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Custom Home Improvement and Coffee

Custom_Coffee

*This story was written by our new Show Room Saleswoman, Magen Meers

How do you like your coffee?

I recently visited a small and trendy boutique coffee shop for the first time. The atmosphere was beautiful. Gray walls with green accents in the form of live plants peppered the shop. Several tables containing small groups of men and women happily sipping their drink of choice chatted or huddled around laptop screens.

I approached the counter and stood staring at the menu mounted on the wall. A barista stood behind the cash register staring at me. I scanned the menu for something familiar. I was suddenly in a panic- I didn’t recognize anything on this menu! This was a coffee shop right? Where were the lattes and mochas that I’m used to? I glanced at the barista, still staring.”Ummmm,” I began sheepishly, “I’m not really sure what I want.” No response. Just the smallest look of annoyance and a small nod. Clearly he was not going to help me out with any recommendations, so I continued in a game of “Name That Espresso Drink” with him.

“I want something warm and sweet…but not too sweet like a mocha.”

He continued to look annoyed but this time he spoke. “Well you can get lattes with flavors or mochas. We have something called a Meow that is kind of like a latte with honey and cinnamon.'”

Convinced, I ordered the Meow (that’s what I heard although after some research, I think it was a Miel.) I paid for my purchase and stood waiting for my drink, anxious to get the heck out of there and avoid the judgement of the all-knowing barista.

Despite my less than perfect customer experience, the drink was delicious. Honey and cinnamon are my two favorite flavors and the combination was lovely. I began sprinkling cinnamon in my home brew and sweetening with honey but it wasn’t quite the same. I found myself craving a repeat but was hesitant to return to the shop. Remembering a gift card I’d been carrying around for a large-chain coffee shop, I thought I’d see if they could recreate the delicious drink there. I pulled into the driveway behind a long line of cars.

“Great,” I thought, “They’re going to love a custom coffee order. Especially when I don’t even know what drink I want!”

At the speaker a cheery voice greeted me.

“Do you have any drinks with cinnamon and honey in them?,” I said tentatively.

Without pause, the speaker responded “Sure, we can try it!”

Maybe they have a drink on the menu that’s similar, I thought. The line moved quickly and I found myself at the window in no time to collect my coffee. A young, smiling face waited for me. She took my cash and offered up two things: a drink in one hand, and a handwritten note in the other.

“I wrote down how we made your coffee so if you like it, you can order it again.”

“Oh, is there a drink like this and I just didn’t realize it?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “we just came up with this so we wanted you to know how we made it.”

Impressed, I thanked her and shoved a dollar in the tip cup before driving away.

I’ve relayed this story to no less than ten people. Why? One, because it’s a really delicious drink and everyone should try it. More importantly, because it reflects an excellent customer service experience. Today’s marketplace offers a lot of choices. Choices are great but sometime staring up at a coffee menu, searching for the perfect lamp online or making choices to begin a full-scale remodel can be terribly overwhelming. We have customers that come to us and know almost exactly what they want to do. They have a vision and we make it happen. Other times, we know we want something but we’re not sure what.

That’s where our customer service sets us apart from the rest. We can help you choose exactly the right product. Whether it’s a new entry door, new kitchen counter or a complete bath remodel, we can help. Home improvements should be fun and exciting- not overwhelming. Our salespeople, designers and show room staff (me!) can guide you through each step of the process so there’s no guessing. If you have a “custom order” like my fancy espresso, we can help! Not only do we “do” custom orders- every design we do is custom. You can start by visiting me in our beautiful showroom in Washington and filling out a free, no-obligation project estimate form. Don’t know how you want your coffee? Let us help! We’ll even write down the recipe.

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4 Home Improvement Tax Breaks You May Qualify For

Tax Breaks

Tax Break 1: Major Energy-Efficient Upgrades

This tax break can save you up to $500 on energy efficient upgrades under the Residential Energy Credits program. However, there’s a lifetime total of $500 on this tax deduction, so be sure to check that you haven’t already met this limit. This tax break is especially relevant if you’ve purchased new energy efficient replacement doors, replacement windows, or a new roof.

  • 10% of the cost of replacement doors
  • 10% of the cost of replacement windows and skylights ($200 cap)
  • 10% of the cost of an energy-efficient roof (excluding labor)
  • 10% of the cost of home insulation upgrades (excluding labor)
  • $300 for a biomass stove
  • $300 for air-source heat pumps
  • $300 for central AC systems
  • $150 for efficient hot water boilers
  • $300 for water heaters
  • $200 for furnaces and fans

Tax Break 2: Green Energy Upgrades

This tax break goes in the personal tax credit category. If you added a renewable energy system to your residence, you’re eligible for a 30% tax rebate for your expenditures. This applies to both main residencies and vacation homes. Some expenditures covered include the cost of on-site preparation, assembly and installation, and piping and wiring to connect a system to the home.

Here’s the best part: there’s no cap on this deduction! If you’re kicking yourself for not going green earlier, don’t worry. This tax credit is available through 2019. Here are some green energy upgrades that qualify for this tax break:

  • Solar panels
  • Solar water heaters
  • Fuel Cells
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Wind turbines

Tax Break 3: Medical Modifications

This tax break is especially relevant to readers that have completed a bathroom renovation with Custom Bath Solutions in the past year. Medical modifications include improvements made to accommodate your home for care of a disabled individual. This person may be you, your spouse or your dependent.

Here’s the catch: the eligible cost of improvement is reduced by the project’s addition in value to your property. So if you spent $40K on medical modifications that increased the value of your home by $10K, only $30K are deductible. If the home improvement project did not increase your property value, the entire cost can be included as a medical expense. In addition, the cost of medical modifications must be more than 10% of your adjusted gross income (or 7.5% for persons 65 and older).

Here are some medical modification projects that qualify for deductions:

  • Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment.
  • Installing railings, support bars, or other modifications (like a tub to shower conversion) in your bathroom
  • Replacement doors and modifying door hardware
  • Modifying electrical outlets and fixtures
  • Widening interior and exterior doorways
  • Entrance and exit ramps
  • Installing lifts or modifying stairways
  • Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other warning systems
  • Grading the ground to provide access to the home

Tax Break 4: Reduce Your Capital Gains Profits

In the eyes of Uncle Sam, that is. We would never advise you to sell your home for less than it’s maximum potential. If you make a profit on your home over $250K per individual (or $500K as a married couple), you’ll have to pay capital gains taxes on those profits. However, you can deduct the money you spent on value-adding home improvement projects from your total sales profit.

Let’s say you purchased a new home 7 years ago for $250K and then spent $60K on renovations. This year, you sold your home for $560K and put away your sales profit of $310K. If you don’t include the cost of renovations in your total profit, you can lower your taxable capital gains profit to $250K and keep that $60K you spent on renovations, tax-free.

For your home improvement project to qualify for this tax break, the project had to be an upgrade that increased the value of your home. Repairs projects are considered only “maintaining” the current value of your home and are not eligible to deduct from your total capital gains profit. Here are some projects that are eligible:


For the nitty-gritty details, talk to a tax advisor about which tax strategy is right for you. If you’ve purchased tax credit eligible products from us in the past year, we will be happy to send you a letter confirming your installation. Just call (309) 717-0105 and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.

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Best Projects for Your House’s Resale Value

Roofing - Peoria Siding and Window

When selling your home, it can be easy to get carried away with tons of home improvement projects. It’s important to be sure you’re making smart choices by getting the most resale value out of your hard-earned money and work.  

Every year, Remodeling Magazine comes out with a new Cost vs. Value Report to compare the most popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale. These are the projects that provided the greatest return on investment for a mid-range home:

  1. Steel Entry Door Replacement

    Ave. Cost Recovered: 90.7%

    A nice entry door is important to your house’s resale value because it’s the first impression buyers make as they approach your house. Steel entry doors are superior to other material options because they don’t warp from moisture or immediately bust if someone tries breaking in.

    Peoria Siding & Window offers beautiful steel entry doors in over 25 stains and colors. These Energy Star qualified doors that will help you (or a new homeowner) save money on utility bills, increase comfort and help the environment.

  2. Minor Kitchen Renovation

    Kitchen Renovation

    Ave. Cost Recovered: 80.2%

    Minor kitchen remodel projects tend to perform better for your house’s resale value than a complete kitchen renovation. Small projects can make a big difference in updating the appearance of your kitchen and they tend to be a lot cheaper.

    To keep your project cost low, our sister company Woodfront Kitchens offers cabinet refacing. Instead of replacing your cabinets completely, they can cover your existing cabinets in new paneling. Their beautiful Amish-made cabinets come in literally hundreds of wood, stain, frame, and center panel options.

  3. Siding Replacement

    Ave. Cost Recovered: 76.4%

    Some of the best and cheapest projects for your house’s resale value do nothing more than improve the “curb value” of your home. Remodeling Magazine’s data showed that exterior remodeling projects recouped an average of 74.9% of funds invested.

    Peoria Siding & Windows offers the best deals in high-quality siding in Central Illinois. We can install traditional siding, as well as board and batten, shake, scallop and vertical style siding.

  4. Deck Addition (Composite)

    Ave. Cost Recovered: 65.2%

    Who doesn’t like to spend a sunny afternoon with a cool drink out on the deck? Decking projects are popular with homebuyers because having a beautiful, spacious deck is like having a vacation spot right in your home.

    At Peoria Siding & Window, we offer Fiberon’s Horizon Decking with PermaTech™ as well as as Pro-Tect Decking. Our Fiberon Horizon Decking is resistant to stains, scratches, splits, mold, mildew, moisture and insects- which means practically no maintenance. You won’t spend any more hot, summer weekends re-staining your deck.

  5. Roofing Replacement

    Peoria Siding and Window - Free Estimates - 309-427-6819

    Ave. Cost Recovered: 68.8%

    New roofing may not be the most fun remodeling project, but there’s a reason it improves your home’s resale value. Other than providing curb appeal and beauty to your home, a new roof won’t have the years of damage and weathering that your current roof has.

    Peoria Siding & Window offers durable GAF Timberline HD shingles. In a 2014 study, most homeowners preferred the look of Timberline HD Shingles over all other leading brands.

  6. Universal Bathroom Design

    Ave. Cost Recovered: 68.4%

    Universal bathroom designs are becoming popular because they can support any living situation- including living with elderly or special needs individuals. This design trend is especially important for your house’s resale value because the design features make it possible for any buyer to use your bathroom. Common updates include installing support-grab bars and no-threshold showers.

    Our sister company, Custom Bath Solutions can convert your tub to a no-threshold shower to allow for easier entry and exit. Their customizable showers use non-porous acrylic materials that are resistant to mold and mildew. That means less time you or a new homeowner has to spend scrubbing the shower.