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Remodeling: What You Need to Know

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In this traditional, Georgian-style kitchen by Susan Fruit Interiors, the clients had grown tired of their outdated black granite, dual-level countertop and fruit tile backsplash and were ready for a light and airy gathering space for their family. The new white marble quartz countertop with LED recessed lighting above and Georgian style polished nickel lanterns for accent really brighten things up. Classic wingback counter height chairs, polished nickel drawer pulls and the Kohler Smart Divide stainless steel undermount sink bring the style up-to-date.

All the information you need to start planning your next remodeling project

Why remodel?

Remodeling your home can modernize the style, make it more comfortable, improve energy efficiency and home functionality, increase the value of your home, and help with upkeep and maintenance. Home remodeling is an investment in your home to ensure longevity, usefulness and home value.

When is it time to remodel?

The reasons for home remodeling are as varied as the projects we undertake. Some of these include:

  • Adding more space.
  • Upgrading cabinets, counters, appliances and fixtures.
  • Creating a floor plan that’s customized for your lifestyle.
  • Improving energy efficiency with new windows, doors, insulation and climate control systems.
  • Increasing the resale value of your home.

What are some home remodeling ideas?

Before you head too far down the remodeling path, it’s a good idea to think through your wants and needs:

  • Decide what changes you want to make.
  • Ask yourself and other family members what you like and dislike about the house, then create a prioritized list.
  • Look at magazines and collect pictures of what appeals to you.


How do I plan a home remodel?

The first step is to develop an idea of what you want to do. Write a prioritized list of your needs and wants. The more clearly you can envision the project and describe it on paper, the better prepared you’ll be in making your decisions.

Think about traffic patterns, furniture size and placement, colors, lighting and how you expect to use the remodeled space, now and in the future. If your decision to remodel involves creating better access for someone with limited mobility, you may want to consider contacting a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist.

Figure out how much money you have to spend on the remodeling job, furnishings, landscaping or any other cost you might incur.

If you’ve decided you want to hire a remodeler, learn how to choose a professional, avoid contractor fraud and make your dream home reality.

How do I pay for a home remodel?

One of the most important considerations for your home improvement project is financing. After all, the project will go nowhere if you can’t pay for it. Fortunately, there are several options that can provide the dollars you need. Four of the most common are a home improvement loan, a home equity line of credit, a home equity loan (second mortgage), and a cash-out refinancing of your current mortgage. However, the simplest method of financing is cash.

How do I find a professional home remodeler?

When you hire a remodeler, you are buying a service rather than a product. The quality of service the home remodeler provides will determine the quality of the finished product and your satisfaction with the result. To ensure your satisfaction, make sure you hire a qualified, professional remodeler from the Greater Houston Builders Association.

What should I expect during the remodel?

While remodeling can be an exciting process, it can also present unexpected challenges. Many problems can be avoided by planning ahead.

Owners of homes built before 1978 who are contemplating any work that will disturb more than six square feet of painted surfaces inside the home or 20 square feet on the exterior of the home — for example, replacing a window, installing cabinets, or adding on to the home — are required by law to hire a contractor trained and certified by the EPA.

photo - Kolanowski Studio

In this remodel by Morning Star Builders, what was formerly an outdated tile floor is now a showstopper with brick pavers laid in a herringbone pattern. Custom cabinets were added and an island with a banquette on the opposite side for extra seating. The picture window was enlarged to enhance the view of the lake and add more natural light, and the door to the dining room was widened to provide a more open aesthetic. The new tile backsplash, countertops and lighting finish the dramatic transformation. Cabinets by RWS Cabinets; tile back splash from Thorntree; counters by Pomogranit Stones; hardware and appliances from Ferguson; lighting from Lighting, Inc.; faux finishes by Melanie Bowles at A Creative Design. photo – Kolanowski Studio

Glossary of Common terms

Allowance: A specific dollar amount allocated by a contractor for specified items in a contract for which the brand, model number, color, size or other details are not yet known.

Bid: A proposal to work for a certain amount of money, based on plans and specifications for the project.

Building Permit: A document issued by a governing authority, such as a city or county building department, granting permission to undertake a construction project.

Call-back: An informal term for a return visit by the contractor to repair or replace items the homeowner has found to be unsatisfactory or that require service under the warranty.

Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR): A professional designation program offered through the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council. To attain the CGR designation, a remodeler must take a specified number of continuing education courses and comply with a strict code of ethics.

Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS): CAPS professionals have learned strategies and techniques to meet the home modification needs of homeowners who want to continue living in their homes safely, independently and comfortably regardless of age or ability level. CAPS graduates pledge to uphold a code of ethics and are required to maintain their designation by attending education programs and participating in community service.

Change Order: This is written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract. The change order should reflect any changes in cost.

Cost-plus Contract: A contract between a contractor and homeowner that is based on the accrued cost of labor and materials plus a percentage for profit and overhead — also known as a time-and-materials contract.

Draw: A designated payment that is “drawn” from the total project budget to pay for services completed to date. A draw schedule is typically established in the contract.

Lien Release: A document that voids the legal right of a contractor, subcontractor or supplier to place a lien against your property. A lien release assures you that the remodeler has paid subcontractors and suppliers in full for labor and materials.

Mechanic’s Lien: A lien obtained by an unpaid subcontractor or supplier through the courts. When enforced, real property — such as your home — can be sold to pay the subcontractor or supplier. If a subcontractor or supplier signed a lien release, then this lien cannot be enforced.

Plans and Specifications: These are drawings for the project, and a detailed list or description of the known products, materials, quantities and finishes to be used.

Punch List: A list of work items to be completed or corrected by the contractor, typically near or at the end of a project.

Subcontractor: A person or company hired directly by the contractor to perform specialized work at the job site — sometimes referred to as a trade contractor.

Visit nahb.org/remodeling for additional consumer information about remodeling, including how to live while you’re remodeling, understanding your remodeling contract and questions to ask when looking for a remodeler. To find a professional remodeler in your area, contact GHBA.org.

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