Monthly Archives: January 2013

Overcoming the Challenges of Sloped Lots with Landscape Maintenance Services

With problems such as a leaky basement, soil erosion, bare patches and pooling water, a home on a sloped lot can seem like a curse. However, with the right design elements and regular landscape maintenance services, you can turn the curves of your sloped property into a thing of beauty.

Before You Begin

If you love DIY projects, you might be tempted to get started on your beautification project right away. Before your shovel hits the dirt, it’s a good idea to run your ideas by a landscaping contractor. After hearing your thoughts and taking the slope of your property into account, this professional can tell you about possible problems that could arise, like flooding or poor drainage. If you currently have problems because of a sloped lot, the contractor can tell you how to remedy the issue. Beautifying a sloped lot can take a lot of work, so it’s worth your while to make sure the work gets done correctly the first time.

Landscaping Ideas for a Sloped Yard

Retaining walls and terracing: As a multi-purpose solution to sloped land, retaining walls and terracing give you the opportunity to really enjoy your landscaping. Even with just one wall, you can eliminate part of a slope and have a flat surface for a garden bed or entertaining. Give your yard a multi-dimensional look by installing retaining walls on different levels. For example, use one tier for herbs, another for flowers, and include a bench at the bottom.

Working with nature: Gravity is always going to win when you have a sloped lot. Take advantage of this fact and plant water-loving trees, shrubs and flowers at the base of your slope. Better yet, have a landscaping contractor install a rain garden to catch water runoff after it rains.

Xeriscaping: Xeri means “dry.” When you xeriscape, you incorporate into your landscape design native plants that don’t require a lot of water. Such plants can include ornamental grasses and succulents. Mowing grass on a slope can be difficult and dangerous. By xeriscaping, you reduce your yard’s need for water, spend less time on lawn maintenance and don’t have to worry about the bald spot that always seems to form on the slope.

Ground covers: If you don’t have a green thumb but want to fill in the bare spots on your slope, consider planting ground covers. These types of lush plants don’t get tall; instead, they form a lush carpet that prevents weeds and soil erosion. As a bonus, when the ground cover blooms, the hit of color will take your breath away. Some good ground cover choices in the Northwest include pachysandra, vinca, kinnikinnick, or Asiatic jasmine. A landscape maintenance service provider can tell you which ground covers work best in your area.

Multi-tiered water feature: Be the envy of your neighborhood with a cascading water feature that empties into a pond at its base. Such an installation helps break up the monotony of a plain-looking slope, adds dimension to xeriscaping and adds interest to terracing. Because water features require pumps, digging and a lot of planning, work with a landscaping contractor to prevent catastrophic rookie mistakes.

Instead of seeing a sloped lot as space you can’t use, view it as an opportunity to achieve the creative landscape of your dreams.

Guest authored by Landscape East & West, an award winning full-service landscape and design company based in Portland, OR. Landscape East & West specializes in residential landscape maintenance services, from all-organic fertilizing and conscientious pruning to irrigation services and integrated pest management.

Why Can’t I See an Itemized Price Breakdown?

“How to Buy Remodeling” Blog Series – Part Two

Why Can’t I See an Itemized Price Breakdown?

“Can you give me an itemized price for this project: materials and labor for cabinets, countertops, flooring?  I want to make sure what is included in what I’m buying.”  We get that question a lot when we’re talking to clients.  And the answer is no.  The explanation is this: when you buy a project, like a kitchen remodeling or a bathroom remodeling, you’re buying a compilation of several tasks that are integrated together.  And together they make a package and the package is the price.  If you asked me “how much is the drywall?”, the drywall is going to be more expensive then if you asked “how much is the drywall with a bath remodel?”.  So line-iteming is just going to scare you about the individual prices, and it’s just not going to make any sense.  For example, the drywall in the bathroom might be $600, and you can say “okay I’ll take the drywall”.  Well if you only want the drywall, its $1,000.  So asking for an individual price, while it might seem logical, does not make sense when you are buying a package.  You’re getting 3 or 4 quotes and the total project price is what you’re looking for.

If you think about it in terms of buying a car, you never ask “how much is the axle?” or “how much is the steering wheel?” Imagine how much work it would take for them to figure that out.  In the pricing department before it gets to the sales department, sure, they have figured out the price of everything and they put it together into the car and they add overhead and they add profit.  And then they end up with a selling price that is on a sticker on the window.  That car costs $30,000.  Well where that $30,000 is allocated really doesn’t matter.  How much of its profit? How much is material? How much is labor?  Doesn’t really matter.  So the only reason anyone would ever want any useful report showing itemized materials, labors, overheads, markups, profits, would be for some other reason other than to buy the package.  You’re not buying just part of the package.

Now as a company selling remodeling projects, we’re glad to show you the breakdown, in general, of the cabinets, the countertops, the flooring, but we can’t give you material lists, and labor lists, as we are estimating these costs.  It hasn’t been sold yet; we don’t even know the costs.  Once the job is sold, we are going to purchase everything and find out what everything actually costs.  We can’t go through and figure that out to the dollar on every quote.  We only sell 4 out of 10 that we talk to, and we are talking to 30 or 40 people a week that want to know what their project costs.  So we take an estimate of what it has cost in the past, add some mark up for overhead, and some mark up for profit, and that’s our estimate to the customer.  So the kitchen is going to be, let’s say, $26,000.  We don’t even know how much is labor and material!  The company has provided to the salesperson a guideline to figure out what the price is going to be depending on certain factors. But to break it all down is just going to take hours and hours and there is no justification for the time it would take to do it.  It also doesn’t make sense why someone would need that broken down.  So, we don’t do it.

Why Does Remodeling Cost So Much?

“How to Buy Remodeling” Blog Series – Part One

 My bathroom is $25,000?! Why so much? The reason it costs so much is because there is $25,000 worth of work in the job.  If we want it to cost less, what we have to do is take out some of the items that we are including.  If you go grocery shopping and the bill is high, it’s because you bought more groceries.  If you want the bill to be lower, you have to buy less.  If you buy a car and it has features that you want, you’re going to pay more for those features (a back up camera or heated-seats, for example).  So in a bathroom if you wanted to buy a heated floor, it is going to cost more than a bathroom without a heated floor.  The price is related to the purchase quantity and quality of the products.

This is a comping image from Do not publish without acquiring a license from Acclaim Images. Image number: 0269-0606-0717-0803.

Most people do not buy a bathroom or kitchen nearly as often as they buy a car.  So people generally understand why cars cost what they cost, especially related to other cars.  Some cars are more expensive than others.  All cars take you to work, though.  When we talk about bathroom and kitchen remodeling, price is going to be reflective upon what is included.  More electrical, higher price.  More plumbing, higher price.  More expensive sink, etc.

Now if we are comparing proposals from one company to another and one seems to be $5,000 higher let’s say, the reason for that is most likely the salesperson’s interpretation of what you said you wanted coupled with his/her desire to get you to purchase better quality products so you won’t call back later and say there was a problem.

Some salespeople’s mentalities are more budget-oriented, while other salespeople’s mentalities are more quality-oriented (where the price ends up higher).  So depending on the personality of who you’re talking to, that person’s interpretation of what they think you should buy will be different.

My advice is to be more clear up front about your goals.  Do your research ahead of time, and be specific about what you want (and what you don’t want).  Then, the prices from the companies that you call in will be much closer together.  Then it is just a matter of deciding who you think you can have harmony with as a company-client relationship.  And it would be a good idea to visit their showroom, talk to some of their past customers, or just ask around – there are a lot of ways to find out about a company.  The Better Business Bureau, talk with the city hall about them getting permits, talk with the appliance suppliers , the cabinet supplier even.  Find out if they pay their bills – that will give you some idea of their business acumen along with the harmony that they have with their suppliers.  If they have good relationships, most likely it will end up to be a smooth-flowing job.

Kopke Remodeling & Design Earns Esteemed 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award

   Kopke Remodeling & Design Earns Esteemed 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Kopke Remodeling & Design has earned the service industry-coveted 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor awarded annually to approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.

“It’s a select group of companies rated on Angie’s List that can claim the exemplary customer service record of being a Super Service Award winner,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “Our standards for the Super Service Award are quite high. The fact that Kopke Remodeling & Design earned this recognition speaks volumes about its dedication providing great service to its customers.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2012 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, including earning a minimum number of reports, an excellent rating from their customers and abiding by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality. Members can find the 2012 Super Service Award logo next to company names in search results on

(586) 777-6633 Kopke Remodeling &Design

Angie’s List helps consumers have happy transactions with local service professionals in more than 550 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. More than 1.5 million paid households use Angie’s List to gain unlimited access to local ratings, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine, and the Angie’s List complaint resolution service.