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by Bobbi Gilbert
You’ve decided to remodel your home, but are unsure of what to do next. First, ask friends, family, neighbors and co-workers if they can recommend a remodeling company. The number one rule is to always get several estimates from different companies. Before hiring a remodeling company, consider the following:
Is the company insured? Ask for a copy of their policy.
Is the company registered with the state? The State of Texas passed a law requiring all remodeling companies and home builders to be registered with the state.
How long have they been in business? Check their references. Make sure the work performed for their reference is similar to what you’re planning on doing.
Will they return if there are problems? Ask their references and ask to see samples of their work.
Are they able to give you ideas you may not have thought of or considered?
What extent of remodels have they performed? Have they only done small remodels such as flooring and painting; or do they have experience with full remodels such as removing walls, relocating plumbing and electrical, extending rooflines, converting attic or garage space, adding extensions to existing rooms, or adding new rooms to homes, etc.
If you love to watch remodeling shows on TV and are amazed by what the homeowners get for their $2,000 budget, keep in mind, that amount never includes the cost of labor. You need to have a budget in mind and come up with a wish list. It’s best to work with a remodeler who can work within your budget. If you see photos in magazines of your dream room, clip them out and show them to your remodeler. This will give him a much better idea of what you are wanting.
Some remodels get more return on your investment than others—kitchen and bathroom remodels or additions always add value. Usually, an updated kitchen or bathroom will bring you double on your investment when it is time for you to sell your home.
If you are remodeling specifically to sell, check with a realtor to make sure the improvements stay in line with the values in your market—don’t overspend.
If you are dealing with a limited budget, here are a few money-saving tips:
Instead of replacing your kitchen cabinets, consider painting and changing the hardware to upgrade the appearance, or just replace the doors and drawer fronts rather than the entire cabinets.
Instead of nail-down hardwood floors, choose engineered glue-down or laminate.
Instead of granite countertops, choose a solid surface that has the same appearance as granite. The cost of some solid surface countertops can run close to the cost of granite, so get quotes for both.
The quickest, easiest and least expensive update is to paint. Replacing old, worn out flooring and updating your countertops also goes a long way for a new look.
Be ready for the work:
Remodeling is noisy and messy at times. Depending on the extent of the job, some homeowners might choose to move out during the renovations. A popular improvement on older homes is to open up the main living areas by knocking down walls between the kitchen, living room and den. This creates a better open flow for living and entertaining. Remember, when the renovations are complete, your home should be left in the clean state it was before the work started.
Granite is still hot for kitchens. Oil-rubbed bronze fixtures, copper or farm sinks, stainless steel appliances, maple or knotty alder cabinets, or islands that are painted a different color than the other cabinets can update a kitchen and really enhance its value. For light and bright kitchens, try adding canned lights, under- and above-cabinet lighting, or outdoor lanterns instead of traditional chandeliers.
In the bath, framed mirrors above the vanity are currently the "in" thing, as is shower wall tile 8 ft. high with detail designed inlays. Opt for oil rubbed bronze hardware and fixtures, travertine or slate flooring tile, over-sized and steam showers. A special touch is the inclusion of a chandelier in the master bath. And, of course, large closets or built-in cabinets and drawers are a must.
Throughout the rest of the home, neutral wall colors—not just beige, but shades of green, gray and gold—really update the area. Custom built-ins and mantels, iron spindles on stair cases, open floor plans, arched front doors—solid wood or wrought iron and glass— and wood floors are just a few of the ways to update your current home. Adding a fireplace in the master bedroom; converting an unused space into a home office; or turning unused attic space into a media room are also hot. Cosmetically you might consider adding double-stack crown moldings, six-inch baseboards or solid core doors.
All improvements aren’t just inside, outdoor living areas/kitchens and fireplaces are by far the biggest craze!