Improvements that add value to your house

By JAY MacDONALD

  • Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:09pm
  • Business

By JAY MacDONALD

Scripps Howard News Service

Here’s what’s hot in remodels, room by room:

Kitchens typically suffer the most wear and tear. And because kitchens tend to follow style and color trends, they often seem dated sooner than other rooms in the home. The most popular minor improvements include adding functionality with dual sinks and cooking stations, and cosmetic improvements such as under-cabinet lighting, marble or granite countertops and ceramic tile backsplashes. To add space, consider a walk-in pantry or breakfast alcove.

“The younger buyers, especially the baby boomers, want a modern kitchen with the cook top stove and nice cabinets, not to mention wine coolers and Sub-Zero refrigerators,” says Mary Johnson, residential specialist with Premier Properties.

Bathrooms have changed the most during the past century. Your grandparents may remember when they were outside. Your parents probably made do with just one. Today, homes that have more than one sell faster and fetch a higher price. A mid-range bath remodel (less than $10,000). Popular renovations include skylights, couples’ walk-in showers, glass block windows and vaulted ceilings. Raised Jacuzzi tubs, ceramic tile floors and ceiling fans have become standard features in affordably priced new homes.

Bedrooms are always listed first in real estate descriptions for good reason: We spend nearly half our lives there. If you can put one in your attic, you’re likely to recoup 82.7 percent of the estimated $35,000 cost of installation. Consider stacking your bathrooms to cut costs. Properly placed dormers and roof windows can help offset the add-on appearance.

Decks expand your living space, and you rarely lose by making your home larger, be it exterior or interior renovations.

Windows quickly and inexpensively add to a home’s volume, and volume is the buzzword in real estate these days. So it’s no surprise that your return on new glass is excellent, whether you’re contemplating a mid-range window replacement (less than $10,000) at 84.5 percent or an upscale replacement ($15,000-plus) at 83.7 percent.

Try as they might, the hardware superstores have thus far failed to teach what architects and designers have to offer: taste. Your return on your remodel will likely depend as much on how well it fits the period and scale of your house as how much it adds to its functionality.

Anything that is sensitive to the character of the house should have the same sense of proportion and materials.

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