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Working With the Remodel Professionals

When considering a home improvement remodel, you have to decide whether you are going to need the help of a professional: Architect, Interior Designer, General Contractor, Subcontractor. The following is a description of each of these professionals, their function, what they are capable of and how they can help you get the home of your dreams.

Architect. Architects are state licensed professionals with a degree in architecture and are trained to create designs that are structurally sound, functional and aesthetically pleasing. If your home improvement ideas involve structural changes such as moving walls, windows, or doors, an architect should be consulted. They also know construction materials, can negotiate bids and even supervise the actual work. AIA architects have passed an industry specific exam and belong to the American Institute of Architects. Expect to be charged a flat fee or a percentage of the total square feet of your project (about $2.00 per square foot).

Interior Designers. Even if you are working with an architect, you may wish to call on the services of an interior designer for the decorating and furnishing of rooms. These experts can offer fresh, innovative ideas and advice. Sometimes the interior designer has knowledge of materials and products not readily available in stores. You might also be interested in consulting with a lighting designer to specify fixtures and placement of lighting for your project and work with the contractor or installer to make your lighting scheme a reality. Other specialists include kitchen and bath designers, some are qualified and often informed about the latest trends in furnishings and appliances, but some may simply be there to sell you more goods. The decision depends on your scope: if your space needs only a minor face lift, you can call a kitchen or bath designer; but if your job is major, call in the architect and engineer. Expect to pay a flat fee or a percentage of the total cost of the goods purchased (usually 8 to 10%).

General Contractor. General Contractors are state-licensed professionals that specialize in construction. The primary job of a contractor is to insure that all construction work complies with the local and national building codes, the necessary permits are pulled and arrange for inspections as the work progresses. The General Contractor may do all of the work themselves, or they may hire qualified subcontractors, order construction materials, and see that the job is completed according to contract. When choosing a contractor, get three bids from licensed contractors; give each one the same set of blue prints, or the exact scope of work and your own sketches for the desired remodeling project.

Include a detailed account of who will be responsible for what work. And of course, visit your State Contractors License Board’s website and make sure that the contractor has a current active license. General contractors will work their fee into the final bid. However, don’t make price your only criterion for selection, ask for references and, if possible visit completed projects, then make your decision based on quality of work, reliability, and customer satisfaction. Finally, when you have chosen a contractor, request current insurance certificates before you sign the contract and start the project.

Subcontractors. If you choose to act as your own contractor, you will be responsible for permits, insurance and payroll taxes as well as direct supervision of all aspects of the construction. You will have to hire and supervise subcontractors for specialized jobs such as framing, wiring, plumbing, and drywall. Going this route requires a great deal of construction knowledge and a huge commitment of time for the day to day supervision of the project.

Travel Trailers and Mobile Homes – Stationary Southern Types For Temporary Winter Stays

Most of the RV parks in the small Rio Grande Valley at the southern tip of Texas are similar to the ones around the world, with one exception. These parks patronize the 150,000 so-called migrating winter inhabitants from the northern states and Canada during the winter months.

Thus, their basic operations are geared toward these three-to-eight-month winter stays in addition to the typical overnight or weekend ones. These parks have five kinds of local stationary units to rent or buy for temporary winter lodging. They are named and described below.

1. Stationary travel trailer (TT). Numerous older-model 25-to-40-feet-long one-bedroom one-bath travel trailers have been block-mounted and strapped down permanently onto their concrete pads where they might be skirted for appearance sake. To make them roomier, they often have had permanent hand-made pop-out extensions or a Texas Room added to them plus a patio awning. The Texas Room is a fully enclosed width extension to one side of the trailer. It can range from an enclosed porch to a fully furnished room addition.

These units are highly livable for two small-to-medium-sized tenants. They rent from $400 to 1500/month during the winter season depending on their condition and location. They also sell used for around $8 to 50K depending on their age, size, condition, and location. When expanded and remodeled, they are similar in size to the park-model mobile home below, and sometimes are referred to as such.

2. Park model, small (PM). This model is smaller than a regular full-sized mobile home. The older ones measure about 12×33-feet with one bedroom, a bathroom, tight but full-sized kitchen, and a small living area. The newer ones are more modern than these and the stationary trailers above. The modern PM has a pitched roof, design windows and skirting, high ceiling, fairly large bathroom, modern kitchen and living area, combined air and heat source, ceiling fan, and an extra room (storage, den, half-bath, office, or bedroom). Viewed from above, it might have an “L” shape plus a covered deck, patio, porch, shed, or parking spot.

For insurance and taxing reasons, this model has a non-taxable living area of about 400 square feet or slightly above. Thus, it often sits on a small concrete trailer pad with little or no yard to take care of, except for an occasional tree, shrub, or potted plant. These rent for about $900-1500/month. To own, they cost about $50 to 80K or more new with transport and setup costs included. Larger park models also exist. But they usually sit on the much larger lots reserved for mobile homes.

3. Mobile home, large (MH). This fairly long and narrow home can be like the ones seen in the MH parks and countryside everywhere. The newer models are wider (16 to 20-feet) than the older ones (10 to 14-feet), making them spacious. Generally they have two-to-three bedrooms with two large bathrooms. But varying configurations and sizes are available, including stylish ones. The MH can also have a covered concrete patio and/or parking area plus a Texas Room of some kind. Depending on the exact size of its lot, the MH could have extra additions of some kind on both of its sides. Also, a one-bedroom one-bath MH having rooms larger than the PM exist. These generally are for tenents not having overnight guests.

Although it can still be moved again, this parked and skirted home sits on a fairly large lot, which will have adequate space for an outside shed, garden, trees, and a yard to take care of by the owner or by hired help. Because of its large size, it is insured and taxed accordingly.

These rent for $900-2500/month depending the same conditions above. To own, they cost from $25 to 200K, used or new, with transport and setup costs included as needed. If their add-on Texas Rooms are raised to the same floor levels as the MH’s, they become similar to the double-wides below.

4. Double wide. The double wide is like those seen everywhere, often stylish. Unlike the so-called stationary trailers and mobile homes above, these become totally permanent homes, and probably will not be moved again once installed. They are very spacious. They also sit on large lots, and are treated like regular real estate, usually occupied by long-term owners.

5. Efficiency apartment. Certain large parks have a few efficiency apartments for the guests and inquiring visitors to stay in. These apartments can range in size from motel-like rooms to suites to furnished small apartments. In the winter season, these rentals cost about the same as trailer rentals above, about $600 to 1500/month.

In addition to the above housing, limited seasonal motel rooms, suites, and time-shares are also available for new visitors to this valley. Yet, because potential winter inhabitants might enjoy the various activities in the RV parks there, they might prefer to rent one of the above units before deciding to own one. The parks have maintenance personnel who watch these properties year-round. For more information on these kind of living units, see these sites.

How Stair Railings Can Help Your Home Look Stylish

Your stair railing isn’t meant to just be functional. Whether your stair railing is made from metal or from wood, it can be very stylish. Many people overlook the stair railing when renovating their home. However, your railing is one of the first things that people see when they arrive at your home. Becaue of this, your railing should make a good impression.

Railings Can Be Traditional Or More Modern

If your home is decorated with traditional furnishings, you may want to consider using a wooden rail. Wood is timeless and yet traditional at the same time. The great news is that you can still use wood even if your home is decorated with modern furnishings.

To add a professional touch, try to match the color of the wood on the railing to the color of the wood in other parts of your home. If you have hardwood floors, the railing color and the floor color should match. If you can not get an exact match, try to match the wood color as closely as possible.

Popular Types Of Wooden Railings

In some cases, pine can be used to create a stair railing. However, pine tends to be a soft wood and can easily be damaged. In most cases, oak wood is used to create stair railings.

Oak is a hard wood and is often used to create railings in public buildings. The next time you go to the library or the office, look to see if the railing is made from wood or metal. If the railing is made from wood, chances are very good that the railing is oak.

In addition to being a durable type of wood, oak has a warm color. It can be stained or painted depending upon the type of look that you want. Oak is also a smooth wood. This means that it can be used without a lot of sanding. Oak, like all wood, has an attractive grain pattern which can be used to draw attention to the stair railing.

Contractors Can Help Answer Questions

Creating an attractive stair case can be a very difficult process. There are quite a few parts to a staircase and matching the wood for all the pieces is quite complicated. While creating an attractive stair case is nice, the entire stair case needs to be safe as well.

For this reason, many homeowners choose to get the assistance of a professional when remodeling their home. A good contractor will be able to merge form with function and create an attractive yet safe stair case.

Experienced contractors will also know about things that you may not have even considered. For example, the rise between the stair treads can vary. If you have children or elderly parents living in your home, the rise of your stair treads may need to be different from a home with all adults.

Whether you choose to hire a contractor or do it yourself, you will need to do some research in order to find the perfect stair railing for your home. Once you do this, the rest of the stair case renovation should fall into place. When you are done, you will have a beautiful stair case which will serve as a stylish addition to your home.