Remodeling Report Cites Differing Project Values

Local homeowners don’t have to be planning to sell before they set out on the remodeling track. Growing families can need more room; aging homes can require structural renovation to prevent larger problems from developing. And sometimes a creative brainstorm strikes, resulting in a design enhancement that brings an undeniable improvement to the living space.

There are lots of reasons that remodeling projects beckon, especially when there are glaring faults to be dealt with before a house can be listed for sale. If its ‘as-is’ condition even begins to look like a hazard, it needs to be brought up to snuff before anything else can get going.

But even for those who are remodeling for other than an impending real estate sale, it’s interesting to get a general idea about what value the market places on various improvement projects. If for no other reason than peace of mind, if you are about to spend money on a town remodeling venture, it’s good to know what the outside world thinks it’s likely to be worth.

Remodeling is a magazine for designers and builders that has also attracted readers from the wider home owning public. Every year it updates a listing of cost versus value for a variety of remodeling projects—35 of them. Even though I’d argue that the national dollar averages cited are not spot-on for local area costs and values, its findings are useful as a guide to more universal trends.

For instance, if you are thinking about planning a deck addition next spring, you might not want to count on the listed average costs of $10,048 (for wood) or $15,912 (for composite), but the percentage of value added is more useful. In 2015, a wood deck addition is found to return an average 80.5% of its cost upon a property’s sale. A composite deck, on the other hand, adds a significantly lower 68.9%. That lesser value is probably attributable to the 50% more that it costs, which is unlikely to be recouped. Composites offer ease of maintenance, but they’re costly. Nonetheless, your own choice might be swayed by how long you intend to stay in your property (especially if you aren’t really fond of yearly deck staining).

This year, Remodeling’s report included a column that added some more food for thought (or at least a snack). It showed a comparison with the findings from the year before. In other words, by listing the “change vs 2014” column, we can see the direction that recoverability is moving.

For the upscale projects—like adding a bathroom or fully replacing a roof—the costs recouped are even lower than in 2014. Expensive projects never return much more than 75% of their cost, but the direction is to be lower still.

Midrange projects are mixed. Most have lost a bit of their ability to fully recoup their costs, but not all. Entry door replacements of every kind have gained steam…in fact, a steel door promises to return 101.8%. Replacing a garage door is now a better bargain than last year; likewise, vinyl siding replacement. Somewhat confusingly, a minor roof replacement is a better bargain this year than last.

Selling may not be the reason you are planning to remodel, but if it’s even on the horizon, I may be able to offer some advice that takes the future into consideration. I’m always happy to share a professional opinion on all your real estate questions!

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