Proper home renovations can add money on resale. But home renovations can be expensive. How do you know which renovations will return that cash when you sell? Seasoned real estate agents and contractors know the answer to this question, so I asked them.

“Cost overruns are common,” said one contractor. “No matter how well we budget, we always find something that complicates the job, or the owner changes his mind about something. It’s like building a custom home; there are surprises.”

“So what you’re saying is that a homeowner looking to renovate needs to plan carefully?” I asked.

“Exactly. Do your research before you dive. We see a lot of people diving excited about, say, breaking down a wall to open things up and then finding out that the replacement structure is very expensive.”

A real estate agent told me: “Homeowners need to reconsider a new wallpaper project. Wallpaper looks great for about three months and then it’s out of date. I hear potential buyers say, ‘We’ll have to cut that paper.’ , almost every time I see flower wallpaper in a tutorial. It’s negative. “

Another element is when a homeowner tears down a wall to expand a master bedroom by removing the adjoining bedroom. “Sure, the master is glorious and wonderful, but now on resale you have a two-bedroom house instead of a three-bedroom house. Trust me, this will lower the value of the house, even if you have three bathrooms,” said the realtor. estate.

Another contractor said: “Turning a two-car garage into a family room is a renovation project we got that will cost more than you think, and reselling doesn’t add much. Any window, most code inspectors won’t allow as well. you can use it as a bedroom. And people like garages. “

The only mistake I saw a lot when I was a home inspector was that the owners decided to do the renovation work themselves. I’m not saying that qualified people shouldn’t participate and do some or all of the work, but make sure that you are truly qualified. Sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know. DIY renovations can be quite obvious and unappealing to home buyers.

An example was a bathroom in a house where the owner had installed all the fixtures himself. Incorrect plumbing traps, fixtures and fittings were used, the hot water line went to the toilet (they didn’t notice), and three faucets were slow leaking. Buyers liked the home but balked at a $ 1,500 estimate to fix everything to code in that “exclusive” bathroom.

“I’ve seen people spend a lot of money on a very fancy and fancy kitchen. While they really liked it, when they went to sell they only got around 20% of that cost back. The reason was that the house just wasn’t there. price or in an area with other houses that would have that kind of improvement. So tell your readers to do a full analysis before they decide to spend a lot of money on the kitchen, unless they stay home. “

The lesson here is this: research and planning are essential if you want to renew. Find out what the return on investment is (the internet, contractors, and real estate agents can help) before you begin, and get at least three proposals before you begin.

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