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Beautiful On The Outside Means Curb Appeal

08/23/2012 09:13AM ● Published by ALS Editor

The Ardizone home is a neighborhood jewel after all the work the family has done to update the charming 1950s cottage.

Gallery: Ardizone Home Photos Before & After [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Barbara Gautreaux

Mark and Kristine Ardizone of New Iberia created a new outside look for their 1950s country cottage. Except for the roofing, the driveway and the brick steps, the couple did all the work themselves. They moved across town in 2005 to rent this Indest Street house,before making a decision about buying a home. A couple of years later, the landlord asked them if they wanted to buy the house; they decided they loved the area and the home could be updated. Mark and Kristine’s design has transformed the porch and yard of this fixer-upper into an entrance anyone would love to come home to.

Planning And Design - Necessary To Remodel

The experts say that investment in the family home is by all standards the most satisfying financial move you can make. Besides the comfort, pride and convenience issues, there is always the matter of protecting the investment and resale value of the property.

The Ardizones entered into home improvement knowing they would be supplying their own free labor. This “sweat equity” is a popular way to add value-enhancing improvements at a fraction of the cost compared to hiring a professional. The term is based on the fact that such equity is considered to be generated from the “sweat of one’s brow.”

Kristine says watching Home &Garden television is one of her hobbies and Mark says he asks friends and professionals for their ideas and opinions. “We are learning on the fly. I ask a lot of questions before we start, and it doesn’t always help,” he says.

“In older houses you will have problems. There always has to be a Plan B,” says Kristine. “You have to be patient.”

The couple has been working to remodel the porch and yard area for the past two years and in that time they have remodeled or installed a new roof, driveway, sidewalk, fence, columns,front door, porch steps, porch light, shutters, window glass, wood siding, new sod and landscaping. They have leveled the house and applied gallons of paint.

They elected to keep elements that would have been price prohibitive to change, such as the wood window frames.

“It was important to keep the character of the house,” says Kristine. “I like contemporary styles, and you can see that with the columns. I tried to keep the design elements there, and I was constantly telling Mark that we need it this way or that way, to try to pull the look all together.”

Both the Ardizones and their son Hunter say it has been hard to work, go to school and live a normal life while doing all the work required on the remodel. Mark is employed with Arceneaux Ford, Kristine is a teacher at John Hopkins Elementary School, and Hunter will enter seventh-grade this month. “You do burn out,” says Mark. “You can’t keep going all the time. We did most of the work from early spring to early summer.”

“One of the hardest things to deal with is the weather,” says Kristine. “It is either extremely cold, raining or100 degrees!”

Their home improvement has included permits from the City, privacy and security issues and color schemes, all things that need to be considered for a successful remodel.

Growing & Changing - Part Of  Transformation

Homeowners may be worried they do not possess the skills needed for completing home improvement tasks correctly. For those people, the experience of Mark and Kristine home remodel is a tale of personal growth. They went from no experience, to being able to take a picture of an improvement they wanted and building it from scratch.

“When we started I had a crescent wrench and a screwdriver,” says Mark. “Now I have every tool known to man.”

“I made the shutters,” says Kristine. “From the same wood and stain as the columns.” While creating their new design, the family learned how to work together and how to accomplish what needed to be done. They built their fence by taking a photograph of a fence at a local business, and then bringing the image with them to the home improvement store. “It is less frustrating if we have a picture,” says Kristine.

The Ardizones purchased their supplies from Coastal Timbers, Hebert’s Lawn & Garden, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Doug Ashy Building Materials.

“If Kristine is outside standing on the sidewalk, looking at the house, I know a new project is coming,” says Mark.

The Ardizones say most people can save money on home remodels by doing the demolition, landscaping and clean-up work their selves, if nothing else.

“For the landscaping, I was able to have Richard at Hebert’s Lawn & Garden make a planting design. He tells you what to buy and gives you a printout of what to plant, based on your favorite colors, how much of the yard is in shade, and what will do well in your yard.” Hebert charges $50 for the planning service, but the Ardizones received in return a $50 gift certificate. Again, Kristine was able to save money by doing the labor herself. “The yard was a big addition, with the fresh sod, and now Mark is out there every day taking care of the sod.”

Bank On Home Improvements

Kenny LeJeune, vice president at Community First Bank in New Iberia, says he works everyday making commercial and consumer loans. Now is the time most people look for a loan, he says, when long summer days are filled with recreation and home improvement projects. LeJeune says borrowing against the equity of the home can be a good investment. “It is always a good investment to invest in the improvement of your home,” says LeJeune. “That investment is really never a negative. You need to maintain your home to maintain its value.”

Market trends for home prices in Youngsville and Lafayette have shown upticks and small down swings for an area from the 70503 zip code to the 70529. In New Iberia, according to LeJeune, home prices have held their own. “The value of a home is determined by what similar homes in the area have sold for. It is not what you want for the house but what someone will pay for it.”

What is the favorite remodel that you've done on your house or a previous house and why? Let us know below.
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