In my last column, I covered "The Seven Best Renovations for Your Money."
However, knowing what not to do is equally as important as knowing the right moves.
This week, I outline "The Five Most Expensive Renovations That Will Devalue Your Home." Again this information is written specifically for brownstone neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant.
1. Laminate Flooring: Laminate flooring is a multilayered synthetic floor product used to simulate wood or stone, in some cases with a photographic applique layer under a clear protective layer. Faced with a hardwood or tile floor in poor condition, many run to Lowes or Home Depot and purchase the cheapest flooring product to cover the floor.
First-time homeowners and seasoned landlords alike commit this frequent faux pas. Though you may save money on materials and installation, the appearance of this flooring material throughout a home will easily devalue a brownstone. According to Elizabeth Sincox of HGTV, "I have had buyers actually tell me they would have bought the house if only it had real genuine hardwood floors. Laminate floors aren't fooling anyone. We all know they’re not real."
Home devaluation-- $30,000 to $50,000.
Thrifty alternative: There are many "floor doctors" in Brooklyn that can bring a beaten up wood floor back to life by finding the matching wood for ruined sections and wielding a deft touch with the sanding machine.
2. Carpeting: Here is another issue where we in the Brownstone community defer with 90 percent of the country. Unless it is for the stairs, carpeting is a no-no. Quality carpeting will cost you thousands to install throughout a home. Then, once you decide to put the house on the market, your agent will advise you to pull it all up. This is another case where buyers in Brownstone Brooklyn will assume you are covering up awful floors.
Home devaluation- Up to $15,000
Thrifty alternative: Rugs for the rooms. Runners for the hall and/or stairs.
3. Brickface & Vinyl Siding: A deteriorating brick or brownstone facade, coupled with a $50,000-$80,000 price tag for repair or restoration compel some homeowners to look for the cheapest quick fix available-- usually Brickface or his funny looking cousin, Vinyl Siding. Though this option may cost you less than $10,000 to apply, you are not solving issue of the damaged brick or mortar; you simply are covering it up.
The second issue is, you have not only devalued your home, you have also devalued everyone else's home on your block. This will not get you nominated block association president. The third issue is the potential buyer of your home is now thinking of the cost to remove the Brick Face or Vinyl Siding. He or she is also imagining that the facade is in the absolute worse condition.
Home devaluation-- Up to $100,000
Thrifty alternative: Have a masonry specialist repair the damaged sections and then paint the facade with masonry paint. Please use a color consistent with the other homes on the Block. Pink or purple with get you run out of town. (Don't roll your eyes. I know of more Pink or Purple homes in Bed-Stuy than I care to count.)
4. A Curb Cut: A Curb Cut is when you petition the city to allow you to "cut the curb" and park your car in your front yard. We all know how hard it is to park in some of these neighborhoods, so this would seem like a good idea. However, like Brickface, this breaks up the aesthetic continuity of a classic brownstone block. It may be good for you in the present, but it will give the street the feeling of some areas of Queens or Jersey. Nothing against them, but... this is Brooklyn. Street park like the rest of us.
Home devaluation-- Up to $25,000
Exception: If your home is on a corner and your backyard is sitting on an avenue, then go ahead. Curb cuts on avenues are fine.
5. Colored Bathroom Fixtures: In certain parts of the city, you can still see sky blue, black or pink toilets, sinks and bathtubs. The irony of these enemies of home value is that they often cost more than the regular white fixtures. Keep it simple. Though this color scheme may appeal to you, it will cost you thousands in the long run as buyers will think of gutting the whole bathroom because of that purple toilet. When it comes to bathroom fixtures, stick to white. Also, when it comes to faucets and such, keep it chrome. All other colors come and go with the seasons.
Home devaluation-- Up to $15,000
Thrifty alternative: Get creative the walls with paint. This way, when you put your house on the market, you can just repaint.
Next column: "Bed-Stuy in the Aftermath of the Housing Bubble"
Martin Tkalla Keaton is a senior associate and Multi Million-Dollar Club member of the Corcoran Group.
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