Home Renovation—the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

renovation

Common Problems In Renovating Old Homes

Renovating an old house can be rewarding, but it’s not an easy job.  The trouble with renovating old homes is that they may seem in good condition but underlying problems can develop during the remodeling or renovation process. That is why it’s a good idea to hire a professional building contractor; they are always ready to expect the unexpected. Here are some of the common problems found when renovating old homes:

Plumbing
Plumbing problems are a common issue with old homes because galvanized pipes either get clogged or corroded. This issue is not only limited to the pipes in the house, but extends to the sewer lines as well. Galvinized pipes were used before the 1960s and should be replaced with copper or plastic.

Mold
Old homes usually have a stale smell which is caused by mold that usually develops due to water leakage from pipes, walls or the roof. Hire professionals to tackle mold problems during construction — they can detect the source of the leakage and fix the problem.

Dry Rot
A lot of homes have the problem of dry rot which sometimes is not visible until the renovation work starts. This is because dry rot is actually a fungus that grows in wood that has been wet. The wood becomes crumbly and soft. Sometimes it appears to have white stains. Even if the original leak has been repaired, dry rot can continue to spread and damage more wood. If the wood in question is involved in structural support, this is not something you want to tackle yourself.

Foundation Problems
Old houses were constructed in a way that did not allow proper grading for water runoff, which usually leads to mold in basements. Foundation problems can be detected from cracks on the floor, in the walls, and by sticky windows and doors.

Electrical Wiring
Electrical wiring in old homes can be a problem because the system back then was not well equipped to power modern day appliances. Also, the old wiring systems were usually not grounded. You can evaluate this by examining your outlets —two pronged outlets are not grounded—three pronged outlets are usually grounded. Old, brittle and faulty wiring can cause short circuits that can turn into a house fire. Have a professional renovation company check the wiring of your house. This may be a good time to update the wiring system, with a ground fault circuit interrupter, which cuts off power as soon problems are detected, before a fire.

Asbestos
One of the leading problems of homes that were constructed at least 40 years ago is asbestos. It is a fire retardant product that was extensively used in earlier construction. It is found in HVAC system, flooring, insulations, duct work, and roofing. Asbestos isn’t harmful if it is in good condition. The trouble starts when it turns into powder (due to sawing, cutting, and scraping) that can be inhaled, as it causes severe lung damage. That is why it is imperative to have a professional abatement company detect and remove asbestos in your house.

Lead Paint
If the house you are renovating was built before 1978, there is a high chance that there is lead in the paint. Lead is released into the air when leaded paint is sanded or heated. The dust from chipped or peeled lead paint is very hazardous to pets and children as well as adults. Have a professional examine and test the house for lead before you start any.

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg of why it is important to hire a professional contractor, such as Weston Construction, to assist you when you planning a home renovation. If you are considering a home renovation, give us a call. We’re happy to meet with you to discuss your project.

Tiling Spaces

bathroom renovation with tile Tile Choices for Construction and Renovation

Ceramic and stone tiles have become a very popular construction material when renovating an existing home or building a new house. We will discuss the types of ceramic and stone tiling options and the benefits and usage of each type. When choosing tile materials for flooring, counter tops, back splashes and shower or bath, it is good to know which tile materials work best for that placement.

Tiles may be broadly divided into two types, ceramic and stone. Both are then sub-divided into other types.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is manufactured from quarried, prepared, and molded clay. The two types of ceramic tiles are:

Porcelain
Porcelain ceramic tile while composed of clay and minerals, also contains 50% of feldspar crystals – a kind of white sand. These crystals melt during the kiln-drying process to form a glass-like material that bonds all the other ingredients together. Even with minor modifications to the ingredients or tile making process, a huge variety of porcelain tiles can be achieved. More durable, stain resistant, and less water absorbent than non-porcelain tiles, porcelain tiles also demonstrate a thorough-bodied color. Porcelain tile is well-suited for construction of exterior walls and floors.
Non-Porcelain
Made from either red, white, or brown clay, non-porcelain tiles are one of the most economical types.
Both types come in unglazed and glazed varieties. The glazed tile may come in semi-high gloss or matte look. Glazed tiles will be increasingly resistant to stains, scratches, traction, and water absorption, making them ideal for bathroom floors and walls.

Natural Stone TileStone tile types

Many people like the natural earthy look of stone tiles. Depending upon the location and time of the stone being quarried, slabbed, and finished, stone tiles come in many varieties. For foyers, and hallways – high-traffic areas – stone tiles with a matte or satin finish last longer, whereas highly polished tile begins to show wear patterns.

Granite
Granite is an igneous, dense, and hard rock with a distinctive speckled appearance and unique veining that comes in multitudes of colors. Almost impervious and scratch resistant, this tile makes an excellent choice for kitchen floors and countertops, other high-traffic areas, such as curbs and paving stones, solid, colorful, and durable workstations, such as sinks, and backsplash.

Marble
A metamorphic rock available in many colors and featuring rich veining, marble is more porous and not suited for kitchen flooring. It is, however, a perfect choice for interior walls and floors in areas with moderate traffic.

Limestone
A sedimentary rock that comes in both light and dark shades, limestone’s earthy appearance can be polished smooth or textured. Use limestone for structural and entry walls, the area around a fireplace, vanities, and shower walls.

Travertine
A limestone type that has a crystallized appearance and an earthy tone, the surface has natural pitting. Like limestone, travertine is perfect for entry walls, fireplace surrounds, shower walls, vanities, tub decks and mosaics.

Slate
Slate is a type of metamorphic rock that is extremely dense and very durable. Slate is available in darker earthy tones. The surface of slate is naturally textured unless a smooth, honed finish is achieved. Slate is an excellent choice for kitchen – countertops and wet bars – roofing and high-traffic area flooring, such as walkways.

Other
Other stone types include onyx and quartzite.

The Benefits of Tile
1. Environmentally friendly. Little to no volatile organic compounds are found in ceramic tile and stone, as compared to other types. They contribute towards building a healthy environment.
2. Durability. High durability and sustainability makes ceramic and stone an ideal choice. Floorings, such as carpets need replacement after every 7-10 years, making them less economical.
3. Mildew resistant. Good fighters against mildew and mold, ceramic and stone are constructed from materials that are not food sources for mold and mildew. Less mold and mildew is healthier for your home.
4. Moisture resistant. Inherently water resistant, ceramic, and stone do not degrade when exposed to moisture.

The type of tile you choose will depend on your usage – amount of traffic, area covered, type of area being covered etc – and budget. Choose wisely, although keep in mind that stone and ceramic tiles are more durable, healthy, and sustainable than other building material choices out there. Weston Construction can help you assess the best tiling materials to use for your new home construction or renovation.

Home Renovation Ideas that Are Worth It

Home remodeling projects can increase the value of your house, but knowing which projects return the most value can help you prioritize your wish list. Below are ideas and tips for home improvement that are popular and will improve the market value of your home.

add a deck1. Adding a Deck
A Deck addition returns the greatest value among the major popular remodeling projects. Owners can recoup nearly 80% of the investment at resale by adding a deck. It makes the house more aesthetically pleasing, increases outdoor living space and increases the value of the house. Decks made from wood have slightly better cost-value ratio than composite decks. But you also have to consider the maintenance on a composite deck is less time consuming and costly than wood.

2. Adding a New Room
Try converting an already existing space into a bedroom. You can convert your basement into a new bedroom, or you can add a room above the garage that can be used as an apartment. Create an Attic Bedroom for the best for cost vs value, owners can recoup up to 77% of the cost at resale. Think of creative ways to use your new space. For example, an attic can be used as a TV or game room. A basement can be used as a playroom for your children.

kitchen renovation3. Kitchen Renovation
Renovation in the kitchen can pay off because it is such a centrally important part of the house. The payoff is expected to be 67 to 79% of the cost in increased value of the home. One of the most budget-efficient ways to give your kitchen a new look is to change its color. Ask your contractor to use environment-friendly low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints that are free of harmful chemicals. Give your Kitchen a simple facelift by replacing old appliances with modern energy efficient ones. Since the appliances use less energy, your bills go down and you end up saving money.

bath remodel4. Bathroom Remodel
Remodeling the bathroom can recoup 60 to 72% of the initial investment (see last month’s blog post for the latest trends in bathroom remodeling). Look at unoccupied spaces in your house that can be turned into a bathroom. Consider the space you have versus the space needed before investing money. A bathroom with a bathtub and other accessories needs at least 35 square feet of space; a full bath needs 30 square feet; however a half bath needs only 18 square feet.

Smaller Projects

5. Adding Energy Efficient Windows
Investing in good quality energy efficient windows can save you up to $500 per year in energy costs, and will recoup up to 78% of the cost in home value. Not only do windows save money, they are eco friendly as well. Think about it, the more you use natural sunlight to light your rooms the less you spend on electricity.

6. Proper Insulation
Make sure you invest in energy efficient insulation. The initial cost is low, but can save you several hundred dollars per year in energy costs. In order to increase the value of the house, you need to add extra insulation, repair cracks, and look for air leaks around the house. One last tip is to replace old furnaces and air conditioners with new energy efficient ones.

7. Small items, big payoff
Other smaller improvements with big payoffs include Entry Door Replacement (101% recoup), Garage Door Replacement (88% recoup), Backup Power Generator (59%
recoup) and Siding Replacement (up to 80% recoup).
Items with the lowest recoup valuation include Sunroom addition (48%) and home office remodeling (38%)

Valuation estimates for this article were for mid-range projects sourced from Remodeling Magazine’s Annual “Cost vs. Value Report”. Weston Construction is a general contractor in Charlottesville, Virginia that can help with home remodeling projects to add value and enjoyment of your home.

Latest Trends in Bathroom Remodeling

bath trendsFrom the public baths of Mohenjo-daro to the luxurious individual models, bathrooms have come a long way. As we continue to evolve, so do our tastes and preferences when it comes to the comforts of the home. This article discusses the latest trends in bathroom remodeling; we hope you will find at least one idea that you absolutely must try!

Bathtubs

Lately, bathtubs have become a hot topic. Some bathroom enthusiasts want them; others hate them. This year, the top trends for this bathroom accessory are:

Removing Them
It could be the fact that bathtubs waste more water or that busy lifestyles do not allow lounging in one, so why have it in the first place or even considering them too expensive, bathtubs are on their way out. The money and space can be allocated to something else that has more utility. A shower, perhaps?

Substituting Them
There still exist bathtub lovers and they are not ready to give them up just yet. For those who still love the bathtub, in 2015, stand-alone tubs that save space will be the “it” thing. Options like the spa-jet tubs and serene soaking tubs are present.

bathroom remodel contractor

Replacing Them
A busy schedule means popping into the shower more often than soaking in a bathtub for hours. If you are not taking baths, you probably do not need a bathtub. This frees up a whole lot of space for a shower that can be as ginormous as you want it to be.

Walk-in or doorless, curb-less and no-threshold showers are just some of the luxuries that you can sample while accommodating this trend.

Tiles

Tiles can make or break it, when it comes to good-looking bathrooms. The tile trendsetters for 2015 suggest these would be big this year because:
bathroom tilesStyle
A staggered pattern of 12-inch by 24-inch rectangular tiles on bathroom floors and shower walls will make for a smooth flow throughout the room. They do not swell when wet or need refinishing like wood does. Feature floor tiles add style to a bathroom without overwhelming the available space in smaller bathrooms while bringing elegance to larger ones. These stunning tiles provide a great design opportunity for challenging bathrooms with no clear walls to be made into a feature wall.

Color
Gray has become the new neutral and the new beige. Consumers are tiling everything gray –from their kitchens to bathrooms. The trick is to pick a gray that is earthy rather than cold or sterile. A splash of bold colors will work ideally to accent the neutral.

Radiant Floor Heating
The secret to the tile’s growing popularity is in radiant floor heating. Once only available to high-end clients, it has now become more mainstream. Residents of areas that are cold for much of the year are thrilled at the idea of not having to walk around on cold tiles.

Miscellaneous

The current remodeler’s bag of tricks is chock full of intelligent solutions for the modern bathrooms. Given below are some of the trends that are hot for this year.

bathroom fixtureMetallic Fixtures
Chrome, brushed nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze – different warm coppery, brassy, and bronze-y colors are in this year. Out with the plain old stainless steel to explore the interesting possibilities.

Smarter Toilets
Low-flow and dual-flow toilets not only save energy but are also cost-efficient. People want to be smarter about water control. Thermostatic mixers, multiple-use mixers, and touch screen-operated showers are also in high demand. Double showers used by more than one person can benefit from multiple mixers.

Customized Vanities
A his-and-hers double-sink vanity or two-sink vanities for bathrooms shared by siblings are just two examples of the customization that people now want for vanities. Mass produced is out and tailor-made is in!

LED Lighting
LED lighting is being used almost everywhere – in the bathroom, in and under cabinets.

We hope you found one or two ideas in this article that you will want to try out when considering a bathroom remodeling project, or planning your new custom home. Give Weston Construction a call to discuss your next bathroom remodeling or new home building project. We will be happy to accommodate you!

Weston Construction is a General Contractor in Charlottesville, Virginia with more than 20 years experience building new homes and renovating historic properties.