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A sure sign that the housing market is coming back is the increase in new housing permits in Michigan and nationally. But not everyone wants to build a new home. If you love your neighborhood and your house, you can renovate it to have many of the features of a new floor plan without moving.

While kitchen and bath remodeling are still the most popular projects, more people are deciding to change the living space as well to make it fit new design trends and their lifestyle.

“Most people know that they want a bigger kitchen or more bedrooms, but they don’t really have a vision for how it would look, “said Kim Zebron, office manager for Pine Building, (248) 539-9600, pinebuilding.com. “So we help them with examples of projects we have done and our ideas, and will even bring in our architect to help bring their ideas to life.”

Zebron said most people who are updating an older home want many of today’s trends that are common in a new home, such as a larger kitchen that can be a gathering area that is open and adjacent to a great room for easy entertaining. They also want functional things like a mud room or a first-floor laundry if they are remodeling an older home that has it in the basement.

Today’s new homes have a better flow and more convenient spacing than those built in the past. Fortunately, that open concept in home design is something that can be accomplished with a renovation. That’s why we are seeing many projects today taking rooms that are no longer in use, such as a living room or dining room, and making them functional again. So removing walls and converting two small bedrooms into one large master suite, or taking out a wall between a small kitchen and a small dining room and making one large kitchen that can be used as a gathering room is not only possible, it will better fit the family’s lifestyle.

Zebron said another trend when renovating an older two-story home is to add a master bedroom suite with a full bath on the first floor, which is especially popular with baby boomers who don’t want to climb stairs to get to their bedroom. That is part of the universal design trend to help older folks remain in their home safely and comfortably.

She said homes built in the 1950s and ’60s were generally smaller, so many homeowners want to add space to make the home more livable. But she added that even homes built in 1995 may need updating because the floor plan doesn’t fit today’s lifestyle.

“Many people never use the formal living room in their home and prefer the great room concept, so that is something they often address in a renovation,” Zebron said.

Of course, another area that gets a high priority when renovating a home is to update the heating and cooling systems to make them more efficient. That can also mean adding an HVAC system on the second floor to provide more consistent heating and cooling for the entire home, which helps eliminate those hot or cold areas.

So don’t get frustrated with an old house with a floor plan that was better suited for Ozzie and Harriet. Instead, have a contractor knock down that wall between your living room and family room and expand the space into one big great room that will fit your family’s needs.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.

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