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Home Remodeling Projects

In the year between 2011 and 2012, spending on home improvement increased by a full 21% in the United States.

If it’s time for you to start thinking about home remodeling projects, or if you’ll be selling soon and want to get the most out of your sale, you might be wondering where to begin. In this article, we’ll be talking about some smart decisions you can make for optimizing your home, whether for your family’s comfort and safety or for a higher sale price down the road.

As always, if you’re starting any major home remodeling projects involving reconstruction, you’ll want to make sure you’ve found a skilled contractor with a great track record. Much like lean manufacturing methods streamline steel suppliers and factories, smart construction techniques can make home remodeling projects a breeze.

Home Remodeling Projects for Your Kitchen

Out of all home remodeling projects, you can perform, upgrades to your kitchen can often be the most valuable. Besides adding style, comfort, and functionality for your family, it can dramatically increase the sale price when you decide to sell your home.

It’s important to recognize that your kitchen is the most complicated and expensive room in your entire house. Make sure you hire a competent professional with a solid track record in kitchen remodeling when you decide to remodel.

One of the most helpful kitchen additions is an island in the center of the room. This should only be done if your kitchen is large enough to accommodate one, however. Ideally, there should be a clearance of at least 36 inches around an entire island. If you can install an island in your kitchen, it can help enhance kitchen productivity and boost the value of your entire home.

Before hiring kitchen remodelers, it could be a good idea to hire an interior designer to help you plan your layout. If you have no plans to sell your home and just want added functionality, then it might not hurt just to figure out what you want to be done on your own. But if you’re selling, or you want that special flare that only a pro designer can cook up, you should definitely consider finding a skilled kitchen designer to help you plan your upgrades.

Replacing Your Garage Door

Of all the home remodeling projects you can do, replacing the garage door can have the highest return on your investment. A garage door needs to be carefully maintained, and it can only be replaced by a professional. The following are some key advantages to replacing your garage door:

  • Increased home value: putting a new garage door on your home almost always increases your home’s value, and the difference can often be surprising. Homes with new garage doors also tend to sell much faster than homes with damaged or worn-out doors.
  • Enhanced appearance: few things will do more to enhance your home’s curb appeal than replacing the garage door. And with doors available in a multitude of colors, finishes, and styles, there’s a perfect one for every home.
  • Diminished cooling and heating costs: if your garage is cooled during the summer and heated during the winter like the rest of your house, a new door will help insulate it more effectively. Less air will escape out the cracks between the door and the walls, and the outside temperatures will be better kept outside. This means less money spent on heating and cooling.
  • Enhanced protection: your garage is home to many of your most expensive assets, not the least of which are your cars. If you keep expensive tools or equipment in your garage, keeping that safe and secure at all times should be even more important to you. A new door will add security and safety to your garage, as it will be more difficult to hack or tamper with than an older door. A good new door will also protect your belongings from cold and moisture damage.

These are just a few reasons why a new garage door might be a good idea for one of your home remodeling projects.

Reseeding Your Yard

Whether you have a postage stamp yard or a lawn big enough for a zero turn mower, patches of bare earth where the grass has been worn away are unappealing. If your lawn needs new grass seed to reach its full potential, this could be a great place to get started on improving your home.

While it can be done at any time, the best time of year for reseeding your lawn is in the fall. The time between the months of August and September is ideal, specifically. This will give the new grass time to grow during the cool autumn weather.

The first step is to gently till the earth that needs new seed using a broom rake. A multi-purpose rake can also be used to remove thatch and heavy debris from your lawn. If you like, you can also use a speedy cultivator or other tilling tools for loosening the soil. Soil that is heavily compacted will need to be loosened at a depth of as much as six inches.

You will then add fertilizer to the pulverized dirt. For areas that were heavily compacted by foot traffic, you should also add a small amount of gypsum or peat moss to keep the ground loose.

Finally, you will plant a high-quality grass seed that’s been optimized for your planting area. Keep in mind that the amount of sunlight each area receives will dictate what kind of grass should be planted there. Next, lay down a polyurethane cover to protect the seedlings until they sprout. From then on you will need to lightly mist the newly planted grass until it’s three inches tall.

Installing Privacy Fencing

If you’re having a child or getting a pet, or selling your home to someone with children or pets, a privacy fence can dramatically add to a home’s value. The following are some benefits of having a privacy fence:

  • Safety: most importantly, a privacy fence will not only keep animals and children inside, but it can also help keep stray animals and would-be intruders out. While it’s no replacement for a whole-home video surveillance system, it’s an excellent addition to your existing security measures. It also protects from prying eyes, keeping people from knowing whether you’re at home or not so break-ins are less likely to occur.
  • Shelter: a privacy fence will offer a small amount of shelter for your property. It can serve as an excellent windbreaker to protect any plant life in your yard. Depending on its height and positioning, it can also offer shade.
  • Beauty: privacy fencing, and panel fencing in particular, can improve the aesthetics of your home and yard. Panel fencing specifically is available in many different designs and styles, and it can easily be made compliment your garden or shrubbery.
  • Noise blocking: with the right size and materials, a good privacy fence can also lower the noise levels coming in from neighbors’ yards and homes. It can also help keep any noise made in your yard from becoming obnoxious to your neighbors (although it should never be used as an excuse to throw loud parties at midnight).

Chimney Demolition and Repair

When it comes to home remodeling projects, that crumbling chimney that’s no longer in use may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But ignoring a cracked or sagging chimney isn’t just bad for a home’s appearance — it can also be dangerous, both to the house and to anyone nearby when (and if) it should happen to fall.

If you can’t imagine having a home without a fireplace, you may opt to have your chimney inspected and repaired. If you’re planning on selling your home, it would be a good idea to have a skilled home inspector take a look at the chimney, especially if you haven’t used it in a while. They can make professional recommendations from there.

To most people, the thought of simply removing a chimney altogether may be daunting. But it’s really not that big of a deal. For one thing, if you’re working on major home remodeling projects already, chimney demolition won’t add that much to the final cost. In fact, for an old chimney, removing it can actually be more cost-effective than going to the trouble of making the house structurally sound around it.

Fireplaces may be beautiful, but they’re also fire hazards, especially when they’re old and unmaintained. And, let’s be honest, they’re relics of a bygone age. No one relies upon open fires to stay warm anymore, and for many people keeping a fireplace doesn’t make any practical sense.

Finally, fireplaces and chimneys take up a lot of space which could be used for something more useful. Besides jutting out several feet into the living room where the fire goes, chimneys also use up valuable room throughout the entire upper floors of a house. This is often much-needed bedroom space, which would be better used for an extra wardrobe.

Even if you decide to keep your chimney, you should have it inspected and have any needed repairs done.

Home Foundation Repair and Inspection

Whether your house sits on a concrete slab or a finished basement, if you haven’t had your foundation inspected recently, it would be a good project to put on your todo list. Other home remodeling projects could turn out to be a bad investment in the tragic event that your foundation turned out to be faulty. Fortunately, even if your foundation is damaged it can usually be repaired by a competent professional.

If you’re selling your home, you should have your basement or foundation inspected as a matter of principle. If you aren’t selling, however, you may choose to inspect it yourself before deciding to have a professional come take a look. After all, you can usually tell if you have a problem that needs further investigating on your own.

To get started, head outside to a corner of your home. Look down each wall from the corner, sighting down your home’s exterior walls. Look for any mysterious bulges in the walls. Then go to the opposite corner and check the other walls for unevenness.

If there’s a noticeable bulge in any wall, it could be a sign of a foundation problem, and you should call foundation professionals to inspect it.

Another indicator to look out for is cracking in the visible concrete foundation. Cracks of less than one-quarter inch should not be a problem, but a gap wider than one-quarter inch could indicate a foundation problem.

Another way you can check for foundation issues is by setting a perfectly-round, evenly-weighted ball on the floor of any room in your house. Hopefully, the ball won’t move once you set it down. If the ball starts to roll in a specific direction, it could be a sign that your house is slanted.

Finally, if you notice any windows or doors getting stuck or becoming difficult to open or close, it could be a sign that you have a foundation issue. If you catch any of these problems while inspecting your home, don’t hesitate to call a professional for further inspection.

Installing Oval Ductwork for Optimized Airflow

When you’re thinking about home remodeling projects, you should try to do as much as you can to enhance the efficiency of your home. Some ways to do this include installing appliances, toilets, and lightbulbs that use less water and power.

One area for energy inefficiency that few people think about is the ductwork.

Traditional rectangular ductwork is highly inefficient. Because of their shape and structural design, they lose a lot of air, make a lot of noise, and vibrate in a way that causes needless wear to the entire system. Their biggest flaw is that they allow air to escape through cracks and joints, which is a waste of heating and cooling.

A popular alternative to standard ductwork is round and oval ductwork. Also called spiral ductwork, this type doesn’t have the same loose joints as standard ducts. Instead, a metal spiral runs throughout the entire system, and the joints that do exist are more carefully sealed. The rounded shape of spiral ductwork also streamlines airflow, resulting in less resistance, less wear, and much less noise.

While this won’t be everyone’s highest priority when it comes to home remodeling projects, it may be something you want to look into.

Installing a Humidistat

While you’re optimizing your home’s ventilation and climate control system, why not optimize your home’s humidity?

A dehumidifier with an automatic humidistat can not only make your home more comfortable but also make it a more suitable environment for hardwood. If you have hardwood floors, antique furniture, or any high-end musical instruments, it’s not enough just to control your home’s temperature and airflow. You need a way to control your home’s humidity.

Home remodeling projects are always a really big deal. But with the right preparation and qualified help, your home improvement efforts can be a lot easier, and a lot more streamlined, than you may expect. Hopefully, this list has given you some ideas for getting started!

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Eric Brophy

I’m Eric Brophy, a carpenter and homebuilder with 16 years experience doing the job right, the old-fashioned way. What they used to say is true — measure twice, cut once. If you plan out a project from the start, with blueprints, a bill of materials, the whole nine yards, you may seem to be wasting time at the start, but it’s time saved on having to do the job again when it just doesn’t fit. Whether you’re building in the city or off the grid, ground-up or touch-up, I can guarantee you’ll find home improvement tips for your next DIY project at home.