Now that we are approaching 40 years of home improvement service to Kitchener-Waterloo and the tri-cities area, we thought we’d start posting some of the trends we’ve accumulated over the years that might be of interest to the public.
When we first meet with a potential client, a lot of thinking and deliberation has usually been done already. Move vs. renovate? What areas in the home will provide the best bang-for-the-buck? What other repairs on the years-old-to-do-list can be tacked on to a larger job? This month’s blog will draw on the top reasons our clients have provided us over the years when choosing to renovate their homes, and the rationale they provided us for doing so. If you are thinking of renovating, chances are this post will have a nugget or two of information you’ll be glad to be aware of.
Upgrading Your Home’s Functionality
It will likely come to little surprise to you that the top reason our clients choose to undertake a renovation involves making alterations to accommodate for changing family needs. The most common reasons our clients have provided us over the years include:
- Growing Family: Whether preparing to have children, or making more room for them as they grow, a well-planned renovation can successfully address family space issues for years to come. Sometimes an addition to the home is necessary, and sometimes a strategic reconfiguration will suffice. Most of our clients like to get their renovations done all at once, but we do have a few over the years who preferred to work in stages that coincided with their kids’ ages and changing requirements.
- Kitchens and Bathrooms: Kitchen and Bathroom upgrades are our bread and butter, and we enjoy doing them so much because they have such a huge impact on client satisfaction. A successfully done kitchen upgrade, more than any other room, can dramatically alter the overall feeling of a home. An upgraded bathroom is nearly as impactful, and is often a statement expressing the care and effort a family have invested in their home.
- Finishing off Your Basement: Unfinished basements almost always represent the greatest untapped space in your home. Finishing a basement can add hundreds of square feet of living space without the costs of a structural addition to your home. Typical reasons our clients provide us for finishing a basement include break-out space for growing children or teens, a man-cave, home office, home theater, home exercise or gym area, or in-law suite. We’ve certainly seen it all over the years, and generally have plenty to add to a client conversation regarding a basement finishing or refinishing. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of our clients who choose to finish a basement come to us roughly 4-7 years after the purchase of their new home-- this seems to be a common time-frame in which home owners begin turning to the additional living space a finished basement affords.
- Re-purposing Rooms: Depending on the changing needs and priorities of your family members, rooms can transition for a variety of purposes. Over the years we’ve found ways to create extra bedrooms without requiring additional floor space, and we’ve also sacrificed bedrooms to make way for larger bathrooms, or the creation of an ensuite and/or walk-in closet for the master bedroom. We’ve converted old bathrooms to laundry rooms and converted bedrooms to new luxury bathrooms.
- Recently Purchased Home: It doesn’t take long after the purchase of a home, especially a resale home, before the new owners begin discussing the ideas they have to improve it. Even before moving in, consideration is given to adding an extra bedroom, converting a bedroom in to an ensuite/walk-in for the master bedroom, redoing the kitchen or bathroom, or finishing off the basement. Outdoor considerations such as decks and patios can also play a large role here. Recently, a very popular renovation trend for us in resale homes involves opening up the main floor of a home, connecting the kitchen with the dining area and often the living room as well, and generally upgrading kitchen features.
Increase Your Home’s Value
Planning to increase your home’s value is rarely the primary reason for a major renovation, but it is more often then not a key consideration in the decision making process. While this topic could become a post all on its own, here is what we’ve learned about our projects that adds the most value to a typical home’s price. In the past, we’ve seen work that we’ve done turned around and make our clients an estimated 6 times profit on our costs. While that obviously won’t happen for every project, the following is a list of renovations that almost always result in a positive value return for the investment.
- In-law suite: In-law suites are a popular addition that can also be used for rental income. While some municipalities are more strict than others when it comes to legal requirements, the cost to create an in-law suite generally covers itself in a few years’ time – especially if done in conjunction with a larger home renovation. In most circumstances, the additional rental income will also significantly increase your home value in comparison to the cost of the work involved.
- Kitchen: You’ve probably heard this one before, because it is so well known in the real estate industry. Our experience definitely backs this up. Kitchens are the single most important room to consider if you are looking at resale value alone. A fresh, modern, upgrade kitchen provides buyers the comfort that, even if a home has other work that needs to be done, the kitchen is taken care of and work can proceed outwards from there.
- Bathrooms: Upgrading and/or adding bathrooms will generally see a payoff. If a bathroom can be added in cost-effective fashion (through using otherwise ‘dead’ space such as under stairs for example), the additional bathroom will add significant value. The more dated the bathroom we refinish, generally the better the return. Check out a post from a couple months back for more information on the latest bathroom trends.
- Other changes we recommend: New flooring, new paint, new fixtures, and new cabinet/drawer hardware will generally at least cover their own costs. Replacing a front door can reinvent the first impressions of your home, and thus its perceived value, and so be a valuable investment.
Great Financing Options
This reason hasn’t always been a top one for our clients, but in the last decade it has certainly become a major factor. With rising home prices and generationally low interest rates, the ability to unlock equity to reinvest it in your home has rarely been so attractive. In fact, we’ve had more clients than you might guess decide to make a renovation based exclusively on money being so inexpensive to borrow, and only then decide what kind of renovation they’d actually like to do!
Other Reasons to Renovate
Although not generally the primary reason for a renovation, the following reasons are often listed as solid side benefits to a larger renovation:
- Energy Efficiency: When walls are opened up or being reconfigured, it is an ideal time to add insulation and upgrade windows to a higher efficiency.
- Storage Space: Especially in older homes, closet space is at a premium. While increasing closet space on its own would generally be a cost prohibitive venture, they can often be done cost effectively as part of a larger project. Closets themselves can also be upgraded from the old wire-shelf standby to modern solutions that maximize space based on needs.
- Safety Issues: A renovation can make for the perfect opportunity to take care of major issues that could result in significant home damage and safety issues if left unaddressed. These can typically include roof repairs, electrical problems, or structural/foundational issues.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed and learned a thing or two from our post today. A big thank you to all of our past clients from providing us with this information to draw from! Although it might appear self-serving for us to say so, don’t leave renovations or even renovation advice in the hands of anyone who appears to be inexperienced or whose price seems too good to be true. We’ve spent 40 years in this industry locally, and our reputation has been built one satisfied client at a time. As a full service renovation company (we build custom homes as well), you will find that working with CHART provides you with the peace of mind knowing in advance you will be happy with your renovation planning and outcome. Thinking of renovating in the near future? Give us a call or send us your project details, we’d be happy to arrange a free consultation.