I’ve been meaning to write this post for a loooong time – about how HGTV tends to set unrealistic expectations for homeowners and potential homebuyers with respect to renovations, the process of renovations, assumptions involving finding trustworthy contractors, etc. etc. etc.
I was immensely pleased to read Megan McArdle’s recent story in The Atlantic detailing her kitchen renovation; it’s a (to me) fascinating account, both in the detail in the myths it dispels.
I don’t want to overpromise. This is not one of those $2,000 HGTV specials where, by the magic of not paying for labor, a couple gets a new-looking kitchen for practically no money. No one is going to walk into our kitchen and ask for the name of our designer. But it’s functional enough to contain me, my mother, and my sister all cooking at the same time, without bumping into each other, or piling every flat surface high with used bowls and pans. We have enough storage for everything. And it looks . . . basically okay. Intentional, even.
Good bones matter. Start with those.
As I tell my clients, try to account for the “mights as well” and the “while we’re theres” when you are dreaming about, discussing, planning and budgeting your remodels and project – those large and small.
For example, look at the kitchen – if you’re going to replace the dishwasher, you might as well replace the disposal with a higher horsepower one. If you’re going to redo the countertops, you might as well do that tile backsplash.
While you’ve opened the walls for that thing you wanted to do, while you’re there, why don’t you add some insulation?
And on. And on and on.
Watch HGTV for ideas to start from. But don’t use them as a guide to “reality;” “reality” costs more.
After you’re finished reading her account of her remodel, have a look at this Remodeling 2011-12 Cost vs. Value Report that details the projects on which you’re likely to recoup the most money.
– Replacing a garage door is likely to recoup 83.9% of your costs
– Adding a deck is likely to recoup 72.8% of your costs.
– A minor kitchen remodel is likely to recoup 72.8% of your costs
– Remodeling a home office – do it if you will enjoy it; you’ll recoup only 45.8% of your costs
Keep in mind that the actual cost estimates are national ones; they’re not local to the Charlottesville area. (the roof costs seem remarkably high, for example).
I’m also coming around to believe that the ROI of energy efficiency improvements – foam insulation, higher-rated SEER HVAC, air sealing homes, passive homes – are likely to have a higher ROI than granite countertops and certain types of renovations. I’ll be trying to analyze this in the coming weeks.