Not all home improvements are created equal. Especially if you’re looking for “resale value” back from your work.
An article from the Wall Street Journal lays it out cleanly. Function beats flash these days so be wary of where you spend.
Environmental upgrades such as home insulation and energy-efficient steel entry doors are recovering a much greater percentage of their cost these days than major remodels including kitchens or bathrooms. This is especially true for homes that are already “over-improved” relative to the neighborhood.
Upgrading the biggest and best homes on the block can be a losing proposition.
The article’s findings include data from groups such as the National Association of Home Builders, Remodeling Magazine, and Consumer Reports. It lists the following home improvements among its top “paybacks”:
- Steel entry door replacement : 129% cost recovery
- Wood deck addition : 81% cost recovery
- Vinyl-replacement window : 77% cost recovery
Energy-efficiency projects also recoup costs monthly in the form of lower heating and cooling bills.
Remodeling Magazine says a larger number of homeowners will remodel their homes in 2010 with less emphasis on upgrading kitchens and bathrooms, and more emphasis on adding new rooms. From an appraisal perspective, this is a terrific way to increase your home’s value — especially if your home’s bed/bath count lags your neighbors.
Before starting a home improvement project, regardless of whether your goal is increase resale value, talk with a real estate agent about other homes in the area and how they’re built. At worst, you’ll gather some ideas you can work into your plan. At best, you’ll keep yourself from over-improving.