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Six Remodeling Tips To Avoid

Doing it yourself can save thousands of dollars. But making mistakes during your remodel can be costly and dangerous. The key is to plan ahead, use common sense and take some tips from the pros.

Here are a few common mistakes remodeling rookies make.

Failing to locate water cutoffs

Before you start any work, especially in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens, you need to locate the water cutoff in the house and at the street. This way, if a disaster occurs, you know where to head to cut off the flood.

Not preparing to localize and minimize dust and debris

Demolition is messy. Minimize the impact on your house by containing the mess. Create a work zone and keep tools and supplies inside it. Buy large sheet plastic and heavy duty masking tape to completely screen off doorways and openings. At the end of every work session, use a shop vac to get rid of dust and debris. Then take 15 minutes to organize your tools and supplies. It’ll make it quicker to get started next time.

Getting in a hurry

Sure it’s appealing to rip that wall separating the kitchen and the family room right out, but safe demolition demands planning and forethought. First, turn off all the electricity and water to the demo area. Use a stud finder that is equipped to locate metal to determine where wire and pipes are running through the wall. Then, using a small dry wall saw, cut some investigative holes to see exactly what’s behind the wall. This way, you avoid ripping out most of a wall only to discover it contains a vent or pipe that will be costly to move.

Not protecting surfaces

Mask every finished surface and keep it masked as you work. This means cabinets, walls, baseboards, flooring, and moulding. Cover countertops with interlocking foam tiles to deflect the impact of dropped tools. There’s nothing more discouraging than having to replace, repaint or refinish because of damage, spills or splatters.

Not having a Plan B for plumbing

You may think you’ll get your plumbing done in a day, but jobs have a way of expanding. Supply yourself with end stop fittings to cap off open pipes so you can turn the water back on in mid-job. Home Depot’s end stops are called Sharks; Lowe’s offers a line named Gators. They come in ½”, ¾” and 1-inch sizes and it’s smart to have an assortment on hand. Follow the directions for use.

Not protecting floors when you move appliances

Even builders make this mistake. Put down carpet or masonite (sweep or vacuum thoroughly first to remove anything that could scratch the floor) to roll the appliances over as you are installing them. This will protect new tile or wood flooring from damage.

Peggy Conger is a home magazine writer, editor and real estate stager. With her husband, she has rehabbed a number of distressed homes and is right now in the process of talking her husband into just a few little tweaks to the home they had built in 2005! This couple share their knowledge about the ins and outs of remodeling, decorating and getting a house ready to sell on their website, TheHowToHouse.com

22 Key Measurements for Decorating and Remodeling Your House

Inevitably as you are planning a home or room remodeling project, you ask yourself if you have enough room, what size should this be, how should that be, how big should the chandelier be. Be puzzle no more. Keep this list as a handy reference for 22 key measurements when decorating or remodeling your house:

  1. Dining Room Chandelier Installation Height: 30" above the table for a 8' tall ceiling, 34" above the table if the ceiling is higher than 8'.
  2. Dining Room Chandelier Width: 12" less than the narrowest side (width typically) of a rectangle or oval table, 18" less than the diameter of a square or round table.
  3. Dining Room Chandelier Fixture Height: 3" per foot of ceiling height or 24" for a 8' ceiling.
  4. Foyer Chandelier Fixture Height: 3" per foot of ceiling height with 30" maximum.
  5. Foyer Chandelier Installation Height: About 1/3 down from ceiling to base of fixture so that light disperses evenly in foyer. So for a 20' foyer, the base of the chandelier should be 6-7' below the ceiling.
  6. Foyer Chandelier Width: 1" per foot of ceiling width measured diagonally. A 12'x12' foyer would require an 18" wide chandelier.
  7. Wall Pictures or Hangings: At "eye level". That's a pretty wide range but typically around 65" off the floor. Check the look by pinning a properly sized piece of paper on the wall with straight pins. Once correct, mark for the hanging hardware. Using 2 hooks is recommended to hang and keep a picture straight - assuming of course that your hooks are level!
  8. Valance Height: No less than 1/4 and no more than 1/3 of your window height. That's why most pre-made valances are 15-18" because the majority of standard windows are anywhere from 45-72" tall. Personally, I prefer them closer to the 1/3 mark for a fuller, richer feel.
  9. Kitchen cabinet height: 34-1/2" tall off the floor.
  10. Kitchen cabinet wall installation height: 18" off the counter top or 54" above the floor.
  11. Kitchen base (floor) cabinet width: 24"
  12. Kitchen wall cabinet width: 12"
  13. Kitchen countertop space by sink: 18-30" on one side and 48-54" on the other.
  14. Kitchen countertop space by range: 12" minimum on one side and 15-24" on the other.
  15. Microwave and built in oven countertop space: 15-18" on the right side assuming a left hinged door.
  16. Dishwasher front space: 20" from the open dishwasher door to any obstruction or traffic.
  17. Table: 36" between table and any traffic area or obstruction in order to have plenty of space to move chairs in and out.
  18. Island and Breakfast Bar height: Standard cabinet height (34-1/2") for standard work area, 30" for table style seating, 42" for stool height.
  19. Countertop height: 1 to 1-1/2" standard.
  20. Bathroom cabinet depth: 18-20"
  21. Bathroom cabinet height: Standard is 29" so with the countertop it's like a table, but this is quite short for adults to use a sink. Some manufacturers are now making bathroom vanities at 32-33" tall. I used a compromise for our kids at about 31" plus the countertop.
  22. Master bathroom cabinet height: While standard height is still 29", I'd recommend using something taller like a kitchen cabinet height of 34-35". However, you will not be able to use a standard bathroom countertop if you use a kitchen cabinet base as the widths are different (24" for a kitchen, 18" for a bath). You'll either need to get a custom countertop or a custom cabinet.

These measurements are important to know when designing and laying out a project or when hanging new light fixtures. Be sure to design enough space and to pick the correctly sized accessories to fit and provide balance to your room. It's too late once the kitchen is built and the island is in to realize that you can't open your dishwasher all the way. Measure first and use this as a handy guide! Good luck.

Writer's Resource Box: Julie Lohmeier is the veteran of numerous home remodeling and building projects. From working hands on and doing much of the work herself to hiring contractors and construction managers, she has seen the entire spectrum of home improvement. She shares her remodeling tips, home decorating ideas, and other various rants at http://www.myhomeredux.com. Sign up for her free email newsletter at: http://myhomeredux.typepad.com/blog/2005/09/get_my_home_red_2.html Copyright © 2006, Julie Lohmeier, http://www.myhomeredux.com