LESLIE: Jennifer in Tennessee, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JENNIFER: Hi. I was hoping to find out the best way to start my home improvement project. Like I’m sort of in the planning phase but I’m not really sure where to start; like if there’s a good book or good software that’ll help me kind of lay everything out and plan.
TOM: Well, you started at the right place by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. What kinds of home improvement projects do you want to do, Jennifer?
JENNIFER: Well, I’m really interested in replacing my deck …
JENNIFER: … and maybe remodeling my bathroom.
TOM: Well, a couple of things come to mind. First of all, if you’re going to do the deck, now that’s an easy project and there are a lot of sources for home improvement education. I think a good place for you to start would be at one of the major home centers because I know that they have classes on deck construction that only take a day and give you lots of tips. I’ve seen them at Lowe’s, I’ve seen them at Depot and Leslie and I have even taught a few at some of these stores over the years. So picking up a course like that is a great place familiar with the tools and the design and especially when it comes to the deck because layout is really critical.
TOM: You need to get the design right so you get all the materials and get the assembly in the right order. So that’s a great place to start.
LESLIE: And well I also think, Jennifer, you know, head to your local library or bookstore; anyplace where you can find magazines because so many of the publishers offer special interest publications and some of those are specifically all about decks, deck design, outdoor landscaping. So if you start with some paper and just sort of peel through, make copies of things that interest you, tear those pages out and hold on to them; this way when you’re ready to go into the design and construction phase, you can approach your contractor or if you’re building it yourself you’ve got an understanding of how you want it to work and if you work with a contractor they’ll understand coding needs as far as step height, how high you can go without a railing. Because there’s a ton of intricacies that make for the safety of the deck as well.
TOM: And Jennifer, speaking of contractors, there are design experts out there. They’re called certified kitchen and bath designers. This is a designation that the Kitchen and Bath Industry Association offers. These folks have to be tested and certified to prove that they have the right kind of design training and using somebody like that can really save you a lot of aggravation as well as a boatload of money when it comes to designing a bathroom. You mentioned that as one of the projects you wanted to tackle. So you might want to think about meeting with a bath designer to get some initial help on the layout and maybe some advice on product selection. Because you know, just a few careful suggestions from somebody like that can really save you a bunch of money.
JENNIFER: Yeah, and I was wondering if – you know, along those same lines – is there software available where I could kind of play around with my dimensions to see like, you know, where the sink would look best or – you know, if I wanted to maybe consider rearranging some things in the bathroom?
LESLIE: Well, again, I think when you’re especially thinking about rearranging things in the bath, number one, that’s going to drive your costs way up; especially if you’ve got to move plumbing fixtures and if you work with a certified bath designer they’re going to know perhaps shortcuts or better locations based on where your plumbing exists. And I think the best part about working with a design pro in this situation is that they’re able to get product directly from the manufacturer which comes in then at a discounted rate and then there’s a slight markup for working with the designer. But you might be able to get better than retail prices when it comes to specific materials.
As far as design software, there’s a ton of different programs available for both Macs and PCs at varying levels. But you do have to purchase the software itself and that can sometimes run up to several hundred dollars. So it might just – you know, take some time, walk in to a home center and sit down with one of their bath designers to just get a start.
TOM: Jennifer, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
JENNIFER: Thanks. Bye.