According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes with newly remodeled kitchens and bathrooms are more than twice as likely to sell, and for a higher price in a shorter amount of time, than homes in which these rooms are outdated. NAR research also reports that the return on investment (ROI) on kitchen and bath remodel projects is one hundred percent for kitchens and more than one hundred percent for bathrooms.
This means that people are willing to pay more money for homes that are move-in ready with the kitchen and bathrooms already updated, rather than purchasing an outdated home and doing the remodel work themselves. Higher end or luxury kitchen and bath remodels give a slightly lower ROI, but still help luxury homes sell faster.
Resale value and appeal are only two of many reasons people choose to remodel kitchens and bathrooms. For homeowners who plan to continue living in their homes, updating these rooms significantly modernizes the home and improves ease of living. Kitchens are the premier room in the home for both entertaining guests and gathering as a family, so kitchen upgrades from full remodels to do-it-yourself home improvement projects take the majority of entire-home remodeling time, money, and planning.
So while it’s almost always a good idea to upgrade a kitchen or bathroom, whether you’re planning to sell a home or live in it yourself, there are a few steadfast rules to follow when doing a remodel or home improvement project, especially in a kitchen or bathroom. These rooms are the most costly to remodel, require a wide range of workers and skills to complete, and also provide the biggest rewards to the homeowner.
Stick to a Budget
A remodel project should always be approached as a financial investment. Even if you have limitless cash flow, begin your project by creating a budget and stick to it. Make sure you hire a contractor or other laborers that understand the parameters you’re working within and are willing to honor them. It’s common for a kitchen or bath remodel project to demand more time and money than was originally estimated, so be sure to create a little wiggle room and have realistic budgetary expectations.
When a project starts going too far over budget, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate. ROI is a major reason you don’t want to spend more money than you originally intended, even if you never plan to sell the home. Your home may be valued or appraised for a number of different reasons ranging from insurance to taxes and personal net worth, and it’s never in your best interests to own a home that’s worth less than the amount you paid for it plus improvements.
Add 20% to your estimate for safety, because remodel projects often cost more than anticipated. If your project estimate plus 20% is more than your budget, begin cutting non-necessities from the project to save money. If your project comes in under budget, you can begin to add back in the items you cut.
Save Money on DIY Projects
To either save money on a remodel or make the money you have to spend go further, there are certain kitchen and bathroom remodeling tasks that many homeowners can do themselves. Some contractors and remodel companies will even let you work alongside them to help you get involved in the project and save some money on labor at the same time.
A few examples of do-it-yourself tasks on a kitchen and bathroom remodel include removing old cabinets, countertops, and shelves; stripping and refinishing cabinets instead of replacing them; and painting, which is usually one of the first tasks to be tackled. Depending on skill level, some homeowners may feel comfortable installing their own tile floors, countertops, backsplashes, and showers as well.
Many remodeling companies are willing to work with you in creative ways to make your dream remodel become a reality, and that often means that the homeowners do some of the work themselves.
Leave the Specialty Items to the Specialists
Even if you’re planning to do your entire kitchen or bathroom remodel yourself, there are certain tasks such as electrical wiring and plumbing that should be left to the experts. For a do-it-yourself remodel project, still budget the money for an electrician and plumber to perform these highly specialized and important parts of the project.
Doing these tasks incorrectly can lead to problems ranging from failing your inspection to burning down your home. In most cases, however, it causes the project to go over budget when faulty plumbing or electrical projects have to be redone by a professional.
Update Appliances and Choose Hardwood or Tile
Although these items are frequently the point of remodeling a kitchen or bathroom in the first place, they’re worth mentioning because they add the most value to a home.
Home buyers are looking for modern, energy-star appliances already installed in the home, so it’s recommended that sellers update appliances in the kitchen, bath, and laundry as a remodel minimum in order to prepare a home for sale.
Carpets are out and hardwood and tile floors are in. These floors are more expensive to install initially, but are more durable, easier to maintain, and last much longer than vinyl or carpet. If you’re planning to stay in your home, they’re a good investment; they also provide a good ROI if you’re planning to sell.
If you’re remodeling on a budget, it’s better to replace a damaged tile or hardwood floor with vinyl than to leave it as is. However, damaged tile floors may be repaired locally by replacing individual tiles, and most hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished as an alternative to replacing them.