Home Improvement 101

Couple measuring a wall inside their home

Looking to tackle some of those to-do items this summer? Here’s some advice on improving your home, so you can get started in no time.

How to Find the Right Contractor

Looking for a contractor for your home improvement project? These tips and suggestions will help you choose the right person for the job.

Shop around. It might be tempting to accept the first quote you receive, especially if it seems reasonable and you’re eager to get started on your project. But it’s worth taking the extra time to get estimates from multiple contractors, so that you can compare their offerings and make sure that whomever you choose will be the best fit for you and your needs.

Check qualifications. Make sure that your contractor is properly licensed and insured before clearing them to start any work. (Note that licensing requirements vary depending on where you live, so you might need to do a little research on what’s expected here.)

Be upfront about your expectations. This goes beyond just budget and timeline (although it’s crucial to be clear about these things as well). For example, how often do you expect updates from your contractor? How much leeway are you willing to give them in terms of small decisions that need to be made? Make your needs known with regard to how you want them to communicate and how involved you will be in the process

 Kitchen

A successful kitchen home remodeling project can bring value to your home and add pleasure to your life. Here are some tips for doing it right.

Set a budget. It’s best to avoid loans for kitchen renovations. Consider what you can realistically afford and start saving if the price tag is out of reach. Get estimates, Do plenty of research. And talk to more than one contractor to find out what’s feasible. You should also plan on saving 20% extra to cover unexpected expenses.

Balance needs with wishes. Start by determining what persistent problems irritate you about your current kitchen. Is there too little space to cook comfortably, store food and stack dishware? Do you need a larger dining area? Are the appliances old or ineffective? Once you know your needs, you can prioritize ways to efficiently spend your budget.

Hire an expert or DIY. The easiest (and most expensive) strategy is to off-load most of the design, planning and management of workers to a contractor. But this will come at a high cost. You can save a lot of money by hiring and supervising subcontractors to do the hands-on work. Choose wisely based on your schedule, experience and risk tolerance.

Bedroom

You likely spend more time in your bedroom than anywhere else in your house, so it’s important to make it a room that you love. Here are some questions to consider when starting a bedroom renovation project.

How large is your space? Before you do anything, measure your bedroom and get a sense for how much space you have to work with. Redesign ideas that are perfect for larger spaces might not translate as well to more compact rooms (and vice versa).

How (else) do you use your bedroom? Certainly, it’s where you sleep. But is your bedroom also your de facto home office, or the room in which you most enjoy reading or watching TV? Have a clear idea in mind about the purpose you want your bedroom to serve before deciding how to update it.

Does it need a full redesign or just a refresh? Sometimes, all it takes to make a bedroom feel brand new is a little furniture rearranging or some updated decor accents. Consider moving your bed to a different spot, brightening your walls with a different paint color, incorporating new artwork or even swapping out your rug if you have one.

Bathroom

Are you considering a home improvement bathroom renovation? Here are some essential tips to help you do it right.

Let there be light. Remember that any overhead light will cast shadows on the face. For this reason, it’s best to layer in soft lighting at head-level near the vanity. You can also add some pleasant ambient light by installing recessed LEDs on a dimmer switch.

Go against the flow. You can beautify your bathroom and reduce your water bills by installing low-flow faucets and toilets. These modern upgrades are also a great way to make your home a little more eco-friendly. Prevent mold and mildew. Bathrooms are naturally prone to humidity, which can spur mold and mildew growth. If your bathroom has a tub or shower, building codes demand adequate ventilation. Make sure your bathroom remodel includes plans for window vents or exhaust fans.

Basement

Thinking of remodeling your basement? Whether you’re transforming it into a playroom, a home gym or a living space for extended family members, here are some important things to keep in mind as you develop your plans.

Does it have any moisture? Before you start any basement renovation project, you need to determine the level of moisture in the room – and ensure that you get it under control if necessary. Solutions vary, depending on how much moisture you’re dealing with – it could be something as simple as a dehumidifier, or a complete remediation if mold has seeped into the foundations.

Is there a means of egress? In order to comply with most local building codes, your basement will need to have an exit other than the door that leads down to it. That exit can be either a door or a window with a well that allows for escape in case of emergency.

Is it insulated? Many basements are uninsulated (or under-insulated); if you’re planning to make the space livable, you’ll want to make sure you incorporate proper insulation. In addition to being more comfortable, a well-insulated basement also saves you money by cutting down on energy costs and protecting against moisture damage.

Attic

Planning to transform your attic into usable living space? Do it right with these attic remodeling tips.

Make sure it’s up to code. When converting any attic into living space, it has to meet the same building requirements as any other room in your home. Many people are surprised by the requirements in their states. Be sure you educate yourself before making any remodeling plans.

Consider heating and ventilation. If your attic doesn’t already have ductwork, you will need to determine if your current HVAC system can support an additional room. You will also need to make sure you have adequate rafter vents to help prevent ice dams by keeping your roof cool even when your attic is warm.Have it wired. Once your attic is up to local codes and you have obtained a permit (if necessary), hire a reputable licensed electrician to make sure all electrical wiring meets local code requirements.

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