (5)
“Before Picture” of the deck that is to be replaced by the new family room additionbefore pictures of room addition (1) A “before picture” of the rear wall of the home leading onto the deck. This wall would be opened up and the door and one of the windows would be moved to the outside wall of the addition.before pictures of room addition (4) A “before picture” of the dining room and door onto the original deck. This wall would be opened up and the hardwood floor would be “toothed in” to a new hardwood floor in the new addition.before pictures of room addition (6) Here is a “before picture” of the deck that would be removed from the rear of the home.before pictures of room addition (10) before pictures of room addition (12)

New Roof, Siding, Windows and Trim = Different Home at Same Address in Hampton!

Front view

Everyone loves “Before & After” pictures, but seldom are some as dramatic as the transformation that we witnessed in Hampton on Missionary Ridge.  Our clients loved their neighborhood and their home that they had raised their family in, but knew that it was long overdue for some updating.  So, rather than move to a new home in a different neighborhood and leave so many wonderful memories behind, they contracted Jim Hicks Home Improvement to replace the roof, the windows, the siding, rebuild an built-in entertainment center for a new TV, replace skylights,  replace garage doors, replace entry doors and porch columns, build a screen wall so they could enjoy their back porch without having to view the AC equipment and trashcans and remove a tired sunroom from the rear of the home.

We installed Certainteed Landmark Shingles, Mastic Quest Siding, Simonton Asure Windows, Thermatru and Pro Via doors, an Atrium Sliding patio door, Mid-America Shutters, Velux Skylight and Leaf Relief Gutter Protection system.

I just received the following email from the homeowner:

“Hey Jim,

I just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with the work and your workers. Justin has been here everyday and is such a great guy to work with and Greg and his brother are doing a great job am so happy with everything.”

Here are some before and after pictures (please click on each picture for full size view):

Front view before

Garage side "before pic"imageimageimageimageimageimageimage

Window Seat with Bookcase

This picture was extremely popular on our Facebook page.  It’s not our work and we don’t know whose picture it is, but is a beautiful shot of the type of work that we have done in homes in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Yorktown and Williamsburg.

We can actually use an existing window and wall to build the window seat and the bookcases around.   It adds a beautiful accent piece to a den or master bedroom.

Window Seat with Bookcases

 Some of the comments people left on our Facebook Page regarding the picture were:

“That is beautiful….”

“Yes, except longer so you can put your feet up…”


“Yes! Perfect for this area! Beautiful reading area!”

“Well, not if I’m gonna have to sit on a box, but other than that – yes!”

“the books, yes. oh, you mean the window seat? doesn’t look like a good place to actually sit, and it’s just one more horizontal service to collect junk.”

“YES! Nicely done too!”

“I’d add recessed lighting over the bench so you could lay there and read. We have a perfect window that could use this treatment.”

Success Profile for Jim Hicks in Hampton Roads Magazine

"I just want to see my smiling face on the cover of The Rolling Stone"
“I just want to see my smiling face on the cover of The Rolling Stone”  (click on image to enlarge)