By Sheryl Smolkin
Whether you have recently purchased a resale home or you have lived in your house for many years, when you view your winter-weary residence in the bright spring sunlight you may be hit by the urge to renovate.
The problem is of course that your resources are limited and you want to make sure that any enhancements you make add value to your home, particularly if you plan to sell your property over the next several years.
The Appraisal Institute of Canada offers the following tips for choosing “smart” home renovations.
- Choose improvements with long life expectancy: Roofing, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and windows can provide you with worry-free home improvements for as long as 10 to 15 years. But remember…regular maintenance is as important as the initial investment.
- Invest in modern updates in high-traffic areas: Update the core rooms of your home such as the kitchen and bathrooms. This can be as simple as changing door knobs, resurfacing cabinets, or replacing fixtures and counter tops.
- Don’t underestimate the value of inexpensive updates: A fresh coat of paint, modern lighting fixtures, landscaping or gardening, or upgraded door handles can give your home an updated look and feel – and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money!
- Consider energy-efficient renovations with a high return relative to cost: Energy-efficient renovations are considered one of the highest paybacks relative to cost. Energy efficiency translates into reduced operating costs over time.
- Be careful about over-improvement: Consider your neighborhood and the expectations of buyers in your area when planning your next renovation project. Investing in an expensive project may be an over-improvement for a home in particular market, and the investment may only be partially recognized by home buyers.
- Think about your personal needs: How much you spend on improvements will depend on how long you plan to live in your home. If you you’re thinking shorter-term, smaller and less–expensive improvements may be your best bet to recover your investment.
- Be sure to get a building/renovation permit: Take the time to obtain the proper building permits from your municipality or appropriate authority. This is a good step to ensuring that the renovation work complies with the building codes.
- Hire a designer, architect, or contractor: Talk to a professional when you start planning your renovation project. They can help you draw up a plan, provide renovation advice, or assist in the construction. This will add to the quality of the renovation and go a long way in preventing cost overruns.
- Consider unique features with care: Unique designs or improvements that are uncommon for a particular market may impact your ability to resell home. This is where the expert advice of a real property appraiser can provide an objective perspective on the marketability of the property.
While maintaining or increasing the value of your home are important considerations when you renovate, making the home more livable for your family may be what really matters to you. Nevertheless, keep in mind that quality kitchen and bathroom improvements and a new interior/exterior paint job are the top three renos with the highest rate of return. And decluttering can also help to showcase the best features of your house.