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Supplement to “Questions to Ask Remodelers”





It’s easy to envision the results of a home remodel project before it gets under way. It’s tougher to imagine that chef-worthy kitchen or pristine marble master bathroom when taking a shower is out of the question and preparing a home-cooked meal is a distant dream.

Fortunately, there are steps homeowners can take to minimize frustration until the project’s done.

Be realistic. Remodeling your primary residence means temporarily trading the comforts of home for organized chaos. Expect to lose use of rooms under construction and temporary interruptions for some utilities. Understand that renovation is a messy process. Turn a blind eye to the dust.

“You’re going to have trades people walking through their homes—and not every one of them is going to wipe his feet every time,” says Steven G. Treap, president of Treap Contracting Inc. in Pikeville.

Consider alternative living arrangements. Kitchen and bath remodels cut at the heart of everyday living. If the budget allows, check into a motel until basic use of those rooms is restored.

Ignore the calendar. Professional contractors try their best to make sure projects are completed within budget and on time. But weather, labor, and material availability can wreak havoc with the best-laid plans. So don’t be surprised if the project goes on a bit longer than expected.

Be patient. According to contractors, the average remodel project takes about 30 days to complete. And even if everything goes according to schedule, it’s easy to lose patience with the process. But resist the temptation to rush it.

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Homeowners pondering a home remodeling project can learn more from professional associations:

Home Builders Association of Kentucky
Offers consumer advice on what to look for when hiring a remodeling professional and a list of local associations, which can refer you to a member contractor in your area.

National Association of the Remodeling Industry
Offers consumer tips for choosing a contractor and a budget worksheet.

National Home Builders Association
Remodeling trends, how to hire a professional remodeler, green remodeling resources, and information on aging in place.

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According to the American Association of Retired People, 89 percent of men and women age 50 and older want to reside independently in their own homes regardless of age or ability. As a result, the National Association of Home Builders reports that 75 percent of remodeling contractors have experienced a significant increase in inquiries from clients interested in “retrofitting” their homes to accommodate them in later years.

“Designing for the 50-plus market is growing,” says Bob Weiss, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Kentucky. “It’s all about adding amenities to accommodate senior lifestyles.”

So what amenities should forward-looking homeowners include in remodeling plans? Here’s what the NAHB recommends.

  • A master bedroom and bath on the first floor.
  • A low or no-threshold entrance to the home with an overhang.
  • Lever-style door handles.
  • No change in levels on the main floor.
  • Bright lighting in all areas, especially places like stairways.
  • A low-maintenance exterior.
  • Non-slip flooring at the main entryway.
  • An open floor plan, especially in the kitchen/dining area.
  • Handrails at all steps.
  • Stacking closets for a future elevator shaft.

Contractors also advise seniors to consider the benefits of small changes such as:

  • Lighting from multiple directions—reduces glare and shadows.
  • Light sockets with more than one bulb —redundancy in case one bulb burns out.
  • Contrasting colors for depth perception—use a different color counter (or edging around the counter) than the floor, staining the edge of the stairs a darker color than the rest of the steps.
  • Convenience shelf at an entryway to place your grocery bag while getting your keys.

For more information, visit the National Association of Home Builders

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To read the Kentucky Living May 2009 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Questions to Ask Your Remodeler.

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