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mong the various types of home improvements and investments that consumers can make, adding a sunroom or sun porch can offer some of the highest short-term and long-term value. And during a time when housing values generally are not rising, it's a major investment that can offer significant payback to homeowners, because just about any prospective buyer would welcome such a room. A sunroom is an addition built onto a home to allow for as much natural light to flow in as possible. Sunrooms are filled with windows that allow for ample viewing of the outdoor area. Homeowners look to a sunroom as an attractive addition and to add value to their property, according to Paige Wedgle, president and owner of Miles Bradley, Inc., a builder in Farmington Hills that services homeowners throughout southern Michigan and metropolitan Chicago. Wedgle said among the most popular types of sunrooms is a cedar summer room with screens or a three-season room with heavier windows. With cedar sunrooms, homeowners can get a more naturallooking match to their existing home than aluminum, without requiring extra caulking or other types of maintenance. "Some of our customers like the rustic, knotty-pine look that gives their sunroom an Up North feel," Wedgle said. A sunroom built from cedar goes particularly well with a brick home. In that case, most homeowners prefer to stain the wood walls with a solid color, which helps to reduce maintenance while getting another five to eight years before having to stain again. "This type of sunroom offers some low maintenance because you don't have the sun beating down on the floor like on a deck or on the walls because they are vertical," Wedgle said. "You can also wrap the exterior in a composite called Azek, which is an efficient trim that builders are putting on houses. It works well for your sunroom, as well." Sunrooms and porches are a very popular home addition because they offer owners a way to add living space at an affordable price, particularly in this economy, said Lisa Whelan, co-owner of M.J. Whelan Construction in Milford. The rooms are customizable and can be added to many parts of a house, although they are most commonly added off the back, often connected to a family room, breakfast room or kitchen. "It often depends on the direction that the back of the house faces," Whelan said. "If it's facing the south you want to find ways to keep it cool. If it's facing north you will have different treatment of the windows, perhaps including windows surrounding three sides of the sunroom." More and more homeowners are adding a sunroom or porch

underneath a second-floor deck, essentially to act as an extension of a basemen walkout area, according to Whelan. There is a process that builders can implement to seal out any rain or moisture, creating a dry and comfortable environment. M.J. Whelan Construction uses low E glass on most of the sunrooms or porches it builds as a way to keep the atmosphere cool without requiring screens in the summer. Ceiling fans are often added to protect residents and guests from the hot sun. While the majority of sunrooms built in metro Detroit are usable about six months of the year, there are four-season sunrooms available. These include insulation, electricity, heat and weatherproofing so that the room can be enjoyed year-round, even in winter months. "There are many additional upscale features you can add, such as a heated tile floor and insulation that helps the sunroom to be usable throughout much of the year," Whelan said. "You can take steps to make it just about a 12-month room even in the winter, but even without insulation you can use the sunroom for most of the spring and fall." Whelan said these rooms are frequently used for entertainment purposes, so bars and even hot tubs are popular accessories that can be added. Higher-end sunrooms are designed so that they appear to be a natural part of the original home. Whelan said to do so requires a plan to blend it with the architecture of an existing house. Any additions must also comply with setbacks and local ordinances. efore deciding to add a sunroom, homeowners should consider whether they have enough space. After an estimate is provided, some level of excavation, minor demolition and renovation of the property is often necessary. Depending on the condition of the existing site, more time and money can be involved during the installation process. If the structure that the sunroom will be attached to is in poor condition, repairs will need to be completed before construction can begin on the sunroom. Sunrooms are considered home additions, so the homeowner's insurance company should be notified of updates and changes to the property to provide for additional coverage. However, a sunroom likely won't add much, if anything, to the homeowner's insurance costs unless particular amenities like a fireplace or hot tub are added. The process of selecting a design for a sunroom can be complex or simple. The average sunroom on a 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot home might range from 150- to 500-square-feet, depending on the size of the room(s) that it is attached to. The dimensions may be anywhere from 12-feet-by-14-feet to 14-feet-by-17-feet, on average, but can be smaller or larger as space permits.



Accurate Answer Man… Do you have questions about kitchen and bath remodeling projects? Rik Kowall has been a licensed remodeling contractor for over 30 years. Please forward all questions to

Question: My husband and I are considering

putting stone countertops on our existing cabinets. Our kitchen is older and in decent shape, but we’re not real happy with the plan. Can you tell us how we should proceed with this project?

Answer: Before you invest in stone which is a

healthy investment, make sure the cabinets and lay-out work to your advantage. Stone is a lifetime commitment, and can very seldom be taken out and re-used in the same position. Chances are your existing kitchen does not fit the current standards, so make sure your kitchen is updated and in tune before adding a stone countertop. Better to put the project off for awhile, save some money, and replace your cabinetry and countertops simultaneously, so you don’t find yourself working backwards later on.

Accurate Woodworking has the personalized design, quality and service the big chains can’t match! We specialize in kitchen and bath cabinetry, bars, bookcases, fireplace surrounds and entertainment centers. Our manufactured cabinet lines include Pioneer, StarMark and Saco Industries. Let us top off your kitchen or bath with a laminate or solid surface countertop. Feel free to stop by to see our displays, door styles and color samples, or visit our website We are located on M-59 just East of Williams Lake Road. Accurate Woodworking will help you design the kitchen and define your dream. Take advantage of our current promotions by calling 248-666-3755. We look forward to working with you on your future projects.


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“If you’re going to be original, you can count on being copied.” TURN YOUR BBQ INTO AN OUTDOOR KITCHEN



Wedgle said in some cases, a sunroom can replace an existing deck or patio. But most building companies offer an array of flexible design options to meet homeowner needs. he costs of sunrooms or porches can also range significantly. A standard sunroom off the back of a 2,000- to 4,000-square-foot home might start at around $10,000, Whelan said, with prices rising based on the types of amenities and features desired. The most common uses of a sunroom include having an outdoor type of space with a ceiling over it, according to Wedgle. "The biggest reason I see homeowners adding sunrooms is that they want to experience their back yard at night without having to worry about the mosquitoes," Wedgle said. "People like the feeling of being indoors in a three-sided room but have the (air circulation) that makes you feel like you are outside. It's a great opportunity to hang out with your family and spend time together." Some homeowners prefer to wire their sunrooms with electronics such as high-definition televisions, stereo and speaker systems, and video games. "The use of the room can be very flexible," Wedgle said. "Even without (wiring) a room you can use your wireless router and have someone reading, someone on a laptop and someone eating." Sunrooms are generally made from aluminum, but many have wood or vinyl overlay options, which help with decor as well as maintenance to improve the look of the exterior and interior of the room, according to Dave Spencer of Spencer Roofing in Commerce Township. Some of the various types of sunrooms include studio style sunrooms, conservatories, curved roof sunrooms and cathedral roof sunrooms. Studio style sunrooms have a slight slant or pitch of the roof that creates a modern style addition. These are popular for homeowners who want more of a porch-style sunroom. They typically have a glass roof or can be built into the home and utilize the existing roof structure. Conservatories are sunrooms that have a rounded, Victorian-era look. The most expensive of all sunrooms, conservatories are designed with several pieces of treated glass cut intricately to fit the size of the room. Spencer said such a sunroom has a dome or pointed glass roof and often is built with electricity and heated floorboards for year-round enjoyment and use. Curved roof sunrooms are a traditional design that offers glass and views from all angles. Used mostly as a summer recreational room, this sunroom is popular among families who enjoy entertaining. The most popular style of sunroom, the cathedral roof, is the first choice for many homeowners because the glass doesn't completely surround the room floor-to-ceiling. Spencer said such a style provides added privacy. If a budget allows, homeowners generally prefer custom-built


sunrooms. There's the option of having a pre-manufactured sunroom installed, which can be more affordable, but may not appear to naturally match up to an existing home. The added features of a sunroom can vary significantly based on a homeowner's preferences. Ceiling fans are a common feature, particularly for sunrooms that aren't insulted for four-season use. The type of glass used in any windows will depend on which direction the room faces, whether it's for a year-round or threeseason or warn-weather-only sunroom. Whelan said sunrooms that face south, for example, may also require an extra tint to remove some of the sun's glare in the evening. In many cases, any windows installed within sunrooms are of a basic, single-pane option and don't open. Homeowners need to decide if a sunroom is to be a four-season version or one that isn't used much during the cold winter months. Because few sunrooms are connected to a house's central heating and air system, fourseason sunrooms often require heavier glass in the windows. ther sunrooms can become more of a screen room where homeowners use high-quality screens in the late spring, summer and early fall to enjoy the outdoor atmosphere six to seven months out of the year, but aren't worried about spending time in that room during the winter months, making the need for solid windows unnecessary. Glazed windows may be a higherpriced option for three- and fourseason sunrooms because they provide light reflection, allowing the sunroom to stay cooler in the summer months while also protecting carpeting and wood from the sun's rays. A hot tub would also require some type of ventilation system. The bottom line is that homeowners will have to develop a budget and some ideas about what they want their sunroom to be before speaking with a builder or contractor. But the options are relatively endless. Adding a sunroom to a home allows for increased access to your yard and the peace and serenity of outdoors without worrying about being directly impacted by the environment. It's a flexible, affordable option that can add thousands of dollars and years of enjoyment to your home. ❏ — By Mike Scott RESOURCES • Paige Wedgle, Miles Bradley, Inc. 248.478.8660 • Lisa Whelan, M.J. Whelan Construction 248.684.4649 • Dave Spencer, Spencer Roofing 248.926.5800



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Home Design and Improvement, Inside this issue you will find a number of original stories addressing home issues, from trends in decking mat...

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