How to Handle Remodeling Contingencies – part two

By administrator On May 29th, 2009

As a homeowner it is your responsibility to be aware of how job responsibilities are delineated; you should know who you are communicating with. Breaking down responsibilities and establishing roles is key to ensuring a smooth remodel job. If clear roles are not established there will be communication gaps between the contractor, architect, and appliance supplier.

Whether it is connecting the dishwasher to the plumbing, or the ducting for the hood over the cooking range, moving the stove and the electrical outlet, repair and repainting work after cabinet removal, or any such issue… read and learn and apply the learning to your own situation.

Keep some money separate for contingencies; this is particularly relevant for old homes where tear-outs may reveal old wiring and worn-out plumbing. Unexpected costs are a reality of the remodeling experience and you need to factor it into your remodeling budget. Also factor in the time required for the unexpected repairs. You may have to bring the wiring and plumbing to match with local building code. If such work is done, the installation people will probably be required to schedule a visit from a building inspector to ensure that the work done is up to code.

A step-by-step kitchen remodel will proceed thus – first the water is turned off and the sink is removed; this is followed by counters and cabinets. Flooring comes out last. Install the base cabinets before you begin to fabricate the countertops. The sink gets installed after the countertops have been installed.

Let the installers work and do not interfere while they are at it. Keep children away from the work site. Maintain a record of work and tick what gets completed. You do not have to go about the entire remodeling at one go; it can be a strain on your lifestyle and budget. Instead do it in phases. Importantly when you remodel, focus on remodeling work that adds to the worth of your property so that if you wish to sell it, the property can command a good price.

How to Handle Remodeling Contingencies – part one

By administrator On May 28th, 2009

Remodeling can be successful only if you plan; your objective has to be to get as many remodeling activities right the first time round itself; doing anything again means additional cost. Read from as many good resources as you can, this article offers valuable guidance on what you need to do so that you can meet your remodeling challenges head on without much fuss and fluster.

The first thing is to have a floor plan ready wherein you detail the work to be done; the furniture to be moved, etc. And while you’re having time before work begins you can utilize it to get rid of unwanted stuff from the cabinets. Prepare cardboard boxes and containers for storing stuff that will be used again. Label the containers; do these things as it will help you with moving material around the house and also rearrange the tings once the remodeling is complete.

Plan what you want to do with stuff that you have discarded, you can hold a garage sale or donate it to charity; get it out of your house fast so that you have space for the new things and room to move about. For some of the old appliances you could check if there is any exchange scheme going on with the appliance dealer. Ask your remodeler if he will take care of the disposal.

You will need to cover doors, windows, and walls with plastic sheeting to protect them from dust, grime, and scratches during the remodeling work. Again, some remodelers may include this service in their job and some will expect you to do it. This is particularly important if people in your family are allergic to dust.

Another useful thought is to prepare cooking space away from the kitchen for the time it will be under remodeling work. You could also start gathering coupons and look up deals in your favorite restaurants so that you can save on the eating out expenditure. For cooking at home, keep paper plates handy, it’s a good idea to microwave stuff as it is fast and easy. Maybe you could do some grilling in the backyard – have a picnic when you can. Stock on canned ingredients and juices. Do not start dismantling your kitchen unless you are all ready to being remodeling. If you do so and work gets delayed you will needlessly be stuck with a non-functional kitchen for days on end. Even when you do decide to tear a kitchen or any other room down, do it in stages, do not strip all of it in one go.

Remodel Planning for a Small House

By administrator On May 25th, 2009

A small well-planned kitchen is often preferable to a large one in which stuff is scattered and the workstations are far from one another. Kitchens need special attention because they need more money to develop. You can use creativity, for example use the soffits above the cabinets can be used for storage of items not used often. If space is a constraint, you need to adjust. You can add laundry equipment to the kitchen area and even a shower in one corner to save on bathroom space. Just a thought, it may work for some. It can actually help lower plumbing intricacy and costs.

A separate dining room may no longer be feasible for most families. You should try and incorporate dining space into the living area or the kitchen; maybe a folding table can do the job for a family of three. Or you can have a dining room double up as a guest room or childrens’ study.

Furniture arrangement is an important factor in allotting space in a room and also to regulate the traffic direction and flow. The living room should be such that adults and children can have their own space at the same time.

If you make good use of the walls for storage, you can save on space that would otherwise be used for dressers and storage units. This can give you space for slightly larger beds or more aisle way for movement. Keep in mind that if you think from a perspective of being tidy and uncluttered, it will help you in designing a home for small spaces.

When remodeling a small house, you should be aware of those remodels that can help raise resale costs. You can save money by doing some remodeling yourself. See what you can do to make the space appear roomier, lighting is one way – natural or artificial either will work. Have south-facing windows to get more heat during the winter months. Consider a sliding glass door instead of a wall to increase natural light into a room and also to extend activities outdoors. Whatever changes you make, check if they can cause any problems to the structure, consult an architect.

Bathroom windows can be high up to free wall-space; it adds to privacy and also helps increase the amount of light coming into the room. If you’re installing skylights make sure these are burglar proof. A great way to increase space is to knock down walls but before doing so check if the wall is an essential support wall necessary for structural integrity. You could also remove the flat ceiling to expose the rafters and maybe add an attic.

Living Considerations for Small Houses

By administrator On May 25th, 2009

The real estate situation in the US today is not like the old times; price pressures mean that home sizes are growing smaller by the day. High interest rates mean that you cannot really hope to invest in big homes that require maintenance, may also require a lot of time and effort for remodeling, if you ever decide on it. Now-a-days families are considering compact houses and even mobile homes that range from 500 sq feet to 1200 sq feet.

Those that live in small homes and those aspiring to move into compact housing know that the key to successful living in small houses is organization. Developing a small residential space should be such that there are designated areas for activities; all the stuff should not happen at the same place. You have to learn to store and keep only the stuff that you need; you cannot afford to live in an unorganized manner in a constrained living space. Closets and cabinets should be built such that they make best use of the wall-space. Not only the wall-space, you also need to manage the floor space such that the room does not get unnecessarily cluttered. Those living in confined spaces need to respect one another’s personal area. Another idea is to purchase multipurpose items so that they can save on space. House decoration should be kept simple so that you get a balance between esthetics and livability.

A little research on the Internet will show you how to make the best use of every inch of living space available to you. This will help you in distinguishing a poorly designed home from a well-designed one. Privacy and ease of use are key features. Even something like grills on the windows can be used for storage. Large windows give the impression of roominess.

When developing a house, avoid extra-wide doors, deep closets, and anything that could take away from the appearance of the house. Since privacy is often a consideration with small dwellings, you could consider using sound-absorbent material for the partitions. A cardinal rule for small spaces is that traffic should flow from the corners of the room and not the center. Place glass on south side to catch the winter sun and ensure energy efficiency.

Gutter Home Truths

By administrator On May 18th, 2009

As with any aspect of home remodeling and home improvement; there’s a lot of information available on gutters. There are different types of gutters made of different materials costing different amounts suitable for roofing of different types. Gutters may not appear very appealing but their functionality and usefulness is undisputed.

Gutters divert rainwater away from a house and its components. Gutters protect the walls, foundations, siding, and electrical wiring of a house. A roof without gutters can cause serious structural damage to a house in the rainy season. Most superstores sell easy-to-install vinyl and plastic gutters. However these gutters require to be installed with the correct pitch. Also they are not the best equipped to manage heavy rains that call for speedy drainage.

It’s a good idea to confer with neighbors with houses like your own so that you can find out if they are satisfied with the gutters they are using. Installing gutters is an investment and you want to get the best out of your investment.

Wood gutters – These gutters are almost gone from the market – used only in restoration work. They are also on the expensive side of the price spectrum, costing as much as $20/linear foot.

Aluminum gutters are cheap and can hold a greater volume of water. If considering these gutters ensure that you choose thick aluminum. Recycled aluminum may cost less but the gauge is thin and this may make it lose shape when a ladder presses against it or when it battered by rains. It can dent easily.

Vinyl and plastic gutters are ideal for Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts. They are easy to install but can crack when winters are harsh. They also require regular maintenance or they start leaking at the seams. You don’t require any great skills or special tools to install plastic gutters. With a ladder, hacksaw, drill, screws, and tape measure you will be able to install plastic gutters on a roof. See if you can direct the water from the gutters at a point which has a natural slope; this will prevent soil erosion. The edge of the roof should fall over the middle of the gutter so that it is easy to catch water from the gutter. Vinyl gutters are available in 10-foot sections so you need to first be aware of the total roof area that needs a gutter.

Home Improvement Home Truths – part three

By administrator On May 6th, 2009

The crunch test for you is when you decide to hire a contractor. You have to be ready with questions and counter-questions. Do your research; know the most likely fibs and wishy-washy evasive answers that the not-so-honest contractors are apt to give. These questions come at different stages of your screening process. In the beginning of your screening process you can select or reject contractors based on some simple questions – remember that these are recurring questions that you need to ask at all stages of your screening process. Finally you could be down to five contractors, then three and then you may have to select one or two out of these.

Check for how long the company has been in business. Has it always been doing business under the same name? The remodeler should be registered and licensed with the state. This is something you can find out even by visiting his website if he has one. A word of suggestion on websites, stay clear from websites that have a shoddy design; too-good-to-be-real testimonials and no clear FAQs. The remodeler should confirm to the licensing requirements of your locality.

The contractor’s license should confirm to the requirements of your local building department and also be current. You are within your rights if you ask to see the contractor’s license. How many projects like yours has he done in the recent past? Can he give references? These questions will help you find out how familiar the contractor is with the kind of project you have in mind. You may also go and visit jobs in progress to get an idea of how he works; finished projects do not give an idea of a contractor’s working style.

Most localities will require that you get a permit for the remodeling job, ask the prospective contractor if he can get the permits for you; it is his job in fact to get the permits ready. If he asks you to get the permits, strike his name off the list. Usually unlicensed and unregistered contractors avoid getting permits. If the contractor is using sub-contractors then see that those guys are insured and that the insurance is current. They should also have the required licenses. Ask the subcontractors if the contractor pays them promptly.

Home Improvement Home Truths – part two

By administrator On May 5th, 2009

It’s important for your money’s worth and your peace of mind that you don’t get stuck with an unscrupulous contractor who takes you on a frustrating ride. Be wary of contractors that solicit customers aggressively and actually ring your bell asking you if you need their services. Contractors are not door-to-door salespeople. You can say that the contractor is a rip-off agent if he offers you discounts for getting other customers. It’s not normal for contractors to offer affiliate propositions when asking for business. Home remodeling contractors advertise in yellow pages, telephone directories, websites, cable TV, newspapers, etc. All these are legit channels of advertising. If he says he’s got materials left over from a previous job, be aware that something is not right. Back off if the guy says he works only with cash payments. Usually these guys know the rules about getting the building permits, if he asks you to get the permits it means he’s probably on the wrong side of the law.

If his business name and number are not listed in a telephone directory, it should raise your suspicions. Stop conversations with him immediately. You can check with the Better Business Bureau if these guys are registered there and if they are do they have a good record.

In any situation don’t let them pressure you into making an immediate decision and ask him what he means when he says that your project will be a “demonstration”. Does it mean that he doesn’t have the background and information to carry out a home improvement project as you want it? A rip-off guy will hunt for gullible customers by offering extra-long guarantees and try to squeeze the entire payment upfront. If you fall for a guy like this, you probably deserve it. All your danger signals and bells should start buzzing if the guy suggests that you could borrow at cheap rates from a lender he knows. You could actually sign your house away to a home improvement scamster.

Consumer protection officials can always tell you if a contractor has any cases pending against him. If a contractor has been in the business for a sufficient period of time then he would have been careful of his reputation. Keep in mind that a lack of record of previous complaints does not mean that there have been no previous complaints.

Home Improvement Home Truths – part one

By administrator On May 1st, 2009

It’s a known home improvement home truth that two important factors for the success of a home remodeling project are having the finances ready and finding the right contractor to do the job for you within your budget.

The success of your home improvement project depends upon the competency of your contractor. The reason why you need to be very careful in initiating a home improvement project is because your home is a very important financial asset for you. The first thing in screening contractors is to get references. Ask your references about the value the contractors will give you for the money spent. Will they subcontract the work? Will they help you get the necessary permits? Will they stay on the job till the end? Are they offering discounts? The more prepared you are with the questions, the better are your chances of getting a good job done.

Get estimates in writing, compare them; ask questions about the variations in price. A lowest bid may be attractive but does it give you the kind of service you want or will it leave you in the lurch. Does the contractor cover injury expenses to his workers while on job? Be open to work with more than one home improvement professional and contractor. This depends upon the scale and nature of your remodeling project. A general contractor is a guy who will work on all aspects of your remodeling. He will look after the hiring and supervising of subcontractors, get the inspections done and obtain building permits. General contractors have the necessary skill and experience to co-ordinate with architects and designers.

You may wish to work with specialty contractors to have your cabinets and bath fixtures. If the remodel involves major design and structural changes, you could consider an architect. Designers usually have specific areas of expertise such as kitchens, baths, lawns, etc. If you wish to work with just one firm you should check with design / build contractors that offer a one-stop service from start to finish. Some companies have architects on their staff while others use consultants.

So here you are…some ideas for you to consider when deciding to select a home improvement contractor. In the next piece we discuss how not to get ripped off when going for a home improvement job.