Repeat after me: I am the master of my remodel. Perhaps you should say it again, because sadly, it’s not always so. Remodels sometimes have a tendency to develop their own inertia, as decisions lead to new dilemmas, unintended consequences and surprising outcomes. In some cases, these flights of fancy are perfectly acceptable, provided the design and completed execution truly align with the vision and budget.
But if your budget is a concern, and the wise investment of limited home improvement dollars matters, then there are a few basic guidelines you should familiarize yourself with before planning your remodel. Today we review five remodels that typically make good financial sense, providing a nice return on the investment at the time of resale — and five that don’t.
GOOD RESALE VALUE
1. Kitchens. Updating a tired old kitchen is one of the wisest methods, and a tried and true one, 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 your own design aesthetic or the return on your investment.
2. Adding living space. A straightforward addition of a new living room space is typically a very good investment.
3. Curb appeal. You have heard not to judge a book by its cover, but 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.
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 kids don’t need to know).
POOR 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.
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?
3. Wine rooms. Some of the coolest remodels are the least savvy from an investment perspective.
4. Removing features. Do not 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.
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