Making the decision: Remodel or sell?
"For every dollar I put
in here, I got two dollars back," Peyton says. The appraised value of the
house just about doubled, he says.
He gives a
great deal of credit to his remodeling contractor for helping them realize what
was possible. That echoes advice that both Appleton and Brick give about consulting
contractors who can help you to visualize exactly what you want rather than impose
their vision upon you.
In researching whether
to move, Appleton adds, you should consult with potential new neighbors to find
out what living in that neighborhood is like.
considering the remodeling route, she says, talk to friends and family for firsthand
"Sometimes people have had such headaches
with a remodeling job that they say they would never do it again," Appleton
says. "Others are so thrilled with the end product that they say all the
inconveniences were worth it. These people are a great resource. They will bring
a reality check to prospective remodelers who may be looking at the project through
rose-colored glasses or they can help those on the fence with the push to move
One piece of advice that John and
Beth Fuller of Reading, Mass., got was to avoid living in their house while it
was being remodeled, but they didn't follow it and that's her sole regret about
the project, which is just about complete.
who had been through remodeling projects told me it would be stressful and hard
on our marriage to live in the house while it was being worked on," she says.
Living with the rubble, dust and workmen entering your private space takes a toll
on every relationship. "I found that whatever your friends tell you about
how tough it is you have to multiply by a hundred."
Fullers' reasons for remodeling rather than moving were much the same as the Peytons'.
"We had bought our house at the right time,"
she says. "It was the last bargain in Reading."
house's value, even without remodeling, was going up, up, up. That escalating
market priced them out of buying another house in the area. Still, the plain fact
was that the house was too small for them and their growing family, which now
includes two children. Their solution was to refinance, taking advantage of lower
interest rates and cashing out some equity to pay for adding an extra wing and
refurbishing their 1850s farmhouse.
to getting just the house they needed in the area where they wanted to stay, they
boosted the appraised value of their home from about $300,000 before the remodeling
to $500,000 afterward.
But remodeling is not
always the answer, even if you love the home. Take the example of Shannon Wilkinson
and her husband, Patrick Nye, of Portland, Ore.
house, built in 1906, badly needed a second bathroom. Although they knew from
the financial end that any remodeling would add to the home's value, "we
weren't really interested in surviving a remodeling while we were living in the
house," Wilkinson says.
The house had never
been remodeled before but it had some of those baling wire and duct tape fixes
that would have to be addressed during a project and make it drag on.
didn't want to move out, remodel and then move back in, so we decided to buy another
house that had more of the features we wanted already in place," she says.
This couple offers proof that there are times
when you can find such a house in the area where you want to live. In fact, the
house they bought is just blocks away from their former house.
"new" house, built in 1925, featured two bathrooms, a master bedroom
and a bigger yard that better accommodates their two large dogs: a boxer and a
"We absolutely wanted to stay
in the neighborhood," she says. "And if we couldn't have found the house
we wanted, we probably would have moved out of the neighborhood, but that was
really our last choice."
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-- Updated: Oct. 24, 2005