REwatch: Comfortable, efficient and smart

2014-03-09T09:15:00Z REwatch: Comfortable, efficient and smartMichelle Krueger Times Columnist
March 09, 2014 9:15 am  • 

Those three words are among the most repeated when you read about the home of the future.

As more and more homeowners look to remodel their existing homes, they want to know if they are going to recoup their investments – i.e. improve the value along with livability.

Whether building, buying or remodeling, many people still believe the best investment they can make is their home, and the true value is in how well it supports their family’s lifestyle.

Attendees at this year’s Porter County Home & Lifestyle Show – today’s the final day for the Home Builders Association of Northwest Indiana’s annual event which takes place at the Porter County Expo Center from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. – are considering remodeling projects for the places where they spend the most time - kitchens, bathrooms and master bedrooms.

Projects being discussed for these areas run the gamut from a total upgrade and remodel to a few cosmetic changes that can improve both the style and function of these areas.

Minor updates to cabinet doors, drawer fronts and pulls can give any kitchen or bath a fresh new look. From there, paint, flooring, countertops and even appliances and fixtures can be replaced as time and money permit.

Other key projects also involve organizing clutter as well as adding new rooms for special purposes – with or without an addition.

With drop zones becoming top features in new homes, existing homeowners are finding creative ways to incorporate this feature as well. Whether a general entry way or defined mud room is the first place people enter a home, there’s bound to be a bunch of stuff that gets “dropped” and eventually impedes entering and exiting.

Rather than step over all the stuff - which is ultimately a tripping hazard (my son has had the habit of kicking off his shoes and leaving them right at the front door for 21 years and now that he’s away at college I forget they are there and almost always stumble over them at some point during his visits before stowing them away in “his” basket under the bench in our entryway).

According to the pros at the Home & Lifestyle show, a drop zone is a great investment. Having an organized place to sit down and put things in their place makes any home more functional – and livable.

Another popular project for growing families right now is finishing off some or all of the space in the basement. One trend that’s really catching on is reserving a portion of the space for “higher-quality” living while providing a more traditional area for “recreation.” Ultimately it depends on the needs of the homeowner, and any improvements to the “lower level” – from adding a bathroom, dedicated home office, craft area or exercise room to a second kitchen and living room plus a guest suite are all a great investment for now and in the future.

Generally speaking, remodeling can average about $35 a foot versus an average of $125 a foot to build an addition, which can require excavating, roofing, siding and windows.

However, that doesn’t seem to be deterring people from giving an addition to their home careful consideration.

Extra spaces from bonus rooms and bedrooms including suites for multi-generational living to four-season rooms and opening up/expanding kitchens and great rooms, can improve function and flow for homeowners who love their location and are not ready to move.

At the same time, projects such as converting an attic to extra living space or building a deck off the back of a home are can be less invasive and less expensive options for increasing living space while providing a solid return on investment.

Beyond that, there was a great deal of discussion on which exterior projects should be tackled first once the weather permits, and pretty much everyone expressed an interest in energy efficiency and smart technology for the home.

While many of the concepts of building green to save money and improve comfort have been around for decades, existing homeowners are now discovering how an energy-efficient home requires less maintenance and provides a healthier living environment than a traditional home. As a result, energy-efficient practices that are now common in all new construction are becoming a priority for remodeling projects as well.

In addition, many people are intrigued by the opportunity to remotely control everything from heating and air conditioning to lighting, appliances, security systems and other consumer electronic devices in their home with smart technology. A number of options are on display for locking and unlocking doors, controlling home entertainment and/or security systems, adjusting temperature settings and scheduling sprinkler systems based on the weather.

Look for another weekend of great tips from our local experts when the HBA Home & Lifestyle Show makes its way to the Lake County Fairgrounds April 5-6.

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