The Real Value of a Renovation – Part 1

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 Evaluating Renovations when Purchasing  a Home


When evaluating a home that has been renovated one or more times, there are many ways to proceed. Establishing the value placed on a renovation requires some knowledge and looking so that you can understand pricing of a home. In this arena, real estate agents and home inspectors can be incredible assets as they have seen many, many homes and understand the market and condition of a house with a very keen perspective. In some cases, the buyer will be considering a renovation of their own, so understanding what has been done already will be useful in determining the direction and scope of the work at hand.

The price of a home is essentially that which the seller is willing to accept. The value of renovations may or may not affect the offer, but the utility and quality of the renovation could swing a buyer’s preference for the home. One important factor to remember is that the value of the renovation is not only received from the potentially higher sale price, but also in the enjoyment over time of the renovated home. This variable is more difficult to assess, and may be esoteric in nature, but most quality renovations are worth doing as soon as possible so that this additional “enjoyment factor” can increase the true value of the efforts of renovation.

However, renovations can be expensive, time consuming, and inconvenient to the homeowner while they are being achieved. Many people who are not prepared for this suffer undue stress in their lives and relationships, and this cost is impossible to calculate. While the renovation may improve the value and enjoyment of the home, a deeper understanding of the market and a certain degree of luck combine to ensure that the sale price of the home will cover or exceed the cost of the renovation.

The fundamental hope is that the money put into a renovation results in an increase in the sale price. Often renovations are needed to simply bring a home up to the value and standards of other homes in the vicinity. Completing major renovations to put a home on the market may be attractive if the buyer is seeking to “flip the home” – that is buying an under-valued property, repairing it, and selling it at a profit. However, homeowners that are simply improving their own living space frequently run the risk of going over budget and over-valuing the work.

The key to evaluating a renovation is understanding that balancing act behind the end result – what was achieved, how was it achieved, by whom was the work done, and with what materials. The budget, time and inconvenience, and the enjoyment of the renovation – along with understanding the market and the scope of the renovation all become part of the equation in determining its worth.

How far did the renovation go? When all the fixtures and tile in that aging bathroom were replaced, did the owners replace the electrical wiring and water pipes, too? What are the pipes made out of? Copper or PVC, and what was the rationale? Ask the right questions and verify the answers during inspection to ensure that the project was completed as you expect it to be. If the wiring and pipes were in excellent condition and did not require replacement it is just fine to leave things alone. The key is to ensure that what was needed was actually accomplished. Doing too much or too little can cause a project to fail in the ultimate goal: to actually improve the home.

Want to know the Best of the Best and Worse than Bad Renovations to contemplate for your own home? Click here to go to Part 2 of this series!