Close your eyes and picture your dream home. Don’t be shy – include all the trimmings. Would your home include a swimming pool? Granite counters in the kitchen? How about a whirlpool bath?
Now imagine how much all of that would cost. The reality for many people is that some home improvements will have to wait for later (whether “later” is next year, or a few years down the road).
Deciding what you can do now, and what needs to wait, doesn’t have to be a painful exercise, however. With a bit of thought before starting the renovations, you can avoid the stress that comes from thinking “am I doing too much?”
Keep these questions in mind when deciding what to do, and not to do:
1. How much is each home improvement going to cost?
Some improvements cost more than others (a lot more!). Here are some ballpark price ranges for the most popular projects:
- Kitchen: $10,000 to $40,000
- Bathroom: $10,000 to $20,000
- Basement: $30,000 and up
- Additions: $120 per square foot, on average
- Decks: $5 per square foot, minimum
- Fences: $12 per square foot, minimum
And price ranges to hire professionals for your job:
- Designer: $5,000 per job
- Engineer: $5,000 to $10,000 per job
- Architect: $5,000 to $20,000
Source: Make It Right by Mike Holmes
Keep in mind that these are ballpark costs. For detailed cost estimates, check out AllAroundTheHouse.com. They have cost ranges for many home improvement projects.
2. Which home improvements will save you the most money over the long run?
Keep in mind that while all renovations will make your home a nicer place to live, some home improvements can also save you a lot of money over the long run. Try to focus on changes that will cut down on your energy and water costs.
3. Which improvements are necessary, and which are “nice to have”?
A home gym might inspire you to jump out of bed in the morning, but will it keep water out of your basement? When considering the home improvements you’re going to do first, think first about what needs to be done to maintain the value of your home. Does your foundation or roof leak? If so, repairing these essential things should be your first priority.
4. What are the needs of your family?
Maybe you’re expecting a baby, or your kids have all left the house. Anticipating the needs of your family in the coming years will allow you to figure out how you’re going to use your house. Design is important, but also try to think “functional”.
5. When do you plan to sell?
If you’re planning to sell your home in the next two years, maybe the in-ground pool can wait for your next home. On the other hand, if you plan to keep your home for awhile, you can feel more comfortable putting money into it that might not return to you quickly. Keep in mind that not all home improvements are a good investment.
6. What price range do the improvements put your house in?
If the renovations you plan will make your house the most expensive on the block, you might want to consider paring things down.