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Arroyo Grande, CA

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Before You Remodel: Follow these steps to get your home improvement project on the right start. Links and resources for drafting your design ideas, finding builders and architects, negotiating contracts, getting permits, and more

 

1. Draw Your Dream
Even before you consult an architect, you can begin sketching out your ideas and imagining your remodeled home. If you are adding or expanding a room, think about how the space will be used and how the changes will affect traffic patterns. Also consider how new construction will affect the overall context of your home. An oversized addition may overwhelm your house or crowd a small lot. A simple home design software program can help you visualize your project.

2. Learn From Others
One of the best ways to get inspiration and to avoid pitfalls is to follow the experiences of other homeowners. A number of Web sites offer online chronicles of home improvement projects, along with reply forms, message boards and chat rooms that let you ask questions and get feedback.

3. Think Ahead
Although you may dream of having a spacious new addition, the project may not make sense if you plan to sell your house in a few years. A luxury bathroom can price your house beyond the values in your neighborhood. Some projects, such as vinyl siding on a Queen Anne Victorian, will actually decrease the value of your home. Moreover, your own family's needs may be very different in a few years. Will the plans you draw today fit your future?

4. Count Your Money
Even the best-laid budgets can go bust. Chances are, your remodeling project will cost more than you expect. Before you set your heart on high-end ceramic tile, find out how much you have to spend and make sure you have a cushion against cost overruns. For must-have items that could wipe out your savings account, explore home improvement loans and other financing options.

5. Choose your team
Unless you plan to take on the entire remodeling project by yourself, you'll need to hire helpers. Naturally, you'll want to make sure that the folks who work for you are qualified, licensed, and properly insured. But, finding the best team for your remodeling project goes beyond a simple reference check. The architect who has won top awards may have a design vision very different from your own. Use these resources to find the professionals you feel comfortable with.

6. Negotiate a Contract
Whether you plan a simple carpentry job or a major project requiring the services of an architect and a general contractor, misunderstandings can lead to disaster. Do not begin remodeling without a written contract. Make sure everyone agrees on the work that will be completed and how long it will take. Also be clear on the types of materials that will -- and will not -- be used.

7. Get Permission
In most parts of the world, a legal permit is required before you make structural changes to your home. The building permit assures that the remodeling project meets local building codes and safety regulations. If you live in a historic district, the permit also assures that exterior changes to your home are in keeping with neighborhood guidelines. General contractors will usually take care of the paperwork, but smalltime workers may not... and the permits become your responsibility.

8. Plan for Problems
The larger the remodel, the greater the chances for frustrations. There will be equipment breakdowns, supply shortages, miscommunications, and delays. Draw up a few friendly rules for workers. Tell them where they may park their trucks and store their equipment. Plan for ways you can indulge yourself when times become especially stressful. Schedule a day at a spa and reserve a night at a romantic bed and breakfast inn. You deserve it!

 

Picking House Paint Colors: Follow these steps to get your home improvement project on the right start. Links and resources for drafting your design ideas, finding builders and architects, negotiating contracts, getting permits, and more

 

The names are enough to make your head spin. Choosing a paint color becomes even more baffling when you consider that most homes use at least three different shades -- one for the siding and two or more for trim and accents such as doors, railings and window sashes.

A well-chosen selection of contrasting trim and accent colors can draw attention to architectural details and disguise design flaws. A poor selection can make a house seem flat and featureless -- Or so garish that the color overwhelms the architecture. But, how do you decide?

Here are a few pointers to guide you as you choose house paint colors.

Historic Authenticity If you are planning to paint an older home, you have three options. You can hire a pro to analyze old paint chips and recreate the original color. You can refer to historic color charts and select shades that might have been used at the time your home was built. Or, you can fly in the face of history and choose bright modern colors to dramatize architectural details.

The third option can produce startling and exciting results. But before you buy 10 gallons of bubblegum pink, it's a good idea to look at what your neighbors are doing. Neighborhood Context A fluorescent colored Victorian that looks splendid in San Francisco will seem wildly out of place in more conservative neighborhoods. Even if you are opting for a more subtle scheme, you'll want to make sure that your colors are compatible with the houses next door.

Existing Colors
Your house is your canvas, but it is not blank. Some colors are already established. What color is your roof? Is there mortar or other siding that will not be painted? Will doors and railings remain their existing colors? New paint does not need to match existing colors, but it should harmonize.

Interior Colors
It may seem comical to paint entire house based on the pattern of a pillow case, but this approach does make sense. The color of your furnishings will guide you in the selection of your interior paint colors, and your interior paint colors will influence the colors you use outside. Once again, your goal is to harmonize.

Accents
Depending on the size and complexity of your home, you may be choosing two, three or as many as six colors. In addition to the color you select for siding, you'll want to select accent colors for trim and details such as shutters, moldings and columns. This can be tricky, because too many colors will overwhelm your house and too few will make it seem two dimensional.

Darks and Lights
Light colors will make your house seem larger. Dark siding or dark bands of trim will make your house seem smaller, but will draw more attention to details. Darker shades are best for accenting recesses, while lighter tones will highlight details which project from the wall surface. On traditional Victorian homes, the darkest paint is often used for the window sashes.

Harmony and Contrast
Contrasting colors will draw attention to architectural details. But, extreme contrasts will clash and actually detract from details. To be safe, consider staying within a single color family. For some accents, try using a darker or lighter shade instead of a different color.

Balance
A burst of a single color on just one part of your home may give it a lopsided appearance. Strive to balance colors over the entire building.

Durability
The more intense a color, the more likely it is to fade. After a few years, vivid blues and deep reds will seem more subdued. Dark colors also pose more maintenance problems. Dark colors absorb heat and suffer more moisture problems than lighter shades. And because dark paint fades, it's difficult to touch up.

Sheen
You thought you only had to pick colors? Sorry! In addition, you'll also need to decide on the sheen of your paint -- glossy, semi-gloss or flat. The glossier the surface, the more likely it is to show imperfections, brush strokes and touch up marks. On the other hand, glossy surfaces are easier to clean. Many homeowners opt to use flat paint for walls and semi-gloss or glossy paint for columns, railings and window sashes.

Color Deceptions
Color swatches look very different when they are brought out of the store and viewed in natural sunlight. Also, colors appear lighter on large surfaces than they do on small samples. It's best to test your selected color in one area before buying gallons of paint.