The 411 on home improvement

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Home improvement projects can be a fun part of owning a home.  There are tons of home improvement projects that a homeowner can choose from.  With every home improvement project there are certain decisions that need to be made.  Decisions such as setting a budget for the project, knowing which project to choose, and who will complete the project are just a few to note.

Another huge consideration that homeowners take into account when selecting what home improvement project to complete is the impact it will have on the properties value.  There are tons of articles available to homeowners on home improvement projects that increase a property’s value. There aren’t many articles however regarding home improvement projects to avoid for resale.

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It’s crucial that homeowners who are deciding on a home improvement project keep in mind what impact it will have on it’s resale value.  Certainly homeowners who are planning on staying in their home for another 15 years doesn’t need to put as much weight on resale value.

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There is no dollar amount that can be put on the personal enjoyment of a pool, deck, or other improvement projects.  If a homeowner is unable to enjoy these improvement projects and they don’t impact the homes value substantially, what is the purpose of completing the project?  There isn’t a purpose and actually can cost you thousands of dollars.

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Are You Hiring or DIY?

Before I get into some of the home improvement projects that you should avoid when considering resale value, it’s first important to decide whether you are hiring a contractor to complete a home improvement project or if you will do-it-yourself (DIY).  So once you have read the following home improvement projects that you should avoid when considering the resale value of your home, evaluate whether you will hire a professional or DIY.  There are pro’s and con’s to each and here are a few things to consider about each.

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Hiring a contractor to complete a home improvement project is certainly going to cost more money than a DIY project.  The quality of work in most cases will be better than a DIY project though. Make sure when you’re selecting a contractor to complete any home improvement project, you know they are reputable and you know they can perform the project to the level you’re expecting.  It’s suggested that you interview contractors just like you would interview potential realtors to sell your home.

DIY home improvements are normally more cost effective than hiring a professional.  The thing that needs to be considered before tackling a DIY project is whether or not you can complete the work and complete it properly.  Many potential home buyers can see shoddy work from a mile away.  The last thing you want when selling your home is potential buyers thinking they are walking through the home of DIYer that cuts corners when doing improvements.

So, which home improvement projects should you avoid for resale?  Here are several home improvement projects that you need to avoid if you plan on selling your home in the near future.  The following improvements can certainly increase the value of a property but the cost of the improvement will not be recouped in resale value, which is the primary reason to avoid these specific improvements.

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High-End Gourmet Kitchens

Kitchens are one of the reasons a home will sell and there is no doubt about that.  An outdated or non functional kitchen can unfortunately lead to a stagnant listing. Kitchens are also one of the most expensive rooms to remodel and improve within a home.  Depending on the level of a kitchen remodel, it can cost anywhere from a couple thousand dollars up to $50,000+. Yikes!!

Certainly a kitchen with top of line cabinets, counter tops, and flooring will “WOW” a potential buyer but it can also break your bank.  The cost of a high-end gourmet kitchen is the primary reason to avoid this home improvement project when considering resale value.  If you plan on moving in a year or two, do not spend $40,000 on a kitchen remodel because you will not get it back nearly that amount of money back from resale.

Don’t completely avoid improving the kitchen though.  Instead of a high-end gourmet kitchen, here are some other kitchen improvements that can be made for less and still have a positive impact on resale value.

  • Updating light fixtures
  • Fresh Paint
  • Resurfacing Cabinets
  • Install laminate flooring
  • Install cheaper counter tops over granite or quartz – the options are endless. Butcher block is probably the cheapest..and gaining in popularity.

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Adding a Swimming Pool 

The addition of a swimming pool is one of the top home improvement projects that you should avoid when considering the resale value of your home.  Certainly a swimming pool is nice to enjoy during those 100+ degree days of summer.  This doesn’t translate into an increase in resale value though.  Depending on your location, it can have even less of an impact on the resale value of a home.  For example, if you live in the NE where you can only use a swimming pool for 4 or 5 months a year, the additional resale value of a pool will be even less than a homeowner with a pool living in South Florida.

The fact is there are many home buyers who want nothing to do with a swimming pool.  There are some buyers who go even as far as telling their real estate agent to exclude any property with a pool.  If your plan is to move in the near future, avoid adding a swimming pool, even though you would get a short period of time to enjoy it. And if you do end up adding a swimming pool, weight the options of salt water vs. chlorine.

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Sun Room/3-Seasons Room

An addition of a sun room or a 3-seasons room is one that you should avoid when considering resale value.  The cost of a sun room can be very high.  Of course it can be done cheaply, but you get what you pay for.  A top of the line sun room will cost in the ballpark of $30,000-$50,000, depending on size, amenities, and other factors.

The cost of an added sun room is usually not able to be recouped in a short period of time.  First of all, most sun rooms are unheated space, so they cannot be added to the total square footage of a home.  Certainly if it was to be added to the square footage of a home, it would have a much larger impact on the homes value.

While you should avoid the addition of a sun room as an improvement when considering resale, there are certain additions that can be more beneficial.  Here are several additions that you don’t need to avoid when considering resale value of a home.

  • Converting attic space into legal living space
  • Converting an unfinished basement into legal living space

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Garage Addition

There are some perspective buyers who will not look at a home that doesn’t have a garage.  There are others who could care less about having a garage.  If you don’t have a garage, adding one is something that you should avoid when considering resale value.  The cost to build a garage will vary from contractor to contractor, however, it’s likely to fall between $20,000-$40,000.

Let’s say for example it costs $20,000 to build a stand alone one car garage.  The addition of the one car garage, in most cases, is not going to add $20,000 in value of the home.  It’s possible it could add an additional $5,000-$10,000, but not $20,000.  While the addition of a garage will strengthen the number of potential buyers, homeowners still should avoid it as a home improvement project when considering the resale value.

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Built-In Electronics

Everyone loves watching a movie on a huge screen with blaring surround sound, right?  The answer is yes, but this does not mean that the addition of built-in electronics is going to increase the resale value of a home.  It may have a small impact on the resale value of a home but you should avoid it because the impact is not significant enough to justify the cost of the improvement.

If you have a huge home theater installed that seats 12 people added to your home and it cost $10,000, do you truly believe a buyer is going to pay $10,000 more for a home because of this.  Not only will most buyers not pay that much more because of a home theater, a bank appraiser cannot justify an increase of $10,000 in the homes value due to a home theater.

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Over Personalized Finishes

One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a home improvement project and basing it on the resale value of a home is to make it appeal to the masses.  While you may think it’s a great idea to install a floor with a bunch of pennies (#LincolnDC), the majority of buyers may think it is horrific.  This would be a classic example of over personalizing during a home improvement and one that you should avoid.

Some other examples of over personalized home improvements could be selecting a huge lighting fixture, painting a room your favorite neon color, or even selecting that modern faucet in the bathroom.  Always keep in mind when selecting a home improvement project and if resale value is important, to appeal to the masses.

Final Thoughts

Every homeowners situation is different.  There are different reasons why one home owner may think a home improvement project is the best idea ever and why another may think it is the absolute worse.  Generally, you should avoid the above home improvement projects if you’re going to be selling your home in the near future.

If you are unsure what a home improvement project that isn’t listed above will do to the value of your home, it’s suggested you consult with your local real estate professional.  Top real estate agents should be able to advise you on whether or not the project you’re thinking of completing is a good idea or if you should avoid it when considering resale value.

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Need more personalized advice? Contact Justin Paulhamus at (202) 707-6165 or justin@fourjayproperties.com.