Monstrous Major Kitchen Remodels
If you look up "most expensive home improvement project" in your favorite search engine, you're bound to find plenty of pages dealing with kitchen remodeling. Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report for 2007 has the average cost for a major kitchen remodel listed at $55,503 (with the high-end version breaking the $100,000 mark). That's quite the pretty penny!
However, for those who desperately need a kitchen upgrade, Remodeling puts the less expensive "minor" kitchen remodel average at $21,185. The smaller, cheaper version focuses on giving a new look to the components you already have rather than replacing these components entirely, and when done properly, the change in appearance is not as minor as you might expect.
Eerily Expensive Additions
The real prize for "most expensive home improvement" should truly go to the second story addition (Remodeling puts the average at $139,297). Master suite and family room additions are also high up on the list at $98,863 and $78,989 respectively. What do you get for these enormous amounts? Certainly a bit of extra space, but when your remodeling costs get to a certain point, it's time to start wondering if there's a better way.
The fact is that many homes already have some space that, if used more effectively, could alleviate the feeling of being too cramped in other areas of the house. Garages, basements, and attics can all be converted to living space at a much lower cost (and often with a higher percent of cost recovery) than building a true addition. If breathing room is more of an issue than living space, you may be able to get off even cheaper by upgrading your storage areas. Adding a set of shelves in a closet or installing a few organizers in your cabinets can be done very cheaply and can do wonders for reducing clutter and making your home feel more open.
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Hellish Home Offices
Advances in computer technology have made working from home an option for more people. Despite this trend, however, building a home office continues to be one of the worst investments when it comes to recovering construction costs. Remodeling puts home office remodels at $27,193 on average, but when it comes time to sell your property, this project recovers a paltry 57% of its construction costs (which puts it behind "sunroom addition").
Of course, if you work at home every day, it may be well worth your sanity to put some money into a home office enhancement, but to keep your cash working to its fullest, take special care to upgrade appropriately. Make sure that the improvements you make to the space won't limit how it will be used in the future, and there's a good chance that prospective buyers will see it as an asset rather than a drawback.
Avoiding a Scary Future
Despite the fact that there are currently very good deals that can be found in both labor and materials, the last thing on many people's minds is a major remodeling project. Remodeling, however, is a very different thing than maintenance. While a remodel might end up being a good investment in years to come, avoiding maintenance can be a bad investment almost immediately. Taking the time to make sure your home is ship-shape before winter is never a bad idea. Remember, a small problem in your heating system that you diagnose today could turn into a major repair (and a few frigid hours or even days) if left unchecked.