August 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm EDT | by WBadmin
Home renovations: making your time and money pay off

By Donna Evers and John Coplen
Special to the Blade

There are many things to consider if you are thinking of renovating a home. The numerous design decisions before you will determine how your home is transformed and will be essential in bringing your vision to life.

But before your renovation planning results in sleepless nights and potential aggravation, it’s important to make sure your investments of time and money pay off. Whether the home is older or newer, often working with a real estate agent or a design firm to review the following top 10 renovation tips will result in a great new space that’s well worth the investment.

Be mindful of the exterior of your home. If you keep it in the same style of the neighborhood, you will increase its value. Conversely, if you are in a neighborhood of traditional homes and you turn your two-story colonial into a Bauhaus contemporary, you will probably decease the value of your home, maybe even below what it was before you started.

Make the kitchen count. When you spend money updating the kitchen, it will increase the value of your property and then some. Adding table space to a kitchen is valuable. Also, remember that interior décor goes through fashion changes just like clothing does. Renovate your kitchen with materials that are in style. For example, granite countertops and stainless steel or white appliances have been popular for years.

Renovate your front and back yards. The front yard is like a frame for your house. Remove overgrown shrubs or add a picket fence to set off the front of your house. Outdoor lighting can make your home look beautiful at night and it’s a safety feature too, so consider improving or adding it. Also, adding fencing to your backyard is cost-effective as it provides security and privacy. Planting trees, bushes and perennials are also cost effective. If you are budgeting $250,000 for a total renovation project, five to 10 percent should go toward the landscaping.

Be conscious of size and scale. People often go overboard with additions. If the resulting structure is disproportionate, you may have decreased the value of your home. People are often tempted to over-correct, so you’ll never have to add on again. However, instead of a cavernous room addition, consider a smaller room with built-ins and sufficient closets. Often, it’s not floor space that houses lack, but storage space.

Connect the house to the garden. If the kitchen is a whole story above the backyard, a two-story deck can help a lot. Also, adding French doors that join the back of the house to the garden is a smart place to spend your money.

Improve the lighting. Indirect lighting with dimmers is an easy way to add sophistication and glamour to your home. This can be done will minimal disturbance to the existing ceilings.

Deem the family room a worthy addition. If you spend $100,000 adding a family room to the back of your house, you will probably immediately realize two times that amount in increased property value. Once again, don’t over-improve for the house and the neighborhood. You don’t want such a big addition that it looks like the tail is wagging the dog. Nor should you spend $500,000 on the addition if the value of the house without the addition is $750,000-$800,000. Keep your expenditures and improvements proportionate to the total value of your property.

Update the flooring. Hardwood flooring is classic and not too expensive to add. In addition, people interpret wood floors as a sign of quality and good construction. So, if you have always wanted wood floors, do it. It’s not an extravagance, it’s an investment.

Consider the master suite a hot spot of the home. Because consumers spend so much money and attention in the master suite, there is a big array of lighting and flooring materials as well as master bath options that are popular and available. Other improvements that have good investment value in master suites are adding walk-in closets or closet space in general, double sinks in the bathroom and a separate tub and shower.

Take your time. Ask the advice of friends and co-workers who have been through a home renovation. Call your real estate agent and look at move-up houses to see if you can get your dream house without having to renovate. If you can’t find an appropriate house and you still want to renovate, your agent can be a great source for contractors and workmen and can even give you a ballpark price on what your house will be worth when the work is completed.

Founded in 1985 by Donna Evers, Evers & Co. Real Estate maintains its success through a strong referral base and agents who enjoy a premier reputation for their expertise and in-depth knowledge of Washington metro-area homes and neighborhoods. Evers & Co. is home to 100 licensed real estate professionals with decades of combined experience, who enjoy access to a first-of-its-kind agent resource center. The agency is the largest woman-owned and-operated residential real estate firm in the area and a member of Unique Homes Affiliate Network, Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate and FIABCI, the largest international real estate organization in the world. Evers & Co. works directly with Alter Urban Group, a building design firm to offer clients a full range of building design services.


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