Vol 7 No. 14 - December 27, 2006

Resolve to make renovations in the new year
By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

In a few days, you'll be ringing out the old and ringing in the new. Some people view Jan. 1 as a new beginning, a fresh start to make amends for the wrongs of the previous year. When it comes to your home there is probably a long "to do" list that may look pretty much the same as it did this time last year. If you're still hoping to scratch a few items off that list, here a few suggestions that will increase the overall value of your home.

Not everything in a stagnant real estate market is bad. One of the hottest home improvement areas is, believe it or not, the garage. There are home improvement companies thinking out of the box by offering an extreme makeover for your garage. If trading up to a larger home at this time is not an option, the next best thing may be to organize your existing garage space to acquire some additional square footage.

Garage remodeling has taken on the same status as home remodeling with everything from stain-resistant granite and rubber flooring, cabinetry and wall systems, recessed lighting and climate-controlled bottle rooms for wine collections. Of course in Florida, where basements are practically non-existent, garage remodeling could easily replace kitchens as the most desired home improvement.

Not so fast. Kitchens for the moment are still the most popular renovation and the one that adds the most to your home's value. Kitchen remodels should be done with an eye towards the future - nothing too quirky. Keep your choices timeless with neutral cabinets and flooring that will still look good in 10 years.

Countertops should also be picked for longevity. Granite and synthetic stone can tolerate a lot of abuse. In fact, granite is the most durable of the natural materials. Marble stains, slate and butcher block scratch, laminates chip and poured concrete, which is very popular now, stains easily. Also, spend the extra dollars on good quality appliances. If you can't afford sub-zero refrigerators and Viking ranges, at least purchase the higher end standard appliances.

Next up is the bathroom. Hopefully you have more than one in your home, and if you don't, that's the first thing you should do. Everybody loves having their own bathroom. If that's not possible, at least have one or two built that will accommodate all levels of your home, as well as a guest powder room.

Just like kitchens, think 10 years down the road when remodeling a bathroom - classic, neutral materials and good quality fixtures that will still be working in 10 years, and scratch- and stain-resistant sinks and countertops.

If you're still planning on selling your home when the time is right, replacing an old roof will add a lot of value and attract buyers to your property. Tile and metal roofs add a special touch to a Florida home, but regular roofing materials will still make a major improvement to the overall look of your house.

Out of all the money you spend on your home, replacing windows will probably give you the biggest bang for your buck. Old windows and frames that allow heat and wind to seep into your house are a serious turn-off to buyers. State building codes and buyers are requiring impact-resistant windows in hurricane-prone Florida. Don't even consider anything else.

Choose your battles and your home improvements carefully. Analyze the financial investment you're making in your home relative to its worth, especially if real estate values are declining. Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve!

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper