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7 Smart Strategies for Bathroom Remodeling from atlas green houston

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Here’s how to get the bathroom of your dreams without making your budget a nightmare.

A bathroom remodel is a solid investment, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. A $16,600 bath remodel will recoup about 64% of those costs when it’s time to sell your home, and a more extensive $53,800 job returns about 57%. In addition, you can maximize the value of your investment by using these smart strategies, which will create a stylish yet budget-friendly bathroom.

1. Stick to a plan

A bathroom remodel is no place for improvisation. Before ripping out the first tile, think hard about how you will use the space, what materials and fixtures you want, and how much you’re willing to spend.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending up to six months evaluating and planning before beginning work. That way, you have a roadmap that will guide decisions, even the ones made under remodeling stress. Once work has begun—a process that averages 2 to 3 months—resist changing your mind. Work stoppages and alterations add costs. Some contractors include clauses in their contracts that specify premium prices for changing original plans.

If planning isn’t your strong suit, hire a designer. In addition to adding style and efficiency, a professional designer makes sure contractors and installers are scheduled in an orderly fashion. A pro charges $100 to $200 per hour, and spends 10 to 30 hours on a bathroom project.

 

2. Keep the same footprint

You can afford that Italian tile you love if you can live with the total square footage you already have.

Keeping the same footprint, and locating new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, saves demolition and reconstruction dollars. You’ll also cut down on the dust and debris that make remodeling so hard to live with.

Make the most of the space you have. Glass doors on showers and tubs open up the area. A pedestal sink takes up less room than a vanity. If you miss the storage, replace a mirror with a deep medicine cabinet.

3. Make lighting a priority

Multiple shower heads and radiant heat floors are fabulous adds to a bathroom remodel. But few items make a bathroom more satisfying than lighting designed for everyday grooming. You can install lighting for a fraction of the cost of pricier amenities.

Well-designed bathroom task lighting surrounds vanity mirrors and eliminates shadows on faces: You look better already. The scheme includes two ceiling- or soffit-mounted fixtures with 60 to 75 watts each, and side fixtures or sconces providing at least 150 watts each, distributed vertically across 24 inches (to account for people of various heights). Four-bulb lighting fixtures work well for side lighting.

4. Clear the air

Bathroom ventilation systems may be out of sight, but they shouldn’t be out of mind during a bathroom remodel.

Bathroom ventilation is essential for removing excess humidity that fogs mirrors, makes bathroom floors slippery, and contributes to the growth of mildew and mold. Controlling mold and humidity is especially important for maintaining healthy indoor air quality and protecting the value of your home—mold remediation is expensive, and excess humidity can damage cabinets and painted finishes.

A bathroom vent and water closet fan should exhaust air to the outside—not simply to the space between ceiling joists. Better models have whisper-quiet exhaust fans and humidity-controlled switches that activate when a sensor detects excess moisture in the air.

5. Think storage

Bathroom storage is a challenge: By the time you’ve installed the toilet, shower, and sink, there’s often little space left to store towels, toilet paper, and hair and body products. Here are some ways to find storage in hidden places.

  • Think vertically: Upper wall space in a bathroom is often underused. Freestanding, multi-tiered shelf units designed to fit over toilet tanks turn unused wall area into found storage. Spaces between wall studs create attractive and useful niches for holding soaps and toiletries. Install shelves over towel bars to use blank wall space.
  • Think moveable: Inexpensive woven baskets set on the floor are stylish towel holders. A floor-stand coat rack holds wet towels, bath robes, and clothes.
  • Think utility: Adding a slide-out tray to vanity cabinet compartments provides full access to stored items and prevents lesser-used items from being lost or forgotten.

6. Contribute sweat equity

Shave labor costs by doing some work yourself. Tell your contractor which projects you’ll handle, so there are no misunderstandings later.

Some easy DIY projects:

  • Install window and baseboard trim; save $250.
  • Paint walls and trim, 200 sq.ft.; save $200.
  • Install towel bars and shelves; save $20 each.

7. Choose low-cost design for high visual impact

 

A “soft scheme” adds visual zest to your bathroom, but doesn’t create a one-of-a-kind look that might scare away future buyers.

Soft schemes employ neutral colors for permanent fixtures and surfaces, then add pizzazz with items that are easily changed, such as shower curtains, window treatments, towels, throw rugs, and wall colors. These relatively low-cost decorative touches provide tons of personality but are easy to redo whenever you want.

 

By: John Riha

Published: March 4, 2011

When It Pays to Do It Yourself -

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Doing home improvement jobs yourself can be a smart way to save money, but choose the right DIY projects or you’ll end up paying dearly.

More than 100,000 people injure themselves each year doing home improvement jobs. So add medical bills to your DYI budget, and you ending up spending the same, or more, than if you hired a pro.

We’re not suggesting that you call a plumber each time you need to plunge a toilet. But think twice about what DYI might really cost you. Here’s how to decide.

Stick to routine maintenance for savings and safety

Seasonal home maintenance is ideal work for the weekend warrior because you can tackle these jobs when your schedule permits. Because these are routine maintenance projects, your savings will add up. Mowing your own lawn, for example, saves $55 to $65 a week for a half-acre lawn. The bigger the lot, the bigger the savings: with two acres, you’ll pocket around $150 per week.

When it pays:

  • Snow removal
  • Pruning shrubs
  • Painting fences
  • Fertilizing lawns

When it costs: Unless you have skill and experience on your side, stay off any ladder taller than six feet; according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms are filled with people with ladder injuries. The same goes for operating power saws or attempting any major electrical work—it’s simply too risky if you don’t have the experience.

Become your own general contractor

If you’re more comfortable operating an iPhone than a circular saw, you could act as your own general contractor on some home improvement projects. That means you hire, schedule, and pay the carpenters, plumbers, and other tradesmen yourself. You’ll save 10% to 20% of the job cost, which is the contractor’s typical fee.

When it pays: If it’s a small job that requires only two or three subcontractors, and you have good relationships with top-quality professionals in those fields, consider DIY contracting.

When it costs: When you don’t have an established network of reliable workers, time to supervise, construction experience to spot problems, and the skill to negotiate disputes between subcontractors, your project and budget are at risk.

Invest sweat equity on big jobs

Contribute your own labor to big jobs being handled by a professional crew and cut hundreds, even thousands, off construction costs. For instance, tear out kitchen cabinets and appliances before the contractor gets started, and you might knock $800 off the cost of your remodel. Make sure you negotiate cost savings with your contractor before pitching in.

When it pays: Jobs that are labor-intensive but require relatively little skill make perfect sweat equity jobs. Perform minor interior demolition, such as pulling up old flooring, daily job site cleanup, product assembly, and simple landscaping.

When it costs: If you get in the crew’s way, you may slow them down far more than you help. Make your contributions when the workers aren’t around; mornings before they arrive, or nights and weekends after they’ve left.

Add finishing touches

Unlike the early phases of a construction job–which require skilled labor to frame walls, install plumbing pipes, and run wires–many finishing touches are comparatively simple and DIY-friendly. If you paint a basement remodel yourself, for instance, you can save up to $1,800.

When it pays: If you have skill, patience, or an experienced friend to teach you, setting tile, laying flooring, painting walls, and installing trim are good DIY jobs.

When it costs: The downside to attempting your own finish work is that the results are very visible. Hammer dents in woodwork, or sander ruts in hardwood floors will annoy you every time you see them. So unless you have a sure eye and a steady hand, don’t perform the tasks that only a skilled tradesperson will get right.

By: Oliver Marks

Published: March 8, 2011

Building a Room Addition by Atlas Green Homes

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You can hire the services of an architect to prepare the estimates. To begin with, keep the costs as much low as possible. This will help you in scaling up the scope of expansion subsequently. Opt for basic level accessories and building material. Choosing expensive commodities could result in cost overrun. If the estimate turns out to be more than the budgeted mark, then ask the architect to reduce the costs without actually hurting the basic requirements. Always keep out the expenditure incurred for the accessories out of the home addition budgets. If you are falling short of funds, the addition of accessories can be postponed to a later date.

Another important aspect of home addition building relates to compliance of rules. Check out the rules and regulations laid out by the authorities concerned in New York City before embarking on home addition. As per rule, the property owner has to pay a certain fee to the local municipal before starting work on the home addition. The owner or remodeling contractor is also required to obtain all requisite clearances before starting the construction work. Care has to be taken to ensure that the home addition work does not disturb the neighborhood.

Once you prepare the master plan for home addition, freeze the design to enter the second phase. Identify a suitable contractor or professional specializing in home additions. Evaluate their work by checking with their past projects and clients. If you find this a difficult task, utilize the services of the architect in evaluating the jobs. However, at times, the architects themselves, will refer suitable candidates for the job. Besides, there are some agencies, which take up the entire house addition project from the beginning to the end. However, at every step, the property owner will be consulted. The architect agency will charge a lump some amount to execute the entire work. If yo are a professional engaged in a twelve hour job, it is suggested that you hand over the work of home addition to a professional firm. It will reduce your burden on various matters relating to preparing the estimates and purchasing the necessary materials.

When it comes to addition to the kitchen, keep a tight control on the budget. Since the kitchen accessories are costly, there are chances that you might over stretch the budgetary allocation. Be wise while spending on home addition.

7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling from atlas green homes

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Kitchen remodeling can turn a ho-hum room into your home’s pride and joy. Here are strategies to help your project run smoothly.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 69% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to recent data from Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.

To make sure you maximize your return, follow these seven smart kitchen remodeling strategies.

1. Establish priorities

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending at least six months planning your kitchen remodeling project. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction, create change orders, and inflate construction costs. Here are planning points to cover:

  • Cooking traffic patterns: A walkway through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.
  • Child safety: Avoid sharp, square corners on countertops, and make sure microwave ovens are installed at the proper height—3 inches below the shoulder of the primary user but not more than 54 inches from the floor.
  • Outside access: If you want easy access to entertaining areas, such as a deck or patio, factor a new exterior door into your plans.

A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

2. Keep the same footprint

No matter the size and scope of your kitchen remodel, you can protect your budget by maintaining the same footprint: Keep the walls, locate new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, and forget bump-outs.

Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

3. Get real about appliances

It’s easy to get carried away during your kitchen remodeling project. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.

High-priced appliances are worth the investment if you’re an exceptional cook. Otherwise, save thousands with trusted brands that receive high marks at consumer review websites, like www.ePinions.com and www.amazon.com, and resources such as Consumer Reports.

4. Light your way

Good kitchen lighting helps you work safely and efficiently.

  • Install task lighting, such as recessed or track lights, over sinks and food prep areas; assign at least two fixtures per task to eliminate shadows. Under-cabinet lights illuminate cleanup and are great for reading cookbooks. Pendant lights over counters bring the light source close to work surfaces.
  • Ambient lighting includes flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights. Pair dimmer switches with ambient lighting to control intensity and mood.

5. Be quality conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.

If you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

“Individual upgrades don’t necessarily give you a 100% return,” says Frank Gregoire, a real estate appraiser in St. Petersburg, Fla. “But they can give you an edge when it comes time to market your home.”

6. Add storage, not space

Here’s how you can add storage without bumping out walls:

  • Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more–and you might need a stepladder–but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.
  • Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

7. Communicate early and often

Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:

  • Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.
  • Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.
  • Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

By: John Riha

Published: March 25, 2011