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Home Renovation
written by Mike Ballew January 7, 2024
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Thinking about renovating your home? The typical home renovation consists of kitchen, bath, and flooring upgrades. Join us as we explore the pros and cons of home renovation.

Is Home Renovation a Good Idea?

Before you start ripping out walls and pulling down cabinets, you need to ask yourself a few questions. First, have you been watching too much HGTV? Television has a way of making things seem easier than they are. Ever notice how babies on television are so cute and cuddly? All they do is smile and coo, they never scream or cry or soil their diapers. Same with TV pets, only the upside is shown.

If you own one of the more expensive homes in your neighborhood, a home renovation might not be in your best interest. Your neighborhood has an established price range – a quick check of Zillow will confirm it. If your home is already at the top of that range, any money spent on renovating it may not be recouped.

The fact is, many home upgrades do not pay for themselves. You would never know that watching television. Hit pause the next time you’re watching one of those flipping shows and jot down the renovation costs. Then go online and compare them to national averages. What you will find is that most TV flippers are getting sweetheart deals in exchange for volume work and contractor visibility. You would never get those prices.

One Thing Leads to Another

Have you ever noticed that when you clean something the cleanliness bar suddenly rises? It may seem clean for a fleeting moment, then you start noticing little things you didn't see before.

It’s no different with home renovations. When you remodel one part of your home, suddenly the rest of your home needs remodeling, too.

Before starting a home renovation, get quotes from at least three different contractors. Or, if you are planning to perform the work yourself, sit down and compile an accurate estimate. Make certain you can afford the renovation before you start swinging hammers.

County inspections are another consideration. If your renovation involves plumbing, wiring, or air conditioning, the work will need to be inspected. When a building inspector steps foot into your home, you may be required to bring other things up to code.

Can You Handle the Inconvenience?

Let’s move on from the financial aspect of home renovation and talk about other considerations. A kitchen remodel that includes new countertops, cabinets, appliances, and floors can take months. If changes are required to the plumbing or wiring, it can take even longer. A bathroom remodel takes up to three months.

A common issue is keeping the contractor focused on your project. Contractors work for all types of clients, from homeowners like you to large homebuilders who build hundreds of homes each year. If they’re in the middle of your project and a large homebuilder yanks their chain, what do you think they’re going to listen to? They could disappear for weeks. Meanwhile, their phone mysteriously stops working; they won’t respond to your calls or messages.

Assuming you plan to continue living in your home during the renovation, how do you feel about being without a kitchen or bathroom for an extended period of time? Everyone in your home may have to share one bathroom. Your refrigerator may wind up in your family room and you will be eating off paper plates with plastic utensils. Your only means of cooking will be a microwave.

Can You Handle the Construction?

Then there’s the dust, noise, and strangers traipsing through your home. You can partition off the construction with floor-to-ceiling plastic, but it’s not foolproof. A good amount of dust and dirt will be circulated throughout your home via the heating and cooling system.

Does anyone work from home or otherwise occupy the home during the day? They’re in for endless hammering and power tools. Do you have any pets? How will they react to the chaos?

If you plan to do the work yourself, evenings and weekends will be noisy and leisure time will be nonexistent. Think you can take a break whenever you want? Think again. Every minute you’re sitting on the couch your family will be silently resenting you for not getting this over with.

Put your Goals in Writing

With anything as costly and time-consuming as a home renovation, it’s a good idea to put your goals in writing. A good example might be: "open up the floorplan, enlarge and update the kitchen, and maintain a formal dining area."

Go back and revisit your goals from time to time, especially when you find yourself making major decisions. This helps prevent “scope creep" – continually expanding the amount of work.

Is Home Renovation a Good Idea?

If none of these issues deter you, renovating your home might be right for you. After you finish you can revel in the fruits of your labor. Someday when you go to sell your home it might fetch a higher price.

One final thought: if you think you might be equally happy moving – i.e., buying a new or different home – it deserves your consideration. There is much to be said for buying something that you can see and feel.

When you remodel a home, you can put all the language you want into the contract to try to protect yourself and define quality, but you can’t think of everything. No one can. The fact is, after all that time and money and aggravation, you might not be happy with the final result. Walls may be wavy, floors uneven, colors mismatched.

On the other hand, when you purchase another home, you can see and feel the end result before you buy. You know what you’re getting. There is real value in that.

When you consider the uncertainty and inconvenience of home renovation, buying another home may be the better choice.

Photo credit: Freepik Eggstack News will never post an article influenced by an outside company or advertiser. Our mission is to help you overcome uncertainty about retirement planning and inspire confidence in your financial future.
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MIKE BALLEW
Eggstack founder, Financial Planning Association member, engineer, and software developer.