Sunday, January 24, 2010

10 remodeling projects that deliver

One of the services a good real estate agent should provide is advice concerning what you can do to increase the appeal of your home to the average buyer.

I typically discourage potential sellers from doing a full-blown remodel unless they plan to stay in the home a while and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It's just too difficult to predict what a potential buyer will want so it's quite possible that you could spend big bucks creating what you believe is the perfect kitchen (or Master Suite, or patio, etc.), only to discover that a buyer intends to rip it all out and do something completely different. In such a case, you will not recoup your investment.

A better plan is to complete those projects that ensure the structural integrity of the home and then turn your attention to low-cost cosmetic projects that increase its universal appeal.

Following are suggestions for 10 relatively low-cost, high-sparkle projects to increase the overall value of your home.

1. Organize your kitchen cupboards. Sounds simple, and it is. Remove all the stuff you never use and tidy up what's left. Consider installing roll-out organizers or other space-savers.

2. Replace kitchen backsplash. Adding or replacing tiles is an inexpensive way to update the look of your kitchen.

3. Add a breakfast bar. Many older homes have walls separating the kitchen from a dining room or family room. Explore the possibility of breaking through the wall to create an opening that will accommodate an oversized slab of granite. Add high stools and you have a breakfast bar!

4. Choose granite tile rather than slab. The cost difference is substantial, and the visual impact is still significant.

5. Replace bathroom fixtures. Rather than replacing all the tile in the bathroom, address the less expensive fixtures such as the medicine cabinet, faucets and vanity. And re-grouting can make old tile look new.

6. Paint an unfinished basement. Just because your basement isn't "finished", doesn't mean it needs to feel damp and dungeon-like. If the walls are of cement block or poured concrete, consider hiring a contractor to fill in any cracks. Then you can repaint with waterproofing paint and add a topcoat of color.

7. Create an extra room. Okay, so this isn't always possible, but if you have an oversized, under-used space that can be subdivided with a little drywall, give it serious consideration.

8. Reface or recondition kitchen cabinets. The fronts of kitchen cabinets become surprisingly worn-looking over time. If yours are made of a good quality wood, consider having them reconditioned to remove nicks and scratches and restore the luster. If they are made of lesser-grade materials, consider painting them or replacing them altogether. Replacing the hardware is also relatively inexpensive and can be the quickest, easiest way to update the look of your kitchen.

9. Update light fixtures. The public's preference for various styles of kitchen and bathroom light fixtures in particular, tends to be rather cyclical. You can update the look of these rooms by updating the style of light fixtures. Recessed, canned lights and pendant lights are currently more popular than track lighting.

10. Replace garage door opener. A remote touch-pad entry system can make your garage appear more up-to-date and tech friendly.

Do you have other ideas you'd like to share? Please feel free to comment so others can benefit.

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