Home Improvements Can Happen During Social Distancing

Learn what's possible and where to start.

After staying close to home for so many months, it’s clear which repairs and improvements are needed around the home, but it can be hard to know where to begin. Experienced master craftsman, Mark Masser of Wilderworks, the newly launched home improvements division of Anthony Wilder Design/Build, explains what services his team provides and offers tips for deciding which projects to tackle first and which ones can wait.

Projects include everything from window replacement to installing a bird feeder

1 Give us a quick rundown of the types of projects Wilderworks does and what the most frequent requests are.

As far as what we can do, the list is long – from upgrades, maintenance and repairs, to ‘pull and replace’ remodeling projects- and we pride ourselves on finding solutions to almost any item on our client’s to-do list. A former client called us to help install a Ring Video Doorbell and we were happy to assist. In general, we are seeing more exterior projects while social distancing is the new norm. Recently we received a call from a DC resident who wanted to create a safe and functional backyard for his two-year-old since they can’t go to the park right now. The existing yard is full of overgrown plants and there is no place to play. So, we are going to remove the plants and add sod to create a flat play surface for their toddler. We are also working with two nearby neighbors who both want to remove decks that are 18 inches off the ground and replace them with patios so they are ready for the summer.

2 Is there a general rule for prioritizing projects during these times of social distancing?

The exterior should be protected and maintained before we move inside. That’s why now is a great time to get those outdoor projects taken care of while we’re social distancing.

Now that Spring is here, outdoor firepits and grilling areas are a popular request

3 Explain how you have prioritized work on a recent project.

We have a client in Washington, DC who has a long wish list, including updating landscaping and decking, remodeling a bathroom, replacing the roof and windows and shutters, painting, and more. Because the homeowner wants to do the project in phases, we assessed what’s most important to complete first and what can wait. We generally start outside, and from the top of a home, so a new roof comes first, followed by replacing the facia boards. Because the weather is getting nicer, the backyard renovations move up in order, particularly the deck replacement so the family can enjoy their yard for the whole season. A long-term landscaping plan is underway as well. The window restoration is on hold because it’s costly and could be done at any time. So, it comes down to what makes the most sense to complete first- and in what order- and what can wait.

For this client, we repaired their gate, installed house numbers and painted the exterior

4 In this time of social distancing, how is Wilderworks conducting business?

Safety is key. In today’s climate, we offer various options for homeowners. We start by talking over the phone and with owner approval, we go look at the home. Whether it is an exterior or interior project, we follow all safety guidelines, such as wearing masks, gloves, and keeping at least six feet apart. During construction, we follow the same guidelines, plus we have portable wash stations at job sites and we are checking temperatures to be sure no one is sick before entering a home. Protecting everyone is our top priority. We also have the option of conducting virtual meetings with homeowners, enabling them to share photos of their house and discuss work they want done. For each individual situation, we evaluate what the safest, healthiest, and best practices are for everyone involved.

5 Where do home improvement services end and design/build services begin?

Someone recently asked me what our ‘limit’ is at Wilderworks, as far as scope of work, and I said anything that does not require an architect. We remodel kitchens and bathrooms by pulling existing finishes and replacing them with the homeowner’s selections. We started working on a bathroom before the shelter in place orders were enacted where the owner selected everything and loved the process. Homeowners looking to do structural work that requires an architect, such as an addition, would use our design/build services.

Wilderworks clients do have the option of using Anthony Wilder architects on an hourly basis if minimal design input is required

6 What else do you want readers to know about Wilderworks?

We are available to discuss all of your home improvement needs, no matter how small or large. When you work with Wilderworks, you receive the same quality and expertise that Anthony Wilder is known for. We build trusted relationships with homeowners, and those relationships last for many years. Our clients are like family and we are here to help in any way we can.