Know what to expect during a reno

By Pamela A. Keene
Bill Adamson has been remodeling homes in North Georgia for nearly 25 years, and he’s seen his share of surprises.
“It’s all about making a plan,” Adamson says. “The very first thing we do, before we begin a project, is to get with an architect and make a plan. It will give us a good idea of what we’re doing and help us with the budgeting process. And an architect can address structural and mechanical issues before they become problems in many cases.”
When remodeling older homes, it’s not uncommon to find electrical or plumbing issues that need to be addressed. “Over the years, the building codes have changed,” he says. “For instance, is the electric wiring the old two-strand type? If so, it needs to be replaced with three-strand grounded wiring.”
On a recent remodel the homeowner asked to have hardwood floors to replace carpet. “When we pulled up the carpet we found that the subfloor was made of particle board. It had to be replaced with plywood to properly install the hardwood flooring.”
Sometimes a project will reveal structural issues — floors that aren’t level or walls that aren’t square. “We advise homeowners to address these issues when they arise, although it may increase the cost. A builder can do a work-around in some cases, or the homeowner may choose to correct the issue right then.”
Floor joists, rafters and support walls may need to be inspected as well, because the home may have shifted over the years.
Replacing windows is a way to save money. Older homes — more than a couple of decades old — were built with single-paned windows that weren’t energy-efficient. Double-paned windows provide more insulation; low-E windows reduce the amount of UV rays that come into a home.
“Today, manufacturers are making windows with sashes that fit the older-style openings,” he says. “Over the long-term, having double-paned windows will save homeowners on energy bills.”
Insulation is another area that some homeowners don’t consider when remodeling. Adamson says that a good contractor will assess the efficiency of the existing insulation and suggest either installing or adding more to an older home, if necessary.
He suggests that homeowners budget about 15 percent more than projected to cover unexpected issues. “Sometimes, we’ll find problems as we get into the project, from old wiring to water or termite damage. By being prepared, the homeowner won’t be surprised. You should always have a plan and a budget.”
Bill Adamson owns Adamson Construction Services Inc. in Dawsonville. For more information, visit www.adamsoncontructionservices.com or call  770-527-0252.

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