A profitable remodel takes a lot of skill, market savvy, and luck. It is possible that a few minor, strategic touches can transform a house, but those opportunities are rare. Remodeling tends to go deeper than expected, and one project can lead to another.
The flip-this-house programs on television do not work in the real world. Professional remodelers buy low, make some improvements, and live with a certain amount of risk. Many factors can affect profitability. For example, the home may already be at peak value for the neighborhood. Or, prices may fall due to economic conditions. Or, you may make changes that are important to you, but do not create higher resale value.
Therefore, think of remodeling as a way to improve your home for you and your family. It is well worth it to consult with an architect and Realtor friend before proceeding. They will know the latest trends in materials and colors, and will bring a higher level of expertise to your job. Sometimes people make the mistake of not thinking deeply enough about how to improve their home. You may be thinking of enlarging the kitchen, when you could simply open a wall to have a lighter, bigger space. It is more cost effective to make better use of the space you have than to add on.
One of the biggest mistakes we see is the surface remodeling of a house, room by room. This misses the opportunity to consider how the architecture of the space can be redone to create more dynamic changes that improve the livability of the house and its market value.
Colors and finishes transition to new styles about every ten years. For example, in the early 1990’s bath tile tended to be white with green or maroon accents. In the 2000’s that was out, and granite or travertine was in. Now we see glass tiles, concrete, and engineered stone. People want to refresh the look of their homes. Staying in style with the current trend in colors and finishes adds to the value of your home. It gives it emotional appeal – an important thing to have when you are ready to sell. Finishes are not difficult to change, and they make a big visual change – a lot of bang for the buck.
An optimum time for updates is just after the purchase of a home. Vacant houses are much easier to work with. This is the time to attack that popcorn ceiling, remove old wallpaper, re-finish wood floors, paint, and re-carpet. It is safer and faster to work in an empty space.
In small homes the most common addition is a new master bedroom and bath. Modern baths are bigger and brighter than they used to be. Although the trend is toward smaller baths, we have moved from humongous to simply big. Closet needs today will not go back to the 1950’s. Often the limited closet space in older homes is simply unacceptable to today’s buyers.
A popular motivation for remodeling is the need for more living space for expanded families. Couples have more children, or children get older and want more space. We see game or media rooms added for teenagers, as well as outdoor spaces, such as covered patios or pools.
It is not uncommon to see homes re-done after the kids move out. Couples want to clean out and simplify their lives.
By far, the kitchen is the room most often updated. This is the heart of the home and gets the most intense use. When it looks dated or worn, it establishes the condition of the house. This is the area that has the best return on investment. New appliances, countertops, lighting, floors, paint, and updated cabinets are very visual improvements, and can transform the look of the home. These changes are enjoyable to live with, and are upgrades that add market value. So, kitchen updates are a win on several different levels.
A better connection with the outdoors will add to the emotional appeal of your home. People love front porches, screened rooms, covered patios, and courtyards. Improving tired old landscaping can make a huge difference. One of the most common remodeling mistakes is not realizing that old, woody shrubs come across as stodgy, and set a dated tone before people even come inside.