Checklist for Planning a Renovation

Checklist for Planning a Renovation

Regardless of size, home renovation is a huge undertaking not meant for the faint of heart. On top of that, if you choose to DIY the whole project it will be even more tiresome and grueling than one that involves hiring contractors. And hiring contractors does not mean that you can be completely hands-off. Far from it – you will have to be involved in every stage of the project.

But since these projects can improve the condition of the house, make your home safer or boost its market value, home renovations can be extremely rewarding. Additionally, with proper planning, you can save time and money and still make the remodeling totally worth the hard work. To reduce cost and make the process less daunting, we’ll walk you through the important factors you need to consider well before hammers start swinging.  

Below is a checklist that can make the remodeling project as smooth as possible and help you keep everything on track:

Step 1: Make a list.

There are several types of home renovations projects, such as:

  • Whole house restorations
  • Home additions, such as home offices or family rooms
  • Interior remodeling, such as kitchen or bathroom remodeling
  • Finished attics or basements
  • Exterior remodeling, including roof change or replacement and insulation of siding and trim
  • Porches, sunrooms, patios renovation/addition

Once you’ve decided on the type of renovation you want to get, you can start drafting a list. Draw two columns on a piece of paper or an Excel sheet. The first column will consist of the things you NEED, while the second column will contain the list of things you WANT. This will not only help you in the preparation of the budget stage, but it will also come in handy if you ever need to make tough choices. With this list in hand, you will be able to prioritize in case of budget overruns.

Step 2: Plan a budget.

A ballpark estimate will help you determine if you will need to apply for a loan as well as what you will need to cover with your contractor and architect. A word of advice: consider adding a 10% padding to your budget to err on the side of caution. This surplus will act as an added precaution in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Use the list from step 1 and prioritize the ‘needs’ above the ‘wants’. At this stage, you want to consider things you are ready to compromise on and things you want to splurge on. Using the same Excel workbook, you can create a new spreadsheet where you’ll list everything that needs to be done and its estimated cost. Remember to account for labor and materials cost, including for small things such as paintbrushes, nails, hammer or tape.  

Step 3: Set a target date.

You can’t plan for a home renovation without setting a deadline. Can you imagine planning a roofing overhaul during the winter season? Precisely. Look at the size of your project and decide by when you want it done.

But be realistic.

A complete house renovation cannot be done within 3 months. While it might not be impossible, it will be extremely challenging and costly. You will not only put a lot of pressure on the contractors but also, due to time constraints, you will inevitably have to sacrifice a lot of things and compromise on others.  

Instead, plan properly so you schedule the demolition and/or renovation at the right time. Since home renovations are meant to last for a long time, set a timeline that is feasible, affordable and that does not lead to you regretting the whole project.  

Step 4: Consider how the renovation will impact your day-to-day life

Once you know for how long the project will last, start thinking about how you and your family will cope with the noise, dirt, and the comings and goings in your home. There are two options you can choose from when finalizing household arrangement:

  1. Delimit a room or a set of rooms that will remain relatively untouched. Plan accordingly so you can stay there for the entire duration of the project. Remember to reserve storage space for furnishings,
  2. If the project won’t last long, consider booking a hotel room or renting a flat on a short-term basis. You can also book a hotel room for the days on which you will have no access to water or electricity.
  3. On the other hand, if you know the project will last for a relatively long period, consider moving in temporarily with your parents or staying at a friend’s place.  

You are now ready to start looking for contractors and/or architects. Remember to not rush this process either. Consider asking people you know for recommendations, interviewing each


Designing the Perfect Entertainment Room

Creating the perfect entertainment room set up for your home can be a very rewarding endeavor. To help you get started, here are a few things that you will want to consider before you start:

1. Know What You Want

Before you start planning the layout of your room, you need to ask yourself what you will be using it for. Is it going to be solely for visual entertainment, like movies and video games? Is this space also going to double up as an office? Will you be entertaining guests in here or is it going to be your private space?

Once you have answered these questions, you’ll be in a better place to planning a budget. Which leads us to tip number two:

2. Know your Budget

Knowing how much you can afford to spend on the project will affect a lot of your design choices and prioritizing. For instance, if having a sweet TV is more important to you than having a comfortable place to sit, you won’t really want to buy the sofa first. So it would be smarter to make a list of what you plan to get for your entertainment room in order of priority.

Once you’ve figured out your total budget, and what parts of your set-up take precedence over everything else, you’re now ready to move on to the next step:

3. Optimizing the Space

Some entertainment spaces may not be as big as you would hope, depending on the size of your home. The distance between your furniture and your TV or projector can also make a huge difference in the way you experience your movies and games.

The optimal method of setting up your room would be to have the furniture on one side of the room and the TV on the other. Alternatively, if there is potentially going to be a lot of to and fro-ing between the furniture and TV, you may want to look at removing possible blocking of the screen by setting up in such a way to encourage movement behind the furniture or behind the TV.

Shape of the room: A square room shape typically presents the most challenges for audio systems. It may be worth building false walls on either side of the room to create a more rectangular shape for better acoustics.

Sound and Light: Entertainment rooms can get quite noisy, so you may want to consider soundproofing your space. Carpets and rugs are a better alternative to flat surfaces since tiles and hardwoods will bounce the sound around far too much.

In terms of lighting, you should aim to allow enough light in to keep the entertainment space from turning into a dark cave. However, when it comes to watching TV and movies, you may want to keep the light out. If you are building your entertainment room in the basement, you can just invest in adjustable lights. On the other hand, if your entertainment room is above ground and has sun-facing windows, investing in blackout curtains can be a sound choice.

Your entertainment room doesn’t necessarily have to be in the house though. If you have a barn or shed in your backyard that is not seeing any use, why not give it a makeover and use it as a detached entertainment center?

4. The Screen

The centerpiece of any entertainment system is no doubt the TV. Regardless of what type of TV you choose to use, the ideal position for your seats will be 1.5 times the diagonal size of the screen away. For instance, if you have a 72 inch TV, you should sit 108 inches away, or around 9 ft.

5. The Sound System

If you are looking for the most impressive sound system, you should consider a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system. This involves a setup of 5 or 7 speakers around the room, with 1 subwoofer.

Where possible, you should look to wire the whole system before installing any drywall to ensure all wires are hidden away. However, if this is not feasible, and you want to splurge a bit, there are several wireless options on the market. Whichever you choose, you should look to place your speakers in all 4 corners of the room for the best effect.

6. The Wiring

As we mentioned, keeping your wiring tangle-free and hidden away is essential. If you can’t get the wiring done before putting up your drywall, invest in some plastic wire clips to keep the wires bundled, tape them to the ground and try not to tangle them. The initial effort will save you time and prevent you from tearing your hair out in frustration for many years to come.

7. Furniture

Like we said before, your furniture and room size are key. You want to avoid cluttering the room and give yourself plenty of space to move around in. Invest in comfortable and sturdy furniture that will last, since this room is where you and maybe your family will be spending the most of your leisure time. You can also invest in some extras like a minibar or fridge so you can cut down the trips to the kitchen. If you have the space, you could even invest in installing an en-suite toilet!

8. Storage/Decor

Even if we do store a lot of our entertainment in the cloud, we do still have our collections of DVDs, vintage vinyls, books and video game consoles. You might also have collected lots of memorabilia of your favorite sports teams or from your visits to various fan conventions. Finding the right storage and display units will go a long way to giving your entertainment space an incredible look.

Your entertainment space should reflect your passions. Hopefully, this guide has helped inspire you to design a room that you will love.


Tips For Creating The Ultimate Outdoor Dining Experience

Summer is here finally, the days to stay out until late at night, the warm evenings spent with the right people and have barbecue evenings with your best friends. What better place to enjoy the summer than the garden or backyard! The winter months might have looked bad and caused a lot of problems to your patio. So if you are looking to create a space where you can enjoy dining with your friends and families, then here are some tips that can help you.

  • Create an ambiance – If you want to create an ambiance, then go for string lights, they have a better effect on making space look more comfortable. Deck it up on a rail or on the wall nearby or on the pergola to produce a warm glow. String lights can add the perfect amount of intimate lighting for evening soirees. If you have a pergola, then look out for lighting options available to be added to the structure.
  • Protect from the weather – Yes, it is summer but with summer comes the unpredictable rains! So protect your dining area with a retractable canopy that makes any space waterproof. These can work best with pergolas, awnings or with other outdoor structures.
  • Figure out your furniture- Once you know which furniture to use, then it becomes easy to decorate the space. Check if the furniture fits and if there is any space left. Always keep the bar chairs and the dining table chairs separate. If you prefer to have casual dinner parties, you might focus more on seating, perhaps with small coffee tables or side tables to put down plates, instead of having a dining table. But you might prefer a more formal setup, with a table and dining chairs.
  • Arrange and style your pieces – Focus more on the comfort for yourself and that of your dinner guests. For a small space, add a counter-height table and a pair of chairs. Family-style dinners lend themselves well to long, rectangular tables and benches, which seat more guests. If you have a large patio space, consider dividing it into zones—the grilling and bar area, a lounge area, where guests can prop their feet up and settle into a club chair, a dining area lined with benches along one side and chairs along with the other.
  • Add dinner entertainment to your dining area – If you want to create a sociable and relaxed outdoor dining area, you might consider some entertainment outside too. Some people prefer dining while they are watching TV or listening to music. Install a sound system so that you are able to play your guests’ favorite music while you eat or socialize.

Now you can set yours up as soon as you can to prepare for summer.


Insider Secrets Only Electricians Know

The electrical system is one of the most important elements of your home. You always have to make sure that it is working properly as it involves your family’s safety. However, that does not mean that you always need to call a professional electrician for every small thing that goes wrong.

There are some basic things which you should check before rushing to your phone and calling a professional. It will save the expense as sometimes it can be a minor issue. Below are some few things your electrician would want you to know if you do have an electrical problem. Sometimes the answer is just in front of you, all it needs is a little troubleshooting before you think of hiring a professional electrician.

Check for “Overlamping”

If you think that your electrical problem seems limited to one light fixture, you should start checking your bulbs. The first obvious question which might pop up will be “ did this bulb burn out?” It might seem pretty obvious, but it is easy to forget to check.

Another less obvious problem electricians see is overlamping. This means that the bulb in the fixture has a very high voltage that it can handle. For example, installing a 100-watt bulb in a lamp designed to handle 50 watts.

The problem with overlamping is that it will melt your socket and damage the wires of the fixture. That kind of damage creates a significant fire risk known as arc faults. In simple words, the electricity cannot follow its proper path and may jump to the carpet or table and ignite a fire.

Check the circuit breaker

Most houses have a very easy-to-check circuit breaker. All you need to do is to open the door on the circuit breaker panel and flip the switch back to the “On” position.

If you have an older home, you will have to look for the fuse box, To spot the fuse which is burnt out, look for one which is cloudy or discolored. It may seem to have melted in some areas.

You will see the problem fuse as it would be labeled as the area which has lost power. For example, if the lights of your kitchen have gone off, you should look for the fuse which is labeled as “kitchen” if it looks different from the other ones. If everything works apart from the stove, look for the fuse labeled as “stove”.

If you sense that your fuse or circuit is blowing a lot, look for a pattern. In other words, are you losing electricity to one area in the house often? Do you have a microwave running at the same time as a vacuum cleaner? You have to check if there is no other appliance which is overloading the circuit.

Are the neighbor’s lights on?


If your whole house is in the dark, the first thing to check is if your neighbor’s house has lights. If not, then it is a power outage. I would be better to call up the utility company before calling an electrician, The company might provide you with some information or send someone to check on your house.

Not all electricians are equally trained

As you hit on the search button on the internet, you will notice that you will see two different labels of electricians. The classifications of Journeyman and Master electrician indicate levels of training. It is similar to having a bachelor’s degree vs master’s degree.

A Master electrician has higher skills such as :

• Electrical Installations
• Codes
• Safety regulations
• Project management
• Electrical systems
• Permits

A journeyman, on the other hand, can definitely do the job but may not know as many of the details like codes. Now I am sure that you are confused and asking yourself, “which one is right for your project?”
Let me simplify it for you, while both of them will be perfectly able to complete minor repairs, it would be however recommended to hire a Master electrician for complex jobs such as reconfiguring the electrical system.

Even if electricians don’t work for free, when it comes to the safety of your home, it is worth the money.

Reset a GFCI outlet

GFCI is also known as Ground-fault circuit interrupter. These outlets monitor the electrical circuit to make sure there is an even flow of electricity. If you are having trouble with just one outlet, it may need resetting. If it is a GFCI outlet, you will see two buttons: Test and Reset.

Press the reset button to see if the outlet starts working again!

Recognize these signs of a potential electrical problem

Keep an eye on these problems as they may lead to more expensive issues :

• Lights dim or flicker
• Frequently needing to reset a breaker
• Wiring is at least 30 years old
• Outlets sparks
• Unidentifiable burning smell

If you see any of the above symptoms, then it is time to call a professional.


Tips to Maintain Your Swimming Pool

Do you own an outdoor swimming pool where you spend most of your summertime hanging with out with friends and family? Do you maintain it as needed or as instructed by the store when you bought the pool? If not, then here is a blog that will help you out! Pool cleaning isn’t that difficult even if it looks a bit daunting. But with the right knowledge and expertise, cleaning and maintaining your pool can become an easy job. How? Read on.

  • Skim out the debris and clean the filters – One of the easiest ways to keep your pool clean is to skim the surface from the debris and or dead leaves. Don’t ignore the floating debris as it will soon sink and it will become to remove it. Use a long-handled net called a hand skimmer or leaf skimmer to remove leaves, bugs, and other unwanted items.
  • Clean out the filters – At least once a week, clean out the strainer basket to help circulation and lower chlorine demands. Simple remove the plastic basket and shake it out. You can also spray the inside with a hose to dislodge stubborn objects.
  • Vacuum the pool and brush the walls – In order to keep the water clear, you need to reduce the number of chemicals that you usually use that’s why you should opt for vacuuming. For manual design pools, work it back and forth all over the surface of the pool same as you would do for a carpet. Don’t forget to check the filter every time you vacuum!
  • Test your pool water – In order to keep your pool healthy that one could swim in, remember to check the chemical levels once a week. Backwash the filter before you carry out the tests. If you don’t know, have a professional test it for you.
  • Have the heater serviced – Normally, a pool heater requires less maintenance than all other equipment in a pool. If you are someone who does not like to maintain heaters and all that, then gas heaters can work totally fine without being serviced for a couple of years and electric ones last even longer. If you have doubts, then consult your manufacturer’s manual for specific care and instructions. If your heater does not work, then take the help of a professional as they will know better what the problem is and where it lies.
  • Check and maintain the water level – With constant exiting, swimming, and splashing in the pool, there is a lot of water wastage throughout the swimming season. Do check the water level every week in order to be sure that it does not fall under the skimmer level.
  • Check for leaks and repairs – It is quite common that there is a leak that is unknown to you. You can find out the leak by taking out a bucket of water from the pool to know if there’s any leak or not.


What Types of Lights Decks to Install?

With summer in full swing, decks and patios are getting all the attention they deserve because this is where we hold so many of our favorite summer activities. You may have designed your deck or patio but what about lights. You would want to spend the evening with your friends and family while looking at the sky, well you can’t do that while you can trip over anything. So to enjoy the nighttime sky, here are some ideas to bring some lights to your deck.

  • Torches – These are fantastic as it provides light for your patio or deck area. Since it’s all fire, it is important that you take certain safety precautions when using these. Well, modern torches are very safe and you should not have any issue while using it. Remember to place them in a spot where they don’t accidentally catch with anything. Torches keep insects away from while you can enjoy your time outside and also these are good if you are hosting a small gathering on your patio or deck. The price and durability are the real reasons why most people buy torches. Torches can be placed around the deck for best results and you might want to use several torches to get that right amount of light.
  • Candles – Popularly used outside to help provide light, candles are mostly scented and are used to keep bugs away. Most people use candles in order to make their time outside pleasant. Candles are mostly used if you are planning any romantic night with your partner. Place several candles on your patio and deck as it can provide some ambient lighting. Candles are quite inexpensive, that’s why you can buy them whenever you want.
  • If you are someone who enjoys having light sources that feel more natural outside, then why not install a fire-pit! A fire-pit work better in your patio area than on a deck. It provides a lot of light and if it gets chilly where you live, then it will make you feel comfortable outside. Fire-pits are a lot of fun and almost everyone like using them at parties and If you have a deck, then install the fire-pit near the deck for safety reasons. It is worthwhile to have a fire-pit if you prefer this idea.
  • String lights – The most common types of outdoor lighting that is used on decks and patios. String lights give a totally different and whimsical look to your patio and deck. String lights can be used in different and imaginative ways that complement your deck décor.

Well, I hope these ideas will be beneficial to you in the best way possible!


Ways to Improve Your Deck This Summer

With summer soon settling in, it is likely that you will want to spend more time outdoors on your deck. The perfect spot to relax with friends and family. If you are looking for ways to improve your summer deck scene, then we’ve got some fresh ideas to make your outdoor space be more inviting and enjoyable. Hope you will love these ideas!

  • Decorate your yard – If you are not planning nay holiday soon, why not turn your backyard into a holiday-type spot. You can install a deck railing to help your outdoor living space feel more light and airy. If you want to be surrounded by nature, you can add some potted plants.
  • Build a wraparound deck – A wraparound deck is built along two sides of your home as it provides sunlight and easy access to the outdoors. These decks are perfect if you love having parties as there could be a place for your guests to overflow and socialize. Wraparound decks are the best as it looks like an extension of your living room.
  • Add color – Give your furniture a new life by painting them! Take a good look at the finish and if it’s looking a bit dull, then it’s not your style anymore.
  • Spend your evenings out – Trade your sofas for deck chairs and other comfortable outdoor furniture on your new deck. Put your feet up and enjoy some tanning. You can also add some lights to help you enjoy the evenings as well.
  • Add lighting – As mentioned above, lights are important while improving your deck. Agreed the days are longer and the nights are warm, so adding some ambient lights to your space can let you enjoy those summer nights more. If you are really into decoration, then turn your deck into a fairy tale garden with string lights along the railings. You can also create a tropical jungle with lanterns and tiki torches.
  • Create different zones – If you plan to host any parties this summer, then designate different zones for grilling, dining, dancing, and relaxing. If you have a pool then decorate it as an oasis.
  • Plan for heavy foot traffic – You deck will most likely become the most popular room in your house, especially if you are hosting or if the weather is pleasant. Before anything, just focus on the amount of time you are going to go on the deck.
  • Cover up – As it’s summer, the sun will be there always! So if you are not a fan of the sun, then go for deck umbrella or pergola. Any of these can add dimension and livability to your space.

Are you inspired or still looking for ideas? Let us know in the comment section below.


Your Safety During Home Renovation Projects

While home renovation can be an exciting way to achieve the house of your dreams, your safety is crucial during the process. Home renovation or improvement can cause a number of accidents if not planned properly. Here are some safety guidelines to follow during the renovation process:

First Aid Kit

Have a fully organized first aid kit at your disposal at all times. Bumps and scratches can be nuisances during home renovation projects and taking care of them immediately will ensure they heal quicker.

Safety Accessories

Make sure to add safety accessories in your shopping list. Safety glasses are great protection for your eyes and earplugs help to avoid ear damage when operating loud machinery.

Read the Manual

There’s a reason almost every appliance has a manual guide that comes with it. Follow instructions, not intuition. The manufacturer is more knowledgeable about the product and following the guidelines will ensure a safe process and effective end result.

Clean Workspace

A clean and well-maintained workspace highly contributes to your safety. Make sure to store power tools, sharp objects, or any other dangerous materials on high shelves out of child’s reach. You may even keep them in a locked cabinet. Also, make sure your workspace is well-lit!

Your safety is crucial when undertaking any renovation project and it’s important to ensure the safety of the people working with you as well.


Steps in Carpet Installation

Installing a new carpet not only increases the beauty of a room but provides insulation, sound control, and a comfortable surface to walk on. The steps involved in carpet installation include:

Measure and Clean

The first thing to do is to measure the length and width of the room where the carpet needs to be installed. After noting the size of the room, clean and vacuum the room clean.

Tackless Strips

With the help of a strip cutter, cut and install the tackless strips across threshold and doorways. They will be used to stabilize the carpet. Make sure not to walk on them as they can hurt your feet.

Roll the Carpet

Lay out the carpet pad perpendicular to the direction you plan to install the carpet and staple it near the tackless strips with a staple hammer.

Trimming

Using a utility knife, cut away the padding along the interior edge of the strip. You may cut away any excess carpet as well but leave about 3” extra next to the walls. The excess can then be attached to the edges of the room for a clearer and better carpet room makeover.

Perfect Finish

Once the carpet is installed, cut out the vent openings and attach shoe molding around the room if desired.


How to Create a Home Gym

Going to the gym can become really easy and cheap if you renovate an unused room into a home gym. Home gyms are great additions and tend to increase your home value. Having a small space where you can work out after a long tiring day is perfect rather than going to a paid gym.

Location

Choosing to have the gym on the ground floor is the best option. This helps in installing gym equipment, and heavy machines such as treadmills are better on the ground floor. Maybe your garage can become your new gym if you cannot find a small room!

Cost

Although having a home gym can be cost-effective, you still need to invest in gym equipment and renovation. For instance, the cost of converting a garage (including heating, lighting, and flooring) will be around $5,000 – $10,000.

Equipment

Choosing the right equipment will vary on what you want to achieve. If you’re looking to increase your strength, then various pulleys, bars, and levers will be the right option for you. On the other hand, treadmill and exercise bikes are great for cardio, and exercise balls and rollers are advisable for flexibility.

Walls

The last step to consider is the wall. You may choose to install mirrors all around the room or in a particular section of the room. Music speakers are great additions as well as insulating the room.


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