Times have changed in the 25 years since Joe Pavone started Bradford and Kent, a custom home remodeling business which caters to the West suburbs.
He and a former partner actually timed their entry into the remodeling business well, capitalizing on a time when homes were constantly being enlarged and improved, and also when technology was taking leaps forward to streamline the design and construction process.
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"When we started, for instance, it would take hours for an architect to draw up plans and renderings so that people could somewhat envision what they were going to do to their home," Pavone said. "Today we have a unique computer program that allows a homeowner to sit down with a designer and experiment with all kinds of designs, floor plans and even home colors with the touch of a button. They can even take a virtual walk around the home they have designed and see if they like it from all angles."
Bradford and Kent, now under the direction of Pavone and partner Rob Quigley, has two divisions. Its custom remodeling division handles large and small additions, kitchen and bath remodels, sunroom additions and similar projects. The exterior solutions division, on the other hand, does exterior makeovers of homes that need a facelift. They change the siding, redo the windows, add porticos and other exterior trims and totally change the exterior appearance of the home.
Both divisions handle their work the same way. Bradford and Kent is a one-stop shop that handles everything from architectural plans, to permits, to material selections and actual construction for the homeowner, Quigley said. In addition, a specific superintendent is assigned to each project and he or she manages all of the trades on site.
During their years in business, people's expectations for their homes have changed. They expanded homes wildly during the 1990s and early 2000s, and then over the past few years they have settled into a practical middle ground. Today people are choosing to nest in their current homes rather than move into something larger and more extravagant and yet they are still making nice improvements that their family will be able to enjoy, Quigley said.
"Gone are the days when people viewed their home as a major investment rather than a place for their family to enjoy long term," Pavone said. "Today they are looking much harder at any investment in terms of whether it is worthwhile for their family to enjoy. Not getting every penny out when they sell is no longer as important as the enjoyment value for their own family."
They will still choose the extras if they think their family will actually use them, but they will forgo them if they are only for the possible enjoyment of a future owner.
"It is a different mindset these days," Quigley admits.
Three areas of the home are receiving the most remodeling attention from homeowners, Pavone and Quigley say.
"Basements have become livable floors. In fact, they have become mini-family retreats. We have put in everything from saunas and massage rooms to full kitchens, exercise rooms and, of course, gaming rooms and movie viewing spaces. One family even had us construct a whole Irish pub in their basement," Quigley said.
Kitchens are also a popular place for people to make over.
"In 1987 most kitchens were still utilitarian and rather small. Today kitchens are much fancier and are truly the heart of the home and the place where the family gathers," Pavone said. "Some are choosing the sleek Asian look while others still like French Country and want furniture legs on their islands and oven hoods that look like pieces of art."
Built-in dishwasher drawers, refrigerator drawers, steamers and even pot fillers that allow you to fill a large pasta pot with water right at the stove top are luxuries that those who can afford them often choose no matter what their design taste might be.
The last place that gets much homeowner attention these days is the bathroom -- particularly the master bath.
"People are turning their baths into spas and places to de-stress with heated floors, steamer showers, showers with body sprays and so forth," Pavone said.
The Bradford and Kent showroom is located at 807 Ogden Ave., Downers Grove. It features vignettes showing samples of what they can do to transform a kitchen, bath, family room or even an exterior. There is also an area that allows a customer to make selections of everything from granite countertops to faucets to exterior siding.
Pavone and Quigley, along with their entire staff at Bradford and Kent, will celebrate the firm's 25th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, with special one-day savings, as well as with refreshments, designer presentations, product demonstrations and even information on loan programming by local banks.
For more information on Bradford and Kent, visit www.bradfordandkent.com or call (630) 969-8585.