How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck
by Mina Fies
The resale value of various remodeling projects is of critical importance to most homeowners, especially in today’s economy. Many have decided to venture forth with a whole home remodel, which will definitely pay off when it’s time to sell. On the other hand, for those not ready to make a big initial investment, there are several smaller projects that can add value to a home as well. The Remodeling 2010–11 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) [EDIT: the 2011-2012 version is now available at the same link] provides useful information on costs and the value recouped for different sized projects in the Washington, DC area. Just take a look at these key projects:
Major Kitchen Remodel
- Job Cost: $ 58,897
- Resale Value: $ 43,456
- Cost Recouped: 73.8%
Project details: Update an outmoded 200-square-foot kitchen with a functional layout of 30 linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets, including a 3’ x 5’ island; laminate countertops; and standard double-tub stainless-steel sink with standard single-lever faucet. Include energy-efficient wall oven, cooktop, ventilation system, built-in microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and custom lighting. Add new resilient flooring. Finish with painted walls, trim, and ceiling.
Why it’s a good idea: It’s fairly common knowledge that today’s kitchen is a main – if not the main – room of the house, and it should be designed as such. If you have a dated kitchen plan – think sequestered at the back of the house, a small space off the dining room, or even shut off with doors – consider a kitchen remodel to bring your home more in line with current preferences. Plan to show off your new kitchen and make the space a key feature of your home. The activity that goes on in and around this room will be central to your – and future homeowners’ – lives.
- Job Cost: $ 65,458
- Resale Value: $ 47,579
- Cost Recouped: 72.7%
Project details: Finish the lower level of a house to create a 20’ x 30’ entertaining area with wet bar and a 5’ x 8’ full bathroom; construct 24 linear feet of finished partition to enclose mechanical area. Walls and ceilings are painted drywall throughout; exterior walls are insulated; painted trim throughout. Include five six-panel factory-painted hardboard doors with passage locksets. Electrical wiring to code. Main room: Include 15 recessed ceiling light fixtures and three surface-mounted light fixtures, and a snap-together laminate flooring system. Bathroom: Include standard white toilet, vanity with cultured marble top, resilient vinyl flooring, two-piece fiberglass shower unit, a light/fan combination, vanity light fixture, recessed medicine cabinet, towel and paper-holder hardware. Bar area: Include 10 linear feet of raised-panel oak cabinets with laminate countertops, stainless steel bar sink, single lever bar faucet, under-counter refrigerator, and vinyl floor tile.
Why it’s a good idea: Finishing a lower level can effectively double the living space in a home. Many of today’s homeowners who have excess unfinished storage are choosing to build out their basements to accommodate growing families or increase their home’s value. If you’re looking to sell your home, a finished basement is a nice perk, and could be a deal-breaker for some buyers. You don’t, however, want your basement to look like a builder afterthought or seem as if it was pieced together at the last minute. A skilled designer can help you create a lower level that is beautifully integrated with the rest of your home.
Deck Addition (composite)
- Job Cost: $ 15,709
- Resale Value: $ 11,474
- Cost Recouped: 73.0%
Project details: Add a 16’ x 20’ deck using pressure treated joists supported by 4×4 posts anchored to concrete piers. Install composite deck material in a simple linear pattern. Include a built-in bench and planter of the same decking material. Include stairs, assuming three steps to grade. Provide a complete railing using a matching system made of the same composite as the decking material.
Why it’s a good idea: If your home has a nice backyard, there’s no better way to ensure maximum usage than adding a deck. More aesthetically pleasing – and in many cases more enjoyable – than a patio, a composite deck will ensure your home competes well in the market with other homes that include this feature. In newer and nicer neighborhoods, a backyard deck may be considered more of a necessity than an option. Though the Report notes that wood decks tend to recoup a bit more value than their composite counterparts, most homeowners believe the cost of synthetic materials is outweighed by the lack of maintenance and the annual expense in labor and sealant. Composite decks also tend to last longer than wood. Depending on how long you plan to remain in your home, be sure to consider overall maintenance as a factor in your deck material decision.
Entry Door Replacement (steel)
- Job Cost: $ 1,187
- Resale Value: $ 1,393
- Cost Recouped: 117.4%
Project details: Remove existing 3’ x 6’-8” entry door and jambs and replace with new 20-gauge steel unit, including clear dual-pane half-glass panel, jambs, and aluminum threshold with composite stop. Door is factory finished with same color both sides. Exterior brick mold and 2.5” interior colonial or ranch casings in poplar or equal prefinished to match door color. Replace existing lockset with new bored-lock in brass or antique brass finish.
Why it’s a good idea: Curb appeal is always a good selling point, and for a small cost, this item yields a large return! A new coat of paint, a different style door, or thoughtfully chosen trim colors can all have a significant impact on the exterior character of your home.
If you’d like more information on other types of projects and their estimated cost vs. value, please click here to access the full report.
© Mina Fies is the Founder and CEO of Synergy Design & Construction, Inc. To learn more about Mina or request your FREE Kitchen Remodeling Roadmap™ using our contact us page, please visit www.renovatehappy.com
This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.