Is it just me or does it feel like everyone is remodeling their home these days? I’m a total HGTV addict—on the rare occasion that I have time to relax and turn on the television, I almost always go straight to the remodeling shows. I also follow designers and architects on social media. Not only do I love design and seeing what people with different budgets and in different locations are doing, but we moved into a new home a little over a year ago and I have many dreams about making changes. Remodeling, no matter the size of the project, is an investment, and even if you plan to live long-term in your home, you should always consider the resale value and practicality of your remodel before you move forward. Here are a few key things to consider before jumping into a remodel:
Don’t Remodel with the Goal of Making Money. Unless you’re flipping a house, in which case you’ll need really great industry contacts to do the job and make a profit, don’t make changes with the purpose of getting more than you invested when you sell your house. Sure, there are small updates to make a house more palatable to prospective buyers, like fresh, neutral paint, or replacing old, dated fixtures, but even the changes with the highest return on investment are rarely more than 80%-90%. If you’re remodeling to enjoy the house for yourself, just keep this in mind when setting a budget. If you’re making changes to sell, remember that part of the remodel is cost-effectiveness and part of it is increasing the speed in which you can sell the property and minimizing credits and repairs requested by the buyers.
Think Twice About Quirky Changes. Love the idea of making the guest bedroom into a wine cellar? Want to turn the storage under the stairs into a doggy dream house? You do you, but remember that the average buyer might not want those unique investments, so at resale, you may end up paying again to turn it back into its intended use, or worse, the house may sit on the market if the quirky change is too hard for buyers to imagine in a more practical way. Don’t let resale be the only consideration—it’s your house to enjoy. Just consider the potential cost of restoration or the lost value when you’re making your budget for the space. If you’re likely to enjoy the space for the long term, then it might still be a worthwhile investment for you.
Above all else, choose the kitchen and bathrooms. The average kitchen and bathroom remodel is still likely to provide the best return on investment, at roughly 65%-70%. This doesn’t have to be a gut and remodel. Small changes, such as new hardware, refacing cabinets, and in some cases, new countertops and backsplash, are likely to provide the highest returns. Framing a builder-grade mirror in the bathroom with painted moulding and changing out the light fixture can considerably update the look without ripping out floors and replacing expensive aspects of the bathroom like the tub and shower surrounds. And don’t forget to consider your market. In an average-priced home, don’t waste money on high-end finishes. You’ll never get the return. Even in a high-priced market, you don’t have to choose imported marble to make an impact. There are plenty of higher-end finishes that aren’t earth-shatteringly expensive.
At the end of the day, it’s your house and your investment. These considerations may not be relevant to you if you’re pretty sure you’re going to retire in the house you live in. But they’re worth thinking about before you dive in. Happy remodeling!