Author Topic: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?  (Read 11038 times)

MelodysMustache

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Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« on: May 13, 2014, 08:49:42 AM »
I will be staying in my current home at least until I retire, possibly longer, which is about 15 years from now.  Most likely at retirement, I will sell this house and move to a lower cost of living area a couple of hours away by car since I do have family in this area.

My house is a 1960's ranch, in a beautiful and high COL area.  However, the house itself is fairly outdated.  It could use everything from new interior doors, flooring, kitchen remodel, etc.  I am a homebody and I love puttering around my home and garden.  I have been doing the necessary house systems repairs and a few minor updates, and would love to do more but I am squirreling away money instead of spending in on the house.  No debt other than a low interest mortgage.  I don't have any building skills and as a single woman not enough physical strength to do much DIY so I would need to pay for the help.  However, I am patient and a good bargain hunter.

Given my situation, is it worth it to spend money on the house to increase my enjoyment and the value of the asset?
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 08:51:13 AM by MelodysMustache »

skunkfunk

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2014, 09:24:11 AM »
How extensive? Physical strength is a requirement to, say, install a granite counter top. It is not a requirement in order to lay tile or paint a wall.

CarDude

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2014, 09:45:34 AM »
I will be staying in my current home at least until I retire, possibly longer, which is about 15 years from now.  Most likely at retirement, I will sell this house and move to a lower cost of living area a couple of hours away by car since I do have family in this area.

My house is a 1960's ranch, in a beautiful and high COL area.  However, the house itself is fairly outdated.  It could use everything from new interior doors, flooring, kitchen remodel, etc.  I am a homebody and I love puttering around my home and garden.  I have been doing the necessary house systems repairs and a few minor updates, and would love to do more but I am squirreling away money instead of spending in on the house.  No debt other than a low interest mortgage.  I don't have any building skills and as a single woman not enough physical strength to do much DIY so I would need to pay for the help.  However, I am patient and a good bargain hunter.

Given my situation, is it worth it to spend money on the house to increase my enjoyment and the value of the asset?

Short answer: It depends.

If you're doing it to increase your enjoyment, then yes.

If you're doing it to increase the value, then no.

Watch HGTV and you'll see lots of people who conflate the two. They're doing it for the first reason but they want the fruits of the second, and most home upgrades don't work that way. If you want hard wood floors or granite countertops or whatever for you, and you have the budget for it, go ahead. However, don't make the mistake of justifying upgrades with thoughts of eventual profits, or else you're going to be disappointed when you eventually try to sell. Think of a 10-year-old Camry vs. a brand new Camry. Even if you add leather seats, wood grain, and a brand new engine to the former, it's still going to be a 10-year-old Camry, and you're not going to get new Camry prices for it.

lackofstache

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2014, 10:27:19 AM »
Short answer: It depends.

If you're doing it to increase your enjoyment, then yes.

If you're doing it to increase the value, then no.

Watch HGTV and you'll see lots of people who conflate the two. They're doing it for the first reason but they want the fruits of the second, and most home upgrades don't work that way. If you want hard wood floors or granite countertops or whatever for you, and you have the budget for it, go ahead. However, don't make the mistake of justifying upgrades with thoughts of eventual profits, or else you're going to be disappointed when you eventually try to sell. Think of a 10-year-old Camry vs. a brand new Camry. Even if you add leather seats, wood grain, and a brand new engine to the former, it's still going to be a 10-year-old Camry, and you're not going to get new Camry prices for it.


I don't totally buy this argument or the metaphor. Sometimes renovations do increase value. If you're in a high end area & in one of the cheaper homes, which was cheaper because it's not updated, some updates could do well for you & the resale. With your timeline, though, I wouldn't focus on increasing value because everything you do today will be 15 years old by the time you sell the home. Do the things that will add to your enjoyment of the home for 15+ years, just do them as cheaply as you can.

Exflyboy

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2014, 10:32:35 AM »
I read the other day that on the whole houses are really not a great investment.

I.e on average they pretty much keep up with inflation but thats about it.

To make money on a house you have to buy when the market is down and sell it when its up.. But on average you just get your money back after inflation.

Renovations are even worse.. I.e you often lose money not even allowing for inflation.

On the flip side a house is much more than an investment.. its your home.

As stated above, don't confuse the two.

I.e if you lost your job would you be in danger of losing your home?..... If the answer is yes, then spend small amounts but save and invest so if the worse happened you could write a check and be mortgage free.

Frank

OldDogNewTrick

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2014, 10:43:35 AM »
mmmmm...... 60's ranch. mid century modern. yum.

I highly recommend a site called Retro Renovation. They focus on loving the house you are in and remaining true to your home's original design aesthetic. Unlike those horrible HGTV shows, (Rehab Addict excepted), that promote sledge hammer renovation, this site helps homeowners update without destroying, upcycle, reuse, and replace with vintage. And guess what? That type of renovation and updating can be MUCH cheaper than the unnatural granite countertops and wood floor installed on cement slab stuff you run into everywhere. I think it would be totally cool to put a perfectly maintained time capsule 60's mid century modern ranch on the market in 15 years. Might fetch a much higher price than otherwise.

Cromacster

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2014, 10:43:42 AM »
Short answer: It depends.

If you're doing it to increase your enjoyment, then yes.

If you're doing it to increase the value, then no.

Watch HGTV and you'll see lots of people who conflate the two. They're doing it for the first reason but they want the fruits of the second, and most home upgrades don't work that way. If you want hard wood floors or granite countertops or whatever for you, and you have the budget for it, go ahead. However, don't make the mistake of justifying upgrades with thoughts of eventual profits, or else you're going to be disappointed when you eventually try to sell. Think of a 10-year-old Camry vs. a brand new Camry. Even if you add leather seats, wood grain, and a brand new engine to the former, it's still going to be a 10-year-old Camry, and you're not going to get new Camry prices for it.


I don't totally buy this argument or the metaphor. Sometimes renovations do increase value. If you're in a high end area & in one of the cheaper homes, which was cheaper because it's not updated, some updates could do well for you & the resale.

Upgrades like kitchens, bathrooms, or whatever should increase your homes value.  The issues is whether or not it actually gives you a positive ROI.  A lot of home improvements won't give a postive or at best a break even  (this can change if most of the work is DIY, but if you then include the time you spent....) which is the problem when doing it for resale purposes.

I agree with the other posters.  If it is an upgrade that makes you happy and your home more enjoyable, do it.  DIY what you can or  what you are willing to learn to do.  The learning process is the payback that isn't much discussed, new skills!

Jack

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2014, 10:51:37 AM »
I don't have any building skills and as a single woman not enough physical strength to do much DIY so I would need to pay for the help.

False. You don't have any building skills or enough physical strength yet. Go watch some [Ask] This Old House and do some strength training.

Also, other than stone countertops, beams, appliances and bathtubs, there isn't all that much that you really need a lot of strength to do. Stuff like tile and brick is heavy in aggregate, but you don't have to lift it all at once.

Emilyngh

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2014, 11:17:32 AM »
I will be staying in my current home at least until I retire, possibly longer, which is about 15 years from now.  Most likely at retirement, I will sell this house and move to a lower cost of living area a couple of hours away by car since I do have family in this area.

My house is a 1960's ranch, in a beautiful and high COL area.  However, the house itself is fairly outdated.  It could use everything from new interior doors, flooring, kitchen remodel, etc.  I am a homebody and I love puttering around my home and garden.  I have been doing the necessary house systems repairs and a few minor updates, and would love to do more but I am squirreling away money instead of spending in on the house.  No debt other than a low interest mortgage.  I don't have any building skills and as a single woman not enough physical strength to do much DIY so I would need to pay for the help.  However, I am patient and a good bargain hunter.

Given my situation, is it worth it to spend money on the house to increase my enjoyment and the value of the asset?

I agree with the general sentiment of just making sure to keep up with basic maintenance and only do other projects if you value spending the money on them for the likely results.   Some projects might increase the value, many won't.   And while kitchen and bath upgrades might be most likely to, who knows if the specific project you choose would make much of a difference by the time you sell (eg, will granite be completely outdated by then?-IDK).   Continuing to squirrel away money and keep up with basic maintenance is *probably* the best investment.

With that said, we do a ton of home projects.   But, we do them on the super cheap, we have a ton of free time to fill, DH and I are pretty handy in our own ways, and only with the understanding that we're doing them mostly b/c we'll enjoy them and that they may or may not pay off in the future.

aj_yooper

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2014, 11:27:33 AM »
All good points on updates and upgrades.  Also, regular maintenance is very important to prevent or mitigate bigger issues.  HVAC maintenance and duct cleaning, repairing any plumbing leaks or drips, ensuring proper storm water drainage, basement or crawl space issues, trimming trees and shrubs,etc. 

Jamesqf

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2014, 11:28:42 AM »
Also, other than stone countertops, beams, appliances and bathtubs, there isn't all that much that you really need a lot of strength to do. Stuff like tile and brick is heavy in aggregate, but you don't have to lift it all at once.

Also, many jobs can be done two ways: either by the application of brute strength, or by intelligent use of leverage.  Do you think the ancient Egyptians built their pyramids by carrying those big stone blocks by hand?

For the few jobs that do need strength, that's what neighbors are for, and why you help them when they need it.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2014, 11:35:54 AM »
Short answer: It depends.

If you're doing it to increase your enjoyment, then yes.

If you're doing it to increase the value, then no.

This.

We are in the process of buying our "omega" home.  We intend to live out our lives in the place.  It needs updating and we will do the updating needed.  If we were buying it for a flip or if I intended to live there for five years and then move, I wouldn't do anything but maintenance.

In a high COL area like yours, you'll likely never recoup your costs for upgrading except for paint, a new door, etc. so most things probably won't be worth doing unless they make you happier with your house.

Personally, I'd rather have a stylish collection of cash and stocks than an upgraded kitchen.

Eric

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2014, 12:38:21 PM »

Personally, I'd rather have a stylish collection of cash and stocks than an upgraded kitchen.

Those never go out of style!

jba302

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2014, 01:21:52 PM »

Also, many jobs can be done two ways: either by the application of brute strength, or by intelligent use of leverage. 

If you include a middle step of "panic and reassessment" between those two, then you have my normal order of project completion.

Emilyngh

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2014, 01:36:57 PM »
In thinking about this issue more I also want to chime in and add that DIY renovating can be a *major* money saver if one is in the different situation: one is buying a house and wants very specific things/upgrades.   

For example, if you were buying and knew you only wanted a house with a high-end kitchen and compared the costs of buying a house with your dream kitchen vs buying a house that has an outdated kitchen that you update as you like it, I think it's safe to say that DIY will generally save some major money.

This is a very different financial comparison (cost benefit of DIY vs paying for fully done high end kitchen) from being happy with what you have, but upgrading your kitchen thinking that it will make you money if you sell later (cost benefit of someone else valuing your work on the kitchen years from now).   I'm concerned that these two different sitches are sometimes confused/merged by a great deal of the population.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 01:41:26 PM by Emilyngh »

forward

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2014, 02:20:33 PM »

Melody: I'll give you my opinion and experience.  I would only spend on things that really bring you long lasting enjoyment and preferably do as much as you can yourself.  I am currently in my 5th home.  I never thought i would sell any of them as soon as I ended up doing so.  I have learned through experience that putting money into a house will not increase its value by the same amount.  Some things make it more desirable but buyers will not pay much more they will just like it better. 

kmm

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2014, 02:27:14 PM »
I am a homebody and someone who feels happiest in surroundings that are aesthetically pleasing to me. So for me, home improvements are one of the things I'm willing to spend money on. But as others have noted, it's because I enjoy the result and not necessarily because I expect it to increase the value of the home.


SDREMNGR

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2014, 02:41:26 PM »
I'd say do it for your enjoyment with the understanding that you are not "investing" anything, you are "spending" money and some of it will be recouped at sale, some will not.  If you make smarter decisions initially, you will recoup more and possibly even make money (if you added a bathroom to a 3 bed / 1 bath house cheaply, for example).  If you don't know what you are doing, don't try to be a hero and do it yourself and end up costing yourself in the long run with a crappy tile job that will need to be redone.

NewStachian

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2014, 02:53:05 PM »
I have a theory on this (WARNING: it could be horribly misguided). I think you should either do just enough to maintain your house and add what you want to make it yours, or make it so brand-spanking new that you jump into a higher tier and attract very wealthy people who don't want to pay to repair anything. The latter is very risky and probably only possible in high cost of living areas.

You generally have two types of home buyers, much like two types of car buyers. You either have the person who doesn't have much money and wants a good deal, or the person who wants the brand-spanking-new Mercedes with all the latest features. I visited several homes when I was house hunting that obviously had received some renovation love, but not enough to be a "finished product". Those houses were annoying because they were priced higher, but weren't super nice. My parents bought a house about 10 years ago for about $650k. They put about $200k into it completely redoing it. By the time it was done, it looked like a pristine top-of-the-line luxury house (mainly because my mom is an insanely good interior decorator. Custom paintings on the walls done by a professional family friend, every single appliance replaced, finished basement with full parlour, bar, the list goes on. They basically flipped it). They sold it the day it was listed for $1.8M AFTER the huge housing crash (granted, it had 10 years of housing prices going up which accounts for much, if not all, of the gains I realize). But my point is it was a top-end luxury home by the time they were done and they were targeting a completely different group of buyers.

I'm not sure which way I want to go yet. The third option I didn't mention is you get some legitimate skills and do the job yourself (much like MMM advocates). But I think you have to know what the hell you're doing to make it look like a professional job. You also have to be willing to commit the time and energy and deal with spousal frustrations when you're slower than a contractor. We're planning on renovating in 5-10 years, so I'm considering getting a part-time job in construction or volunteering with something like Habitat for Humanity when I FIRE in 5 years to build up some skills before I tackle much of it myself.

Bottom line: minimize your costs and do enough to make it yours, or get it to the point where people walk into your house and say "holy crap, I'll write you a check right now!"

MelodysMustache

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2014, 08:35:16 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback.  I have some food for thought now.

TomTX

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2014, 09:19:11 PM »
So, ignore that superficial stuff.

Go read the recent article on the main blog about insulation. Weatherize, seal, caulk, et cetera. Much better ROI if you will live there awhile, through reduced energy costs.

totoro

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2014, 09:20:22 PM »
Well, here is a slightly contrary opinion.

My environment is pretty important to me.  You are going to be where you are for about fifteen years and you stay home a lot. I would consider ROI for enjoyment and resale and not separate them.   I do think you have to know your market really well to know what will help a sale.   

While you may love to build a sunroom and enjoy it a lot, unless you have the funds you do not need to recoup you wouldn't want this for ROI. 

Renos that have higher resale value and might have high enjoyment ROI include:  paint, minor kitchen remodel, bath reno, adding a bedroom if it works in the space, landscaping (you have time to do a lot for a fairly inexpensive price from small plants), finishing unfinished space, new front door, updating switches and light fixtures, and new windows. 

Also, it is okay to hire people but you will probably spend some time and effort to get someone reasonable with good skills.

Most of making money on a home is not the renos though, it is the location in combination with selling at the right time.

deborah

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2014, 10:03:42 PM »
Well, I bought my first home - worst in the street - and it needed a lot doing to it. Didn't have any skills, and I am a short, unfit woman. My partner joined me a couple of months later, and he didn't have any skills either.

I was reasonable at sewing, so I made curtains and fixed that sort of stuff.

I think I started out with a drill and a hammer, and fixed a few easy things. I remember when I bought a belt sander, and he said I would never use it (it has since had several replacement beds - it has had LOTS of use). He got moved to another state, and I made built in shelves down the passage myself (floor to ceiling, 12 foot high), sanded floors, tiled fireplaces, replaced fireplaces, can't remember it all. After 10 years it was completely renovated - one room at a time. We have laws that require all wiring and plumbing to be done by certified tradesmen, the back room was built by a builder, the replaced by a roofer, and the fences were replaced by fencing people, but everything else we did ourselves, and it was usually only me.

Doing a bit at a time, one room at a time meant I never bit off more than I could chew, and each thing I did built my confidence to do more. At first it was just repairs and insulation. Everything was paid for with spare cash, so nothing added to the mortgage.

Having an old house allowed me to learn how to do things without worrying about ruining things - it was so bad there was almost nothing I could do to make it worse. I didn't plan to renovate, it just happened. I don't think I spent anything like the money I made on the house when I sold it.

Doing renovations after living in a house for several years ensures you understand how the house works - where puddles occur, how it changes through the year. You end up with a better understanding of what you want.

aj_yooper

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2014, 04:42:20 AM »
deborah, awesome work!

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2014, 05:26:02 AM »

Do you think the ancient Egyptians built their pyramids by carrying those big stone blocks by hand?


Duh, they had aliens helping them!

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2014, 07:14:31 AM »
The only way to ever get positive ROI is to DIY. Otherwise, you typically recoup 50-75% depending on the project and the area you're in, with the highest ROI being exterior updates (roof, siding, windows, garage doors). That's what I've read in pubs like Consumer Reports.

Focus on improving it for YOUR enjoyment. Styles will change so much over time, I would leave any "for resale" type projects until the last year before you move.

rmendpara

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2014, 07:54:11 AM »
As long as you are making "repairs" vs "improvements", you are probably going to get the best value.

Example: Putting in a new, relatively inexpensive, granite counter to replace a scratched up and dented older one... probably a good value. However, replacing your solid wood front door with a crystal glass shiny door that looks fancy... probably not a good value.

You've got to put yourself in the shoes/mindset of a potential buyer and ask yourself "would I be willing to pay more for this home given the updates?"

In general, just make sure you are differentiating between "repairs" vs "wants". The biggest issue is people going overboard as compared to what is appropriate for their house and that price point.

Also, good repairs will help you enjoy it a little bit more as well.

MelodysMustache

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2014, 08:46:17 AM »
As long as you are making "repairs" vs "improvements", you are probably going to get the best value.

Example: Putting in a new, relatively inexpensive, granite counter to replace a scratched up and dented older one... probably a good value. However, replacing your solid wood front door with a crystal glass shiny door that looks fancy... probably not a good value.

You've got to put yourself in the shoes/mindset of a potential buyer and ask yourself "would I be willing to pay more for this home given the updates?"

In general, just make sure you are differentiating between "repairs" vs "wants". The biggest issue is people going overboard as compared to what is appropriate for their house and that price point.

Also, good repairs will help you enjoy it a little bit more as well.

I have been thinking about the responses here.

That makes a lot of sense to me.  I am not one to go overboard on the fancy stuff.  So far I have been fixing/replacing stuff that was obviously in need of it.  The interior got a complete paint job before I moved in two years ago.  I replaced the ancient water heater, goofy/cheap ceiling fans with moderately priced fixtures, and the electrician has been a frequent visitor to fix various problems caused by bad DIY work from the previous homeowner.  Most recently, I had a minor redo in the bathroom to replace the weird homemade (and not working well for me) vanity with a better one.  That was my most expensive project so far.

What I am looking at now for cosmetic stuff is the flooring, which has mismatched carpeting in a couple of rooms and was clearly the cheapest possible carpet.  Several of the interior doors are obviously second-hand and don't quite "go" with the rest.  The expense of the kitchen worries me.  The cabinets are mismatched - some are original to the house and some are Ikea cabinets added in later with a laminate countertop.  The kitchen is fully functional, but it sure is not pretty.  A top of the line kitchen would not make sense in this house, but mid-priced matching cabinets and a solid surface countertop with the existing reasonable quality appliances would be appropriate.

But first, I need to get a smallish repair done to fix some rotten wood in the foundation.  Not visible, but caught when I had a foundation company take a look at things.  And more electrical work.  Sigh.  At the moment the power is not working in my dining and living rooms so that needs to get fixed ASAP.

I am comfortable doing some minor work (for instance, I did the demo on the bathroom vanity) but I am really hesitant to take on work and have the lack of quality bug me.  The previous homeowner did quite a bit of DIY work and the problems I see from it concern me.  I am doing most the gardening work myself - which is something I am quite comfortable with.  So far, I have been fixing stuff that was broken, was simply not working for me, or could be done with little expense.  It is now getting to the more expensive and more purely cosmetic stuff and I started wondering about the value.  Everything works, but many things annoy me.  Which is why I posted the question.

Based on the feedback here and my own thought process, I will just keep doing stuff one at a time to please myself and not think about resale value.  Of course, only as the money is in the bank, and always at the best prices I can find.  :)




rmendpara

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #28 on: May 14, 2014, 09:15:29 AM »
As long as you are making "repairs" vs "improvements", you are probably going to get the best value.

Example: Putting in a new, relatively inexpensive, granite counter to replace a scratched up and dented older one... probably a good value. However, replacing your solid wood front door with a crystal glass shiny door that looks fancy... probably not a good value.

You've got to put yourself in the shoes/mindset of a potential buyer and ask yourself "would I be willing to pay more for this home given the updates?"

In general, just make sure you are differentiating between "repairs" vs "wants". The biggest issue is people going overboard as compared to what is appropriate for their house and that price point.

Also, good repairs will help you enjoy it a little bit more as well.

I have been thinking about the responses here.

That makes a lot of sense to me.  I am not one to go overboard on the fancy stuff.  So far I have been fixing/replacing stuff that was obviously in need of it.  The interior got a complete paint job before I moved in two years ago.  I replaced the ancient water heater, goofy/cheap ceiling fans with moderately priced fixtures, and the electrician has been a frequent visitor to fix various problems caused by bad DIY work from the previous homeowner.  Most recently, I had a minor redo in the bathroom to replace the weird homemade (and not working well for me) vanity with a better one.  That was my most expensive project so far.

What I am looking at now for cosmetic stuff is the flooring, which has mismatched carpeting in a couple of rooms and was clearly the cheapest possible carpet.  Several of the interior doors are obviously second-hand and don't quite "go" with the rest.  The expense of the kitchen worries me.  The cabinets are mismatched - some are original to the house and some are Ikea cabinets added in later with a laminate countertop.  The kitchen is fully functional, but it sure is not pretty.  A top of the line kitchen would not make sense in this house, but mid-priced matching cabinets and a solid surface countertop with the existing reasonable quality appliances would be appropriate.

But first, I need to get a smallish repair done to fix some rotten wood in the foundation.  Not visible, but caught when I had a foundation company take a look at things.  And more electrical work.  Sigh.  At the moment the power is not working in my dining and living rooms so that needs to get fixed ASAP.

I am comfortable doing some minor work (for instance, I did the demo on the bathroom vanity) but I am really hesitant to take on work and have the lack of quality bug me.  The previous homeowner did quite a bit of DIY work and the problems I see from it concern me.  I am doing most the gardening work myself - which is something I am quite comfortable with.  So far, I have been fixing stuff that was broken, was simply not working for me, or could be done with little expense.  It is now getting to the more expensive and more purely cosmetic stuff and I started wondering about the value.  Everything works, but many things annoy me.  Which is why I posted the question.

Based on the feedback here and my own thought process, I will just keep doing stuff one at a time to please myself and not think about resale value.  Of course, only as the money is in the bank, and always at the best prices I can find.  :)

Excellent mindset. At the end of the day, everything needs to be in good, working condition (and decent appearance as well). Outdated appliances, cabinets, HVAC, water heater, etc, really detract from a home's value because a potential owner knows he/she will have to eventually replace those things.

At the same time, if you're going to have to make the changes eventually, you may as well do it soon enough so you get to enjoy it a little as well.

Good luck! I know repairs/remodels are always a challenge.

deborah

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #29 on: May 14, 2014, 02:11:51 PM »
I replaced the ancient water heater, goofy/cheap ceiling fans with moderately priced fixtures, and the electrician has been a frequent visitor to fix various problems caused by bad DIY work from the previous homeowner.

The previous homeowner did quite a bit of DIY work and the problems I see from it concern me.  I am doing most the gardening work myself - which is something I am quite comfortable with.  So far, I have been fixing stuff that was broken, was simply not working for me, or could be done with little expense.  It is now getting to the more expensive and more purely cosmetic stuff and I started wondering about the value.  Everything works, but many things annoy me.  Which is why I posted the question.
I'd get the electrician to check all the electrical outlets to see if the house actually needs rewiring. That was one thing I did as soon as I bought my first house - getting it rewired, because the previous owner had been DIY and it was actually unsafe. You sound as if you have had continual wiring problems. Rewiring costs a lot, but a lot less than continual fixes, and if you have it done, you might change where fittings are, and what is on the same circuit (so turning your iron and your sewing machine on together doesn't blow the circuit) - ending up cheaper in the long term.

MelodysMustache

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #30 on: May 14, 2014, 09:08:31 PM »
I'd get the electrician to check all the electrical outlets to see if the house actually needs rewiring. That was one thing I did as soon as I bought my first house - getting it rewired, because the previous owner had been DIY and it was actually unsafe. You sound as if you have had continual wiring problems. Rewiring costs a lot, but a lot less than continual fixes, and if you have it done, you might change where fittings are, and what is on the same circuit (so turning your iron and your sewing machine on together doesn't blow the circuit) - ending up cheaper in the long term.

I have been working with a trusted electrician for a few months and I have asked the question about rewiring the whole house.  The house does not need to be rewired, and we have been replacing the bad stuff a couple of rooms at a time.  The issues are about improperly done outlets and lighting, mixing metals and ungrounded wires, and not as much about poor wiring in the walls.  Although there was one instance of a badly done circuit and we pulled a new circuit to fix it.  He has been really great about doing what needs to be done for safety, explaining what he is doing and why, and being conscious of my budget.  He actually just left and the fix for my living room was pretty simple. Once again it was poorly done DIY work that caused the problem.  There were two GFI outlets lined up in a single box (odd to have that in a living room and simply wrong to have two instead of one) and one of them was wired backwards. 

I will be glad when the electrical work is done and I can direct the home maintenance budget category towards more fun stuff.


NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #31 on: May 15, 2014, 08:04:24 AM »
When we bought our last house there were all kinds of weird wiring and plumbing issues.  Tragically, one member of the couple we bought it from had early onset Alzheimer's and died just before the closing.  His wife said she would come home from work and he would have taken apart all of the plumbing under the sink and would tell her the dogs had done it.  We had outlets that didn't work because the wiring had been disconnected, light switches that sparked when you turned them on, etc.  On top of that, it was built in the 1920s and had knob and tube wiring.  Even though we replaced all of the visible knob and tube, we could only find one insurance company that would insure the home. 


tmac

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #32 on: May 15, 2014, 09:58:34 AM »
I fall into the camp that any renovations should do one or, ideally, both of these things:

1) Get the house up to neutral. Repair broken things, fix negative issues. Make it look nice, but not fancy (unless it's a fancy house in a fancy neighborhood).

2) Improve your quality of life while you live there.

And as much should be DIY as possible. Last year, my husband redid our small bathroom -- turned it from a barely functional 1/2 into a clean, well-lit full bathroom. It's nice, but not fancy, and my quality of life is much improved by having a shower we don't have to share with the 3 kids.

Last week, I prepped and painted the two main exterior doors (both were chipped and dingy) and I just spent this morning outside on our front porch prepping the peeling windows for reglazing and painting. I don't know how to do the reglazing part, but I'll figure it out.

MrsPete

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #33 on: May 15, 2014, 10:05:07 AM »
I'm kind of in the same boat: 

Large all-brick late 60s ranch house on a large lot in a prime area.  Lots of space, fenced yard, solidly built -- no style according to today's tastes!  And around us numerous new neighborhoods have popped up with open floor plans, vaulted ceilings, clubhouses and pools. 

You always have to consider your neighborhood:  All the houses in my neighborhood are similar to mine.  I imagine the buyers for my house would be a lower-middle class family.  Someone who wanted big space for kids, but someone who probably couldn't afford the biggest and the best.  I'm keeping that in mind as I make decisions about my house.   

I'm not kidding myself:  When we move, we will not make big bucks from this house.

We're probably 2-4 years away from selling, and these are my plans:

- Continue doing maintenance (i.e., right now we have a problem with our hall bath) but NOT upgrades (i.e., if we were staying here forever, there's a wall I'd like to remove). 

- When we're closer to selling, I will replace the kitchen cabinets.  They are genuinely bad -- not all the doors shut nicely, the one under the sink is warped inside, and they scream 60s.  New cabinets would be a big selling point, whereas the type of person I imagine would buy my house would probably not have the cash to install them. 

- Replace carpet when the time comes.  My carpet is okay, but it's showing some wear.  By the time 2-4 years pass, it will look rough.  It would be a detractor for a sale.  My thinking is the same as the cabinets:  The person who would buy my house would value new carpet but probably wouldn't have the cash to install it. 

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #34 on: May 15, 2014, 10:19:27 AM »
- Continue doing maintenance (i.e., right now we have a problem with our hall bath) but NOT upgrades (i.e., if we were staying here forever, there's a wall I'd like to remove). 

If it's not a load-bearing wall, removing it really isn't a big deal--half an hour with an 8 lb sledge will do the job.  Of course you'll have to fix the drywall and the flooring, but the drywall you can do yourself, and if you're going to replace the carpet anyway....

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #35 on: May 15, 2014, 11:22:25 AM »
- Continue doing maintenance (i.e., right now we have a problem with our hall bath) but NOT upgrades (i.e., if we were staying here forever, there's a wall I'd like to remove). 

If it's not a load-bearing wall, removing it really isn't a big deal--half an hour with an 8 lb sledge will do the job.  Of course you'll have to fix the drywall and the flooring, but the drywall you can do yourself, and if you're going to replace the carpet anyway....

How do you tell if it's a load-bearing wall?  I have a wall in my 60's ranch I'd love to get rid of.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #36 on: May 15, 2014, 11:48:38 AM »
It is a load-bearing wall if it runs perpendicular to the joists below. Non-bearing if it is parallel.

NeverWasACornflakeGirl

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #37 on: May 15, 2014, 12:16:46 PM »
It is a load-bearing wall if it runs perpendicular to the joists below. Non-bearing if it is parallel.

Crud.

agent_clone

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #38 on: May 16, 2014, 05:49:08 AM »
My thoughts are this:

1. Given that you are planning on living there for 15+ more years at this point in time I would be doing renovations that improve your habitation of it/general maintenance.

2. Given the time frame, for kitchens and bathrooms by the time you sell they will be considered as out dated so if you want to renovate these, do it for your own personal enjoyment rather than considering resale value.  I've heard if you are going to renovate them you want to do them within about 2 years of selling.

In summary at this point renovate for your personal enjoyment, if in the future you plan on selling, you can consider your renovations for resale, but they may or may not be worth it.

Greg

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #39 on: May 16, 2014, 09:44:44 AM »
It is a load-bearing wall if it runs perpendicular to the joists below. Non-bearing if it is parallel.

Load bearing if the joists above are perpendicular, not below. :)  And, it should be added, not always.  Depends on the span and size of the ceiling joists, and if any roof loads are also transferring via posts or diagonal bracing.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is Home Improvement Spending Worth It?
« Reply #40 on: May 16, 2014, 11:06:34 AM »
It is a load-bearing wall if it runs perpendicular to the joists below. Non-bearing if it is parallel.

Load bearing if the joists above are perpendicular, not below. :)  And, it should be added, not always.  Depends on the span and size of the ceiling joists, and if any roof loads are also transferring via posts or diagonal bracing.

Welp. Duly noted! Now I've got to check to see if the wall I want to knock down still can be.