Prioritize your home improvement plans to make the most of limited time and dollars
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 4:00 PM Updated: Thursday, January 27, 2011, 7:49 AM
PeachtreeRemodeling magazine, in its "Cost Versus Value Report," offers a region-by-region market analysis of specific projects and the paybacks of each in terms of selling your home. An example: Replacing old windows with vinyl models at a cost of $11,066 increased the resale value by $7,920. So, 71.8 percent of the expense is recouped.
So much to do around the house, so little money. And perhaps so little time.
Such is the predicament many homeowners face when it comes to maintaining and improving their homes. And with spring approaching, chances are you're daydreaming about all that you'd like to do around the house as soon as the days are longer and the weather is warmer.
But planning home repair and improvement projects can be challenging, especially when funds for such projects are limited. Prioritizing projects becomes even more important when you're planning to sell your home.
Experts such as the American Homeowners Association and Dan Vandervort of hometips.com, a website that offers advice on home improvement and DIY repairs, have tips that can help you prioritize your game plan, for those who are selling or staying put.
If you're planning to sell, the AHA suggests consulting with a real estate agency before making major project decisions, to determine which repairs or improvements are more likely to increase your home's value. You might start with the agent who sold you your home.
According to Vandervort, your less-expensive home repair/improvements list should begin with needs, followed by wants. Projects that protect your family and the structure of your house should be at the top, ahead of projects that add comfort and save money, followed by discretionary projects. Here is his list in order of importance:
• Handle any item that could affect your family's safety. For example, make sure your home has working smoke alarms. Be sure to childproof your home if you have little ones in the house.
• Repair any problem that interrupts the use of your home or threatens to cause permanent damage. If water is dripping from the ceiling, repair the roof. Otherwise, the water will ruin your ceiling, damage the floor, and ultimately undermine your home's structure. If your pipes freeze, take the necessary steps to thaw them out.
• Take care of potential long-term health hazards. If you're concerned about the safety of your drinking water, the quality of your air or the presence of asbestos or lead in your home, take steps to alleviate the problems.
• Handle maintenance that will protect your house from long-term damage. Jobs in this category include painting the house, installing a new roof, and making your basement drier.
• Make upgrades that will ultimately save you money. Projects that reduce energy and water consumption fall into this category.
• Make relatively easy, low-cost improvements that offer significant results. You can stretch your improvement dollars with high-impact efforts, such as painting, wallpapering and changing fixtures.
• Polish off repairs that have a big nuisance factor -- faulty doorknobs, squeaky floors, dripping faucets and the like.
• Take care of cosmetic repairs. Fix holes in the wall, replace outdated light fixtures, and repair moldings.
Homeowners who are considering making improvements to boost resale value should consider the payoff for a particular project. Remodeling magazine, in its "Cost Versus Value Report," offers a region-by-region market analysis of specific projects and the paybacks of each in terms of selling your home, according to current figures on the site.
For example -- and these are just estimates -- remodeling a bathroom for an average cost of $16,634 increases the resale value of the home by $10,668, a recoup of 64.1 percent of the cost.
Another example: Replacing old windows with vinyl models at a cost of $11,066 increased the resale value by $7,920. So, 71.8 percent of the expense is recouped.
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