What renovations add value?

Homeowners have needs that change throughout their lifetime. People get married, start families, get divorced, and downsize. At some point in time, your house may not always fit your needs. Renovating a home can seem like a daunting task. Whether it’s something simple like a fresh coat of paint, or something more significant like knocking down walls, renovations make owners pause and really think about the value of the home. But before you start swinging that hammer, take a look at what adds value to home and what will not. 

Landscaping. It is said that first impressions are everything. Barbara Corcoran, New York real estate mogul, says that buyers form an opinion of your home in the first 8 seconds. 8 seconds! This is why landscaping is at the top of our list of improvements that add value to your home. For existing landscaping, it is important that it is well-maintained. Trim those shrubs and pull weeds. Consider adding color through flowers (annuals or perennials) or other native plants. Pine straw and mulch are both popular options for the beds as well. Create a walkway with stepping stones or poured concrete. Spending between $1,000 to $3,000 can make a noticeable difference and usually gives you more than a 100% return. 

Kitchen remodel. The kitchen is the heart of the home, so getting this right is important. A minor kitchen remodel consists of re-facing cabinets, updating finishes and fixtures, and updating flooring. White cabinets all are the rage right now. If you’re not sold on white (or have a family and know they won’t stay clean), consider going gray or using two colors – black / gray cabinets on the lower cabinets and white on the upper cabinets. Marble and granite counter tops with coordinating back splashes are impressive, but quartz is also a comparable and more affordable option that still has a high-end look. Choosing new fixtures is perhaps the most fun part of the renovation. Pendant lights over an island with recessed lighting throughout along with hardware on cabinets are small touches that buyers will most definitely notice. Just like landscaping, a kitchen remodel of around $15,000 can give homeowners a 100% return on money spent. Keep in mind, this is for a minor remodel only, which means the remodel stays within the original footprint. If you plan on doing a major kitchen remodel (knocking down walls for open concept, reconfiguring the layout that requires moving plumbing) is not only more expensive, but can reduce the rate of return. If your kitchen needs a major overhaul, you will still make a 90-93% rate of return.

Bathrooms. Bathroom renovations are similar to the kitchen remodels. Minor renovations that include new fixtures, new flooring, and updated vanities are a 100% return. If you complete a major renovation where the bathroom layout changes or you expand a space (because you really need an en-suite for the master bedroom), the return is still high at around 90%. 

Replacement windows. We are currently renovating a 1950s ranch-style home. One of the first things we updated were the windows. They were single-pane with metal frames and original to the house. They were also not energy efficient. Replacing the windows not only gave a fresh look, inside and out, it has made heating and cooling cost more affordable. Although absolutely necessary in older homes, the return on replacement windows is between 85%-89% return on your investment. 

Building systems. So often on the renovation shows there are issues with the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. Whether they are old and not functional, incorrectly installed, or need to be relocated due to rearranging the layout, buyers typically won’t see the added value. Buyers want to see what they are getting and these are not always visible. Sure, those upgrades might have been necessary, but don’t expect to get a huge return back when you sell your home. These renovations are the costs of living and maintaining.  

As you move forward with your renovations, remember to consideration how long you’ll be staying in your home, the current style and design, and your budget. Building contingency funds into your budget will help protect against unexpected costs. And talk to a real estate agent about the current value of your home to identify what renovations would be best for your property.

In a future post, we’ll explore completing renovations yourself or hiring a contractor.

Living through a home renovation is like living in the wild…you do whatever it takes to survive. – Unknown

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