Money-smart resolutions: Improve your home's value, no matter your budget

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Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 12:00 am

If you're like the majority who responded to a recent Fidelity Investments survey, you're about to make a New Year's resolution related to finances. And what better financial security is out there, say area real estate experts, than a home?

For many Americans, their home is their biggest asset.

The gain in resale value from making a home improvement can vary widely, topping out at as much as 85 percent of the investment nationally and 61 percent locally — but often offering a much lower return.

So to help you make the most of your investment, The World-Herald asked a panel of local Realtors and remodeling experts to recommend ways to improve a home's value during 2014, given various budget scenarios ranging from $500 to $50,000.

Carpeting or hardwood? It might depend on how much money you have to spend.

Here's a sampling of responses from the two Realtors — Deda Myhre of CBSHome, president of the Omaha Area Board of Realtors, and Lisa Ritter of Re/Max Results and a past president of OABR — and the remodelers: Scott Petzoldt of Consolidated Kitchens and Fireplaces, president of the local chapter of National Association of the Remodeling Industry; Terry Hurt of T. Hurt Construction, Omaha representative to the national NARI; and Libby Pantzlaff of Creative Interiors by Libby, also a board member of NARI.

Myhre: Paint main interior areas; throw a party where friends offer free labor. Taupes and mochas are preferred tones; infuse bright accent color splashes with pillows and curtains.

Ritter: Add a “wow” factor to the kitchen with glass tile backsplash. Increase curb appeal with a new or freshly painted front door, updated lantern or lighting and potted plants at the entry.

Petzoldt: Update decorative hardware on kitchen cabinetry; paint walls. Use a quartz or granite remnant to update bathroom countertop.

Hurt: Change kitchen light fixtures, touch up cabinets with matching finish and replace handles. Or make similar changes in the bathroom and add a new mirror.

Pantzlaff: Paint a mural or headboard on the kids' bedroom wall. A glazed copper color paint adds an old-world charm to any room.

Myhre: Replace door knobs and other hardware in main areas and kitchen with rubbed bronze or brushed nickel. Unique shapes, including currently popular long cabinet handles, can be found at home improvement stores. Replace flooring in main areas. “Carpet is still king.”

Ritter: Install quartz, granite, or concrete (yes, concrete) countertop in kitchen. Re-face cabinets, update hardware, plumbing fixtures and (if any cash is left) buy nicer appliances. Alternately, replace bathroom tile, fixtures and vanity and add multijet shower system.

Petzoldt: Switch kitchen countertops to quartz or granite. Switch wood fireplace to less-hassle gas insert fireplace, and update the surround.

Hurt: In kitchen, change counters and backsplashes to granite, quartz or laminate; replace hardware, faucet and sink and get new appliances. Paint walls and refinish cabinets. Bathroom alternative: retile shower and floor; put new fixtures on toilet, sink and shower.

Pantzlaff: Change outdated golden oak kitchen cabinets by painting to trending colors of cream, neutral gray or black. Techniques such as distressing and glazing work well on oak grain (tune in to Houzz and HGTV websites for other ideas). Replace cabinet hardware.

Myhre: Upgrade kitchen counters, cabinet hardware and appliances. Paint the exterior; replace front door and deck. Change to vinyl windows.

Ritter: Update outdoor living area by adding a flagstone or painted concrete patio and a fire pit. If interior is priority, refinish floors of the main living areas — hardwood is preferred.

Petzoldt: In addition to new kitchen cabinets, countertops, backsplash, sink and faucet, change to linear-style fireplace and broaden the granite or natural stone surround to cover the entire wall rather than just a section.

Hurt: Revamp cabinetry to allow for double oven and larger refrigerator; replace countertops and backsplashes. Update flooring to engineered wood, modernize lights and plumbing. Or could completely remodel bathroom with new tub, sink, vanity, toilet and shower heads.

Pantzlaff: Create large, open kitchen as a social hub with upgraded appliances, countertops and backsplashes. Surface options are vast, including hammered copper, brushed metals, butcher block, concrete, painted and etched glass and granite.

Myhre: Full kitchen remodel, including new maple or birch cabinets. In main bathroom, tile the floor and install walk-in shower. If the interior already looks good, create an alluring outdoor living space.

Ritter: Finish off the basement with an additional bedroom, a wet bar for entertaining, a wine cellar. Cover the patio and add an outdoor kitchen, fire pit, water feature and landscaping.

Petzoldt: Total kitchen renovation that moves walls to increase size, as kitchens are the social hub. Add an island. Replace cabinets, counters, plumbing, floor and lighting.

Hurt: Open up kitchen walls; new appliances, counters and custom cabinetry with rollouts and a walk-in pantry. Add a second sink and undercounter lighting; specialty finishes on walls. Or, to the bathroom, add heated tile floors and towel racks and a walk-in shower; expand closets and TV locations.

Pantzlaff: Remodel basement, with wet bar and theater room. Think 3-D murals on the ceiling and paint doors and walls to reflect a favorite movie. Natural slate or stamped concrete floor adds pizazz.


Remodeling jobs are expected to increase nationally by about 5 percent in 2014, according to real estate media firm Hanley Wood. But certain improvements are gaining more traction than others.

Craig Webb, editor of Hanley Wood's Remodeling Magazine, said that 61 percent of remodeling companies surveyed anticipate growth in kitchen projects next year, up from 56 percent who said the same in 2013.

Dropping to No. 2 in the latest growth survey was bathroom remodels. Fifty-eight percent of companies said they expect to see more bathroom renovations next year, down slightly from 61 percent in 2013.

Thirty-six percent of respondents foresee growth in small additions and 29 percent anticipate growth in decks and patios, reflecting the same expectations as the last survey.

According to Hanley Wood's residential remodeling index, the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area is busier than average. Of 366 metro areas, the Omaha area recently ranked 14th “hottest” when considering activity and size, Webb said. The Omaha area was doing 15 percent better in the remodeling arena than it was doing at the industry's national 2007 peak, Webb said.

Webb and Realtor.com cited top national remodeling trends for 2014:

>> Modern kitchens with white or gray cabinetry, simple countertops, glossy finishes and minimalist designs.

>> Brass accents — rustic, dull and hammered.

>> Bathrooms with resort-style features such as large walk-in showers, multiple shower heads and heated floors.

>> Vibrant colors such as green flash, lemon zest, rouge red.

>> Sustainable materials including bamboo, energy-efficient appliances and designs that consider the local climate.

>> “Aging in place” features that accommodate older and disabled residents.

>> Multigenerational elements that allow grandma to co-exist comfortably with toddlers.

>> Technology upgrades including remote devices that control lights, door locks, even window shades and the coffee pot. — Cindy Gonzalez

Considers average job cost and resale value for midrange-priced home.

Omaha

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Project Cost Percent recouped
1. Entry door replacement (steel) $1,123 60.9
2. Basement remodel $58,593 54.8
3. Deck addition (wood) $8,933 54
4. Garage door replacement $1,445 52.7
5. Two-story addition $149,369 52.1
6. Attic bedroom remodel $46,267 51.6
7. Family room addition $75,501 51
8. Siding replacement (vinyl) $10,812 50.9
9. Minor kitchen remodel $17,992 48.8
10. Deck addition (composite) $14,839 48.8

U.S.

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Project Cost Percent recouped
1. Entry door replacement (steel) $1,137 85.6
2. Deck addition (wood) $9,327 77.3
3. Garage door replacement $1,496 75.7
4. Minor kitchen remodel $18,527 75.4
5. Window replacement (wood) $10,708 73.3
6. Siding replacement (vinyl) $11,192 72.9
7. Attic bedroom remodel $47,919 72.9
8. Window replacement (vinyl) $9,770 71.2
9. Basement remodel $61,303 70.3
10. Major kitchen remodel $53,931 68.9

Source: Remodeling 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, Hanley Wood

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