Whether you're remodeling the interior structure, exterior facade, or just adding an outdoor deck, start with a solid plan and realistic budget.

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Enhance Living Space with an Outdoor Deck

In Southern California, where our Mediterranean temps average about 75 degrees and we never tussle with flies or mosquitoes, adding a covered, outdoor living space significantly enhances dining and entertaining lifestyles. Trex "wood" was an ideal choice for this eight year-old deck. It resists fading from prolonged sun exposure, withstands time and weather, and there is an extensive color palette to choose from.

Because the back of the house is all edges, squares, and angles, we wanted a more flowing, organic deck perimeter to prevent the overall effect of appearing too 'boxy.' Nature tends to have smoother, rounded and irregular edges, and we wanted our deck edging to conform with that irregularity.

Instead of enclosing the entire outdoor living space, we wanted to be able to access both decks from all points, with open and direct yard access.



A Covered Deck that Provides Living Space, Above and Below

With the right construction and the addition of exterior doors, the upstairs master bedroom can make use of the deck cover as a balcony, extending living space upstairs as well. The covered deck below provides ample room for the elevated dining area off the kitchen that also included the installation of French doors, providing quick access between kitchen and dining and made even more convenient with a 'pass-through' window.

Raising the upper deck cover a few inches above the lower deck cover allows for air ventilation from cross breezes and ceiling fans during warm summer months, while patio heaters keep the area warm during more inclement winter months.



Extending Outdoor Living Areas for Dining, and Lounging

The upper dining area extends by shallow stairs to the original lower level patio for additional casual seating, making the overall outdoor experience more expansive and inviting. The shallow stairs surrounding the raised dining area  frequently serve as extra 'seating' for larger parties.

PROJECT COST: About $25,000


Planning - and Surviving A Renovation

Living through a home improvement project can often be the worst part of the whole process.

The cost-to-value ratio for home improvement projects increased over 66 percent from last year, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value report. Based on a home’s resale value compared to renovation costs, this is the highest percentage the market has seen in the value of home improvement projects since 2005, making this a great year to turn your remodeling aspirations into reality.

 Home renovation projects can save you a lot of money in the long run, but they can sometimes cost precious time and frustrate your ability to navigate through your daily routine. A little planning can go a long way in helping you streamline a big project.

1.    Plan your project with HomeZada, one of a number of online mobile software and apps that cover everything from Home Maintenance and Finances to Home Inventory and Improvements so you can organize, budget, and execute your next remodel like a pro. Make sure you thoroughly research your project to avoid making other homeowner’s mistakes on sites such as DIYchatroom and the DIYnetwork.  Remodeling ideas can be found on a number of sites online, such as Pinterest, which can help you identify improvements that may add the most value for cost in giving your home a fresh, updated look.

2.    Consider your resources.  When deciding between an update and an overhaul, take into consideration the amount of time, money and energy you’ll have to dedicate to the project. You may want to allot extra expenses for buying tools that can make the job easier and faster. As the time allotted for completion directly relates to the amount of time you will be inconvenienced, plan projects during times when you expect other events in your life to remain relatively uneventful and when you can devote extra time and effort to the project at hand.

3.    Sketch it out and make notes. A rough design of the layout of the space will help you clarify exactly which features you want and how many you’d like to incorporate, and this is often required for city permits. Keep a project journal on the progress of your DIY project, then create a materials list to keep shopping trips to a minimum.

4.    Set a budget. Once you figure out how much you can spend, subtract 20-30% from this number and set it aside for contingencies.

5.     Reduce the impact of the renovation. If you’re remodeling a bathroom, move your personal items to a bath not being remodeled, and order an extra toilet, if needed, to use for the duration of the renovation. Organize a primary location for storage of all your tools and equipment. If you’ll have contractors on site, ensure your tools are labeled with your name so contractors won’t confuse these with their tools and remove them. Set up a temporary kitchen area, if necessary, and adapt to the idea of using paper plates and cups to save time washing dishes outdoors or in a bathroom sink. 

See  "Planning Your Renovation Project"

or check out the video for Info on Time, Planning, and Cost