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How Do I Legally Convert a Garage to a Usable Room?

For homeowners who feel like they could use a little more elbow room, converting their garage into living space may seem like the easiest, cheapest way to add an extra room onto their house. In Southern California especially, it may not seem like a big deal to leave your car parked in the driveway year-round to gain some extra space. However, converting your garage properly involves a lot more work than simply installing some drywall and carpeting, and doing it the wrong way can be an expensive headache.

How Do I Legally Convert a Garage to a Usable Room? - Sea Pointe Construction

Permits are required for most types of construction in California, and garage conversions are no exception. But permits are just the first step. You also need to take building ordinances into consideration as you are planning a conversion. For example, in both Orange County and Los Angeles County, homes are required to have a certain number of covered off-street parking spaces, so if you eliminate your existing garage you may be required to build another garage or carport to satisfy this requirement. Local setback ordinances present another potential complication—if the resulting room would be too close to the property line, the city may not issue a permit. It is best to know the full scope of what is required and what is possible before you and your contractor begin to draw up any plans.

While illegal garage conversions are all too common, you should avoid the temptation to ask forgiveness instead of permission when contemplating such a project. If you’re caught by the city, as many homeowners are, fines for unpermitted work can mount up quickly, and the process of retroactively obtaining permits is likely to be more trouble than having the proper inspections during construction, as you will have to open up walls to allow the inspector to view any electrical or plumbing work. In some cases, the city may require you to convert the space back to a garage. Even if the city doesn’t find out, an unpermitted garage conversion may deter potential buyers should you try to sell your home.

When you’ve confirmed that you can obtain a permit for your desired conversion, then keep in mind that you will need to make some major changes in order to make a space meant to store cars into a comfortable, attractive living area. Think electrical, insulation, drywall, HVAC, additional windows and/or doors—you not only need to meet whatever legal requirements there are for living spaces in your area, but you also want to make sure that your conversion blends with the overall look of your house. This will ensure that your conversion adds to the value and beauty of your home instead of detracting from it.

If you’re looking to add some space to your home, the assistance of an experienced remodeling company is invaluable in helping you realize your dreams in the best possible way. Contact the experts at Sea Pointe Construction today to explore the possibilities.

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Top 5 Energy-Saving Home Improvements

With the cost of water and electricity rising year by year, many homeowners take energy efficiency into serious consideration when deciding how to remodel their homes. Whether you’re primarily concerned with lowering your utility bills or with reducing your environmental footprint, you’ll be happy to know that energy-saving home improvements can also increase your comfort and improve both the aesthetics and resale value of your home. Some of the top energy-saving home improvements are:

Top 5 Energy-Saving Home Improvements | Sea Pointe Construction

1. Sealing and insulating: Sealing the outside envelope of your home from drafts is an essential first step in saving energy. This may also include replacing exterior doors with new, better-insulated ones, which can also improve your home’s curb appeal. It’s also important to seal up any leaks from your ductwork that may be venting cool or warm air into spaces that don’t need it. Finally, adding insulation in attic spaces and walls will help keep your house warm in winter and cool in summer without having to overwork your HVAC unit.

2. Low flow fixtures: With new improvements in low-flow technology, adding low-flow shower heads, toilets, and faucets no longer means sacrificing comfort for water savings. These additions can mean significant savings not only on your water bill but also on your energy bill, as you can enjoy the same hot, luxurious shower you always have without using nearly as much water.

3. Energy efficient HVAC with programmable thermostat: An older heating and air conditioning unit can be one of the worst energy hogs in a home. A modern, energy-efficient unit coupled with a programmable thermostat can lower your utility bills considerably while keeping you in comfort. The newest thermostats on the market can even be adjusted remotely by smartphone, giving you instant control over your energy usage.

4. Updating appliances: As with HVAC units, energy-intensive appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers have improved considerably in both energy and water use over the years. In particular, an old refrigerator is a smart bet to replace—new stricter Energy Star guidelines for refrigerators came into effect in 2014, and as an appliance that runs 24-7 and typically lasts 15 to 20 years, a refrigerator represents a significant chunk of a home’s energy usage. Newer appliances also typically offer updated features and improved performance over their older counterparts.

5. Replacement windows: New energy-efficient windows don’t just offer energy savings, they can also significantly improve the look of your home. Double-paned windows help to eliminate energy loss through drafts and heat transfer, and special coatings can help control heat loss or gain through the windows, depending on the season.

To determine the best energy-saving upgrades for your home, it’s a good idea to consult with a remodeling company experienced in evaluating the overall needs of your home and formulating a strategy to maximize energy efficiency and lower consumption. To find out how you can incorporate smart energy-saving upgrades into your next remodeling project, contact the experts at Sea Pointe Construction today.

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5 Reasons You Need a Deck in Your Backyard

Summer is here! Sunny days and warm evenings mean that it’s time to spend time outside and get some fresh air. The day is just packed with lounging in the sun, barbecuing in the evening, and roasting s’mores at night. The best part about that schedule is that it can all be done right at home in your own backyard. That’s right. With a wooden deck you have the perfect place to have some friends over or enjoy your own private relaxation zone.

With a good plan and a skilled contractor, building a deck could be a fairly quick project. You can enjoy the rest of your summer and fall outside within a few weeks.

5 Reasons You Need a Deck in Your Backyard | Sea Pointe

Here are 5 reasons why you should have a deck in your backyard:

1. Decks are great for entertaining. Whether you’re having an elegant dinner party or a wild barbecue, a deck is the perfect venue during and after dinner.

2. You will save money. You don’t need to go out and spend money to have a good time. The deck is your new personal retreat. There’s also the advantage of not paying for air conditioning  when you’re outside! (Air conditioning accounts for 22% of the energy usage in most households)

3. While some outdoor items can get ruined in the weather, a properly maintained deck can last 30-40 years.

4. Decks have a great return on investment and generally raise property value. According to a U.S. News & World Report article, adding a wooden deck has an 87.4% return on investment. Wooden decks are consistently found on lists of the top home improvements for this reasons.

5. It’s just so relaxing. It’s a wonderful feeling to be out on your deck, sitting in a comfortable chair or chaise lounge, feeling the cool breeze while soaking up the warm rays of the sun.

If that’s enough to convince you, get a deck now and start enjoying summer the right way.

For more information about home improvement projects, contact the experts at Sea Pointe Construction.

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Seven Tips to Modernize Your Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most-used rooms in any house, and one of the areas that can make or break an owner’s satisfaction with their home. If your kitchen feels old and outdated, you won’t enjoy spending time in it nearly as much as if it reflects up-to-date style and features. There are a variety of ways you can modernize your kitchen, from simple fixes to more involved upgrades.

Seven Tips to Modernize Your Kitchen | Sea Pointe Construction Blog

1. New hardware – Replacing old knobs and drawer pulls with new hardware in more contemporary styles and finishes is a fast way to add a splash of modern style. With literally hundreds of choices available, you can easily find an attractive update for your cabinets.

2. Appliances – Your refrigerator doesn’t have to be avocado green to feel like a relic from the past. Replacing your aged appliances can offer benefits beyond sprucing up your kitchen with a modern look, however. Modern appliances are continually improving in energy efficiency and convenient features unavailable even a few years ago, so an upgrade here can lower your utility bills as well as enhancing your enjoyment of your kitchen.

3. Backsplash – A beautiful backsplash can be an attractive backdrop for your kitchen. This is a great place to add an accent of modern tile in contemporary materials, patterns, or textures to show off your personal style.

4. Countertops – The counter is not merely a functional work surface, it is also one of the largest design elements of your kitchen. Replacing your countertop with natural stone, a high-performance manufactured stone, or other innovative modern materials can transform the look of your space.

5. Flooring – You may not think much about the material underfoot when you’re cooking, but changing out the flooring can be a smart choice. New trends in tile design offer a plethora of options for creating a more modern aesthetic. Looks aren’t the only reason to consider updating your floor, however. Materials like tile and stone are sturdier than traditional vinyl or linoleum flooring, offering good long-term value.

6. Cabinets – It isn’t necessary to completely replace your cabinets in order to update them. Existing cabinets can be refinished, or repainted in bright modern colors or contemporary faux finishes. You can even replace the doors on existing cabinets, swapping in more modern finishes and trims or even some glass-front doors on upper cabinets to change up your kitchen’s look.

7. New lighting – This is another area where a modern update can be a wise move to reduce your power bills. Whether you want to replace existing light fixtures with those featuring sleeker lines and more contemporary finishes or you want to install recessed lights to replace outdated overhead fixtures, LED options offer attractive illumination and considerable energy savings.

The win-win of modernizing your kitchen is that you increase your home’s value while you also increase your enjoyment of ownership. If you’d like to find out more about remodeling options that can bring your kitchen into the twenty-first century, contact the experts at Sea Pointe Construction.

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