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Wed, Feb. 26

Ask the contractor: Add resale value while you improve your home

Decorative molding and chair railing not only look great, but adds value to your home.

Decorative molding and chair railing not only look great, but adds value to your home.

Fed up with the olive green bathroom? Tired of a bathroom layout that simply does not work for you? Is that kitchen outdated? What home improvements can transform your home into a space you will love and add value to your home as well as create space for you and your family to enjoy?

We all know that a home is the largest personal investment we will make and when it comes to home renovations, not all upgrades are uniform and on the same level. Particular upgrades and improvements will yield a higher ROI (return on investment) and increase the value of your home. There are other improvements that are significant and key and could certainly help a home sell, however they would not increase the sales price.

When it comes to home improvement, some dollars stretch more than others. And if you’re on a limited budget, it becomes even more important to spend those dollars wisely. Here are a few enhancements that can certainly increase the value of a home, make your home more enjoyable, do not cost a fortune and have a ROI:

  1. Add molding — Decorative molding is a classic touch and a great way to dress up a room. It’s a budget-friendly improvement that trims a room for a finished and expensive look. Today’s moldings come in unspecified large numbers and designs and material that can be stained and painted. According to the National Association of Home Builders annual survey, “What Home Buyers Really Want” homeowners consistently ranked both crown molding and chair railing in their list of most desirable decorative features they seek in a home.
  2. Install quality ceiling fans — once ceiling fans were just an economical low-cost solution to rising energy costs, they were hideous, unattractive, wobbly, noisy eyesores that we endured because they were less expensive than air conditioning.

Today, ceiling fans have evolved into an essential component in homes as energy prices continue to rise. Designs have caught up with the times. Ceiling fans come in a variety of styles and colors, shapes and material to complement any room. If the ceiling fans in your home are old and outdated, new ones will certainly give your room a refreshing update.

Ceiling fans should hang 7 to 8 feet above the floor. If you’ve got a low ceiling, buy a hugger ceiling fan that’s flush-mounted. Size matters more than the number of fan blades. Go for the biggest Energy Star-rated fan that will fit the space and more importantly choose quality. You’ll get better cooling results, less noise, and good looks.

  1. Plant some trees — say what? I know adding trees doesn’t instantly pop into your head when you think of adding value to your home. Trees are moneymakers that get better with age. A mature tree could be worth between $1,000 to $10,000, says the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. Trees also can save annually in energy costs, they can prevent erosion from rain and roof runoff and trees can protect your home from wind, rain, and sun. Now, don’t just run out and plant trees willy-nilly as they say. Follow the sun. Plant shade trees on the south side of the house where the sun beats strongest and longest. Follow the wind. Plant windbreak trees, which can lower winter energy costs by 30 percent, on the north and northwest sides of your property. Don’t plant too close. If you do, branches can scrape roofs and siding, causing expensive damage. Rule of thumb: Don’t plant trees any closer than the tree’s mature height plus one-fourth of that height.
  2. Install a patio — Patios are a great cost-effective way to increase your home’s living space without actually adding on. National average ROI is approximately 30 to 60 percent of your investment. A $2,000 patio would return around $900 at resale.
  3. Install a security system — if a monitored system suits your needs, you’ll also get a break on your home insurance.

Home security systems also make your home more marketable: 50 percent of homebuyers in the NAHB survey say a home security system, particularly security cameras tops their list of most-wanted technology features.

  1. Almost sny energy-efficient upgrade — the value of energy-efficient houses just keeps going up and up. A study examined the sales prices of homes from 2007 to 2014 and found that homes with Energy Star or LEED, certifications had on the average, a 9 percent higher price. This finding echoed the NAHB’s report that surveyed homebuyers across the nation: Nine out of 10 potential buyers would select an efficient home with lower utility bills over a less efficient home priced 2 to 3 percent less.

One energy-saving home improvement project that not only saves energy but gives you tons of enjoyment, too, is converting a wood-burning fireplace into a gas one. If you like to crunch energy numbers, gas fireplaces have energy-efficient ratings as high as 77 percent, compared with wood-burning fireplaces that convert only 15 percent of wood’s energy into useful heat. In fact, 39 percent of homebuyers say a gas fireplace is an essential or desirable feature of the next home they purchase. So when it comes time to sell your home, more than one-third of potential buyers will be looking for a gas fireplace.

The above items are ideas for small reasonable improvements that can recoup a high percentage of your investment. And here are a few others that top the charts for the highest yield: Replacing your entry door. Replacing your garage doors, replacing some windows, caulking and repainting exterior/interior trim, laying new mulch, minor landscaping additions, repainting rooms, adding insulation, updating some plumbing, removing paneling, removing wallpaper, cleaning your carpets, and more. Anything that can make your home appear fresh and clean will increase the value and produce a quick sale.

When it comes to home improvements, you will have many choices on how to spend your money. Some you will certainly love. And some, you’ll love AND will increase the value of your home. Be sure to keep your resale value in mind before undergoing any major project. It’s likely your largest single investment, so choose wisely. Happy Home Improvments!

Sandy Griffis is executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association. Email your questions to her at or call 928-778-0040.

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