Remodel Your House Into an Open Living Space

Open floor plans are popular among home buyers throughout the country. Older home designs, with rooms separated by walls, are outdated and not conducive to family life in the 21st century. Open floor plans not only create a sense of spaciousness, they also create a sense of connection among residents in practical ways. You can successfully remodel a "cut up" home with a fresh, open floor plan.

Consult a construction engineer, who can tell you which walls are "weight bearing" and which can be safely removed without damaging the structural integrity of your home. Weakening a weight-bearing wall by cutting new openings in it can destroy your home.

Locate original blueprints of your home if possible. Original blueprints will be helpful, especially when it comes to locating in-wall electrical wiring, duct work or pipes.

Draw new plans. Make accurate scale drawings of the area you want to open up. Focus on removing unnecessary walls between such common spaces as living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens. Avoid opening private spaces, such as dens and bedrooms. Experiment with possibilities.

Visualize experimental floor plans. Computer software programs are great for depicting new plans in a graphic manner. However, you also can do an imaginary "walk through" of open floor plans. Start at the front entry and imagine what you will see when the walls are gone. Try to visualize unintended problems as well as benefits. Many people find they do not like kitchens that are "open" because they can never hide the mess created after preparing a large meal. Think about the consequences of removing walls that contain storage closets. Kitchen cabinets are often missed after walls are removed, too. Balance what might be gained with what may be lost.

Consider other hidden consequences. Think about how you will bridge two different floor coverings; e.g., between a tiled kitchen and a carpeted living room. Conversion to an open floor plan often means totally redecorating new spaces. Imagine how you will paint or decorate one great room. Consider how you will fill in or repair places in the floor and ceiling where a wall once stood. Devise plans for moving or replacing electrical outlets and switches. Budget these hidden costs into your remodeling plan.

Make a logistical plan to cover the demolition and remodeling period. If your kitchen will be out of service for a while, make a plan of action for preparing meals. Consider moving the family dining area to another room temporarily. Move the television viewing area to another room, too. Cancel any entertaining events.

Obtain all necessary permits before starting demolition and construction. Check with your local building code department about demolition regulations, including how to dispose of cast-off materials.

Hire subcontractors if your budget allows. They will save you money and headaches over the long run.

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