Home Renovations That Pay

So you've decided to brave the dust and dirt and inconvenience - not to mention the expense - of a renovation project

If it's because you've always wanted a basement family room or extra bath and it will enhance your quality of life, go right ahead. But if you are planning to sell soon and think the renovation will increase the resale value of your home, hold on.

Studies suggest that most renovation projects do in fact increase the price of the home at resale. However, the increase is typically less than the cost of the project.

According to Hanley-Wood LLC's 2004 Cost vs. Value Report, homeowners recouped:

  • 85 percent of the cost of an upscale bathroom addition when they sold their homes, and 90 percent of a more modest one.
  • 80 percent of the cost of an upscale kitchen renovation, and almost 79 percent of a more modest one.
  • 76 percent of the cost of a basement remodel (including large entertainment area, full bath and one additional bedroom-sized room).
  • About 77 percent of an upscale master bedroom suite, and 80 of a more modest one
  • 86 percent of a deck addition.

This report contradicts the common wisdom that kitchen and bathroom renovations pay for themselves, while basement renovations don't. It also suggests that you should renovate primarily for your own enjoyment and accept that your project will pay for itself only partially when you sell.

One thing the report doesn't take into account is how renovations affect the marketability of your home. Real estate agents say that a gleaming kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances, cork or hardwood flooring, stone countertop and lots of cupboard space can sell a house the instant a prospective buyer sees it. Conversely, a cramped, ill-lit kitchen with outdated linoleum and harvest gold appliances might actually scare buyers away. It screams money pit.

Bathrooms are another big draw. Both quantity and quality count. A house with two or three baths with quality fixtures and finishes will sell much faster than the same house with one bathroom with moldy grouting and ancient fixtures.

If you can't afford to renovate, update and refresh key rooms instead. Replacing an old countertop, repainting cupboards and walls and installing new door pulls and lighting can make a big improvement in your kitchen for a very modest price. Similar touches increase the appeal of older bathrooms, too.

Fresh paint throughout your home is another low-cost, high-return project - it makes everything look cleaner and brighter, and buyers love a house they won't have to redecorate immediately.

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Surround yourself with qualified professionals, starting with an architect and a general contract, who can guide you through the addition process. Know what you want and what you're able to spend and save the changes for the finish phase of the addition. Get the details in writing and be prepared for some disruptions and delays along the way.

We're all familiar with the general stages of remodeling and construction. Everyone knows about the framing and the sheetrock and the plaster. Those are all the fun stages when you see a lot of progress quickly and when as a homeowner you are still enrapt with the emerging spaces and the new form your home is taking.

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Generalizing the cost of home additions is a lot like trying to identify an elephant blindfolded.

Sometimes you know you are going to renovate even before purchasing a home; you can see the possibilities of a property and the asking price is right.

A mobile home is an inexpensive option for many people. When you decide you need more room, mobile home additions could be a money saving solution.

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