A kitchen is illuminated by relocating windows.
mansion's turn-of-the-century bathroom becomes a spacious spa retreat.
Family Room Remodel
Expanded family room and kitchen incorporates green building techniques.
you remodel: 10 quick tips
Thinking of remodeling? You won’t
find a better time than the present. The downturn in the housing market
makes this a great time to invest in improving your home. Designers
and builders are available to move quickly on projects—assuring
a lovelier home for you and increased value if ever you opt to sell. As you
envision your project, keep these ideas in mind:
- Consider a full-service building and remodeling firm.
It's the best way to assure that your building or remodeling project is handled
creatively and smoothly from start to finish.
- Depend on architects/designers to help bring your dreams to life. Indispensible
members of the remodeling team, designers can offer insights and solutions
that may not occur to homeowners or other experts. They’re adept at
creating plans focused on optimal “livability,” attractive materials
and reasonable cost. And, most design professionals have great connections
to reputable contractors.
- Select a contractor sooner, not later. It’s often
helpful to involve representatives of the major trades in the design process.
They can identify opportunities to improve the final product and reduce cost.
- Start asking questions early about costs. It’s essential
to work closely with your consultants to determine a realistic budget for
your project. Make sure to build in a contingency fund of 5-10% for new construction
and 10-15% for remodeling. These “cushions” are necessary to
cover unforeseen circumstances or last-minute plan changes. And it’s
often wise to ask a local realtor how the improvements you’re considering
will affect your home’s value.
- Agree upon a payment schedule. The project schedule provided
by your contractor is a good starting point for discussing the timing of
- Determine your home’s current condition. Doing so
will avert surprises and unexpected costs as the project proceeds. It’s
important to measure the building’s air leakage, insulation levels,
combustion safety, and mechanical systems—and to inspect its exterior
components (roofing, siding, etc.). Also check for the
presence of any hazardous materials.
- Try to make use of sustainable building practices. Consider
having your project certified through the Minnesota GreenStar or LEED programs.
It’s always smart to minimize your home’s use of energy and water—a
goal easily achieved by investing in efficient appliances.
- Consider using universal design principles—new but
simple strategies to make living in your home easier as you age. It only
makes sense to choose a design that can be modified as the needs of a home’s
inhabitants change. Building in “accessibility” makes your home
more welcoming to people with limited mobility and is another way
to broaden its sales appeal.
- Make sure your contractor provides all necessary legal documents—including
a written contract, workers-compensation insurance, proof of general liability
and a release of lien rights for all monies received. Don’t forget
to decide which party will be responsible for insuring the work in progress
(commonly called Builders Risk Insurance). Also, notify your insurance agent
to ensure your homeowner’s policy is up to date.
- Think ahead about logistics. If you’ll be living
in your home as it’s remodeled, discuss concerns about your comfort
and privacy—and about what you expect of workers. (What schedule
will they keep? How will they gain access to the worksite? To toilet
facilities?) And, don’t forget to consider the project’s
impact on your neighbors. It’s wise to agree up front on a plan for
minimizing the amount of noise, dust and other disruption produced by the
project. If a nearby neighbor is especially sensitive about the project,
give the contractor a head’s-up.
Managed thoughtfully, a home-remodeling project need not be a journey into
the Valley of Chaos. It can be an exciting adventure that brings people together
in pursuit of a vision. The completion date will arrive sooner than you think,
enhancing the lives of home-dwellers—and even of friends and neighbors
who come to call.
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||“I would love to build another house with J-Mar.”