Giving Your Home a Facelift

Owner of Monroe Custom Homes Provides Tips and Guidance for Home Projects

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photography Provided

Monroe Custom HomesOur houses are our sanctuaries. It’s where we rest and recharge, eat and entertain, raise our families, and roll around on the floor with our pets. With the passage of time, however, our homes often need a little TLC.

When it comes to sprucing up your space, certain projects such as painting and wallpapering, and perhaps even something like installing a kitchen backsplash, can be DIY endeavors. It’s wise, however, to leave the big projects to the pros. Chris Monroe, owner of Monroe Custom Homes, has seen what can happen when homeowners try to tackle something themselves in the absence of proper planning.

“It usually leads to, ‘Oh, big mistake,’” he says. “They ask themselves, ‘Why didn’t I think this through?’”

The key, Monroe says, is to look before you leap.

“Always have a solid plan before you tear into something,” he says. “If you don’t have a plan, you can bring a lot of heartache to yourself.”

For instance, if you want to remodel your bathroom, first visit the local plumbing store. Check out available fixtures and faucets, determine what you can afford, and ask what’s required to plumb those fixtures in. Doing the legwork upfront and choosing the right materials is key to ensuring a smooth project. You also want to be fairly confident that you can see the project through to fruition. If you’re uncertain, it’s better to turn to a pro like Monroe, an all-inclusive general contractor who knows the best subcontractors to hire.

“My same team of people who work on remodels,  just like Chicago home remodelers, also build new houses, so these are all experienced professionals in every category,” he says.

According to Monroe, homeowners typically crave modern kitchen appliances, then build everything else in the room around those appliances. In bathrooms, they often seek to overhaul showers by incorporating decorative tile showers with large walk-in doorless entries. Older homes often have huge whirlpool tubs with decks around them. Now, if people want a tub at all, it’s a freestanding one that doesn’t take up much space.

“It’s a time factor,” Monroe says. “People would rather invest in a beautiful shower since 90% of the time that’s what they use.”

His biggest piece of advice regarding DIY projects is to make sure to follow directions during installation in order to satisfy the warranty. This includes everything from plumbing fixtures to flooring, or even installing your own fireplace. If you think that installing plumbing fixtures is out of your skill, a good plumber is just a call away.

When building a new home, Monroe recommends making sure to build enough closet and pantry space. Room sizes are something else to consider, because while a foot or two may not seem like much, it can make a big difference in how spacious a room feels.

“It’s not that much of an expense to make a room a foot or two larger,” Monroe says. “For instance, if you don’t make that laundry room a couple feet bigger, it’ll feel awfully small once appliances are installed.”

Investing in outdoor living space is a smart move, as its popularity has skyrocketed since the onset of COVID-19. Screened-in porches and patios, complete with pergolas and built-in grills, are a great way to add value to your home while also adding endless enjoyment. Indoors, the smartest areas to upgrade include flooring, cabinetry, countertops and plumbing fixtures.

“When people start doing big room additions, and gutting and reframing and totally redoing existing space, then you start getting into not much bang for your buck,” Monroe says.

He notes that if someone wants to add on a 20’x20’ room to the back of a house, it may cost double or even triple the cost of a new construction.

“There are a lot of overhead costs that are involved, whether a job is $10,000 or $50,000,” Monroe says. “I still have all the same steps and must employ all the same people to come to the job site.”

Some homeowners don’t care about the cost because they plan to enjoy their space in the long term.

“For them, they aren’t thinking about their return on investment, but rather their quality of life,” Monroe says. “They know that staying put and building an addition will make them happy, so to them it’s worth every penny.”

Monroe Custom Homes is located at 1836 South Plate Street in Kokomo. For more information, call 765-455-2993 or visit

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