The first consideration in knowing how to remodel a house is consulting an architect. The greatest pitfall in remodeling is in not seeking the professional help of a local registered architect – similar to having an illness diagnosed by the man at the local drugstore instead of seeking a doctor. Don’t worry; no qualified architect will insist on unwarranted or expensive changes in your house any more than a competent physician will put you in the hospital for a head cold. There are times when you do not need an architect. If you do not, he will tell you so.
An important factor in how to remodel your house is to have an overall plan for the whole remodeling. One tends to do a bit here and a bit there over the years – like adding a porch or a fireplace, putting in a dormer or adding a garage, without giving any serious thought to the design aspect of the completed house. Most homeowners cannot afford or do not wish to remodel the entire house all at once, but prefer to add rooms as their families and income increase.
In such cases, it is crucial to have a long-range plan. Everything done in the house remodel must be a contribution to the final design, yet be complete enough in itself to give the house a finished appearance. It is annoying to live in a house that is in a constant state of construction. The additions and changes you want to make in the future must be anticipated so that plumbing, electrical, and structural elements can be completed in the shortest time possible with no disruptions of the previous remodeling changes. Planning, design, and imagination are far more important in a major house remodel than money.
A common pitfall in house remodeling is related to overbuilding the entire house until it is overbuilt for the neighborhood. It is spending $150,000 to remodel your house in a neighborhood of $100,000 homes. This is not necessarily wrong if you remodel for your own pleasure and comfort, but if you ever try to sell your house or borrow money on it, you will find that it has been a poor financial investment. It is easy to become too enthusiastic once you start to remodel your house and then find that you have invested more than you planned and perhaps more than you can afford. Moreover, if you are forced to sell your home and must accept little more than the prevailing neighborhood prices, you will have lost money. If you do not know the value of your neighbors’ properties, call in a real-estate broker to inquire about the prices in the area. Next, formulate a plan and a budget, and stick to it.
What is the purpuse of your basement remodel? Before beginning any conversion of basement space into living space, check the basement for leaks or other signs of moisture problems. Because damp basements promote biological growth, including molds, they are not healthy places to live in. Thus, any moisture problems should be corrected before you proceed. Do not install carpet near water sources or areas where there is a chronic moisture problem such as around sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets. Basements may require special attention in this regard. Do you need to know how to add a bathroom. Basement ceilings are usually low to begin with and even lower when finished around pipes and ducts. And a basement can be damp and clammy even though there are many ways of how to dry a basement, essentially by getting sunlight and fresh air into it.
Overbuilding your house is probably the most common mistake a homeowner can make. Remodeling a kitchen of a $100,000 house for $25,000 without making needed improvements in other areas of the house is not a good idea. It is better to spend a portion of that money and use the remainder of the funds to correct design flaws, add a laundry and add a bathroom, or improve the landscaping.
A modern kitchen is valuable in every home, but it is the design of the kitchen that makes it an easy place to work. It is the quality of the fixtures and appliances that makes them a good investment; it is the choice of colors and the placement of windows that make it a cheerful room. The so-called “kitchen experts” and kitchen remodel contractors may possibly get you a respectable kitchen, but they are interested in only the kitchen remodeling project and not the house as an entity or as the place in which you live. Your home should not be a collection of miscellaneous architectural fragments.
A common house remodeling pitfall is to use too many different materials on the exterior. The smaller the house, the more important it is to simplify the façade. The indiscriminate combinations of brick, stucco, stone, vertical siding, horizontal siding, and shingles make a house look smaller and – in effect – cheapen all the materials. The many different elements make it look as if the house had been assembled from a junkyard, and the result is still worse if everything is a different color.
If your house is already a hodgepodge of materials and you cannot afford to change them, paint them all the same color to unify the façade. Usually a dark color is better because the shadow lines and textures are absorbed. House additions may sometimes be of another material if it does not add another texture to the exterior.
The most dangerous pitfall in all remodeling is fire hazard. Some older homes have inferior material and equipment and can be firetraps. Before remodeling, have the heating and wiring checked and brought up to code before, or as soon as, you remodel. Then eliminate the dangerous elements of the design. Do not have a curtained window within three feet of the stove or any window over it; have more than enough electrical outlets and do not use extension cords. Put in circuit breakers instead of an old-fashioned fuse box.
Create a front and back entrance. Have two exits from the basement and a fire exit from the second floor and the attic if there is one. Do not add bedrooms with high, narrow, horizontal windows. In remodeling bedrooms or adding new ones, have at least one window low enough to the floor so that a child or an elderly person can get to it and escape in case of fire. If the windows are on the second floor or three or four feet from ground level, add a small balcony on the exterior.
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