Planning & Hiring
Plan ahead. By making your product selections ahead of time, you can avoid delays once your project has began.
Visit contractor's websites. A good remodeling contractor not only has a website, but ensures it is organized, well-maintained, and user friendly.
Check References. Ask each contractor for local references (recent projects) and find out if these customers were satisfied with the contractor's work.
Gauge the contractor's professional standards. First, find out if the contractor is a member of a professional organization, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which has standards or a code of ethics for remodelers. Next, contact your local BBB to find out how long each company you are considering has been in business (most unsuccessful companies go out of business within the first 5 years) and if they have any complaints against them. Also, ask the contractor if they are insured. Remodeling companies are required to have liability insurance, therefore if they don't, you know they aren't a legitimate business and likely won't do legitimate work. If they don't have a copy of their General Liability Insurance, call their insurance company to verify. In addition to being insured, it is important to check with your state, county or city housing authority to make sure the contractor is properly licensed and bonded.
*Be cautious when using cost as a determining factor.* It is extremely important to compare costs before making a financial commitment to any home improvement project. If you solicit more than 1 bid from prospective contractors you should discuss each one in detail with each contractor, making certain you understand the reasons for any variations in the prices. Do not automatically choose the lowest price. One contractors bid might be higher because they bid using a higher quality material or an installation method that ensures a higher quality and therefore more time. (A contractor could be the lowest bidder because he is taking shortcuts that will compromise your project and create additional work later, or he could be giving you a low-ball price to get the job and then once the project has started come up with a large number of "additions" that will add a significant amount to the final cost.)
Insist on a contract. The contract should include as many details as possible so you know the extent of the services your contractor is providing. Lack of detail in a contract can often be indicative of a contractor's intent to cut corners (why their bid is also often much lower in cost than others). Likewise, never pay a contractor for the entire job in advance. Most companies will ask for a deposit at the start of the job for materials, and then payments will be made as the job progresses for labor and any additional materials needed.
Communicate with your contractor. Your contractor is here to make YOUR dream a reality, but they can't do that without knowing what exactly you want. Let them know what you have in mind, and work together to reach that end. But communication is never one-sided, a good contractor will always keep you informed of progress and any variations from schedule.
Connect Spaces. Opening walls and hallways will not only create more livable spaces, by increasing the possibility of interaction, but will also make the spaces you have feel bigger than they are. Open floor plans increase the amount of light that emanates through the house as well as maximize the airflow through the house when windows and doors are open (effective cooling method- especially is the Southwest Metro area).
Maximize Storage. Take areas that feel like wasted space and utilize them to your advantage. Do you like to entertain? Add a bar. Do you have lots of clutter? Add some built-ins. Do you have a room that you hardly ever use? Open it up and add it to your living space.
*Some tips adapted from Chet Baker of Ezine Articles
Homeowners are spending more and more of their "leisure" time in their own homes, a term now known as "cocooning". The kitchen has become the "family room" where friends and family gather to socialize. With the current economy, more consumers are likewise warming up to the idea of cocooning, making it the perfect time to update the kitchen space. Homeowners want the spaces they spend the most time in to be the most comfortable, often also meaning the most up to date. When designing how to make your kitchen the most effective but also the most comfortable, keep the follow design tips in mind:
1. Taking out walls/adding islands
Breaking down interior walls can create an open floor plan between the kitchen and living room or kitchen and dining room. (For more benefits of open floor plans, see "Connect spaces" in Project Planning Tips). There is likewise the added benefit of extra square footage for entertaining. Islands are also a common trend considering they are an excellent places for entertaining and add additional storage.
2. Picking cabinets
A clean, simple, yet contemporary look will be a beneficial choice for homeowners looking to economize and eliminate unnecessary details that equate to high maintenance and complicated living. Mixing cabinet colors (i.e. dark wall cabinets and light island cabinets or vice versa) will be favorable to homeowners that want to spice up their living space and veer off the beaten path. Homeowners should also consider cashing in on the added benefits of specialty storage features and hidden cabinets including designs such as spice racks, lid drawers, wine coolers, trash compactors, etc.
3. Picking appliances
Current appliance trends include commercial-style ovens, in-cabinet microwaves and ovens, and gas or induction cooktops. While induction cooktops are beneficial because the pans heat faster and the cooktop itself doesn't feel hot to the touch, they do require special pans (how the induction heating works). Gas cooktops, on the other hand, are compatible with almost any pan type (copper pans works best with gas cooktops), but are hot to the touch and take slightly longer to boil your pot of water.
4. Choosing countertop material
While granite is still a fan favorite of many homeowners, many others are venturing off the beaten path and experimenting with more modern styles. One such style is quartz composite. Not only is it durable (though less durable than granite) and heat resistant (up to 535°F), there is also virtually no maintenance because of its smooth surface and nonporous nature. Another popular trend is concrete countertops. While they offer a chic new perspective on kitchen designs, there are some drawbacks that may make you reconsider. Not only is it the most expensive, is it also susceptible to stains and scratches and there is a possibility that the slab could crack.
5. Choosing a flooring material
Wood floors have taken the construction industry by storm. Whether it's hardwood floors, wood-looking tile, bamboo, or cork, wood floors are the in-trend of 2019. Pre-finished and engineered hardwood are likewise seeing an uptick in use due to the fact that they are durable, more economical, and are compatible with under-floor heating systems (perfect for our Colorado winters!).
6. Picking a backsplash
While backsplash's once served to protect kitchen walls from the food and filth that life throws at it, they now function as decorative wall pieces meant to accent the cabinets and countertops. This is great news for homeowners because there are now numerous different backsplash materials for homeowners to choose from. Glass has become an extremely popular choice, as has subway tile. There are likewise more options for how much backsplash to include. While most homeowners run it from the top of the countertop to the bottom of the cabinets, those looking for an even edgier look will run it to the ceiling.
7. Choosing a sink
Goodbye double-sinks, hello deep single-bowl sinks! While the possibilities for choosing a sink are virtually endless, homeowners are starting to want larger, deeper sinks to accommodate their larger cookware and dinnerware. While stainless steel sinks are still a popular option, more and more homeowners are choosing quartz composites for their great value and durability.
Regardless of motivational reasoning, bathroom renovations can go a long way towards making not only the bathroom, but your home overall, much more enjoyable and valuable. Trends have evolved from the age of excess. That being said, we aim to encourage people to be smart about the improvements they make, invest their money wisely into the things that will have a lasting influence on the value of their home, and create an elegant space without going over the top.
~Don't Forget to Budget~
Whenever you're taking on a remodeling project, it's important to remember that there is a good chance you'll go over budget.
Research costs upfront and add a cushion of 10 to 15 percent above projected expenses.
You can't think of everything, and unexpected expenses are bound to come up, but by adding this cushion you can save yourself potential financial headaches once the project is in progress.
Things to Consider:
1. Current Layout
While sticking to the existing layout will be easier, faster and often more cost-effective, sometimes changing the layout makes sense. If your current layout is awkward, not visually pleasing or otherwise frustrating to you, CHANGE IT. But, if your looking to save a few extra pennies, keeping the existing layout can avoid you the costs of having to move any plumbing or electrical.
If your home is more than 20+ years old, your vanity height is most likely 30 inches. While this height is great for small children, it's not very adult friendly. The standard is now 34 inches, which is much more suitable for the average 5 foot 10 inch man.
3. Is That Tub Necessary?
Homeowners have been told for years that a
5-piece bath was a necessity in a main bathroom. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. Homeowners now have the options to either put the tub where it best fits their needs, or get rid of the tub completely. In the current housing market, a shower is sufficient to consider it a full bath, meaning the resale value goes unaffected contrary to prior belief.
4. Water, Water & More Water
Today's showering experience has almost unlimited possibilities. Shower heads are only the first step. Additional features include body sprays, hand held's, and more. Additionally, you can upgrade your standard shower head to a rain head. Keep in mind, however, that any additional features will increase both your rough and trim plumbing costs, as well as your fixture costs.
For location, consider putting your standard shower head up higher on the wall if you're taller. Or, if you plan on having a bench, why not make sure the hand held can be used while shaving your legs?
Lastly, remember to put the controls somewhere accessible outside of the shower. The shock of the cold water is something everyone can live without.
5. Shower Design
A great way to make space for your bathroom essentials (i.e. shampoo/conditioner, soap, candles, etc.) is to create a niche (or multiple) in the shower or bath wall. These are modern, more efficient versions of the outdated plastic shower caddy and will give you a place to organize that clutter.
Additionally, consider adding recessed lighting in your shower. This will not only make it easier to see (especially while shaving), but will make the room feel brighter and therefore bigger. Recessed lighting doesn't have to be limited to the shower either, it will have the same beneficial effect to the bathroom regardless of positioning.
*Tips adapted from Erica Garland's article Remodeling Your Bathroom: Top 10 Things to Consider on hubyourhome.com
Living Space Design
According to Absolute Remodeling, the first step to creating a beautiful & useful living space is to throw away traditional concepts of basements. It is no longer a dark, dank, storage area, but a place to enjoy and relax with friends and family!
Some common uses of your "new" space could include:
Guest room + bathroom
Office and/or study area
Playroom or activity area
Additional family room
Or, a combination of the above
Basement finishing is a simple and cost-effective alternative to adding square footage onto a house. In fact, the cost of finishing a basement is about 25% that of completing an "add-on" because the structure already exists: four walls, a floor and a ceiling, that YOU don't have to pay for. The key is to stop thinking of the space as a "basement", and consider it itself as an "addition", because you're adding to your livable space.
LOTS of lighting (You'll need general lighting, which is your overhead lighting; accent lighting, which highlights specific details; and task lighting for work or play areas.)
Access to the outdoors (Access to the outdoors is an underestimated asset. If you have a walk-out basement, replace the existing doors with French doors. It opens up the space and adds more light.)
Headroom (Ducts and plumbing may need to be relocated along walls or beams, but this is typically where headroom isn't so critical. Shortening door and jambs by an inch or two as well as shortening moulding can make the ceilings feel higher.)
Tile flooring (Carpet is acceptable, but tile is the prime choice if you're looking for low maintenance and durability. Laying them in a diagonal pattern will make the room feel wider and larger.)
A full bathroom (an extra full bathroom used to be considered an option, but now is considered a must.)