Moving Life Home

NewConstruction

Ipod and water bottle in hand, Dave strolls down a flower lined path toward his first destination of the morning, his gym. At the door to the gym, he is greeted by his wife, Janet. Janet takes a sip of her latte, gives Dave a kiss and tells him she’s off to the studio. While Dave is turning on some music and contemplating how many miles he’ll put on the treadmill today, Janet walks up a staircase to her studio.

The kiln in the corner warms the studio from the chill of the rainy night before.  Janet hangs her coat and inspects yesterday’s creations on the drying rack. In her mind, she’s sizing up what glaze and design she’ll use for each piece. Dave will head to his office on the other side of the building after his workout.

Depending upon where you live, you might have your own vision of this scene. Perhaps it’s a downtown building that has ground level shops, like a gym, and small spaces upstairs for rent, like a studio. Maybe an office park in the suburbs. Perhaps even a co-op village. For Dave and Janet, though, the gym and studio are in a part of their backyard that used to be home to a jungle gym, sandbox and 4-square court. When they became empty nesters, they decided to consolidate their life, cut commuting expenses, and take advantage of some unused space at home. They created a two story, backyard cottage that had a gym, bath and shower, and kitchenette on the ground floor, as well as side-by-side offices on the upper level. Dave, rather than a kiln and pottery supplies, has a desk and display of catalogues that he will use in presentations when clients visit him.

Backyard cottages have been gaining in popularity and attention lately. With the changes in the housing market making it impractical to sell some  homes, possibly gas prices making long commutes impractical, or maybe the desire to simplify a life that’s been too removed from home, its’ easy to see why someone might choose to build one. Many people build them to be guest quarters, mother-in-law apartments, a rental unit for additional monthly revenue, or temporary lodging for boomerang offspring who are trying to land that first job out of college. Some of these are as simply built as a miniature starter home, and yet others are elegantly equipped as a five-star hotel.

To maximize the value of these buildings, they should be planned by an architect so that they will work for your intended use. In the example, Janet’s kiln would be heavy and very hot, so several building precautions would be warranted. One short cut to avoid would be to do anything less than fully permitted and inspected, as failure there can cost far more than the property tax levy to take care of later. It’s advised that unless you have lots of experience, have the riskier tasks done by subcontractors.

These buildings will add value to the homeowner’s property over time, as if they are built properly, they’ll appreciate in conjunction with the value of the home. The reasons for having one are many and personal, but if you were to drive down many city streets, you will find one hiding under the trees in a corner of the backyard.

Can you see a point of your life, and a place on your property, in which a backyard cottage would make sense?

EricJohnsonHeadShotBy Eric Johnson, Director of Education

Johnson has several years experience as a real estate agent and real estate instructor, as well as experience in construction project management, digital media/publishing and insurance. He has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from University of Colorado.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Managing a Remodel

Browsing photos and ideas can be a fun part of creating your dream room. But making your designs a reality also takes smart planning and organization. Project management is an essential part of remodeling, and there’s nothing like the feeling of implementing a plan to create something new and beautiful. These tips can help you achieve your desired results.

Find a Local Contractor to Create Your Dream Home

YourSpace Contractors, original photo on Houzz

Become a list writer. Making lists is key when it comes to project management. It’s the only way to properly organize your thoughts and prevent any details from being forgotten.

The most important list is your scope of work, or specifications, document. This is basically a detailed list of everything to be done, from start to finish. If you’re dealing with one main builder who’s organizing all the work, then you’ll need to make sure he or she gets a copy, so the goals are clear and all the information is provided.

Also, having detailed specifications makes it easier if you want to obtain multiple quotes, and you’ll know it’s a fair comparison since all the builders will be quoting using the same criteria.

frenchStef Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Make sure you’re all on the same page. If you’re coordinating separate subcontractors (cabinetmaker, plumber, electrician), then it would be worth indicating who’s responsible for each task. Give a complete copy of the specifications to all of them, so they’re all aware of what everyone is doing. Discuss the specifications with your subcontractors since they may be able to provide help and advice. A schedule is also useful, so you can keep track of progress and everyone knows who’s going to be on-site on which day.

With prior knowledge that a partition wall will feature some lighting, for instance, the builders will know to leave the stud frame open for the electrician to run the wires through before it’s boarded up and plastered over. Trying to feed wires through after the fact is much harder, takes longer and risks unnecessary damage.

Sian Baxter Lighting Design, original photo on Houzz

Break into subsections. In addition to your main specifications, it’s a good idea to have sublists for each separate element of your design. For example, your main specifications may say “install 6 x recessed LED downlights in ceiling,” but your lighting specifications will detail where they are to be positioned, the type of bulb, the hardware finish and so on. The more information you provide, the more accurate your quote should be and the less likely it will be for mistakes or misunderstandings to occur. It will also minimize any unexpected costs.

This bathroom has a minimalist elegance, but it’s far from straightforward. This project would have required a builder’s spec, including layout and elevation drawings with dimensions, an electrical spec with lighting plan, a plumbing spec with layout drawing, and a decorating spec — phew!

Plan like a pro. Finalize your design before starting any work, rather than trying to do it as you go along. The process will be much more enjoyable without constant deadlines presenting themselves, and if you haven’t planned, you may find your options restricted based on work that’s already taken place.

Take a couple of weeks to put it all together, write your specifications, draw up the plans, get everything ready and make all the decisions before proceeding. This will save you time and money along the way, and significantly reduce stress levels during the project.

This clever design features well-thought-out lighting and custom cabinetry. Careful consideration would have been given to where to position the outlets, radiators, lights, switches and other details.

Yellow Letterbox, original photo on Houzz

Never assume. You know the saying. When writing your specifications or drawing your plans, never assume that someone else will know what you want unless you explicitly state it. Include every tiny detail, no matter how picky it may seem. As well as avoiding mistakes, it also prevents any disputes over what is and isn’t included in the quote.

This bathroom just wouldn’t have looked the same if white grout had been used, for instance. You may think it would be absurd to even consider using white grout in this case, but if you haven’t asked for dark gray, you can’t expect it and you can’t assume that you will be asked what color you want. White is standard, and a tiler may use it if nothing has been specified.

Stand by for decisions. Your builder will present many questions and decisions to you along the way. Which tiles do you want on the walls? Where do you want these wall lights? What color do you want on the baseboards?

Your best bet will be to try to pre-empt as many of these decisions as possible and have the answers ready or, even better, provide the information in advance. Making these decisions under pressure can lead to impulse moves you may regret later. However, taking too long could hold up the project, costing you time, money and the patience of your builder. No one wants an unhappy builder.

Inevitably, there will be some questions you couldn’t have anticipated, but if you communicate well with your contractors, they should, where possible, give you time to make a decision without holding up the project. Don’t be afraid to ask their opinion on the best course of action, but don’t feel pressured to compromise on the design if you don’t want to.

Brilliant Lighting, original photo on Houzz

Give yourself time to deliver. This is one of the classic pitfalls, so take note. When pulling your design ideas together and deciding which products and materials to use, make a note of the lead times. Many pieces of furniture are made to order and can have lead times of up to 12 weeks, sometimes longer. Similarly, tile and natural stone can take much longer than expected to arrive, and products from abroad can encounter holdups during transit.

This chandelier was custom-made for the project and looks fantastic. This is no last-minute, off-the-shelf, next-day-delivery job. It can be a huge shame if you’ve spent hours, days, weeks choosing the perfect product, but when you come to order it, you find that it will take too long to be delivered, perhaps time you can’t afford. Then you have to decide whether to hold up the work or pick something else based on the fact it can be delivered quickly.

Find a Bathroom Vanity for Your Bath Remodel

Factor in a contingency. Even when you have the very best of intentions, issues that you couldn’t have predicted may arise during your project. So it’s a good idea to factor in a 10 percent contingency within your budget for these matters, especially with old buildings. Who knows what condition the walls are in behind those kitchen cabinets before you rip them out? Or what may be lurking underneath that carpet when you pull it up?

In these situations, it’s important to expect the worst and don’t let it throw you off your game. You are a project manager extraordinaire, and you’ve totally got this. Just accept that these things happen, find out what the options are and make a decision. Your contractors will be able to advise on what to do, so harness their expertise and trust them to help you find the right solution.

Elayne Barre Photography, original photo on Houzz

Call in the cavalry. If you choose to manage your project yourself, it’s certainly an enjoyable and rewarding process, but it also takes a certain type of person. You have to be organized, calm under pressure, strategic and confident — not to mention being able to afford the time to plan, coordinate and oversee the work.

If you have qualms about taking it on yourself, then consider hiring a project manager. Yes, there will be a fee, but consider that a badly managed project can cost you time and money, and you may not achieve the results you were after. A pro will take care of everything and allow you to rest easy, knowing you’re in safe hands.

By Jennifer Chong, Houzz

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Mid-Century Modern Ranch in Fort Collins!

Completely remodeled & updated mid-century ranch at 1624 Smith Place! The sellers have added $40K of additional updates since last purchased. Updates include: Solid hickory floors throughout, stainless appliances, large kitchen island, open floor plan, new carpet & tile, upgraded electrical, new water heater, radon mitigation & ring doorbell. Gorgeous custom low maintenance landscaping! Next to Spring Creek Trail, a bike ride to Old Town & the newly updated Midtown shops at Foothills. Location! Location! Location! Contact Kyle Basner for your private showing at (970) 481-5689 for more information or click the link below for more details.

http://windermerenoco.com/listing/87785649

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Artfully Organizing Your Bookshelf

When it comes to organizing a bookshelf, there are a multitude of directions you can go. For example, a simple Pinterest search will turn up endless results of bookshelves stylishly organized by color, but what if that entails separating books from within a series? For some of us, that’s like separating our children. Ultimately, how you organize your bookshelf is a personal choice based on your own aesthetic, but if you’re looking for inspiration, here are some tips to help give your reading space photo-worthy style.

Sorting by color:

  • One color per shelf (a blue shelf, a green shelf, and so on). If you’re having trouble filling a shelf, wrap some of the books in craft paper.
  • A gradual “rainbow” flowing from one color to the next or from the most saturated colors to pastels.
  • A pattern that creates a flag or other simple image when the whole bookcase is filled. This is time-consuming, but impressive.

Sorting by size:

  • Large, heavy books should be shelved on sturdy shelves, below head height.
  • Start by placing the tallest and largest books on the lowest shelf, placing smaller and smaller books as you move upward. This creates a tidy, organized appearance. On some bookcases, this is a necessity to adapt to the height of each shelf.
  • Large decorative objects and oversized books look best if they are spaced out between different spots in the bookcase, leaving plenty of space between them to create separate focal points. They also make excellent bookends and will help to keep books in place. A zig-zag pattern works well.

Design effects to consider:

  • Create a dark backdrop. The bookcase will look more striking if the backdrop is darker than the surrounding walls and shelves. Consider painting the back of the bookshelves to create this vivid effect. This can be anything from basic black to pale beige. For open-backed bookshelves, hang a cloth between them and the wall.

  • Stack books on top of each other on some shelves, and vertically next to each other on others. Shelving books in different orientations by varying the position of the books is eye-catching and chic.

  • Try a pyramid of books, topped with a small trinket.

  • Leave plenty of empty space. Gaps often look better than a shelf clogged with paperbacks and origami. This is especially important for open-backed bookcases placed in the middle of a room, which need a large amount of space to let light through.

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Empty Nesters: Remodel or Sell?

Your kids have moved out and now you’re living in a big house with way more space than you need. You have two choices – remodel your existing home or move. Here are some things to consider about each option.

Choice No. 1: Remodel your existing home to better fit your current needs.

  • Remodeling gives you lots of options, but some choices can reduce the value of your home. You can combine two bedrooms into a master suite or change another bedroom into a spa area. But reducing the number of bedrooms can dramatically decrease the value of your house when you go to sell, making it much less desirable to a typical buyer with a family.
  • The ROI on remodeling is generally poor. You should remodel because it’s something that makes your home more appealing for you, not because you want to increase the value of your home. According to a recent study, on average you’ll recoup just 64 percent of a remodeling project’s investment when you go to sell.
  • Remodeling is stressful. Living in a construction zone is no fun, and an extensive remodel may mean that you have to move out of your home for a while. Staying on budget is also challenging. Remodels often end up taking much more time and much more money than homeowners expect.

Choice No. 2: Sell your existing home and buy your empty nest dream home.

  • You can downsize to a single-level residence and upsize your lifestyle. Many people planning for their later years prefer a home that is all on one level and has less square footage. But downsizing doesn’t mean scrimping. You may be able to funnel the proceeds of the sale of your existing home into a great view or high-end amenities.
  • A “lock-and-leave” home offers more freedom. As your time becomes more flexible, you may want to travel more. Or maybe you’d like to spend winters in a sunnier climate. You may want to trade your existing home for the security and low maintenance of condominium living.
  • There has never been a better time to sell. Our area is one of the top in the country for sellers to get the greatest return on investment. Real estate is cyclical, so the current boom is bound to moderate at some point. If you’re thinking about selling, take advantage of this strong seller’s market and do it now.

Bottom Line

If your current home no longer works for you, consider looking at homes that would meet your lifestyle needs before taking on the cost and hassle of remodeling. Get in touch with a Windermere Real Estate broker to discuss the best option for you.

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5 Things Your Contractor Doesn’t Want to Hear

There are parts of every job, no matter what field you’re in, that are just less fun than others. Building professionals pride themselves on doing anything and everything to make clients happy. But that doesn’t always mean the builder is jumping up and down with excitement at every stage of a project.

Related: 10 Things to Discuss With a Contractor Before Work Starts

When it comes to remodeling and home building, contractors will do just about anything to make you happy. They’ll meet with you on short notice. They’ll come up with creative solutions to your unique requests. They’ll even clean your toilets if you ask (although maybe not for free).

Contractors may have a brave face on at all times, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: There are some things they just don’t like to hear. Such as …

Comments 1: Gepetto, original photo on Houzz

1. “I reselected my plumbing fixtures.” Most good contractors will harp on how important it is to get all your selections made as soon as possible. Some won’t even start a project until everything is selected. It’s a great practice, and it helps to keep your project going as smoothly as possible.

Related: Bathroom Sinks for Every Budget

So if you come to your builder in the middle of the project and say, “Hey, by the way, I chose all new plumbing fixtures for the master bathroom,” they might get a little nervous. Depending on what stage of work they’re in and what you reselected, this could be no big deal. Or it could mean doing a lot of extra work to prepare for the new fixtures. Even worse, there may be a lead time associated with your new selections. This could cause an unplanned stop in work, which nobody (homeowners, subcontractors, builders, neighbors) likes.

Comments 2: BCV ARCHITECTS, original photo on Houzz

2. “Can we hang this chandelier up there?” (Points to 20-foot-tall ceiling.) Why, yes! Yes, we can. I’ll just be sitting in the corner biting my nails as I watch my electricians stand on massive ladders that I (the person with the fear of heights) would never set foot on, all while they hold and hang a massively heavy and most likely expensive chandelier. But, yeah, we can definitely do that. No problem.

Related: Search Chandeliers by Style

There’s really no way to avoid challenges like this. But it helps to give your builder a heads up on out-of-the-ordinary needs you may have. That way, he or she can take extra precautions, such as setting up scaffolding, and warn you of any additional costs that your request could involve.

Comments 3: Buildwell, original photo on Houzz

3. “Can you meet at 5 p.m. this Friday?” Admittedly, I don’t think anyone likes to hear this. Contractors may work long hours and be available pretty much whenever you need them to be, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to go home a little early (or at least leave on time) on Friday to relax.

A great way to ensure you’ll have your contractor’s undivided attention is to set up recurring meetings. Find a time that works for both of you and save it in your calendars. That way, no one has to worry about last-minute, pre-weekend meetings.

Comments 4: Kasper Custom Remodeling, LLC, original photo on Houzz

4. “Let’s make all of the walls smooth!” I think smooth walls are beautiful. They’re crisp and clean and are a must in my book. I’ll say this much, though: They aren’t always easy. It’s one thing to hire a high-quality drywall contractor who is a pro at smooth finishes. It’s another thing entirely to have all involved parties be happy with the final product.

It’s kind of like If You Give a Moose a Muffin. It starts with one thing that needs to be fixed (“That corner isn’t perfectly square”) and seemingly overnight turns into a mile-long punch list detailing everything from millimeter-wide blemishes to areas of texture that look weird in a certain light. Like I said, I adore smooth walls, but getting them to a level of smoothness that everyone can agree on can be a bit of a task.

If you can find it within yourself to hold off on the nitpicking until your builder at least has the paint primer up (this is the stage when it’s easiest to see any remaining imperfections), you’ll save yourself and your builder a headache.

Comments 5: Barbara Bagot Architecture, original photo on Houzz

5. “Could you help me move [insert expensive item here]?” Grand pianos, $50,000 paintings, one-of-a-kind sculptures — you name it, I’m afraid of moving it. Asking remodelers to help you move something valuable to you (whether monetarily or emotionally) is asking them to take on a lot of liability.

While it may make sense to ask them for a little help — after all, they have plenty of crews, and they’re already at your house — it’s not worth the risk for any party involved. Your best bet is rephrasing the question to “Do you know anyone I could hire to help me move [insert expensive item here]?”

As I was speaking to my co-workers for their take on things contractors “hate” to do, it became apparent to me that, for the most part, there isn’t too much that we won’t do to make our customers happy. On top of that, there aren’t a huge number of things that make us shudder. (Notable exception: When someone used the toilet at a house where the water wasn’t on — yuck.)

There might be materials or tasks contractors try to avoid if they can, and some might even steer their customers away from certain things to make everyone’s life a little easier. (Our in-house designer avoids marble in kitchens at all costs because of its susceptibility to stains.) But in the end, we’re in the customer service game for a reason. We love to make people happy, and we’ll do whatever we can to facilitate that.

By Hannah Kasper, Houzz

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