Monday, July 25, 2011

Renovation points to ponder

Cherry butcher block counter top.Image via WikipediaRenovations in a down market are a scary thing. You often wonder if you are making the right choices and if you are only throwing good money after bad. With the real estate
market in such dire straits, how do you know which renovations are worth it? Do you invest in high end upgrades with the hopes that it will boost your home's value? Or, do you let your home
stay as it is and ride out the market.

If you aren't selling-  The real estate market and design industry spend a great deal of time telling the homeowner and consumer what to have in their homes. Often times you will see a real estate show where as a couple won't even consider a home without the typical bells and whistles of stainless steel and granite. However, this is what the industry has spoon fed into the mouths of the consumer. There are plenty of alternative  counter tops out there that can be used. Don't shoehorn yourself in by what the design industry dictates. You never regret what you love and if you love Butcher block, and black appliances, by all means have it. Especially if you aren't interested in selling within the next ten years. After ten years, reassess your situation and go from there. Design that you love, is never regretted. Upgrades that are part of a media induced trend could come back and bite you, so please yourself first.

If you may sell-  What does your neighbor have? If the bulk of the neighborhood has laminate counter tops, and you run out and install granite, don't expect a whopping return on your investment. Consider a high end laminate upgrade. Laminate has come a long long way in its visual appeal and many offer the exact same look of granite, but at about 45 percent less per square foot installed. If you are selling, recognize in a down market, any upgrade is a good upgrade it doesn't always have to be the high end choices. Don't over improve for your neighborhood, that doesn't mean make no improvements, just make smart ones.  If most of your neighbors have hard wood flooring, by all means you should probably follow suit. If they have carpeting, make sure your carpeting is newer, and of good quality and that will give your home the edge of the neighborhood competition. As always, all upgrades to heating, cooling, roofing, electrical and plumbing are always recommended in every instance.

Older home renovation-  If your home is an older home, think long and hard about which renovations will help, and which will hurt your home. Example, older Victorian style homes
lose their appeal if they have been overly modernized. Always think in terms of what works with your homes style. If your home has a specific Victorian style, don't muck it up with a lot of contemporary changes if you are looking to sell in the next ten years. Instead think of the upgrades people won't see, but will appreciate. New air conditioning, roof, upgraded energy efficient windows, electrical updates, plumbing, heating etc. Older homes are notoriously known for not be energy efficient, so these upgrades will be a real eye opener if you sell and won't mess with your home's design and character nearly as much as contemporary lighting, or zen inspired decor for example.

New home improvements-  Most of us may think a new home would not need any improvements, but a lot of first time home buyers can't always afford the upgrades, or may change their minds
about what they like after living in their new home. Some choices made earlier on may not work any more and it calls for a change. The question is should you make costly improvements on a new home?
If you have bought a new home within the past five years, you may have discovered that you have fallen prey to the real estate market. Some new home owners may be dealing with an upside down mortgage due to small down payments and long mortgage terms. If your home is already in this predicament, you may be well advised to hold off on any major renovations, especially if you are thinking about charging improvements, or tapping into some assumed equity you may not have. Make sure that any renovations are warranted and not just on a whim. Check your homeowners warranty to make sure you aren't waiving your coverage, and don't expect a return on your investment any time soon. If you still wish to go forward with renovation to a new home, do so, and make sure you research your project well. If you are in doubt, hire a architect before ripping down what may be a weight bearing wall, and make sure you have all the necessary permits, as well as checking to make sure your home owners association will allow for changes to your home.
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