Before the recession, a common trend was to buy a house, fix it up, add equity and sell it for as much as possible. But the era of manic house-flipping is over for now, according to the builders and remodelers we consulted. Today, people are upgrading their homes with carefully considered additions or re-dos, and settling in for the duration. With judicious planning, rebuilding and remodeling, you can enjoy your home for years to come.
Jeff Hochman, Chouteau Building Group
• Before you build, add on or remodel, analyze how you use your existing space. Where do you and your family usually congregate? Often you don’t really need a huge addition if you make an existing space lighter, brighter and more comfortable by opening up a doorway, removing ornate crown molding and window casings, or even changing your window treatments or lighting.
• The most cost-effective changes are remodeling your kitchen, adding a bathroom, redoing the basement, and building a porch. Remodeling your kitchen just about guarantees a 90 percent payback on your investment when you sell. Redecorating a dining room you use once or twice a year is probably a waste of money, but turning your basement into a cozy, comfortable family room is a great value.
Kurt Goebel, Bella Homes
• The key to remodeling effectively is, don’t over-improve your home. Make sure changes are harmonious in value with the entire neighborhood. If your home is worth $500,000 and you put on an addition that increases its value to $700,000, you’ll never get that money back when you sell.
• If you’re building or remodeling now, your money is best spent on energy efficiency. We just did a house in Brentwood where the heating bills were sky high. We replaced the old windows and redid the insulation, and cut the utility bills by half. Fifty years ago, the cost of heating was cheaper than that of new windows, but that’s no longer the case.
• Sometimes it pays to simplify your remodeling. We had a client who wanted to move her kitchen to an addition. We explained that the cost of relocating the plumbing was so high that she would be better off remodeling her current kitchen instead.
Arthur Merdinian, Consolidated Design & Construction Group
• To add tremendous visual interest to a bathroom at relatively little cost, use ceramic tile to create a pattern or border on the walls or floor. You’ll spend a little more initially, but ceramic tile has a higher perceived value than other types, and adds visual pop to the project.
• Air infiltration is the biggest energy robber. Pick up some weather-stripping at a hardware store and use it around your doors and windows. If you’re doing an addition, spring for a high-grade insulation and the best window quality you can afford. Make sure you’ve got good insulation in your attic. The good stuff might cost more, but it saves money on utility bills in the long run. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.