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Home Improvement
by: Michael Sanford
is an art that most women have imbibed in them. Home Improvement increases the worth of the family residing in it. Also By maintaining it and improving it, youíll ensure it continues to increase in value.
Maintaining Your Home
Taking regular care of your appliances and checking plumbing and heating/cooling systems regularly can save on costly repairs or even more costly replacements. Review your home inspectorís report to help you prioritize tasks. It is worthwhile to consult a professional for anything you have a hard time fixing or inspecting. Some professionals may charge a fee.
Cosmetic Changes vs. remodeling
you have visions of color and comfort. The back porch could use a fresh coat of paint. The kitchen cabinets need to be updated. When do cosmetic changes (paint, window treatments) turn into major remodeling and renovation projects?
To keep the cost of remodeling from increasing dramatically itís best to set a budget first and work to maximize the features you want within that budget. This may also help set the limit between cosmetic and major improvements
Many homeowners believe that any improvement will automatically increase the value of their property. Appraisers offer a more cautious perspective.. In other words, if you live on a street of modest two- and three-bedroom bungalows, donít turn your home into a six-bedroom mansion.
Cosmetic changes such as new paint, flooring and window treatments are considered matters of personal style and therefore, add the least amount of value to a home.
Your home is your greatest financial asset. Take proper care of it and most likely, it will do the same for you.
Planning takes time and includes lots of mundane tasks such as getting permits and financing. But the benefits are immeasurable both in time and money saved.
Individual plans will vary depending on the scope of the project. Steps overlap and sometimes changing in one aspect of your plan forces changes in others. But almost every plan will include at least these five steps.

1. Dream It
Make sure your concept for the addition blends with the existing houses materials and design. For example: Adding on a Cape Cod family room to a 50s ranch style home would look silly at best.
Do a quick sketch of the addition you're planning even before consulting with a builder or designer.
2. Design It
If your plans require the removal or alteration of a supporting wall, contact a building engineer or architect to learn if your idea will affect the strength of the existing structure. Major structural changes may increase the time and cost of your project. A consultation may provide you with alternatives.
3. Paying for It
Establish a budget for this project and determine where the money is coming from. The money available will impact the scope of the project.
Remember that anything not included in the original contract will cost extra. It's tempting to start making changes and expanding the original plan. Try to control yourself or you might be adding hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars that will shatter your budget and your time line.
4. Permits and Codes
If you've hired a local contractor or architect, he should be able to tell you if your idea will pass the building inspection. A professional should be able to handle the entire permit process, from drawing up plans, applying for the permit and scheduling inspections.
If you're doing it yourself, visit your planning department and research the codes that pertain to your project. If the agency requires certified plans, you may still have to consult with an architect or engineer who can provide them.
5. Timing
Establish a time frame for the project. Much of an addition is exterior work and will need to be accomplished according to the seasons. Your start date should be the date you actually beginning construction, so make sure your financing is in place before this date.
Your time frame needs to take into account who is doing the work. If this is a do-it-yourself project, your time will probably be more limited because of job and family. If the job takes eight full days to complete, and you can only work weekends, it will take you four weeks. Consider if the money saved by doing it yourself is worth the extra time.

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