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exterior contractor Before with RenoWorks software and a full catalog of product information from one of his company's leading suppliers, Alside's Preservation line. After taking a few photos of the house, he sat with the owners and clicked his way through to a finished design. "You can retrofit their existing house with all the products," Macek says. The owners liked the proposed new look so much, they moved the exterior renovation to the top of their to-do list, above some other improvements they had been considering. "After seeing our design, they actually did the exterior before the interior." Material balance Key to the updated appearance is a balanced mix of materials that helps give the house a sense of pedigree beyond what it might otherwise deserve. Cedar-style siding in a neutral tan is the predominant ingredient, but cladding the garage-topping dormer in cedarstyle shakes creates the visual suggestion of a home that has grown over time in the model of, say, a lakeside family cottage. Finally, stone panels wrap around the base of the garage in a high-end touch Wrapping the lower portion of the home in manufactured stone adds an element that made this home stand out. Macek says is a signature element in many of their projects. The windows — approximately 30 of them — also add some streamlined style to the home's new curb appeal. The simple three-over-zero sash design mimics what one might see in a classic Chicago bungalow. Choosing the pattern, though, required a more three-dimensional visual aid than Macek's iPad could provide, so he and the homeowners used masking tape to mark out the new mullions. "You can show [homeowners] the pictures, but at the end of the day, they need to know what the project will look like," Macek says, noting the role such analog tools COMPANY STATS Elite Remodeling Group Rolling Meadows, Ill. eliteremodelinggroup.com Annual revenue: $10 million Full-time employees: 95 % Residential projects: 95% % Single-family projects: 95% % Design-build: 50 % Bid: 50 PRODUCTS USED Siding: Alside Brick/Stone: Eldorado Stone Doors: Therma-Tru Garage door: Amarr Non functional shutters were eliminated from the front elevation, and replaced with a more architecturally accurate design. as masking tape can play, even in today's digital design environment. "That tape was on there until we removed the windows." The beauty of this updated design is more than skin deep. In the three weeks or so Elite Remodeling Group took to complete the job, the company also significantly improved the home's energy efficiency. The high-end siding incorporates polystyrene foam insulation molded to the underside of each panel, providing an R-5 insulation value, even when installed over simple building wrap. And the new windows are triple-paned, with krypton insulating gas, boosting energy performance even further. "Their utility cost was probably cut by 25 percent," Macek says. Though this kind of efficiency improvement wasn't a primary goal of the owners, he adds, "it was a benefit we brought to the table." Neighborhood standout The upgraded exterior has become a standout in the neighborhood, according to Macek and fellow Elite Remodeling Group co-owner, Sam Patel. It also has become a flagship proj- Before ect in the company's advertising efforts, and has been profiled in a Chicago-area home-improvement television show. In one wise move that has proven to be particularly profitable, the company sent reps door-to-door with flyers on the day the television crew was filming. "We probably sold another couple hundred thousand dollars on that day alone," Macek says, adding the company now likely has done a total of $500,000 worth of business in the surrounding neighborhood since completing the original project. This success raises an obvious question: How much can the original project stand out, now, when so many surrounding homes have had similar facelifts? "Not everyone is willing to spend $80,000 on a $400,000 house, and there were a lot of houses that only did windows or siding," Patel says. So, this exterior remodel remains an aspirational example for many other neighborhood owners. "The majority of work we do is 1990s houses — we want to have people look at that job and know what's possible." ForResidentialPros.com QR August 2013 53