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home>>family>>home & decor 3>>enhance your lifestyle

A Home Improvement Project that Will Enhance Your Lifestyle


(ARA) In the wintertime, people stay inside to avoid the cold. In the springtime, we venture out once again; but before you know it, the bugs will be back with a vengeance and people will be running for cover again.

Not Marci Zod of Abington, Pa.. She goes outside anytime she feels like it. "Probably because I can enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of my backyard sunroom," she says.

Marci and her husband, Neil, decided to add a sunroom to their home about three years ago. They were inspired by a neighbor who had built one. "We have a beautiful backyard, but never really took the time to enjoy it until we added the sunroom because it wasn't practical," says Marci. "All we had back there was a tiny concrete deck big enough for a chair or two and a grill; and since I hate bugs, I never wanted to go back there. Now that we have the sunroom, I can enjoy the outdoors any time I want."

Industry experts estimate that more than half-a-million new sunrooms are built in this country each year. Some people put them up to expand their living space; others, like the Zods, so they can enjoy the backyard all year-round. "It's my favorite place in the house," says Marci. "We've hosted sit-down dinners in the sunroom, my kids have had parties out there, and I go out there just about every day to sit and relax."

Sunrooms are enjoying increasing popularity for a variety of reasons. "With Americans spending more time at home, home improvements have increased; and with a lower cost of construction than traditional additions and a higher valuation, adding a sunroom is a smart move that assures an excellent return on investment," says Andrew Stone, president of Craft-Bilt Manufacturing in Souderton, Pa. The company, in existence since 1946, is the manufacturer and distributor of Betterliving Patio & Sunrooms.

Depending on your needs and the options you choose, the cost of building and installing a sunroom can range from $8,000 to $50,000 and up, for an elaborate project. Because it's such a big investment, deciding what company to go with is an important decision.

Here are some important things to keep in mind when shopping around:

1. Look for a company that stands behind both its product and installation. You want to choose a company that uses its own factory trained employees to install the room -- not subcontractors. If the sunroom is not put together properly, the roof could leak, or the doors and windows may not operate properly.

2. Make sure the sunroom is fully engineered and has been tested to meet local building codes. No matter what state you live in, the structure must be able to meet or exceed local building codes, have a building permit, and pass inspection.

"Our company has put up more than 1,000 sunrooms in and around Jacksonville and during last summer's hurricanes, we only had four instances where roofs suffered puncture damage from limbs punching through them. No one lost any windows. None of the structures blew down. We're very proud about that," says Michael Kaufman, owner of Betterliving by Suntastic, Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla.

3. Work with a company that is willing to pull the permit for you. If you don't have one, you will not be able to sell your house in the future until you get one.

4. Avoid companies that only offer short warranty periods. Instead, find a company that stands behind its product and will be there to offer support if a problem arises months or even years after your purchase.

5. Look for a company that offers a wide range of styles and options, including three season patio rooms, year-round sunrooms, and glass conservatories. The company should also have staff members available that will work with you to build the sunroom or patio of your dreams.

"I consider getting a sunroom the best thing we've ever done. It's part of the house but every time I go out there, I'm transported someplace else. It's like going on vacation everyday," says Zod.

For more information about Betterliving Sunrooms, or to order a catalog, tape or DVD, log on to www.betterlivingsunrooms.com.

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Courtesy of ARA Content
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