Home & Garden: Spring is the season to remodel | PostIndependent.com

Home & Garden: Spring is the season to remodel

Doug Van Etten
Free Press Real Estate Columnist

Q. We have looked up and down our street over the past two years, and the prices sellers have received (and prices owners tried unsuccessfully to receive for their homes) make us want to stay here for now. With that in mind, we are thinking it might be a good time to remodel; but, we want to be sure we do not over spend and get in a deeper financial hole. Please help us create a good remodeling strategy.

A. It is so good to hear a home owner wants to develop a strategy for a remodel. There are many things to think about regarding your house, your preferences, the neighborhood where the house is located and your timeline, among maybe others.

There are many websites that will give you cost versus value or dollar return on your remodel costs. A few of the most typical remodel or addition calculations include these examples:

• Bathroom remodel estimated cost $15,000, adding $10,000 value or a 66 percent return on your remodeling investment.

• A major kitchen remodel can cost you $50,000 and is expected to increase the home value by about $38,000, or a 76-percent return on your investment.

• Adding a deck (less cost and more return value for a wood deck than a composite material deck) can cost $9,000-$15,000, with a 70-80 percent expected return.

You can go online to find details on any project you want to consider.

Next I want to talk about strategy development.

Why do you want to remodel? Does something not function and you want to replace it? Did you see something you like at a home show or friend’s home? Are you thinking that changing or adding something will increase your sales price when you go to sell in a few years? Or maybe elements of the house are old or “dated,” and you want to upgrade for that reason?

All of these and others are valid reasons to remodel, though you have to think about which ones apply to you. From the examples above you can see there are no remodel jobs that can be expected to return your investment money in terms of sales-price increase on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

With that in mind, my frequent suggestion to home owners is three to five years before you plan to sell, remodel or add what will make you the happiest or add the greatest desired function. You’ll get the pleasure and utility from the changes you’ve made and you have, in effect, amortized part of the expenditure. If you make costly changes more than these suggested few years before sale, you risk creating a dated or shop-worn look, rather than nearly new and desirable to a home buyer.

When you think about, let’s say, doing a kitchen remodel, consider the whole house at that time and how the kitchen will “fit in.” As much as you might want to change out the old coil-top electric stove for a smooth-top glass electric or top-of-the-line gas stove (and install granite counter tops and tile flooring), how will all those upgrades look in relation to the whole house? I think you get the point here — if you only plan to do one room or a limited part of the house, stay within sort of the same “quality category,” even though what you put in will be new. In other words, if the rest of the house is both “contractor grade” finish and old, do not over do the quality of the upgrade. One example of how to balance this might be to change out the kitchen vinyl flooring, along with the bathrooms and maybe even the laundry room to match the quality.

One more point we will consider here as part of your strategy is comparing your house to the neighborhood. We have all heard it said it is best to not be the most expensive house in the neighborhood at sales time. That also goes for your remodeling.

GJ Free Press columnist Doug Van Etten is a local Realtor with Keller Williams Colorado West Realty. He has been helping buyers, sellers and investors with their real estate needs since the early 1990s— first in Anchorage, Alaska, and for the last three years in the Grand Valley. To submit a question for this column or for your personal real estate needs, contact Van Etten through his website http://www.ComeHomeGrandJunction.com.

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