Cover all the bases now to ensure many years of satisfaction with your full renovation, second-story addition or bump-out
1. Consider water. Don’t add bathrooms without looking carefully at your water supply lines and the capacity of your water heater. A smaller tank or one with lengthy recovery times may not meet your needs.
This is especially true if you select a new 80-gallon soaking tub and you have a 50-gallon tank. Consider a separate tankless or tank heater for your second story, or a larger tank with a recirculation pump that keeps hot water right at your taps.
Also consider how large your street-side water supply lines are. If you add enough fixtures, the plumbing code may require you to upgrade to a larger supply line. And if you still have galvanized piping, this is probably the time to take it all out.
3. Deaden the sound. While your friends will not be able to admire all that pretty insulation in your walls, they will be relieved to not hear what’s going on in the powder room since you insulated all the walls with sound insulation. You can choose from Rockwool insulation, sound board or drywall specifically designed to deaden sound transmission through wall cavities. Using resilient channels in ceilings can also help stop sound transmission from one floor or room to another. You may also want sound insulation around your laundry room and media room and in shared bedroom walls.
4. Avoid the waterfall noise. Decorative waterfalls are soothing in a backyard, but not when you hear them running through your walls. Plastic waste pipe in walls — insulated or not — can create the very audible sound of falling water. This is not an issue when the pipes run into an unfinished basement, but when you add a second story, those waste lines come down through one or more main floor walls. Upgrading to cast iron waste pipes will go a long way toward making them invisible to the ear.
5. Invest in quiet exhaust fans. They are required by code in many locations, generally where you have running water. But if you intend to regularly use your exhaust fans, invest in quiet ones. A loud fan can be audible and even shake the floor in which it is installed.
Consider carefully how you will use your fans and make the most frequently used ones as quiet and low vibration as possible. Consider timers for them too, or humidistats, which measure the humidity in the air and turn the fans off when they reach their set level. Motion-sensor fans are also an option.
9. Don’t be short sighted. We have had clients ask for baby gates installed permanently on their beautiful custom-built railings. We have had families with toddlers convinced they need adjacent bedrooms, not looking ahead to the teen years and the desire for separate bedrooms. You’re investing a lot of money and time on your remodel, so make sure it will last longer than the current phase your family is going through.
When planning for a lifetime home, think about grab bars, accessibility and universal design — if not for yourselves, then for older adults who may visit. An accessible home is also valuable for resale.