Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Estimate the Cost of a Kitchen Renovation

Average Cost for Dallas Kitchen Renovation is $21,000

You’ve been considering a kitchen renovation but have no idea whether you have enough money for such a project.

How do you estimate what such a large project would cost?

Perhaps it seems overwhelming to try to figure out the cost of your dream kitchen renovation, but there are some steps you can take to help you come up with an estimate.

Cost Ranges From Hundreds to Several Thousand

The cost of your kitchen renovation can range from a few hundred dollars for some minor remodeling to thousands of dollars for deeper renovations.

A Houzz.com survey last year found that the cost for the average national kitchen renovation project was $27,000, with variations among different parts of the country. In Dallas, the average was $21,000.

First, it might be a good idea to write down a list of improvements you would like to see in the kitchen. Make sure you prioritize the list well to help you later in deciding what elements of the renovation you can afford.

Needs vs. Wants

The best way to prioritize would be to analyze the way you use your kitchen over a period of about a week, writing down anything that comes to mind as you go about your routines. Think about what is working well and what is not. Is the sink large enough for food prep for meals? Do you need more storage?

This is the time to consider seriously what your needs are versus your wants. Think through every component of your kitchen, from appliances to cabinets to hardware such as faucets. Typically, appliances, cabinets and fixtures will be about 30 percent of the total renovation. You can shop around online to determine the approximate cost of these materials.

Call Contractors for Estimates

Next, you will want to consult with contractors to get estimates on the costs of labor. These costs typically run at about 30 percent of the total renovation cost.

At least 10 percent of your budget should be allocated for unexpected costs, such as unforeseen problems. Think termites, or dry rot in wood.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by having to do so much research. Just make a list and get started on it. Consider that whatever you learn as you go along will help you make more informed choices about your kitchen renovation. Give us a call at Unique Home Properties to discuss your renovation needs and we’ll be pleased to provide an estimate for you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What is a General Contractor?

Your General Contractor Helps Turns Your Vision Into Reality

OK, so you’re thinking about renovating and figured out that you’re going to need to hire a general contractor. But what, exactly, does a general contractor do?

In case you’ve been wondering, we thought we’d give you an overview of general contractors and what they do.

Starting Out

First of all, a general contractor is hired by a client to oversee construction on a project. The scope of the project is determined after the contractor meets with the client, usually at the project site. During the meeting, the contractor generally obtains information on the client’s goals and assesses the project.

The contractor then provides a proposal and an estimate, which includes the cost of materials, equipment and labor.

Drawing Up the Contract

Once the client and the contractor agree on the terms, the general contractor draws up a contract, which should detail the scope of the project, the budget, any schematic drawings and specifications prepared by an architect or other design professional, and deadlines for completing work. (Sometimes, the general contractor is the project engineer.)

Once construction begins, the general contractor is responsible for all aspects of the job, including providing all the materials and hiring qualified employees and subcontractor to carry out the work. The general contractor serves as the liaison between the client and any subcontractors to ensure work is done according to the specifications in the contract.

Many Responsibilities 

Other responsibilities of the general contractor typically include applying for any necessary building permits, managing schedules and budgets, and disposing of any construction waste. Usually, general contractors are familiar with the government offices that handle construction-related permits and other forms.

Qualifications for being a general contractor vary from state to state. In Texas, the state Department of Licensing and Regulation has no license category for general contractors.

Licensing Not Always Required

The Texas Residential Construction Commission existed for a time to oversee home construction but was disbanded in 2010 when legislators didn’t extend the law that created the commission. Unique Home Construction LLC, dba Unique Properties Custom Home Building and Remodeling Co. was registered with the Texas Residential Construction Commission: TRCC# 27021.

Specialty contractors such as electricians, plumbers and HVAC specialists do need to have a license in Texas.

It’s a good idea to consult the State Attorney General’s Office website for suggestions on choosing a reputable contractor.

Keep us in mind for any future remodeling or renovation projects. Unique Properties has been providing various types of construction services for nearly 20 years.

Photo Credit: Brock Builders 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Remodeling a Dallas Rental Property for Bigger Profits

It Pays to Invest in Your Dallas Investment Property

Over time, most owners of rental properties discover that remodeling a Dallas rental property can translate into bigger rent checks.

But renovating a rental unit requires a different approach than upgrading your own home.

Leave Emotions Out

First of all, you should try to detach yourself emotionally when making decisions on renovating your rental property. When you’re renovating your own home, you’re considering upgrades that will fit your lifestyle and make you happier. The renovation is customized for you and your family. Emotions are very much a part of the renovation process since it is your home.

On the other hand, renovating an investment property requires that you take a more generalized approach. Consider which upgrades might appeal to most tenants and which upgrades will maintain the property in good condition. Ultimately, the choices you make when renovating an investment property must make good business sense above all.

Consider What You Can Afford

Once you have a list of potential upgrades that you’re considering, you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Figure out your budget. Any renovations that are necessary to maintain the property should get priority, such as fixing any roofing issues. Cosmetic renovations get second billing, though these are often what will make a tenant fall in love with your property and stay through several lease extensions.

It goes without saying that a nicer home attracts people who are willing and able to pay more rent. To attract higher-income tenants, think about the kind of upgrades those tenants might want. Stainless steel appliances, nice countertops and upgraded flooring. Those are the basics. Some tenants might be just as interested in modernized home amenities such as an open space plan that merges the kitchen with the family room, thus requiring you to knock down a wall if your home is a few decades old.

Larger Investment for Higher Return

For these more expensive projects, you will definitely want to consider whether an investment in a larger scale project will pay for itself over time in higher rents or property value.

Sometimes, tenants want to live in a rental property for several years. In some cases, they may be willing to split the cost of a renovation or even pay for it themselves. Some renters of coveted high-end properties in major cities are increasingly paying for renovations themselves, with the permission of their landlords, The Wall Street Journal reported last weekend.

Don’t expect your renters to do this, however. Your best bet would be to stay focused on the bigger picture and remember that, as with any investment, your rental property needs regular maintenance and attention for you to maximize your profits.

If you need help with a minor or minor Dallas Remodel, check out our website at http://uniquehomebuild.com and enjoy checking out other articles in our blog.  You may even want to sign up as a subscriber so that you can receive notices when new posts are made.

Photo credit: akeg

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guidelines For Deciding What to Keep or Demolish

Consider Value When Making Tough Choices 

Some of the toughest decisions you will face when remodeling your home is whether something should stay or go.

The worn carpeting throughout the house? Yank it all out.

The decades-old formica in the kitchen? Tear it out.

The wobbly stair railing? You will definitely want to consider repairing and keeping this if it’s original to your historic home.

It may be tempting to choose a clean slate when going through your home with an eye toward renovating. But you should carefully consider each fixture with some guidelines in mind:

Functional value.  Does the fixture still work well? You should consider keeping those items that still work well or that show minimal signs of wear and tear. Money saved on a fixture that doesn’t add much decorative appeal (such as a toilet) will be money you can use on other things that are more high-profile like countertops.

Modifications. Some of your home’s fixtures may simply need a modern touch. Consider remodeling some fixtures to update them or make them look modern. Many homeowners are doing just that with their kitchen cabinets, which are often one of the priciest items to replace. Refinishing the cabinet doors if they are hardwood may be worth it, especially if you have a large-scale renovation with a hefty price tag.

Historical value. We’ve mentioned before in previous posts that you should make sure you keep any fixtures that add historical value to your home. If you are renovating a historical home, you will want to keep as many features as possible to maintain your home’s historical value. These include features such as mouldings and stair railings, which many years ago were standard and the result of great craftsmanship.

Damaged beyond repair. Of course, it goes without saying that some fixtures will need to be torn down if they are damaged beyond repair or are nearing such a state that they will have to be replaced in the near future. For example, wooden floors that have withstood major water damage may be moldy and dangerous to keep.  Use common sense in deciding whether something is not salvageable. If you are feeling bad about having to demolish a feature with historical value, you should strive for a replacement that replicates the original fixture as much as possible.

Of course, your contractor can always help guide you as you make these decisions. We at Unique Properties have much experience in these matters and are happy to advise you.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Renovating For Yourself ... or a Future Buyer

What You Decide Can Affect Your Bottom Line

Pop quiz: When considering a renovation to your home do you decide on making improvements that will:

A. Make you and your family happy. You’ve toiled over magazines for ideas and your budget to figure out what you like and can afford. Now, it’s time to customize your home to the way you want to live.

B. Increase your home’s worth. You carefully consider how your choices may be viewed by potential buyers in the future. After all, your house is more than a home for your family. It’s an investment that will help fund your retirement and you want to make sure you’re not flushing money down the drain.

 C. A combination of both A and B.

You’re right if you answered A, B or C. Everybody’s home renovation situation is different so there is no one right answer. The important thing is to decide what is most important to you and your family.

Staying Long vs. Selling Soon

As you think about this, be honest about how long you think you may want to live in your home. This will be a  major factor affecting your decision. The average homeowner today stays in his or her current home for five to seven years, unlike previous generations who stayed in a home for decades.

Perhaps you would like to convert the garage into living space. When you try to sell in a couple of years, potential buyers might pass over your home because they can’t fathom living in a home without a garage. On the other hand, more living space via a garage conversion is something you sorely need in your large household. In that case, think about how long you may want to live in your home after it's renovated.

Spend More, Sell For Nore?

Don’t think that you’ll automatically get back what you put into a home renovation project.

A highly customized home could work against you regardless of how much you spend on it. For example, let’s say you love gardening and pay several thousand dollars for expensive landscaping that you lovingly tend several times a week. Beautiful landscaping should lure those buyers in, right? Not necessarily.

No Need to go Overboard

Going overboard can turn off those buyers that prefer low-maintenance landscaping.

If you plan on staying longer in your home, it might make more sense for you to customize your home to your liking rather than thinking about a future buyer for your home. But if you only plan on staying in your home a year or two, the changes you make might be more cost-effective if you factor in how such changes could be viewed by a buyer. 

We at Unique Properties would love to help you figure out the best renovation strategy for your family.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Five Features of a Historic Home That You Should Keep

Modernizing Doesn't Have to Mean Stripping Your Home

So you’ve decided to tackle the renovation of a historic home. You have noble intentions: You’re hoping to restore your new home to its former glory while renovating it to modernize the living space.

A little research before any demo work gets done can go a long way toward making sure that any renovation work maintains your home’s historical integrity without stripping any important characteristics.

Research Goes a Long Way

First off, try to get a copy of the home’s original blueprint so that you can determine what structures and features such as walls are original to the home. Second, a stop or a call to your historical society or local library can yield valuable information about your home and its history through the years.

The information you uncover can help you determine what features you want to keep.

Five Features to Keep

Here are some features we think you should consider making a permanent part of your home:

Wood flooring. If the condition is good, you may want to consider keeping the flooring, both because it’s great for the environment and for your pocketbook. Also, the patina on an aged wooden floor has more character than a brand new wooden floor

Staircase. Staircases in older homes are better made and have more detail than what is produced today. Keeping the original staircase, with its original balusters, rails and new posts, is sure to add tons of style to your home. If any of these have been painted, you can strip the old paint to reveal all the nooks and grooves in the wood.

Windows are like the eyes into a home. You don’t really want to change these unless it’s really necessary because it will change the look of your home. You can easily apply inexpensive weather stripping and use epoxy or similar compound to stabilize an old window. If you must change the window, try to find ones like the original style.

Moldings. Today we pay a pretty penny to add wood moldings to our homes. There was a time when moldings were a regular part of a home’s design. The wooden elements in an older home are often the most visible testament to the home’s history.

Doors. The doors of yesteryear simply don’t compare to the doors available today. Today’s front doors are often made of steel, sometimes with faux graining made to resemble wood. The original is so much better in terms of craftsmanship and add’s to a home’s uniqueness.

Photo credit: JanieCoffey

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hidden Costs During Kitchen or Home Remodeling

Make Sure You Budget Accordingly

No doubt that the best part about renovating is the after part. The part after the work men are gone, the dust is gone and your life is back to normal in your newly remodeled kitchen or home.

To get to the end, however, you must first negotiate the middle. And the middle can be quite hard, especially when there are unanticipated costs. If you did your homework before taking on a renovation, then you likely set aside a certain portion of your budget for unknowns: those problems that are discovered soon after demolition or even those costs that occur in the midst of reconstruction. 
Make Sure You're Not Dipping Into Savings

But there may have been some other costs that you didn’t figure into the budget because, well, you simply didn’t think about them beforehand. If you didn’t think about them beforehand, then that’s extra cash going out of your bank account (hopefully not your credit card). It’s money you hadn’t anticipated spending. Ouch!

Below are a few of those hidden costs that you should try to factor into the budget beforehand in case they become part of your renovation.

Hidden Costs:

Babysitting or kennel fees. You figured the renovation would be noisy and disruptive but you never guessed just how bad it would be. Or how much it would affect, Fluffy, your pet dog. Perhaps your child also needs babysitting elsewhere away from your home to keep him or her away from the dust and noise.  Over time, these costs can add up quickly. Make sure you set aside some money for this possibility if you’ve got little ones (furry and non-furry) running around.

Landscaping. Your lawn and landscaping are sure to suffer as a result of a major renovation. Workers may need to put some of their equipment directly on the lawn. Even if the debris is on a tarp, your grass can be damaged if the tarp is there long enough.  Pieces of debris or toxic chemicals could land anywhere on the outside of your home. At the very least, you may need to replace some of your plants and lawn.

Waste disposal. Perhaps your contractor has already discussed this with you, but it bears repeating that all the waste that comes out of your home will likely go into a dumpster.  Most municipalities will charge you a fee for the right to have a dumpster parked on a public street. Some may require you to have a homeowners’ insurance rider in case there are any injuries involving the dumpster.

Food take-out and delivery. Plan on spending a big chunk of money on meals out if your kitchen is being renovated. The small costs add up.

We at Unique Home Construction can help you anticipate some of these hidden costs, which obviously vary from project to project.