How new home trends can apply to remodeling existing homes

(ARA) – A significant shift in consumer preference in new home purchases is the latest by-product of the still-struggling economy. The residential construction market is shrinking and so are houses.

Homebuilders expect newly constructed single-family homes to average just 2,150 square feet by 2015. That’s 10 percent smaller than previously, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which conducted the survey.

To maintain this compact size, luxuries will be out and practicality will be in. Formal living rooms are going by the wayside, NAHB says, making way for smarter, multi-function layouts. What we’ll see more of: eat-in kitchens that eliminate the need for a separate dining room; and great rooms that can accommodate entertainment as well as office space.

Homeowners looking to remodel existing homes – that they will someday put up for sale – would be wise to pay attention to these new home construction trends, which signal what the competition will look like down the road. Choose the right improvements today, and you may be better positioned to sell your home when the economy picks up.

Keep the following tips in mind if you’re thinking of investing in an addition or a significant remodel:

* Choose your remodeler with care: Select a professional contractor with experience, knowledge of local codes and a good reputation for quality work, says the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). NARI calls this the single most important step in your project.

* Focus on tried-and-true performance: Remodel to your needs, of course. But before you finalize your decisions, research the improvements that will likely bring you the highest return on your investment. A minor kitchen remodel should return more than 70 percent of its cost at resale, according to the 2010-2011 Remodeling Magazine Cost vs. Value Report. Adding a bathroom pays back more than 53 percent.

* Practicality makes perfect: During the latest housing boom, remodels were all about big and bold. Now there is less emphasis on luxury and appearances-for-appearances-sake. Take advantage of that trend with a focus on practicality in your remodeling project. You’ll make your home more competitive at resale, and your dollars will stretch a lot further.

* Multi-function = broader appeal: For today’s busy families, efficiency is essential. Can you repurpose an existing room to make life easier? Add a laundry room to save going downstairs? Increase the size of your kitchen, so you can convert the dining room to a guest suite? If you’re thinking of creating a family room in the basement, complete the project with a convenient bathroom addition.

Never enough baths

If you’ve ever waited in frustration for your turn in the bathroom, you know that just about every home could use a spare bath. A macerating toilet system is a great alternative to conventional (gravity) plumbing in situations where no below-floor drainage exists. Macerating, or up-flush, plumbing gives you unlimited flexibility, because there is no need to break through the floors to install drainage piping, which adds substantial cost to the project.

From the attic to the basement, up-flush plumbing lets you create a full bathroom anywhere you like. “It’s a pretty good concept,” says Otis Dardy, a general contractor and owner of Dardy Construction in Conyers, Ga.

Dardy recently used Saniflo up-flush plumbing for a residential customer’s remodel and is now incorporating Saniflo in bids for other jobs. “This saves a lot of time, and it’s nice and neat,” he says, noting that his bids for the up-flush plumbing are around $5,000 less than their conventional counterparts, thanks to the ease of installation.

In an up-flush system, waste and water are pumped from the toilet, sink, and tub or shower up, rather than flowing down, as with conventional plumbing. This technology is also different from sewage ejection systems, which temporarily store plumbing waste in a nearby tank, which can cause odor problems. With up-flush plumbing, the waste is removed to the sewer line or the septic tank with every flush.

What could be more practical or efficient than an extra bathroom? This is one remodel project guaranteed to improve comfort and convenience in the near-term, while delivering a strong return on investment when your home is sold.


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