There are many reasons to make improvements to your home. Two common ones are lifestyle enhancement and adding value in anticipation of a sale. Depending on your reasons, the types of improvements that make sense to undertake are quite different. If you plan on staying in your home for many years to come, and you are making improvements to enhance your experience in your home, you should make the changes that will make you happiest, and focus less on what improvements are most valued by the market. If, on the other hand, you are making improvements to your home in anticipation of selling your home, or you are trying to increase the value of your home through these improvements, there are several factors to consider.
High-cost, high-maintenance luxuries, such as a swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna, tennis court, and labor intensive landscaping and gardening may actually make it difficult to find buyers who will want these features and be willing to pay for them. While these types of amenities may be appealing to you, they are not necessarily universally appealing, and the money spent on these improvements may not translate into an increased home value. Similarly, some improvements actually run the risk of turning off potential buyers, such as a patterned or a bold-colored new carpeting, or aluminum siding. Improvements made for the purpose of increasing the value of your home should have as broad an appeal as possible, so as to attract the highest number of prospective buyers.
A good rule of thumb is: if the cost of your proposed improvements increases the value of your home to more than 20% above that of the average home in your area, you will probably not recover your remodeling expenses when you sell your home. Remodeling your home to the point where it stands out as the most expensive home on your block may in fact push buyers away. Those who would otherwise qualify to purchase a home with your asking price will be looking in areas where neighboring homes are of comparable value, and those who are looking for a home in your neighborhood, will not be able to afford to buy your home because it is more expensive than all of the other homes in the vicinity. When making decisions about what home improvement projects to take on, choose projects that will be as universally appealing as possible to the types of buyers who are likely to be looking to purchase a home in your area.
If you are considering making any improvements to your home and would like a professional opinion on whether the improvements are likely to add value to your home, you should consult with a Realtor. A Realtor can tell you the current value of your home and can help estimate the added value of any improvements you are considering making to your home. A Realtor can also advise you as to which improvements are likely to yield the greatest financial rewards when you decide to sell your home. A trained real estate professional will work closely with you and will be able to recommend other professionals you will need to work with on your home improvement projects, such as contractors.
Choosing a good contractor can be the difference between ending up with the home you imagined, when you decided to do your home improvement project, and ending up with a disaster. You should choose a professional who is well established in the community and is willing to provide names of previous customers who will attest to the quality of his/her work. Before selecting a contractor, always seek several bids for comparison. Estimates of reliable contractors generally don’t vary too much from each other. And, while it may be tempting to select the contractor who enters the lowest bid, the lowest bid will not necessarily assure good workmanship and material.
Be sure that your contractor is fully insured, to protect you against claims by injured workers, guests or passersby. Ask to see the contractor’s Certificate of Insurance, which should list workman’s compensation and public liability insurance (personal and property). Where local laws require a contractor to have a license, verify the license number with the local building code office. You and your contractor should sign a contract before he/she begins working on your home. A home improvement contract usually contains: (i) a description of the project, (ii) material and labor specifications, (iii) estimated costs, (iv) time required for completion, (v) types of warrantees, if any, (vi) plans or sketches of the proposed project, (vii) description of necessary permits and fees, (viii) guarantee of quality of workmanship, (iv) total price, and (x) method of payment.
Good luck with your home improvements!!!