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by Matt Goering of HomeAdvisor.com

Home addition estimates are tricky business. Truth be told, there are too many variables involved in a major remodeling project or room addition for any contractor to provide a specific square foot price ahead of time, and all free estimates should be considered just that: estimates. Not only must your contractor consider structural aspects, such as load-bearing walls, location of plumbing and wiring, and possible changes to the roof line, but estimating home remodeling costs also depends on what kind of materials you want: custom or pre-manufactured cabinets? Carpet, hardwood, or laminate floors? A whirlpool tub or an economy model? Contractors may be able to give you a ballpark bid based on what you think you want, but no one can give you a firm bid without working from a specific set of plans and specifications.

Talk to the Pros for Quality Home Addition Estimates
If you decide that you’d like something more precise than a general estimate, consider hiring a building designer, residential designer, or architect who specializes in residential remodels/additions to draw up plans for you. These specialists are trained to discuss your priorities and budget and to develop a detailed plan for your project that includes a detailed list of specifications and the materials you want (by brand name and model number if possible). They will also contact other professionals, such as structural engineers and subcontractors, as needed, to draw up plans that will meet building codes, and to figure out ahead of time which building permits are going to be necessary to obtain.

With Home Addition Estimates, Nothing Is Set in Stone
Even if you pay for design specifications up front, prepare to be flexible when it comes to the final cost of your addition. Estimating remodeling costs can never account for the unexpected, and the unexpected is the rule, not the exception, when it comes to major addition or remodeling projects. That being the case, it’s also a good idea to get at least three bids on your project from different contractors based on the plans you have drawn up. Talking to more than one contractor allows you to compare costs and services, and to weed out home addition estimates that are far higher, or lower, than the competition.

Don’t Take Their Word for It When Estimating Remodeling Costs
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few contractors that you feel you can trust, and who claim they can keep your home addition project in line with your home addition estimates, it’s time to do a little extra homework. Ask for references and always check them! The only true way to evaluate a contractor’s work, trustworthiness, and ability to complete the job in a timely manner, is to talk with customers who have worked with them in the past. If your contractor shies away from providing you with current references, or if the references are hesitant to rubber stamp the contractor’s work, move on to another professional. Only someone who has proven themselves in the past is worth trusting with a project as big as a large scale home addition or remodel.

There are a few concepts in home décor that might have gotten a bad rap. Shag carpetingtrack lighting and the color avocado tend to make most homeowners’ eyes roll. When used thoughtfully, however, I believe they still have a place in this world.

Laurie March Bathroom Fixtures
Photo: HGTVRemodels.com, courtesy Sean McEvoy

Sadly, brass kitchen and bathroom fixtures seem to have fallen in with this crowd as well. For many years, builder grade brass-plated fixtures were liberally installed in homes – which, explains why the word “brass” is now spat with dread.

Laurie March Bathroom Fixtures
Photo: HGTVRemodels.com, courtesy Sean McEvoy

Chrome has become the sparkling favorite child when it comes to coveted fixtures. I think the time has come for a shiny smackdown between these two metals to see if brass is ready to ride again!

Beautiful Brass

Laurie March Blog Brass vs. Chrome

Photo: InteriorsByColor.com

Now I see nothing dated about the brass in this kitchen. Right down to the studs on the stools, the warm tones of that metal are what make this kitchen cook. The faucet screams effortless elegance and the chandelier must make every day seem like a special occasion.

Chrome in the Kitchen

Laurie March blog Brass vs. Chrome
Photo: RoomZaar.com

This faucet knows it’s gorgeous, you can tell. Even the water filter looks proud. This chunk of chrome would win over many a chef. You might even want to do the dishes with this guy in your house. It’s classic, it’s stunning and it’s giving brass a run for its money.

Brass Splash

Laurie March blog Brass vs. Chrome Bathtub
Photo: CatchPoleAndRye.com

Guys. It’s a giant, gorgeous brass bathtub. I’ve fallen in love at first sight and I never want it to end. This is seriously a piece of art. If there was ever an argument to be made in brass’ favor, here it is. There’s nothing cheap or passé about this showstopper – brass is back!

Chic Showering

Laurie March Bathroom Fixtures Blog
Photo: HGTVRemodels.com

I’ve got to be honest: This shower is perfection. The jets, the options and yes, the chrome, have come together to create a drool worthy feature in any home. This is the kind of bathroom improvement that provides buckets of resale value, although why would you ever move?

So what say you? Do you have room in your heart for classy brass or do you still find it to be crass? If and when you have to choose, will cool chrome continue to shine or are you ready to warm things up?

Kitchen makeovers remain popular as homeowners continue to invest to create a warm, stylish, comfortable, and efficient heart of the home. In addition to improved aesthetics and organization, kitchen remodels also hold reasonable resale value.

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report, midrange minor kitchen remodels — new countertops, appliances, cabinet fronts, and hardware — have an average national cost just shy of $20,000 and get 72% return on investment. Midrange major remodels, which include new appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring, and lighting, have a mid-range average of $57,824 and a nearly 66% return. High-end renovations can easily cost $100,000 and up.

Though aesthetics are important, the driving remodeling force is functionality. Start by doing some research and tour show houses and kitchen show rooms to see product up close and personal. Next, set a budget that reflects your main priorities for the new space and familiarize yourself with basic elements of design.

PLANNING YOUR BEST KITCHEN

Today’s kitchens average 200–300 square feet and are increasingly part of an open-floor plan. Other trends include a move towards simplicity, uncluttered looks, energy efficiency, and natural materials. Look to design books, magazines, and websites for ideas. And check out the helpful Kitchen Planner by the National Kitchen and Bath Assocation (NKBA), which is available as a free download.

Here are some key points to get you started:

How will you use the kitchen? Before you do anything, determine how you like to cook and entertain in your kitchen. Do you cook alone or with someone? Is your kitchen a multi-purpose room where kids do homework and friends love to gather? Keep track of what currently works well and what doesn’t. For instance, if you’re forever crawling into the back of lower cabinets to retrieve something, jot that issue down.

Stop the clutter. Now is your chance to take inventory of everything you need to store, then plan accordingly. Fortunately, cabinet makers realize storage and organization features drive sales, and they’ve responded accordingly.

Think about efficiency. If your kitchen feels more like an obstacle course than an organized work place, consider two tried-and-true kitchen layout basics:

  • The Work Triangle. This imaginary triangle features the stove, refrigerator, and sink at the points. The old “26-foot rule” dictates that the perimeter of this triangle should not exceed 26 feet and that each side should be between four and nine feet long. Make sure that the triangle doesn’t intersect an island or peninsula for more than a foot. (To see additional layouts, selectGalley, L-shaped, Corridor, andG-shaped floor plans.)
  • The Work Station. Create separate stations for food prep, cooking, baking, and cleaning. Each area is centered around a major appliance and needs at least 15 inches of counter space.

Stick with a Budget. In all likelihood, you’ll need to make some choices on where to save and where to splurge. “Keep your priorities front and center,” advises the NKBA Kitchen Planner. “A $500 range or a $10,000 one? A $100 sink or one that’s $3,500? A $4 polished brass knob or a $98 crystal model? What’s important to you?”

As for budget breakdown, the NKBA Kitchen Planner notes that you can expect cabinetry and hardware to run about 29% of your investment, appliances and ventilation can be 14%, countertopstypically run 10%, and installation is about 17% of the total project cost. Set aside 10% or 20% of your budget for contingencies.

Related:

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Usually there are three options to choose from when replacing existing windows:

1. Full Frame Replacement
2. Pocket Solution
3. Tilt Sash Replacement

Full frame replacement involves removing and installing a whole new window and frame. You must take out the existing window and trim everything down to the studs.

This first way works well if you don’t have to worry about trim or if the already installed unites are a different shape or size.

The second way, the pocket solution, is the least intrusive and a much more economical method of replacing windows. The benefits to you are:
1. The millwork doesn’t need to be replaced
2. It won’t disturb interior trim or external siding
3. You will be able to maintain your existing window treatments
4. It is more economical since the surrounding window doesn’t need to be replaced or repainted.

Tilt sash replacements won’t disturb the architecture of the structure, existing interior trim, or exterior siding.

These windows are built to fit existing window frames, and kits are available in a wide range of sizes, options and accessories.

Have you ever started your own kitchen remodeling project before? If not, then you should be cautious, since many people often are having troubles when their kitchen remodeling is out of control. So, if you don’t want such thing to happen to you, then you should check out what we have for you – several kitchen remodeling tips that can also work as simple guidelines to keep you on track. So, get your pen and paper now because you’re going to need take notes of these important tips.

The first and most important thing in kitchen remodeling tips is make the best planning. Of course, a good planning is going to take a long time, but this is what makes it important. Take your time in browsing for more inspirations and examples of kitchen remodeling ideas. Who knows, maybe you can save more money because you are avoided from simple mistakes. Secondly, DIY is not a big problem, but it’s best if we hire a professional and creative contractor that has experienced a lot of kitchen remodeling projects. In finding the best contractor, you should at least find 5 contractors and then interview them in details, to see which one you should be hiring. However, even if you are hiring one, some of the prep works can be done by yourself, such as sanding rough dark beams or painting them. Thirdly, always supervise the workers while working in order to maintain their good job in working on the project. Lastly, don’t be easily tempted with elegant designs that are actually pretty expensive. Sometimes, simplicity can mean a lot more, and can result in a far more satisfying result.

So, stick with these kitchen remodeling tips whenever you’re starting your own project. Make sure that everything is prepared well, and you won’t be disappointed with the results. So, good luck!

The contractors state license board (CSLB) is alerting California consumers who are considering hiring a painter, landscaper, or any other type of construction contractor that it is illegal to ask for or accept a down payment of more than 10% of the total home improvement contract price or one thousand dollars, which ever is less. A person should never pay for work before it is completed, or pay for materials before they are delivered to the property. Make sure the written contract contains a progress payment schedule that outlines project phases, with all costs and estimated completion dates.