Before and After - Remodeling in Austin

Thinking of a remodel or addition to your home in the Austin area? Maybe you're considering adding a granny flat or ADU to your property?  Here are lots of before and after photos from projects we've completed.  Hopefully these side by side comparisons inspire you!  Renovations and additions are a fantastic way to stay at your current address but get the dream home you crave.

All 'After' photos courtesy of Spaces & Faces Photography.

What was once just a parking area in the backyard is now a two story Accessory Dwelling Unit above a small garage, storage area, and large deck with fireplace.


The original 1960's kitchen with vinyl flooring and heavy furr downs was knocked out and opened up, even the ceiling was lifted and all new flooring installed throughout the main floor.  A new eat-in island made the kitchen the center of the home instead of a boxed off room.


Standing in almost the exact same spot, 12 months between photos. Yes, that's the same house. Just trimming the trees helped, but a better pool (with no leaks), and the addition of the master and guest suites on the back of the home added lots of living space. 


Standing in the same spot, 18 months between photos. The new stairs in the corner are for the elevated bridge leading to the 1000 square foot addition that houses the master suite and home office.  


The formal living and dining rooms with parquet flooring are still the living and dining areas, but the formality is gone.  So are the pesky walls.


 Outdoor living space becomes OUTDOOR LIVING SPACE.  Plus that super cool elevated bridge connects the existing house to the new addition.


Old, carpeted stairs smack in the middle of the house.  New stairs reside in a kickout into the backyard giving the home more breathing room.


Yep, same house, standing in the same spot.


This historic home got a two story screened porch, new pool, and a spiral staircase to a giant rooftop deck with views of downtown Austin.


Old kitchen on the left, New kitchen on the right.  Same corner, same lines at the ceiling.


Slightly different angle, but same back alley driveway. The old garage/shed is the new addition, modern barn style.


Old balcony on the left, new BETTER balcony on the right.


Can you believe this is the same room?


The old kitchen was stuffed into the front corner of the home. Now that space is the living room and we built the interior rock wall to match the exterior.


High Quality Construction in Austin

For this post to make sense, you need some background information. Camelot Custom Homes is a small operation. Paul Streeter is the man behind the construction, his experience stretches back over 40 years. My name is Clara and I handle the marketing and new project development for Camelot Custom Homes. I don't have a construction background, my expertise is in looking for new partnerships, new clients, new things we can build and new ways to market what we do.

Over the past 2+ years, as part of my job, I have met with over 100 local architects, and have given more construction site tours than I can count.  Without exception, on every tour someone says something like 'wow, this is well-built'.  That's a nice compliment to hear from an architect.  But what does 'well-built' really mean?  One time an architect told me that the second floor felt as solid as the first floor, that there was no bounce or squeak, and that's how he knew our project was high quality. 

Interesting...tell me more.

One architect told me she liked to see the spaces where the windows go before they're installed, that seeing the framing tells her everything she needs to know about a builder's quality.  Another architect liked to check out the baseboards on a finished project, telling me that the smallest details say the most.

After dozens and dozens of site tours, I decided it was high time to educate myself on building quality. If our projects are so 'well-built', what does everybody else's quality look and feel like? How do we really measure up? Are these architects just saying nice things because I'm standing right there?  I started going to job sites all over town, poking my nose in between the studs, climbing around half-built projects. I have looked at production homes in subdivisions, million-dollar custom homes on the water, hilltop cabins with views, duplex infill projects. I have walked through homes that are just getting started, some in the framing stages, halfway finished, and some that are fully built and on the market for sale.

Those architects were right, Camelot builds a great quality house.

I saw some beautiful work out there in Austin, many of our competitors do a fine job.  Their job sites were tidy, framing was solid, finishes were tight. Overall, I found that Camelot measured up to the big boys and that's a nice thing to learn.

What was surprising was that the not-so-great work was so easy to spot.  The more projects I toured, the faster I got at sizing up good vs bad construction.  I saw shims used in ways I didn't know were legal.  I saw windowsills tilted in toward the house. I saw sliding glass doors installed backwards. I saw gaps in the siding so wide you could watch birds fly by.  Yikes.

BAD Quality

The above picture shows joists with random bits of lumber shoved in between joist and the subfloor above.  No no no no no.

Patchwork Framing

Exterior wall framing in this photo. Shouldn't these be plumb? Should this look like a patchwork? Why so many bits of wood?  Are those scraps??

Checking out finished homes is helpful, too. It's always good to compare design features, layout choices, finish work. Just like an architect touring one of our projects, I'm looking for those little details that tell me if anybody cared when they put down the floor/hung the lights/installed the cabinets. Our finish work at Camelot is spectacularly detailed, I find that I'm shocked when others don't take the time to do a good job. I've become a construction snob.

The above photo shows brand new cabinets in the kitchen of a high-end duplex currently on the market. For $750,000, shouldn't the doors line up?

Striped Bathroom

The photo above shows GOOD quality.  It's one of ours, it's a bathroom in a home we built last year in Westlake Hills. Those stripes are 12x24 tiles installed vertically.  Our tile setter, Nicole, used grey grout for the grey stripes and white grout for the white.  What a smart, highly-detailed choice for her to make, but can you imagine how it would look had she been lazy about it?  It was the right move, quality matters.  A closer look is in the photo below.  You can barely see where the tiles meet.  Tight work.  

If Camelot cares this much about the grout in the guest bathroom of this house, imagine how much care we give to the more important pieces of the build.

 

Working for Camelot Custom Homes is something I'm proud of, and my tour of Austin homes has been validation that I represent a solid brand.  From the framing to the final details, we do an excellent job. Call Camelot when quality matters to you.

 

 

 

Remodel It or Tear It Down?

When you buy an older home and it's not 'move-in ready', what are your options? 

1)  Live with it, update rooms one by one and suffer through years of dust and inconvenience

2)  Hire a general contractor and architect and do a full remodel

3)  Tear it down and build something new from the ground up

It may surprise you to learn that Austin is seeing an uptick in remodeling of Single Family homes. There just aren't many unimproved lots available in the city, so when people buy in a close-in neighborhood there is usually a home already on the lot.  If they want a brand new home, they'll have to tear down the existing structure and start from scratch.

What if You Can't Tear it Down?

Why can't you tear it down and start from scratch?  Did you know that city codes that applied to the structure when it was built have probably changed?  And that if you tear down the house, you tear down the codes that applied to it, and you are now subject to the CURRENT city codes?

That can mean you now have to adhere to 21st century impervious cover rules, setback rules, tree ordinances, and height restrictions that might not have applied to the existing home.  A home on a corner lot with only 60 feet of street frontage now has a 25 foot easement attached to it....on two sides. That .10 acre is far less buildable when you can't build within 25 feet of the corner, plus you have setbacks on the back side. That leaves only a skinny sliver of your lot left to build on.

But if you REMODEL the existing home, the existing code restrictions stay with your remodeled structure. The setbacks are grandfathered in.

That's why the home pictured above is just a skeleton. If we scraped it to the dirt and started over, we would have to start the new structure several feet back and to the left in order to adhere to current city code.  Keeping the home and remodeling the shell maintains the old rules for this East Austin project. 

Whole House Remodel of an Existing Home

While it might be easier to scrape it down and start from scratch, lots of times you can't because you can't rebuild within today's restrictions. Call a General Contractor, call Camelot -- we can help you decide if the home and lot you're buying has premium remodel potential. We are experts at telling you what you can or can't do with an existing structure, and give you a ballpark on what it will cost.

 

Little Updates, Big Impact - Making the most of your home without remodeling

Ahhh, dreams of remodeling.....

"I'd love to rip the roof off and put on a second story, give the kids a place to chill or study, maybe have another bedroom/bathroom option."

whole house remodel in Rollingwood near Austin Texas

Big changes are DREAMY, and yes Camelot CAN make them happen for you. (we do it all the time, just give us a call!) But what if all you really need to scratch that remodeling itch is a few, inexpensive updates?  Here is our Top 10 List of affordable updates to make you feel like you did a big refresh:

1. Paint.  Just a can of paint!  You don't have to paint much to make your house feel fresh again. Paint the exterior trim a new color.  Paint the ceiling in your front entry.  Paint the wall behind your bed.  Paint the woodwork with a fresh, shiny coat of white -- baseboards get beat up over time, spruce them up with some oil-based paint.  The latest greatest latex interior wall color all the designers are using?  Sherwin-Williams 'Worldly Grey'.

2. Hardware.  Replace your interior doorknobs, towel rods, drawer pulls.  There are tons of great places to buy these things both online and locally:  Build.com, Restoration HardwarePush Pull Open Close. Nobody should still have 1989's brass doorknobs. Nobody.

3. Window Treatments.  Why settle for blinds when there is a world of cool window coverings out there?  Not every room has to be the same, either.  You can put wood shutters on the windows that face the street, curtains in the dining room, and a roman shade over the kitchen sink window.  A great local place for window treatments: Austin Shadeworks.  And while we're talking drapery, a great local place for all fabric: Interior Fabrics.

4. Ceiling Fans.  Are yours at least 10 years old?  Fans on the market these days are designed to fit into a complete look. Still have the brass fans that came with your house?  It's time for a switch out. We get ours at Lights Fantastic, but even big box stores like Lowes have great selections.  Or for an even more affordable ceiling fan update, read this article.

5. Lighting.  Do you have those frosted glass, upside down ceiling dome lights that every home in Texas has? Probably with a brass ring around it?  Ick! Recessed can lights are a great update, but you don't even have to go that far.  Stop by Lights Fantastic in Austin for an updated version of a flush mount.  And what about your hanging fixtures?  Replace what's hanging over your kitchen or dining table.  We'll say it again, Lights Fantastic is your source for excellent fixtures. Or try Rejuvenation, a really great source for fresh lighting.  For an even more affordable change, just take it down and spray paint it. Sometimes the fixture design is fine, just the color is dated.

6. Kitchen Back Splash.  A whole new kitchen can cost a pretty penny. What if your cabinets are just fine and your counter tops are tolerable?  Just replace your back splash.  Yes, it can be done.  Fresh tile will feel like a facelift.  Our favorite tile source:  PorcelanosaTravis Tile, Alpha Granite & Tile.

7. Rugs, Pillows, Linens.  The fabric side of home decor is sometimes the last thing people think about when they're itching for big change. But take a trip to some decor stores...we love Home Goods and Crate and Barrel right now. Switch out some decorative pillows in your house, lay down a new rug, donate all of your old bath and kitchen towels and get yourself some new ones.  Check out the photo below to see what special powers a new rug has -- the old one was dark, too small, out of fashion.

8. Light switches.  Ewwww, they get really gross over time.  Fingerprints and age take their toll on these .33-cent switch plates most of us have in our homes.  Change 'em out!  Did you know you can even change the outlets and switches in the wall, not just the plates?  If you just painted your living room a groovy charcoal grey, you can also switch out the plugs, switches, and all switch plates to a groovy charcoal grey.  Hire an electrician for the wiring, it's still an affordable upgrade.  Try Lights Fantastic or Leviton

9. Bathroom Mirrors.  Replace with new mirrors with picture-style frames.  OR, if you're crafty, frame out your existing bathroom mirror.. You can do it yourself if you have a chop saw and basic geometry skills.  There are even companies who sell kits, no saw required. Check out MirrorMate.

10. Plumbing Fixtures.  Refreshing a bathroom with a new faucet doesn't cost a lot.  Just do it.  We love Morrison Supply and Ferguson. Get yourself a new shower head to match.