by Doug Kilpatrick
If your family is like many families, your home is bursting at the seams. Perhaps there has been a new baby, a child returning from college or an older relative moving in. Maybe you’ve started a home-based business, but adding an extra room just isn’t in the budget.
Here are some suggestions for making efficient use of your home’s existing space:
Decks and porches expand the usable living space at a reasonable cost. Here in Southern California decks can be used nine months of the year, and covered screen porches can be used year-around. The deck should be set at approximately the same level as the house if it is to be part of the living space. Portable propane heaters will keep the deck warm during the cooler months.
Opening walls, such as between a kitchen and family room can improve circulation and make the space seem visibly larger. Some walls may be load-bearing or contain electrical wiring or plumbing so a professional inspection is needed before removal. Even so, this is a cost-effective method of making more efficient use of living space. If you want to keep some division between the areas, a short wall (“pony wall”) can be left in place. With the addition of a few bar stools and a cap of counter-top material, the pony wall bar can replace a conventional breakfast area.
Inside water heaters and washer/dryers take up a surprising amount of space. Conversion to a tankless water heater (which is about the size of a large briefcase and can mount on an exterior wall) will free up enough space to add a closet. A stacked washer and dryer is about half the size of two separate units, freeing up at least nine more square feet of usable area.
While everyone would like to build a new master suite or entertainment room, these ideas provide cost effective alternatives for making better use of your home.
Question: I had a flood in the bathroom from a broken pipe and I’m worried about mold in the walls and floor.
Answer: In recent years mold has been found not to be as serious a health issue for most people as once thought. Nevertheless mold must be remediated, by removing the source of water, thoroughly drying the area, and treating to kill spores. Visit http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html for more information.