A home remodel will require you to put up some major cash, which is why most people won’t even consider it in a recession, when budgeting is a necessity. However, some targeted renovations can make a big difference in your asking price when you are ready to sell your house (and in the mean time, you can enjoy them). You just need to do some homework to figure out what will give you the most bang for your buck. And taking advantage of our economic downturn can help you save big.
Kitchens and bathrooms tend to show the most return on investment, but the cost of remodeling these fundamental rooms can skyrocket out of control, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing or what you really want. So to start, you may want to engage the services of a contractor. I know what you’re thinking. “Whoa! Contractors are expensive!” Not necessarily true. You are lucky to be seeking labor in a time when many service people (especially those related to real estate) are desperate to work. If you get referrals and field several bids, you are sure to find someone reliable and inexpensive to offer advice on what is realistic for your budget, and what will pay off in the long run.
Now, it’s tempting to gut your house and start from scratch, but this is a huge mistake. Unless you live in the projects, it can’t be all bad. Chances are you can save your cabinets (go for paint or new veneers to update them for less cost) and put in a new countertop. If you like granite, skip the uber-expensive slab and instead opt for budget friendly tiles that fit together almost seamlessly. Even better, get ceramic tile that you can install yourself for free! If you must replace, at least consider saving the planet (along with some cash) by using recycled or reclaimed products. From cabinets to flooring to a glass-tile backsplash, you can save big (and do the Earth a favor) by getting refurbished products.
If you’re replacing appliances and fixtures, get ones that are environmentally friendly. You can offset the initial (and jarring) cost of energy-star appliances and low-flow toilets by taking advantage of sales (which seem to pop up on a weekly basis as merchants try to boost business), rebates offered by utility companies, and government incentives like tax deductions. You will also reap the benefits of lower monthly bills since these items use less water and power.
As for the rest of the house, a fresh coat of paint, some new (or reclaimed) flooring, and a little organization (especially in your storage spaces) can go a long way towards making your house more functional and aesthetically pleasing, so don’t blow your whole budget on remodeling the bedrooms. And keep in mind that if you live in the house for very long after renovations, you’ll likely have to make allowances for paint and flooring when you sell, so don’t expect to get cash back for those expenditures. They are mainly for your own enjoyment and the next owner will want to replace them.
While remodeling can get pricey if you don’t pay attention, there are certainly ways to save on both materials and labor, so don’t hesitate to shop around, haggle, or walk away to get a better price. If you allow yourself time to do research and you’re willing to play on the fact that many businesses are suffering (don’t worry, if they can’t make at least a little profit, they won’t go through with the sale), you can save a lot of cash. So do a little legwork, try to tackle some projects on your own, and be smart about which areas you choose to upgrade. If you do it right, you’ll get back more than you put in.