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Top remodeling projects that impact appraisals
According to Remodeling Magazines 2015 Cost vs. Value remodeling information (see, the only project type listed for Salt Lake City that shows a return of over 100 percent is replacing your existing front door with a steel door. - photo by Annie Schwemmer and Ann Robinson
Last week we started our discussion about home remodeling to positively impact home values and appraisals. We discussed how an appraiser and the bank look at the nuts and bolts of your house and how potential buyers look at your house by the feel, function and finishes. A successful remodeling project requires careful planning to find the perfect balance to appeal to both audiences.

Very few projects instantly recoup their initial cost. Here are a few of the projects real estate professionals, architects and appraisers see impacting home prices when considering the return on your remodeling investment.

Adding bedrooms and bathrooms

Like we said last week: Appraisals are functional equations. Houses are categorized in terms of literal square footage, and the actual number of bedrooms and bathrooms present. Therefore, adding additional bedrooms, bathrooms and/or square footage will generally increase the homes appraised value. This will change the comparable houses and directly impact the evaluation of your home. In this sense, the option with the best return on investment is to add a bedroom without an addition. If you can reconfigure existing space so as to create an additional bedroom, you can keep the investment low to impact the value at a higher rate. Attic bedrooms are actually one of the highest yielding projects, but they are also one of the most expensive and involved types of remodeling projects.

Appraisers look at the bed-to-bath ratio; you generally dont want more bathrooms than bedrooms (with the exception of a half-bath or powder room). A house with five bedrooms and six bathrooms may actually hurt you in the appraisal. One reason is that the appraisers probably wont be able to find any comparable houses. If they cant find any comparable houses in your location, then they will be forced to compare your house to a smaller home or go out of your particular area, which may not yield results in your favor.

Kitchen remodels

Modernizing your kitchen is on the upper end of the return-on-investment scale. This is a room that can range widely in value. If you know that selling your house is in the near to mid-range future, you should be careful to keep the cost of the remodel in the mid- or even budget-range. It is easy to get carried away when picking our cabinets, appliances, tile, counter tops in short, everything that a kitchen remodel requires. Obviously, you can be too budget conscious. No one is going to be captivated by plastic laminate counter tops in this day and age of granite and quartz, but selecting granite that is $28 a square foot will pencil out better than something in the $70 to $80 range.

Window replacement

Replacing windows appeals to todays energy-conscious buyers, and even appraisers are beginning to give credit for environmentally responsible construction. Make sure, however, that you are looking at the big picture. New windows are appropriate for homes that have the "holes" in the right places in rooms that flow and function well. While putting new windows into a house whose floor plan is dated may acquire points on the appraisal, it falls into the category of "lipstick on the pig" as far as buyers are concerned.

Adding a master suite

A master suite is no longer a luxury for most people in our area; it is a necessity for considering a home as a possibility for a new purchase. Again, this probably has more impact on the buyer than the appraiser, but when you consider that the value of your home is determined by comparing it to others in the area, you can see that a master suite counts even in this process. The fact is, just having a master suite at all is more important than having a gigantic one. Bigger is not always better, and great design can do a lot with a small space.


While there is no instant return on every dollar you spend, over time your equity will increase and make up for the investment. The longer you stay in your house the higher the return should be. There will come a point when your entire investment will be returned by your increased property value. However, this takes time and a remodeling project that will stand that test of time. Choose timeless design principles and sound construction and it will pay off in the long run.
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