Home Renovations – Which Ones Are Really Worth It?

A Little Bit of All of It has reached 4,000 hits so it’s time for a guest writer! I have been wanting a male voice here on the blog so I’m excited to welcome Josh Lyall! He blogs regularly for Jackson Marketing Group where he is involved in offering research-based strategic marketing solutions. I hope you enjoy something from the male point of view today here on the blog!

First, let me acknowledge what you are already thinking: “Josh is a weird name for somebody writing on a mommy blog.”  It’s true, I’m a dude – so what am I doing on a mommy blog?  Well, I thought about turning down the invite to guest-post, but this blog is just so warm and inviting compared to the normal ones I write for (marketing/business/technology blogs), that I just had to stay a little longer once I visited.

I know I could earn bonus points with my host if I wrote on one of her favorite topics like the upcoming National Hug a Pug Day (Note to Self:  March 23rd – make more effort than usual to avoid people with pugs) or my discovery of some sort of granola and green tea based exfoliating cream.  But instead, I thought I’d just write about something that is occupying a good percentage of my free time right now: home renovations, and deciding which ones are worth it.

My house is getting to the age when the second wave of more serious repairs/renovations kicks in.  At 15 years old, the house has been through a round of carpet and linoleum replacements and the normal paint and appliance/HVAC system repairs, but the bigger stuff is looming – roof, gutters, full HVAC replacement, etc.

It is with these larger repairs looming that I have been considering renovations.  The goal is to not incur significant costs that would limit the ability to complete larger projects that come up, while still making the house more livable and more re-sellable when the time comes.  As I went down the list of potential projects for the house and began to investigate their related costs, the need for some supporting research became clear (I don’t make decisions without data).

The Cost vs. Value Report published annually by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling magazine provides a good resource for evaluating which home renovation projects give you the most value for your investment in the long-term appreciation of your house.  The data can be viewed broken down by the region of the country the house is in, which provides some interesting insights into the different average costs of projects throughout the country.  The most interesting information is definitely the average percent of project cost recouped.  Looking at different regions of the country, you’ll see things that make sense, like the value added to your house by adding a deck is higher in the Southeast or Pacific West than New England (where you’d need to shovel your deck to use it most months of the year).

For my purposes, I screened the data for the Southeast and compared all the potential renovation projects that were on my list.  It quickly became clear that several projects made the most sense, starting with a minor kitchen overhaul.  It is interesting that a minor overhaul (done well, of course) actually lends 4% more return on investment than a major overhaul.  Plus, both a minor and major kitchen overhaul are in the top ten for project costs recouped, putting them among the best projects to help your potential resale value.  Other high-return renovation projects are entry door and garage door replacement, changing to vinyl windows, and of course, adding that deck (assuming you’re in a climate with less than 10 months of winter – sorry Minnesota).

During a time when selling your house might not be possible and improvements are needed to make staying more enjoyable, it would be advisable to do a little investigation into which projects you will be able to get the most value out of when the housing market turns around and a move is possible once again.

Well, I’m heading back to tearing up flooring in my kitchen – thanks for the respite in the land of the mommy blogs.  And if someone does start selling green tea granola exfoliant, I want a cut.

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