Top 5 Big Bear Remodeling Projects

Top Five Big Bear Remodeling Projects

In the current Big Bear real estate market, many homeowners are holding off listing their homes, opting for remodeling while they wait for the market to stabilize. For every remodel, the hope is that the initial investment will yield a high return (80% is ideal) when it comes time to sell your home. Here are the top five home remodel projects with the highest return on investment.

1. The Kitchen:
Putting a fresh face on your kitchen is your best investment.  As a rule of thumb, budget the cost of the remodel to no more than 20% of the value of your home. Expected return on investment: 85%

2. The Bathroom
Update your old bathrooms. Current trends are stand-up showers rather than garden tubs. Most major bathroom remodels can be done for under $20,000. Expected return on investment: 80%

3. Decks
The cost of putting in a new deck on your home can vary widely depending on the materials and labor used. If you decide to add this to your Big Bear home, look closely at what the neighbors have done and stick to the neighborhood aesthetic. Choose building materials and sealants that will stand up to Big Bear weather extremes. Expected return on investment: 80%

4. Siding
Updating or repairing your home’s facade is the quickest way to instantly bring freshness to your home. This is one of the lower cost remodels in the group, approximately $10,000 (depending on the size of your home). Expected return on investment: 80%

5. Window replacement
Buyers love energy efficient homes and until you’re ready to sell, you will too. Replace old windows with higher efficient and safer windows. Not only will it update the exterior look of your home, it will lower your heating and electric bills. Expected return on investment: 70%

Working with the right “local” contractor makes all the difference when it comes to a remodel project. Licensed Home Improvement is Big Bear’s premier home remodeling contractor with over 40 years experience in all construction trades. Call Michael today at 909-262-9111 for a free consultation.

Big Bear Home Maintenance and Repairs: Ice Dams

Big Bear Home Maintenance

Ice Dams: They’re a bit different in the sunny SoCal mountains!

Most information about ice dams comes from far different climates than normally found in the beautiful mountains of Big Bear, California.  At 7,000’, we have far more sunshine than most locations, in fact our average of over 300 sunny days per year makes Big Bear Lake one of the sunniest places in the country, if not on earth!  No wonder SoCal’s best kept secret is not so secret any more. Read on to find out how that sunshine can effect ice damming on your Big Bear cabin.

If you’ve read my WordPress blog from 2009 about ice dams, you already know that they can damage the structural integrity and value of your mountain home (see  Most information about ice dams cite poor insulation as the main cause, and in most places this is true.  Because of Big Bear Lake’s unique combination of latitude and altitude, we experience far more sunshine during the winter months than most places that get snow.  Even in freezing temperatures, the sun will melt the snow on your roof, particularly when the darker colored roofing material becomes exposed to the sun.  The snowmelt makes it’s way down the slope of your roof, cooling as is travels under the cold white snow.  By the time it reaches the eave, the sun may have dropped below the horizon, at which time the snowmelt is likely to re-freeze into ice.  Over several days or weeks time, the ice at the eave continues to accumulate, creating a very effective dam, then a pool of water will build up behind it.  Even with code compliant ice dam protection material installed under composition roof shingles, I have seen water back up so far that it finds it’s way through the shingles and into the structure of the house.

Snow pulled away to reveal ice problem

In addition, because Big Bear is situated in the heart of temperate SoCal, some home designers and builders are not aware of the potential problems more common in colder parts of the country.  Many local roofs have design features that are inadequate for properly draining a roof in snowy environments.  The well-meaning friend / handyman that chops the ice off the roof for you may add to the problem by damaging the roof material at these critical locations.

As I write this in the middle of January 2012 (so far a very mild winter), I have already been called out to look at several ice-dam situations.  Sadly, most are after the homeowner had paid to fix the problem in past years.  It’s not easy to tell a homeowner that the handyman repair they paid $2,000.00 for last year must be torn off to properly fix the problem.

Besides eaves, areas to closely watch are valleys, crickets, and places where roofing material meets siding material (such as 2nd story roof-to-gable transitions).  If you see snow building up at certain locations on your roof, there is a potential problem.  If you had pine needle accumulations in the fall, they are likely to collect snow too.  The best time to look for potential problems is at the end of summer.  As a general contractor, we are licensed and experienced at replacing and repairing roofs, as well as performing all other construction trades.  We’re happy to come take a look and provide a free consultation for any of your Big Bear property maintenance and home improvement projects.  Call us at (800) 926-0409, or contact us through our website,

Michael Beveridge
Licensed Home Improvement

Big Bear Home Maintenance and Repairs: Springtime

Big Bear Home Maintenence and Repair


Spring is a natural time of rejuvenation. We shake off the covers of hibernation, open the windows to the light, and sweep out the staleness of winter. Nature, in turn, washes off the dust with spring rains, warms the earth, and coaxes forth fresh new growth from the ground. Nowhere is this more evident than in beautiful Big Bear, California.

Repair, rejuvenation, and renovation is the way of nature, and it’s only natural that we feel the urge too.  Here in Big Bear, our 7,000’ altitude means the weather is still a little dicey, and yet we’re making plans for shorts, barbeques, and outings on the lake.  At the same time, we’re eager to stay ahead of that list of maintenance and repair projects that are a fact of life when owning a home in this mountain paradise.

You’re probably already making your list, and here are a few items that may help:

  1. Check exterior walls for any moisture, particularly near the ceiling. This could indicate an ice dam problem that, gone unchecked, might be the start of hidden moisture damage inside your walls.
  2. Look around for water stains at the ceilings throughout the house.  Water and snow melt can enter through roof penetrations, valleys, cracked ridge roofing, etc.
  3. Check around windows, basements, and crawl spaces under the house.  These are all areas where moisture can get in and cause damage.  Check all these potential moisture penetration areas before the warm dry summer air makes them more difficult to identify.
  4. Open up / uncover all the crawl space ventilation openings to allow dry fresh air to enter.  Check for damaged varmint screens and repair to keep the little creatures from moving in.
  5. Remove any dirt and debris that may have eroded up against your house and other buildings.  It’s best to maintain 4” – 6” of space between the ground and any wood or siding.
  6. Check roof fascia boards, siding, trim, etc. for freeze-thaw damage.  Correcting small areas of loose paint can prevent much more extensive repairs and extend the life of your exterior paint job.
  7. Open up closed in areas, mud-rooms, sheds, water-heater enclosures, etc. to allow fresh air to circulate.  This can prevent expensive mold and mildew damage, or bring them to your attention if already occurring.
  8. Check your decks and steps for loose boards, nails, screws, railing, etc.  Your decks are valuable features and wonderful places to enjoy the outdoors.  Regular attention and maintenance can avoid costly replacement.
  9. Always include on your list plenty of time to enjoy the outdoor activities you love about Big Bear.  This will help avoid the costly misconception that your Big Bear home is too much work.
  10. Call Licensed Home Improvement whenever you begin to feel that you’re spending more time working on your Big Bear home than enjoying it!      (909) 262-9111

Big Bear Licensed Home Improvement – Just 3 short years ago

Just 3 short years ago (although in some ways they’ve been long years) it was difficult to find skilled craftsmen to man my remodeling crews, and when I did find them, they commanded a pretty healthy wage. Now I receive several calls per week from well experienced men eager to work on our jobs for half of what they could earn during the strong economic boom years. The good news here is that it’s an excellent time to have quality, low cost maintenance and improvement work done on your home!

The home remodeling industry became much more competitive when new home construction came to a screeching halt in recent years. Most surviving building contractors have found new interest in improving existing homes, rather than building new. Not too many years ago my clients were so grateful just to have me show up to discuss their home improvement projects; now sometimes there are several contractors waiting in line to offer their services. It’s exciting to be in a much more competitive market, and we will all be better for it in the long run!

Licensed Home Improvement, of course, will always be here in good times and otherwise to provide excellent work on your home improvement projects, large or small. While we still are experiencing tighter budgets than in the past, we are seeing signals of the economy improving, and the opportunity for huge savings may not last for long. It could be years before we see the boom days of the early 2000’s, but higher building material costs, tougher building regulations, and slowly strengthening job markets could mean that home improvement costs may never be the bargain that it is right now.

You can now make those kitchen and bathroom upgrades you’ve been longing for, and for far less than you might think. It’s also a great time to open up walls, expand small rooms, and improve the flow of your home to reflect changing lifestyles. Or you may just want to brighten up a dreary and boring room with new paint and lighting fixtures. Whether your project is small or large, we are eager to show you how you can improve your home and your life by upgrading your surroundings.

Call us today for a free consultation. You’ll be glad you did.

Big Bear Home Remodeling – How Long Will It Take?


One of the most frequently asked questions when discussing a remodel job is “how long will this take? This is sometimes even more important to clients than the other big question; “how much will it cost?” Although the two questions are related, let’s talk about time.

While the question of time depends on the job, there are several factors to consider.  Remodeling a home usually involves a bit of mystery; you can’t always predict what might be behind the walls, or the quality of work that was done in the past (perhaps a fun article in the future might be some of the surprises we’ve found).  For brevity’s sake, I’ll touch on just a few factors here.

Accessibility: Easy access might seem rudimentary, but it’s the first step.  In Big Bear, most of our work is on second, or vacation homes, and so we sometimes wait for keys, alarm codes, access to utilities, etc.. Other access issues involve the ability to get workers, tools, and equipment close to the job.  Stairs, long driveways, dirt roads, and weather conditions are just some of the considerations that effect time schedules here in Big Bear. In more metropolitan areas like Newport Beach, parking and local ordinances can be factors. In all areas, work in primary homes can involve special procedures so as not to infringe too much on resident’s quality of living while the work is taking place.

Preparation: Remodel work is quite different from other construction work in that it’s done on existing homes.  Furniture, carpeting, cabinetry, decorations, and other personal items must be protected with tarps, plastic, masking tape & paper. Besides adding to the cost of the job, these tasks can take considerable time; sometimes more than the described job.  In addition, special procedures are required by law in older homes, as in recent EPA lead paint handling rules.

Choice and availability of materials: Quality, price, and availability of materials have improved dramatically in the many years we’ve been remodeling homes here in Big Bear.  Still, selection of finish items like cabinetry, tile, granite, kitchen and bath fixtures, floor coverings, lighting, and others depend on choices and desires of the client.  Coordination, selection, and delivery of these are frequently a major factor in completion of the job.  While these are many times finishing touches, it’s important to know what the finish items are at the beginning of the job.

Scheduling: If your contractor is good, he will usually have jobs running concurrently.  Your job may be dove-tailed in with others to make the best use of resources like tools, equipment, and crews.  To be done efficiently, remodel work requires crews with a variety of specialty trade skills; coordinating a multitude of specialty sub-contractors can be costly and time consuming.  This may be factored into the competitive contract price given.  Small delays in one area of a job can quickly escalate into bigger delays and higher costs for your contractor.

These are just a few of the many factors that can effect the finish time on a remodel job.  On anything larger than a quick handyman job, your contractor will most likely give you a one or two week window, stated such as “if all goes according to plan . . . “.  Realistically, the longer your contractor takes on your job, the less profit he is making. Unrealistic initial estimates can be quite costly for you and for your contractor. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

When you call Licensed Home Improvement you will have the advantage of efficiency, resulting from experienced estimating, experienced crews, and quality work.  We’re clean, we’re fast, and we show up to get the job done!  We appreciate the opportunity to bid on your job; you may be surprised with how competitive we can be!

Michael Beveridge

Ice Dams

Those icicles hanging from the roof of your mountain vacation home are picturesque, but they could be an indication of an underlying ice dam problem that can cause expensive damage!

What is an ice dam you say? An ice dam occurs when the warmth from the dwelling areas of your home escapes into the attic and melts snow on the roof. The melted snow (aka: water) runs downhill until it reaches the eaves (which are usually not as warm) and freezes into solid ice.  This is what makes those beautiful icicles (which are a dead give-away that you may have an ice dam problem). A few days of this and your roof has built up a dam of ice that holds the melted snow behind it.  So what’s the problem with this, you say.  The problem is that most roofs are made to shed water, not hold it.  When water sits on your roof, it will probably find a way into your house, causing damages ranging from peeling paint to serious mold issues. And this doesn’t even include the potential damage to your roof when the ice dam is chopped out by that helpful and handy neighbor!

Building codes in cold climate areas usually attempt to address this problem by requiring special roofing membrane materials at and above the eaves of your house.  This is good, and only part of the solution, which includes other items such as effective insulation strategy.

Return to this site for future blogs on useful and related information about this subject, including insulation, roof design, roof repair, roof membrane, roof maintenance, rain gutters, heat tape, wall repair, mold problems, and more.

Licensed Home Improvement can take care of ice dam issues for you, from preventative construction and maintenance, to correcting the damage after it happens.  For a free consultation call us at (800) 926-0409.

Licensed Home Improvement is licensed by the California State License Board, General Contractor License No. B592420.

Damage could be hiding under those beautiful icicles!

Why choose Licensed Home Improvement


Your life should be easy, and our job is to help make that true.

With over 40 years experience, Licensed Home Improvement will complete your major remodel, or just perform a few household improvements.  Our well-rounded experience with all construction trades allows us to keep your project on track from start to finish.

If Quality and Accountability are important to you, call us for a free consultation about the project you have in mind.  And if it’s already been started by you or another, we’re also very good at finishing it beautifully.

This may be the best time EVER, to buy your Big Bear vacation home. After over 20 years in the valley, we know the best realtors to find your place in the mountains, and we will help you make it your dream home!



“Michael, This is looking really beautiful . . . and I’ll be the one drinking the wine on the new deck.” ML, Moonridge

“It was urgent that the project be done quickly and within budget; you guys did it.  Job well done!” MM, Big Bear Lake

“Probably because of your remodel work, my vacation home sold quickly and for a good price.” RB, Lower Moonridge