Rising real estate values are once again encouraging homeowners to take on significant remodeling projects. But it’s important to carefully research and plan a project in order to get a maximum return on investment, experts are warning.
“Careful planning of your home improvement project from start to finish will enable you to update your home, increase the value of your investment and customize your living space,” Mike Arnett wrote for the Houston Chronicle Dec. 12.
According to a Dec. 18 guide published in the Minuteman News Center, the two questions homeowners must ask when they are thinking about remodeling are what the return on investment will be and whether they have the resources to make such an investment worth it. “You have to be very careful about the renovation or remodeling projects you select to avoid over-stretching your budget,” Jason Alderman cautions.
It’s commonly said that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. This is true to an extent, but it sometimes leads owners to believe that they’ll get back their whole investment no matter how elaborate their upgrade. The reality is that while returns for these rooms are higher than those for other rooms on average, return on investment has to do with the individual house in a very specific set of market conditions unique to each neighborhood. That means it’s best to work with local professionals to decide what construction will pay off.
Homeowners might be surprised to know that nationally, the project with the highest average return is replacing an entryway door (96.6% recovery).
Nothing is guaranteed, Alderman warns. “Even in a recovering market, it’s good to be wary. For now, renovate for the long haul and your personal enjoyment, not overnight sale.”
However, this doesn’t mean that homeowners should blindly pour money into projects — you don’t want a “$50,000 kitchen upgrade in a small home where a spruce-up for $10,000 or less would do,” Alderman writes.
Even small improvements can make a big difference; some might even be completed before holiday celebrations put an extra spotlight on kitchens, Vicki Payne wrote for the Seattle Times Dec. 12. “At this point, a new kitchen is clearly not a possibility. But you still have time to refresh yours with a good cleanup, new cabinet hardware and possibly some new glass cabinet-door inserts,” she suggests.
The easiest way to update a dated kitchen, she advises, is to remove the fake plants or display items on top of cabinets that don’t reach all the way to the ceiling. “Nothing says out of date like dusty fake ivy draped across the cluttered tops of your cabinets,” she writes.
And even when making small updates like new cabinet pulls, she recommends spending a few dollars more for higher quality.
“Lower quality kitchen knobs and pulls … tend to have less clearance space, sharper edges, thinner metal and a less-than-stable finish,” she explains. “You can often recognize these by their lack of heft. If they are light in weight in your hand, then they probably will perform as lightweights in your kitchen.”