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.

Simply Great Remodeling Tips – Two

By administrator On April 16th, 2009

If you are remodeling with the intention of selling the house in the near future, adding space can be a real temptation; but do a cost-benefit analysis because creating more space can be a real budget buster because you need to erect walls and a roof. You can see if your house construction lends itself to space reconfiguration in which you can borrow space from an adjacent room. An in-built wall closet can give space for the bathroom.

If you wish to expand outside the existing floorspace see that you stay within the roofline if possible, creating a new roofline can be expensive. Check if your present heating / cooling equipment will be able to accommodate the increase in space. If not you will incur additional costs in installing new air conditioners.

If you wish to change appliances in the kitchen or bathroom, choose energy-savers that will help lower your electricity bills. In the first place check if you actually need to change appliances at all, you can simply remodel around them and just let them be. Keep in mind that if you touch something like plumbing, gas lines, or electrical wiring, you could be in for major overhaul costs. Think multiple times before deciding upon working on these.

Here’s a neat tip – change faucets if you have to but if you wish to save then do not look beyond chrome; it is the least expensive one. Brass and porcelain faucets are terribly expensive. Also select faucets with replaceable parts so that you don’t have to replace the entire faucet if something goes wrong. Neutral colors for fixtures are less expensive, you are less liable to go wrong with them and should color trends change they won’t appear out of fashion.

Flooring is a vast area as far as remodeling is concerned; you can get lost in the choices offered. See that you ensure visual consistency in a room and moving from one room to the other. If you’re lucky your vinyl flooring may actually have a hardwood flooring underneath that is still serviceable and only needs some sanding and polishing. You can opt for floor leveler material to install new vinyl flooring, this way you will be saved the labor of tearing up the flooring.

Cabinets are another cost item; cabinet installation can often mean new flooring and new countertops. So give this one a thought, maybe you’re better off with some good cabinet refacing. Standard cabinetry without soffits costs less than custom cabinet designs.

Simply Great Remodeling Tips – One

By administrator On April 15th, 2009

You may an experienced hand at getting your home remodeled or this may be your first time; there’s always room for learning and picking up new ideas. So here are some super remodeling tips that are sure to save you dollars and give you a satisfying remodeling experience.

The key to saving money is to hire a contractor that knows his job. A contractor familiar with the building code of your area and your remodeling requirements is bound to save you time and money. You don’t want to end up reworking on remodels that do not meet building code.

After selecting the contractor get a proper contract written that spells out his responsibilities and the costs you incur. Also find out if the work is going to be subcontracted.

Plan the details ahead with the contractor as much as possible; this will prevent you from making hasty decisions later on. The choice of materials is perhaps the biggest contributor to costs, so shop accordingly. It is possible to achieve a given look with more than one material, so consider the inexpensive material.

Check if there’s any labor-intensive work that does not require much skill which you may wish to take on yourself as a DIY job. Laying of tiles is an example. You may wish to do the remodeling in stages to reduce costs. You can start small and keep adding to the remodel over intervals of time. But do some arithmetic first, you need to see if staging a remodel works out cheaper or getting it done in one go is less expensive. Getting everything done in one shot can get you discounts from the contractor as well as on materials.

Your contractor is a knowledgeable person who can help you make design and material choices so make use of his experience, involve him in the remodeling discussions.

A remodel does not have to be a major one to revitalize a room; a small paint job can make it more energetic. Think on these lines. If the walls are cosmetically damaged you can simply wallpaper them and save on repair costs. The same holds true with textured wall finishes, they can help mask minor damages. Try and avoid moving windows as this does not really help to save costs.

Home Remodeling Primer – Part Three

By administrator On March 25th, 2009

The amount that you’re willing to spend on home remodeling is a function of the actual value of your house. It has a direct influence on your decision to either remodel and stay or sell and move out. Ideally your remodel costs should not exceed 25% – 30% of the cost of your house. This is a general rule of thumb but may vary with neighborhood.

The value of your home can be calculated by taking into consideration the type of your house, construction, age of home, locality, market situation, and growth prospects for the locality. You can also check what homes similar to yours are selling for. This will give you an idea on what you can expect from a sale for a given amount of remodeling done.

If you decide to get your home renovated and apply for remodeling finance then you may have to first take the services of a professional appraiser before you can qualify for the loan. You are best placed to remodel and sell your home if you have 100% equity in it. If there are any mortgage costs that you are paying off then it may become a little difficult to avail loans as this directly impacts your borrowing potential.

The amount that you will have to spend on a remodel will vary with the area you live in, time of the year, and of course extent of remodel. Consider factors such as cost of labor as it can send your remodeling budget soaring.

The type of remodel is of course key. Adding a new wing or a garage is far more expensive than doing a kitchen remodel or an attic remodel. A home expansion is like building from scratch and you have to erect walls, add a roof, siding, insulation, electrical wiring, plumbing, etc. Break up the costs into cost of materials, labor, permit fees, enhancements, repairs made necessary by the remodeling, and cost of cleanup post remodeling.

Once you know that these are the factors to consider then you can evaluate contractors in a more objective manner. A contractor’s bid should include information on the cost of permit fees, labor costs and total hours of work required, any insurance costs, cost of material and equipment, unplanned and incidental costs, cleaning up costs, and if the contractor plans to subcontract then subcontractor fees.

Home Remodel Primer – Part Two

By administrator On March 24th, 2009

The first thing is to get the figures right. Prepare a budget. You also need to ensure that the money is being poured into a smart financial investment that will reap dividends. Factors to consider include the costs, any tax benefits that you can avail, funds with you, liquidity, etc.

A home improvement project that will give you a positive ROI has to more than just a paint job, changing the rugs, and adding window trims. You need to see where the returns are coming from. Do some market analysis, if it’s kitchen remodeling that you’re considering then see if it’s adding countertops or kitchen cabinets or new flooring that will get you good returns. The ROI that you get out of your remodeling expenses will depend upon your area, value of nearby real estate, and your choice of remodel. Also the timing of revaluation will make a big difference; the rule of thumb is that a home remodel works only if the economy is looking up and the real estate market is booming.

There’s no way you can predict which way the market will swing but you can study certain market indicators that will tell you if this is the right time to put valuable finances into home remodeling. If a residential neighborhood is going to have an industrial set up in the near future, it will impact home prices. Road constructions and zoning changes will impact traffic conditions. Your housing society or neighborhood should be properly secured; open areas invite development. The neighborhood should be close to the market and schools. The schools should be quality institutions. Other means of transportation should be available. A simple walk through the neighborhood should tell you if the mood is upbeat. If you see homes put up for sale, it means that the area is a viable place to deal in property.

Find out the kind of taxation that the area has to live with, what are the municipal amenities available, something like wireless internet hubs could be a big draw for certain individuals.
Loud noise, heavy traffic, pollution, and high crime stats are negatives you should consider in checking if your locality is good enough for you to embark on a home remodel.