Remodeling, Cost vs. Value


By Heidi Powell

A concern that we often hear from homeowners who are considering a remodeling project, is that they don’t want to “over-build” for their neighborhood. Many people would like to add quality and comfort to their home but want to be sure they can recoup their investment if later they decide to sell.


A well planned remodeling project should improve the livability of your home and enhance the day to day experience within the space. At the same time, this remodel should be working for you financially to help your home retain and increase its value. When we remodel our home to keep it up to date, refine traffic flow, accentuate curb appeal, improve lighting and comfort, and in some cases, add space, we bolster our home’s resale value.

So what is meant by over-building for the neighborhood? If your house is twice the size of the neighbors or has no backyard because the addition fills the entire space, you may be over-building. Other things to consider are the finishes you are putting in your home. Nowadays homeowners are turning more and more to high end finishes such as quartz or granite counters, hardwood or tile floors, and stainless appliances. As your neighbors add these products to their homes it makes it easier to not have to worry about “out classing” the neighborhood. But if your assessment of the neighborhood is that higher end finishes aren’t warranted, there are also wonderful new options in finishes that are very affordable and look lovely. Laminate counters with edge inlays and flooring materials such as laminates and luxury vinyls that look like higher end surfaces, to name a couple. However, there are some items that shouldn’t be skimped on, such as cabinetry. Too often we are asked to re-do a relatively newly remodeled home that has granite counters set on worn cabinets. Expensive gadgets aren’t what make cabinets high quality, it is the structure and materials of the cabinets themselves. Be wary of cheap cabinets as the foundation of your nice new kitchen remodel.


You may want to tune into what your neighbors are doing to their homes, while at the same time researching resale values. This begs the question, which types of projects bring you the greatest return on your investment? When you remodel your home what do you actually add to its value? These answers may play into your decision-making or you may just be inclined to follow your heart and make the changes that you think will make you happiest. Hopefully you can make some improvements that will satisfy both requirements!


Remodeling magazine conducts a yearly survey to answer these questions for the Pacific Region, one of 9 regions that they survey on 35 popular remodeling projects.  According to the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, a Major Kitchen Remodel, for example, brings an 89% return on the dollar.  This value reflects resale within the first year of remodeling, so it doesn’t include any market appreciation. Over time, as property values increase, your return increases.


An Entry Door Replacement (steel) brings the highest cost recouped at 113%.  Other projects with strong returns are Minor Kitchen Remodels at 104%, Basement Remodels at 102%, Garage Door Replacement at 98%, and Bathroom Remodels at 92%. Both Family Room Additions and Two Story Additions bring a solid return of 90%. Home Office Remodels, interestingly enough, brought a comparatively low return on investment of 61%, as did Sunroom Additions, also at 61%.  However, in Oregon, I would be hard pressed to deny those who want a sunroom, the pleasure of catching every sunbeam they can, for both themselves and their plants. So it is not always about the short term financial return.


Even if you are not planning on selling your home in the short term, it’s interesting to have an idea of how much a remodeling project will add to your home’s value. Ask yourself, what other investment can you enjoy every day, while you watch it appreciate? Of course the value of any remodel depends on the quality of the design and the work.  Avoid cost saving pitfalls that can devalue your home such as additions that have a significant change in floor level, shoddy workmanship, inferior materials, or awkwardly designed spaces. A professional remodeling company can guide you toward a product that will give you maximum value for your investment and enjoyment for your life!


Heidi Powell is Co-owner of Powell Construction, an award winning design-build company established in 1990, and a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Heidi can be reached at the design studio located on South 3rd Street in Corvallis or at 541-752-0805.


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