Which Room Should You Remodel First?
As a homeowner, you are constantly faced with big decisions. From which internet provider to use, to what type of shingles to buy, to which upgrades to make, navigating the life of a homeowner can often be difficult. One of the most difficult decisions that a homeowner has to make is which room to renovate first, when it is time to start renovating.
While you likely loved your house when you bought it, nothing remains perfect forever. Styles go out of date, appliances and finishes wear down, and needs and preferences change all the time! What you wanted in your kitchen 10 years ago probably doesn’t match what you want now, and there is nothing wrong with that.
With that being said, renovations are very expensive and you’d be wise to consider the return on investment that you will earn with each upgrade. While you are, in theory, upgrading your home for yourself, you should also think about how the costs will affect your home’s value. Good quality renovations often increase home value, but some rooms tend to yield more returns than others.
This post is going to take a look at which rooms you should renovate first. It will consider both the expected return on investment as well as the difficulty level of renovations in each room. By the end of this post, you should be able to craft a good game plan for your upcoming home renovations.
1. Bathroom Renovations Provide High Returns on Little Investment
While you may have a wide range of bathroom types in your home, the story usually remains the same: investing in high-quality bathroom renovations is almost always the best bang-for-your-buck opportunity in your home. Generally speaking, bathrooms require much less time and money to renovate nicely than other rooms. Further, prospective buyers almost always check out the bathrooms in detail and this can often make or break a sale.
The advantage of renovating bathrooms first is their size. Because they are small rooms, bathrooms can be updated quickly, affordably, and very nicely. There is less area to go wrong, too, which means that hiring professionals to renovate your bathrooms is almost always a home run in terms of ROI. In most cases, bathrooms should be the first room that you renovate, and you shouldn’t skimp out on the details.
2. Kitchen Renovations Provide High Returns on Larger Investments
Aside from bathrooms, there is no room that buyers look at in more detail than the kitchen. People who enjoy cooking have very particular expectations within the kitchen, and building a kitchen that meets these lofty expectations is a sure way to win a sale. From clever touches to staple features like a center island, investing in a proper kitchen can really improve the market value of your home.
The downside to renovating your kitchen is the cost. Kitchens are disproportionately more expensive to renovate, due to the high costs of appliances, cabinets, and other finishes. The large upfront cost is what deters many homeowners from making significant upgrades in their kitchens.
Skimping on upgrades in the kitchen is dangerous, and it can wind up having a negative impact on your home’s value. Kitchens should be designed for wear and tear, and choosing cheap options over durable options can quickly destroy any hope you had of adding value to your home. While they are expensive, it is in your best interest to choose the nicest kitchen elements that you can afford.
3. Finishing a Basement Provides Great Returns but Requires Time and Capital
One of the highest upside renovations that you can make is finishing an unfinished basement. When you finish your basement, you can list a higher amount of livable square footage, increase the number of rooms in the house, and largely alter your potential home listing. On top of that, the actual uses you create for the space can add value in and of themselves. Installing a bar or a wine cellar almost always adds value, especially when compared to having nothing in the basement at all!
Finishing a basement takes a lot of time and work, but the costs can be pretty manageable. The total investment will vary widely based on the size of your basement and the degree to which it is already finished, but it truly doesn’t need to break the bank. At a minimum, installing drywall, insulation, and carpet can add thousands of dollars to your home's market value. If you add further detail, you can expect the returns to rise even higher!
4. Living Room Renovations Provide Satisfactory Returns on a Range of Investment Levels
At this point, renovations are more about your own wants than the future returns they will earn. Bathrooms, kitchens, and basements all yield pretty favorable ROI’s, but the other rooms on this list are much more hit or miss. This is largely because they are rooms that are governed much more by personal preference, and everyone’s preferences are different.
The living room is a tough room to renovate effectively. It is often one of the largest spaces in the house, and renovations can range greatly depending on how invasive you plan to get. If you want to overhaul the flooring, change the wall layouts, and install new windows, your expenses can rise very quickly without too much hope of recompensation when you sell the home.
One angle to consider is that many living room overhauls don’t actually include many renovations. Installing new carpet is not very invasive or expensive, and purchasing a new furniture set has no bearing on the future sale price of your home unless you plan to leave the furniture behind.
5. Bedroom Renovations Provide a Low Return on Investment
Just like the living room, bedrooms tend to provide a much lower return on investment when renovating. This is largely due to personal preference, as new homeowners may plan to install carpeting, paint, and finishes of their own.
When you make changes to your bedrooms, you should consider mostly what you want the rooms to look like rather than what you think will generate the highest return. There are few middle-budget options that add significant value to your home, and you’re usually much better off just creating a space that you can enjoy without worrying about how much value it will add to your home in the long run.
Thanks for reading our post on which room you should remodel first. Making home renovations is very exciting, and it can positively impact your home value if done right. The comments about expected returns on investment in this post are all meant to be used as rough ideas, and they are in no way concrete and unchanging. Every situation is different, and our recommendations are only meant to provide a rough framework for you. We are not liable for any ramifications of financial decisions that are made as a result of the advice in this post.
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