Remodeling Projects That Add Value

Home improvements are a smart investment to make and they will earn the cost back for you when you sell, right? Well, it really depends on what improvements you make. Keep in mind that buyers view homes differently than homeowners. The top remodeling project areas that typically earn the highest payback are kitchens, baths and, more recently, energy efficient upgrades. However, work in these areas should be managed carefully as these projects can be very expensive.

Two important things to keep in mind if you plan a major remodel: consider your home’s architecture so that the result fits aesthetically; and, consider the caliber of your neighborhood so that your home doesn’t become the most expensive house on the block.

Renovation priorities change and also vary by geographic location so take time to check out the latest 2016 Cost vs. Value Report published by Remodeling Magazine for an understanding of which projects are likely to give you the biggest payback. In the meantime, the following list is organized by required investment budget and payback opportunity to help guide your thinking:

Small Projects – zero to $2,500
Clean Up and Organize
A thorough cleaning of your home can immediately give it new life. Take this opportunity to remove excess/unwanted items and to reorganize your closets, garage and attic. Don’t forget your deck, patio and yard, too.

Power Wash
Rent yourself a power washer to take years off your home’s appearance – cleaning all exterior walls, the driveway, sidewalks, patios and decks.

Refresh With Paint
There’s no faster way to transform your home than to introduce new colors to walls, ceilings, windows and trim.

Rearrange Furniture
Another easy room-by-room transformation is to move furniture to create new looks and traffic flow patterns.

Change Door/Cabinet Hardware and Accessories
Hardware is a quick upgrade with big impact, especially for your front door, kitchen, baths and closets.

Install New Plumbing Fixtures
Another low cost big impact project is replacing kitchen and bathroom fixture – they will immediately freshen a room.

Install New Lighting and Window Treatments
People respond to light, bright rooms. Lack of good lighting in a room is a turn off so install clean profile lighting fixtures to help make dark rooms inviting. Light and airy window treatments will brighten rooms and help them come alive too.

Mid-sized Projects – $2,500 to $10,000
Architectural Details and Crown Molding
Details like wainscoting, floor or crown molding and window trim can add a “wow” factor that sets your home apart.

Rearrange Space
Removing non-load bearings walls may give you the opportunity to open or enlarge living spaces.

Deck or Patio Area

We’re in California and the out-of-doors is a key part of our lifestyle. Adding an easily accessible, comfortable and ideally private outdoor entertaining area is one of the safest added value bets.

Create Storage
Good storage will help you get and stay organized – especially built-in options like pantries, bookcases, garage shelving, wall units that convert to work stations, under stair caches, laundry and walk-in closets.

Energy Upgrades
This can be a little or big endeavor, ranging from replacing inefficient lighting fixtures to installing Energy Star appliances, using sustainable materials during remodeling to becoming part of the energy grid with solar panels.

People do look down so what’s underfoot is important. Hardwood flooring continues to be prized over all others so if you have them, flaunt them. Replace tired linoleum, carpet and tile floors with affordable options like laminates, or sustainable products like cork or bamboo.

Major Projects – over $10,000

Bathroom Remodel
The most important bathroom to work on is the homeowner’s personal retreat, the master bath. Important features are soaking tubs, large showers, linen and personal item storage and a separate toilet nook. If your home doesn’t have a master bath then focus on your main bathroom. It’s best if you work with clean line fixtures and neutral materials.

Kitchen Remodel
Buyers and sellers generally consider the kitchen to be the most valued room in the home – and work here generally commands the best return on investment. Again, use simple silhouette fixtures and trim, neutral stone/tile materials, clean-lined cabinetry and streamlined appliances. Providing good counter space and storage is a must, and carefully consider the workflow pattern between your stove, refrigerator and sink during planning.

Some Projects May DECREASE Home Value

  • Wall murals, decorative plaster work or permanent art
  • Home office that permanently converts a bedroom from being a bedroom
  • Fussy chandeliers or avant-garde lighting fixtures
  • Swimming pools
  • Sun rooms
  • Shoddy construction and use of cheap, low-quality materials

Behzad Zandinejad

Broker Associate

A Top Producing Agent for 2015


Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty

100 Tiburon Blvd, Mill Valley, CA.94941


[email protected]

Marin County Real Estate Report

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