When your siding has seen better days, upgrading it just might be one of the best investments you can make for your home, no matter what the economic climate. Since siding functions as a shield for the materials it covers, the better siding you have, the longer those materials are likely to last. In 2007, Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report revealed that installing fiber-cement siding generally recovers over 88% of construction costs in added resale value; this makes upgrading from vinyl or aluminum to fiber-cement the best investment nationwide when it comes to recouping your costs!
Though often the smallest rooms in the house, your bathroom can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day life. Bathrooms also pack quite a punch when it comes time to put your property on the market, and remodeling your bathroom (which recovers 78.3% of construction costs on average) can mean the difference between a home that's sold quickly and one that stays on the market for years.
According to ServiceMagic.com, an online resource matching homeowners to contractors in their area, the average cost of a bathroom remodel over the last quarter was less than $10,000. Out of a pool of 3,000 homeowners who found their bathroom contractors through SM, 9 out of 10 were not only pleased with their project, but would recommend it to others. When you think of the money and resources that get wasted by leaky pipes, dripping faucets, inefficient showerheads, and obsolete toilets and, add the hassle of waiting for mirrors to clear up, waiting for hot water (or running out too soon), and dealing with water pressure problems it's easy to see why so many folks are so happy with their new bathrooms!
While not technically a "renovation," an inspection is a sound enough investment in shaky economic times that we had to include it in this list. The beauty of an inspection lies not in what it does for your property, but what it prevents. For instance, a chimney inspection and cleaning will often cost somewhere between one and two hundred dollars, where a chimney fire can cost you thousands in property damage. Inspections are available for many of your home's systems (roofing, foundation, waterproofing, etc.), and can either identify small problems before they become large, or give you peace of mind that your home is in good shape!
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Few things can make a room shine like good flooring. Fortunately, flooring upgrades are also an excellent investment in just about any home. One of the nice things about replacing a floor with a more durable material is that you can really get your money's worth. For instance, while carpet remains the least costly flooring material, the National Home Builder's Association puts its life expectancy at 8 to 10 years "with appropriate maintenance and normal foot traffic." Though definitely more costly, natural hardwood's life expectancy is "100 years or more." So, by upgrading, you might be spending a little more in the short term, but you can rest easy knowing that you (or even the next owners of your property) won't have to bear the expense of flooring replacement!
Small Kitchen Remodels
In much the same way as bringing a bathroom up to par is almost always a good investment, minor kitchen improvements are generally a safe bet. Unfortunately, going overboard during a kitchen remodel is common, and many folks end up spending way more than they planned before the job is finished. To keep your investment budget-friendly, focus on the things that really need attention, and leave the elements of the room that are functioning just fine intact. Remodeling Magazine puts the average cost of a "major" kitchen remodel at a whopping $55,503, while a "minor" kitchen remodel comes in at $21,185 (and recovers 5% more of its construction costs, to boot)!
General Guidelines for Recession-Proof Remodeling
During uncertain economic times, the adage "If it's not broken, don't fix it" is certainly appropriate in many cases. However, to be completely accurate, you may want to add something to the effect of "If it's slightly broken, fix it now." "If it's working fine, but it's costing you plenty to operate, get a better model" might be another good phrase to live by. Basically, any remodeling project runs the risk of being more trouble than it is worth, but, in a nutshell, hard times call for projects that will not only make your property look better, but will help it function more efficiently for years to come!