Even professional has trouble remodeling


August 22, 1999|By Karol V. Menzie and Ron Nodine

FOR MONTHS and months, Ron and Charlotte Nodine wrestled with the idea of expanding their 1920s bungalow. You'd think it would be easy for a professional remodeler, wouldn't you? Well. it isn't. At least they knew what they wanted, sort of-- a bigger master bedroom, a master bath, a bigger laundry space, some space for exercise equipment.

But it was hard fitting all that into an affordable addition. They decided that a two-story addition was out of the question. So, like all remodelers, they had to make some difficult choices.

They finally settled on a first-floor bedroom/master bath addition. The existing bedroom next door would become part of the suite, and contain the exercise equipment. The laundry area stayed in the basement, but moved to a larger space.

But having the plan in place was not the end of tile decision process by any means.

So what was next?

Exterior finishes, for one. As is true with most remodeling projects. Ron wants to match the addition to the existing house. The existing siding is the old asbestos shingles; new shingles that resemble them are made of mineral fiber cement. They are not cheap, but, Ron wants to maintain the architectural integrity of the house.

In addition to the siding, Ron feels the windows should also match the others on the house, both in style (single-pane, double-hung windows), and in size.

Charlotte doesn't see it that way.

She wants big windows to let in lots of light, and she thinks they should have divided panes because that's the way they are pictured in all the window-treatment literature. From her point of view. it doesn't matter if the windows look different because they're on the back of the house where no one will see them (except Ron).

Is this an impasse? No, there's always a way. In this case. the solution was skylights, big ones, two in the master bedroom, one in the master bath and one in the walk-in closet. Now they're both happy. Ron has his consistent exterior, and Charlotte has her light. However, after the wallboard was installed, she pointed out to him that there still wasn't enough natural light in her dressing area, so Ron added another skylight in there.

Next it's time to start on the interior. This is where the real full starts.

The first thing to do is prioritize things -- but whose priorities do you use? Bath fixtures offer a seemingly endless stream of choices. Different manufacturers offer many different options. The new bath will have a corner shower, no tub, a pedestal sink and, of course, the toilet.

Since there is no tub, the shower has to have a seat. There are not a lot of companies that make such a thing, but there are a couple. Kohler makes one, 50 inches wide with a wood seat (designed for a steam shower). Jacuzzi makes several varieties, in 42-inch and 48- inch sizes.

For the size of the new bath, the Jacuzzi worked the best. The seat is on one side so it will work well for its intended use. It's available with all sorts of body sprays, waterfalls and steam generators, but the Nodines didn't want all that stuff.

Next variety was the shower faucet, and again there are a million choices. Ron liked the Delta faucet with separate volume and temperature controls. Charlotte preferred porcelain cross handles. To get the cross handles, you have to buy the standard old-fashioned kind of faucet with separate hot and cold ajustments. Functionality won here, the Delta is the choice.

Of course, there are still a lot of things to select to finish this bathroom, and there are still the other rooms to consider.

Charlotte wanted hardwood flooring in the bedroom: It's attractive, durable and easy to maintain. Ron wanted carpet: It's quiet when someone is sleeping, and warm and soft on your bare feet. Another consideration with a wood floor is that everything else you choose has to work with the floor. With carpet you can choose other things first -- furniture, bedding, window treatments, etc. --then match the carpet to them.

The next priority is going to be the bedding. Once that is selected. everything else will coordinate with it. And, just to make the process, uh, simpler, only one person will choose priorities from here to the end of the project. Guess who.

Ron Nodine is owner of American Renovator Inc., a Baltimore design-build remodeling firm, and former president of the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Karol Menzie is a feature writer for The Sun.

If you have questions, tips or experiences to share about working on houses, e-mail Ron at hw@renovator.net or Karol at karol.menzie@baltsun.com. Or write c/o HOME WORK, The Sun. 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Questions of general interest will be answered in the column; comments, tips and experiences will be reported in occasional columns.

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