Originally Published: July 10, 2009 8:54 p.m.
Prescott native Linda Rodarte retired three years ago from a 36-year career with the Salt River Project and moved in with her mother, Henrietta, in a house on Gail Gardner Way.
Her mother had owned the 1,200-square-foot house for 40 years, and wanted to stay put because she likes her neighbors and nearby shopping, Rodarte said. However, the house had two small bedrooms and only one bathroom.
Instead of moving into a larger home, Rodarte said she decided to hire a contractor to remodel it. After consulting several contractors, she hired Chuck Merritt of the DeCarol Co. of Prescott to add a master bedroom suite that includes a bedroom, bathroom and a closet. She also added a craft room for her rubber-stamping hobby, bringing the additional square footage of the remodeling job to 650.
"I am extremely pleased" with the remodeling, Rodarte said. "Everything turned out the way I wanted it. And working with the contractor was very easy."
Keeping within a budget, Rodarte said, "There were things that we cut out like the Jacuzzi bathtub. I did the inside painting on the house to save money."
Rodarte and other homeowners in the tri-city area are learning the advantages of remodeling existing homes.
"It's usually costs less money to remodel a home," Merritt said. "You don't have to pay the high-end fees for water and sewer. You don't have any impact fees."
Homeowners also can increase the value of their home. And if they plan carefully and choose the right contractor, they can save money on remodeling projects, contractors said.
Homeowners can keep their costs lower by preparing a cohesive plan, said Janet Bussell-Eriksson, owner of Bussell-Eriksson Designer Homes in Prescott.
"If you (as a contractor) spend time with a client to set the scope of work, this way you can establish the budget," Bussell-Eriksson said. "The key is to make sure that they tell you everything they want you to do."
She continued, "If somebody only has $5,000 to spend on the remodel of their kitchen, we can spend the money on the best way possible to give them a new look." Contractors also can save homeowners money by qualifying for sales tax exemptions on building supplies, and obtaining preferred rates from subcontractors, said Dee Brown, office manager of Craftwood Builders in Prescott.
Brown said homeowners who try to cut costs by doing remodeling work on their own might neglect to obtain building permits or inspections because of ignorance on their part.
"Anything that changes the structure of a house," including plumbing and electrical work, requires permits and inspections, Brown said.
Homeowners can save money by specifying to contractors that they want energy-saving appliances, said Lloyd Love, owner of LUVCO Construction in Prescott.
"If you can, research your contacts to determine any kind of appliance or product to make it more efficient," he said.
Love also cautions hiring the contractor who submits the lowest bid might not be a wise choice at all times.
"A lot of times when you save money you get an inferior product," he said. "It's not always best to strictly focus on price. I would not suggest that people look for the cheapest way out."
Love, Bussell-Eriksson, DeCarol and Craftwood belong to the Yavapai County Contractors Association in Prescott.
For more information, call the YCCA at 778-0040.