Everyone who is buying a home or is looking to renovate their current home usually asks the same questions. What have you done lately? The curb appeal of the home, a new kitchen or master bath, what was remodeled and what repairs make the most sense always comes up. How’s the landscaping look and have you added a deck or patio? But these will come up whether you are selling or not, in my opinion. The list of questions and doubts seem to go on forever around this topic.
But let’s address the issue of staying in your home and not moving. What should you do?
If it were me, and for quite some time it actually was me, we decided that it was more important to remodel our home that reflects the way we live and NOT for resale down the road. I have friends who only remodel their homes because they saw something on TV that suggested a list of items to upgrade for the future sale. Why? Outside of basic maintenance on your home why remodel it for someone else. There are too many variables and unknowns for that to work. For us, replacing the old furnace was last on the list of items to upgrade and when we did a kitchen remodel and tore out some walls to open up the room we did this first because we entertain a great deal and this was a must. The kitchen is gorgeous and it reflects how we live more then remodeling it for a future sale, although this is high on the list of a buyers list of must-haves if you ever decide to sell so there’s a crossover benefit here.
We added wood floors and new lighting and a gas fireplace in one big room which is now our kitchen, dining room and sitting area. Six hundred and sixty square feet of gloriousness.
The basement (which is now called the lower level) is our living room and it’s been completely remodeled and stunning. It’s equipped with a bar, a new bathroom and shuffleboard table and carpet and a poker table, lots of barn wood and the list goes on. I tore out the wall that divided the furnace and laundry room from the living area and made it one giant 1,000 square foot luxury party room.
Our little three bedroom ranch is a jaw-dropping surprise to everyone who walks in the door as from the street it looks like a very small and typical three bedroom ranch home.
We added a new roof a few years back and because of hail damage, we were upgraded to new vinyl siding at the same time. Sweet! These two items were game changers when it came to refinancing the home recently. But is this basic maintenance when deciding to sell or stay? A recent survey showed that new siding and a new roof will recoup 95% of the cost of resale. That’s impressive.
We were forced to install a new water heater because the old tank heater sprung a leak. So, I upgraded to a tankless heater and I have to say, it’s wonderful! There was a master plan for this, however. When we decide to upgrade to a new furnace the water heater was in the way and would have to be removed and then reinstalled back to get the new furnace installed. So to prevent this extra costs of doing that the decision to go with tankless was made easy as it was installed on the wall and out of the way of the furnace. Now the furnace can easily be replaced when the time arrives. If you’re thinking about sinking some money into home improvement projects this year, ask yourself if you’re doing so to sell it or to live in it.
If you’re remodeling to sell it then the mindset seems too superficial to me. You’ll only do enough to get by and you’ll do it on the cheap. Some realtor said to put on a new coat of latest trend in paint so you threw on the paint just because you were told to. You won’t put in great kitchen cabinets – you’ll put in “new” cabinets from Home Depot. You won’t put in the best carpet and the new wood floors will be “ok” and not the kind you would put in if you were staying. You won’t pay extra for great lighting or do any of the extra special things that will make the home yours.
We decided to build a shed. So what’s the big deal about that? Well, we decided to build the shed to completely empty the garage not to store all our other stuff. We wanted a garage that you can drive in and open all the doors and not hit the walls or junk, etc. The garage is completely empty! (Except the trash and recycle bins.) I also added a Hot Dawg heater. Do you even know how amazing it is to get into a warm car in the winter? We do now.
If we ever decided to sell our home it would sell in an hour at my asking price regardless of the neighborhood because of its special and wonderful and it’s filled with everything we wanted in a home, although I’m sure everyone thinks the same way about their home.
Along the way, I built a stunning outdoor wood burning fireplace that we sit by all year long because we love the beauty of it and how it makes us feel. Not only that, but all the stone added to the outside of the fireplace is real – not cultured stone but real stones gathered in buckets from all the lakes of my youth (including Lake Michigan) and placed there. (To be honest, it took me longer to gather all the rocks and attach them then it did to build it, but that’s another story.) We didn’t build it because it made financial sense, we built it for us and we love it!
So, the takeaway from this is to not worry so much about remodeling your home because it makes financial sense down the road. Remodel for how you want to live and 90% of the time you’ll get the benefit anyway. Keeping up with basic maintenance should be done regardless but you can upgrade when doing so. That much I learned.