Remodeling information for those who can't afford a new home
Question: We had thought about buying a new home but just cannot find anything in our price range. Our next option is to do some remodeling. We don’t know how much remodeling we can do and still expect to get that money out of the property when we sell. Do you have any information?
Answer: Baby boomers are finding it difficult to find new homes in some markets, so they are instead investing their money in their existing residence.
Before homeowners indulge themselves on expensive upgrades, though, they should consider several factors.
First, keep local building codes in mind and consult their city planning or building department to find out what kind of changes are allowed and disallowed. Some areas also have architectural committees that approve architectural drawings.
The next step is to assess their investment realistically. They should build within the value of their neighborhood, keeping long-term resale values in mind.
It is important to note that while homes represent a considerable economic investment, most major remodeling projects return no more than 80 cents to every dollar spent. Homeowners should consider the personal enjoyment they would get from upgrading their property, however, as well as the economic return. Whatever the case, homeowners should know that it almost never pays to own the most expensive house in their neighborhood. On the other hand, if the home is comparably smaller, a large remodel can be worthwhile.
Basements are probably the best area in a home to consider for those who may want to remodel, or expand, their living quarters. The cost of remodeling existing basements start at about $20 per square foot--far less than what it costs to build an addition or enlarge second-floor space.
Not every basement is prime for conversions, however. Controlling moisture; adding ventilation and light; and finding a way around hanging drain tiles, ductwork, and wiring are all key factors in determining the practicality of conversion.
The first consideration for a basement conversion is flooding. A variety of solutions will address this, depending on severity. Simpler solutions include repairing cracks, clearing the gutter of clogs, and sloping the ground away from the house. If the problem persists, installing or repairing foundation drains is in order. The presence of radon is also a consideration when converting a basement. A simple test can reveal the level of radon in the basement; and, usually, the gas be collected and vented to the outside. Building codes are also important to consider when remodeling. Lowered ceilings, altered staircases, and emergency exits must all be accounted for--advisably before the project takes place. Basement walls can create a problem because of excessive moisture. Contractors have methods to handle this problem, usually a seal-tight wall or a looser one that allows the wall to breathe. Flooring is usually a more tolerant area, as most anything will work.
Lighting can be a problem for sub-level basements. It is important to utilize all existing natural light by removing shrubbery near windows and adding glass doors in place of solid ones. Recessed incandescent lighting is the most practical solution, as it is unobtrusive and generally more flexible than other options. Moreover, adding other amenities can drain existing electrical pads; so upgrading to a 200-amp panel is advisable, albeit more expensive. Issues concerning ventilation are, again, best addressed beforehand with an inspector rather then afterwards, when it may be too late. Fresh air is just as important to boilers, furnaces, and gas-fired water heaters as it is to people. Humidifiers or air exchangers are good solutions to regulate and maintain fresh air. Converting a basement may require some time and planning; but considering the alternatives, it is also the most economic and rewarding.
For answers to your real estate questions, call Allison at 970-468-6800 or 1-800-262-8442