I get calls all the time asking for advice on whether it would be smart to do a particular remodeling project around their home.  Many times it is tough for me to make the call for them.  I look at houses all the time and see what buyers like but in most cases improvements don’t pay off right away.  For instance according the Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report 2010-2011 a two story addition in the Denver area will cost $155,903 and give added resale value of $118,301.  This means that an owner could expect to get about 76% of the value out of that project.  Not exactly a strategy from the pages of Trump – The Way to the Top.

Okay, we have established that you won’t get back all of your money if you do a home project but what if that scares you into paralysis?  Say you have owned your home for 15 years and during that time you have done nothing but change the filters in the furnace.  This strategy, in my opinion works even worse than improving your home right before closing.  In the case of the do-nothings, the value of their home will lag behind the neighborhood in general.  Their home will stay on the market longer and in the end sell for a lower price.  Again not a way to get rich quick.

I think the best strategy for maximizing the value of your home over time is to make incremental changes over time.  Take on a project every six months or 1 year.  For example, take a six month period to remove the old wallpaper and repaint.  Next, re-do the powder room by removing the wall sized mirror and replace with a framed mirror and replace the lighting.  Next re-tile the master bath.  After a few years your house will start looking refreshed and will be one of the nicer ones on the block.  And when you go to sell it you won’t have much to do to get maximum value.  Also, you get to live in a much nicer home.  Not just fix it up for someone else.  There is value in that!

Here is a sample of the value of Midrange projects and their pay back in the Denver market:(ranked in order of pay back percentage):

  • Garage Door Replacement –  cost $1,228  – cost recouped 93.1%
  • Steel Entry Door Replacement  –  cost $1,165  – cost recouped 86.1%
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel  – cost $21,035  – cost recouped 79.6%
  • Vinyl Window Replacement  – cost $10,330  – cost recouped 77.1%
  • Wood Deck Addition  – cost $10,721  – cost recouped 75.1%
  • Major Kitchen Remodel –  cost $53,032  – cost recouped 73.5%
  • Master Suite Addition  – cost $100,775  – cost recouped 74.5%
  • Family Room Addition  – cost $79,383  – cost recouped 70.6%
  • Basement remodel – cost $62,115 – cost recouped 63.2%
  • Roofing Replacement  – cost $17,943  – cost recouped 61.8%

For copyright reasons I can’t display the report on my website but if you would like a copy of the full report which includes midrange and upscale projects and defines the scope of each please let me know.  I can send you one if you request one to neil@neilkearney.com.

To see the associated web page go here.

For more information this topic see my post on list price vs. condition.

From HGTV a before and after.


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