by Steve Dinnen
It felt good to get a new air conditioner installed just as the summer heat kicked in this year. But my elation was tempered a bit after I learned that all that coolness wasn’t adding much to the value of my home. When it comes to safe money projects around your house, air conditioners and furnaces might do little to enhance the property’s value, though certainly a crummy heating/cooling system can dissuade a potential buyer from making an offer if you’re in a selling mode. Most buyers kind of expect the HVAC system to be working!
It’s not as if I had had a choice in replacing my old air-conditioning unit – it was shot and summer was upon us. However, you and I do have many options that will indeed add value or at least recover a greater portion of the dollars spent on remodeling or upgrading other areas of our homes. I call these, “Safe Money Projects” for homeowners.
For example, take new siding. Remodeling Magazine looked at a number of projects inside and outside a home and estimates that, on average, you will recoup 78% of the money you spend on fiber-cement siding. That replacement product has earned the number one ranking in six out of the past seven years the magazine has conducted its survey (visit: www.remodeling.hw.net/2011/costvsvalue/national.aspx).
Here are a few more ideas.
I’m not overly excited about garage doors, but Remodeling tells me that if I put in a new one I can expect to recover about 72% of its expense. Speaking of doors, another low cost value-adder is replacing your old, faded and cracking wooden front door with a new steel front door.
New landscaping also will add value, as well as curb appeal, to your home. Experts say this improvement pays back best in temperate climates, where you can show off your landscaping year-round. And in the back yard, you can install a deck and likewise expect to recover a substantial portion of the expense. Plus, you’ll have somewhere to chill while you grill a steak!
Inside your home, bathrooms and kitchens get a lot of attention, and deservedly so. A new bathroom can add as much as 20% to the value of a home. That seems to jibe with recommendations from the National Association of Realtors, which has selected a bathroom makeover in Illinois as one of its finalists for a $ 20,000 cash prize in its latest “Boost Your Roost” contest.
Another finalist is a kitchen redo. In its latest survey, Remodeling estimated that a minor kitchen remodel will cost $ 20,000 but will recoup 72% of its expense. “This project is the least expensive way to give an existing kitchen a complete facelift,” say the editors. It would include new cabinet doors, drawer fronts and hardware, new countertops, and new appliances.
Adding a new sunroom is an easy way to create more useable space and carries a price tag of about one-half of what a regular room addition would cost. You can add a skylight or vaulted ceiling giving the sunroom a spacious feel. Furthermore, if possible, placing the sunroom near your kitchen or dining room will let you utilize it for overflow eating.
Finally, how about your dingy or out-of-date basement? Man cave, anyone? Yes, redoing your basement can add value to your home, as would creating an entertainment or media room. Basements often pose a danger of seeming to be socked in, even scarey! So, if you undertake this project, “light and airy” plus open spaces are the orders of the day. And don’t forget that basement bathroom. Can you really run upstairs, take care of business, and then hustle back downstairs in time to not miss the third-and-goal, fourth-down snap? If space and ease of construction allow, adding at least a half-bath will pay dividends, even if you’re not planning to sell your home in the near future!
I hope these simple suggestions give you some ideas on how to improve the quality of your life at home while helping you make smart, safe money remodeling decisions.