To Renovate or NOT to Renovate? That is the Question

To Renovate or NOT to Renovate?
That is the Question

by Rebecca Wolfe Spratlin
February 2018

In established neighborhoods such as ours in HPWBANA, there are all kinds of options on how to get the homes we need as our life stages evolve. I frequently hear this critical question from neighbors: How much should I spend to renovate and/or add on to my home? As with most questions, there is not one simple answer, but many things to consider. Before moving forward consider the following points.

Determine the recent sale prices of homes on your street and immediate area – Homeowners want to be careful that they do not “over improve” beyond what the neighborhood can support. It is most advantageous to be in the lower to mid-range of homes on the street. This way, the owners will get a lift in the value of their homes based on the higher value of the surrounding homes. Before starting your project, talk to a local real estate Broker who knows your market and who can advise you on the amount of money you can spend and still be well within the values of neighboring homes.

Determine the quality of finishes in homes on the street and immediate area – When renovating, owners want to finish-out their homes at least as well as surrounding properties. For example, if nearby homes generally have hardwood flooring, it would not be a good idea to cut corners and install a laminate “wood look” floor. It would also not be wise to install an extremely expensive exotic wood floor.

Before doing the renovation or addition, determine the features that are most in demand, but not trendy – The one mistake I see many homeowners make, is to over personalized their homes, so that when it comes to selling, their choices devalue their homes. If you just have to have a turquoise kitchen, that can be achieved with paint, furniture upholstery and décor rather than countertops, tilework and appliances…as those items are costly to replace. Current trends include beautiful patterned tile floors. It is unlikely that that trend will last for many years, so homeowners may want to use it sparingly or instead may want to introduce patterns using area rugs, wallpaper and accessories.

Consult an architect when renovating and designing additions – This will be the best money you will spend on your project. I can’t even count the number of homes I’ve seen where simple design mistakes have devalued homes. I’ve seen laundry rooms only accessible by walking through bedrooms. I’ve seen homes that have only a master bathroom on the main level. I’ve seen homes were the bedrooms are of significantly different sizes, so there can be no equity among the kids’ rooms. I’ve seen homes where attached garages have no doorways into the homes. Be sure there is a logical flow throughout your home and it’s very livable for all kinds of owners.

It’s best not to renovate half-way – It’s a hard sell when part of the home is beautifully updated and the rest is dull and dated. If you’re going to update, be sure to update at least the kitchen and the master bathroom…and preferably the other bathrooms. These are the rooms that buyers value the most. Good, energy efficient windows are also important to buyers.

Decide the primary objective of your renovation and/or addition – There are some homeowners that are comfortable “over-improving” and personalizing their homes knowing that they will never get their money back out when they sell. If their objective is to maximize their enjoyment of their home regardless of the financial return…that’s great. It’s good to know going in, however, that the investment made will not payoff upon the sale of the home.

As with any investment, it is always beneficial to do your homework, determine your objectives and move forward fully informed. Our neighborhood offers many opportunities to invest, improve and enjoy our homes.