Return on Investment: Home Remodeling

Now is actually a great time consider a home remodeling project. Given the present market you may be planning to stay in your current home for a few more years and those necessary and just desired upgrades become a daily concern.

Now is actually a great time consider a home remodeling project. Given the present market you may be planning to stay in your current home for a few more years and those necessary and just desired upgrades become a daily concern. With materials prices down and contractors competing for your business, it is the perfect time to get started. Not only that but when the market picks up you will be ready.

“The downturn in the economy has created a good situation for consumers who are positioned to spend,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List (, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews. “A lot of great contractors are looking for work, so they’re willing to negotiate.” More than 60 percent of Angie’s List members indicated in a nationwide, commissioned poll that they’re planning a home improvement project in 2009. Members who reported investing on home improvement projects last year said they spent an average of $15,020, with a median amount spent of $7,500. This year, they plan to spend more ─ $23,450 on average, with a median amount of $8,000.

When planning your remodeling project there are key factors to consider in getting the largest return on your investment. Here are 10 tips to make sure your home remodel works for you and your wallet:

1. Remodel vs. Add-on, the winner is Remodel.

The statistics from Remodeling Magazines 2008-2009 Cost vs. Value Report show that in the current market it pays to remodel or update vs. add on. Bathroom remodels recouped 87.5% of their costs while bathroom additions recouped only 79.6%. Similarly a major kitchen remodel recouped 83.8% of its costs while the addition of a master suite only made back 70.1%.

2. Open up.

Open up space by knocking down walls rather an adding square footage. As we saw above the chances of recouping your costs on an addition fall. Also, with heating and cooling costs on the rise for the foreseeable future homebuyers are looking for usable livable space rather than just high square footage. You can add the feeling of additional square footage by creating an open “great room” with your kitchen/living room/dining room area. This is also a hugely popular floor plan feature for homebuyers today.

3. Invest in quality materials.

Quality materials hold up over the years. Cheaper alternatives can show wear and tear quite quickly requiring you to replace countertops or flooring before resale if you have lived in your remodel for a few years. Well chosen stone, wood, or tile will continue to add value for years to come.

4. Go Neutral.

Those fire-engine red kitchen cabinets you saw in your favorite magazine might be your dream upgrade but how will that translate for future buyers. If you are planning to sell in the near or even just foreseeable future go neutral. This will ensure your remodel doesn’t turn off potential future buyers that don’t share your eclectic taste. The bold touches you crave can still be made with décor that is easily taken with you to your next home.

5. Keep in Style.

Keep your remodel in line with the style of your home. This is similar to the going neutral approach. You may love the idea of a modern kitchen in your French Tudor but future buyers could be wary.

6. In the Bath.

Avoid moving fixtures if you can. Moving plumbing lines can add enormously to a projects costs and potentially lead to future headaches. Add a privacy wall around the current toilet to give some of the value of a private room while avoiding the costs of moving the waste line.

7. Green, Green, Green.

We can’t say it enough. Higher energy prices and greater environment awareness have hugely increased the demand for green home features. Anything that increases home efficiency and lowers energy and maintenance bills is a huge plus and will increase your homes value to future buyers exponentially.

8.  Don’t go overboard.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) any remodeling project that brings your homes value up to the level of your neighbors is a worthy investment. Beware though; it doesn’t necessarily pay to be the most expensive house on the block. Real estate experts recommend that a remodeling investment should not raise the value of your home to more than 10-15% above the median sales price in your neighborhood. If you do too much you could price yourself out of your current area when going to resell.

9. Model after a Model.

Potential buyers will compare your home to new homes on the market. Looking at what new home builders are doing as far as upgrades, layouts, and styles can be a great place to get ideas for your remodel. This way your remodeled home can compete with the new home market for buyers.

10. Bridge the Generation Gap.

Baby Boomers currently own the most housing stock and spend the most in the housing market but Gen Xer’s are just behind them. As Boomers age they will be doing less in the ways of home improvement and will look for homes that have already been upgraded. Gen X are looking to accommodate their growing families. Making your home remodel appealing to both groups can guarantee you the largest market of future home buyers.

And Lastly… Hire the right contractor.

All the planning in the world is for naught if you do not hire the right contractor to do the work. Angie’s List recommends you verify a contractors business license (you can do this at, check references thoroughly (visit a current job site if you can), and get at least 3 different estimates in writing. Ensuring not only the finest craftsmanship but also the right design both aesthetically and functionally for your home requires a contractor with experience to make informed recommendations. Just ask Eric Trawitzki, owner of Midwest Design, “With 15 years in the cabinet business we have seen most everything and each job gives us insight that we put to use with the next.”

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