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2011 - Volume 1 Issue 1
Casas Bonitas
Article: Bob Skolnick
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It is important to consider that some day in the distant future you may place the home for sale. When it enters the real estate for sale market, it will need to compete in many ways. It is true that a modern kitchen, a deluxe bathroom, an outdoor cooking area and pool and spa will make the house appealing. One area not so visible, yet equally important, is the energy efficiency of the home. In the topic of energy efficiency there is a lot of development that has already occurred and there is a lot of development that will hit the market in the near future. New homes being constructed will have many of the new energy efficient technology improvements built into the construction.

    Many people are making the decision to stay in their home and modernize it rather than purchase a new home. There are always pluses and minuses in most major decisions. This is an important choice both emotionally and financially and we want to help you think through the issues involved and outline what we think are priority considerations. Regardless of the age of your present home, technology has advanced since your home was built and choices in all areas of home construction and comfort items have expanded. The tendency is to focus on the visual improvements whether remodeling your kitchen and bath, building a media room or expanding the outdoor living area.
Why is this important? The first issue is the cost of energy to operate your home. Everyone wants to spend the least amount needed to light, heat and cool their home. In a desert region this a key issue. Secondly, there may well be government minimums imposed on older homes as our society becomes more conscious that energy use reduction goes hand in hand with the search for alternative energy sources. There are specialists who are skilled in evaluating the existing homes for energy efficiency and will provide recommendations for improvements. Having a “tight” house and “efficient mechanical” allows for energy efficiency and saves you significant operating expenses over time. Make this evaluation before you make your budget priorities and allocations.

Another key issue is in modernizing a home that has been built two decades or more ago. It is important to evaluate the mechanical structure and efficiency of the existing electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling and hot water delivery systems. Heating and cooling can and should be zoned, delivering heat or cooling to where you want it and when you want it. Eliminating cooling unused rooms and preventing refrigerated air loss requires the advice of a heating and cooling expert. Many of these areas are important to your continuing comfort and you cannot visually determine their current status as efficient and safe. Reliable testing techniques are now available for homeowners. We have investigated the concept of Thermal Imaging and CurrentSAFE electrical assessments and fully endorse their use. These steps need to be made before any demolition and reconstruction occurs. These tests are very reasonable in cost and need to be budgeted.

Finally, the collective technology is so specific that no one person can be an expert in all areas. You can do extensive research on the internet and in person, and should do so. When you have a good idea of what your remodeling plan might encompass, then select a professional remodeler to work with you to formulate and manage your remodeling plan. There is no substitution for experience coupled with competency. Late in this edition, we will provide you with suggestions on how to select a professional to help you through this process and who can also put you in touch with the best and proven specialists that help you with specific decisions and selections.

Do it right! If the collective cost of all of the improvements you would like to make exceed what you can afford at this time, prioritize the areas of improvement and schedule your improvements in phases. A professional remodeler can break your project down to a phased remodeling plan.

Living Through a Home Remodel Project

Next, be prepared to live a modified lifestyle while your home is being remodeled. Some people move into rental space while their house is being remodeled. If you can do that, the remodeling project will go much faster and probably save you money on the construction costs – the remodeling staff will not have to dedicate part of everyday to clean up, making the home comfortable for you and your family during the evenings and weekend. If you cannot move to temporary lodging, then you need to be prepared for some of the inconveniences that come with a remodeling project. Here are some of the issues to consider:

Your Remodeling Professional – develop a planned communications process where you speak daily with the contractor or the project supervisor to be aware of what is scheduled for the day. You need to know if there will be a temporary interruption to utilities, such as water or power turn off while certain work is in progress. Know what material deliveries are scheduled. Know what inspections are likely to occur on any day.

Your Remodeling Team – your chosen remodeler’s staff and sub contractors are on the job as working professionals in their area of expertise. They will work more efficiently when their basic needs are taken care of. The remodeling contractor needs to arrange for a bathroom for the staff to use. If it is not practical to use one of the bathrooms in the house, then a portable toilet needs to be placed on your property. Having some basics for your remodeling team such as a daily coffee pot and / or bottled water goes a long way in building a good rapport with the team.

Prepare for Trash Removal – the demolition of certain areas will produce a lot of materials that cannot be efficiently reused. The remodeler will arrange for a commercial size refuse container to be placed in front of your home, maybe in the driveway. Be prepared for this trash container to be placed and visible during the duration of the remodel.

Pose Questions to the Remodeler or Project Supervisor – you are going to be “witness” to much of the work in progress. Questions will arise. Contact the remodeler via cell phone or email with the concern. In today’s upgraded cell phone capabilities, communications are easy and immediate. Do not ask questions of the workmen. They need to take direction from their supervisors and will be more efficient and cost effective if they do not have to stop work and make explanations to the homeowner.

Verify Major Items When Delivered – make sure the major appliances, bathroom fixtures and heating and cooling equipment are exactly the model and size you ordered. Once accepted and installed, they are yours.

Plan for Storage – it is likely that as the remodeling team moves into different phases of the remodel project you will need to move all of your items out of that room while that phase is being completed. Sometimes the garage is an option. If not, you can rent temporary storage containers that are lockable which can be placed in the driveway.

Talk with Your Neighbors – let your neighbors know you are remodeling and alert them that your remodeling team will be street parking and there are going to be trucks with material deliveries. Once your remodel is complete, a neighbor “open house” as a thank you for being inconvenienced is a good idea.

Secure Your Valuables – you are going to have the remodeler’s team, sub contractors and delivery people constantly coming in and out of your house. Do not put yourself and these professionals in a possible compromising situation. Take all valuables and lock them up in a very secure and private location during the entire length of the remodel. If you have valuable art and accessories, remove and store them during the duration of the remodel.

At the Beginning of the Day – a professional remodeler will have plastic to create dust abatement barriers placed to separate the work area from the living spaces. They will also take steps with you to cover with plastic all furniture, audio-video equipment, etc.

At the End of the Day – a professional remodeler will allocate sufficient time for a thorough clean up of the day’s work and the possible removal of plastic covers and barriers. Make sure there are provisions to lock all doors if you are not at home when the team finishes.

Secure All Materials – construction materials large and small, inexpensive and expensive are yours. Make sure they are secured. Construction sites are targets for theft.

Kitchen Remodeling – plan for temporary cooking in another area of the house. If you have an outdoor kitchen area, this can be the new daily kitchen. If not, a microwave, coffee pot and a refrigerator may be all you have. Plan for this circumstance and be creative with your menus.

Be Prepared for The Unexpected – regardless of your communications with your remodeler or the project manager, there are going to be times when the plan gets off schedule or problems occur that are unexpected. Remodeling is a complex process with many elements to be coordinated. An experienced and competent remodeler knows what to do when the plan gets off track. ///
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