Realtors® Rate Most Cost Effective Home Improvement Projects

Realtors® from across the country have rated several home improvement projects that will not only add value to your home but will also recoup most of their costs upon resale. The 2015 Cost vs. Value Report helps owners decide if a project is worth the time and financial investments.

Deciding to take on a home improvement project can be overwhelming for many homeowners, and especially if they are trying to choose a project that will give them the biggest bang for their buck. Realtors® know hat features will be most attractive to potential buyers and this report provides homeowners with that insight.

Curb appeal has always been important, so makes sense that the top five remodeling projects from the 2015 Cost vs. Value Report that will give you the highest return on investment are all smaller, exterior improvements.

Steel Entry Door. For the second year in a row, Realtors® have named the steel entry door the number one home improvement project when it comes to seeing a return on your investment. It is also consistently the least expensive project in the report, costing about $1,200 on average; it was also the only project on this year’s list to recoup more than 100 percent of its cost at resale on a national level.

Manufactured Stone Veneer. This decorative building material is made to replicate the look of natural stone for a substantially lower price. This is the first year manufactured stone veneer has appeared in the Cost vs. Value report. On average, the project will cost around $7,150 and will recoup 92.2 percent of your investment.

Garage Door Replacement. Upgrading your garage door can update the entire exterior of your home, not to mention enhancing curb appeal. The garage door is one of the first things a potential buyer will see. It is part of the first impression your home gives, so it is important that it looks its best. A midrange steel garage door averages $1,595 and will recoup you 88.4 percent of your investment.

Fiber-Cement Siding. This high-end siding is resistant to termites, rot, moisture and fire. It is also incredibly stable and does not flex, meaning you’ll save money on less frequent repainting. This project will average you $14,014, and you can expect a return on investment of 84.3 percent.

Wood Deck Addition. An outdoor entertaining space is a large draw for many buyers. A deck provides a large amount of living area and at $30 per square foot it is a fraction of the cost of an indoor addition. The average cost for this project is $10,048 and recover 80.5 percent of your investment.

Before taking on any of these projects it is important to remember that all real estate is local. According to the Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS, every neighborhood is unique and the popularity and resale value of a specific remodeling project varies from community to community. This is why it is so important to work with a Realtor®. Realtors® have unparalleled knowledge of local market conditions and can help you decide which projects will deliver the most return on investment in your area.

The 2015 Cost vs. Value Report is published by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC and is done in collaboration with the National Association of Realtors®. Additional data from the report can be found at NAR’s consumer website,


8 Tips to Make Your Remodel More Energy-Efficient and Your Home Healthier

January 2013 Blog 2

As long as you’re remodeling, why not cut your utility bills and make your home a bit healthier too?
Here are eight tips that can help save energy and create a healthier environment inside your home.

Check for water intrusion, condensation and excess moisture before you begin the project.
Excess moisture encourages mold growth. Fixing those issues during remodeling can improve your home’s indoor air quality.

Use the least amount of framing allowed by your building code when adding walls
Not only will you have to pay for less lumber, the contractor will have more room to put insulation in your walls, making your home more energy-efficient.

Resist the urge to splurge on multiple showerheads
Opt for a single low-flow showerhead rather than installing a car wash-style plethora of showerheads.

Add new HVAC ducts to parts of your home that are heated and cooled
Try not to place ducts in a space with unconditioned air (like the attic). If that’s not possible, insulate the ducts. Have an HVAC diagnostician analyze your system to make sure it’s sized correctly and balanced to properly exchange old and new air.

Insulate around recessed lights that protrude into uninsulated attic spaces
These are major sources of air leaks.

If you’re wasting water, you’re wasting energy
Look at high-efficiency or solar water heaters, and insulate your water pipes. If you want hot water faster, move the water heater closer to the faucet or install demand pumps to drive hot water to the fixture.

Install wall-mounted efficiency toggle switch plates
Install wall-mounted efficiency toggle switch plates to make it easy to cut off the power to electronics you’re not using such as your television and computer.

Install a humidistat that automatically turns on the bathroom fan
Reducing bathroom moisture reduces the chances that you’ll have mold.

Should you stay or should you go?

Whether the initial love has faded or your home just isn’t working for you and your family anymore, deciding between selling your home and remodeling can sometimes be difficult. 

So what you should consider, before making the decision, is — will you be more satisfied with the end result than you are with your home now?

What is the current condition of your home?

If part of the reason your home isn’t working for you or your family anymore is that several areas of the home need updating or improving, then you may want to reconsider selling your home. Often an outdated kitchen and bathroom can have a considerable effect on the resale value of your home, and a renovation of these areas may be necessary anyway to get the maximum profit from your home.

What is it you need from your home?

If you are thinking of selling your home because its current size or the size of your property is no longer working for you, or if the area in which the house is located no longer serves the needs of your family, then selling your home is likely the best choice versus a remodel. Renovations that add additional rooms can be a huge cost and inconvenience, and in most cases will not give you a good return for your investment.

What is your financial situation?

Another thing you need to consider before deciding whether to sell or remodel is your financial situation as well as the financial standing of your home. If the recent downfall in the housing market has made the value of your home less than the outstanding balance of your mortgage, you will definitely not want to sell. Also, if you are thinking of a remodel, you’ll want to be sure it will not put a financial burden on you or your family.

Overall, deciding on whether to sell or remodel depends on a number of factors, and contacting your local Realtor® is always a great way to get the best advice for your particular situation.

Should you move or remodel?

Deciding whether you should move or remodel is a big decision. The most important things you need to consider, before you make this decision, are the four things you can’t change: 

*Your home’s value compared to the rest of the neighborhood
* How much you love your neighborhoodThe size of your lot
* The cost to move your stuff to a new house 

Just about everything else — remodeling costs, the hassle of living in a construction zone, or the ability to live happily without one more bathroom — is a personal preference.

 1. Will remodeling make your home better than everyone else’s?

To make the right move-or-remodel decision, you have to know:                      

*Your home’s value. Easy. Just ask a Realtor® to estimate it and tell you how it compares with the value of the other homes in your immediate neighborhood. Ask your Realtor® what your house will be worth after the improvements too.

*Your neighbors’ home value. Hit some open houses. Seeing the inside of area homes will inspire you; help you make good choices about finishes, room sizes, and how much to spend; and, admit it, entertain you.

*Your remodeling costs. Once you’ve got your renovation vision, get a quote from a home improvement contractor or, if you’re remodeling it yourself, tally the costs of the items on your supplies shopping list.

 *Then add the remodeling costs to the value of your home. If the number you get is more than 10% above the average value of homes in your neighborhood, you’re over-improving and probably won’t be able to sell for what you put into the remodel.

 2. Do you love where you live?

Want to keep your kids in the same school district, but can’t find or afford a bigger, better house? Love the neighbors? Have an easy commute to work? Stay put. If you’ve soured on the traffic, the neighborhood’s crime rate, or the nosy neighbors, move on. 

3. Do you have room to expand?

If your remodeling plans include increasing the overall size of your home, the size of your lot may be the deciding factor in whether to move or remodel. If you live in a 1,500 sq. ft. ranch on a 3,000 sq. ft. lot, you might be able to add a second story to turn it into a 3,000 sq. ft. two-story, but you’re not likely to add 1,500 sq. ft. at ground level. And if you have a septic tank and well, the location of those will limit how and where you add onto your home (or cost you a bundle to move).

 4. Can you afford to move?

Consider these moving costs: closing costs for your existing home, shipping your household goods, buying window treatments and possibly furniture for the new house, costs to fix up your existing home before the sale, higher utility costs (if your next house is larger), insurance cost differences, and property taxes.

 For help with making the final decision on whether to move or remodel, contact your local Realtor®.

Remodeling Within Your Budget

Remodeling your home may actually be easier than you thought. With the following tips, you can get your home looking great in no time, with little money.

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to improve your home’s look is adding a fresh coat of paint. For instance, change the color of your living room from a pale, boring tan to a lively green. Paint is a cheap, fresh alternative to spruce up your home’s looks.

One of the best cost-saving tips is doing the work yourself. Much of the cost of a remodel is for labor. Cut that chunk out of your budget and do the work yourself. Not only is it an opportunity to save money, but to spend quality family time or learn about home maintenance techniques.

Doing it yourself doesn’t have to be literal either. It just means not hiring costly professionals and contractors. Use other resources available to you, such as your friends and family. This will provide you with more support for your tasks without breaking the bank.

Rather than opting for expensive new furniture, check out local secondhand stores. Often they sell nice, comfortable, long-lasting furniture. Just be sure the furniture is still sturdy enough for your usage. Don’t be afraid if it needs fresh upholstery or a new coat of paint that will help bring out the best of your remodeled room.

Many times, stores will have inexpensive, last-chance, as-is items that customers can snag for cheap. These items may not be 100% perfect, but they can more than do the job you need. They also help expand your budget to allow for extra home appliances and items such as special paint, new outdoor furniture or other décor.

For the best places to shop locally, ask your local REALTOR!

Get What You Need From a Kitchen Remodel

Getting distracted while planning for a kitchen remodel happens easily. Sure, that new model refrigerator looks great, but it may not be exactly what you need.

A quick way to outspend your budget is to overestimate your needs. A large commercial grade stove is not always necessary, even if it looks the best. The same goes for refrigerators and other kitchen appliances. Only go as big and modern as what fits you.

One key to a great looking kitchen is efficient lighting. As a cook, you need bright lighting during food preparation. Track lighting installed over the food prep area provides exactly what you need. Install lights under cabinets, or use hanging lights over commonly used areas to increase the brightness of your new kitchen. These lights will come in handy when you’re cleaning up after meals by helping you find spots on counters or even dishes.

Remodeling a kitchen is a big investment. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Avoid purchasing cheap materials just to save a few dollars. Look for durability in your kitchen. Solid countertops that require low maintenance are a great long-term investment. They will look just as great years down the road as they do right after installation.

Everyone could always use a little more storage in their kitchen. Plan for plenty of space for extra dishes, more food, or other unexpected additions. A great way to get the most out of your space is installing cabinets that extend to the ceiling. This also saves some work, as dusting the top will no longer be necessary. Installing extra shelving and hooks also increases your space efficiency.

Plan to get the most out of your kitchen remodel. Stay focused on your plan and budget, and your kitchen will be brand new in no time.

Simplifying Complex Kitchen Remodels

There’s only one way to solve complex problems – come up with a plan. When it comes to remodeling your kitchen, a plan is exactly what you need.

The first step is to establish your priorities. To properly plan, spend at least six months researching, determining your budget, and deciding upon needs, wants, and potential issues. This saves the homeowner money, and the contractor time.

The kitchen is one of the most frequented rooms, so plan for heavy traffic. Leave plenty of space for you and others to get around. A recommendation for walkway space is at least 36 inches. Cooking space for chefs is recommended at 42 inches for a solo cook and 48 inches for multiple cooks.

For plumbing, install new fixtures at or near the existing piping. This saves the homeowner money on reconstruction and demolition costs. Eliminating those processes also prevents much of the dust and debris associated with remodeling.

Now what’s left is managing those contractors in your home. Keep a healthy relationship with them by communicating early and often. Remind contractors of your budget. Set ground rules from the beginning. Designate smoking areas, appropriate noise levels, and frequently stop by to check up on the team. Some homeowners will even install a whiteboard for daily communication between the homeowner and contractor.

Sounding like too much for you? Hire a designer to complete these planning steps. Designers typically account for 5% – 15% of total project costs.

These few easy tips can save you hundreds of dollars throughout the remodel. They will also save your contractor time, money, and most of all, frustration.