Monday, September 20, 2010

Bathroom renovations top kitchens as the best home investment

Start and end your day in a peaceful bathroom retreat.

Curb appeal, updated kitchens and bathrooms are always big draws for potential buyers. Kitchens were traditionally the most common remodel, but this year the bathroom has surged ahead, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders.

Homeowners are also avoiding large remodeling projects, such as room additions, whole house remodeling, installing pools and lavish outdoor living spaces. Instead, they choose the smaller bathroom project that can add panache and a sense of individuality.

While small, a bathroom remodel can be expensive, as is any project involving plumbing and water. Bathrooms today are being designed as personal retreats from the frenetic pace of life. Soaking tubs are big, as is a separate shower, beautiful tile, radiant heating and heated towel racks.

Still, remodeling a bathroom is one of the smarter investments a homeowner can do to add value.

The first step is to conceptualize just what you want for your bathroom. Writing a wish list helps with organization, and with deciding how much the project may cost. Research bathroom ideas at retail stores and by visiting newly remodeled bathrooms. You’ll be surprised how a simple idea turns into a functional centerpiece. The Internet is another wonderful resource for ideas, color coordination, bath features and online planning guides.

Doing this preliminary work also sets the stage for the second step, finding a reliable, professional contractor. Communication is the absolute key when doing a renovation, and unless you and the contractor are speaking the same language and understand the ultimate goal, problems will pop up.

While some do-it-yourselfers may be able to take on a bathroom remodel, a contractor is usually the best bet. He or she knows how to get the required permits and build according to your local code. Nothing is more disheartening when an inspector comes, finds issues and the whole job needs to be taken out.

Two major concepts are important in your remodel–lighting and circulation. John Rhia at emphasizes how important natural lighting and heavy-duty ventilation are. Good lighting creates an open, airy feeling, which is especially important in a small bathroom. And, well-designed lighting systems remove shadows so you’ll know how you look in the morning.

Ventilation is a major issue. Without it, the bathroom not only smells, well, like a locker room, but also breeds humidity, mold and mildew. Not only are these culprits expensive to remediate, they also will destroy expensive cabinetry.

A bathroom upgrade will bring many rewards, not only by adding value to you home, but also by providing you with a peaceful retreat to start and end your day. For success, take it slowly, be specific about what you want, and let the experts handle the water and plumbing.

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