Thinking About Your Costs & Possible Projects
There are certain types of projects that I find customers seldom actually do once they find just how expensive the project will be. I suspect that it is because homeowner’s expectations of the costs are much lower than they should be. I think that it is helpful to review some of them.
Finishing a Basement:
Because the concrete floor, outside walls and ceiling framing is already there customers perceive that the project will be inexpensive. Being in the ground a basement is affected by the surrounding earth’s temperature. The outside surround earth is trying to keep the basement temperature around 50 degrees. To raise the temperature of the basement efficiently it is necessary to insulate the walls. This is best done by building frame walls with fiberglass batt insulation around the exterior. Once this is done the perimeter wall costs are the same as an addition without siding. Getting materials into the basement is usually difficult and adds to the labor cost. Bedrooms need egressable windows which require masonry work and landscaping. There are usually no savings on mechanicals over any normal renovation.
There are often headroom issues. Headroom under 7’0” is by most codes considered uninhabitable space. Bathrooms can be very problematic – especially dealing with sewer lines and exhaust fan venting. Typically you should expect such a project to begin in the mid twenty thousand dollar range and go up quickly from there.
Finishing an Attic:
The first problem is the stairs. Stairs require 3’0” area in their base, and the same at the top. Then take the height from finished floor through what will be the finish floor of the attic. Divide that by 7” (a good medium average for a typical riser height). Take the dividend and multiply by 11” (typical tread width). Add this to the 6’ for the landing areas. That is the length that has to come out of the floor below to get a stairs up to the attic. If the height is 12’ or more then a landing is required. With framing allow 42” for the stair width. Often a stairs to the attic requires most or all of a room below.
Next is that often the attic floor joist are not structurally large enough being 2 x 4s or 2 x 6s. That extra added 4 to 6 inches to beef the joist up can significantly impact attic headroom. Headroom under 7’0” is by most codes considered uninhabitable space. Then there are air circulation issues between the roof sheeting and the new insulation in the attic ceiling. Also often not considered is get heating and cooling to this space – often the existing system is not sized large enough. There may not be enough circuits in the existing electrical service panel. If a bedroom is planned often getting an egressable window into the space requires opening up the roof and re-framing. If all of these constraints can be overcome attic projects can quickly zoom into the thirty thousand and much more range.
Because additions must fit properly with and to an existing home they cost more per square foot than new construction. No two projects are alike. Cost depends on the complexity, materials selected, and market conditions. Rough per square foot prices vary from $150.00 to $200.00.
Additions ALWAYS cost more than new construction. Adding on is not a good dollar investment if you are only wanting more space. You should being thinking about an addition because you love your existing home and the neighborhood it is in and cannot imagine moving. Otherwise buying another large home is a better investment of your money.
Bathrooms and Kitchens:
These are the two most expensive rooms in your home to remodel. Kitchen cabinets, new appliances, specialty counter tops, pulls, and sinks and faucets can quickly run your budget into the tens of thousands without installation or any other renovation elements included. This last year we remodeled over a dozen kitchens and even more bathrooms. I am not discouraging anyone from redoing these rooms. A quality well designed, planned and executed bath or kitchen renovation can become the centerpiece of your home. It is important however to know that it will be a serious investment when starting out.
Whirlpools and Fireplaces:
We install both of the above. In my experience every realtor thinks you absolutely need both and perhaps two of each in your home – especially for resale. From practical experience few of my clients are happy that they spent the money on either after a few years of having them installed because they are seldom if ever actually used. Fireplaces often get relegated to being used on Thanksgiving and Christmas, if then. The jets on whirlpools are noisy. Think of those sales brochures. How many times do you think you will really light those candles, pour wine and fill that tub up? We are happy to design and install a fireplace and a whirlpool for you. But unless you are confirmed users there might be better places to put your money.
Bath Tubs and Showers:
We have bath tubs as historical relics from a time before running tap water was the norm in homes. Showers were added over the existing tubs. Thus the tub/shower combination was born. With todays fast pace few often select a bath over a shower. And for getting clean a shower has it all over a bathtub. As we all age stepping over that tub wall begins to become a safety hazard. I recommend walk-in showers with a built in seat to my clients rather than a tub/shower. Unless you are a confirmed soaker tubs just get in the way. Add in the variety of showering heads now available and personally I think showers without tubs are the best way to go if getting clean is the primary reason for their presence in the bathroom.
We are often asked about window replacement, is it a good investment? That is not as easy of a question to answer as it might seem on its face.
We have included in this section two articles for your review. One is from PACA (Vol. 29, March/April 2009, Number 2) which is advocating for the preserving of older windows rather than replacing them. The other is a general piece packed with information about window glazing.
Generally with windows, when the sun is shining the glass in a window absorbs the radiation as heat; transferring that heat into your home. Windows with a low solar heat gain coefficient or SHGC will transmit less heat, keeping your home cooler in hot weather. For central Illinois look for windows with an SHGC rating of 0.35 to 0.40. The struggle to increase the resistance of the window to transferring heat is why windows are replaced.
For further information you may wish to visit the following web pages provided by the U.S. Department of Energy –