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Master bedroom suite

Costs: On average, $69,173, according to 2002 figures from Remodeling magazine, an industry publication.

Value added: 75 percent of the remodeling dollar comes back at resale, according to Remodeling.

Popularity as a remodel target: When asked what they'd remodel if money was no object, 7 percent of homeowners wanted to remodel or enlarge a bedroom, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders.

New trends: Rooms have a lot more space, with sitting areas and big closets, dressing areas and even snack areas. "This is not your grandparents' bedroom anymore," says Rich Trethewey, plumbing expert for the PBS series "This Old House." Homeowners are knocking out walls to an adjoining bedroom to create a larger suite, add a closet or enlarge the bathroom.

In the main area, look for: recessed lighting, Internet access, entertainment systems and remote control ceiling fans and lighting.

In the master bath, hot items include: a giant tub or shower with multiple spray features, extra vanities, extra outlets, heated towel racks and heated flooring. Also, countertops in solid surface materials and granite.

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Features to consider: "If you're going to renovate, how do you get the most bang for the buck," says Tom Silva, general contractor for "This Old House."

If two people are sharing a master suite, consider putting closets and bath on one side of the suite, in close proximity so that one partner can dress without disturbing the other, says M M "Mike" Weiss, certified graduate remodeler and chairman of the Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders. Also, if you or your partner is on the tall side, think about raising some or all of the counters.

Remodeling suggestions and helpful hints: "Start early in the process picking, or looking at, fixtures and things you want," says Don Sever, certified remodeler, and marketing committee chairman for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Too many times, homeowners wait until the design is complete, then decide they don't want a standard-size tub or shower. "And the price goes up because they are paying for the design twice." The moral: Have a good idea early on of what you want.

And don't neglect the closets, says Julius Lowenberg, president of NARI. Often, homeowners craving a large suite will sacrifice the closet -- or the area simply becomes an afterthought. Instead, "plan your closet carefully for your style of living," he says. Consider: his-and-hers closets, shoe racks, pullout drawers and shelving.

New products: Mini-meal stations that include built-in cabinets, coffee makers, toasters and even small dishwashers. Also convenience lighting, stereo systems and televisions or fireplaces in the bathroom.

Special problems: What's the average number of bedrooms in your neighborhood? And how will it affect your home value if you suddenly go from a three-bedroom house to a two-bedroom?

"If it's well-planned, that can be the selling point of your house, as well as anything else you redo, because you can make it a focal point," says Mark A. Brick, president-elect of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Biggest mistake: Enlarging the suite without enlarging the closet. "[And] a lot of times they just don't put in enough light [in the main area]," says Lowenberg.

Also, not thinking things through before you buy, says Brick. Too many times, homeowners in search of a "good deal" end up with something they can't use.

Professional or DIY: "To tackle a master suite or a master bathroom, or any major project, you don't have the expertise to do it," says Lowenberg. Plus, do you really have the spare time?

Deciding to act as your own contractor can present a whole new set of problems. "I think the biggest disappointment the do-it-yourselfer will run into is trying to get [a subcontractor] on a timely basis," says Darius Baker, certified remodeler and a committee vice chairman for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. "A homeowner will not get the attention, time-wise, [from subcontractors] that a contractor will" because the homeowner is a one-time job, while a contractor provides work regularly.

-- Posted: April 7, 2003


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