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Costs for Popular Improvements in Pittsburgh

by Jon Nunan

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While some people might look around their property and find nothing they'd like to change, for most homeowners, there are several projects around the house that are worth considering. The problem for many of us isn't identifying what areas could use improvement, but choosing which are the most cost-effective endeavors. A lot of factors come into play when making a decision like this, and the area you live in is one of the biggest. In Pittsburgh, some home improvements will increase the value of your property and make your home a better place to live in, while others, though they might improve appearances, are better left on the back burner.

Pittsburgh Kitchen Remodeling
No matter where you live in the country, remodeling a kitchen is usually one of the best things you can do for a property. Increasing storage space, or making it more convenient, is never a bad idea and a few new appliances don't hurt either. The real benefit of remodeling a kitchen, however, is a combination of many things. When you have the chance to design one of the most important and highly-used spaces in your house to best meet your specific needs, not only will your kitchen be a nicer place to cook, but it will be easier to clean, and inevitably will make just about any task move more smoothly and efficiently.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, minor kitchen remodels average about $18,000. Major remodels usually come in at about $55,000, and very high-end jobs can cost over $100,000. Staying within your budget is always a concern, and with a job as big as remodeling a kitchen, it's very easy to go over. Make sure to get several estimates, and have a list of the things you absolutely want ready, as you may need to make some compromises along the way to keep prices manageable.

Bathroom Remodels in Pittsburgh
Your bathroom, when you get right down to it, is probably one of the main hubs of your daily life. To be at its best, a bathroom must look good, be easy to clean, have the right amount of storage space, and, of course, function well. Sadly, there are a lot of bathrooms out there that can't meet these criteria, and a few of them in Pittsburgh homes. Especially in older houses, bathrooms lack storage, are often cramped, and many times are simply not set up for modern living. If you have problems with poor water pressure, fluctuating temperatures, unattractive or poorly-functioning fixtures, no place to plug things in, or a definite lack of storage space, it could be time to have some work done.

Bathroom remodels in Pittsburgh average about $13,500 and bathroom additions generally cost a little less than $30,000. What will you get for your money? A remodeled bathroom will function better in just about every way, and will look nicer to boot. Common additions include fixture replacement, shower stall installation, vent or heater installation, and plumbing modification.

Pittsburgh Basement Remodeling
Here's where Iron City residents really get to have some fun. Basement remodeling is one of the most satisfying home improvement projects around because there's so much you can do with the space. It can be converted into a game room, entertainment room, bar area, or even a self-contained living space complete with bath and kitchen. A finished basement might just be the perfect place to watch a Steelers game, and a pool table will fit right in, too.

Pittsburgh basement remodels don't come cheap, however; they average about $58,000 a pop. When compared to the cost of an actual addition, which is easily $80,000 and quite often much more, remodeling a basement makes financial sense. If you don't want to go the whole nine yards, you may simply get your basement water-tight sealed, which is a good idea anyway, for significantly less money to make it a storage space. You can always do more work on it later.

New Asphalt Roofing
Asphalt roofing is the number one choice in the nation. It is found on more than 80 percent of American homes, and is especially popular in cooler climates, like that of Pittsburgh. Its popularity can be attributed to several factors, though probably the biggest of these is its relatively low price tag. It is true that other roofing materials can last longer, but asphalt shingles have a long history in PA, and are not likely to go away anytime soon.

Installing a new asphalt roof in Pittsburgh will cost roughly $15,000. In order to get the longest life out of your new roof, it is a good idea to have it inspected annually. A Pennsylvania winter can cause damage to your roof, so early spring is probably the best time to call for an inspection. It shouldn't cost much, a few hundred dollars at the most, but a roof inspection that catches a small problem before it becomes a large one can end up saving you thousands in repairs and extending the life of your roof for years.

New Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is one of the most popular choices to enhance the exterior of a home. It lasts an extremely long time, it is easy to install, and it's virtually maintenance-free. If you're tired of having your house painted every few years, vinyl siding is an especially good choice. Unlike aluminum siding, vinyl never needs to be painted, and since it's the same color the whole way through, scratches that would be glaring on aluminum siding will be significantly less noticeable on a vinyl-sided house. Additionally, vinyl doesn't dent on impact.

Another reason why vinyl siding is so popular is its relatively low price. In Pittsburgh, vinyl siding generally runs a little under $9,000 installed. Once it's up, all you'll need to do to maintain it is wash it off every once in a while with a garden hose, or have it professionally cleaned with a power washer.

Pittsburgh House Painting (Exterior)
For many homes, the most efficient and direct way to improve appearances is painting. A new coat of paint on the outside of a house can dramatically improve how the property looks, and can make coming home a more pleasurable experience. Depending on how long it's been since its last paint job, a house may require a little more than just a simple slathering. For the best results, old paint that is cracked or chipping must be completely removed, and wood that is damaged must be replaced before several coats of fresh new paint are applied.

The cost of exterior painting is very difficult to estimate as prices vary so much depending on who does the work, the amount of attention the exterior needs, and the quality of the paint that is used. Most of the price of having a house painted comes from labor rather than materials, and it's recommended that the highest quality paint be used. The job will cost a little more, but the results will look better and last longer. Having the exterior of an average-sized house painted can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.

Install a Deck
In Pittsburgh, where summers are short and winters are long, having a deck can really allow you to make the most of those perfect, though few, warm nights. Because decks offer excellent places to entertain or relax, deck installation is one of the most popular home improvements in the country for good reason. The life of a Pittsburgh deck, however, doesn't end when the weather gets cold, so it's important to make sure that you use materials that will hold up to lots of moisture and freezing temperatures.

Relatively new composite and plastic deck materials are designed to have the look of wood without the problems of bowing and rotting that come with many wood species, but varying degrees of quality remain an issue. Another trend in decks is using very hard, durable tropical hardwoods such as Ipe. Ipe is so hard that it needs to be cut with special tools and must be pre-drilled before installation. Installing a deck in Pittsburgh averages about $14,500.

Replace Windows in Pittsburgh
Replacing old windows anywhere in Pennsylvania is usually a good investment. Old windows are drafty and inefficient when it comes to keeping wanted air inside and unwanted air outdoors. They are primary places for heat to escape in the winter, and can be a downright pain to open during the summer.

New windows can significantly reduce heat transfer, which can have an effect on your energy bills during the colder months. They will be easy to operate, and some models are much easier to clean. Pittsburgh prices for installing new wooden windows average $11,000, and vinyl models that never need to be painted are about $1,000 less.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.