Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Updating Your Basement

Looking for space to put an exercise room, entertainment center, or playroom? Go underground! If your home has an unfinished basement, remodeling might be a great way to transform this commonly under-used space.

When considering a basement remodel, start by making a floor plan. Be sure to mark the location of your furnace, washer and dryer, and any other large appliances. Take notes on:
·        access to the basement from upstairs and outside
·        location of existing plumbing if you want an additional bathroom
·        location of vertical support columns
·        location of windows and doors
·        floor/ceiling/wall materials.

Given their constant contact with the earth, basements are vulnerable to dampness, which makes basement remodeling a bit more complex than first meets the eye. If you have an ongoing water problem it is best to deal with waterproofing the basement prior to starting any renovations

Most basements have low ceilings and few windows. But this doesn’t have to limit you. There are many creative ways to make your basement light and airy. Talk to us  about the variety of wall and ceiling lighting options available. We’ll make sure to provide appropriate electrical lines and outlets.

Here are some tricks-of-the-trade for making your underground space first-class:
·        Stay away from dark wood paneling and instead consider drywall painted in light tones to make the room brighter.
·        Open up the visual space. Double doors--even glass double interior doors--take away the typical cubicle look. Or, how about a rounded archway or pass-through area from one room into another?
·        Check to see if existing windows can be enlarged.
·        Built-in bookcases and entertainment units add richness and depth to a room. Light them with interior lights or from the top to cast light downwards.
·        Disguise vertical support beams and horizontal ceiling pipes or floor joists by boxing them in. Or, you might decide to actually use pipes and beams as interesting accents by painting them with bold colors or subtle earth tones.

An unfinished basement is much like a diamond in the rough—unexplored splendor awaiting your discovery!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Porch Conversions: Scope of Work

Converting a porch to an interior space is a cost-effective way to gain space for your home.  Below is a discussion of the scope of work often involved in this type project.

1. Insulating walls and ceilings.  How much and what type of insulation used depends in part on the existing structure and the room’s function.  In some cases it is necessary to frame down the ceiling to create a large enough cavity for proper insulation.

2. Adding energy efficient windows and doors.  Matching or complementing your home’s existing window and door styles is important.  If the rest of the windows in your house are old, this would be a good opportunity to upgrade to new units.

3. Plumbing.  This is a necessity if you are planing to convert your porch to a bathroom or kitchen.  The proximity of the room to existing plumbing will greatly impact the difficulty and cost of installing plumbing. 

4. Electrical wiring and fixtures.  It helps to plan ahead and add everything you need now, but also what you may want in the future while the structure is being built.  For instance, you may want to install speaker wires in case you decide to add a sound system to the room at a later date.

5. Drywall, flooring, painting, and millwork finishes.  Finishes will vary with the intended use of the room. Think about the character of your current house and try to complement that.  You may also want to try to use these finishes to create a theme or mood in the room.

6. Details such as door and window trim, chair railings and other moldings can make the difference between a room that looks finished – or one that simply looks like an enclosed porch.

7. Heating and cooling.  While some homes may have systems that can accommodate additional rooms, others may need a supplement.  Baseboard heating is an inexpensive option to install but may be expensive to operate if used continually.  Wood burning or gas stoves are an efficient, attractive option that can heat a large room easily.  Through the wall split HVAC systems can both heat and cool the room in a quiet, efficient manner and are simple to install when remodeling.

If you have a home with a porch and need additional space you have the basic ingredients to create a beautiful new room.  Careful consideration of the materials and scope of work will result in a quality project.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Exterior Porch to Interior Space

If you need additional living space and your home has a porch you have all the ingredients you need to create a beautiful new room.  Enclosing your porch could be a simple, cost-effective way to gain the space you want.

You can gain living space without encroaching into your yard and a portion of the structural work may already be in place.  Side porches can be easily converted into home offices, playrooms, or den/family rooms.  Rear porches are ideal for adding space to extend your kitchen.  Almost any porch can be enclosed for year-round enjoyment. By using energy-efficient windows and correct insulation in the building process, your new room will help you save energy in your home as well.

The porch’s location, its wall and floor materials, and the condition of the existing foundation will influence the ease or difficulty of modifying a porch.  Some porches may need more modification than others to enclose.  It is also important to consider the style of your home and ensure that the enclosed porch add to your home's beauty and does not look out of place.

Our next blog will review the typical scope of work in converting a porch to a full season room.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gaining Space without an Addition.

Many homeowners wish to expand their home living space without adding an addition.  At ADR Builders, we recomend two possible options; converting an exterior porch to an interior space and remodeling an unfinished attic.  The next couple of blogs will provide a brief review of these projects.  The following is a discussion of attic remodeling.

Attic space often already has a floor, walls, and of course has a roof so it is an opportunity waiting to be used.  To be a good candidate for remodeling attic space needs three important ingredients;

1. appropriate headroom
2. easy access
3. adequate floor joist support

1. Headroom is of primary importance.  Building codes require at least 7-1/2 feet of headroom between the peak of the roof and the floor.  If you do not have this space you could raise the roof, or add dormers, but that is a larger project requiring a larger budget. 

2. Another important factor is how the attic space can be accessed.  Pull-down stairs are not appropriate as a main access nor do they meet building codes.  If no attic stairs are currently in place you may have to carve the space for a stairway from an existing room.  Traffic patterns that develop to and from the converted attic space are an important consideration.

3. One final aspect of remodeling your attic into living space is the strength of the floor joists.  Most ceilings are not designed with joists that can withstand the weight that a floor must handle.  This means that the ceiling joists must be reinforced, which could be a complex process.

An attic conversion can provide your home with a uniquely designed space to serve a range of functions – an extra bedroom/bath suite, guest room, office, family room, exercise room, or hobby room. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Guild Quality

Luckily, we have Bret working in our office to update our website on a regular basis.  If you have not recently visited adrbuilders.com it is a great place to check on ADR’s current projects, recent newsletters, and latest blogs.  We have also added direct access to our Guild Quality profile from the home page of our website.  Guild Quality facilitates customer reviews of all our remodeling projects post completion and compiles the data in a series of charts and testimonial quotes to give potential clients a good overview of the level of service we provide.  They have recently added a new feature mapping all the completed ADR projects they have reviewed.  The map provides an interesting overview of the Baltimore areas where ADR most frequently works.  If you have not yet had a chance to visit Guild Quality these new features are a great reason to see what they have to offer.

Friday, June 22, 2012

ADR Expands

This past month ADR Builders has joined forces with Wheatley Associates, a remodeling company located in Monkton, Maryland.  Wheatley Associates is a 25-year-old remodeling company focusing on northern Baltimore County and Harford County.  We have hired 3 former Wheatley Associates field staff to expand our work force.  ADR will be contracting all work for new and former Wheatley clients.  This will expand the work area ADR covers as well as give us additional staff to handle more projects at a more rapid pace.  We are all very excited about this new partnership and look forwards to serving a wider range of clients.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Orchestrating Remodeling

 After the sale of a project, I am often asked what my role is in the remodeling project.  Since I typically do none of the physical labor, where do I fit in?  I compare my role to the conductor of an orchestra.  Like an orchestra has a complex arrangement of various instruments that combine to produce beautiful music, the home has a complex set of components that must work together as a whole.  After 30 years of remodeling I realize my limits in knowledge of all the various aspects of construction.  What I do have is an overall vision and a team of ADR designers, project managers, carpenters and associated professional suppliers and subcontractors to fill in the gaps of my knowledge.  Like an orchestra, when we all work together, something beautiful is the result.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Free Bath Seminar, Saturday January 14th

The next free ADR seminar is scheduled for Saturday, January 14 from 12:30-2:00.  The informative seminar will take place at the Somerville Showroom in Owings Mills.  The Somerville showroom specializes in bath and kitchen plumbing fixtures.  They also have vanities, countertops, lighting and other assorted products for bath and kitchen remodeling.  I will review a construction timeline and a general discussion of bath remodeling costs.  Jane will review bath design and many of the decisions in designing a bath remodeling.  Linda Kates from Somerville will review bath products.  There will be time after the presentation to explore the Somerville Showroom and for one-on-one discussions with our team of industry professionals.