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Room Remodeling

Remodeling an existing room in your house can often be the easiest way to increase the useable living space in your home and make living in it more enjoyable for you and your family. If you are updating an older kitchen or bath, you may dramatically increase the resale value of your property. Turning an unfinished basement into a playroom or, better yet, a media room, will give the children in the family some space of their own. Be aware, however, that some remodeling projects are more desirable than others. Converting a bedroom into a home office or space for a highly personalized hobby can become a liability unless the room can be easily changed back to a bedroom by the next family to live in the house.

If you have decided to remodel a room in your home, consider the following:

  • Decide how much you want to spend. Start with a wish list that includes everything you want; then figure out what you really need to have. Be aware that you may need to get a permit for your remodeling job if you are changing any of the existing plumbing, heating, or electrical systems, or if you are installing new windows or doors. Local building codes may require expensive updates to the rest of your house as part of your project.
  • Assess what in the room needs to be changed and what can be saved. A scuffed hardwood floor can be refinished for less than the cost of a new floor, or carpeting can be installed over it. Older tile floors can often be cleaned. Plaster ceilings and walls with minor cracking or damaged dry wall can be repaired by a good painter; more extensive damage to plaster can be fixed by a plasterer. Take care to protect what you want to save while you are remodeling.
  • If you are remodeling a room you currently use (bathroom, kitchen, etc.), develop a plan for how you will work around the construction. The lack of suitable alternatives can make the project a real nuisance, while the need to use the room during the construction can dramatically slow down the project.
  • Determine whether you will need to hire a professional to help you design your project. You may benefit from a kitchen or bath planner. More complex jobs may require an architect or structural engineer. Sometimes an experienced contractor will be all you need. Design/build firms offer the convenience of one stop shopping for all the skills required, including help with the decorating, but they tend to be more expensive.
  • Select a remodeling contractor by asking friends and neighbors about firms they have worked with satisfactorily. Be sure to check out projects the contractor has completed to make sure your standards will be met. Check references, get all estimates in writing, and read all contracts very carefully before signing them. You should probably get estimates from three contractors. It is often a mistake to select the cheapest one. Any change orders during the process should also be in writing. A good working relationship with your contractor will help successfully complete your project.

Finally, be realistic about how long it will take to finish your remodeling. Changes to an older house often turn up problems that no one can foresee. Start your project well in advance of your anticipated use of the remodeled room.

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