In the ten years that my husband and I have been homeowners, I’ve often felt that there’s two aspects to home improvements: What do we want to change around the house? And will it pay off later when we sell the house? It can be easier to stomach the bill from the contractor or the huge receipts from Home Depot (if you do it yourself like us) if you know the project will add value to your home.
We just sold our house last month and we did a lot of work first to get it ready. We spent practically all of May, June, and a good portion of July doing home projects. And I’ve learned a few home renovation tips I’ll share with you.
Nate and my dad replaced windows, including one very old broken window that they swapped with a lovely octagon shaped window for natural light. That was quite a project because it involved tearing out a huge window, replacing the wall inside, redoing the siding on the house, and even fixing part of the roof.
There were many smaller projects too. Nate redid the bathtub walls, he replaced the porch railings and part of the floorboards. We repainted nearly the entire house, inside and outside. (I lost track of how many days I spent outside on a ladder.) I repainted the entire porch, including the floor. I repainted stairs. I stained railings.
Our biggest project was finishing the “barn” – the unfinished addition that’s been part of the house since we before we bought it almost 10 years ago. With two stories, it was a nice addition of space that we mostly used as storage.
However as we planned to put our house on the market, our realtor assured us we would get more money for the house if we inished this living space, adding an extra 200+ square footage. So we did. Nate replaced sheet rock. He and my dad installed a safer, taller half-wall at the top of the upstairs “loft” area. They built a new railing for both sides of the stairs (previously there had been no railing.)
We painted. And painted more. We put in new flooring over the previous plywood flooring on both levels. All of a sudden, the area was no longer the “barn” but part of the house. (Kinda wish we had done this years ago when we could have enjoyed it – it’s really nice now!)
We spent a good deal of money getting our house ready to sell, but our investment paid off. It added enough value to our house that we were able to get the number we needed and the bank appraised it spot on. Whew! (You never know these days!)
I will say though that we did a number of things to the house that didn’t add value and in hindsight, we probably could have skipped them.
So how do we know which home renovations will actually pay off?
I’ve spoken with my friends at Allstate Insurance and they have some tips for us.
5 Home Renovations Tips That Pay Off:
1. Focus on Kitchen and Bathroom Renovations
Kitchen and bath renovations provide the best bang for the money spent. People see an update to one or both of these rooms as a sign that the homeowner is concerned about cleanliness.
2. Countertops and Cabinetry
Replacing formica or small, white tile counter tops to larger, more current tile, silestone, or to the extreme, granite, are the typical major renovations that may increase value. Often times, this causes the homeowner to reface (replace) cabinet doors or even redesign the cabinetry. Another expensive part of a remodel includes replacement of fixtures and appliances, but this often does not add as much to the enhanced value of the room. This improvement can be more of a visual improvement and does not necessarily command a financial improvement.
3. Smaller upgrades
A fresh coat of paint serves well to embellish either room’s features. Replacing a leaky or tarnished faucet is a simple way to spend some money wisely and replacing floor linoleum with tile also gives the room a fresh face.
4. What doesn’t add value
Improvements and renovations don’t always guarantee increased value in the home. If the changes are being made for the benefit of the owner because they plan to live in the house for a number of years longer, then the owner has the freedom to do those things that they perceive as necessary. However, if the changes are being made to enhance the potential sales price of the home, then a conservative and functional view should be chosen when spending remodel money. Provide the image of clean, fresh, and functional, not over the top!
5. Talk to a realtor
This is my own personal tip. Realtors do this for a living and have a very good idea on what’s going to sell a house or not. Just like our realtor wisely advised us to finish the addition and it paid off, consulting with one may save you a lot of money.
If you do renovate your home, you may need to inform your homeowners’ insurance company so you have the right coverage. When do you need to do so?
Our friendly Allstate Information Team member has the answer:
Renovations that address replacement of “worn” fixtures, flooring or cabinetry with like kind and quality materials does not need to be reported to your agent. However, changes that enhance, such as designer appliances or updates that add $5,000 or more to the room(s), should be discussed with your agent. Adding on additional rooms and space should definitely be reported.
What home renovations are on your list?
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most—but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.