Category: Managing Construction


Quick Tip: Cement Board

Waterproof and very strong—though not too strong for a do-it-yourselfer to manage—cement board is most employed as a backing for tiled walls and floors.

If you’re remodeling or adding a bathroom, use cement board as an underlayment. A bit of hardened mortar is sandwiched between two layers of fiberglass sheets. It cuts and trims like sheet rock, but it provides a waterproof layer under wall or floor tile. To attach it, drill a pilot hole first, then use galvanized drywall screws.

For more on building materials, consider:

Deconstructing Engineered Wood
Concrete and Cement: A Case of Mistaken Identities
10 Ways to Use Glass Block in Your Home Design


Quick Tip: Protective Floor Covering

Protective floor covering products safeguard your home against the wear and tear that remodeling projects so often involve.

Even the simplest home improvement projects can be messy. Be sure to protect your floors while you work. There’s a wide variety of protective products on the market today for vinyl or tile floors, and especially for hardwood floors. Or try this shedproof and waterproof alternative. For quick trips, don’t forget shoe covers.

For more on remodeling, consider:

Sorting Waste After Remodeling
Where to Live When You Renovate
Construction Site Living: Surviving Days (and Days) of DIY


Bob Vila Radio: President’s Day Inventory

Capitalize on the long weekend by conducting a home inventory.

For those of you in the tristate area who aren’t hitting the ski slopes or escaping to the Bahamas this weekend, Presidents’ Day is a great opportunity to do some annual financial homework.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON PRESIDENT’S DAY INVENTORY or read the text below:

Home Inventory

Photo: shutterstock.com

First, check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to be sure your coverage is up to date. Do you have all the riders you need for musical instruments, jewelry, or other unique items? If you own a home, you should also have an umbrella policy—check to be sure you have the required underlying coverage to support it.

Next, check your home inventory: Have you purchased new appliances or electronics since you last updated it? If you’ve never created a one, now’s the time. The easiest way to get started is to walk through every room of your home with a video camera, talking about what you see. You can document the items later on paper, but a video record is a good place to start.

If you own your home, check your cost basis records. The cost basis is what you paid for your home originally, plus what you’ve spent on all the capital improvements you’ve made since then. You’ll need it when you sell your home, and it’s much easier to keep your records current than try to figure it all out when it’s time to sell. Happy Presidents’ Day!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Quick Tip: Cranes

Cranes come in very handy when home remodelers need to move heavy materials to a high floor.

When doing an attic or a third-floor renovation, consider using a crane for the heavy materials. For about $500 a day, you can rent a small crane or lift. It can easily handle heavy materials like lumber and sheetrock, not to mention hot tubs. They can boom out about 42 feet, enough to get to the top floors of most homes.

For more on remodeling, consider:

Protect Your Home from Job Site Theft
4 Ways to Reduce Your Renovation Waste
Moving Appliances Without Damaging Floors (VIDEO)


Staying Put: 10+ Improvements to Get Your House Ready for Your Next Age

Much of our Boomer population seems determined to stay in their homes as they age. But if they really want to stay put, they'll need to make sure their houses are fit to meet their changing needs. Here are some key considerations.

fix-it.co.nz

We’re getting older. Every day 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65—part of a huge shift in America, as 79 million Boomers start marching into their later years. But don’t expect them to march into nursing homes. “Close to 83 percent of Boomers say they want to ‘age in place,’ ” says Amy Levner, manager of livable communities for AARP, the advocacy group for older Americans. In other words, people want to stay in their homes as long as they can.

If you are among this population or nearing it (or have parents who are), there are lots of changes, small and large, that you can make to keep your home safe, comfortable, and fully enjoyable in the years ahead.

 

1. Limit the Steps

Having easy access to and from the house is an important feature in any home. But for older homeowners, particularly those suffering from mobility issues, it’s paramount. If you’re planning on retooling the exterior of your house, the experts recommend that you try to devise an entry without stairs. It needn’t look like a handicap ramp; if there’s space, the approach can simply be a nice slope to the doorway. If you’re putting in a ramp—or even adding walkways or decks—consider using nonslip materials. And if you can do nothing more, at least plan on a no-threshold front door to reduce the risk of tripping.

 

Cedarbrook vinyl siding

Photo: Heartland Siding by ProVia

2. Go Low Maintenance

When it comes time to replace exterior materials, choose products that require little or no maintenance, such as vinyl siding, metal roofing, and composite decking. These products will offer dual benefits of good looks and lasting performance. You can reduce landscape maintenance, too, by choosing native plants and installing a time-activated sprinkler system.

 

3. Improve Convenience

In the kitchen, install cabinets with pull-out shelves on rollers, so it’s easier to access the items inside. And opt for drawers rather than base cabinets. They will make it easier to retrieve contents without having to reach into the back of cabinets. Consider installing your dishwasher 12 inches off the floor to cut down on bending. If you want to install an eating counter, plan on its sitting 29 to 30 inches from the floor—a height comfortable for dining chairs rather than barstools.

 

Related:  12 Outstanding Kitchen Island Options

 

4. Choose Smart Appliances

Today’s manufacturers continue to make innovative design improvements in programmable and smart appliances, such as stoves that notify you with a beep when they turn on or that have controls that light up, says Levner. These can be a real help to older homeowners as their sight deteriorates or they get a bit forgetful about whether or not they’ve turned off the oven. Home automation is another important component of aging-in-place improvements; sensors and timers can monitor house systems to alert homeowners, as well as care and security providers, to potential problems.

 

5. Bathe Safely

Delta zero threshold shower

Delta Zero Threshold Shower

If you have a walk-in shower, consider changing it to a zero-clearance shower—one with no threshold or step to negotiate, says Levner. It’s a good idea to add a stool as well. Replace your toilet with a comfort-height model; it’s just a bit higher than normal—more consistent with standard dining chair seat height—and easier to sit down on and get up from. “Add some well-placed bars that you can grab on to, to steady yourself or to pull yourself upright,” says Tori Goldhammer, an occupational therapist and a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), a certification given by the National Association of Home Builders.

 

6.  Go Hands-Free

For both kitchen and bath faucets, consider fixtures that offer the benefit of touch or hands-free operation. For the kitchen, opt for a faucet with a pull-out spout to make cleanup and food prep more convenient. In the bath, select a faucet that can monitor temperatures to reduce the risk of burns.

7. Ditch the Throw Rugs

Avoid small throw rugs, as they are “big tripping hazards,” Levner says. If you insist on area rugs, look for those with a skid-resistant backing. Or better yet, go with carpeting that covers the entire room. There are a lot of nice, new slip-resistant flooring surfaces that have more texture “and that still look great,” she says.

 

8. Master the Stairs

If you have a second floor, stairs are unavoidable—but they can still be made more user-friendly. Be sure they are covered in a slip-resistant material and, if possible, install a second banister on the opposite wall. Consider locating a chair at the base or top of the stair so that people can steady themselves after the climb or descent.

 

Sylvania LED Stair and Hallway Lighting

Sylvania LED Stair and Hallway Lighting

9. Up the Lighting

Our eyesight gets worse as we age, so it’s important to improve lighting wherever possible. One of the best solutions is “layered lighting,” says Goldhammer, where a mix of ambient, task, focal, and decorative fixtures fulfill various requirements. Don’t forget to add more lighting in tricky, often dark places such as stairways and hallways, as well as bathrooms and kitchens, where task-specific lighting will be most useful. Consider adding more light switches outside rooms and raising outlets to a more convenient height.

 

Related:  Under Cabinet Lighting—10 “Shining” Examples

 

10. First-Floor Master Bedroom

“If you’re doing a major renovation, make sure there’s a bedroom on the lower level—one that could become the master bedroom in the future,” says Wid Chapman, an architect and co-author of the books Home Design in an Aging World and Unassisted Living. The room can double as a guest room now, or even a den, Chapman suggests. But outfit the room so that at a future time, if you or your spouse can no longer negotiate stairs, you can make this ground-level room your bedroom.

 


5 Ticking Time Bombs Every Homeowner Should Know About

You've done everything you can to make your house picture-perfect, but don't forget about the real big picture. Maintenance and repair issues that may lurk beneath your beautiful facade could turn any dream home into a nightmare on Elm Street.

Photo: Shutterstock

There are some maintenance and repair issues that homeowners just hate to deal with—either because they take time, or cost money, or just don’t seem, well, urgent. But some of these problems can become ticking time bombs, poised to explode if they’re not defused early, when they are more like firecrackers than bombs.

Here are some of the top structural and mechanical time bombs in your home that experts say have the potential to blow up and are worth squelching now—before the big boom.

 

THE FOUNDATION

Why It’s Explosive: Houses settle. But not all settling is the same. “A lot of times people will ignore the cracks in the brick veneer on the outside of the house, even when they get to be a half-inch or more,” says Bill Loden, incoming president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Even though that brick is often just the “skin” of the house, a crack that large can signal much deeper problems with a moving foundation, Loden says. Caught early, a repair might cost a few thousand dollars. Caught too late, the tab could run $20,000 to $50,000.

Snuff the Fuse: Some cracks in your house are essentially cosmetic, the result of natural settling. When is a crack something more? “If you see a crack big enough to put a No. 2 pencil in, you’re looking at a problem,” says Loden, owner of Huntsville, Alabama-based Insight Building Inspection. Other signs of trouble: a tilting chimney or windows and doors that stick or jam, which can be caused by a moving foundation that is twisting their frames. If you suspect foundation issues, hire a structural engineer to evaluate your house, Loden says.

THE ROOF

Why It’s Explosive: ”Most people don’t pay any attention to their roof until they see water coming through the ceiling!” says Bill Jacques, outgoing president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and owner of American Inspection Service in Charleston, S.C. But if you see drips in your living room, the problem is already far gone. A new roof could cost you “probably $8,000 to $10,000,” Jacques says.

Snuff the Fuse: “Some people say, ‘I’ve got a 20-year shingle, it’s gonna last 20 years.’ Well, no it’s not,” Jacques says. “I would just recommend that about every five years they have the roof inspected.” One of the telltale signs of a wearing roof is coarse sand pooling at the base of gutter downspouts; the sand is most likely the granules of the shingles washing off. If you see a lot of it, then it’s a good idea to have someone climb higher. If you can safely get on the roof (be careful!) and the surface feels slippery, that’s another sign that the shingle material is coming off, Jacques says.

You can find evidence of additional problems under the roof. Water will usually enter the attic first. Hire an inspector, or look for stains around the chimney and the stack vents, or around other venting pipes that exit the house. Those are places where the metal flashing can fail, says Jacques. Also, look around the attic for wet and/or damaged insulation. Discovering issues early on could mean the difference between repair and replacement—or a few hundred dollars rather than thousands.

 

septic tank

Photo: actionseptictankservice.com

THE SEPTIC SYSTEM

Why It’s Explosive: Homeowners who have septic tanks don’t always like to think about them, Loden says. That’s a mistake. “A septic tank is gonna work until the day it quits,” he quips.

Generally speaking, a septic system breaks down the solids and liquefies them. The liquid then goes out into lines and is dispersed into the surrounding ground. But other materials also reach the septic tank—from sanitary napkins and cigarette butts to foodstuffs such as coffee grounds and grease (particularly if you have a garbage disposal). Over time, the baffles that stop the larger solids from going into the lines can get blocked. If that happens, the system can back up into your house. “That’s not a ‘check engine’ light; that’s an ‘engine failure’ light,” Loden says. “That’s when you end up with a backhoe in your yard.”

Snuff the Fuse: If you have a septic tank, have the tank pumped every five years—“and if you have a garbage disposal, you might want to have it done every three years,” Loden says. In Loden’s area of the South, the cost is “between $300 and $500,” he says. “It’s really relatively inexpensive to have it pumped. A lot of those guys will pump it and inspect it at the same time.” It’s particularly cheap when compared with the cost of digging up your yard to repair your system, which can run thousands of dollars.

 

OLD ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS

Why It’s Explosive: Homes built after World War II, as well as homes built earlier, “didn’t have the same requirements for power that we do now,” Loden says. Homes built today can’t have more than 12 linear feet of space between electrical outlets. This stipulation was intended to minimize the use of extension cords, which can cause fires. The electrical systems of older homes, particularly those outfitted with lots of appliances and amenities, just can’t handle modern electrical demands. Sockets can actually wear out, and switches, too. Breakers become less reliable as they age. The upshot can be a fire.

Snuff the Fuse: “Probably every 20 years,” a home should have a thorough inspection of its electrical system, Loden says. Homes built prior to 1980 should definitely be looked at, “and another break point in my region—the Deep South—is 1965. There were a lot of improvements in the 1960s,” he says. You could call an electrician, although Loden cautions that “an electrician may see it as a sales call. Like any trade, they’re there to fix things.” Another alternative: Consider calling an experienced home inspector.

 

THE CRAWL SPACE 

Why It’s Explosive: Few homeowners ever pay attention to their crawl space, that often dank, dirt-floored area beneath many homes. “And why would they?” says Jacques, of ASHI. But you should, because the crawl space is sort of a window into the belly of your home and all its inner workings, he says. It could reveal all sorts of problems before they get bigger:

  • “You might have a leak in the bathroom under the commode or in a supply line that could be weakening the floor,” Jacques says, and you’d never know it until the day a sag appears in the floor and you need major repairs.
  • Termite damage can usually be seen there before it appears elsewhere.
  • Many crawl spaces carry the heating and air-conditioning ductwork that runs throughout a house. But when repairmen clamber about in this cramped space, over time “they might cause some damage to the insulation or to the ductwork. So you could be pumping your nice cold air into the crawl space itself,” Jacques says.

Snuff the Fuse: Jacques recommends that a homeowner periodically spend a few minutes with a flashlight looking inside the crawl space as a precautionary measure.

He also recommends occasionally hiring a home inspector to do a more thorough examination of the space. An inspector can look for leaks in plumbing and find faulty or damaged ductwork and worrisome wiring. As well, while often not licensed to inspect for termites, an inspector usually knows enough to point out suspected trouble and recommend treatment or repair. (Find an ASHI-certified home inspector in your area here.)


5 Things to Covet in Your Dream Home

When you start with studs and subfloors, it’s easy to build in things that will make your house the home of your dreams.

Dream House Ideas - New Construction

Photo: Shutterstock

If you’re building a house from scratch, or even putting an addition on your current home, you’re in the unique position of being able to install systems and components that could be hard to incorporate into existing structures. From entertainment nirvana to bath bliss, now is the time to get things right so that your home becomes a haven of fun, comfort and ease.

1.  WHOLE-HOUSE SOUND SYSTEM
If you’re like most of us, you have different speakers all around the home—some bluetooth, some wired, some requiring an amplifier, some needing to be recharged or have their batteries periodically changed. Cut the cacophony and wire your home for sound. One of the hardest parts of putting in a whole-home sound system is cutting through ceilings and walls to run wires and install speakers, but if you’re still in the building stage, this part is a breeze.

Working with a kit to wire your home for sound is one of the easiest ways to go. A kit typically contains a base station plus a series of controllers that can be placed in rooms around the home. This allows you to create various zones in your house to which you can send different music streams. After you’ve chosen a base station, you’ll want to select speakers that recess into the walls or ceiling and connect them to the station as well. Those with repositionable tweeters let you direct the sound exactly where you want it, while speakers with inbuilt bass and treble controls let you further tweak the sound for every room. When running speaker wire through the home, be sure to use  UL-rated speaker wire marked CL2 or CL3.

Dream House Ideas - Radiant Floor

Photo: Warmboard

2.  RADIANT FLOOR HEATING
When it comes to making a home feel at once modern, comfortable and eco-smart, it’s hard to beat radiant floor heating. Installed on or in the subfloor, radiant floor heating panels typically use channels of heated water that give off heat to the floor above them. The result is a wonderful, all over heat that doesn’t have any of the allergy concerns of forced-hot-air or any of the uneven heating problems and noise often associated with radiators or electric baseboard systems.

One of today’s smarter choices for radiant floor heating is Warmboard as they make panels that are super-conductive, which means that more of the heat from the water that runs through the channels is transferred directly to your home. The enhanced conductivity also means there’s less heat loss, which makes the system extremely efficient, and that Warmboard is also very nimble, heating and cooling down more quickly than other systems when you change the temperature at your thermostat.

3.  SPA BATH
The bathroom can be a simple utilitarian space or, with a little planning, it can become one of the most luxurious retreats in your home. When designing the bathroom, be sure to leave ample space for your shower and tub area and reinforce the floor beneath it—so that you can install a heavy-duty spa tub. These days, you can purchase all-in-one units that contain a massage-jet tub, multiple shower heads, and steam and sauna functionalities—plus a computer to control them all. It’s also possible to mount moisture-resistant TVs in the walls of your shower or bath area so that you don’t miss a bit of news or sports action. If that’s all too extreme for you, consider installing a remote control for your shower or tub which allows you get the shower warming up before you even step out of bed.

Related: 10 Waterproof Gadgets to Upgrade Your Shower

4.  HOME AUTOMATION
There are several options for home automation systems that do everything from controlling your lights to alerting you when the doors or windows are open, or even when there might be a fire or flood. There are thermostats that learn from your heating and cooling patterns and can be controlled via smartphone. There are speakers that can also be phone-controlled and can play different tunes throughout your house. And at least one company makes a hub that can tie it all together. Even though it’s easy to install home automation equipment in an existing home, doing so while you’re still building will ensure that you get everything exactly where you need it before you take control of your smartphone and pilot your house like the Starship Enterprise.

Dream House ideas - Outdoor Kitchen

Photo: Kalamazoo Kitchens

5.  OUTDOOR KITCHEN
There was a time when homes had summer kitchens—separate buildings in which food was prepared during the warmer months to keep the heat out of the main living quarters. Even though summer kitchens are a thing of the past, the logic remains: cooking outside keeps you from having to turn on the oven when the weather feels oven-like itself. When planning your outdoor kitchen, keep in mind that you’ll want to have easy access to utilities to plumb in a line for the sink, drain and gas line, if your home has natural gas service (otherwise, you’ll run your grill and cooktop off of propane, so make sure you build in space to store the tank). While you can construct your open-air kitchen out of stone into which your sink and cook surfaces can be set, a more affordable option is to build the structure out of wood and face it with stone veneer which will weatherproof it and create an equally attractive look.

 

This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Award-Winning Architect Shares 9 Renovation Tips

Architect Ann Sellars Lathrop distills what wisdom went into her firm's award-winning renovation of a 1950s Cape-style home in Connecticut.

Renovation Tips - Old Hill House

Photo: Ann Sellars Lathrop

Architect Ann Sellars Lathrop made the most of every inch in the Old Hill House, a Westport, Connecticut, family residence that Sellars Lathrop Architects renovated in 2012. (Don’t miss the full story HERE.) For Lathrop, the project brought an award and high praise, but like all the work her firm undertakes, it was also a valuable learning experience. In the wake of transforming a 1950s Cape into a practical, modern dwelling with historic-home flair, Lathrop offers these words of wisdom to anyone planning a large-scale remodel:

  • Eliminate walls to enhance the feeling of space. Our renovation gave the homeowners sight lines between the kitchen, family room, and dining room.
  • Raise the ceiling. In the Old Hill House kitchen, we removed the ceiling joists and exposed the roof rafters, adding skylights over the sink.
  • Add windows for natural light and a view to the outside, and to make rooms seem larger. A worthy goal is for every room to have windows on two walls.
  • Skylights: They’re really important! Abundant light completely changes the mood of a space, and you never have to turn on lights during the day.
Renovation Tiips - Family Room

Photo: Ann Sellars Lathrop

  • As you make other changes, avoid relocating bathrooms; the cost usually outweighs the benefit.
  • Maximize usable square footage not only to improve your quality of life at home, but also to boost resale value.
  • Build shelving into every nook and cranny, because there’s no such as frivolous storage space.
  • The simpler your roofline, the better your bottom line. Gables and other roof features of relative complexity carry a high price tag.
  • Insulation pays. This home’s Energy Star rating warranted a rebate from the utility company, and monthly heating costs have plummeted.
For more on Ann Sellars Lathrop, click here.

Keep Your Contractor Happy: 3 Major Missteps to Avoid

Successful home remodeling depends on your ability to navigate the often tricky terrain of working with contractors. Here are three missteps to avoid as you conduct business with building professionals.

Working with Contractors

Photo: shutterstock.com

Is the roofer or tile setter not returning your phone calls? Don’t take it personally. Economists agree that home improvement has strengthened this year. In other words, contractors are busy nowadays. If you want to snag and hold onto a quality contractor, these are the first mistakes to avoid making.

1. Avoid Disputing Payments
The word may be out about the recent spat you had with the painter whose bill you refused to pay. If the contractor had to file a lien to get paid, your dispute is now a matter of public record, available for any and all others to see. Protect your reputation by checking with local courts and clearing any lingering problems or points of confusion.

2. Try Not to Be Stingy with Your Stars
Plumbers, electricians, and landscapers all know that their clients frequent online ranking sites, such as Yelp or Angie’s List. So when you review a contractor’s performance, be sure that you are fair, honest, and considerate in your assessment. Substantiate your opinion with examples of what went right and what went wrong.

3. Avoid Refusing to Be a Reference
High marks from previous customers make or break a home improvement company’s business. At the close of a successful project, your contractor is likely to ask that you serve as a reference in the future. Blowing him off means demolishing your relationship with that particular professional. If you ever wish to hire that outfit again, don’t be surprised if and when your calls go unanswered.


Home Additions and Renovation Projects: Where to Begin

Home additions and renovation projects are not identical, but essentially consist of the same first steps.

Home Additions

Photo: bradfordandkent.com

Doubling the size of your house with a new addition is not identical to, say, putting a second bath in that small back bedroom, but the steps in the process essentially match. The bigger the project, the more time, money, and headaches are involved, but it is generally a matter of very similar elements. Home additions and remodeling projects, while different, both begin with the same steps.

After you have a thorough understanding of your existing house, you are equipped to think about renovation ideas. It’s time to define the task and to put some notion of what you want to do on paper.

You need to decide whether the task consists of adding new space, improving existing space, or simply putting unused space to use. Perhaps you’re undertaking a few home additions; maybe you’re finishing the unfinished, converting a basement or attic into a livable, finished space; or you may be transforming what you already have in your home or apartment.

Regardless of the scope of your project, the first step is to decide what you want and need. Thus, you need to explore those desires. The next step toward actual construction, will be to create—or have created—plans that conform to the require­ments of local building ordinances. But in moving toward those plans, you need to make numerous subjective decisions about style and materials and answer a multitude of questions for yourself or your architect/designer.

So, at this stage, you should be able to describe in ten words or less the nature of the remodeling you would like to have done. Much more can be said about size, configuration, style, finish, and other details, but in the simplest possible terms, how would you answer a friend or neighbor who inquires, I hear you’re thinking of remod­eling?

In general terms, the options are these:

We’re planning a minor remodeling of existing living space.
A job of this sort will involve no major changes in partitions or the overall shape of the space being remod­eled. The electrical, plumbing, and HVAC services are also to remain essentially unchanged. Such jobs might involve new cabinets, appliances, or even the arrange­ment of elements in the kitchen; retiling a bath; plastering and painting; adding wainscoting wallpaper, or other surface finishes; sanding, carpeting, or reflooring; adding or installing bookcases or built-ins; and so on. Minor remodeling may involve a designer, carpenter, or painter, but probably will not require filing for a building permit or hiring plumbers and electricians.

We’re planning a major remodeling of existing living space.
These are bigger jobs, for which a building permit is probably required. In a major remodeling partitions might be added or removed. This may involve bearing walls, these being walls that support the structure above. In most instances bearing walls can be removed or at least mod­ified after structural alterations have been made that safely redistribute their loads. If new plumbing lines or electrical circuits are required or new openings need to be cut in exterior walls for doors or windows, your job will also classify as a major remodeling.

Typical projects of this sort would be the opening of two or more interior spaces into one; the addition of a new bath; a kitchen remodeling in which new plumbing risers or electrical circuits are required; or the installation of a new central HVAC system, electrical service, staircase, fireplace or chimney, or exterior doors or windows.

We’re converting unfinished space to living area.
It may be in the attic, basement, porch, or garage. But you’ve decided to add the space to your living quarters. This probably will require building department approval, as there is likely to be electrical work, as well as fire and building code issues.

In the case of an attic conversion, you need to consider a range of questions. Is there adequate headroom? Do the stairs meet code and safety requirements? Is there adequate light and ventilation? Do you need to add dormers? How about skylights or “roof windows”? Will you need one or more additional electrical circuits? Plumbing risers and waste pipes? How will the space be insulated?

A cramped attic space can, with the addition of dormers (or roof windows), become a livable and even welcoming space.

If you propose to remodel a basement, your list of concerns will be similar, with light and ventilation uppermost. Again, stairs will be an issue, as will electrical and perhaps plumbing lines. Dampness is often a big problem downstairs: If you have a wet basement, converting it into living space may not be the answer you’re looking for. With either a garage or a cellar conversion, you’ll probably need to iden­tify a means of covering a concrete floor.

An addition can add that space you need—perhaps a family room, multi­purpose kitchen, a study, or another bedroom

We’re going to put on an addition.
Home additions are a bit like building a new house: you’ll need new foundation; frame; walls, floor, and roof surfaces; windows and doors; and all the connective tissues, too, like wires, pipes, insulation, and HVAC connections. An addition will certainly require a building permit and I’d recommend hiring a designer or architect to help you think through the delicate matter of inte­grating the new structure into the existing one.