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Home remodeling: Pick renovations that pay off
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Bathrooms have changed the most during the past century. Your grandparents may remember when they were outside. Your parents probably made do with just one. Today, homes that have more than one sell faster and fetch a higher price. A midrange bath remodel (less than $10,000) placed third in the 2004 survey with a ROI of 90.1 percent. Popular renovations include skylights, couples walk-in showers, glass block windows and vaulted ceilings. Raised Jacuzzi tubs, ceramic tile floors and ceiling fans have become standard features in affordably priced new homes.

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Bathroom additions ranked high in the survey as well. A midrange addition (approximately $20,000) returned 86.4 percent; an upscale addition ($40,000-plus) fetched an 80.1-percent return. But finding space to add a bathroom can prove tricky; for best results, consider a contractor.

"You can't lose by adding a bath," says Johnson. "If you're remodeling, his and her dressing rooms, even his and her bathrooms, are big. Then the husband can shave and the wife can fix her hair without the shower steam. If money's tight, just replacing the water fixtures helps."

  • Family rooms came into vogue after many American homes were built; hence, you may face sacrificing other spaces (rooms, closets) to create one. To enlarge the space, try lowering the floor, opening the ceiling or expanding out with box-bay windows. According to the survey, adding a family room can be a wise (80.6 percent ROI) but costly ($50,000-plus) investment.

  • Bedrooms are always listed first in real estate descriptions for good reason: we spend nearly half our lives there. If you can put one in your attic, you're likely to recoup 82.7 percent of the estimated $35,000 cost of installation. Consider stacking your bathrooms to cut costs. Properly placed dormers and roof windows can help offset the add-on appearance.

  • Master suites have become more the rule than the exception in most hot real estate markets. If you are converting a bedroom into a master suite, try to locate the closet as a buffer between bedroom and bath, and enhance the suite effect with recessed lighting, sconces and built-in adjustable reading lights. A midrange master suite ($70,000-plus) will return 80.1 percent; an upscale master ($135,000-plus) a bit less, at 77.6 percent..

  • Decks expand your living space, and you rarely lose by making your home larger, be it exterior or interior renovations. A $7,000 deck addition placed fourth in ROI at 86.7 percent.

  • Unused/renewed spaces might not top the list of money-smart remodeling projects, but a basement makeover ($47,000-plus) can still command a 76.1-percent return. A sunroom addition ($30,000-plus), which made the survey for the first time, might fetch a 70.8-percent return.

  • Windows quickly and inexpensively add to a home's volume, and volume is the buzzword in real estate these days. So it's no surprise that your return on new glass is excellent, whether you're contemplating a midrange window replacement (less than $10,000) at 84.5 percent or an upscale replacement ($15,000-plus) at 83.7 percent.


Next: "Don't expect the next buyer to pay for your fancies."
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Remodeling rules of thumb
Time to tap your home's equity?
How to deduct home equity interest on your taxes
Home equity can be used to buy car
Interest Rate Roundup
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