Home Renovations That Will Pay You Back

When it’s time to remodel, many homeowners head to home improvement stores like Lowe’s to buy the supplies they need to complete their home projects. It’s a smart idea, especially since the right projects can put more money back into your pocket.

However, home renovation costs can be substantial: The average bathroom remodel alone costs between $6,000 and $35,000, according to HomeAdvisor. Meanwhile, a kitchen remodel ranges from $4,500 to $50,000.

If you want to choose the best home renovations, here are several that will give you the biggest bang for your buck when the time comes to sell.

Remodel the Kitchen

“If it’s more than 15 years old, upgrading the kitchen floor, cabinetry and appliances to modern standards will net you more money during [the] time of sale,” said Joe Polyak, founder and realtor of Rise Homes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Many families view the kitchen as the center of the home. So, minor kitchen renovations can drastically increase your property’s value — the Remodeling report showed a 65 percent national recoup on average. This renovation can also increase home enjoyment for the entire family.

If you have an outdoor kitchen that needs to be renovated, consider updating the appliances. For example, Lowe’s offers savings on high-quality appliances.

“Outdoor entertaining and grilling go hand in hand,” said Jule Eller, director of trend and style at Lowe’s. “So bring the heat, and fire up that backyard flavor with a modular grill. You can choose add-ons like a sink, side burners or refrigerator to create a complete outdoor kitchen.”

Still, renovators should take care not to go overboard with kitchen remodel costs. “Upgrading the appliances to a certain level of luxury — KitchenAid versus Bosch, for example — can significantly increase value,” said Polyak. “Be careful, though. You don’t need to put Wolf appliances in a condo in a blue-collar condo complex. That won’t add value.”

Build an Outdoor Deck

“This can be a fairly inexpensive project that can add a lot of value in the eyes of potential homebuyers,” said Polyak. Specific features tend to vary in popularity by geographic location, and the national average cost for this upgrade is about $10,000 for wood and $17,000 for composite materials, according to Remodeling’s report. Of that amount, a homebuyer can hope to recoup about 71% and 65%, respectively.

“In Arizona, people like a nice fire pit with a beautiful outdoor area. In the San Francisco Bay Area, they like a nice deck with landscaping,” he said. “You can hire someone to do the work, but depending on how handy the homeowner, this can definitely be a fairly inexpensive do-it-yourself project.”

Create a Paver Patio

You might also consider adding a paver patio to your home. “Building a paver patio or walkway is a simple way to make your landscape more inviting and define an outdoor living space,” said Eller. “Best of all, you can install the paving stones yourself. You can also integrate landscape lighting to add ambiance and dimension.”

Eller recommends purchasing 10 percent more blocks, pavers or stones than you anticipated. “The excess should account for breakage, the material you need to cut and replacements for future repairs,” she said.

Upgrade Lighting Fixtures

Most fixtures can be purchased for a few hundred dollars or less, but when you’re working with electrical wires, you’ll also want to make sure to bring in a professional. Most homeowners spend about $318 to bring in an electrician, which will increase overall remodeling bills, according to HomeAdvisor. Still, prospective buyers are likely to appreciate the enhanced lighting, making it one of the best home renovations on a budget.

You might also want to upgrade your outdoor patio lighting with string lights, lanterns, candles, outdoor table lamps or floor lamps to bring your patio to life. Or, perhaps you have a deck? You’ll probably want to upgrade those lights as well. The good news: It won’t cost you a lot of money at stores like Lowe’s.

“From setting a festive mood to offering a soft glow after dark, outdoor lighting is a great way to make your outdoors warm and inviting,” said Eller. “Check out these battery-operated LED step lights or these bronze solar LED post lights.”

Replace the Entry Door

Installing a new steel entry door has the largest cost versus resale value, according to Remodeling’s report. It’s about a $1,400 project that’s likely to boost your home’s value by the same amount.

Bold colors can always replace a traditional door like a bright yellow and high-gloss black. To make this change buy some inexpensive door and apply paint to it yourself. There are plenty of affordable door options you can find online.

Install or Repurpose Flooring

“Updated hardwood floors or new carpeting can help sell a home,” said John Bodrozic, co-founder of digital home management tool HomeZada. “But a lot of the determination of whether the project pays for itself depends on how much money people put into the project.”

According to HomeAdvisor, existing carpets can be cleaned for about $174, and the average hardwood refinishing cost is $1.50 to $4 per square foot. Installation of new flooring increases the cost: $1,583 for carpet and $4,397 for wood. However, you can reduce these sums.

“If you have the skill or are willing to learn, you can save labor costs if you can do some of the work yourself,” said Bodrozic. “If you do hire a contractor, make sure you get three to five bids and make it known to the contractors that they are competing for the business. Depending on the marketing conditions and timing of your project, you could save yourself some money.”

Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Features

“I’m noticing a big trend toward energy-efficient appliances, LED lights and tankless water heaters,” said Diana George, a vice president at Century 21 Real Estate Alliance.

“These products save homeowners money and contribute to a smaller carbon footprint.” A tankless water heater can be installed for about $4,200 in a 2,200-square-foot home, and LED converter bulbs can be bought for about $14 per light, said George.

You don’t have to wait until you move to reap the financial benefits that accompany an energy-efficient upgrade. A tankless water heater can cut a homeowner’s water heating bill by about a fifth each year. A switch from incandescent to LED bulbs, meanwhile, can save a homeowner a surprising $300 per year. Energy-efficient upgrades might not be the most exciting of home improvement projects, but they can have an almost immediate impact on a home’s overall bottom line.

Replace Vinyl Siding

It’s not everyone’s idea of a dream renovation project, but new vinyl siding can dramatically enhance a home’s curb appeal, which can make or break a homeowner’s prospects when selling on the open market.

Newer siding can also help curb heating and cooling costs and reduce occurrences of mold, fungus and mildew. New vinyl siding generally costs around $14,000 and will increase a home’s resale value by about $11,000, according to Remodeling.

Remodel a Bathroom

“Bath renovations are always worth the money invested,” said Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP in Warwick, New York. “If the home has good bones and quality finishes, the home seller will reap most, if not all, of the cost.”

A homebuyer can expect to pay about $18,000 for a mid-range bathroom renovation and recoup about 65 percent, according to Remodeling. However, making smaller changes can also bring big rewards. “The impact a new light fixture can make can take a house from being dated to feeling new,” said Gray-Plaisted. “I find upgrading light fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens to be worth every penny spent.”

In the end, a home renovation choice is about more than just the value you’ll eventually recoup. Consider projects that will keep your home properly maintained, but also that your family will enjoy. A house is more than an investment; it’s also the place where your family will build memories for years to come.

Open the Floor Plan

An open floor plan is one of the more sought-after features for homebuyers today. However, older homes typically have many walls and narrow hallways, said Polyak. The good news is that it can be surprisingly inexpensive to knock down a wall and create a more cohesive space. An interior demolition costs about $3,000 on average, according to HomeAdvisor.

Even load-bearing walls can be removed, preferably by a skilled contractor who can then place a beam in the ceiling for support. Even with the added home renovation costs, this improvement can still add significant value to a home, said Polyak.

Paint the Interior

Most homeowners spend between $996 and $2,721 on home interior paint costs, according to HomeAdvisor. At that price point, it’s easy to recoup the cost when it’s time to sell. Even so, it might be worthwhile to consult a professional before selecting a color.

Still, professional advice doesn’t have to add to the cost of the project. Many national paint retailers like Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore offer free paint consultations.

 

 

 

 

Will the construction industry be able to keep up with the home remodeling boom?

With all of last year’s turmoil, few people expected the home remodeling industry to grow almost 6% from the previous year.

2019 was a banner year in itself with $383 billion in construction, and 2020 is anticipated to reach $405 billion.

Four factors have spurred the growth:

  1. Accelerated new home prices
  2. Low inventory of for-sale existing homes
  3. Wide spread desire to get out of urban areas
  4. Low interest rates by the Fed

The spring 2020 economic uncertainty led to consumers of all ages and demographics desiring home renovations.

At the same time, one demographic factor is the transition of boomers and older homeowners out of their existing residence into smaller accommodations.

Potentially 11 million homeowners will be moving on or out, while 15 million younger households will be scratching for homes.

Interestingly, younger home buyers, given the choice of a condominium or an existing fixer-upper, are more apt to pursue the latter and plunge into remodeling.

Up to 40% of the kitchen and bath renovations are done by millennials and Gen-Xers. This is not news to most real estate agents today. With the current high cost of obtaining the tarnished American dream of new home ownership, young buyers are kicking the tires, or aluminum siding, for shelter.

According to the Harvard Research’s analysis of the leading indicator of remodeling activity, or LIRA, expect slower growth in 2021 but 2% quarter-over-quarter increases.

The remodeling industry had doubled in 10 years. While new home sales are strong, they are still outside the reach of many younger households

Naturally, every region is different.

The North Bay has had an enormous amount of fire replacement and earthquake repairs that are still happening. Small repairs and basic one item improvements, such as new flooring, takes a different track than larger projects requiring multiple technicians and skills. Whenever multi-tasked renovations occur, the time lines and the construction costs escalate.

At the same time, construction materials prices have exploded, and the supply lines are faltering.

Lumber has exploded 55%–63% in some areas. The timelines for construction have telescoped 20%: A project that should have taken four months is taking five months or longer.

What the market is still anxiously looking for is if COVID-19 will permanently affect our spending habits.

An important milestone in determining if a remodeling is needed is the age of the last renovation. As a general rule, 16-20 years is the life expectancy of a remodel.

As the finishes and sustainability disappears, the desire to catch up with the latest looks, materials and finishes start to wear through. The appetite to renovate one’s home is greater among younger households who are more media savvy and aware of latest trends.

One of the biggest challenges will be finding professional contractors and subcontractors.

Many small contractors have fallen on hard times and are not coming back. The Paycheck Protection Program from the CARES ACT helped 83,036 remodelers and subcontractors with their payroll obligations, but there’s no assurance that they will be back.

It becomes an open question on how many remodelers and professionals will be able to survive into 2021 with the continuing market uncertainties that include longer construction times and disrupted supply chains.

It would appear that the smaller contractors and professionals will be leaving while only long-term well-capitalized businesses with a steady source of skilled labor will survive.

Construction and renovation have been the first industrial sectors to emerge in every economic downturn or recession since World War ll.

Small builders and contractors represent the vast majority of America’s home building and remodeling industries, not big corporations. These are the businesses that will generate the jobs and raise the overall living standards in this country.

Not the government, not the unions and certainly not the retail business importing cheap goods to sell out of big box stores or deliver to your door. The home building and renovation industry is the main engine that will take the US out of this economic quagmire.

So, tell me this: Why are kitchens getting humongous and people cooking less? Why have a huge kitchen island to eat your DoorDash delivery?

Backyard kitchen trends provide budget-friendly options

You might think a decked-out backyard kitchen in Pennsylvania defies logic, but thanks to new technological advancements, year-round patio dinner parties are now well within reach — no matter the climate where you live.

“It used to be just the purview of the Sun Belt, but it has spread because of the improvement of materials and design of the components,” says Russ Faulk, chief designer and head of product for Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, an outdoor kitchen equipment manufacturer based in Chicago and Galesburg, Mich. “In a very high-end home, you might have radiant heating under the bathroom floor, and people will do that for their countertop. Flip a switch, melt the snow and use the outdoor kitchen.”

Of course, someone willing to install a counter-warming snow-buster would be on the “pointy end of the budget stick,” as Faulk puts it. The reality is that not everyone can afford all the bells and whistles, such as a cocktail station, a countertop fire feature, custom granite or a grill burner for cooking sauces.

Go for the grill

David Bond, president of Florida-based U.S. Brick & Block Systems, which installs pavers, pools, outdoor kitchens and more, says the grill is the cornerstone for your budget. To stay within your price range, you might have to pass on luxuries, such as a sear zone, a griddle or infrared rotisserie. “That can bring the cost down,” he says, adding that size is less important than quality. “It’s always best to get a good grill brand than to have a big grill that’s not going to last.”

Faulk, who also authored the recently released cookbook Food + Fire: Cooking Outside with Kalamazoo Outdoor Grillmaster Russ Faulk, agrees that the grill is the most important feature of any outdoor ooking space.

“Where I tell people not to scrimp is the grill, especially if it’s being built into masonry,” he says. “If you hate your grill, you’re probably not going to love your outdoor kitchen. And they’re tough to swap out because they don’t come in standardized sizes.”

Faulk adds that opting for movable components like tables and countertops rather than large stone kitchens with built-in grills is an increasing trend, somewhat driven by budget-minded homeowners who like the idea of growing their outdoor kitchens gradually.

“Instead of making your design decisions permanent and literally set in stone, there are a lot of other options to change and evolve your kitchen over time.”

Exceptional extras

When it comes to design, the next thing to consider with built-in kitchen spaces is what type of accent  materials you’re interested in for countertops and cabinets, which often feature some type of masonry. “Typically, the thing with the most impact is the type of stone used on the cabinet,” says Bond. “Most everything else is just stainless steel appliances, so your stone and countertop will make the most difference.”

Despite efforts to rein in the spending, the urge to splurge on alfresco cooking and dining isn’t going anywhere.

“People are using the outdoor of their homes more than ever,” says Bond. “There are certainly instances of people spending more time and money on their outdoor kitchens than they are on their indoor kitchen.”

For those who really want to go all out, popular add-ons include entertainment zones like bars, dedicated cleanup areas and specialty refrigeration like wine coolers, freezers and under-counter refrigerator drawers to keep meat and produce separate. Faulk says smokers and wood-fired grills are especially hot right now, following the cooking trends popping up in restaurants across the country.

“What’s great about the outdoor kitchen, especially how it relates to the enthusiast, is it’s really difficult to implement this specialty equipment in an inside kitchen,” he says of restaurant trends influencing home trends.

He points to the rise in home pizza ovens after chefs across America fell in love with Neapolitan pies.

“You have to be cooking those pizzas at 800 degrees, and that was really hard to implement in your home, so it went outdoors, naturally,” says Faulk, who adds that he expects Argentinian-style grills, which are equipped with an adjustable height and a sloped V-shaped grate surface to allow more precise temperature control and uniform cooking, to gain in popularity this year.

Perhaps the best splurges, however, are those that make your outdoor kitchen available whenever the mood strikes, such as weather-proof cabinetry so you can keep everything you need stocked and handy — or maybe even that fancy countertop warmer.

“If you feel like you have to spend three to four hours to get your outdoor kitchen ready just to use it, you’re not going to be excited about using it,” says Faulk. “It should be always ready to go, always easy.”

 

 

 

Planning to remodel your bathroom? Keep these 7 things in mind

A bathroom remodel can be a serious undertaking.

On average, HomeAdvisor says it can cost $10,768 with most homeowners spending between $6,144 and $15,411.

In addition to the cost, a bathroom renovation isn’t the easiest to manage.

“It’s a less efficient room to renovate than others in the house because it’s so tight,” Cameron Snyder, president of Roomscapes Luxury Design Center in Boston, and former president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association told HGTV. “You can normally get one trade in there at a time.”

Remodeling a bathroom can involve juggling electrical, plumbing, cabinetry and tile among other things. There are a few steps we recommend you take before making over the powder room. Here are seven of them.

Think about the space

Along with considering local codes, you need to make sure you have ample space to move around in your bathroom. When replacing a vanity or installing a new tub, make sure you know the correct measurements. Houzz has a list of standard dimensions of fixtures and key measurements.

Recessed spaces for toiletries

Rather than taking up valuable bathroom real estate on shelves, installing a shower niche can provide an easy, semi-hidden space for your toiletries. HomedIt says ideally the niche is installed at eye level, which is 48-60 inches on average.

Proper accessory height

Knowing where to place towel hooks and a medicine cabinet is important. This Old House suggests mapping out where you’d typically reach for these items before installing them.

Give wiring a boost

This is particularly important in an older home. The National Electric Code requires that homeowners’ bathrooms have at least one 20-amp ground fault interrupter (GFCI) protected branch circuit for power receptacles, according to SFGate. This is required of newer homes, according to DenGarden. Also, make sure a 20 amp circuit has a 20 amp outlet.

Lighting the vanity properly

Part of lighting your bathroom right is placing fixtures in the correct spot.

“It’s important that there is some light between your face and the mirror,” Anne Sneed, owner of the Del Mar, California-based Anne Sneed Architectural Interiors told Architectural Digest. “If you’re just backlit, you wind up with your face in shadow.”

This Old House notes that fixtures should flank the mirror at around 66 inches. Ideally, space them 36 to 40 inches apart.

Ditch wallpaper

You may not want to try installing wallpaper in the bathroom. Moisture and humidity may cause it to peel off, which could cause problems, The Spruce said.

Insulate the pipes

Not only does pipe insulation help protect them from freezing during the colder months, but it also can help keep your home safer and increases its efficiency. Bob Villa has some tips on how to insulate them.

 

 

 

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