1. Let the experts take the lead. Hire a designer and/or architect to be involved in the project. Good design is often the number one key to getting the highest return on your investment. Modest materials look more expensive if the design is thoughtful and well-articulated. Conversely, we have seen homeowners lose money spent on quality materials when they scrimped on the critical planning stage. When buyers are turned off by the layout or aesthetic, they will subtract the expense of future remodeling from their perception of value. Design consultants can work within all budget constraints and can be worth their weight in gold.
2. How long you plan to live in your home is an important consideration.
· If you plan only to be in the home for less than five years, improvements should be budget conscience with an eye toward splurging on a few key elements that will have the most universal appeal. Buyers will notice a well chosen focal point (like that great chef’s range), which in turn can bring up the value of remodel. Ask your agent what features current buyers are gravitating towards.
· If you plan to stay for ten to fifteen years, your emphasis should change to a more timeless design and the use of quality long-lasting materials. Now the focal points are less important because the fixtures can be changed out at a future date. In the kitchen, spend your money on high quality cabinets, good flooring and solid surface countertops that remain sensitive to (or improve on) the original architect’s design. Later, new appliances and fixtures may be all it takes to reinvigorate your investment.
· If you plan to stay for twenty years or more, you can more easily throw caution to the wind. Long range plans factor in a higher value for your years of “use and enjoyment.” Even unconventional alterations may now be worthwhile if they please you and your family. Chances are, many of today’s improvements will need to be re-evaluated at a later date.
3. Every year (in December) the National Association of Realtors comes out with a Cost vs. Value Report, which tries to reign in the areas of improvement which recoup the highest cost percentage. Such statistics can help, but are never as good as first-hand expert advice. Ask your agent to take a look at your individual project in light of the local market place.