How much is too much on home improvements?
Or, say you're in the market for a new furnace. A sky-high efficiency
rating is going to cost more upfront, but over the years you'll save more. Planning
to sell within the next year? Then a lower-efficiency furnace may be best.
For those planning to stay put,
craftsman Bruce Johnson, author of "Fifty
Ways to Save Your House," points out
that one never really knows what may happen.
"We're a rather mobile society these
days. Job transfers come, we move, nothing
is certain. I, myself, would be very careful
about not over-improving my house to the point
where it would be impossible to get the money
back out of it."
precisely why experts recommend sitting down with a real estate agent before doing
costly home improvements. Which projects will increase the resale value? Which
ones would make the house tough to sell?
For homeowners uncertain
about whether moving would be more cost-effective than taking on improvement projects
at all, check the free online calculator at Remodelormove.com.
If selling seems most logical, think in terms of what
improvements are necessary for resale (i.e. correcting water, mold or pet damage)
and what will help prospective buyers see the house in the best light (i.e. repairing
a squeaky door hinge), says Jim Rocchetta, national marketing director of Handyman
Connection, which maintains a network of more than 4,000 independent craftsmen.
of whether staying or moving is the plan, licensed contractor James Carey, who
hosts the nationally syndicated radio program "On the House" with his
brother Morris, advises a common sense approach to ensure that selected improvements
are worth it.
"You don't go out and remodel your kitchen
if the exterior of your home is cracking, if your lights are flickering, if you
have evidence of termites, if your roof is leaking," Carey says. "You
take care of the maintenance aspect of it first. Protect your family, and then
protect your pocketbook."
That includes knowing when to
stop adding extras to your home. "The bottom line is, you can overbuild a
house," Zeman says. "You don't ever want to end up with the biggest,
most expensive home in whatever area of the city you live in."