If you are considering a home renovation, make sure you research your project carefully to ensure you are making a wise financial decision and getting the biggest bang for the buck.
Not all renovations are what they are cracked up to be. When deciding what type of renovation to undertake and how much to spend, consider the payback on your investment.
In general, renovations are unlikely to deliver a dollar-for-dollar return on investment, sorry but it's the truth. That's not to say that doing renovations is a waste of money, rather it is to say that you should balance your family's enjoyment of the home with your desire to make a wise investment decision.
When determining the scope of your renovations, "keep it simple stupid". Forget about the luxuries and keep the renovations general and to projects that improve the homes appearance.
Probably the greatest return on investment is painting and decorating. Why? Because they play on people's emotions and when you play with emotions, people tend to do things they wouldn't always do. It's amazing that if carefully throughout, a can of $30.00 paint can potentially bring back hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.
Here's a good rule of thumb when it comes to renovations... Don't be the best on the block, you may be overpricing your home for the neighborhood. From an economic point of view, make your home no more than second best in the area.
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This chart is based on best case scenario and is a general example as to the return on your investment while taking up a renovation project that is performed in a professional manner.
Should the reader require information on a specific renovation not mentioned in this chart; please contact me or send me a message and I will be happy to provide the current and updated available data on all such renovation.
Following is an informative article printed in Reader's Digest by Julia Slater.
Renovation Projects With Some Payback
Whether you're planning to sell your home soon or to stay put for a while, you'd probably rather have any improvements you make to your house add as much value as possible. Here are some popular projects that the Appraisal Institute of Canada rated for payback value in its 1999 Renovations and Home Value Survey.
Interior Painting and Decorating. Sprucing up the walls and ceilings with a coat of fresh paint can be one of the best uses of your renovation dollars with an average potential payback of 73 percent. A new paint job leaves a good overall impression. And it's one of the easier do-it-yourself jobs that can save or eliminate labor costs. Experts advise selecting colors that are neutral or in keeping with today's styles.
The Kitchen. Professional appraisers surveyed agreed that remodeling the kitchen provides an average payback of 72 percent. What if you don't want to spend tens of thousands of dollars to remodel? Try some lower-cost quick fixes such as updating the lighting, replacing the cabinet doorknobs, or installing new counter tops. The payback will be lower, of course, but it might just tide your kitchen over until you're ready for a major overhaul.
The Bathroom. This is right up there in the value-for-money area with a payback of 68 percent for a full renovation. Experts suggest updating the look, but keeping the fixtures neutral. Quick fixes for a lower payback: install an updated mirror, medicine cabinet, or vanity. New lighting can also work wonders.
Exterior Painting. Although most homeowners tend to focus on the interior, potential buyers do get their first impression outside the house. Experts recommend keeping your paint color in line with the neighbors, so think about scraping off that loose paint and giving the siding and trim a fresh coat. Average payback: 65 percent.
Flooring Upgrades. Attractive floors add value, with an average potential payback of 62 percent according to the survey of professional appraisers. But experts caution that this payback could be reduced if potential buyers prefer carpeting, rather than hardwood floors, for example. If you've got wood floors, refinishing them could bring new life.
Basement Renovation. Although the survey found an average potential payback of 49 percent, professional appraisers have a wide range of opinions on cost recovery for a basement refurbishing. Diane Delves, who owns an appraisal firm in Abbotsford, B.C., attributes this to regional differences. In areas where basements are often fully above ground, "you'll get a much better return than you will for finishing a fully below ground basement that will never feel like a great living space due to the lack of natural light," according to Delves.
And what big project reaps the lowest potential payback? Although the survey didn't evaluate this, appraisers Reader's Digest talked to say that investing in an in-ground swimming pool offers below-average payback when it's time to sell your house. Potential buyers often see them as costly to maintain, and they worry about the safety issues. But if you live on a large lot in a high-end neighborhood, or in certain regions such as Quebec, you might improve the odds of a good return.
Energy Efficient Upgrade - Mechanical Systems
One of the best ways to make your home more comfortable, healthier and less expensive to operate is to upgrade the heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Energy-efficient equipment upgrades can be expensive, but can be offset by lower operating costs.
Before you decide to upgrade mechanical equipment, it's also critical to understand how the overall performance of the house will be affected. Keep in mind that your lifestyle, the number of occupants, their age, the climate and the insulation levels of the house all have an impact on the performance of mechanical systems. This type of upgrade will require professionals to do it right and to avoid causing other problems in the house. It's important to weigh the benefits against the costs
All equipment has an optimal life span. Older furnaces and boilers may need replacing simply because they have outlived their useful life, or because they may not have been regularly serviced.
If you have noticed a sudden change in fuel bills, it may be because you have started using the house differently - perhaps the temperature settings have been increased because a new child has entered your life or an elderly person has moved in.
Older homes often have areas that are cold because of poorly laid out heating and mechanical systems.
Perhaps you are undertaking other renovation work that requires some adjustments to your present mechanical systems. In this case, you can also consider upgrading your mechanical equipment to take advantage of new, more efficient products. This may also be an opportunity to install a proper ventilation system where one does not exist.
It is important to note that mechanical systems must not change the balance between the air pressure inside and outside the house - since high pressure differences can lead to combustion spillage problems from furnaces, hot water heaters or fireplaces. If there are no fuel burning appliances of any kind in the house, then this is not a significant issue.
House as a System
A house is much more than just four walls and a roof - it's an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment and the occupants. Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house performs.
Energy-efficient mechanical systems such as gas furnaces, usually have a sealed combustion chamber that isolates the flue gases from the house. Direct vent gas fireplaces can be a decorative heat source too, while not compromising the indoor air quality. New appliances may require special provisions for make-up air if the combustion appliances are not the "sealed combustion" or "induced draft" type.
Knowing the properties and operating characteristics of your heating system will help you to determine the changes you may want to consider. You will want to hire a professional heating contractor to make changes in the mechanical systems. Thinking about what changes you'd like to make or anticipating problems ahead of time will help the heating contractor address the shortcomings of your home's system. Here are some of the likely situations that people encounter.
Before You Start an Energy - Efficient Retrofit - The Building Envelope
The building envelope is the outer layer of the building that separates the living space from the outdoor environment, both above and below grade. Many older homes have high heating requirements because of high rates of air leakage and building envelope areas that are not well insulated.
Like any renovation, retrofitting the building envelope requires careful planning. Before you decide to go ahead with the project, it is important to clearly identify the areas that you want to improve. Just as important is a thorough inspection of the existing structure so that any current problems can be corrected.
Before You Start Renovating Your Kitchen
Your kitchen is probably the most used room in your house. Poor layout, inadequate lighting, cramped spaces, outdated fixtures and old cabinetry are common complaints of homeowners.
Before you decide to go ahead with a kitchen renovation, it is important to clearly identify the features you want in your new kitchen. Just as important is a thorough pre-renovation inspection to identify any existing problems.
Renovating Your Basement Moisture Problems
Remodelling your basement is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways of adding new living space to your house. Besides the traditional recreation room, more and more people are using basements for self-contained "granny flats", rental suites or home offices. No matter what the renovation purpose, ensuring that the space is clean, dry and healthy is a critical part of the project and something that must be done before anything else.
Before You Start Renovating Your Bathroom
Renovating your bathroom is a great way to add value to your home both for your family's daily living and for future resale.
Before you decide to go ahead with a renovation, it's critical to have a good idea of any underlying problems that could cause unwelcome and costly surprises. Taking time to find problems before you start your renovation will save you money, protect the indoor air quality and preserve the durability and structure of your home.
Buying a Toilet
In your home the toilet uses the most water accounting for approximately 30 per cent of indoor water use.
Prior to 1980 many toilets flushed with 20 litres of water. Then the 13-litre or "water saver" toilets became available in the early 1990s. They are still available in the marketplace. In 1996, the Ontario Building Code introduced legislation requiring 6-litre toilets for all new homes. Currently, no other province or territory has this legislation but some municipalities, such as Vancouver, have their own 6-litre bylaws. Six-litre toilets are often referred to as ultra-low-flush (ULF) toilets.
While many first generation 6-litre toilets did not perform well today's 6-litre toilets have been re-engineered to flush in many cases, better than their 13-litre counterparts. Typically, toilets found in the Canadian market place have been tested by the Canadian Standards Association or an equivalent lab. A list of high-performing toilets can be found in the CMHC partnered study "Maximum Performance Testing of Popular Water-Efficient Toilet Models (MaP)". The full report can be found at www.cwwa.ca
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