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New Year, New Space
Photography by John Johnson
FEATURED REMODEL JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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Ever feel so cramped that you thought the old woman in the shoe maybe actually had more space than you? Or maybe you’re longing for the amenities of a new home—an up-to-date kitchen, a master suite, or a home office.

On the other hand, the thought of moving sends chills down your spine.

After all, you brought your babies to this home from the hospital and watched them take their first steps under the mature oak tree out back. You have neighbors who’ll water the plants and take in the mail while you’re gone and teenage babysitters within walking distance. You’re on a first-name basis with the folks at the pharmacy, the grocery store, the dry cleaners, and the coffee shop.

Perhaps remodeling can give you the best of both worlds—the home of your dreams in the neighborhood that you love.

January is the month of planning, of looking ahead. And since so much of a remodeling project revolves around planning, it’s the perfect time to start jotting down ideas, saving pictures, and thinking about what changes you’d like to see on the home front in the coming year.

Here’s some advice for getting started on your project:

Should you move or remodel?
Moving can be expensive—you pay a commission on the sale of your home, plus closing, moving, and other costs. Weigh those costs against the price of remodeling, and maybe staying in your current home makes sense. You may have found a neighborhood you like and remodeling makes more sense because that’s where you want to live for the long haul.

Decide how much you want to spend.
Determine how much money you have to spend on the remodeling project, furnishings, landscaping, etc. If necessary, talk to a lender to find what options may be available to you for financing. Too often, people have an unrealistic idea of what it’s going to cost.

Find a reputable contractor.
You’ll save yourself money, time, and stress in the long run by working with a professional. When you hire a remodeler, you are buying a service not a product. The quality of the service the remodeler provides determines the quality of the finished project and your satisfaction with it.

To begin your search for a remodeler, seek referrals from friends, family, neighbors and others you know and trust who have had remodeling work done. Talk to subcontractors, building material suppliers, designers, lenders and realtors. And once you narrow the choices, check with the Better Business Bureau.

A word to the wise: start early.
Good contractors are usually booked well in advance. You can’t decide one week to do a project and try to get somebody in the next week to do the work.

If it’s a major room addition, you may want to work with a designer or architect first.
Or if you go directly with a remodeling contractor, you need one that will design/build. Some remodeling contractors have qualified people as part of their team and others already work with architects and designers.

Request a comprehensive proposal from your contractor.
The proposal should tell you how much the project is going to cost and what types of products will be used. If the proposal comes in above your budget limit, talk to your contractor about other cost-cutting options. Sometimes you can accomplish the same look with other products or design techniques.

Establish a realistic timetable with your contractor.
You’ll need to allow for delays due to weather, supply shortages, or other glitches that may occur. If you think a rainstorm or a snowstorm isn’t going to change the time factor, you’re wrong. Don’t think the project—no matter how small—will be done overnight.

Talk to your contractor up front about inconveniences while work is being done.
You should at the very beginning of the project discuss with your contractor the inconvenience factor. Discuss things like is my laundry room going to be out of commission? How long is my stove going to be out of commission? What do you do with the pets during the day when the men are working? If it’s a large project, do you need to move out completely for any amount of time?

If you’re realistic, and do your homework before you start that remodeling project, you will indeed find you can have the best of both worlds.

 

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