You are planning to remodel. How do you feel? Excited? Nervous? Anxious?
Depending on whom you trust, you may think you’re way over your head, or feel ready for a walk in the park. Reality TV presents the whole thing as a cakewalk, while online message boards and social media boil with homeowners’ frustrations.
The reality isn’t so dramatic. These projects are hard, and their challenges can overwhelm. That said, with knowledge and good planning you can avoid or at least budget for most common pitfalls of remodeling. The architectural drawings you give your contractor, the permits you may need, the existing conditions of your house, Title 24 compliance - all these factors are critical to the schedule and budget of your project. Here’s what you should plan.
1. Architectural Drawings
Do you have a set of drawings from which your home was built? Don’t base your remodeling design solely on them. Builders rarely follow construction drawings with surgical precision - field changes happen, and not all of them are documented. If you have a set of these drawings, they may not reflect the actually existing conditions at the property.
As-built drawings, on the other hand, give a snapshot of your house as it stands today. They show dimensions of rooms, openings, counters, cabinets, and appliances. They pinpoint structural elements, like load-bearing walls. They capture mechanical, electrical and plumbing services. These drawings should be the basis for your new design, and they should be flawless - small measurement errors that don’t seem like a big deal can cause code compliance issues.
It’s best to draft as-built drawings right before your project starts and base them on a licensed engineer’s survey of your home’s condition. Our engineers can perform a Structural Site Survey based on visually observable structural elements and connections, to ensure that your as-built drawings are as accurate as possible. Call us at (877) 892-0288 for more information and a FREE quote.
Permits are a must for electrical, mechanical and plumbing work, such as changing wires, pipes, and HVAC ducts. Permits are also needed to connect dishwashers, stovetops, light fixtures, and fume hoods.
If you are taking down or putting up walls - load-bearing or not - you will need a permit. New door and window openings, kitchen cabinet and bathtub installation all require permits too. Minor items, such as painting, new flooring, countertops, and light fittings are usually exempt. For a complete list of permits that apply to your project and location, click here.
If the previous owner of your house performed unpermitted alterations, there is a chance they’ll turn up when you start your project. The building inspector will likely hold you accountable if he or she discovers unpermitted construction. One option will be to apply for a retroactive permit which some jurisdictions allow if the work in question is code-compliant. If it’s not up to code, or your city does not issue retroactive permits, you must redo the work to meet code requirements.
Our team can help you to prepare your initial permit application, and assist with any permit requirements that arise during construction. Call us at (877) 892-0288 for a quote.
3. Existing Conditions
Existing conditions are a major source of extra costs in remodeling. They are also difficult to foresee. Once you rip into your walls, you can uncover problems that are critical enough to change the course of your project.
Moisture damage is a common culprit. It can stem from leaky pipes, or worse, from flaws in your building’s exterior. Minor forms of it can be manageable. Rotted drywall behind your bathroom or kitchen tile is a nasty surprise, but it won’t break the bank. Major water damage, such as rotted structure, may entail emergency structural repairs and should be evaluated by a licensed engineer.
Termites make for another unpleasant surprise. The tiny pests burrow through your home’s frame, often crippling its strength. If your project exposes termite damage, seek a structural engineer’s condition assessment as you may have to replace all or parts of the affected structure. Be sure to exterminate the termite colony before moving on with your project.
Structural defects are not confined to moisture and termite damage. Often, they result from contractors erring or cutting corners during previous work. Low-grade materials and shoddy labor can hide behind drywall for decades. If your project uncovers such flaws, the building inspector will force you to fix them before you continue.
Our team of engineers can assess the structural condition of your house and prepare you for any defects that may affect your project. Included in this service is a detailed report on the structural worthiness of beams, columns, load-bearing walls, connections, foundations, and other parts of the structure. Along with a summary of findings, we will recommend any repairs that may be necessary. For a FREE consultation, call us at (877) 892-0288.
Older homes suffer many age-related shortcomings. If your house predates 1950, you may still have knob and tube wiring. This type of wiring uses porcelain tubes to route wires through the frame of a house and knobs to fasten them. It’s ungrounded, and during a power surge, excess energy stays in the circuit instead of discharging into the ground. Designed to handle fewer appliances than we use today, this type of wiring can overheat and cause electrical fires with too many devices plugged in. The insulation on these old wires flakes off with age, adding to the dangers of the system. If you find it in a kitchen or bathroom remodel, it is recommended to replace it with modern wiring.
Asbestos was a popular building material until its ban in the late 1970s. Homes built before 1978 may have it in many places. When remodeling, you are most likely to encounter asbestos in floor and ceiling tiles, duct insulation, and drywall. Stumbling on this substance can set you back in time and costs, as you’ll pay for a certified asbestos consultant to arrange its removal and disposal before the project can resume.
Lead-based paint is another common hazard found in older homes. As with asbestos, it’s highly toxic when airborne, and needs certified testing and removal.
4. Title 24 Compliance
Does your remodel affect energy performance? If it does, make sure you meet the State’s energy efficiency standards, better known as Title 24. These standards focus on a building’s envelope, HVAC, water heating and lighting systems. n a kitchen or bathroom remodel, new fume hoods and lights are most likely to fall under Title 24 regulations. You must prove Title 24 compliance when applying for your permit, so do your homework before replacing these appliances. To help you avoid permitting delays, we can evaluate your project for Title 24 compliance. Call us at (877) 892-0288 for a consultation.
How Design Everest Can Help
Tell us, and we’re on it. Don‘t worry about things that can go wrong. We’ll plan to avoid them. Our 13 years in the business taught us how to overcome challenges and shaped us into a one-stop remodeling shop. We know what surprises can lurk behind your walls, and we’ll help you tackle them. If you are ready to start your project, we are here to lend a hand.
Let remodeling excite you. Call us at (877) 892-0288 for a FREE consultation and quote.
*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.
You must have an account to comment on the post. Register with us if you are an AEC professional!