Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bathroom Remodeling Basics

Yes, it is the smallest room in the house. Yes, people may spend less time in it than in other rooms. But this small room can be one of the most difficult ones to remodel. It is also the room where so many DIY home remodelers come to grief. You may be able to fix a leaking faucet or unclog a blocked drain. Those are repairs, not remodeling. Bathroom remodels can range from the simple renovations and freshening up to a complete makeover that give the home a completely new bathroom. It’s important to know what you want to do and to have your budget in place before you begin. Most importantly, you need to be sure of your abilities – if you have not done this type of job, on a similar scale before, it’s advisable to seriously think of calling in a professional. You may think that doing the job yourself will save money. But if it is too much for you, the end result will be a bathroom that no one will want to use. Alternatively, getting in a remodeling contractor to do the repairs and finish the job will end up costing you more than if you had given the job to a professional in the first place. And, do not think that a small bathroom is easier to remodel than a bigger one. It is not. Space constraints often add another dimension of difficulty to the job.

Whether you are planning on doing the remodel yourself or have a remodeling contractor to do the job, there are a few basics that you need to know. These will help you to avoid mistakes or understand the difficulties the contractor faces.

Bathroom Remodeling Facts you Need to Know
  • Changing the locations of windows and outlets are tough complicated jobs that are typically done only as part of a major remodel.
  • Plumbing cannot be moved in a slab home
  • Plumbing should never be placed on an outside wall
  • Plumbing should be as easily accessible as possible
  • Know how old the plumbing in the home is.  If it is going to need replacement in a couple of years, it will be a big mistake not to do it as part of the remodel. You don’t want to duplicate your expenses a few years down the road.
  • If the bathroom remodel involves relocating fixtures, you may need to obtain a building permit. This is even more likely if the work is being done in a rental property.
  • Spa type bathrooms can appear to be an inviting proposition, if the budget permits. But do not get carried away. Putting in a sauna can be great. But only if it is going to be used regularly. Otherwise, space is being wasted and even things that are not used deteriorate over time.
  • A big bathtub is nice, but it should not fill up the entire room.
  • Unusual bathtub designs can add style to a bathroom. But that is not their primary purpose. Sit in a tub before buying it to see how comfortable it is.
  • You will need more storage space than you think. Make the maximum use of under the counter spaces and consider using the space between wall studs for recessing a tall cabinet.
  • A clear shower screen will make the room feel more open.
  • One person’s bathroom can be another dungeon. No matter how sure you are about what the remodeled bathroom should be, factor in the opinions of others who will be using it.
  • Mold buildup is a major bathroom problem. Ensure that there is enough ventilation to allow the room to dry out within a reasonable time. Consider installing an exhaust fan.
These are just a few of the factors you need to keep in mind when planning a bathroom remodel. Do it yourself only if you are sure you can handle the job.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Remodeling an Old Home

Older homes often have a lot more character than newer ones which is why so many people prefer them. But the years do take a toll, and even the best maintained of old homes usually need remodeling sooner or later. There are 2 aspects to remodeling old homes – renovation which add new spaces, features or functionality to the home and restoration which repairs and restores those parts of the home that are not going to be changed. Striking the right balance between renovation and restoration can be a huge challenge. For example, there may be a beautiful sitting room that needs to be restored. But a gym has to be created and the only place is next to the sitting room. It’s not going to work. And restoring the old room involves a lot of specialist work like getting molds or blades made to exactly replace damaged ones.

The best thing the owner of an old home can do is to have the remodeling done by a contractor with design-build capabilities. This will ensure that space utilization is optimized and the remodel home looks great. Additionally, the contractor’s expertise will allow for the restoration do be done as faithfully as possible. In addition, a professional remodeling contractor will be able to tackle the special problems that arise when remodeling old homes.

Renovation Challenges in Old Homes
  • Water. Over the years, even a small amount of dampness can become a serious problem. In time, mold, mildew, bacteria and termites can develop into a major but unseen problem. A small thing like a little bit of old dampness behind wallboard can require the replacement of rotten studs so that the remodeling can go ahead.
  • Foundation Cracks. Old homes are thought to be solidly built and while this is generally true, the solidity often does not extend to the foundation. In houses built before the mid-1960s, cement of cinder block was commonly used. Because cinder is not a structurally strong as cement, cracks develop over time and water gets in. And foundation sealer was not in common use at that time. This is a matter that needs to be dealt with urgently, as cracked foundations may lead to the residents being exposed to radon, a radioactive gas that is the second biggest cause of lung cancer in the country.
  • Electricity. In an older structure, there is likelihood that grounded electrical outlets were not used. Modern code demands that they be grounded. Even if the outlets are three pronged, there is no guarantee that they are grounded. In addition, code compliant ground-fault-interrupters (GFIs) will need to be installed and often a complete rewiring may be required. The electrical box may have to be upgraded from the original 100 or 125 amp capacity to the current 200 amp standard.
  • Poisons. The plumbing and paint in an old home can be a source of lead. Even though the use of lead pipes stopped in the 1950s, the galvanized one that replaced them still contained lead for many years. Lead was used to solder copper pipes till the 1980s. The 2 options for dealing with this problem are to put in a water filtration system to remove led from the water or to replace the pipes. Replacing the old pipes in the home could increase the remodeling costs significantly. In the case of paint, the danger is that old peeling paint that contains lead can be ingested by accident, leading to major health risks. Another poison is asbestos that was commonly used for insulation, floor coverings and sidings in older homes. Asbestos can crumble into toxic dust and be inhaled. The removal of asbestos requires special permits and procedures to be followed and these can make a major dent in your remodeling budget.
The bottom line is that remodeling an old home can be a labor of love. But that does not mean that it does not have its share of special problems and difficulties that will need to be dealt with.