Overdue Upgrades

Remodeling >

Image caption: Finishing the basement is a great way to increase the amount of living space in the home and increase a home’s value. Image courtesy HomeAdvisor

Home improvement is hot this year. In fact, almost three out of five homeowners expect to invest in a home upgrade project in 2018 – with 45 percent planning to spend at least $5,000 – a new Harris poll indicates. And recent research from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reveal that homeowners will fork over $340 billion on repairs and improvements this year, a 7.5 percent increase from 2017.

So why is remodeling all the rage? Dan DiClerico with HomeAdvisor attributes this trend to several factors.

“A doubling of homeowner equity in the past five years means homeowners have the means and motivation to invest more in their homes,” says DiClerico, who notes that fresh HomeAdvisor data show a 57 percent increase in spending on home improvement, repairs and maintenance in the last 12 months. “Also, millennials are coming into the market in droves. They’ve been the largest homebuying cohort for the last few years, and they’re purchasing a lot of older homes that need considerable work. Plus, the dearth of homes for sale is motivating a lot of people, including older Americans, to renovate rather than move.”

Experts continually say that the safest renovation bets are new and improved kitchens or bathrooms, which traditionally yield the highest return on investment. But Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report found that these renovated rooms are recovering fewer dollars than in the past: a midrange major kitchen or bath remodel recouped 63.6 and 72.5 percent of their costs, respectively. Compare that to a garage door replacement, steel entry door replacement, or wood deck addition, which recouped 98.3, 91.3, and 82.8 percent, respectively.

Which goes to show: it’s best to choose remodeling projects carefully and pay attention to areas in need of TLC besides the bath and kitchen.

“Even if you’re not in a rush to sell, it’s important to keep your home updated so it retains its value, particularly when it comes to exterior maintenance,” says Heather Meiner, brand manager for Overhead Door in Lewisville, Texas, who recommends devoting remodeling dollars to exterior projects that increase your home’s curb appeal. “Replacing the garage door, for example, will earn you more than double the return of other popular remodeling projects, such as a master suite addition or a backyard patio.”

Irena Skoda, Long Island city, N.Y.-based principal and design architect, suggests putting money into making your home’s envelope airtight by installing triple-glazed windows, additional insulation, weather stripping and more.

“This will minimize the risk of mold and provide better ventilation to improve comfort and indoor air quality,” says Skoda.

Enhancing your outdoor living space can increase comfort and resale value, too.

“Building a deck can increase your living space without the full-blown expense of a room addition,” says DiClerico. “Try to leave room in the budget for an adequate lighting plan, which will make the deck usable and safe after the sun goes down.”

Tara Dawn, owner/marketing manager for Naperville, Ill.-headquartered renovation firm Opal Enterprises, says adding a portico to a front entrance way lacking an overhang is another smart exterior project.

“This is a remodeling trend that allows you to make your home stand out in a cookie-cutter neighborhood and prevents your front porch or entry door from being exposed to the elements,” Dawn notes.

An interior project worth considering is a closet redo, particularly one that involves custom wood appointments. And down under is another area deserving of remodeling dollars, many believe.

“Think about refinishing your basement, which increases the amount of living space in your home,” DiClerico says. “You can turn the space into a family room, home office or multipurpose work space.”

In addition, implementing home automation in the form of a smart thermostat, smart lock, multiple indoor/outdoor cameras, lighting controls and a central control hub is another bright idea, with the potential to increase your home’s value by up to 5 percent, DiClerico adds.

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