We all have great ideas about how to improve our houses - whether it's the existing home we live in or one we've bought with renovation in mind. But if your budget is a concern, and the wise investment of limited home improvement dollars matters, then there are a few basic guidelines to think about before planning your remodel. From our friends at Houzz.com, here are 5 remodels that typically make good financial sense - and 5 that usually don't.
Good Resale Value
1. Kitchens. Updating a tired old kitchen is one of the
wisest methods of increasing the value of your home. When planning a kitchen remodel, and making design decisions and selections for plumbing fixtures, appliances, cabinets and countertop materials, you should determine whether you are prioritizing for your own design aesthetic or for the return on your investment. Understand which is your priority, or strike a balance between the two that you can feel good about.
For example, using the existing kitchen layout and affordable cosmetic materials is a sure way to keep the cost of your kitchen remodel manageable. When you start tearing out walls, bumping out the exterior home footprint to gain a few feet, and moving plumbing fixtures and appliances, the cost of the remodel will jump and your dollars will be less efficiently spent.
2. Adding living space. A straightforward addition of a new living room space is typically a
very good investment. Newly added square footage equals increases in your home’s value. There are certain costs that will be associated with your addition regardless of the size. New square footage will require the demolition of existing exterior walls, a new foundation, a new roof, new exterior siding and probably new windows. If you are going to incur these expenses, it’s important to get some bang for your buck. It’s important that the added room is sized so that the space can be efficiently produced.
3. Curb appeal. You've heard not to judge a book by its cover; smart money recognizes the cover’s value. Your front elevation is more than just a first impression. It’s the only impression available to just about all of your home’s potential buyers. The good news is that there are a number of very affordable projects that can improve curb appeal, and some more extensive improvements that can likely payoff as well.
Simply cleaning out overgrown brush and making a few new planting additions to your landscape can go a long way toward improving curb appeal at a very low cost. Repainting is another lowcost, high impact improvement. Costlier changes such as changing out old windows or an aged entry door are things that potential buyers will notice and value. Even more extensive front elevation remodels, such as added dormers and front porches, can prove wise from an investment standpoint.
4. Master suites. Sorry, kids. Home buying decisions are in the hands of adults, and adults care about the environment where they sleep. Updating a master bedroom or remodeling and adding a new master suite is money well spent. The buyers will picture themselves living in their private space, and it’s of quantitative value when they like what they see.
5. Bathrooms. Home buyers notice bathrooms, and although all the bathrooms are important, a priority should be placed on the powder room and master bath, followed by a guest bathroom and any other secondary baths. The same rules apply to a bathroom remodel as to the kitchen. Cosmetic changes are safer from an investment standpoint than modifications involving changed layouts or minor additions, which can result in inefficient expenses.
Poorer Resale Value
1. Kids’ spaces. No, this is not straight from the Grinch himself. Yes, if your kids have a climbing wall, the fantastic addition will probably lead to hours of fun, increased strength and perhaps even a sense of accomplishment for your kids. It’s a fine idea, and like a pool slide, might even be a childhood dream come true. But there is no assurance your home buyer will feel the same way. That rock climbing wall, which my own kids would flock to, might actually represent a negative value to a buyer who sees this space as his man cave.
2. Pools. The National Swimming Pool Foundation estimates that there are more than 10 million swimming pools in the United States. Can 10 million pool owners possibly be wrong? Backyard pools are loved by millions, and while this appreciation is well founded, they should be constructed for their many virtues that are not investment related. A pool might increase the value of your home but is unlikely to pay for itself, as some buyers will perceive the pool as a negative maintenance expense.
3. Wine rooms. Some of the coolest remodels are the least savvy from an investment perspective. The sellers might very well get lucky and find a buyer who loves wine as much as they do, but the design wouldn’t appeal to someone who does not love wine. Original designs rarely appeal to everyone, so when adding spaces to a home you know you will sell, consider how personal it is and if others will feel as strongly as you do.
4. Removing features. Don't remove features for investment reasons. If you never use the fireplace in your basement, removing it might make perfect sense to you and your family. Just make sure you understand that the next homeowner might wish it were still there, and the money you spent demolishing the fireplace and reworking the space will not be reclaimed.
5. Minor additions. Adding a few square feet — say, to expand a bathroom or secondary bedroom —
is rarely money well spent. The reason is simple. If you bump out a bedroom wall by a few feet,
you might make that bedroom much more comfortable. That benefit alone might make it worthwhile in your circumstance. But the cost of all the added elements, including foundation, roof, framing and drywall, will result in only a small gain in square footage.
These tips aren't intended to dissuade you from pursuing any specific remodel idea. Whether you
plan to add a sunroom off the rear of your home or a little space for your cherished memorabilia collection, the decision is yours to make. Just be sure you consider the pros and cons of the potential investment value for each dollar spent. J&M Construction can help you evaluate your wish list, and turn it into a design for your remodel or renovation that makes good financial sense for you and your family's budget.