Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Reclaim Space by Remodeling

Sooner or later most families find their homes are running out of space. The obvious solutions are to either add to the home or move to a bigger one. Both are expensive and moving can disrupt the lives of all those who live in the home. Before contemplating such extreme steps, why not look at making better use of the space that is already available? The three areas of a home where space is most often wasted are the basement, attic and garage. Remodeling them can be a convenient and cost effective way of getting the space you need.

The Basement

A typical basement is a dark gloomy place where things that are unwanted or rarely used are stored. Cleaning out all the junk that has accumulated there can be expected to reveal a significant amount of free space that can be used productively. A basement as some inherent limitations such as a lack of natural light. But creative thinking can often turn these limitations into advantages. For example, a dark space is ideal for a home theater. Here are a few things that a basement can be used for:

  • The cool dark environment of a basement makes it the best place for a wine cellar.
  • Because it is partially cut off from the rest of the home, a basement is ideal for any application that involves a lot of noise.  A music studio, play area or a hangout for kids and teenagers are among the many uses that can be considered.
  • A basement usually offers a large open space. This makes if suitable for a home gym or a recreation room where pool tables and other large gaming equipment can be placed without making the space feel cramped.
Before doing a basement remodeling, look for and repair any signs of dampness.

The Attic

Like the basement, the attic is often nothing more than a storage room. Here too, cleaning it out will often reveal a surprising amount of usable space. Among the things an attic can be converted into are:
  • A home office
  • A guest suite
  • A children play area
Before converting an attic into a usable space, ensure that the insulation and heating are adequate. Without this, the space can become to hot or cold for year round use. Additionally, the floor may not be designed to bear the load of heavy furniture or children jumping around and playing. A professional home remodeler will be able to evaluate the structure and advise on any strengthening or other modifications that may be required.

The Garage

The garage is a part of the home that often loses it original function of being a place to park cars and becomes a storage area. If you are willing to park in the driveway, a garage can be used for a multitude of things. Besides all the things that a basement or attic can be converted into, a garage can also be used for:
  • A laundry room.
  • A clean up room where people can leave there muddy shoes and other gear before entering the home.
  • A workshop – being at ground level means installing even heavy equipment is not a major issue.
  • A ‘man cave.’
If you are willing to take the remodeling a step further, you could think of raising the roof of the garage and installing a room above the parking area.

Every home need storage space and converting a basement, attic or garage to another use can mean that some of it is lost. But careful planning, the use of the maximum built in (and organized) storage space and getting rid of useless junk can provide for both adequate storage area and new usable space.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Questions to Ask a Remodeling Contractor

When interviewing potential home remodeling contractors, the first questions that spring to a homeowner’s mind are usually “When will you start? When will you finish the job? How much will it cost?” These are all important issues but they are far from being enough. As a homeowner you want to be sure that you are getting the best people for remodeling your home. Starting when you want, finishing on schedule and sticking to a budget are great, but they do not mean that the remodeling will be done properly or the way you want.

As the client you have the right to know all that is relevant to your home remodel. That means that you are entitled to ask any questions and get all the information that you need to enable you to choose the contractor who you think is right for the job. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (the industry association of the remodeling industry) has a list of questions that a homeowner should ask a contractor before giving him the project.

The Important Questions
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who will be the project supervisor, what is his experience and how long has he / she been working for you?
  • Will the people working on the project be employees or sub-contractors?
  • Are you bonded and insured. Specifically, do you have liability and worker’s compensation insurance? Verify the answers you receive by contacting the insurance company. An insurance certificate may appear to be valid, but how do you know if either party has cancelled the policy?
  • Check if your state requires the contractor to be licensed. If so, ask to see the license and also call up and confirm that the license has not be revoked for any reason.
  • How will you approach this kind of project? Ask for details of how the contractor plans to organize resources and carry out work.
  • What are the milestones on which adherence to schedules will be evaluated?
  • How many similar projects have you done in the last year?  Ask details to verify that they are similar to yours.
  • Ask for a list of references. Reference that you will not be able to contact, whatever the reason, is a warning sign.
  • Will it be possible for me to have a look at a couple of the nearby projects you have done? This may be difficult – a homeowner may not like to have strangers walking around his home.
  • How much of your business is repeat and how much comes by way of referrals? The higher the percentage the better. It shows that clients are happy with the work done for them.
  • Are you a member of a trade association and if so, which one?
  • Have you and your employees received any special training in home remodeling?
  • Do you, your employees and sub-contractors have special certification such as Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS) or Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) or Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR)?

Beyond the Questions

Getting the right answers is important, but so too is the attitude of the contractor. If he shows any resentment about the questions asked or tries to avoid giving direct answers, there could be something wrong. As in all interviews, often what is not said is as important as what is.


Your home remodeling contractor is going to be a part of your life every day for a long time. He will have free run of your home. It is important that you are comfortable with the person whom you choose to remodel you home.