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I found this interesting article by Lew Sichelman which brings to light a very important issue. POORLY PLANNED EXPANSIONS AND OVER-THE-TOP RENOVATIONS MAY KILL A FUTURE SALE.
Did you know that? Read on….

Every real estate agent has seen them: home “improvements” that turn out to be anything but, at least down the road when it comes time to sell. Instead of deal sealers, they are deal killers.

We’re not talking about swimming pools or turning spare bedrooms into home offices, which are perhaps two of the worst investments that owners can make. On a cost-versus-value basis, you’ll be lucky to recoup even half of what you spend on a pool or office. We’re talking about over-the-top, one-of-a-kind renovations.

More often than not, savvy buyers will use a non-improvement to their advantage. In Salt Lake City, for example, Keller Williams agent Audrey Monson’s client bought a foreclosed house that had been turned into a mini-castle for pennies on the dollar.

The owner had spent thousands to build a moat out front, complete with a faux drawbridge. Turrets were added to the roof, and gargoyles adorned the exterior.

“The renovations were disastrous,” Monson said. “The additions caused different roof elevations to leak where they came together. When we closed, there were mushrooms growing from the ceiling on the main floor and up through the carpet on the upper floor.” Sometimes, the “improvement” is so awful that the place won’t sell for even a fraction of the asking price.

Kevin Kieffer of Keller Williams Realty was working with a Northern California client who was trying to sell his house and an adjacent half-acre lot separately. The East Bay agent landed a buyer, but the sale fell apart in the eleventh hour when it was discovered that the owner had attached, without permission, a drainage line from the house to the water-management company’s main storm drain that ran down the middle of his empty lot.

“The deal that took 50-plus days of negotiations to put together fell apart in about 20 minutes after the improper and undisclosed pipe was discovered,” Kieffer said. One of the cardinal rules of remodeling is to never attempt anything that is above your skill level. Another is to finish what you start — but not everyone does.

Sarah Rummage of American Realty Resources in Nashville once came across a house in which the entire back wall had been taken down and covered with a plastic wall. It seems the husband had started to build an addition and then bolted, leaving his wife and unfinished project behind.

Most people undertake a home improvement to add on. But sometimes, they subtract rather than add. The less-is-more theory may work for you, but not for everyone else.

Christine Lloyd-Maddocks, who works in the fine-estate division of Rodeo Realty in Woodland Hills, has a listing in Encino in which a bedroom has been converted into a recording studio. That’s not unusual in the Los Angeles market. “It’s quite common for homeowners to convert one of their [three] bedrooms into a recording studio, leaving the other two intact,” she said. “It can easily be converted back.” But in this case, bedroom No. 2 had been turned into a closet. The closet is large and beautifully done, but it is a closet just the same. The former three-bedroom home has become a single-bedroom house. And there just isn’t much of a market for one-bedroom houses.

Brian Copeland of Village Real Estate Services in Nashville sold a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home to a client in 2005. Recently, Copeland was asked to list the place for sale again, only this time it had only one bathroom.
Copeland’s client “decided he needed more storage,” so he turned the downstairs bath into a closet. “Now, common sense would tell the normal person to simply put his boxes in the shower, around the commode, on the floor,” the Tennessee agent said. “After all, it was simply storage space that no one would see.”

Instead, the owner took out all the plumbing and fixtures. He told Copeland that he figured his place would be more valuable if it had more storage space.

Historically, homeowners tend to recoup most, if not all, the money they spend on kitchen and bathroom remodels when they sell — but not always.

A few years back, Michelle DeRepentigny, a Keller Williams agent in Athens, Ga., came across a smallish farmhouse that had been expanded. Over the years, bedrooms, bathrooms and a new kitchen were added.

The problem: Everything was uneven. You stepped either up or down from the living room, which had interior doors leading off to five other rooms, the Georgia agent recalled.”Each addition had its own crawl space, the roofline was just incredible, and all the living room furniture had to be placed in a semicircle in the middle of the room,” DeRepentigny said.

August 29, 2010|By Lew Sichelman
Reporting from Washington —

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Cost vs. Value

Comfort, convenience, and aesthetic satisfaction are some of the main reasons people remodel their homes. But just as important for many is the increase in the value of their property.

How much value a project returns depends on where the house is, what shape it’s in, and the quality of the work. In some markets, value can increase by as much as the cost of the remodel, and sometimes by even more. One important note when considering any remodel – make sure to get a permit if it’s required in your city or state, especially if adding on square footage. Failing to permit your remodel could mean less money when you go to sell.

Of all the projects people undertake, the bathroom remodel would likely contribute most to home value, experts say, returning a national average of 102.2% of cost. Next highest is the minor kitchen remodel, which recoups a national average of 98.5%. The home office, which seems to lack universal appeal, yields the least return – 72.8% nationally.

Below are profiles for additional projects, including major kitchen remodels, family room additions, deck additions, master bedroom suites, and more. Cost estimates the Los Angeles area and are provided by HomeTech, a publisher of estimating and management information for professional remodelers.


The kitchen is the one thing people really look at. If it’s dated, they know they have to spend some money to change it. Real estate agents say a newly remodeled kitchen remains current for five to ten years, longer in some markets. A minor kitchen remodel is the low-cost way of updating. Minor remodels leave cabinet boxes in place but replace fronts with new raised panel wood doors and drawers. Replace wall oven and cook-top with new energy-efficient models. Replace laminate countertops. Install mid-priced sink and faucet. Repaint trim, add wall covering, and replace existing flooring with resilient flooring. High-end items such as granite or travertine counters and backsplash, top-of-the line appliances, and slate flooring will add even more value.



Update an existing 5×7 bathroom that’s at least 25 years old. Replace all fixtures to include 30×60 porcelain-on-steel tub with 4×4 ceramic tile surround, new single-lever temperature and pressure-balanced shower control, standard white toilet, solid surface vanity counter with integral double sink, recessed medicine cabinet with light, ceramic tile floor, and vinyl wallpaper. Not included are amenities that are quickly becoming popular in more upscale bathroom remodels, such as flat-screen TVs, steam showers, and seamless glass shower enclosures.



More than 30 million American homes have decks, and about 3 million new decks are built every year. It’s hard to go wrong when adding on a deck. It’s like adding an extra room for the warm weather, and they’re not very expensive to build. Decks extend indoor areas outside and provide a space for recreation, dining, even gardening. In cities, decks take the place of yards.



For people who are anxious about their budget, adding space is the way to go. When they stay inside the existing structure, it’s less expensive, so sometimes it’s better to try and do that first before doing a major addition. Converting attic storage space into a bed-with-bath is inexpensive compared to what an addition would cost, but makes the house much more attractive to future buyers. Many adult like the idea of an attic bedroom getaway.



Kitchens are most susceptible to changes in taste than other rooms. Wood once gave way to white; now white is giving way to stainless steel. But among real estate practitioners, the consensus is that a fully remodeled kitchen is a strong selling point. Buyers today desire new, top-of-the-line kitchens. Even buyers looking for older homes look for kitchens that offer appliances, wood, and tile that are cutting edge, but still fit the character of their vintage house.



In new construction, builders set out to create something that could be construed as a suite. Buyers are saying they’d like to find that in an existing home, if they can. The higher the price of the house, the more likely you are to find a master suite. Real estate pros say the master suite appeals to homebuyers from the middle market on up. The private bathroom is a key part of its charm, especially to couples with teenagers. The aging of the U.S. population makes a ground-floor master suite more appealing because it enables older residents to stay in the home.



We’re a society with all these toys – computers, Play Stations – and you need a place to put them. That room is the family room, which has broad appeal to the often unpredictable mix of today’s homebuyers. A young family with kids gets very excited about the family room add-on. Putting a room on a small house is especially valuable. It’s especially attractive in neighborhoods of older houses, typically below average in square footage. It’s also popular in areas where empty nesters are leaving and married couples with young children are taking their places.


Other upgrades to consider include:

Siding Replacement – Average cost = $9,094; Resale value = $10,333; Cost recouped = 113.6%
Basement Remodel – Average cost = $58,825; Resale value = $58,333; Cost recouped = 99.2%
Window Replacement – Average cost = $10,922; Resale value = $11,833; Cost recouped = 108.3%
Roofing Replacement – Average cost = $14,223; Resale value = $11,000; Cost recouped = 77.3%

How to Make That New House a Home

From the Los Angeles Times by Ellen James Martin (edited) – June 10, 2001

Uprooting your family from a home they have known for years to a new location is not always uplifting. That homey feeling can be especially hard to come by if the house is brand-new or was occupied by an owner whose aesthetic preferences don’t match yours.

A coat of fresh paint can often help home buyers make their transition. Even before moving, paint anything that seems objectionable. Don’t be afraid to make changes to personalize your new home. If you make a mistake, you can easily do it over without excessive expense, especially if it involves paint or wallpaper.

Following are several suggestions for feeling comfortable in your new surroundings:

  • Appoint yourself as your first decorator. There are lots of theories about interior design. But making your own choices can help you feel happy, contant, and at peace in your home. Most buyers aren’t flush with discretionary cash after they move. But even before you’ve replenished your bank account, experts suggest creating a comprehensive color scheme, drawing on your favorite hues. Focus first on decor for rooms you expect to occupy most. For typical households, these are the family room and the kitchen.
  • Use art and flowers to bring color into your home. Color can be a key ingredient in creating an inviting interior. Before moving into your new home, try painting the walls pure white and hang your favorite artwork. Filling your home with living plants and fresh flowers also bring vitality to your house.
    bullet Give your home the “Mr. Clean” treatment when you move. This idea may not appeal to everyone, but by thoroughly cleaning your own home, you will establish a “physical connection” with the place which will make ownership seem more real. This applies even to new houses since there is likely to be remaining construction dust even after the builder has come through with a cleaning crew.
  • Bring the aromas of home into the place where you’ve moved. You need not have unpacked all your kitchen gear to do some simple baking. With the scent of warm brownies or homemade chocolate chip cookies, your house seems more like a home.
  • Break some of the rules of moving. Doing things out of order can sometimes make your life smoother. One questionable rule of moving is the notion that all your boxes should be unpacked immediately. To reduce stress, it’s often wise to defer unpacking low-priority items, such as boxes of photographs that need to be mounted in albums.
  • Let there be ample light in your new place. Most families are unable to afford all the new furnishings they want when they move. After moving in, you should place a high priority on lighting for darker areas of your home, even if that means hiring a lighting specialist to advise you. Very often, bad lighting can be the reason a room seems depressing. The ultimate things is to fill your home with light. Let as much light into your life as you possibly can.

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