Home Improvements: What Rooms To Remodel First?

Nearly every homeowner can dream up a very long list of remodeling projects that would interest the homeowner or family members. Several potential remodeling projects can have beneficial effect on the home’s resale value. Future potential buyers can see others, such as the addition of a swimming pool, as detrimental features rather than as positive ones. According to Remodeling magazine, the most beneficial remodeling projects still include kitchens, bathrooms, deck additions and room additions when they fit with the house and the neighborhood. There are caveats for each, however.

The first question the homeowner needs to answer honestly is how long s/he intends to stay in the home. If that time is five years or less, then any remodeling project needs to be guided by its potential resale value, including whether it can have broad appeal to many different types of potential buyers. A new kitchen done in muted, neutral colors will have that appeal. A kitchen done in fire engine, stop sign red likely will have to be redone prior to putting the house on the market.

Some advice is timeless, such as the high relative value of kitchen and bathroom remodels. Approaches need not be timeless, however. If a $4,000 kitchen facelift carries the same appeal as a $40,000 full remodel, there is little reason to go the more costly route.

Kitchens
A budget-friendly facelift can produce dramatic and gratifying results in the kitchen. It can please the current homeowner and find favor with future potential buyers. Counter tops can be replaced, polished or even covered up. It is possible to remove existing laminate and replace it with new laminate, but the cost is between $30 and $40 per linear foot. Big box home improvement retailers offer high quality premade laminate counter tops for under $20 a foot. Off price retailers can take that per-foot price to under $12.

Many kitchen-changing homeowners want the laminate gone completely, of course. Solid surface, granite, quartz or marble counter tops are beautiful but require care that some prefer to avoid. A good – and much less costly – alternative is to cover existing laminate with a concrete-like material that can be colored to mimic any natural material. Granicrete installers offer counter makeovers that feature a grout-like base, an array of thin water colors and glazes, and finish with a tough epoxy sealer that can be shiny or provide a matte finish. Not only is the finished product highly attractive, it also is more durable than natural products in its ability to resist cracks and breaks.

Regardless of the quality of a kitchen cabinet, designs vary very little. Whether it is made of thin particle board or the finest solid cherry, it still is just a box. The homeowner can replace cabinet doors or paint the existing cabinets to yield an entire new look for the kitchen at minimal cost. Faux finishes can carry more drama in the kitchen than in many other settings.

Bathrooms
All of the preceding points apply to bathrooms as well. Changing the counter top, painting cabinets or changing the floor can give the bathroom an entirely new look without the expense of changing fixtures.

Limits
No simple facelift can fix poor traffic flow or inconvenience built in years before. Where those points are not issues, the facelift route can provide gratifying results at a cost that is only a fraction of a full remodel.

Home Improvement for The Ladies!

Your Own Homes Improvement Outline

(One for the Ladies)

Let me begin by saying what a home improvement plan will not do! I have seen this happen more than once, so I will say this now. A home improvement project, addition, upgrade, remodel, or makeover will not make up for a troubled marriage. So for those that think home improvement may save a marriage, I’m telling you now that it will add more stress and it is a poor substitute for proper counseling.

With that said, when you see a home being sold due to a divorce, take a good look at the house because you may see evidence of a great remodel job. However, the marriage still failed. The scenario above leads into other areas of home remodel, acquisition and selling points. Gentlemen, pay attention here! It is generally recognized that women are responsible for 80% of all decisions on whether or not to purchase a particular home.

So what influences the ladies in their decisions concerning home purchases and remodeling? By far the two biggest items are the kitchen and the bath. If I had to choose one or the other, I believe I would look at which area was in need of the remodel more, while at the same time looking at the costs of both options.

As for the men, what do they want? They would be happy with a large garage/workshop plus a secluded den or office to carry on with business or to retreat to the solitude of a “cave.” Men, as we can see, really don’t spend as much time feathering the nest so as a result we see that contrary to popular belief, men really tend to follow the female’s lead.

Generally speaking, you’ll find that men don’t pay much attention to draperies, window treatments, flower boxes, state of the art appliances, Jacuzzi tubs, well-lit bathrooms, large closets or floral patterns of any kind. They often prefer brown and gray everything, with a big garage, a shed, a sprinkler system and a privacy fenced back yard for barbeques and lounging in private. Men also like low maintenance houses so they aren’t constantly being asked to fix or repair things. If left up to the men to decide, you would find that faucets, toilets, sinks, baths, floors, mirrors, cabinetry, appliances and furnishings would tend to be favored by their industrial strength qualities as opposed to beauty.

Those are general observations and many times they will not apply. However, by keeping them in mind and using the 80/20 rule, they may help in the decision making process. So now using what we know, it would be wise to slant your remodel towards the light and bright feminine side of life. It seems to make sense that if the women are the decision makers then we should let them decide on what really needs attention first!

Let’s look at the kitchen first. Can you paint or refinish the cabinetry and change the knobs and handles to get the new look? Would new Formica laminate over the old counter tops with a matching backsplash do the trick? Maybe a white ceramic sink with a new faucet will achieve the desired effect. Quite possibly you may decide to rip it all out. If that is the case, then paint the walls and consider tiling the floor also. Often times, adding some minor electrical and lighting upgrades will help transform and modernize the entire effort. Don’t forget the new built in dishwasher and plumbing as well.

Custom cabinets, if designed, built and installed by a local reputable cabinetmaker with references and a picture book of previous work done, are often very attractive in price and quality. I use craftsmen with low overhead who work on one job at a time. Often I will ask them to make, in addition to the kitchen, a base cabinet for the bathroom to match, all for one low price. When working with kitchens I always look to see if a wall can be opened up to create a pass through or bar stool counter top. This lets in more light and allows the person in the kitchen to talk with and see the people in the adjoining room. It also creates the effect of a more spacious kitchen.

The bottom line is that a well-lit, light, bright and spacious kitchen, well equipped with modern appliances, plenty of storage space and decorative tiles, paint and window treatments, will add value and appeal to any home’s remodel plan.

Next, lets look at remodeling the bathroom. Here again, we look to the feminine side as the women seem to spend more time here then the men. So with the ladies in mind concerning the upgrade, I will often bite the bullet and rip it all out, the tub being the only exception! If I can leave the tub in, the job is easier, faster and cheaper. However, if I am looking at an olive green or yellowed chipped up and rusting ceramic eyesore, than a new fiberglass insert with a sliding glass door is going on my list of items to buy at the local Home Depot.

Jet tubs are the in thing, so I won’t rule them out as a possible upgrade. This decision again is based on the female as most men don’t take candlelit bubble baths or require a pulsating massage. Walls are painted with Sherwin Williams semi-gloss paint which creates an excellent moisture barrier to the walls. With regard to walls, by adding tile or laminate half-wall wainscoting to the lower three to four feet of the wall, you’ll add a nice touch. Since you have torn out the old toilet and base cabinet, now is also the perfect time to rip up the old vinyl and put down ceramic floor tile before the new fixtures are installed.
New lighting, mirrored vanity cabinets, G.F.I. electrical outlets, wallpaper borders, towel rings and bars are usually the finishing touch. Even a man can appreciate coming home to a spacious, clean, modern, functional and aesthetically pleasing kitchen and bath. One final note here: Be sure to caulk everything when you’re through. You’ll want to protect your new investment from rotting, from the inside out. Dampness and wood eating insects are your homes worst enemies.

Now with the kitchen and bath out of the way, what do you feel is next? I myself spend on average about seven hours a day in the bedroom, so I tend to go there next. Once again, the closet is of importance to the ladies so I will look to paint that bright white, upgrade the lighting and install a closet organizing system to maximize the space that is available. A tip for the guys! Put in a shoe rack for the ladies, as most of you wouldn’t even think about that little upgrade.

Once the closet is done, I’m back patching and painting the rest of the room. Another smart thing you can do is to let the female decide on what color of Sherwin Williams brand satin super paint they would like to have applied. I always make sure I get enough paint to do the ceiling as well because when you’re on your back, you will be looking at it. Once the walls and ceiling are done, the ceiling fan with light kit and dimmer switch go in. Then the baseboards are prepared for installation before the carpet goes down. Usually I paint them a shade darker than the walls and tack them to the wall about one-half inch above the floor.

Now that the paint is put away, it’s time to install the plush carpet and a dense quality pad beneath it. In order to really bring the room together you will need to take a paint swatch or chip to the carpet dealer to choose the carpet color that really sets off the walls and base board trim. As for final touches, those include mini blinds, a curtain, and decorative switch plates and receptacle covers. A solid core door represents today’s modern standards with a keyed lock set for security, so I will add that factor in too. Just add candles and you’re done!

As for the rest of the house, I will choose one-color paint and use it throughout all the remaining areas that are to be lightened and brightened. Earth tone, eggshell or tan sand colors are a neutral favorite of many, so unless you have a floor that is going to clash with it, earth tones are a safe bet. Speaking of floors, I will follow appraisal rules that tell me wood is better than carpet, except in bedrooms. And tile is better than vinyl. With that in mind, I will use tile and Pergo flooring everywhere else. Once the tile and wood are installed, I never have to replace it and maintenance is a breeze. The appraiser also looks upon wood and tile as an upgrade, so at the earliest opportunity, they are getting incorporated in my plans.