One of the most challenging and rewarding ventures in the residential building field is remodeling. Whether you are adding a room, updating a kitchen, or replacing the siding on your house, the project seldom goes as planned. Yet in the end, how it turns out can surprise you.

An important goal for any home improvement project is to try to keep the integrity of the home. You know you have been successful if you invite friends or relatives over who have not been to your house in a while and they are scratching their heads trying to figure out what you actually did to the house.

A good remodel job should seamlessly tie in to the existing home, carrying the same styles and complementing the existing structure. This is accomplished not only with careful planning and design choices, but also in the execution of little details like making sure floor surfaces are all the same height, making window and door sizes the same size and elevation, and using similar trim and wall surfaces. The trick is to update items, but not to the point that they become obvious and clash with the surroundings.

Remodeling happens for a specific reason: you need more space, you need a room to perform a certain function such as a first floor bath or laundry, you have a building code violation (God forbid), or perhaps you just want to update your home to increase its value.

If the latter is your objective, some good decisions can go a long way. Anything you can do to add “curb appeal” is a good choice. The exterior of a home is the first thing people will notice and a good looking facade will turn heads and catch attention. Siding is typically more obvious and visible than a roof, so if you have to choose between the two, you are better off to reside.

The two most important rooms in your home are the worst to go through the process of remodeling: kitchen and bath. If you plan to sell in the future, these two rooms can make or break a potential sale.

Bathrooms will be less expensive to overhaul, but a kitchen carries more weight to a potential home buyer. When considering the design for these rooms in older homes, quality is much more important than quantity. A large kitchen can be impressive, but in the end the quality of materials and functionality of the space will make the difference.

The best thing you can do to update your home and add immediate tangible value is to bring your insulation and mechanicals up to speed. Making sure you have an efficient and smoothly operating conditioning system and a well insulated shell (including tight doors and windows) will pay immediate dividends. Relief from your utility bills will begin to pay back your investment instantly. Showing a potential home buyer your low utility bills will be an excellent selling point.

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