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Monday Real Estate Minute

Why It’s Important to Work Around Your Home’s Current Design When Renovating

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If you’re planning to renovate your home, you may be envisioning an open floor plan or thinking about changing the layout of a bathroom. Some of those ideas may be realistic, but others may be impractical and may even compromise your home’s structural integrity.

How Your House’s Design Can Limit Your Renovation Options
Your home has load-bearing walls that support the weight of the house itself, plus the weight of its contents. Load-bearing walls must also be able to handle forces from wind, rain, snow, and possibly hurricanes, other forms of severe weather, even earthquakes.

When your home was originally designed, the locations of load-bearing walls were carefully chosen so the house could withstand those forces. If you remove a load-bearing wall to create an open floor plan, add windows, or increase the size of an existing window, that can affect your home’s structural integrity and make it susceptible to significant damage, including uneven floors, doors that are difficult to open and close, cracks in walls and damage to the roof or foundation. The house might even collapse.

If you’re thinking about making changes to a bathroom, you will have to consider the locations of pipes. Moving the sink to another wall may seem like a minor modification to you, but it may require a plumber to make a series of changes that can greatly increase the overall cost of the project.

Seek Advice From a Qualified Professional
A contractor who has experience with home renovations can examine your house’s current structure and tell you if the changes you’re contemplating are doable and advisable. If what you want to do would make your home susceptible to damage or would require major changes to existing systems, the contractor may be able to suggest an alternative that will allow you to have most of what you want, but without jeopardizing your home’s structural integrity or causing the overall cost of the renovations to balloon.

Follow Your Local Building Codes
The building department in your city or town has rules regarding which types of home improvements are allowed. You will most likely have to get a permit before renovations can begin and will have to get the work inspected and approved.

If you don’t, someone may notify the building department, forcing you to stop the work, return your home to its original condition and pay a fine. Even if you don’t get caught, you may run into a problem if you try to sell your house in the future and a potential buyer learns that you had renovations done without a permit.

If a contractor makes a change that compromises your home’s structural integrity and you don’t have the job inspected, you may be unaware that you, your family, and others are in danger. Never have your home renovated without getting a required permit.

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