Jan 30, 2012

5 Remodel must do's.

Whether you're remodeling an apartment, condo, tract home, an historic house, or an estate, there are some must-do's to consider in your project. 

A smart remodel that maximized space, materials and light for
an on-budget, beautiful result.
1) Be energy efficient. With EPA Water Sense requirements, most plumbing fixtures will be labeled as such. You can opt for a beautiful traditional sink and lav set to complement the history of the home, or go modern and sleek in your contemporary ranch home.  This applies to your appliances as well. Almost all are Energy Star labeled. For lighting, many municipalities have codes for both energy savings and safety, Often it's as simple as using LED, compact fluorescent and other energy-efficient bulbs. Adding dimmers provides a clear and easy savings. The same efficiency extends to number, type and placement of windows and doors.  It's best to maximize natural light and improve air flow at the construction stage than to heat, light, and cool the interior later. The goal: save on annual operating costs as well as reduce your portion of global energy consumption long-term. 

2) Merge styles. From exterior facades to interior trim, it's smart to design the remodel to blend with what exists.  That's not to say that a gorgeous modern wing can't complement a traditional building, but the overall appeal of a remodel that looks as though it was always that way is better than a piecemeal style,

Space planning and materials made for a
small budget, big-impact remodel.
3) Re-design kitchens and baths for the long-term. Don't just re-surface your spaces by adding new flooring and tile, and forget to think about function. Use the concepts of Universal Design, give thought to aging in place, and consider making your spaces trans-generational. Those items include, better counter-heights, new positions and heights for appliances, improved scale in showers, re-think distances between islands and counters, wider doorways, and improved layout for function, storage, and long-term use.  A consultation with a design pro will be well-worth it for the best longevity, function, and of course, aesthetics.

Green and gorgeous.
4) Consider eco-friendly materials and indoor air quality. When you upgrade your home, the construction materials, the surface materials, and the furnishings you install, all should be the best they can be for your health,  That new-home smell we all think of is actually the off-gassing of toxic materials. Not good, although after 5 years, that off-gassing will be less. Investigate the use of carpeting, glues, paints, insulation, plywood, and other materials that generally off-gas. No VOC (volatile organic compound) products are readily available and are safer. Consider the furniture and cabinets you buy. Are they made with certified wood, do they contain formaldehyde and petrochemicals (VERY common), and are the finishes as safe as their components?  Beautiful, sustainable and safe products exist in every category.  Don't forget the construction materials and insulation that will remain with your home forever. If your contractor sneers at the thought of using better materials - the cost is NOT prohibitive and good selections now pay off in the long-run - then find another. That industry sub-segment  is NOT "business as usual". Do some research and you'll be healthier, happier, and your wallet will thank you as well.

5) Be a problem-solver before you begin. Any remodel should make your life easier, better, more functional, and aesthetically pleasing. Don't jump into a change without thinking through the steps, the immediate benefits and the long-term effects. Even if you don't change the footprint of a room or home, you CAN improve the space, the storage, the lighting, and so much more.  Make your remodel easier to maintain instead of complicated. There are fabulous solutions and ideas for EVERY budget.  If you have doubts, spend a few hours with a design professional.