Getting Your Money Out of Your Renovation

Ever fall for that trendy new color and then live to regret it? Did you buy those moss green appliances when they were in style and build them into your kitchen? What about putting down laminate flooring instead of hardwood, and now all you can see is that your floor isn't hardwood... Such is the challenge when deciding on renovations.

This past week, my wife and I renewed our favorite hobby -- looking at houses. We took our 5 week old baby and 5 year old son with us. (That's another story.) We had spotted something in the local real estate pages that was in an area where we'd love to live. We decided to take a look at the house, despite the fact that the price tag put it a bit out of our reach.

It was a lovely home. The neighborhood was perfect. The landscaping was divine. And the decorating was so dated, I could almost have shot a period piece for the 70's inside that home.

If you want your renovations to retain their value, think "timeless". Think "classic". Unfortunately, "cheap and cheerful" rarely falls into either the timeless or classic category. Trendy may or may not be the right way to go. What stood out for us in this particular house was that the owners had sometimes scrimped on the quality of the materials they had used. In some cases, they had picked a trendy color that didn't work -- in a home decorated in neutrals, they had a dark laminate countertop in the kitchen that screamed "low budget". Little things like that can make a really desirable home lose some value, because people really can get hung up on the decorating. My wife and I did and we know better!

A lovely house, but it would take about $20,000 to update it to the point where we would be happy with it. If the house was a better deal, it might make sense, but at it's current price -- we're out of the picture. Interestingly enough, we've already seen a $20,000 drop in the price since we toured the house, so others must be having the same problem we've had. It would seem that there is pressure on the owners to drop the price in order to sell.


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