Remodeling a home for the first time can be daunting. The articles listed below address many of the quesitons you might have and will guide you in the research and planning that can assure a succesful project

My townhouse cluster has a community garden on the east side of the property. A few weeks ago I built a small bridge over the stream channel in order to give us another way to enter from the driveway – another vantage point. I kept thinking “…over the river and through the wood…”, a song which harkens back to a much more rural and simpler time. And I realized that was exactly the point. In our urban setting the small bridge -- over an intermittent stream -- terminating within a small copse of poplars and pines -- was all we needed to create an effective threshold.

My favorite enlightenment joke goes something like this:

A young monk queries the esteemed teacher: “Master, how will my life be different once I attain enlightenment?” The sage thinks for awhile and answers: “Before enlightenment – chop wood, prepare food, carry water” – and after a long pause, he adds: “After enlightenment – chop wood, prepare food, carry water.”

Don’t forget indoor air quality

Thought about indoor air quality lately? Probably not, if you haven’t made any changes around the house within the past six months. Or you may be asking yourself, what’s that and why is it important? You’re not alone. I was designing a new home for a doctor and brought the subject up.” Not to worry”, he said, “the children all have asthma but it’s well controlled by medications.” End of conversation.

By now you’ve probably examined a large number of magazines, books and on-line plans. Perhaps you’ve toured some model homes, gone on a local house tour or been shown around by a realtor. In one way or another, you and your spouse have begun to form opinions about the style, amenities and materials that you’d like to see in your new or remodeled home.

I’d like you to step back and consider something a little different. Beyond style, amenities, or finish materials there are some design choices that might add great value to your home. And they may not even be available in the production homes in your area. Whether you remodel or build, spend one million dollars or less than one hundred thousand, these strategies can add value to your house in terms of:

Is there something especially difficult about finding a reliable contractor? I’ve had people come to me expressing so much fear about getting it right. And I’ve heard the horror stories, just as you have.

Are you, as a homeowner, hopelessly at the mercy of unscrupulous contractors?

Actually, my answer is no...resoundingly, no! There are specific steps you can take to ensure that you and your contractor become a ‘perfect’ match.

To answer this question you need to start with what you know about your house. There are really just two basic questions to ask:

What ties us to our current neighborhood and home?

Is our house worth the money and the risk of tackling a major renovation?

Consider them in that order. If there are numerous reasons for staying put, then you definitely have a starting point. To answer the second question, you may need some help. Have a look around the areas where you don’t often go: the crawlspace/basement and the attic. Then call for professional help in assessing what you’ve seen. You probably know someone in the building professions or you can call a home inspector or a crawlspace specialist. A general assessment can be made in as little as an hour or two.