Outdoor Living Spaces

17 10 2009

Outdoor living spaces have been very popular in the past few years.  Here’s a look at one which involved a Sunroom Addition and an Outdoor Living Area.  The homeowner wanted to handle some of the finish work, so we took it most of the way, then stepped aside to let him save a few bucks.  We converted an existing covered  deck area into an enclosed room with a foundation, subfloor, walls, windows, etc. for relaxing in the winter (Sunroom).  We then added a post & beam structure with a hip roof to cover the new deck area for outdoor living in all seasons.  The new roof structure included two skylights to bring more daylight to the Sunroom windows.  The structure had to tie into the existing hip corner aligning on the left and intersecting on the right.  In addition to structural and deck footings, we poured a massive footing to support a new masonry fireplace, and a slab to support an existing spa in the opposite corner.

Week One

Week One

Week one, the deck was removed, temporary support posts were installed, the project was excavated, formed, and the foundations were poured.

Week Two/Three

Week Two/Three

Week two, the forms were removed, the new floor & walls were framed, sheathed, and wrapped.

Week three, the existing eaves were cut-back, the post and beam structure was erected, decorative hardware was added, and the roof framing was started.

Week Four

Week Four

Week four, the roof framing was completed, facia, roof sheathing, and felt paper was added.  The deck was framed and a temporary plywood deck was installed.  The masonry fireplace was started.

Week Five, doors and windows were installed, soffits were built, and the roofing and gutters were installed.

We’ll return in the Spring for a finished photo and hopefully a BBQ!

John Weber  www.riorenovation.com


Remodel Timing

28 03 2009

dsc_0400tIs this a good time to remodel?

That depends on your perspective.  Mine is that it’s always a good time to remodel, it’s my business.  Less selfishly though, I usually begin by asking my customer for all of the facts.  It’s hard to solve any problem without a complete set of facts.

Are you remodeling for resale?  How long do you anticipate staying in the home?  Are you repairing damage? Are you making room for additional family members?  Do you have a handle on the potential costs?  Are the funds available?

In the recent financial climate, a lot of customers who were remodeling for short-term resale have simply vanished.  With values dropping, the short-term pay-back just wasn’t there.  As we head into the later half of 2009, I see that new home sales in my area are up, and renovation permits have turned the corner as well.  So many of the short-term customers may be back soon.

Many people are finding it necessary to share housing, thus driving the need to expand their floor plan.  More families are committed to staying in their homes long term, and want to invest in spaces that drive social interaction.  So if you’re in one of these groups, this is a great time to remodel provided you have access to the funds.  Using home equity to fund your project used to be a no-brain-er for the short-term.  A home equity loan is not “magic money” though, you still have to service the debt!  If you’ve been in your home for a while, have a low mortgage, and have a stable work situation, then you may be able to handle the monthly home equity payment just fine.  A positive side affect of the recent economic climate, is that almost everything is a little less expensive.  Contractors are hungry, and labor in plentiful.

If you are repairing damage, don’t wait.  The consequences of waiting will drive the repair costs literally through the roof.  Insurance companies tend to get a bit fussy if you fail to maintain your property sufficiently.  If you’re making room for additional family members, consider that the average room addition project takes three to six months.  So don’t wait until you need the space, anticipate the need and act with enough time to accommodate the new member.

We have been a society of consumers.  If we want to change this and become “Green”, then we need to fix what is broken instead of replacing it.  Recycle and reuse what we remove, and install recycled, local, sustainable materials.  I believe that when we remodel, we are at the core of being “Green”.  We don’t replace our home with a new one, we reuse, recycle, and renew what already exists.

John Weber, www.riorenovation.com

Remodel Misconceptions

26 03 2009

demopile2What are the most common misconceptions you encounter in Remodeling?

There are two that I encounter quite often.

The first is “I can do this myself”.  Some do-it yourselfers have what it takes to accomplish their “dream space” and come pretty close to a professional product.  Usually lacking though, is access to some of the specialized products neccessary.  Most do-it-youselfers lack the time, tooling, expertise, and physical stamina to produce a professional product.  I usually get their call about half-way through the demolition phase, explaining how they tried to do it themselves, and quickly were in over their head.  Would I please take-on their project, as no other contractor wanted their mess.  Or they show me a space they would like to remodel, noting that they remodeled the adjacent space themselves, which resembles the mistakes of every how-to class at the local big-box home improvement store.  In the later case, I usually end up renovating two spaces.

The second misconception is “grossly under-estimating the cost of professional remodeling”.  They have seen all of the home improvement shows, and are certain they can complete their project for “X” amount.  Their project is just like the one on the show, and the total costs were listed at the end of the show.  I quickly explain that the listed costs didn’t fit their square footage, and mysteriously excluded labor, which can run between 30 & 50% of total project costs.  Perhaps the Show’s Host performed some of the labor, some by the Homeowner, and some by a crew of people behind the scenes.  Never the less, it can take a lot of man-hours to transform a space.

Both of these Homeowners require the help of a professional to realize their “dream space”.  I always encourage Homeowners to be involved in some portion of the project as a cost-savings.  In thirty years, I have had a handfull of people help with demolition, usually the husband.  Only twice have I had someone follow-through with their intention to paint the ceilings and walls (kudos to Martin & Chris).

My complements to the do-it-yourselfers who realize thier “dream space” within a realistic budget.  No doubt you did a lot of research, learned a lot through the process, purchased some good tools, made a few mistakes, managed to keep your day-job, and spent time in the hot tub soothing your sore muscles.

John Weber, www.riorenovation.com