In this blog I will do my best to describe the process I went through in turning my 1957 Ranch-style house into a 2006 Craftsman house as inspired by the Gamble House in Pasadena. Please feel free to comment on anything I write and ask questions as it is the only way we learn.

Note: Since completion of the house I have also decided to allow guest bloggers to post articles related to remodeling. This continues the education process.


TIMELINE
Architect Selection - December 2002 through January 2003
Getting a Permit - January 2003 through November 2004
Construction - November 2004 through September 2006
Post Construction - October 2006 through ???



10 Astounding, Inexpensive Remodeling Projects that Pay Off

Using value-conscious guidelines, home remodeling can add a major price bonus to any house you want to put on the market, yet not all home remodeling ideas produce an adequate return on the investment. This article considers ten remodeling projects that can bring in high rewards for limited expenditures.

Find a Balance 


When it comes to houses, fix it like you plan to stay in it and pay attention to the market. Unless you happen to own that one faultless house that every U.S. citizen dreams about but never finds, selling your home will require some measure of home improvement. If you want to increase the profit, the remodeling must be balanced and well applied.
Start with a bit of observation. Consider the design points that make your home unique. Focus on the outside as well as the inside. Don’t overlook the importance of indoor air quality and don’t miss the value of creating enticing curb appeal. Also be sure to set an eye for basics such as curtains, blinds and other fundamental items that present the “feel” of a home.
When planning the modifications, think like a homeowner, but keep the mind-set of a real estate agent. Find a balance between what you like and what actually sells. Don’t get lost on a vanity trip.
Bone up on current home improvement concerns, finance plans and basic cost issues. Spend some time browsing the home improvement section of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website. It's not just about getting loans. The information offered by HUD ranges from how to fix a faucet to what you need to know concerning “the facts and the pitfalls of home improvements.”

Focus on Curb Appeal


According to Remodeling Magazine, the following ten projects – all focused on curb appeal – promote the best return on your remodeling dollars. These are simple, value-added improvements – not vanity makeovers:
  • Exterior Siding – Replace old siding with high-end fiber cement. Cost: $15,000 or less. Payback:78%.
  • Entry Door – Replace that cracked and discolored entry door with an inexpensive steel door. The payback: 73% on $1,300 or less.
  • Attic Remodel – Turn the attic into an extra bedroom. Remove a dormer. Install a shower. Revamp the flow of heating and cooling. Add Insulation. Update the lighting. Put in four vinyl windows. Polish out the walls and ceiling. Average cost: $50,148. Payback 72.5%.
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel – Put new hardware on the cabinets. Add some Blinds.com blinds over the sink. Install new faucets, a new sink and laminate countertops. Top it off with a quality selection of new appliances. Cost: $20,000. Payback 72.1 percent.
  • Garage Door, Midrange – As a low cost improvement, a midrange garage door update can really pump up a home’s curb appeal. Cost: $1,500. Payback 71.9%.
  • Garage Door, High-End – It’s all about curb appeal. The payback on a high-end garage door update performs just as well as the midrange counterpart. Cost: $2,994. Return 71.1%.
  • Deck – New wood decks are not as expensive as composite materials, but the return on investment brings a healthy balance at a lesser cost. On average, a wooden deck runs around $10,350. Payback: 70.1%.
  • Vinyl Siding – Foam-backed vinyl siding provides several value-added services. It helps maintain a steady temperature within the home and it lends a fresh look on the curb. Cost $14,274 for an average project of 1,250 square feet. Payback: Around 70%.
  • Midrange Vinyl Siding – More expensive than basic siding and high-end fiber cement, midrange replacement vinyl siding provides stronger, longer-lasting protection for the home. Cost: $11,729. Payback 69.5%.
  • Windows – For holding back the elements, you can’t beat the performance of double-pane vinyl replacement windows. They are easy to clean, double-hung and easy to install. Plan the project around using low-emissivity glass, insulated units and simulated wood-grain casings. Cost for 10 3x5 windows including installation: $14,328. Payback: 69.1.
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5 Warning Signs That You May Need New Windows

New windows add architectural interest to the exterior of your home and enhance the style of your home's interiors as well. When it comes to buying new windows, however, it's a desire for improved function rather than style that often motivates people to take the plunge and make the investment. If you're unsure if the purchase is worthwhile, here are five signs that can indicate the time is right for replacing your windows.

1. Drafty Rooms


If your home's thermostat is telling you that your home is at an ideal temperature yet you still feel uncomfortable, chances are that your windows are drafting outdoor air into your rooms. Windows are strongly affected by the airflow around them. They require modern insulation technologies and techniques to keep them air-tight. You can check your windows for drafts by slowly moving a stick of incense or a smoke pencil around the interior frame. This test is most effective when it's windy outside.

2. Worn or Rotting Window Frames


If your existing windows were improperly installed, painted or maintained, inclement weather can cause frames and sills to rot and decay, potentially damaging your home's structure. Peeling paint and soft wood are clear signs that windows need attention. Frames and sills that are misaligned are another clear indication that replacement is needed.

3. Shakes, Rattles and Noise


Windows that rattle every time that someone in your household opens or closes a door are sending you a clear message that something is amiss. Loose windows can pose a real danger to you and your family. Old units also do little to block outside noise. New insulated windows are not only great at blocking drafts, but help muffle outside noise as well.

4. Rising Monthly Energy Bills


It's easy to assume that increases in your monthly energy bill are due to rising energy costs, but a closer examination may reveal an unaccounted-for increase that can indicate drafty or energy inefficient windows. Today's modern windows can be far more energy efficient than the windows that came with your home. Replacing old units with double-pane insulated glass windows can reduce your energy bills by as much as 25 percent.

5. Increased Maintenance


Sometimes, windows let you know that they need replacement by making increased demands on your time and wallet. If you find yourself having to caulk, seal and weatherstrip your windows frequently in order to keep drafts at bay, replacement may be a cost-effective solution. Modern windows feature materials and finishes that don't require much attention to keep them weather-tight and looking beautiful.

Brendan is the content editor for CalFinder, a free service designed to make window replacement projects as easy as possible, by connecting homeowners with licensed and insured local contractors. CalFinder contractors install major window brands, including Andersen Windows and many others.
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How to Prepare Your Home to Be Remodeled

If some or all of the rooms in your home are being remodeled, you’ll need to do a few things to get your home ready. Preparing your home inadequately before a remodeling project begins can make things significantly more difficult for you and those working on your house. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your home is ready to be remodeled, whether you're installing new Kohler Bathroom Sinks or remodeling the kitchen. Here’s what you should put on your to-do list:

Organize

Remodeling your living room won’t be easy if the walls are lined with paintings and the floor is covered in furniture. You have to clear everything out of the rooms that are going to be remodeled. Before you clear everything out, though, you’ll need to organize it all and put smaller items into boxes. During this organization step, it’s a good idea to try to get rid of a few things you don’t use very often. Lightening your load a little bit will make packing and finding a place to store your belongings easier. After you’ve lightened your load, it’s a good idea to start sorting all of your small belongings according to type to help ensure that they stay organized as you pack them up.

Pack

Once you’ve organized everything based on type, you can start packing things up into boxes. Be sure to label all the boxes you pack up, so you’ll have an easy time finding everything you need when you unpack. Remember to label boxes that contain fragile materials with the word “fragile” as well, especially if other people will be helping you carry and transport the boxes.

Clear Out

Once everything’s packed up, you’ll need to clear it out and find a place to store it. You may want to consider renting a storage pod you can put in your driveway or backyard, especially if you want to store your things close to your home. You may also want to consider signing a short-term lease for a storage unit, especially if you’ll be storing antique furniture. You have the option of renting a climate-controlled storage unit that will keep all of your antique furniture and temperature-sensitive items like musical instruments safe.

Once you’ve successfully and efficiently transported everything out of the rooms that are going to be remodeled, the project can begin. You’ll be amazed by how great your old things look in your newly remodeled home when you transport them back out of storage!

Author’s Bio: Lisa is a writer at SelfStorageDeals.com, your price-focused search engine for finding deals on storage units in Colorado Springs and storage units in McAllen.
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Build a Better Bathroom for Your Kids

Hi everyone,

Occasionally, I will allow a guest blogger to write here in the Craftsman Remodel blog if they have good information to share. Read this blog about bathroom remodeling.
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If you’re planning a bathroom remodel, you may want to take your children into consideration, particularly if they have their own bathroom separate from the master bath. However, kids’ bathroom ideas aren’t limited to décor; you need to take their needs into consideration when designing and remodeling the bathroom as well.

Smaller People: If you have several children and are planning to live in your house for a while, it pays to remodel with shorter arms and legs in mind. You can install towel bars, shelves, and cabinets at a lower height for easier reach and put more room around the toilet so parents can help children who are potty training. You may find a handheld showerhead more convenient for washing small bodies. Choose semi-gloss paint and fixtures that don’t show fingerprints. Plan for toy storage with holders in the shower or shower curtains with built-in pockets.

Design for Growth: By all means have fun by decorating with frogs and ducks or whales, but try to make this décor easy to change. When your children are ten, they may be embarrassed by frogs on the wallpaper. However, if you limit the childish décor to trashcans and shower curtains that are easily changed, you can update the look as they grow. Many manufacturers also make stick-on decals that are easy to hang on the wall and simple to remove. Remember, too, that as they grow children will need more drawer and shelf storage for things like hair dryers and acne medications, so plan accordingly.

Shared Bathrooms: If you have two children’s bedrooms next to each other, it’s great if they can be adjoined by a shared Jack and Jill bathroom with two sinks. It’s great if the décor in the bathroom is compatible with that in both bedrooms. Plus you want both children to be happy with the design choices. If need be, go with something neutral that nobody would object to.

Getting Kids Involved: Children will love to contribute to the design and remodel of their bathrooms, so you can consult them on colors and décor elements. They might even be able to contribute artwork or paint some of the tiles. However, remember that parental guidance is still important. If they want neon green, you might be able to talk them into a softer shade or substitute a Spongebob trashcan for Spongebob wallpaper.

Safety: The tub and shower should have a slip resistant surface. If you’re remodeling, think about smaller tiles on the floor; with more grout they are less slippery than bigger tiles. You can install a scald guard faucet in the tub to ensure that water doesn’t get too hot. If you have very young children, cover the bathtub faucet with something soft and put a lock on the toilet.

Themes: You can have some fun with the décor in a kid’s bathroom. However, this doesn’t mean that you are stuck with baby ducks. Think about a nautical theme, with ship-based designs and colors. Marine life is another option as is a beach theme. All of these decors can be updated to look more grown-up as the children age.

Author Joaquin Erazo Jr. leads all marketing, advertising, and public relations strategies for Case Remodeling and Design. His team handles all client acquisition and retention efforts for the Case brands. With an MBA from Averett University, Erazo has over 18 years of experience in senior marketing positions.
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Ceiling Tile Store is now OPEN!

Through our partnership with Decorative Ceiling Tiles, we are able to bring their entire collection of Faux Leather, Tin, Copper, Aluminum, and Foam Ceiling Tiles to the Craftsman Home Remodeling website.

Be sure to check out the Coupons/Rebates page to see if there are any deals to be had.
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Maintaining this House is Something Else!

I haven't written in a few months but that's not because I had nothing to write about. We have been in the house over 3 1/2 years now and there are certain things that need fixing. Some are regular maintenance items and others are just surprises. Let me give you a quick rundown of what's going on.

Exterior Paint - The South sides of the house start to fade due to the constant sunlight received throughout the year. On average, we have been needing to paint the South side of the house every 12-18 months at a minimum. For this we are using a clear coat of Varathane on the shingles and the bark-colored Cabot stain on the redwood trim. Just last year I had the garage door sanded down and refinished along with the house as it was fading bad with only a clear coat on the mahogany. I had it stained and recoated. Now it looks like a million bucks.

Tankless Water Heater - Once a year I have to flush the tankless water heater with vinegar. It's not difficult to do but just another thing to do.

Hot Tub Pump - I just had the hot tub pump replaced with about 3 months left on the warranty. Whew! Apparently, it's better to keep the water pH on the high side to prevent corrosion of the parts.

Craftsman hot tub stone door
Stone Facade on Hot Tub Door - I built a wall surrounding the hot tub but needed to leave one side open so it could be slid into place. I had a 3-sided wall and wanted to close off the fourth side. We devised an extremely heavy two part door on heavy duty hinges. When I had to open the doors and put them back for the recent hot tub servicing, I had a problem getting the doors to shut. Apparently they weigh so much (maybe 200 pounds each) that the hinges were bending. With some finessing and a lot of brute force I managed to shut the doors again, however, some of the stone facade attached to the face of the doors fell off and now I have to fix it. Not only that but two fingers were crunched in the doors when they finally shut. Not fun!!! Note to self....get others to help shut the door so you don't create more work by having to replace stone.



koi pond

Koi Pond - The koi in the pond are HUGE!!! I'm glad to see the pond thriving but that being said, I just got through my annual cleaning of the pond. It costs about $650 per year! They take out the fish, scrub all of the algae off the rocks, clean out the filters, check everything, and refill it. I'm sure there's more to it than that. It takes 3 guys about 4 hours. See the koi pond cleaning here. But wait, there's more. The lights in the pond are failing and I have been told that the new lights out now are the way to go and will last for 10 years or so. So there's another grand or so. Stay tuned.



Wood deck around palm tree
Wood Deck around Palm Tree - Do you remember the palm tree in the backyard that we basically built the house around? Well, you may also remember that I had a wood deck built around it in 4 pieces to maximize the patio usage. It was a very nice fit but as the tree continued to grow about 18 inches per year, the base kept getting larger and the surface roots started to lift the deck. Last year I lifted the 4 panels, trimmed the roots around the tree, and enlarged the hole. Well, it's time to do it again. This looks like an annual event.


Now after all of these things, people always say "you wouldn't do it again, would you?" I would do it all over in a second! I love this!!!

Bye for now......Mike

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Craftsman Home Remodeling Blog WINS!!!!

Thanks to all of you, the Craftsman Home Remodeling Blog has won the 2010 JDR Industry Blogger Award in the Remodeling category.

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Craftsman Curtain Rod Bracket Installation

As promised, here are some installation pictures of the curtain rods. A previous blog post shows the manufacturing of the curtain rod brackets.

Rich Wright, the contractor of my house, made the curtain rods and brackets out of left over mahogany from the construction. He had to build a jig to hold the base bracket in place and ensure that it was aligned straight.
Curtain Rod Bracket Jig Craftsman curtain rod bracket installation.jpg

This picture shows the mounting really well. There are two screws that mount the base piece into the wall. The cover piece has a hole in the center where a 3-inch screw goes through the rod (not shown) and into the back support bracket. That hole is then filled with an ebony plug.
Installed curtain rod bracket

We ran into an issue with how to do a bracket for a corner window where each window had it's own curtain. Here is the solution, a corner bracket that takes each rod in at a 45 degree angle.
Corner curtain rod bracket installation

Test fitting a curtain rod into the brackets to make sure everything fits.


Now it's time to make the curtain rods. Each mahogany rod was custom cut to the length required for each window and door. I numbered the ends of the rods when finishing so I could remember where they went later. After some light sanding to bevel all edges, I sprayed on 3 coats of Varathane to seal them. This is the same finish I used on the curtain rod brackets.
Curtain rods finished with Varathane Numbered Mahogany Curtain Rods Mahogany curtain rods of varying lengths

Meanwhile, this block of ebony was cut into tiny squares to plug the holes in the brackets after installation.
Curtain rod bracket ebony plugs

And now for the final product. Well, almost final. I still haven't put in the ebony plugs but you can't really tell in these pictures. The rods extend one inch past each end of the brackets. The curtains have tabs with buttons so the curtain can be removed if needed.
Craftsman curtain Craftsman curtain tabs
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Craftsman Home Remodeling Forum Shut Down

Hi everyone,

Due to excessive abuse of the Craftsman Home Remodeling Forum by spammers, I have had to shut it down. Not only was the forum being blasted with inappropriate messages but somehow the spammers were using it send out SPAM emails.

I do plan on resurrecting the forum at a later date with much more stringent controls.

Sorry for the inconvenience,
Mike
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Kids Outdoor Arts and Crafts Area

This is late in coming but for those of you that have read about our palm tree removal, you know that we had some empty space on the side of the house.
palm tree removal palm tree removed

Not wanting this space to go to waste, I built a frame structure, put on a corrugated, plastic roof and grew wisteria over the entire surface. I had some left over slate from my master bathroom so I fit it into the dirt space for a floor. The blue table is one that I made out of a single 4x8 sheet of plywood. It always seemed to be in the way but now it has a good home.
arts & crafts play area-left arts & crafts play area-right
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Next Page

Be sure to browse the 2,000 picture Photo Gallery for more step-by-step construction details.