There are endless possibilities of what you can spend money on to improve your home. From simple upgrades to massive renovations, it can be overwhelming deciding where to start. To help, we’ve put together a list of priorities as we see it from a Realtor’s perspective. It’s important to start with what you love and enjoy (especially if you plan to be in your home for at least 4 more years) and prioritize the area of your home that you know you’ll get the most enjoyment out of first. On the other end, if there’s something in your home that causes you stress every time you see it, change it. Renovating can be a challenge, but assessing your wants, needs, and budget is a great first step.
Up To $5,000 Budget
1. Interior Paint – Fresh paint gives you the best bang for your buck. Depending on the size of your home, you may be able to get most of your main living area painted for under $5,000.
2. New Kitchen Backsplash / Updated Light Fixtures – An eat-in kitchen, dining room, or foyer chandelier provide a fresh, updated look without breaking the bank. If you have the builder-standard fluorescent rectangle in your kitchen: get rid of it! Replace with a new modern handing light or recessed lights.
3. New Bathroom Vanities – If you have any bathrooms that have laminate counters, this signals that the vanity is dated, too. You can purchase a new vanity that also has a built-in stone counter and new sink all together. You’ll just need to purchase a matching upgraded fixture to go with it.
4. New Front Door/ Refinishing Wood Doors – A new front door adds great curb appeal. Front doors make such an important first impression! When you’re selling your home, you always want the entrance way to be in top shape. Picture this: the buyers and their realtor approach your home, the buyers are eagerly looking around to assess the entrance, and the Realtor is trying to open the lockbox. Entry is not immediate — it can take a minute or two to get the lockbox open and enter the home. If you have rotten wood or an old pealing door, this will set the stage for a buyer’s negative impression of your home.
5. Exterior Cleaning – Power washing can be a surprisingly affordable way to make your exterior look new again. Your house, driveway, walkways, and roof can all be power washed for a fresh look. Add professional window cleaning and you’ll be looking great!
Up To $25,000 Budget
1. Flooring – Wood floors in main living areas and new carpet in bedrooms make a big difference. Real hardwood flooring is a timeless style and will never be an outdated choice. Color choices can vary and add personality but try to avoid extremes. And, you can refinish hardwood and change the look if needed.
2. Kitchen Appliance Upgrades / New Kitchen Counters – If your home is in a luxury price point, buyers will expect high-end appliances. The stove or cook top is the center piece, so consider this first.
3. Bathroom Vanities – We covered this in the $5,000 budget section, but if you have multiple bathrooms to upgrade, you’ll easily spend more than that. If your primary bathroom doesn’t have a dual vanity and you can find a way to add one, that will be a great investment. Pro-tip: This may also save you from arguments with your significant other if you’ve been sharing a sink.
4. Retiling – Primary shower and floors can often use new tiling, along with adding a standalone tub. Avoid trendy or colorful tile. Remember, light and bright is timeless.
5. Cabinet Makeover – Painting or refacing cabinets and changing out hardware is a simple but effective project.
Budget up to $100,000
1. Full Kitchen Update – New appliances, quartz or quartzite counters, backsplash, fresh paint; depending on size of kitchen, you may or may not be able to fully replace cabinets with this budget. Style and trends in kitchens change frequently. If you’re worried about making the right design choices, it’s always best to go light and bright, aiming for a timeless look that will last. The average cost of a full kitchen renovation in our area now averages over $150,000, so to stay on budget, consider hiring a professional designer who can help you find cost savings and make the right design choices.
2. Finished Basement – Adding additional finished space is a big bang for your buck. Adding a media room, an exercise room, office space, an additional bathroom, or an additional entertainment area will add huge value to a home.
3. Outdoor Living Space – An exterior gathering area like an outdoor fireplace, a new porch, or an upgraded deck are great additions. Consider high performance composite decking, a common brand is Trex, for great quality and value.
4. Exterior Upgrade – Fresh paint, a new roof, and new landscaping can transform the look of your home completely and even make your neighbors jealous with this project. Maybe they will follow your lead and paint their houses, too!
5. New Cement Siding / Windows – Many homes in our area built between the 1980s-90s were built using a siding referred to as OSB, or Orient Strand Board. One of the common brands that was used is called “LP” siding. This siding is a wood fiber glued together that deteriorates over time and is susceptible to moisture and other weather damage. New cement board siding, one of the popular brands is “Hardie Plank,” is made from a cement fiber that can withstand moisture and weather damage. If your home was built using OSB siding, it is also likely to have wooden single-pane windows. A major upgrade that will pay off when selling your home is replacing all of the siding and windows. Upgrading your windows to new dual-pane windows will enhance the curb appeal of your home and you’ll realize energy savings + noise reduction.
Renovating in today’s market requires patience and flexibility. The pandemic has caused price increases due to supply shortages and rising labor costs. Labor is hard to find, and you’ll need to plan ahead carefully with materials. We suggest that you make a plan and order supplies before you begin. Some appliances and fixtures can take weeks or months to come in, certain paints are hard to find, and the list goes on. In the end, it will be worth it! We hear it all the time: “I should have done this years ago!” Don’t delay and wait until you’re about to sell your home. Do it now and enjoy it without breaking the bank!
When house hunting or making a priority list of improvements for an existing home, most couples will eventually have to compromise. In my 23 years of marriage and 20 years of real estate experience, I have found that most men defer to what their spouse wants first, while making their own private plans for what they really want in their home. When we purchased our own home, I know that my wife Joanne didn’t even notice the built-in speaker systems throughout most of the house, and it was definitely a selling feature for me! In honor of Father’s Day, I’m spilling all of the secrets – here’s Tom’s Top 10 Things Dads Want In A Home.
10. The Shower – We want a spacious shower. It’s not because we need a lot of room, but because we know that our spouse is going to stock the shelves with their products. We need to make sure there’s enough space for our own body wash and shampoo. We also want a great showerhead and good water pressure!
9. The Speakers / Sound Systems – We like our tunes and being in control of the music. Having a speaker system that is beyond a single portable speaker, one that goes throughout the main living areas and out onto the deck, is ideal for any dad who likes to set the vibe of his domain.
8. The Bar – We want a bar area where we can keep that expensive bottle of liquor we are “saving for a special occasion.” It’s also important to have a spot where we can mix a quick drink when friends visit. The ideal bar is either adjacent to or in a comfy room where you can sit and enjoy your favorite beverage with your spouse.
7. The Home Office – When I think of my dream office, the TV show Mad Men is what comes to mind. That means deep wood furniture, leather-bound books on the bookshelf, a box of cigars, and a fully stocked bar. Work hard, play hard.
6. The Garage – We need space for everything from cars and sporting equipment to yard tools and kids’ toys. Having shelves, storage bins, and a workbench turns this space into an organized area instead of a piled-up mess. In a perfect world, the garage floor will have a cool epoxy finish so we are prepared to buy our dream sports car when we hit our mid-life splurge. When it comes to the garage, the bigger the better. We’ll find a way to fill the space.
5. The Kitchen – We enjoy innovations like built-in griddles on a new stove for making the kids pancakes on Saturday morning. Appliances with LCD screens, dual convection ovens, finger swipe screens – we love the technology. A built-in coffee station is also a big yes!
4. The Fireplace – Men love fire. We like to start fires, watch fires, and sit by fires and sit around a fire with family or friends sharing dad jokes. We want a great indoor fireplace, and we would love to have an outdoor fireplace with a seating area, too.
3. The Yard – Men are generally drawn to more space and bigger yards. It’s not because we want to spend all weekend working in the yard, but we do like having a place to go outside where we feel nature around us. If we can occasionally use a chainsaw, that’s a plus.
2. The Outdoor Living Space / The Deck – We want a deck big enough to house a grill and maybe a green egg – a place where we can eat outside as a family and enjoy a cocktail or hang out with friends. Ideally, this deck overlooks our great yard, so we can sit on the deck after working outside all day and appreciate what we’ve done, even if no one else notices the trimmed hedges and freshly cut grass. The icing on the cake is a big screen TV so we can watch the game while grilling and chilling with friends.
1. The Basement – The basement serves as a getaway space – i.e., the man cave. A huge TV and a comfortable seating area are must-haves for enjoying a game or movie. The basement is also the place for us to keep all the stuff that we’re not allowed to have anywhere else in the house. The basement is removed from the rest of the house and doesn’t always fall under the decorative oversight of our spouse, so we can have free reign to hang signed sports jerseys, have a comfortable chair, a ping pong table, or put our favorite piece of furniture from college that we refuse to give up. Lastly, this is a great spot for a home gym. The home gym is where we keep our exercise equipment (hopefully not the kind that was bought at 3:00 AM from an infomercial) whether we use it as often as we’d like or not.
House hunting is made so much easier when you know exactly which features you are looking for. Us dads often don’t seem picky, however there are definitely certain elements that keep us happy in our homes. Most of these revolve around spending time with family and friends, who are the loved ones that make being a dad so great in the first place.