5 Questions to Ask Before All Kitchen Remodels

So you have decided to remodel your kitchen and get to work. Before you start tearing down walls, homeowners must realize that kitchen remodels take strategy, commitment, patience and of course, money. Whether you decided to do it yourself or hire a contracting professional, there are important questions all homeowners must answer. We narrowed it down to five essential questions you must ask yourself before any kitchen remodel.

1. What is in the Kitchen Remodeling Budget?

Just like remodeling a bathroom or any room in your home, the first question you MUST ask yourself before remodeling your kitchen is what’s in the budget? As we referenced recently in the Benefits of Kitchen Remodels, the average kitchen remodel costs right around $17,000. That is a lot of money to some. Therefore, it is imperative to plan wisely and come up with a budget for your remodeled kitchen.

A budget keeps contractors and homeowners on an even keel to ensure their heads or aspirations are not getting any larger than their pockets. Kitchen remodeling costs get extreme, but budgets ensure that homeowners stay within their means when it comes to remodeling one of the most popular rooms in the home. Before you pick up a tool, pick up a pencil and calculator first.

2. What do I Like about Other kitchens or my Current Kitchen

Inspiration can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it is Pinterest, your neighbor’s pantry or your current kitchen setup, there are always tips and deigns you can steal from elsewhere. Before starting the design of your remodeled kitchen, you should have a few concepts and ideas for your dream kitchen.

Many homeowners still love the concept of the work triangle, but the needs of Americans and beyond have changed. More people are cooking at home and need the extra counter space. Maybe you saw concrete counters that would be perfect for home chefs. In case you didn’t know, concrete counters are not as expensive as you think. Our concrete calculator can help you estimate the expense.

On the other hand, maybe you and your significant other don’t have time to sit down for a lengthy dinner every night. A couple of stools under the island would be perfect. Sticking with the food theme, you may love the walk-in pantry you saw at your aunt’s house, but if you are only feeding three mouths in the next five years, does it make sense to waste all that space?

Gather design inspiration from anywhere you can and then ask yourself if that strategy is right or needed for your dream kitchen.

3. How will I Use this Remodeled Kitchen?

People use their kitchens in different ways. Some families eat out a lot and have little use for kitchen space. Other families need open layouts and large islands to host dinner parties.

If you have children and plan to cook a lot, the layout is an important factor. Open layouts are perfect because you can watch the kids as you prepare dinner. Additionally, large islands are ideal for families because it gives the children extra space to complete their homework.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, islands are also great for hosting because it encourages guests to stand or sit on one side, keeping them away from the cooking area. Those of you who don’t host many get-togethers and are cooking for two or less may enjoy some privacy in the kitchen. Therefore, you probably don’t need large entryways and can dedicate more space to counters and updated appliances. This would also give you more freedom in choosing the location of the stove or sink.

4. How Long Can the Family Function Without a Kitchen?

Depending on the size and/or expected work of your remodeled kitchen, many contractors will ask the family to move out of their current residence. Construction for any kitchen remodel can get loud and dirty, especially if you work from home. In turn, your life can become very uncomfortable and stressful.

We have heard of many families trying to weather the storm, eating out every meal and staying away from the remodeling process. Later on, after the remodel is complete, many wished they had moved out. The good news is that most families could actually save money by leaving the home. You are giving the contractor more freedom and space to complete the project faster. It eliminates a lot of cleaning they would have to do if you were occupying the home.

Once again, this answer depends on how you use the kitchen. If you love to cook and eat at home, this might be tough for you and demand a shorter remodeling schedule. Those families or couples that eat out a lot may give the contractor more breathing room. Nonetheless, before jumping into a kitchen remodel, you must figure out how long your family can function without the space.

5. What is my Five-Year Plan?

Without a crystal ball, it can be hard to look into the future, but you must keep your five-year plan in mind when planning for a kitchen remodel. First and foremost, you need to know if you plan on staying or selling in the near future. This can play a key factor because certain design aspects you love may not go over well with the popular opinion. Likewise, you may have moved into your first home with your significant other. If you plan on having kids in the next few years, you need to make sure you can make your kitchen kid-friendly. Nowadays, many homeowners are installing multi-level islands for children and adults. Just like everything else in life, emphasis must be paid to your future plans and remodeling a kitchen is no different.

What Every Homeowner Should Do to Prep Their Yard for Spring

In recent winter months, snowmen were the only detectable “life” in your yard. But now that Frosty has succumbed to puddlehood, it’s time to get ready for spring! Jumpstart your lawn resuscitation as soon as the ground defrosts, and you’ll avoid a muddy disaster zone come April — not to mention ignite your neighbors’ envy. Here’s what to do:

1.  Assess the Mess

“As soon as you can stand being outdoors for an extended period of time, see what hand you’ve been dealt by Mother Nature,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Case your property for thrown branches, dead leaves, and other debris. Clear it away so you’re able to do a general inspection of your soil, lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden structures. See what grass is coming back — or not. Get rid of broken tree limbs; call an arborist if they look dangerous. Now’s the time to take stock and make a plan.

Related: How to Tell If Your Tree Is About to Fall Over

2.  Rake and Wake

Just as you like to hunker down on those dark winter days, so, too, do your grass and trees. “As soon as the snow fades, vigorously rake that grass to wake it up and begin to get it to grow,” says Walt Nelson, horticulture program leader for the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Monroe County, N.Y.

Rake out areas of thatch — dried, dead grass that can be thick and deep. If you don’t, thatch will keep oxygen and sunlight from other plants and grass. Check for fungus and mold growth. Don’t worry if you run across “snow mold” — a pinkish or gray web over matted blades of grass, or possibly just a slimy brown mess. Despite its name, it’s rarely serious. Gently rake it out and it will dry. “You’d need 100 consecutive days of snow for snow mold to kill the grass,” says Tony Koski, extension turf specialist at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins.

The grass may be a bit brown, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. There are two types of grasses. “Cool season grasses green up in early spring. Warm season grasses green up really slowly in spring,” Koski says.

3.  Weed Out Weeds

Finding a lot of crabgrass out there? It’s decision time. Will you avenge the scourge? If your crabgrass is out of control or you’re just hell-bent on getting rid of it, here’s what you need to know: Preventing crabgrass is all about timing. You want to nix the nasties before they start germinating. You need to use a preemergent crabgrass control before the soil temperature hits about 55 degrees and the crabgrass begins growing.

“But most people aren’t walking around with thermometers to measure their soil’s temperature,” Koski says. “Blooming forsythia is a good indicator you should put out your crabgrass preventer. That will be a different time in Michigan than in Virginia.”

You can choose a toxic or an organic preemergent such as corn gluten meal, but understand that with the organic, Nelson says, it will take two to three years of applications to be effective.

Oh, and if you’re eager to get seeding, note that you can’t put out grass seed until at least eight weeks have passed since you applied crabgrass control.

4.  Trim the Trees (and Shrubs!)

Move on to trees and shrubs as the world defrosts, but the garden is not yet growing. “Trim out the dead, and it’s off to the races on another growing season,” Nelson says. “You can do the shrubs on your own, but if you’re concerned about trees, hire a professional.”

The important thing about trimming is to “be careful about trimming growth,” Henriksen says. “You want new growth to get healthy enough to sustain itself in case of a second cold snap.” For flowering shrubs, wait until flowers bloom so you don’t cut off limbs that will be producing flowers or fruit.

5.  Go Beyond the Grass

Winter is hard on other garden elements. Henriksen recommends making sure your irrigation system works properly, and checking to see if there’s damage to any garden lighting. Fix broken or damaged patio furniture and any wooden structures. Even clean off and refresh your deck once it’s warm enough that power-washing won’t create a deck ice rink.

Don’t forget to tune up the lawn mower and string trimmer. Clean, sharpen, and oil your pruning shears so they’ll be ready when the temperatures start to rise.

Prepping the yard won’t be just a single weekend event, but if you get the heavy lifting out of the way early, it won’t be long before you’re leaving your socks and boots behind, and feeling the warm, soft grass between your toes.

How Basement Underpinning Can Increase Your Home’s Value

With the cost of housing increasing each year, buyers are always looking for the most value for their money. Smart homeowners recognize that they can add house value through bathroom and kitchen remodeling, basement waterproofing or increasing square footage with basement underpinning.

Utilitarian basements are no longer sufficient for today’s family needs, and older floor plans are typically considered old fashioned and impractical unless improvements have been made. Even with basement remodel costs added in, you’ll get top dollar and a great return on investment when selling your home if it includes a trendy entertainment room, office space or kitchenette. Let’s explore how basement underpinning can help.

What is Basement Underpinning?

Underpinning refers to the process of reinforcing an existing, unstable foundation or lowering the basement floor to increase the overall ceiling height. In both cases, the basement floor and soil underneath is excavated out and replaced at a lower level.

Today’s underpinning methods have remained very similar to those done a hundred years ago. The uses and benefits, however, are very different.

What is Required?

The main purpose for basement underpinning is either to strengthen the existing foundation or to vertically extend it. Either way, you’ll need to determine the reason for the work. In both cases, you’ll increase your property’s value. A crumbling or unstable foundation will need to be repaired before selling the home; and by adding more usable living space in the basement, potential buyers are more likely to pay a higher price.

Depending on the purpose of the project, one of three methods can be used:

  1. Traditional mass for shallow underpinning’ as well as beam and base that incorporates concrete beams for more support.
  2. Mini-piled with steel support beams that rest on more stable ground.
  3. Sectional excavation where grout is used to fill the area between the old and new concrete.

What are the Benefits?

If you’re trying to decide which remodeling project will provide the best return on your investment at resale, basement underpinning wins hands down. Here’s why:

  • More Value: When you open up your basement for more practical uses such as a game room, home office, media center or in-law apartment, you widen the appeal to a greater number of potential buyers. This will sell your home more quickly and at a higher price than other homes in your area.
  • Improved Structural Integrity: No matter the reason for underpinning your basement – creating more head room or accommodating an upper level expansion – the process will strengthen your home’s structure and extend its lifespan. Foundation damage can be caused from aging, soil type, extreme weather and poor workmanship. The new foundation will strengthen your entire home and reduce the risk a major structural problems.
  • Uncover Hidden Problems: The process of lowering the basement floor requires removal of a portion of the foundation and exposure of hidden mechanicals like plumbing, electrical, insulation and HVAC. This will allow for easy inspection and repair damages quickly.
  • A Healthier & Drier Home: Older basements can develop cracks and leaks over time, allowing water seepage, mold growth and musty odors. Many types of mold have been proven to cause serious health risks and the underpinning process can rectify any problem areas. You’ll improve air quality and have an opportunity to install significant waterproofing components. Incorporating a sump pump and battery backup in the newly added room will keep the area dry and free from damaging mold and mildew.
    • Added Square Footage: So often, homeowners searching for extra space opt for building above-ground additions instead of using the area right below their feet. A two-story home with a low-ceiling basement could potentially gain up to 50% more usable area by underpinning instead of building out. In addition, basement lowering can be a cost-effective and time-saving alternative to constructing another room.
    • Rental Income: It may be possible to incorporate a new or expanded entrance to your basement during the underpinning process. Doing so would allow you to turn your new space into a complete apartment. Not only would the extra income provide value to your home, but it would also help you recover the cost of the renovation work.
    • Energy Savings: While a good percentage of energy is used for heating and cooling your home, an unfinished basement and insufficient insulation can cause inefficient energy usage throughout the year. Lowering your basement can provide an opportunity to incorporate more effective insulation methods that can help reduce heating and cooling bills and add even more value to your home.

    If your home is like many older homes and you’d like to finish your basement to fit your modern lifestyle, a low ceiling height would likely cause some major remodeling headaches. Underpinning may be the perfect solution for turning an unusable area into a brand new playroom for the kids, man cave or even a private apartment for your adult children who have moved back home.

    As with any renovation work, it’s wise to consult with a professional before starting your project. You’ll want to find someone with experience in underpinning to guide you through the process. It may take a little time and money to transform your dark, dingy basement into a place that everyone will want to use, but the transformation will be spectacular and so will the added value to your home.