Remodeling your home can potentially improve your resale value
Projects with high ROI include remodeling the kitchen, bathroom, or basement
When mapping out an upfront timeline and budget, allocate 10% for incidentals
Decide if you’re going to DIY your remodel project or hire a pro
Home improvement projects not only enhance your quality of life but can also pay off down the road in resale value. While remodeling often feels like a giant puzzle, taking a strategic approach can help bring the big picture together. Pieces for consideration include how long you plan to live there, the situation surrounding your project, how much money you’re ready to invest, and whether you’ll recoup your money when it’s time to sell. These tips will provide a road map of what to consider before remodeling—and ensure you spend your budget as wisely as possible.
1. Estimate the Potential Return on Investment (ROI)
Before starting any home improvement project, the most important factor to consider is how remodeling will improve your resale value. A measured and honest view of the long-term value of your remodeling project is critical to ensuring you don’t get too deep into the fantasies of creating the perfect living space for your current situation. Taking more than a passing glance at your neighbors’ property and real estate pricing for your area can also help your decision about how much to invest in a remodel project.
Some rooms you might consider remodeling that will have the most significant impact on your resale value and quality of life include the kitchen, basement, and bathrooms.
Remodeling your kitchen is one of the projects that will most dramatically impact your resale value. The space where you prepare food and entertain family and guests is arguably the most important room in the entire home. As lifestyles have changed over the generations, so has the interface we have with the kitchen area, and upgrades are often necessary.
Finding the right balance of updates can be a challenge. Start by making sure the basics—such as appliances, cabinets, countertops, and flooring—are modernized; this will give you a handle on how expensive these items are in comparison to other home improvement projects. Find local contractors near you who can help you with a kitchen remodel.
Whether a powder room or the room attached to your primary suite, the bathroom is one of the more cost-effective improvements you can make to your living situation. With a wide variety of styles and price points for toilets, vanities, shower inserts, or full immersive tubs, a bathroom remodel is within reach for every homeowner, no matter your budget. Tackling a bathroom remodel will also allow you the option of replacing the flooring, which can be difficult when all of the fixtures are in the room.
Some homeowners consider a basement remodel as a way to expand the living space with an additional suite or family room. The ability to potentially add hundreds of square feet to your house is compelling if considerations like the costs and resale value of your home are part of the project.
For this type of project, there are specific code requirements to consider—notably, the ability to install an egress door. It’s also essential to address any moisture problems before planning out the remodel, as these issues can sometimes incur expensive fixes down the line.
2. Sketch Out Your Priority Projects
Once you have an estimate of your home improvement's potential ROI, the next step is to write out your wishlist and consider these factors:
The size of the area and what it will add to your existing living spaces
The condition of the room or building and whether it will take a full demolition or minor replacements of components
Your overall budget
How long your remodel project will take
Your lifestyle and how a remodel will impact it
3. Break Down Your Budget
After selecting which home improvement projects are most important to you—and also will ultimately improve the resale value of your house—you’ll want to create a budget for your remodel. The budget should list all potential costs for materials, equipment purchases or rentals, and contractor fees if you decide to hire your project out. A general rule of thumb for any remodeling project is always to leave at least 10% allocated in your budget for unforeseen problems or miscellaneous expenses.
4. Make a Timeline
Most home improvement projects take anywhere between four to eight weeks to complete, so prepare for a remodel by scheduling it according to when it will least impact your daily routine. For example, if you have kids, you'll want to plan any remodeling project for when they're in school rather than at home for summer break or the holidays. Or maybe you're adding a pool to your backyard, and in which case, you'll want the work to start in the fall or winter to have the pool installed before summer arrives.
Of course, the timeline ultimately comes down to whether or not you hire a contractor and when they can slot you into their schedule—or if you decide to DIY your home improvement project and when it fits into yours.
5. Research Local Building Permit Requirements
Now that you’ve got a list of priorities and a budget for your home improvement projects, the next step is to check with your local codes office to see what building permits are required. Every city, county, and municipality has a different approach to building codes, so you’ll want to scour your codes book and ask key questions about your project because it’s always possible that there is something critical (and costly) that you’ve missed.
6. Decide If You're Going to DIY or Hire a Pro
This is always the most challenging part for the naturally inclined DIYer: Do you attempt your home improvement project yourself or hire a professional? It’s tempting to take ownership of the construction process from the ground up if you’re handy and know what you want out of a project.
Projects can include a mix of DIY and hired professionals for the parts of the remodel that you don’t want to tackle on your own. Having a list and identifying pieces (like a sewer line or major electrical update) that require a high level of professional training is a way to break the project into different stages—and also might open up the possibility to save money overall.
Working with Professional Contractors
If you aren’t planning to do the work yourself, you can hire a remodeling designer. Professional contractors and home designers can help polish the project’s scope of work, obtain necessary permits, order materials, and provide a timeline for project completion.
What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing a Contractor?
If you don’t know where to start in hiring a contractor, here are a few tips to follow:
Interview multiple contractors, specifically ones with relevant experience
Detail your project scope and budget
Request references with samples of client work
Verify licensing, certifications, and insurance
Once you’ve settled on a local contractor or company for your home improvement project, be sure to get everything in a written contract that includes project scope, budget, and any expenses not included in the bid. Clear communication from the get-go will make for a more seamless project.