Remodeling Your Home

The classic way for homeowners to increase the value of their house is by remodeling existing rooms or adding on to its current plan.

Some choose to build recreation rooms and studies while others add new appliances, fixtures and cabinets to enliven rooms and make their home more attractive to future buyers.

But, when should you decide to stop sinking money into a home and buy a bigger place? And how much rehab is too much when it comes time to recovering remodeling costs through a home sale?

For instance, if you’ve just spent $1,000 remodeling your living room and didn’t expand your small bathroom, the chances of increasing the number of interested buyers are slim.

With these concerns in mind, I can offer a few tips for those struggling to add value to their home.

First, always protect the character of your home. Nothing sticks out more than a new addition that is in a completely different architectural style. Be consistent. Recognize your home’s character and stay within its framework.

The most financially rewarding areas to remodel are usually the kitchen and bath. Newly re-done cooking spaces and cabinets can attract more buyers and may command a slightly higher price for the home than a comparable one on the market. Simple repairs that are made to last will bring you the biggest returns upon sale.

Enlarged bathrooms are the most popular attraction for new homebuyers, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Today, the most popular additions for younger buyers are sunken whirlpool baths and showers. But be sure to install modest, solid amenities. It’s easy to quickly over-spend on bathroom fixtures.

Buyers are, by convention, more interested in aboveground living space – not basements, yards and walkways. Swimming pools can be a poor investment if installed for the sole purpose of increasing a home’s value; it’s rare that a pool’s cost will be recovered in a home sale. It can also be a negative feature for potential buyers with very young children.

Replacing worn carpeting, tiles and wood floors can give your home an immediate advantage over similar properties in the area. Updating paint colors in all areas of your home can also prove beneficial.

However, it’s recommended that you use neutral colors, such as gray, beige and off-white when adding new floor and wall coverings. Fewer buyers will then turn away because of differing tastes.

Stay simple with your remodeling and look at your home as though you were the buyer. Chances are that if you find the upstairs bedroom could be brightened by a larger window, potential buyers will probably feel the same.

Don’t go overboard. Concentrate on improving two or three deficiencies in your home. More than likely, the time and money you spend adding quality to your home will be rewarded with greater profit at selling time.

If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen, or finishing your basement, you probably want to get your investment back when you sell your home. But when it comes to payback value of home improvements, some are definitely more profitable than others. As a general rule, kitchen and bathroom projects usually get a nice return on investment, typically 90% or more. Things like adding rooms or finishing basements tend to pay back the least. Finishing a basement usually returns less than 50%, so it’s not a project likely to show profit at selling time.

There are a number of factors that go into determining how well a project will pay back. Payback value depends a lot on the current market conditions in your neighborhood. If the market is hot and homes are selling fast, you can expect a higher payback value than you would get in a slow market.

The type of project you do and how it fits in with other homes in the area can have a big influence on payback too. If you put your money into the wrong type of improvement, you won’t get your money back. But if you're smart about what you do, you can add value to your home which will make marketing it in the future even easier. The payback will be better on improvements that are in demand and conform to your neighborhood’s standards. Adding a second bathroom in a neighborhood where most homes have two bathrooms will give a high return on investment. Building a large addition that makes your home twice as big as the other homes on the block probably won’t pay back very well. Likewise, the popularity of a project will factor into how much it pays back. An improvement heavily customized to your wants and needs won’t pay back as well as something more common to other homes in the neighborhood.

Another factor to consider is the cost of the improvements. If you can do the work yourself, you can save significantly on the cost of the project and greatly improve the chances of getting a good return on the investment.

The list below is compiled from several published surveys and shows typical payback for some popular remodeling projects:

  • Kitchen remodeling – 90%
  • Add a bathroom – 90%
  • Bathroom remodeling – 80%
  • Install central heating – 90%
  • Install central air – 75%
  • Add a deck – 70%
  • Replace windows – 70%
  • Add a room – 55%
  • Build a pool – 45%
  • Finish a basement – 40%

If you are considering selling your home sometime in the next 24 months, contact me to discuss your improvements and whether they make sense for your needs and how they will impact the marketing of your home.


About the agent
Debbie Marino, Broker, RealtorĀ®, GRI
BRE# 01840227
Contact info
Cell: (408) 210-2400
Fax: (408) 370-9633
1790 Winchester Blvd, Suite 3, Campbell, CA 95008