Historic Carriage House turned Guest House Renovation


This historic carriage house, located behind our client’s main residence, was used during the 1940s-1950s as a servant’s house. The lower level of the building had three bedrooms to accommodate more than one servant or the servant’s family. The upper level of the house was a garage. After the 1950s the house was underutilized as a place to store musical instruments and equipment. Recently, the homeowners were inspired to create a true updated guest house to host guests for long term or the weekend.

The requirements for a historic house in Jefferson County do not demand the use of existing interior layout and materials. But even so, the homeowners wanted some of the original materials employed in the restoration of the home. In the demolition process, the entire floor was taken up and we found that the beams needed to be replaced. You can find some original floor beams repurposed into kitchen shelving in the house today. We refinished the existing doors and windows, and also kept the original counterweights, pulleys, and hardware.

The house was set up with three bedrooms, but we changed the layout to create a true guest house that is more comfortable for visitors. This updated floor plan includes one bedroom, one bathroom, and an open kitchen and living space to accommodate guests staying for a long period of time.

We were able to maintain the historical aspect of the exterior, and keep influences from historic Birmingham in the interior of this restoration and remodel of our client’s guest house. It is now a comfortable and homey place instead of a cluttered house with a limited floor plan.

If you own a historic house and are considering a remodel, contact ELM Construction today!

ELM Construction won several 2018 Alabama Remodeling Excellence Awards (AREA) for our recent projects. This competition is hosted by the HBA of Alabama Remodelers. It celebrates the best of remodeling craftsmanship, innovation, and attention to detail.

ELM is honored to be runner-up in the Historic Preservation category for this delightful Carriage House / Guest House renovation and remodel. For more photos of this project, you can visit our website.

Is It Better to Build Up or Build Out for a Home Addition?

If you have the desire to add onto your home, you are often experiencing the joys of an expanding family. Maybe you have young children and now are excited to welcome a newborn into your family. Perhaps you are planning for your college student to move back home after graduation. Or you could be preparing for your elderly parents to come live with you.

One of the questions we at ELM Construction are often asked by those considering an addition is, “which is the better choice when expanding my home: should we build up or build out?” It’s our opinion that there’s no real right or wrong in the “up vs. out” question. We think the decision has to be made on a case by case basis, and there are several factors that may come into play:

First, make a careful analysis of your home’s lot and how your home sits on the lot.

  • Discover whether it is conducive to add space onto the side or rear of your house.

  • If your house is close to the property lines or if the lot is severely sloped, it may be difficult to add onto the side or rear.

    • In this case, it makes more sense to look at staying within the existing footprint of the home and build up.

What to keep in mind when building out:

  • Will the extra space meet your needs and fit with the style of your home’s structure?

  • Are you willing to trade valuable yard space for the addition?

  • Adding onto a home requires new footings and foundations that can be quite expensive to install.

  • When excavating, there can be buried ‘surprises’ you may encounter—such as large rocks, natural springs, old septic systems, etc.

Consider these if building up makes more sense:

  • What is the purpose for the extra space?

    If you are looking to add a kitchen, it may not make a lot of sense to put it on the second floor.

  • As an alternative, it is possible to expand the existing kitchen into an adjacent room, such as a first floor bedroom. Then we could relocate the bedroom to the second floor.

It’s also important to research the following when deciding on a home addition:

  • Are there any height restrictions in your neighborhood? Many municipalities limit the heights of structures.

  • Removing or modifying your roof structure can be disruptive to your family. In most cases it will require your house to be empty during renovation.

  • Can your existing home’s structure support a second floor? Are the footings, foundations, and load bearing walls able to support the new load? This is best determined by consulting with an engineer, and that should be considered in your budget.

  • Where will the new stairs go? Do you have an area in the house that you can use for a stairwell?

  • Are there members of your family who cannot climb stairs due to disabilities? If so, you may need to install a residential elevator.

A home addition is a great option if you love your home and neighborhood, but you’re running out of space. Most often homeowners in the Birmingham area want to stay put in their home, but don’t see how to make it work.

Whether you’re looking to add on or reconfigure your home’s existing layout, we can work with you on answering all the above questions. By putting extra thought into the details early in our process, you can feel confident you have made the best decision regarding your remodeling project with very few, if any, surprises. Give us a call when you’re ready to go!

Creating an Outdoor Living Space for All Seasons


We are excited to share with you the details of this spectacular, award-winning screened porch project that won a 2018 Alabama Remodeling Excellence Awards (AREA) in the category of Outdoor Living.

This house had a simple small back deck with old patio furniture and a faded umbrella. The homeowners wanted a screened covered porch that could be used as a place to drink coffee and host guests outside without worrying about the weather or mosquitos. The original deck had begun to show a lot of moisture damage and some rot especially along the edges. It seemed much older and more worn than the rest of the house and it also didn’t match the house.

We could have easily done a deck replacement, but the homeowner wanted a true outdoor living space with protection from all the elements. This remodel needed to match the rest of the house in style. We wanted to make this new addition look like it had been a part of the house since the beginning, while also maintaining the feel of a true outdoor living space.

The deck was replaced and expanded so that more seats and an outdoor dining table could fit comfortably. The main supports and columns were a specific size and were spaced to a certain length, not just for structural support but also for style. The column size and spacing created an interior look while the size of the screen around the columns and framing still made it an outdoor area. The combination created an atmosphere that could be enjoyed during any season and for any occasion. These homeowners actually had Thanksgiving lunch on the outside patio just after completion.

See more photos of this project in our portfolio here.

ELM Construction Celebrates 10 Years: Our Anniversary Story


We at ELM Construction LLC are excited to announce the celebration of our company’s 10th anniversary in business!

There is no quick and easy formula for long-lasting success. Just ask Elliott Pike, our managing member who officially started this business on October 28, 2008. That was the same year our country’s economy was going under, and most people would say it was not a good time to start a business. However, Elliott was willing to begin small and persevere through the tough times. He is someone who likes to work with his hands, is quite the DIY’er, and has always been interested in construction projects. Therefore, he had a great desire to own his own remodeling business. 

ELM Construction is an acronym for Elliott’s wife, LeArden, and his two daughters, Emma Grace and Mary Laslie, who were very much involved in the growth of the company. For eight years, Elliott and LeArden moved the company office from one location to another as they grew. Starting with a folding table in a corner of their master bedroom, then moving to their daughter’s nursery, the garage, graduating to rental space in Hoover, and finally to our current location in Vestavia Hills. The process wasn’t entirely painless, but ELM Construction not only managed to survive—we flourished!

Today ELM Construction has evolved into a professional design/build remodeling company that specializes in kitchens, baths, home additions, basement renovations and custom homes. Our company serves Vestavia Hills, Homewood, Mountain Brook and the Birmingham Metro area. Our amazing team has the expertise to provide our clients with a tremendously satisfying process and the beautiful finished projects they desire. 

We are very thankful to our clients, employees, vendors and subcontractors for helping ELM reach this wonderful 10-year milestone! Based on the firm foundation of the past 10 years and the current strength of our company, the ELM Construction team is moving forward with great expectations for future success. 

Above Left: Elliott and LeArden serving lunch to volunteers at a Habitat Build in 2010. The little red head toddling around in the background is their youngest daughter who was about two years old at the time. Last April she turned ten!

Above Right: Elliott with his family who are the inspiration for the ELM acronym: LeArden, Emma Grace, and Mary Laslie.

ELM Construction and Elliott Pike’s Achievements in the past 10 years:


• 2018 Remodeler of the Year by the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders

• 2018 2nd Vice President Board of Directors of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders

• Past President of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council

• 2018 Home Builders Association of Alabama Remodelers Chairperson

• 2018 Serving on Board of Directors of the National Association of Home Builders—Remodelers

• Current Member National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)


• Master Remodeler

• Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR)

• Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS)

• Alabama Accredited Lead-Based Paint Renovator


• January 2016 National Association of Home Builders Remodeler of the Month

• Alabama Remodeling Excellence Award Winner 2014, 2015, 2018

• 2014 Home Builders Association of Alabama Remodeler of the Year

• Best of HOUZZ 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

• 2012 Professional Remodeler 40 Under 40

You May Regret Renovating To An Open Concept...

Open Floorplan.jpg

I recently read an article from Readers Digest (yes.. Readers Digest is still around!) about renovations that you are likely to regret later.  It was fairly accurate (I thought), including the first one on the list "Creating a Great Room."  My wife and I created a great room when we remodeled our house 10 years ago and yes, there are many times we regretted it.  

"While the room may be very large, it doesn't offer many options: It leaves the family with only one room to relax in, any mess is immediately visible and remains that way until tidied, there is no table where you can relax and enjoy a meal, and sometimes you don't want to hear whatever the kids are watching on TV,"  says Michele Morrison, a realtor in the Greater Bay Area of California.

Yep... she's nailed it.  When we "opened up" our living space (turned three separate rooms into one really big room), we rearranged our furniture a hundred times before we finally settled on a layout.  When it was said and done, we found we used the spaces the same as before, just no walls between the rooms.  Granted, the open floor plan was great when we had parties or a bunch of family members over.  But if I wanted to watch a football game or a movie and the rest of the family wanted to make a batch of homemade cookies, it was TV volume vs stand mixer (the mixer usually won). 

With hindsight, would I have done things differently?  Maybe.  But we did not have a lot of options with our old layout.  And with growing kids, it was nice to be able to be working in the kitchen and keep an eye on the activities of everyone without having to stick our heads around a wall to peek.

I think we are starting to see the trend move away from the full blown "open concept" to more of a large kitchen with maybe a keeping area and then a separate living space or den.  Not so sure that formal livings will be coming back anytime soon for your average home owner either.