Kitchen Damage is Repaired Professionally

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by a young man in need of a kitchen remodeler in Afton. He’d run into some trouble recently, as his kitchen had been damaged during a bad storm. A branch broke his window, letting in water and debris that damaged the cabinets and floors. He decided instead of simply replacing the damaged bits, he would hire a kitchen remodeler and renovate the whole room. We sent someone out for a free consultation to determine the scope of the project.

It turned out that most of the damage would be taken care of by removing the damaged pieces. The customer gave us some ideas on the design he was interested and we whipped up a plan for the project, including a cost estimate and timeline. The man hadn’t found another home remodeling contractor in his area that could compare, so he decided to go forward with our plan.

We began by removing the water-damaged floors and cabinets, and replacing the broken window. The man wanted the space to have a cabin-esque vibe, so we decided to go with wood floors, cabinets, and even countertops! We used wood that mimicked a crosscut of a tree trunk for the center island, which the customer loved. For the fixtures, we chose everything in a copper tone and found a deep, copper, basin sink to match.

Halfway through the project, the young man came to us with a question: would we be able to renovate his bathroom as well? We told him that we also have extensive experience as a bathroom remodeler, and got to work on a plan for the bathroom as well. We chose a dark tile for the floors, but otherwise kept with the wood theme, installing a wooden vanity with a dark copper sink built into the top.

With multiple projects going on, things could have gotten hectic and muddled, but it was easy for us to keep track of the entire process, as we coordinate all the work that is done for the remodel. It’s important for the success of our company and the satisfaction of our customers that we are aware of every detail to ensure the project stays on budget and on schedule.

When the work was finally done, we gave the customer a runthrough of any maintenance the remodel would need, so he knew how to take care of his new space. The young man was overjoyed with how the kitchen and bathroom turned out, and couldn’t wait to invite his mom over for dinner to show it all off.


First Time Homeowner Spruces Up Interior

We were recently contacted by a young teacher who had just purchased her first home. Though she loved the outside of the home, the inside left something to be desired. Everything was extremely outdated and definitely not her style, so she decided to hire a kitchen and bathroom remodeler in Lake Elmo to change all that. We sent someone out for a free consultation right away.

As a new teacher, she didn’t have a huge budget for a renovation project, so she knew going in she was only interested in doing a room or two at a time. We toured the house with her and discussed what she wanted and what was realistic given her budget and time frame. We decided to go with a plan that would utilize our company’s talents as a kitchen remodeler and bathroom remodeler. The plan would involve remodeling, you guessed it, her kitchen and main floor bathroom.

The customer was very firm on her design ideas for each space. The current decorating was very kitschy and colorful; the customer wanted something minimalist, ideally solely in black and white. For the kitchen, we began by demoing everything. We decided to go with a shiny, jet-black tile for the floor. The faucet, light fixtures and knobs were also a shiny black. The countertops were a polished, pure white stone that fit seamlessly into the pure white cabinets. The walls were also white to give the room any airy, spacious feel.

The plan for the bathroom followed a similar design. This time however, the floors were white, made with a matte, white tile. The cabinets and countertops were also white, matching those of the kitchen. The sink we chose was a vessel sink made from a transparent black glass that popped against the cabinets. Finally, we decided on a toilet made from black porcelain and black fixtures for the rest of the space to match.

The final project was drastic change from the original vibrant decorating, but it was exactly what the young teacher wanted. We gave her information on the renovations to ensure everything was maintained properly. The customer loved what we’d done so far and promised to contact us in the future once she’d saved up more money. She was already dreaming of her basement remodeling and all the other projects for which she could hire us as a home remodeling contractor.

Renovation for Leasing Purposes

We were recently contacted by a young couple looking for a basement remodeler in Woodbury able to take on a large project to convert some under-utilized space in their home. The couple wanted to renovate their currently-unfinished basement and turn it into an apartment they could rent out for some extra cash. We felt our company would be perfect for this basement remodeling job, so we sent someone out to do a consultation right away.

The couple was looking for two key elements in their remodel: a stylish, modern kitchen with hardwood floors and a bathroom with a relaxing, spa-like feel. Beyond that, they were open to any ideas we had. With our lengthy experience as both a kitchen remodeler and a bathroom remodeler, we felt our company was up to the challenge of completing their key requests, as well as the rest of the project.

We provided the couple with a detailed plan for how we would renovate the space and actualize their vision for the apartment, should they hire us as their home remodeling contractor. The plan discussed the specifics for each aspect of the work and stated the estimated cost and timeline for the project. Once the couple reviewed the plan, they agreed to hire us and we got started.

We began by ensuring the basement was properly insulated, plumbed and wired, so everything behind-the-scenes was working correctly before we put up the drywall and installed the flooring. For the floors, we decided to go with hardwood floors in a medium walnut throughout the entire space, to provide a cohesive flow. For the walls, we chose paint in light, neutral colors to make each room appear brighter and larger.

In the kitchen, we installed dark cherry cabinets to contrast with the lighter floors and stainless steel appliances to provide a cool, sleek look. The countertops we chose were granite with flecks of brown, black and grey, and the backsplash was a dark grey tile installed in a diamond pattern. We decided to put in a center island to provide more cabinet and counter space.

The bathroom was the last aspect of the project. The couple selected a tan adobe stone for the floors and a smaller, blue and green tile for the shower. The countertops and cabinets matched the kitchen, using the same flecked granite and cherry wood.

When all the work was complete, we made sure to instruct the couple on how to maintain each aspect of the remodel to ensure their basement had a long and prosperous life. The couple was thrilled with the results and couldn’t wait to find tenants for their updated space. They promised to contact us with any future projects in their home.

A Labor of Love: Welcome Baby Biljan to the Great Northern Builders Nursery!

Great Northern Builders Biljan Baby Nursery

Photos courtesy of Heidi Torgerson Photography













A very special nursery remodel for a very special little one to the Great Northern Builders’ team. The Biljan Baby Nursery! Excited to share our latest special project. This renovation was very special to myself and everyone at Great Northern Builders. This was just a basic 13 ft x 13 ft room that was transformed into a Nursery. It was special because it was for my son, Camden Cole Biljan.

Thanks to all!!! 

– Chris Biljan, CEO of Great Northern Builders

Determine If You Need Home Repairs

How do you determine if it’s time to put on a new roof, install new windows or add new siding?

Consider these tips below:

Age of roof: The quality of your roofing system can determine when it’s the right time is to add a new roof. Some roof systems will not last more than 10 years before repairs are needed. Others can wear out much sooner. Others may have more wear and tear than normal based on past storms or previous damage that’s gone unnoticed. A field supervisor can inspect your roof and provide a free analysis.

“It always good to have a specialist walk your roof to make sure you do not have any missing shingles or damage to the shingles caused by wind or hail,” says Chris Biljan, owner of Great Northern Builders.

Draft coming through windows: If you feel air coming through your windows, it’s time to consider installing new windows. Especially when it comes to the cold Minnesota and Wisconsin winters – and even in the summer when the air conditioning is on. Drafty windows can drive up energy bills, costing you more money over time.

“Installing energy efficient windows lowers your energy bills because your heat is not leaking out in the winter and your cool air is not leaking out in the hot summer months,” says Biljan.

Benefits of new siding: Curb appeal. An old house can turn into the nicest in the neighborhood with new siding. A newer house can stay updated and looking sharp with new siding. But the benefits go beyond appearance. New siding can help secure your house and provide added water protection. Insulated siding can also reduce energy costs providing extra protection. There are a wide variety of siding options available, including vinyl, LP, cedar and hardie. A GNB field supervisor can discuss best options and prices during your free estimate.

Home improvement loans available: Remember, there are home improvement loans available through various counties throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Dakota County, for example, offer no interest home improvement loans to assist in these repairs. Every county is different and has different rules/qualifications so check with your local county office or on the county web site for more information.

Tax credits: There may be tax credits available for new roofing, siding and windows. Also, if you own a home office, these repairs may also help reduce taxes. Credits also change from year-to-year pending on new tax laws. This is not tax advice, just a suggestion to check with your accountant to see what is available.

Investment in property: By investing in your property it can raise the property value of your home. And it can save money over time by maintaining your homes.

When choosing a roofing, siding or window contractor be sure to get references and be sure they are registered with the Better Business Bureau and have a good reputation. Most of all, be sure they do what’s best for your situation.

“We’ll take the time to really listen to what you want and need to help make sure your project is done right and completed the way you expect,” says Biljan.

Call Great Northern Builders today for a free estimate.


Great Northern Builders: Biljan Baby Nursery Provides Woodland Feel with Nautical Elements

As the owner of a construction company, when I found out we were having our first child, I immediately began envisioning what type of nursery we would create. Read More→

Great Northern Builders Renovates Dream Gym for Fitness Entrepreneurs

It’s not unfair or unreasonable to say the majority of us at one point or another have become bored of our mundane, predictable gym experience in an effort to stay healthy and fit.

In an effort to offer fitness that is engaging and effective, entrepreneurs Robyn Widman, Brittany Widman, Drew Keller, Zach Zweig decided to launch their own Farrell’s eXtreme BodyShaping gym location. This is not just your ordinary “machines and weights” kind of gym. These entrepreneurial visionaries wanted a location that enhanced and played on the kickboxing-bodybuilding combination that their fitness program offers.
Read More→

Great Northern Builders Luxury Remodel of The Salon

Most people have grand visions for the business they would like to one day open, but few take the chance and really go for it. A little over one year ago, Jessica Johnson and her husband, Justin Johnson, decided to bring their dream of opening The Salon, a high end salon in Woodbury, Minnesota a reality. With 15+ years of experience in the industry, Jessica didn’t want to just create another cookie cutter salon in town. So they consulted with Great Northern Builders (GNB) when they decided to make their dream a reality.

“I wanted to create a progressive, upscale, boutique salon located in the heart of Woodbury that creates a unique client experience. An experience that is unforgettable and includes every detail to provide the utmost relaxation, renewal, and restored balance,” says Jessica Johnson, co-founder of The Salon.

1Inspired by Great Northern Builder’s work, Jessica and Justin met with Chris Biljan, founder of Great Northern Builders, last May to review the design and build of the new space that coincided with their vision of highlighting every detail to deliver a memorable customer experience. The space selected for The Salon was originally an orthodontic space, which needed to be gutted and completely redesigned.

“We chose Great Northern Builders to build The Salon after seeing the unique design work they’ve completed. They are very well known for their amazing reputation in craftsmanship. Their Atmosfere project in Minneapolis initially peaked our interest. It exudes a rustic yet chic look, integrates a beautiful usage of reclaimed barn wood and materials, and an elegant display of lighting and attention to detail.
Their team met with us several times prior to starting the project after we bought the space. They were right on point with listening to our ideas, had great suggestions on how to design and implement on our vision. They were able to really articulate our vision and were with us every step of the way in this build or renovation,” said Johnson.

Jessica and Justin knew they wanted their 2,300 square ft. space to have a rustic and modern feel that emanates comfort and luxury. Every detail of The Salon was crafted with this in mind. Great Northern Builders articulated that vision by determining type of reclaimed wood, placement, and made sure everywhere a client looked, there was something new to see.


One of the most unique aspects of The Salon is the re-inspired use of reclaimed wood throughout the salon. Great Northern Builders applied an original artistic display featuring the reclaimed wood in a vertical display versus the more commonly used horizontal display. Multiple depths and widths of the wood had to be milled in order to achieve this layered look. Great Northern Builders started with three different pre-selected widths and 3 varied thicknesses. Each piece was individually ripped, cut, and fitted to get the very unique, detailed, and layered look. The vertical application of the reclaimed wood is a design aspect that Great Northern Builders implemented to allow the customer to flow through the salon without realizing they are doing it, and redirects the eye to details such as ceiling height and ornate light fixtures. The 3-sided fireplace encased in the vertical reclaimed wood adds a warm and cozy touch.


“Working with Great Northern Builders and the finishing touches they implemented really helped us create that warm feeling, the unique experience from start to finish for our clients. The reclaimed wood feel was completely different in a vertical application vs. horizontal. It was such an artistic application, it wasn’t something they just slapped on the wall,” says Johnson.

Windows encompass 75% of the wall area on the south side, allowing natural lighting to cascade across the space, and is balanced by Minardi custom LED lighting that allows energy savings. The eco lighting has a number of benefits for both employees and customers, and provides the natural light balance to see the intricacies of the hair more clearly, while providing a relaxing environment to clients while they are in The Salon. The lighting is tied together by three breathtaking chandeliers to add a touch of luxury to the space.

The Salon includes 14 chairs and a full shampoo wall, relaxed lighting, soothing music, and even luxury faux fur blankets from Restoration Hardware with lumbar pillows to get cozy in as the customer is being shampooed. Clients also see the cozy fireplace while they’re being shampooed.

To the left of the shampoo area holds a treatment room for services such as massages and facials. In line with The Salon founders vision of a spectacular experience for clients, Great Northern Builders applied a carefully constructed sound barrier to this space by adding a special sound board in place of standard drywall or sheet rock. Mineral wool was added between the studs for additional soundproofing.

Between the shampoo space and treatment room lives a 9’ by 4’ wide sliding barn door hand selected by Great Northern Builders and the Johnsons. The door has a steampunk style and is a unique focal point upon entry, while also serving to separate the salon area from employee area. This door blocks the color wall, and can slide back and forth to display or encase this wall. This feature adds an unrivaled level of depth, dimension, and convention to the entire space.

5 4
Finishing touches to The Salon include polished concrete floors, and the plush, comfortable Belvedere furniture that adds the final touch of luxury to the client experience.

6“We really enjoy turning our client’s vision into reality. Creating and renovating these highly unique commercial spaces is truly a blast and a fun challenge,” said Chris Biljan, owner of Great Northern Builders.

The Salon celebrated its grand opening in February, 2016, and have had such an enthusiastic response from the community they plan to submit for the “Salon of the Year” award with Salon Today.

“Providing a unique, unforgettable experience to our clients is at the foremost of our business. It’s incredible to see our dream become a reality, and the space that Great Northern Builders designed completely exceeded our expectations. It’s a dream come true,” said Johnson.

With over 15 years of experience and an impeccable reputation, Great Northern Builders specializes in residential and commercial construction, renovation, remodels, and restoration throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin with expert crews, unrivaled customer service, and quality workmanship.

We turn your vision into a reality. Call us today at 651.455.9371 for a free consultation!

GNB Cares: Rich Hennen Memorial & Golf Tournament Sponsor

Great Northern Builders cares about our community.  We proudly support our community members and local philanthropic events. Oh, did we mention we like making really cool things that people enjoy? We had a blast designing and creating these handcrafted wine racks to donate to the 4th Annual Rich Hennen Memorial Silent Auction.

Great Northern Builders custom wine racks

Great Northern Builders custom wine racks









Great Northern Builders team at the 4th Annual Rich Hennen Memorial

Our team enjoyed the summer sunshine and teed off at the 4th Annual Rich Hennen Memorial Golf Tournament to raise monies for the charity.

Great Northern Builders team at the 4th Annual Rich Hennen Memorial Golf Tournament

Great Northern Builders team at the 4th Annual Rich Hennen Memorial Golf Tournament



Benefits of Remodeling and Renovating Your Home

Beyond just the personal joys of having an updated look and feel to your space, remodeling and renovations bring several other benefits to your home including a more functional and enjoyable use of your square footage, increased space, energy savings, increased property value and greater buyer interest when it comes time to sell.

Great Northern Builders | Remodeling ExpertsAt Great Northern Builders, we’ve helped many homeowners bring their visions to life through renovations and remodels of kitchens, patios, decks, bathrooms, windows, garages, additions, and outbuildings. We’ve learned how these projects add tremendous value to your home, and we are going to cover some of the key ways to add value to a space and the benefits you achieve as a homeowner.

According to HGTV, remodeling projects that yield the top returns this year include:

  • Bathroom remodel with an average return at resale of 102%
  • Kitchen remodel with an average return at resale of 98.5%
  • Vinyl siding, paint, and updated front entry with an average return at resale of 95.5%
  • Attic bedroom conversion with an average return at resale of 93.5%
  • Major bathroom remodel with an average return at resale of 93.2%
  • Deck, patio, or porch addition with an average return at resale of 90.3%
  • Basement remodel with an average return at resale of 90.1%
  • Window replacements with an average return at resale of 89.6%

Increase Property Values

There are many factors that go into the appeal of a home for a potential buyer. It really comes down to putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes and remembering what makes a home that much better when you are living in it. Let’s cover some of the important factors that buyers are looking for in today’s market, and then we will discuss trending remodeling projects that are yielding the highest returns.

Any real estate agent will tell you that the more spacious a place feels, the better. Having lots of natural light will sell more quickly than a space that feels dark and cramped. Remodeling projects that benefit smaller houses are those that open up the floor plan, and give a small space the illusion of a large living area. If taking out walls isn’t your thing, simply widening doorways can make a home feel more spacious. Replacing windows can also make a huge difference in the feel of a space. A popular renovation is replacing windows with French doors that open to the backyard, which provides more light and makes the room feel bigger and less cramped.

Great Northern Builders | Remodeling ExpertsCurbside Appeal: Doors, Windows, Siding, Garages

First impressions matter. It’s going to be really hard to get a buyer to consider your home when they don’t even want to step inside because the outside is dated and dreary. Replacing older features like the front door, windows, garage door and siding often yields much better returns in attracting buyers than other remodeling projects. Even adding shutters, a new driveway, or walkway to your home can also lead to great returns because it makes the home welcoming. Of course, don’t underestimate the appeal of attractive landscaping around your home.

Great Northern Builders | Deck Remodeling Experts

Outdoor Living: Decks and Patios

As we all know, being outside is very popular in Minnesota’s nicer months, so adding or renovating a deck or patio in the backyard will provide a great place for you to entertain friends or hang out you’re your family. It will also provide greater appeal to buyers down the road. According to HGTV, homeowners recoup 65%-90% of their investment by adding a deck or patio.

Great Northern Builders | Kitchen Remodeling Experts

Kitchen Remodels Provide Max Returns

Everyone gravitates towards the kitchen, and for that reason one of the best ways to add value to your home is through a kitchen update or remodel. Remember to add space, have plenty of counters and cabinet space, windows, and stainless-steel appliances for the best returns. If done correctly, kitchen remodels can yield close to 100% return on investment.

Commodes are a Commodity

Bathrooms are a hot commodity. According to HGTV, if your home only has one bathroom, you can recoup 80%-130% of your addition costs merely by adding a new bathroom. This is why both adding and updating bathrooms yields considerable value for your home. Half-baths can easily be created out of closet space for spaces with too few bathrooms. For those spaces with plenty of bathrooms, adding things like ceramic flooring, whirlpool tubs, and skylights can add great value to a home. Remember to keep the look consistent to your home’s theme.

Great Northern Builders | Basement Remodeling Experts

Reinvent Your Space: Additions and Renovations

If you have an attic or basement or spare room you’re not using fully, remodeling these spaces into bedrooms, entertainment areas, or home offices can yield great returns. Turning these parts of your home into usable space is always a win. Need more space for your toys? An additional garage can help you save indoor space by providing extra storage.

Reduce Energy Bills

Remodeling can help you save on energy bills. A good remodeler should help you integrate ways to save energy and provide recommendations to integrate cost-savings into your next project.

Great Northern Builders | Energy Star PartnerAccording to a joint study by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) Sentiment Tracking Study and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the top five energy upgrades are:

  • Added insulation in walls or attic (71%)
  • Insulating windows (66%)
  • High efficiency furnaces (59%)
  • Lighting (56%)
  • A/C units (50%)

Replacing old appliances with energy-efficient models is also a big energy saver that also increases your home’s appeal, should you decide to sell down the road. Energy Star rated appliances use less energy, save you money, and are better for the environment. Who wouldn’t be interested in that?

Great Northern Builders | Remodeling Experts

Hiring a Remodeler

If you decide to hire a contractor, shop around before you choose someone to work with. Make sure you get at least three quotes from the contractors you interview. Thoroughly check references for the contractors before you agree to a contract or work order. Look at their reviews, their testimonials, and their work performed. Be aware of home improvement repair scams.


Call the experts at Great Northern Builders at 651.455.9371 for a free estimate on your next project!

Great Northern Builders is a local leader in residential and commercial remodeling and restoration projects throughout the Twin Cities, Minnesota and Wisconsin. As a licensed general contractor, we can help you with any renovation or remodel project including kitchens, patios, decks, bathrooms, windows, garages, additions, and outbuildings. With a Better Business Bureau A+ rating, numerous happy customers, and rave reviews, we help you achieve your vision with expert crews, unrivaled customer service, and quality workmanship. Great Northern Builders is a proud member of the Builder’s Association of the Twin Cities, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Firm, and an Energy Star Partner.