How to Save Money on Your Northern Virginia Basement Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Finishing the basement provides extra living space and an organized, convenient area for storage. But you’ll want to tackle your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project in the right way, with quality materials and sensible design. How can you save money on a basement renovation and still enhance lifestyle and property value?

Good Planning Reduces Mistakes

No doubt about it—mistakes cost money. Errors or accidents often require replacement materials or extend the renovation schedule, adding to overall labor costs. Sometimes mistakes show up after the remodel is complete, while others arise during construction. No matter when the homeowner or contractor becomes aware of them, mistakes push the budget higher.

Plan your basement remodeling project well to avoid these errors. A detailed sketch of the framing, electrical and mechanical features allows for efficiency and accuracy during installation. Access to local building codes also cuts down on errors and omissions in that area. Even the simple rule of “measure twice, cut once” helps to reduce the risk of wasted materials and wasted time.

Work at the plan before construction starts, and keep the plan updated during your project. Changes and alterations happen, but smart homeowners alter the plan and trace how far those changes spread to help avoid problems later on.

The Affordability of Drywall

Some people assume that drywall costs more than other wall-finishing options. You’ll need to budget for framing behind the drywall sheets, as well as mudding, primer and paint to properly finish the walls. But this basement renovation package is often cheaper than other alternatives.

In past decades, wood paneling was used for cheap Northern Virginia basement remodeling. Modern quality wood paneling has gone up in price and you’ll still need to budget for framing and possibly insulation.

Quality drywall runs at $4 to $8 per sheet. The cost for drywall mud and painting supplies adds to that figure, and installation rates drive it even higher. But attractive wood paneling comes in at $15 to $20 per sheet and higher.

Drywall also creates a more comfortable, livable area downstairs. Decorating is easy and using this building material often helps to increase property value, as the basement is considered valuable living space.

Use drywall on the ceiling to cut costs. You’ll need to plan the electrical and mechanical design well and provide access for repairs. Drop ceilings allow for simpler access, but cost double the price of drywall ceilings. Plan and compare to discover how affordable drywall can be when finishing the basement.

Remember the Value of Light Fixtures

Lighting is vital in the basement. Quality lighting provides illumination and creates a more inviting, open space in the lower floors. Remember to allow for adequate lighting and opt for fixtures that blend into the ceiling and walls.

This is not the place for expensive, trendy lighting. Look for simple builder’s grade styles that provide decent coverage at a good value. It’s important to include enough lights, or else this space feels cramped and gloomy. And adding a few lights and mirrors in strategic places costs much less than adding a new window.

DIY may seem like a smart way to save money on your Northern Virginia basement remodeling project. But unless you have the skills and experience to make this space comfortable, safe and inviting, it makes sense to hire an experienced contractor. They will provide ways to shave the budget without sacrificing the quality your family deserves.

Five Benefits of Using Cedar Wood for Your Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Contractors and DIY enthusiasts often use treated wood to build decks, but you have several other options for your Virginia deck. Composite wood products and exotic woods tend to be expensive, but cedar wood presents several benefits to Virginia residents, making it a great choice for your backyard living space. Compare deck materials and choose the best option for your property.

# 1 – Cedar Weathers Well

Cedar heartwood is used for decking materials and provides natural resistance to rot. Although decking contractors recommend using treated wood for the in-ground applications (framing and posts), cedar deck boards, stairs and railing materials should last 15 to 20 years without major structural decay. And that’s without applying any stain or treatment products–a good quality cedar stain could extend that life by a decade or more.

Left to weather naturally, cedar turns a silver color. This attractive appearance matches well with modern and traditional homes and provides a casual atmosphere for your outdoor living space. Many Virginia homeowners want this look and cedar delivers with minimal effort. For those consumers who want to maintain the rich red color of new cedar, annual cleaning and staining are required.

# 2 – Cedar Presents Fewer Splinters

Many deck installers prefer to handle cedar, as it tends to present fewer splinters. This may appeal to young families and pet owners in particular. Cedar decking surfaces remain smooth and comfortable for years.

Cedar sawdust may trigger an allergic reaction in some people, but it does not contain any chemicals and can be safely composted. Scrap cedar can be burned (where allowed by local bylaws) and this wood can be safely used for indoor and outdoor applications.

# 3 – Cedar Costs Less Than Other Premium Products

Cedar decks are more expensive than those designed using standard treated lumber. Expect to pay about 40 to 50 percent more to finish your Virginia deck in cedar wood. But this added cost is much less than composite wood, which runs closer to double or even triple the cost of standard treated lumber.

# 4 – Cedar Allows for Flexible Deck Designs

Are you dreaming of a round deck design or something with a little personal flare? Cedar is fairly flexible and can be used to construct decks of varying sizes, shapes and designs. A soft wood that allows for bending and cutting, cedar provides a skilled craftsman with hundreds of design possibilities. When compared to hardwoods, treated wood and composite products, cedar allows for more variation in your design.

# 5 – Cedar Presents Less Cupping and Warping

Cedar does not absorb moisture as much as spruce, pine or fir (woods used in treated lumber). This natural property means that cedar does not split or crack as readily and quickly as treated wood. You’ll find less cupping and warping on a cedar deck, allowing for a more professional appearance now and over time. Cedar may grow mold or mildew, when left in the shade, but it will perform very well in all other areas.

Talk to your contractor about using cedar wood for your Virginia deck. This building material provides several benefits and is well worth the additional investment.

Tips on Creating an Accessible Shower with Your Virginia Bathroom Remodeling Project

Filed Under: Bathroom    by: Steve Kayhill

Accessible shower room with circular drain

Installing an accessible shower makes sense for many families, especially as we age and struggle with physical limitations. These tips help when your Virginia bathroom remodeling project involves a tub conversion or the construction of a barrier-free shower room. Make the most of your home improvement investment by designing a truly accessible shower.

Understand What Barrier-Free Actually Means

Construction specs differ based on the experience and understanding of the contractor. When you ask your bathroom renovation contractor for a “barrier-free” shower room, he/she may design and install an attractive, modern shower room without fulfilling that all important label.

Standard shower rooms include a tiled lip or ridge around the outer walls of the shower, often 4 to 5-inches in height off the ground. This may not seem like a big issue, but that slight lip can be very difficult to manage for those with mobility issues. And that’s where a “barrier-free” shower room comes into play.

This shower design often has glass or tiled walls, much like a standard shower room. It may or may not include a door–true walk-in shower rooms use a dry passage to avoid the need for a door, but this design requires more floor space and significantly greater materials. Your contractor will seal the bottom and side edges of the walls to minimize leakage, and should help you choose a shower style that suits your needs and limitations.

In order to contain water and create a safe bathing area, a barrier-free shower uses trench drains or strip drains around the outer edges of the shower. Some trench drains may have a slight ridge–much like an s-bend–to help deter water runoff. Others are merely a long, narrow drain cut into the floor and topped with a stainless steel or heavy duty plastic grate.

How Drainage Comes Into Play

Your accessible shower needs to be designed with purpose, in order to be fully functional and meet current safety standards. Drainage makes a difference.

Shower rooms have a tiled floor, and generally come with a tiled lip around the edges. Transform this standard shower room into an accessible shower by removing the lip from the entrance and installing a trench drain. But remember that the floor must slope to the drain.

Your contractor may include another drain along the rear wall of the shower, with the floor sloped that way. In that case, the entrance trench drain is merely a backup. Other designs allow the floor to slope toward the entrance trench drain. Circular drains in the middle of the shower room also work, although runoff can pose a safety issue.

Talk to your contractor about which style suits your Virginia bathroom remodeling project, taking into account the space and existing conditions.

Think about investing in an upgraded trench drain that includes LED lighting to indicate the presence of water. This helps to reduce the risk of falling when slippery conditions exist, and also adds a bit of modern style to your new bathroom.

Be sure to add grab bars and accessible storage for toiletries. A detachable shower head makes the most sense, and easy access to towels is vital to creating a comfortable environment.

Installing an accessible shower in your bathroom makes sense, and adds to your property value. Be sure to handle this aspect of your Virginia bathroom remodeling project well, in order to achieve the functionality and appearance you need.

How to Calculate the Cost of Northern Virginia Additions

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

Building a home addition in Northern Virginia increased your living space, enhances property value and allows you to customize or alter the existing floor plan. But many homeowners wonder how much to budget and need an accurate way to calculate the cost of Northern Virginia additionsNorthe. With a few general questions, some idea about design and sizes and a trusty calculator, we can guide you through the process to come up with a rough number.

Understanding the Additional Costs of Additions

New construction avoids several steps, including demolition and retrofitting. These steps drive the cost of home additions higher. Most contractors agree that the construction costs of house additions can be anywhere from 25 to 50 percent higher than new construction costs.

Architect fees should be included in any construction budget, and the services of this professional help to overcome many of the obstacles common to home additions. Blending rooflines, structural walls, landscaping and elevations requires skill and an eye for the overall design. Architects fit the bill perfectly. Expect their fees to reach between 5 to 15 percent of the total construction budget.

Although it is difficult to narrow down the cost of a typical home addition in Northern Virginia, expect to pay between $80 and $150 per square foot for basic construction. Remember that several key elements influence this price range.

Electrical and Plumbing

The cost of simple Northern Virginia additions, living rooms and bedrooms for example, is significantly lower than the construction cost of a kitchen or bathroom addition. Electrical and plumbing drive up estimates, depending on your tastes and the work required to install these elements.

Choose the following items for your home addition, and add the cost of each to the estimated square footage price above:

  • Bath or Shower (or both)
  • Toilet
  • Sink
  • Faucets and Taps
  • Lighting
  • Exhaust Fans
  • Heating Lamps or Radiant Underfloor Heating

High end bathroom fixtures, taps, lighting and heating design add to the construction cost, which is often calculated based on standard fixtures.
Difficult or complicated circumstances require more labor for installation, increasing the project cost. Will your contractor need to rewire the existing electrical system to accommodate your home addition? Or will the plumbing design need to be reworked to maintain flow and proper drainage? An experienced builder can easily handle these situations, but the added time increases your cost.

The Value of a Written Estimate

Whatever the size of your home addition, and whichever electrical and plumbing fixtures chosen, be sure to obtain a written estimate before the project begins. This quote should outline the work in as much detail as possible, including:

  • Specifications of the project, such as size and location
  • Details of materials, including brand names and product numbers where applicable
  • Approximate scheduling
  • Labor included
  • Warranty
  • Payment details, such as deposit and draw details

It helps to discuss the project details with your contractor, but with some discussion and a few key decisions, you should be able to calculate the cost of Northern Virginia additions. Use this figure to create a rough budget and arrange for financing. The numbers may change as your project takes shape, but this basic calculation is a wise first step.