If you’ve lived in your house for a while, chances are you have some home improvement projects you’d like to tackle — and with the equity you’ve built in your house, now might be a great time to open a home equity line of credit. If a HELOC is in your future, this blog post is for you: We chatted with Luis Hong of Shaddai Company, a Lincoln-based general contractor to pick his brain about what kinds of home improvement projects his local customers are gravitating toward. Luis has been wielding a hammer for decades, spending plenty of time on construction sites with his father since childhood. Enjoy our interview with a local small business owner who’s working hard to make a name for his construction company.
UBT: Tell me about your business, yourself, and how you got started in the construction industry.
HONG: Yes! For sure. Boy, where do I start? We are a small construction company here in Lincoln, Nebraska. We got started in 2018. It feels like a long time ago, but it was just around the corner, you know? Starting your own business is not easy. We’re working hard every day to make a name for ourselves, to get people to believe in us, and to trust our services. Thankfully, everyone here at Shaddai has the same vision of trying to make a good name for ourselves by working hard and doing quality work for our customers.
UBT: Awesome! I assume you had worked in construction for a while before starting your own company.
HONG: Correct. I started as a carpenter for a small contractor, learned my way around it, went to school for construction management, and had about five years of experience. But it’s something I’ve actually been doing since I was a kid. My dad has worked in construction his entire life, and as a kid, I would go out every summer and help my pops on the job. So, working with tools on a construction site was nothing new to me as an adult.
UBT: Getting started with your own company, how did that happen?
HONG: I knew when I was first starting out that it takes a lot to start a company, so I did a small loan through UBT for working capital. I met Steph in Small Business during that time, and she helped me figure out what I needed to make it work. A little back story: When I was starting the business, it was a struggle. I was putting in bids for a lot of jobs and wasn’t getting any bites, so I actually went to work for UBT for about a year while I worked to launch the business.
UBT: That’s fantastic! Where did you work for us?
HONG: I was a teller at the Fallbrook branch.
UBT: Great! Then you definitely have a long-standing connection to UBT.
HONG: Yes! It’s a great place to work and a great place to do business.
UBT: We agree. Circling back to construction, what services do you provide to homeowners?
HONG: We’re a general contractor, but the four main services we offer are drywall, framing, carpentry, and flooring. We can do a lot more than just that, but those are the main four.
UBT: What are the most popular choices in home improvement products for your customers?
HONG: The most popular choice in home improvement right now is kitchen remodels. The kitchen is the heart of the home and that’s why right now it’s one of the most popular projects. And right behind that is remodeling bathrooms.
UBT: And as far as return on investment, they’re both great bets for building equity and increasing resale value too.
HONG: Updating a kitchen or bath can definitely increase the resale value of the home, and since people spend so much time in the kitchen, it can really change the overall feel of a home too. A well-done kitchen can really light up a place. You know, when people are looking at a home to buy, a great kitchen can really make a difference to a homebuyer on whether they want to buy the house or not.
UBT: When someone is looking to renovate a kitchen or bathroom, what questions do they need to ask themselves before moving forward with those projects?
HONG: The questions I usually like to ask my clients are “What is your main goal?” and then “How long do you plan on staying in this home?” Then the most important question comes up: “What is your budget?” Do they have a realistic budget so that they can really get what they envision for the home? Remodeling and renovation can make your home more enjoyable. You feel proud of your home, and it feels like you’re living in a new house when the project is completed.
UBT: Do you know how most homeowners fund these projects?
HONG: We don’t talk financing a lot with clients, but many customers mention HELOCs as their funding source for their home improvement projects. They’re easy to use and you can use the equity you already have.
UBT: What are some dos and don’ts of moving forward with home improvement projects?
HONG: One of the dos would be to shop around for the right contractor. A lot of homeowners seem to try the cheaper route and then have regrets that things aren’t done right. A don’t for home improvement would be: Don’t underestimate the cost. To do things right, you might have to pay more and hire a contractor who charges more but does quality work that lasts.
UBT: That’s great advice. What else would you like to share?
HONG: As a contractor, I always recommend doing your research. Do research on what you want done and on who you might be hiring. For return on investment, putting the right money into the right contractor might cost more at the time, but it’s also going to give you more return on your investment. And you don’t have to hire someone else to fix things that aren’t done right! Ask for referrals and check out their work to make sure you’re talking to the right crew.
For more information on Shaddai Company, visit their website or follow their Facebook account. And if you’re looking at home improvement projects and want to explore financing, our Consumer Loans team can discuss all your options — from HELOCs to Ready Loans and everything in between. They’re happy to help answer any questions you may have, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
Loan products subject to credit approval.
Learning Center articles, guides, blogs, podcasts, and videos are for informational purposes only and are not an advertisement for a product or service. The accuracy and completeness is not guaranteed and does not constitute legal or tax advice. Please consult with your own tax, legal, and financial advisors.