Home Improvements: What Rooms To Remodel First?

Nearly every homeowner can dream up a very long list of remodeling projects that would interest the homeowner or family members. Several potential remodeling projects can have beneficial effect on the home’s resale value. Future potential buyers can see others, such as the addition of a swimming pool, as detrimental features rather than as positive ones. According to Remodeling magazine, the most beneficial remodeling projects still include kitchens, bathrooms, deck additions and room additions when they fit with the house and the neighborhood. There are caveats for each, however.

The first question the homeowner needs to answer honestly is how long s/he intends to stay in the home. If that time is five years or less, then any remodeling project needs to be guided by its potential resale value, including whether it can have broad appeal to many different types of potential buyers. A new kitchen done in muted, neutral colors will have that appeal. A kitchen done in fire engine, stop sign red likely will have to be redone prior to putting the house on the market.

Some advice is timeless, such as the high relative value of kitchen and bathroom remodels. Approaches need not be timeless, however. If a $4,000 kitchen facelift carries the same appeal as a $40,000 full remodel, there is little reason to go the more costly route.

Kitchens
A budget-friendly facelift can produce dramatic and gratifying results in the kitchen. It can please the current homeowner and find favor with future potential buyers. Counter tops can be replaced, polished or even covered up. It is possible to remove existing laminate and replace it with new laminate, but the cost is between $30 and $40 per linear foot. Big box home improvement retailers offer high quality premade laminate counter tops for under $20 a foot. Off price retailers can take that per-foot price to under $12.

Many kitchen-changing homeowners want the laminate gone completely, of course. Solid surface, granite, quartz or marble counter tops are beautiful but require care that some prefer to avoid. A good – and much less costly – alternative is to cover existing laminate with a concrete-like material that can be colored to mimic any natural material. Granicrete installers offer counter makeovers that feature a grout-like base, an array of thin water colors and glazes, and finish with a tough epoxy sealer that can be shiny or provide a matte finish. Not only is the finished product highly attractive, it also is more durable than natural products in its ability to resist cracks and breaks.

Regardless of the quality of a kitchen cabinet, designs vary very little. Whether it is made of thin particle board or the finest solid cherry, it still is just a box. The homeowner can replace cabinet doors or paint the existing cabinets to yield an entire new look for the kitchen at minimal cost. Faux finishes can carry more drama in the kitchen than in many other settings.

Bathrooms
All of the preceding points apply to bathrooms as well. Changing the counter top, painting cabinets or changing the floor can give the bathroom an entirely new look without the expense of changing fixtures.

Limits
No simple facelift can fix poor traffic flow or inconvenience built in years before. Where those points are not issues, the facelift route can provide gratifying results at a cost that is only a fraction of a full remodel.