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Remodeling is big business. As families grow and change, so do homeowner’s needs. Remodeling your home offers an updated style or improved living space, and it gives you the chance to stay in your existing home and neighborhood. Any remodeling project more complicated than applying a fresh coat of paint requires careful planning. Knowing some general facts and guidelines before you start will help you make advantageous decisions.
Remodeling projects typically cost more per square foot than do similar new construction projects. This is due in part to increased labor charges related to tearing out old elements before new construction can begin. Additional labor is also necessary when tying the remodeling project into the existing house. Material-matching costs can also be high. For example, if you’re building an addition, you might have trouble matching your home’s existing siding and roofing shingles. If you can’t find a close match, you might end up re-siding the whole house or re-shingling the entire roof.
You can do just about anything with your floor plan as long as you’re willing to pay for it. When you start changing your home’s load-bearing structure, an engineer must figure out how to transfer and disperse load to other weight-bearing points in the house. This might be as simple as replacing a wall with a header, but it could require pouring new footers beneath the house and installing steel beams to support the revised structure.
Codes, Covenants and HOAs
In many communities, you can repaint or install new flooring without pulling a permit. If you want to change the interior or exterior structure, however, you’ll need a permit and your project must comply with local building codes. Covenants and homeowner’s associations (HOAs) control exterior structural and design elements in specific neighborhoods. If you have an HOA, it can affect whether you can build an addition and what type of exterior finish you can use.
Homeowners can save money if they do some or all of the remodeling work themselves. If your project requires electrical, plumbing or heat, ventilation and air (HVAC) elements, however, a licensed professional must do the work. In many communities, you can assume the role of a general contractor and schedule subcontractors to install mechanical elements. The downside is you must be available during work hours to sign for deliveries, schedule inspections and meet with subs. If the lumberyard will not give you the same discount it gives a general contractor, you might not save as much as you’d like.
Most of the time, you will not recoup the entire cost of the remodeling project when you sell your house, but some projects add more to your home’s value than others. Adding a new bathroom or finishing living space in the attic can raise your home’s value by as much as 75 percent of the project cost. Other projects, such as re-roofing and painting the outside of your house can raise your home’s value by as little as 10 percent, although those projects just might create the curb appeal necessary to get buyers in the front door.