By Kali Newlen-Burden | Photos By J. Sinclair

Craving a change at home but don’t know where to begin? Wondering if it’s time to relocate or renovate? ICON Custom Builders is experienced with these questions many homeowners face. After fifteen years of transforming homes in the Triad, ICON is prepared to guide families toward feeling happier at home. 

ICON’s expert team offers valuable insight to help frame the conversation and determine if a renovation might be the next move. 

When evaluating a current home as well as homes on the market, consider commute time, proximity to grocery stores, schools and parks, or the convenience of a favorite nearby coffee shop. “The location of the home is the single biggest influencer in home purchasing and home remodeling,” says project manager Doug Johnson. 

Explore the emotional attachment to the current home. A familiar routine. Family memories. Friendly neighbors. “Winston-Salem is such a community-oriented city and people truly fall in love with their neighborhood and the people that live in it!” shares project and design coordinator Katherine Yeager. “It is hard to leave neighbors that have become like family.”

Assess the current home’s most functional features and what would change if space and budget allowed. Project manager Craig Carter suggests that clients consider why they’re looking for a new home. “If they could make a change in the existing home, would they stay?” he asks. This opens the door for renovation possibilities.

Owner and president Chuck Hicks identifies the primary reason why clients choose to renovate: they’re unable to find a home that meets all of their criteria, and the new home would require a renovation as well. “It makes sense to stay in the neighborhood they love and do the renovation on the existing home,” he says.

A remodel ensures clients will get to enjoy their home exactly the way they want it until they are prepared to move. Hicks recommends staying in the renovated home at least five years – to fully take advantage of the new space and to maximize the home’s value. When it’s time to relocate, his team is available to discuss any potential updates to the new home. 

“Chuck and I have walked through many homes with potential buyers to help them think through future projects and get an idea of what it may cost,” Yeager says. “It can be really helpful to have those conversations with a general contractor before you buy!”

Working with a full-service general contractor – from plans to design to construction – helps clients to see their spaces in new ways and show what might be possible. 

“A lot of times, families have been in their homes for so long, they have a hard time seeing past what’s right in front of them and envisioning what the space could be,” Yeager shares. “The great thing is, that’s where we come in!”

A reimagined floor plan, removing walls, or adding square footage can all bring a fresh perspective to a home. In addition to renovating a few key areas, Carter notes that updating paint colors and furniture in other spaces can make the home feel new. 

Requests to open up the kitchen to the surrounding living spaces are more popular than ever, according to Johnson. “I feel this design is desired by so many because it allows people to be connected while cooking and relaxing,” he says. “The best of both worlds!” 

“The response that we get from customers when they initially see two spaces become one is so rewarding,” Johnson continues. “It’s exciting to hear them say ‘I can’t believe how much bigger the space is now’ or ‘I wish we would have done this years ago!’” 

Hicks has found that a kitchen renovation delivers the biggest impact in terms of added value to the home and improving clients’ daily lives. Many clients have described the result as “life-changing.” 

In addition to kitchen remodels, Yeager has noticed a trend in homeowners wanting “bonus spaces.” From a finished basement to a screened-in patio or a porch with a fireplace – families are craving extra spots to spend time together at home, both indoors and outdoors.

Before starting a renovation, architect David Meyer likes to know how long clients plan on staying in their homes. Whether five, fifteen or forty years, that timeframe will dictate the strategies and stages of the project. For each renovation, he partners with clients to phase the project in a way that minimizes the financial impact and disruptions to daily life.

“Early conversations [with clients] help develop the scope, which drives the design, which is the guide for the renovation,” Meyer says. It is a collaborative design-build process where clients are not only involved, but given the flexibility to make minor adjustments along the way. 

During the renovation, simply trust and enjoy the process. The ICON team has found that clients often wonder how future homeowners will feel about their design decisions. Johnson’s advice? “Live in your home and enjoy what makes you happy – make it yours!”

Ultimately, a home doesn’t have to be new to feel new. An update. A change. A refresh. Sometimes a renovation is the key to inviting a little more happiness into a home. From dreams to designs and possibilities to plans – ICON Custom Builders can transform what might be into reality.


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