Is Your Olathe Basement Ready for a Remodel?

Is Your Olathe Basement Ready for a Remodel?

If you need ample storage space in your home, an unfinished basement can be a godsend. But if you’ve thought of using that space for things other than storage, you may have wondered if remodeling your home’s basement is worth the cost and hassle. 

While every homeowner will have unique circumstances that factor into the decision, there are some common considerations that every homeowner should consider. Keep reading to learn more about the questions you should ask if you are considering a basement remodel project.

Why Do You Want A Basement Remodel?

The first question to ask yourself is: why? Another way to ask this is: what would you rather your basement be? 

The possibilities for what you can remodel your basement into are endless. Do you want an extra bedroom? A gorgeous laundry room? A movie room or game room? A soundproofed music studio? A gym? A yoga space? A library or writer’s den?

A basement remodel can truly be “bonus” space that reflects your interests and personality or it can simply add more living space. What’s important will vary from homeowner to homeowner.

The important thing to do is to put words around what you’re looking for. If you say “movie room,” does that mean a place for a cushy sofa and a wall-mounted big screen or does it mean theater seats and a projector that turns an entire wall into a screen?

Being as specific as you can with your “why” can help you determine the cost and timeframe of your project.

What’s Most Important In Your Basement Remodel?

If your primary motivation for remodeling your basement is to cater to your unique interests, your project will likely be very different in scope and execution than if your primary motivation is to increase your home’s resale value.

On average, a remodeled basement project will offer a return on investment of 75 cents for every dollar you spend. But that’s an average. If you build something very unique—like a music studio, for instance—you might limit the number of buyers who are interested in your home when you’re ready to sell. 

Determining what is truly important will help you prioritize your basement remodeling project. It will also help you explain to your contractor what your goals are and how they can help you achieve those goals.

Who Can Help You Remodel Your Olathe Basement?

Sure, there are lots of arguments for DIYed basement remodels. You might save some money in the beginning by doing the work yourself. You might even have a good time learning how to do things (if you don’t know already) and then spending evenings and weekends bringing your vision to life.

But think hard before you decide to go it alone. Have you thought about the city or county requirements for construction or remodeling? Do you understand why certain materials (hardwood flooring, for example) shouldn’t be used in a basement? Are you well versed in safety codes, escape plans, and the like? 

Working with an Olathe basement remodeling professional can take all those worries off your plate and allow you to focus on enjoying the process. If you’re curious about how we can help you turn your unfinished basement into the space of your dreams, give us a call!

Dropping Temperatures Ahead: Should You Add a Natural or Gas Outdoor Fireplace?

You feel the chill in the air lately, don’t you? Mornings and evenings here in the Kansas City area are definitely starting to feel like Fall. And here in the Midwest, we know that when the leaves start to turn and sweaters become part of our everyday wardrobe, winter—and freezing temperatures—can’t be far behind.

But before we think too much about what’s to come, let’s think about the coziness of this season. As the temps start to dip, we can spend more time comfortably outdoors. We can fire up the bonfire or grill dinner without sweating through our shirts. And we can settle in on the deck for a drink as we enjoy the company of family.

If your idea of a perfect outdoor space includes a outdoor fireplace, keep reading! You’ll learn a bit more about the difference between natural and gas fireplaces and things you should consider before taking the plunge.

What Is a Natural Outdoor Fireplace?

A natural fireplace is one that burns natural material—i.e., wood—for fuel. Constructed from a wide variety of materials including metal, stone, and brick, a natural fireplace can be an interesting way to add a fire element to your landscape.

Like other fire features, natural fireplaces require safety precautions. An obvious precaution is to ensure that the fireplace is not near trees or hanging limbs, or overhead electrical wires. Another precaution is to use the right fuel to stoke the fire, meaning wood meant specifically for burning. Never use trash, plastic, or other materials. Also, work closely with your landscape architect to ensure that embers from the fire move up, rather than out.

What Is a Gas Outdoor Fireplace?

A gas fireplace is one that relies on gas as fuel. Think of this as the difference between a charcoal grill and a propane grill–a gas fireplace is like the latter. It’s similar to a natural fireplace in that it can be made from any number of materials. But unlike a natural fireplace, you have additional safety considerations unique to gas. Making sure there’s proper clearance between gas lines and structures is one. Ensuring proper ventilation is another.

Outdoor Fireplace Safety Considerations

No matter your choice of fuel source, there are things you must consider before building any outdoor fireplace. Location is one: a fireplace needs to be built an appropriate distance from other outdoor structures, like your home and garage. It also needs to be placed in a way that keeps the area around it safe. For example, if you have many trees, this might affect where you put an outdoor fireplace.

It’s also important to check with your town or city to make sure local ordinances allow the building of outdoor fireplaces. If they do, there might be additional parameters that you’ll have to be aware of before you start building. The same is true of homeowners associations. It’s best to make sure you comply with all applicable rules right from the start.

The Advantages of an Outdoor Fireplace

A 2018 survey conducted by Houzz found that 51% of homeowners spent more time outdoors after completing improvement projects. It also found that the addition of outdoor heating sources like fire pits and fireplaces encouraged people to entertain outdoors year-round.

Studies like this confirm what we already know: \when we create an outdoor space that makes us happy, we’ll do two things. We will spend more time outdoors, and we’ll invite others to join us. Adding an outdoor fireplace to your space might be the perfect way to ensure that even when the weather turns colder, you can still enjoy the outdoors with your family and friends.

No matter what type of outdoor fireplace you think will work best for you, it’s always a good idea to discuss your plans, budget, and timeline with an experienced landscaper. We’re here and eager to help when you’re ready.

The Difference Between Stamped Concrete and Stained Concrete

stamped concrete olathe

Have you ever taken a good look at the foundation of your outdoor living space? The ground under your feet on your patio or deck isn’t just your lawn—it’s a foundation built of material like wood, stone, or concrete.

Concrete foundations offer particular advantages. They can last longer than wood and they withstand weather well. And, because concrete is poured, it can be designed in a way that enhances the overall aesthetic of your space.

But concrete isn’t a one-size-fits-all decision. It can be colored (stained) or stamped to create a look you love. Keep reading to learn a few of the differences between stained and stamped concrete.

What Is Stamped Concrete?

Stamped concrete is concrete that is poured and patterned to create an entirely different look. Stamping concrete allows you to emulate the look of brick, stone, slate, tile—and countless other options. It’s common to stamp concrete for patios, decks, sidewalks, and driveways.

The process of stamping concrete is akin to using a cookie cutter to make shaped cookies in that the concrete is stamped in a way that markings are left in/on the concrete so that as it dries, the markings and indentations become permanent. This is how a landscaping company can turn a smooth slab of concrete into a surface that looks like brick, for example; rather than creating the surface brick by brick, one pour is stamped to look like brick.

What Is Stained Concrete?

Stained concrete is concrete that has been tinted to another color. Think of it as wood stain but for concrete—it can be opaque or translucent, shiny or matte, monotone or ombre. Staining concrete can turn a space from industrial-looking to sleek or homey, depending on the colors and finishes selected.

The Advantages of Stamped Concrete

Adding stamped concrete to your outdoor space increases your design options. No longer are you limited to a plain foundation slab; now you can build something that looks like natural stone but has the durability of concrete.

One advantage of opting for stamped concrete is budget. Because stamped concrete can last longer and is easier to maintain than natural elements, it requires less money as it ages. And, unlike wood, it doesn’t need to be replaced as often. Another advantage is maintenance. Stamped concrete can require less upkeep than stone or other natural elements.

The Advantages of Stained Concrete

More and more people are opting for stained concrete because it can combine the best of both worlds: economical durability and creative license. The colors concrete can be stained are limitless, which means design options are plentiful. And, depending on how much work and detail you want your space to have, a stained concrete foundation can be a work of art in and of itself.

No matter which option you find most interesting, it’s always a good idea to discuss your plans, budget, and timeline with an experienced landscaper. We’re here and eager to help when you’re ready.

3 Areas Where Retaining Walls Add Value and Look Great

Retaining walls offer countless benefits. They can be a gorgeous aesthetic element that shows your home design and landscaping personality. More than that, though, they’re functional. Retaining walls help prevent run-off, guard against erosion, and can protect your home’s foundation.

But there are three places in particular that retaining walls can be especially beneficial. Those places are at your driveway and/or stairway, around your flower beds, and when either placed next to, or used as, fencing.

Retaining Wall Around Your Driveway or Stairway

One of the most important things a retaining wall can do for your landscape is provide additional support for architectural and functional features. This is especially true when it comes to your driveway and/or the stairway to your home. It’s all about the slope of your land, here: a retaining wall and help correct less than ideal slopes. This means that a retaining wall at your driveway and/or stairway is less likely to shift. An added bonus is that a retaining wall here can be both attractive and an added safety feature.

Retaining Walls and Flower Beds

Retaining walls are one of the best ways to create the lawn of your dreams. By building retaining walls, you can turn a blank space into an array of raised beds full of color, texture, and height. All of these elements are pleasing to the eye and make the best use of every bit of available space.

Retaining walls that create flower beds don’t just provide an instant home for your favorite flowers and plants. These retaining walls also help do what all other retaining walls do: they help prevent excessive run-off, help control soil erosion, correct slopes, and protect the foundation of your home.

Retaining Walls and Fencing

Let’s face it: replacing a fence isn’t an inexpensive endeavor. Why not consider a retaining wall instead? Doing so means you can maximize not just your budget, but the design potential of your space. This doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision: by working with a professional landscaping company, you can choose to use a retaining wall as a fence, install a fence on top of a retaining wall, or add a fence and/or guardrails around the retaining wall.

No matter where you want to install a retaining wall, there are serious concerns to keep in mind. Knowing the slope of your land and how the water drains is vital. So is having a clear understanding of what your city or town’s regulations are when it comes to building or installing new features.

As an Olathe landscape company that works throughout the Johnson County and greater Kansas City area, we know those requirements and can work with you to find the best option for your space. Reach out when you’re ready to learn more.

How Installing Retaining Walls Can Help Your Landscape and Prevent Spring Runoff

How Installing Retaining Walls Can Help Your Landscape and Prevent Spring Runoff

Spring means the beginning of watering lawns and landscape. That also means it’s time to worry about runoff. What is runoff? The technical definition is: the flow of water that occurs when excess storm water, meltwater, or other sources flows over the Earth’s surface. Running water is powerful—it has carved canyons and moved boulders. You might not worry about issues of this scale, but it’s a fair question to ask what runoff might do to your landscape.

The short answer to that question is erosion. Spring runoff can lead to erosion on your property. This isn’t just an issue of being an eyesore. Erosion can affect your home’s foundation. Installing a retaining wall can help prevent soil erosion. By doing so, you can help protect your landscape and your property.

What’s Your Slope?

It can be a bit technical, but the slope of your landscape dictates what kind of retaining wall you need. It’s something best left to experts, though there are resources to consult if you want to learn more, like this guide from the National Resources Conservation Service. Is it possible to DIY your retaining wall? Sure it is, though in our opinion it’s best to consult an expert. If you decide to go solo, be sure to do your homework and to consider every option carefully.

How Retaining Walls Work

Simply put, a retaining wall holds soil in place.  When designed properly, retaining walls also ensure that excess water drains in ways that don’t erode the soil. Think of these channels almost like water slides at a big amusement park: with the right structure and construction, you can change the direction of drainage in your space, making sure that runoff water goes where you want it to go.

There are several options to consider: full retaining walls, partial walls, and raised terraces with plantings, just to name a few. Construction can vary too, depending on design need and aesthetic preference. Concrete, brick, and wood are all options. The best way to decide is to discuss the variety of options with a company that specializes in retaining walls in your area. We do just that.

 

Retaining wall considerations

Do I Need a Retaining Wall?

First things first: what is a retaining wall? Simply put, a retaining wall is a barrier that holds in place earth that would otherwise erode or collapse. Retaining walls can be small DIY projects or larger-scale and professionally constructed. Retaining walls can be constructed from a range of materials and can vary in size, shape, and design.

Why Would I Want a Retaining Wall?

There are two main reasons to consider a retaining wall. First, because it’s physically necessary to correct a slope, prevent erosion, or otherwise level the earth in your yard. These retaining walls serve a functional purpose. In residential settings, retaining walls are necessary when there might be an abrupt separation of ground elevation. Reasons a retaining wall can be necessary include sunken patios, walkout basements, and other hardscapes. Aesthetics are the second consideration. Retaining walls can create tiered gardens or flowerbeds, which add visual interest to otherwise ordinary spaces.

Best of Both Worlds

Of course, landscape and hardscape elements can be both practical and beautiful. This is certainly the case with retaining walls, and is an important reason to work with a landscape architect when considering the installation of a retaining wall.

An expert landscape artist with retaining wall experience can help determine construction specifics as well as design aesthetics—meaning experienced landscapers will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various materials, placement, and size.

Details Matter

Remember that there are specific considerations in determining if you need a retaining wall, some of which you might not know until you consult with an expert. Among those considerations: the slope of the earth at the location and the current drainage situation at the location in question, type of soil, and weather conditions (such as freezing).

As is the case with so many projects, building a retaining wall can be a DIY project for some, but working with an expert familiar with retaining walls and  your geographical area ensures that the retaining wall built will be not only attractive, but will also function as intended.

Ask the Right Questions

Knowing whether or not you need a retaining wall is more involved than just knowing you’re ready to build, and working with a professional landscape and construction company can help ensure all considerations: practical and financial, logistical and aesthetic, are fully researched and planned before construction begins.

Curious about retaining walls and your options? Contact us to learn more.

4 Low Water Usage Olathe Landscaping Ideas

Some think your lawn can’t look great unless it’s April through July and the grass is as green as it’s ever been before.

At Huston Contracting, we know that’s just not true. So we wanted to show you a few low water usage Olathe landscaping ideas. Using these unique ideas, you’ll be able to improve your lawn and keep your landscape looking good.

It won’t matter if the rain isn’t falling or you’re looking to cut back on the watering, you can still implement these ideas.

Low Water Usage Olathe Landscaping Ideas

Let’s take a look at these ideas and how you can improve your Olathe landscaping without using much water:

  • Create an Outdoor Environment

This is the easiest way to improve your Olathe landscape without using a ton of water. You can add features like an outdoor kitchen, retaining wall, or a covered porch. These unique features won’t cost any water and will add significant value to your landscaping, especially in the backyard area.

Don’t delay, though! By investing in an outdoor kitchen early in the season, you’ll be able to enjoy it even more this year.

  • Find the Right Plants

Certain plants require water every single day. If you don’t water some species of plants daily, they will look withered and weak. On the other hand, there are some plants that look great year around – whether they get a ton of water or not.

If you plant species like Agave, Sage, Lavender Cotton, and more – you won’t have to water these plants often. These species simply don’t require a lot of water to look great, especially in the spring and summer.

  • Walkways Galore

Walkways are one easy way to change the whole face of your landscaping without using much water or breaking the bank. Using natural stone to create unique walkways to your covered porch, outdoor kitchen, or a sitting area is a great Olathe landscaping idea for the coming months.

  • Maybe a Little Mulch

Ok, this idea might be a little basic. We get that. But there’s really never a bad time to add a little mulch around your landscaping. Fresh mulch looks exactly like it sounds – fresh! You don’t need any water to add a little mulch and this small change will add a lot of life to your landscaping like never before.

Create Your Ideal Landscape…Today!

You don’t need to waste water all the time to keep your lawn looking ideal, especially around this time of the year. Just get in contact with Huston Contracting. As the Olathe Landscaping experts, we’re here to help you create the lawn of your dreams. We look forward to working with you!

 

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Olathe Outdoor Kitchen

While wintertime may not be the ideal time to build an outdoor kitchen, there’s no reason you can’t improve the one you’ve got. With that in mind, we wanted to detail a few ways our clients have been adding, improving, and updating.

At Huston Contracting, we specialize in Olathe outdoor kitchens. We know how important an outdoor gathering space can be for families and friends. We also know a few minor tweaks can take your space from a place to cook to the premier gathering spot in the neighborhood.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Olathe Outdoor Kitchen

With that in mind, here are a few different ways you can improve your Olathe outdoor kitchen in the coming year:

  • Strip Lighting

One quick and simple way to add a ton of value to your outdoor kitchen? Strip lighting. Use strip lighting to highlight stairs, walkways, and so much more. You can even put lighting under fixed seating areas and storage units.

Strip lighting partially makes a space look great, but there’s another aspect to it. Strip lighting is a safety feature when it’s dark out.

  • Fire Pits For All

One way to add huge entertainment value to your outdoor kitchen area? Add a stunning fire pit that the whole family can sit around.

These days there’s a fire pit for every size and situation. They have some that can be moved around to different areas, while others are designed to stay in one place. They even have fire pits that can double as coffee tables.

  • Build the Bar

Often, a family builds an outdoor kitchen with cooking and socializing in mind. Building an outdoor bar is often an afterthought. But maybe it shouldn’t be.

Most Olathe outdoor kitchens would only need a few minor updates and additions from a professional, like our staff here at Huston Contracting, to turn your outdoor kitchen into a bar/kitchen combo space.

  • More Stone

At Huston Contracting, we’re a little partial to outdoor kitchens with natural stone. While you can build with any style you please, we’ve found natural stone truly compliments the outdoors better than almost any other material. If you’re looking for a quick improvement, add a little stone around the area.

  • Covered Porches

Ok, this is a little bit more than a quick and simple improvement. In fact, most will want to work with professionals to add a covered porch to their outdoor kitchen.

But, there’s no denying the benefits of adding covered space. Many families start to use their outdoor kitchen more and more each passing year. Instead of taking the food inside, they want to eat it in the great outdoors – where it was cooked.

That’s where a covered porch comes in. Instead of baking in the sun or worrying about the rain, you simply cook the meal outdoors and then eat it under the comforts of your covered porch. A true win-win!

 

 

Thinking of Doing Some Landscaping This Summer? Let’s Get Started

The summer is right around the corner. The sunshine is fine, and the heat is almost here. It’s almost pool time. Boating season isn’t far off. We’ll all be breaking out the bathing suits soon.

But that doesn’t mean you can neglect your lawn and landscaping. You should pay your yard a little more attention during this time of year. There are a few fun things that are best done during the summer landscaping season.

Thinking of Doing Some Landscaping This Summer?

If you’re interested in doing some summer landscaping in Olathe, Kansas – get in touch. Here at Huston Contracting, our professional landscapers and designers work year around to keep your yard looking great.

A few of our summertime specialties include:

This should come as no surprise. Lawn care and maintenance are essential to keeping your landscape looking good in the summertime. With even a few weeks of neglect, you lush lawn could go from green to brown.

At Huston Contracting, we can help you keep things green and clean. Our experts offer services like:

  • Mowing
  • Pruning
  • Mulching
  • Weed control
  • Cleanup services
  • Irrigation systems

…And more!

There’s nothing better than a good ole’ fashion Kansas City barbecue. Well, except for one that happens in your backyard outdoor kitchen. Put simply – there’s no better time to install an Olathe outdoor kitchen than the summer.

You’ll get more use out of your outdoor kitchen in the summer and fall than any other months. You’ll be able to host barbecues and gatherings with ease – all from the comfort of your home.

For veteran Olathe landscapers looking to take things to the next level, nothing says “pro” like adding a water feature or two to your yard. At Huston Contracting, we can change the focus of your landscape by offering features like:

  • Natural stone waterfalls
  • Pondless waterfalls
  • Koi ponds
  • Natural creek beds
  • Bubbler rocks

…And more!

Remember how amazing the fireplace feels inside your home during the winter months? Adding an outdoor fireplace to your landscape can offer similar benefits during the breezy summer nights in Olathe.

If you’re looking for focal point of your landscape to change, an outdoor fireplace can do just that in the backyard.

No matter what type of Olathe landscaping services you need, we can help change the look of your yard this summer. From irrigation design to natural stone installation to sod installation and drainage solutions – Huston Contracting is a full-service professional landscaping company.

Get In Touch With Huston Contracting Today!

Summer is nearly here. Don’t wait another day. If you’re looking to tackle some big landscaping projects before the blistering heat, get in touch today. Our team looks forward to hearing from you and helping you have the best yard in the whole neighborhood!

Is Springtime Ideal For Olathe Retaining Wall Installations?

Olathe Retaining Wall

While seemingly simple, Olathe retaining wall installations can become surprisingly complex. There’s a lot of science that goes into taking uneven terrain and building a stunning wall to even it out. Olathe landscape designers often have their hands full when a new wall is under construction.

The Best Time For Olathe Retaining Wall Installations:

While our professional staff here at Huston Contracting can install a wall whenever you need it, there is an ideal time. During the right timeframe, retaining walls can be installed quicker and better than during other parts of the year. So what time is absolutely ideal?

To determine that, let’s take a look at precipitation and temperature. Ideally, we’d like to perform Olathe retaining wall installations during dry months with spring-like temperatures.

With that premise in mind, a quick dive into Olathe weather on Google should give us a decent answer. Olathe’s rainiest months come in May and June. Thus, it may not be the best idea to schedule a retaining wall installation during these periods.

However, the months with the least precipitation December, January, and February – which can also be problematic due to the cold weather. While hot streaks are becoming more common during these months, they aren’t the best months for such a job. That title goes to March, April, and October. 

There’s Wiggle Room

While we at Huston Contracting do believe March and April to be some of the best months for Olathe retaining wall installations, there’s some wiggle room from a temperature and precipitation standpoint.

You can install a retaining wall at any time of the year if you’re working with professional landscape designers who know what they’re doing. The key is to do things properly no matter what time of year it is.

Retaining Wall Tips and Tricks

If you’re about to tackle an Olathe retaining wall installation alone or with the help of a professional, there are a few things you want to consider. Some of the most important aspects of any wall include:

  • Always incorporate the retaining wall into your lifestyle and design of your landscape.
  • Any wall over four feet should require some professional attention from an engineer.
  • Manufactured blocks and stones keep things simple and remove the guesswork out of installing. Plus, they look natural and fantastic.
  • Creating a solid base before doing anything else is essential.
  • Make sure you account for drainage.
  • Backfills are essential for full support.

The Retaining Wall Professionals You Need

If you’re looking to add a stunning retaining wall to your landscape this spring or summer, get in touch. At Huston Contracting, our landscape designers and engineers are ready and willing to help you create a beautiful retaining wall. We look forward to lending a helping hand to the landscape of your dreams.