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10 Tips for Renovators
Changes For The Better
Where renovations are concerned, there are two types of homeowners. One says, "I'm doing this myself and to hell with what anyone else thinks." The other says, "I'm spending a bundle and I'd like to get some of it back."
Only those in the latter category need read on.
Rule 1.Look At Your Planned Renovations From a Prospective Buyer's Point of View. Sooner or later your going to sell thehouse; don't be talked into impractical desigs that could turn people off. Surprisingly, architects and builders are often the worst culprits; they throw up glass everywhere you look, but glass with a northern exposure doesn't make any sense in our climate.
Rule 2. Avoid Idiosyncracy. Generally speaking, the more personalized your home, the less its appeal to others. Odd shaped rooms and bold decorator colors will repel far more buyers than they'll attract.
Rule 3. Don't Be Faddish. Once the vogue passes, you'll be left with a house you can't sell. High-Tech, ultra modern houses were the rage for a while. Now those houses are out of fashion and there's a great return to more conventional building and decorating styles.
Rule 4. Don't Overspend. If you upgrade your house to the point where it's the most expensive one on the street, you'll never recover your money. Work out the numbers first, if your planning a $30,000 addition that will increase the cost of your property to, say, $150,000, check how that compares with recent resales in your area. If the top price is $130,000, think again!
Rule 5. Invest in Kitchens and Bathrooms. The experts are unanimous on this point - kitchens and bathrooms offer a better return for your renovating dollar than anything else you might consider.
But don't overdo it. Ensuite bathrooms are excellent value, but the emphasis on size has faded somewhat. Six-foot bathtubs are already out of style. They're marvellous to show your friends so they can imagine what you might do in them. But no one ever does it. And the things take two hours to fill and two hours to clean!
Be moderate in redoing a kitchen. No one seems to know or care whether a kitchen has been produced by a top-of-the-line manufacturer such as Beckerman or Laurentide or someone less expensive like Canac. So spending a big buck for kitchen fixtures and appliances is unlikely to pay off! Go for less-expensive fixtures, have a good layout, and decorate the hell out of it. People won't notice the quality isn't top of the line until they've lived there for a while.
Rule 6. Stay Away From Toys. Swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, garburetors,central vacuuming systems,and air conditioning will never pay for themselves. Put these things in for your own enjoyment, but don't expect a buyer to pay for them. In fact, some expensive extras - pools, for example - may actually detract from the value of a property. Even seemingly practical toys like security systems won't pay off. People don't think about getting robbed. The same applies to expensive energy conservation devices. Despite what you hear, Canadians are not energy conscious people.
Rule 7. Choose the Cosmetic Over The Functional. That may seem cynical but people pay for overall effect. The whole thing boils down to show. Anything behind a wall does not add value. You can put in all the copper wiring and insulation you want. But people won't pay for what they can't see.
One caveat: The older the home, the more likely prospective buyers will look for such things. In those cases, new wiring is important because people are increasingly concerned about the number of fires caused by bad wiring.
Rule 8. Spruce Up The Outside. Money spent on landscaping and a fresh coat of paint is one of the best home-improvement investments you can make. A well-landscaped garden with a patio of some sort is a tremendous plus. But I wouldn't spend money on a deck. It costs a lot more and you probably won't recover it. The exterior of a house is extremely important when you want to sell. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Rule 9. Pay for Quality. Poor design or execution xcan actually reduce the value of your property. A good renovation should never be obvious to the eye. It should blend in perfectly with the rest of the property. And make sure it's in character with the rest of the house. Don't tack a modern addition onto a colonial-style home.Unless your an expert craftsperson, don't try doing the job yourself. Sloppy, unprofessional work will only reduce the resale value of your house.
Rule 10. Think Twice Before You Start. Renovations, especially major ones, will always cost more and take longer than you anticipate. You probably won't recover the money you put in. Of all the renovations we've seen, they almost never come in on budget. The plain fact is that when you open up a wall, you never know what your going to find. Our experience is that there are very few people who have gone through a renovation who would ever go through it again!