Welcome or Register

Remodeling for the Most Home Value

Evaluate Your House for a Deck

By: Dave Toht

Here’s how to plan a new deck that suits your property, meets your budget, and offers the best return on your investment.

In the summertime when the living is easy, there's nothing quite like a deck for cooking out, entertaining, or simply relaxing. In addition to boosting outdoor living space, a deck can be an asset when you sell your home.

More good news: Decks add living space at a fraction of the cost of fully enclosed living area. You'll pay $25 to $35 per square foot for a pro-built deck compared to $100 to $250 per square foot for an enclosed addition.

If you're a determined DIYer, plan on spending three to four weekends building a 14-foot-by-18-foot deck yourself. If you choose this route, consider buying a ready-made deck plan. Or, put to use one of the many websites with interactive design aids, such as Lowe’s Deck Designer (registration required), and Deckorators.

Planning a successful deck requires careful consideration of your site, your budget, and the features you should -- or shouldn't -- include. Here are some planning priorities to bear in mind.

Deciding on the Site and Size

Your deck will be a popular place, so give careful thought to where it should be located. Begin by working out how to access it from the house. The ever-handy back door to the kitchen probably won’t do the job; it will force traffic toward the cooking area, making a shambles of any large-group entertaining. A better solution is a French door or slider that gives primary access from a living room, dining room, or family room while being handy to the kitchen. If the doorway can also be positioned to offer an expansive view, all the better.

Next, make sure the deck neither swamps your yard, nor becomes lost in it. Your local codes may set standards for how much of your lot can be occupied by a deck, and how close a deck can be to your lot line. Check these limitations early in your planning with your city or county building department.

Decide where to locate stairways off the deck so they provide unobtrusive access to the backyard. Also consider the path of the sun and the location of shade trees; sunlight may be pleasant in the morning but unbearable later in the day -- having a shade tree to the west of your deck will help block the harsh late-day sun. Work out how to preserve your privacy and how to screen your deck from prevailing winds.

Think Local

To recoup a good portion of your investment, your deck needs to be right for your market. Appraiser Dick Koestner of Davenport, Iowa, recommends the simply checking out other decks in your area. “Don’t make it too extreme [compared with] what’s typical in your market,” he counsels. “Definitely don’t make it less than what is expected in the market.”

Koestner also emphasizes the importance of obeying local codes. “A lot of potential purchasers are having a home inspection done,” he says. “If the home inspector finds the deck isn't built to code, most of the purchasers are saying, ‘Hey, fix it.’"

He emphasizes that codes exist not just to preserve property values, but promote safety. For example, railing balusters spaced too far apart can constitute a falling hazard for small children (most codes stipulate 4-inch maximum gap). In addition, a deck inadequately attached to the house can collapse, often during a party when the structure is loaded with the extra weight of many people, creating mayhem like something out of the Poseidon Adventure. So get a permit from your building department and follow their requirements.

Of course, by dint of taking out a building permit your tax assessment will rise, but only to the extent that the value of your property is increased. The effect should be minimal: Decks are considered an outdoor improvement much like a new driveway or upgraded landscaping, not additional living space.

Looking Good

Although it's hard to put a dollar value on aesthetics, looks count. Give thought to how the deck will meld with the architecture of your house. Railings offer a good opportunity to pull in color and detail that complements your home. Consider how the deck fits in with your backyard; it should make a smooth transition from the house to the landscape.

7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

By: John Riha

Follow these seven strategies to get the most financial gain on your kitchen remodel.

 

Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. A complete kitchen renovation with a national median cost of $60,000 recovers about 67% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to the "2015 Remodeling Impact Report" from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The project gets a big thumbs-up from homeowners, too. Those polled in the "Report" gave their new kitchen a Joy Score of 9.8 -- a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their remodeling, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.

To maximize your return on investment, follow these seven strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.



1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.

How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.

Some tips on planning:

Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.

Related: Test Your Ergonomic Design Knowledge

Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.

Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: 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.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don't underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

2. Keep the Same Footprint

Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.

So if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. 

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

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Get real about appliances
Don't underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

3. Get Real About Appliances

It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. 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.

Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.

So unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.

Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Don't underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting

Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:
 
Task Lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (Here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.

Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.

Related: How to Choose the Best Bulb for the Job

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

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.

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

Related:

  • Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You'll Never Regret
  • White: The Savvy and Chic Kitchen Color Choice

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don't underestimate the power of lighting
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

6. Add Storage, Not Space

Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:

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.

Related: Storage Options that Pack More Space in Your Kitchen

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don't underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

7. Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers

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.

Be kind: Offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. They’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.

 

Evaluate Your House for an Attic Bedroom Renovation

By: Benjamin Allen

An attic bedroom remodel is an easy way to increase living space and avoid many of the zoning restrictions attached to adding on.

 

An attic bedroom exploits roof space previously devoted to high school yearbooks and nesting sparrows. Reclaiming the space under your roof also avoids many zoning and easement concerns -- common chores when adding onto a house.

Attic Bedroom Costs and Value

Converting an attic to a bedroom yields a modest return on your investment. According to "2015 Remodeling Impact Report" from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, an attic bedroom conversion that includes a small bath has a national median cost of $65,000 and retains 61% of its value if you should decide to sell your house.

Nevertheless, most homeowners who undertook an attic conversion have no regrets -- the project gets a Joy Score of 9.4, a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their remodeling, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.

But just because adding an attic bedroom under your rafters is a smart money move, it may not be practical or even doable. To determine if an attic bedroom is right for you, consider:

  • Building codes
  • Support structures
  • Electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems
  • Access

Are Building Codes on Your Side?

Although home owners often consider building codes to be obstacles, safety and durability are the real missions of codes. Because local codes vary, your building inspector can provide a list of applicable codes and required inspections for your new attic bedroom.

  • Ceiling codes: Generally 7 feet 6 inches high over a minimum floor area of 70 square feet. If you have an attic shorter than required by code, you won’t be able to remodel it into living space.
  • Joist codes: Ask an architect or structural engineer if your attic floor joists meet local codes and can support the additional weight of a remodeled space. Also ask if the rafters can support drywall, lighting, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC system components. Consultation costs $50 to $150 per hour.
  • Egress codes: Regular bedroom egress codes typically require at least two exits -- a doorway and usually a window. An attic bedroom requires both a window and a staircase to the level beneath. Having an escape ladder in clear view is always a good idea.

Support Systems

The structural framing beneath your roof -- rafters or trusses -- will determine if you can add an attic bedroom and what it might look like.

Rafters, internal beams extending from the peak of the roof to its eaves, provide a center open space that you can readily remodel.

Trusses, W-shaped framing that supports the roof, make things harder. To achieve the attic bedroom you want, you might have to cut through, shore up, and otherwise alter the very structures that keep your roof above your head. It may not be practical. Consult a structural engineer and/or a licensed architect to determine if modifying trusses is a good idea.

Extending Systems to Your Attic Bedroom

  • Electrical: Consult a licensed electrician to determine if your electric panel has room for additional breakers and can handle the increased load of an attic bedroom. If your system can handle the additional demands, running wires to the attic is relatively simple.
  • Plumbing: Cut costs by locating the new bathroom close to the main stack—large pipes that carry wastewater to your sewer or septic tank. This reduces the length of pipe you’ll run between sink-shower-toilet drains and the stack.
  • HVAC: An HVAC specialist will tell you if your forced air blower can move enough air to both heat and cool your attic bedroom. If it doesn’t, electric baseboard heating and a window air conditioner may suffice. Be sure your electrician knows your heating and cooling plans to determine the total electrical requirements of your new attic bedroom.

Gaining Access

An attic bedroom requires a standard staircase to meet code; a ladder is insufficient. Adding a staircase will take up space in a room below the attic, so consider converting a closet. You may be able to regain that storage space by using space under the new staircase.

Staircases with straight runs are easiest to construct but take up the greatest area, just over 40 square feet. Depending on materials and finishing touches, such as newel posts and hardware, costs can range from $500 to $3,000.

Spiral staircases take up the least area but are typically more expensive. Prices for a wood or metal-wood staircase kit ranges from $2,000 to $6,000; installation ranges from $600 to $1,200.

If you’re short on inside space, exterior access -- a staircase outside the house -- may be a solution. Check with your zoning department, which may interpret an outside staircase as a sign of a multi-unit dwelling, which may not meet neighborhood zoning requirements.

Evaluate Your House for Basement Finishing

By: Rich Binsacca

Some unfinished basements are better basement finishing candidates than others. Here’s how to evaluate your space for a basement finishing.

 

Basement finishing is a great way to add that extra bedroom or playroom you’ve always wanted, if you have the money and space.

Basement Remodel Cost

The per-square-foot price of basement finishing starts at about $90 per square foot and can climb higher depending on how much or how little remodeling you must do. According to the "2015 Remodeling Impact Report" from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the national median cost of remodeling a basement into a 15-foot-by-25-foot playroom is $36,000.

You'll get 69% of that investment back if you should sell your home. Meanwhile, settle into contentment -- homeowners responding to the "Report" gave their basement project a Joy Score of 9.4 --  a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their project, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.

And, you won’t have to dig and lay a foundation or frame and insulate exterior walls -- that’s already done.

Depending on your circumstances, here’s what you’ll need to know:

Building to Code

The International Residential Code (IRC) says a basement living space must have a clear, floor-to-ceiling height of at least 7 feet (6 feet for bathrooms). Local codes for basement finishing may vary, and exceptions are made for the presence of exposed structural beams, girders, or mechanical system components along the ceiling, but only if they’re spaced at least 4 feet apart and extend no more than 6 inches from the ceiling.

If your existing basement ceiling height doesn’t meet those specifications, you have two options, and neither is cheap:

  • Raise your house and build up the foundation around it to gain the ceiling height you need.
  • Lower the floor, which entails removing the existing concrete slab floor, excavating to the desired level, and pouring new concrete footings and a floor slab.

Both options during basement finishing require professional and precise engineering, excavation, and structural work that will cost at least $20,000.

Add a Staircase

The IRC also governs the staircase that leads from your home’s main level to the basement remodel. Requirements include a handrail and stairs with proper width, tread, and riser dimensions. There must be at least 6 ft. 8 inches of headroom at every point along the staircase.

If the stairway isn’t wide enough (at least 36 inches) or the steps aren’t to code, you may have to rebuild them during basement finishing, an extra cost of about $2,000.

Condition the Space

Heating and cooling your basement finishing can be as simple as tapping into existing HVAC main trunks and adding a couple of vents ($1,000) or as complicated as upgrading your entire heating and cooling systems ($7,000 to $15,000).

Your contractor will have to “size” your existing system to make sure it can handle the additional load and will comply with building codes that consider health and safety, such as adequate venting of furnace combustion gasses.

Cure Moisture Problems

You’ll have to fix moisture problems before basement finishing begins. You may have to waterproof walls and floors, grade the yard so water falls away from the foundation, install a sump pump, or install drains around the foundation, all or any of which can add thousands in costs.

Add Emergency Egress

Code dictates that basement finishing have at least one door or window big enough for people to get out and for help to get in during an emergency: If you’re including a bedroom, it must have its own point of egress. Each egress opening must be at least 5.7 square feet, with the windowsill no more than 44 inches above the floor.

Most basement walls are built using poured concrete or masonry blocks, which can be cut (although not as easily as wood-framed walls) to create openings for egress windows or doors.

7 Smart Strategies for Bathroom Remodeling

By: John Riha

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

 

You dream about a bathroom that’s high on comfort and personal style, but you also want materials, fixtures, and amenities with lasting value. Wake up! You can have both.

A midrange bathroom remodel is a solid investment, according to the "2015 Remodeling Impact Report" from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. A bath remodel with a national median cost of $26,000 will recover about 58% of those costs when it’s time to sell your home.

Regardless of payback potential, you'll probably be glad you went ahead and updated your bathroom. Homeowners polled for the "Report" gave their bathroom renovation a Joy Score of 9.3 -- a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their project, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.

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 two to three 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, and side fixtures or sconces distributed vertically across 24 inches (to account for people of various heights). Four-bulb lighting fixtures work well for side lighting.

Today, shopping for bulbs means paying attention to lumens, the amount of light you get from a bulb -- i.e., brightness. For these bathroom task areas, the Lighting Research Center recommends:

  • Toilet: 45 lumens
  • Sink: 450 lumens
  • Vanity: 1,680 lumens

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 remediationis 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.

Related: Everything You Need to Know about Exhaust Fans

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 square feet; save $200.
  • Install toilet; save $150.
  • 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.



 

 

© 2017 IRES Information source: Information and Real Estate Services, LLC. Provided for limited non-commercial use only under IRES Rules. @copy; Copyright IRES. All rights reserved. Information deemed to be reliable but not guaranteed. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes from IRES and the Broker Reciprocity Program.sm. Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than MB/West Realty are marked with the BR logo and detailed information about them includes the name of the listing brokers. Listing broker has attempted to offer accurate data, but buyers are advised to confirm all items. listing information is provided exclusively for consumers' personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information last updated on 2017-03-29 18:11:37.

DON'T MISS A NEW LISTING AGAIN!
Register Now
Already registered? Login

FREE AUTOMATED EMAIL UPDATES
Take advantage of all this site has to offer. Save your favorite listings and searches.  Receive email alerts  when  listings come on the market , price reductions or active listings and "solds" in your neighborhood.

Register Now
*Contact Information is NOT Shared*

Quick Search


view all


Any

Any

No Min.

No Max.

Bev West
West Realty/Metro Brokers
3835 10th Street, #200C
Greeley, CO 80634
Cell: 970-631-7111
Office: 970-351-0405
bev@bevwestingreeley.com


Bev West   |   970-631-7111   |   bev@bevwestingreeley.com
West Realty   |   3835 10th Street, #200C   |   Greeley, CO 80634
Copyright © 2015. Bev West, All Rights Reserved