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Remodeling Your Home

Blueprint

Home improvement has become big business in the United States. American households spend billions on home improvements annually. It’s no small wonder that renovations in recent years have become more upscale, and home remodeling businesses have expanded to meet the demand for more sophisticated projects.

The most popular remodeling job is usually for the kitchen, which also typically adds to the resale value of the home. Bathroom improvements are also extremely popular with homeowners, who are eager to sacrifice their small spare bedrooms to make way for huge bathing areas that often include a hot tub, separate shower, dual sinks, heated towel racks, bidets, and lavish marble floors and countertops. Moreover, ceilings are often being raised to the roof to create an atrium look with skylights and small trees. And it is not uncommon to convert a spare room or unfinished space into a home office.

Before you even think about making a home improvement, you need to find a reputable contractor, and that may not be easy. Even if you know one, a reputable contractor may have a long list of projects. It may take months or even years to start the work, as the boom in home renovation demand currently exceeds contractor availability.

When do you know it’s time to make some major changes in your home? Most likely when you can’t bear to look at your old bathroom fixtures and cracked tiles or the outmoded kitchen cabinets and shabby vinyl floor. Or it could be that you need some additional space to accommodate your growing family. Regardless of your reasons, you’re certainly not alone when it comes to remodeling your home.

Demand Drives New Products and Services

Even when the stock market falters or mortgage rates rise, home renovations help you build equity in your home. As a result, renovations have become more upscale and home remodeling businesses have expanded to meet the demand for more sophisticated projects.

The Open Kitchen

The most popular remodeling job is for the kitchen, which also leads in adding resale value to the home, according to Remodeling Magazine. One of the hottest trends is the “open design” kitchen, which is incorporated into the overall living area of the dining room, den and/or living room. Additionally, kitchens are being rebuilt larger to accommodate more people, food preparation, and storage. Space is being designed more efficiently with rollout shelves, lazy Susans, trash compactors, recessed lighting, and underground cook-top venting. Many designs include dual work areas with separate sinks and cutting areas or large granite “islands” doubling as preparation and dining surfaces. Skylights, dimmable lighting, stainless steel appliances, and wine coolers make the kitchen an attractive setting for entertaining guests while preparing a meal.

Manufacturers have developed many efficient appliances to meet the needs of the time-challenged consumer. For example, there are convection ovens that move heated air directly onto the food instead of into the oven cavity, reducing cooking time up to 25%. And at least one manufacturer offers an oven that uses intense light to reduce cooking time. Meanwhile, the so-called smart appliances on the market can interact with your computer, so you can activate or control the dishwasher, oven, heating/air conditioning, or Jacuzzi over the Internet.

The Lavish Bath

Bathroom improvements are also extremely popular with homeowners, who are eager to sacrifice their small spare bedrooms to make way for huge bathing areas that often include a hot tub, separate shower, dual sinks, heated towel racks, bidets, and lavish marble floors and countertops. Moreover, ceilings are often being raised to the roof to create an atrium look with skylights and small trees.

The New Home Worker’s Office

An office at home is also in demand now, as workers choose to “commute” from home — saving time, dry-cleaning bills, and transportation hassle and expense to become more productive and efficient. Since electronic communication can deliver corporate office and customer site meetings at home, an attractive, workable home office is needed to accommodate this new work culture.

Buyer Beware

While these innovations are impressive, so are the costs. A standard kitchen redesign can run $20,000 to $40,000. Add in granite countertops and special appliances, and the price can climb well over $60,000. Although time-saving and fun, these new appliances can cause sticker shock, so comparison shop.

But before you even think about making a home improvement, you need to find a reputable contractor, and that may not be easy. Even if you know one, a reputable contractor may have a long list of projects. It may take months or even years to start the work, as the boom in home renovation demand often exceeds contractor availability.

Do Your Homework on Your Biggest Investment

This may be a great time for home renovations. Sophisticated new appliances and larger living areas can create beautiful, stress-relieving surroundings while also saving you time and money. Banks are eager to make home equity loans, and loan interest is tax deductible as well. So take the time to find a reputable contractor. Do the research, talk to your friends, check references, get several estimates, and most important, get the contract in writing. These simple steps could keep your new dream home from becoming a “money pit.”

Points to Remember

  1. Remodeling demand is driving new product technology and costs.
  2. Kitchen remodeling ranks first in popularity and resale value.
  3. Retain a reputable contractor through references and estimates.
  4. Do not proceed without a written contract.
  5. Project financing is available through home equity loans, mortgage refinancing, and home improvement loans from banks, credit unions, and insurance and finance companies.
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