To Improve, Or Not to Improve

Posted by Kent Braaten on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 at 3:29pm.

Whether you’re considering remodelling worn-out surroundings, enlarging your home for a growing family or going beyond yesterday’s standards, you have important investment choices to make.

The first piece of advice is never try to renovate a part of your home, simply for the purpose of selling. You are incurring a huge risk here.  The housing market can be volatile, and you never know which amenities are going to pay-off. If you renovate for yourself, at the least you will get value simply by enjoyment of the change.

If you are looking to spruce up your home a little bit before you sell, make minor cosmetic changes like painting.  They are fast, inexpensive and involve little risk. If you know that you will be living in a home for some time, but are planning on selling in the future, try to balance which improvements will pay off the most, and which ones you would most like to enjoy.

You want to choose home improvements that not only recover the money you spend, but that also helps you to get a better price for your home, when and if you sell it.  Keep in mind that considering today’s market, it may be a smarter move to sell and buy again rather than endure a major construction project. After all, even an 80% recover at resale is still a 20% loss.

The following is a list projecting which home improvement initiatives often produce the best results upon resale value.  Naturally, these numbers are not definitive. There are many factors including your local housing market and what kind of improvements you undertake.

Kitchen Remodel (minor)


Kitchen Remodel (major)


Basement Remodel


Bathroom Addition


Bathroom Remodel


Master Bedroom


Exterior Paint



Improvements With a Low Return
Generally, improvement of attics and basements yield a very low return, unless you do something radical.  That runs the risk very high with the chance of return being enormous. For instance, a custom bowling alley is not going to appeal to many people, but if you find a buyer that is all about bowling, you will make your money back and more.  

Use Good Judgement
When doing these improvements you should also use your better judgement in taste.  Take a look around your neighbourhood and see what kind of home improvements others have done. You will want you home to be consistent.  Both for conformity and also because certain improvements are popular with different people. You should also keep the original design of you home in mind.  Be sure to use similar materials and building styles. Most home buyers are very conservative and they may not share your artistic vision. Although your needs come first.  If you think that you will enjoy a bold, flamboyant design, go for it. Just try to limit it to more of the cosmetic aspects of the home.

Considerations When Setting Out to do Home Improvements

Fad = Bad
What is chic today can be the mistake of tomorrow.  People, more and more, are looking for a space where they can casually entertain.  Take this into account.

Do not expect that if you put $20,000 into a renovation, you will automatically see $20,000 added to the value of your home.  If you have the skill set, you should also think about doing as much of the home improving yourself as you can. Having a hands on approach will give you flexibility, and a new understanding of your home.  And it also saves you a lot of cash!

New Windows
Not a good resale investment.  You can tell the buyer that you just added new windows, but that doesn’t really matter.  Unless you can demonstrate a significant savings on your electricity or heating bill, there is really no point.  Therefore, replace windows if the need to be; never just before you are selling your home.

Creating New Space
Whether this means taking space that was poorly used before, or adding an addition, it can be a good idea.  It is often important to look at design before functionality in this case. If you are improving your basement, don’t put in a bar.  Instead leave the space open to interpretation. Leave it open, leave it clean. Let the buyer decide.

Winding up a Sale “Words of Wisdom”
Make sure the front door is fresh, clean and scrubbed.  Repair minor flaws, such as loose knobs, squeaking doors and warped cabinets.  Fix that faucet! Dripping water discolours sinks and suggests faulty plumbing.

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