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Remodeling: Making the dream a reality

Nailing It Down
By Dave Murnen
and Pat Beaty

Home may be sweet, but many of us would like it to be sweeter – or at least roomier.
Are you like so many Americans --eager to remodel or add on to your humble castle?
Every carpenter knows it’s best to measure twice and cut once. Every real estate agent knows when it comes to buying or selling a house, it’s all about location, location and location.
And, here at Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services when it comes to remodeling, we believe the best motto for a successful project is planning, planning, planning!
Here are some simple steps to take your dream of remodeling and make it into a reality.

Getting on the same page
You know you want to remodel your kitchen but how much further have you thought? Do you want a gas stove, lots of cupboard space, a breakfast nook? Or are you more interested in an extra sink, sky lights, a chopping block and a pantry?
Whatever the changes you’re considering – an updated kitchen or an additional bathroom and bedroom – start with answering: “What will this room be used for?” “What problem are we trying to solve?” “How do we live, entertain?” “What are our needs and desires for this space?”
Answering these questions is critical, because when it comes to building form follows function.
So, make sure you write down what you want as specifically as possible.
At this point often spouses find their lists are not identical. It’s no surprise that the two of you might have slightly different priorities when it comes to your home (or anything else!) However, it’s during this planning time that it’s best –and most inexpensive – to hash out those differences. Besides it’s awkward for everyone when the designer or contractor is put into the position of arbitrator or marriage counselor.
To do this, have your specific list of changes ready in priority order. That way you can work to see if your budget can handle that coveted jetted tub or dreamed of pedestal sink. And, even if it can’t you will still end up with an additional bathroom to help the morning rush.

The big picture
When planning your addition or remodeling project, remember to keep the big picture in mind.
How will your proposal affect the traffic patterns in the house? How will it impact the natural light?
For many it’s hard to visualize what the changes will look like. Measure your home and plot it out on graph paper. Or, you can even make a three-dimensional model out of cardboard or even Legos.
Also keep in mind how long you plan to live in the house. Are you making the changes to fit your taste and your family’s needs or are you hoping for better resale value?
Updated kitchens and additional bathrooms and bedrooms quickly add to the value of a home. Even the addition of a deck can make your home more attractive to future home buyers. But adding something like a swimming pool – especially in Grays Harbor—is usually a liability for resale.
A good rule of thumb is – if no one else in the neighborhood has it, don’t add it to your house if you’re interested in resale value.

Show me the money
Once you’ve prioritized what you want to do, and considered the big picture, it’s time for the nitty gritty part—creating a budget.
In fact, during all those days of pondering what you want and negotiating with your spouse, one thing you can do to help the project along is save your money!
Remodeling costs vary widely – the average is anything from $45 to $105 a square foot.
It all depends on the actual design, the materials you choose – carpet at $12 a foot or $50? and who does the work.
Is it simple enough that you can design the job yourself or work with the building inspectors? Or, will you hire a designer or architect?
Are you skilled enough to do some of the building work yourself? Will a friend or two help you paint? Or, do you plan to have a contractor do it all?
Regardless of the answers, you need to determine how much money you have to spend on the project.
When you plan your budget, give yourself a 10 to 30 percent buffer. Hopefully you won’t need to use it. But, most folks discover things that they want to add or change or just surprises in the walls or unexpected material price increases.

Next week we’ll talk more about remodeling including using how to use the expertise of your building inspector and how to find a good contractor.
In the meantime, if you need help with a remodeling project, maybe we can help. We offer reasonably priced design services to help you plan your project. We can also help walk you through the permitting process and can even act as general contractor for you.

Dave Murnen is a construction manager and Pat Beaty is a construction specialist at Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. Do you have questions about home repair, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services at 533-7828 or visit at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.

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