How To Estimate Renovation Costs
Harrisonburg REI September Meeting
Last week, Harrisonburg Real Estate Investor Network hosted a virtual meeting to review all the ins and outs of renovating a flip. Chase Louderback discussed some strategies to help estimate costs, mitigate risks, and how to look for potential “deal killers.” If you didn't get a chance to join the meeting, check out the video below!
What is the Harrisonburg Real Estate Investor Network?
The Harrisonburg Real Estate Investors network is a group of experienced investors, agents, lenders, attorneys, insurance brokers, contractors, and real estate newbies looking to grow their business. They focus on real estate investing ranging from residential to multifamily investments and active to passive real estate investing. Their goal is to establish a community of real estate professionals, both amateur and experienced, that creates the network and environment to grow everyone’s business. Check out their Facebook page or join their Meetup group to get more information about upcoming meetings!
What Buyers Want In A House
If you are considering putting your house on the market in the near future, you may be wondering what prospective homebuyers are looking for before investing in a home improvement project. Afterall, you don’t want to sink a lot of money and time into an upgrade that won’t appeal to buyers. These improvements go beyond fixing major issues that would come up during a home inspection (which should be addressed prior to putting your house on the market) or quick/ inexpensive fixes like cleaning the carpets or fixing chipped paint. So, what do buyers want in a house?
Renovated or Updated Kitchen
According to realtor.com, a survey they conducted in early April of this year found that 13.3% of 1,300 surveyed (both renters and owners of houses) rated an updated kitchen a must have for their next home. The 2019 Realtor Remodeling Impact Report found that 40% of realtors recommend sellers update their kitchen before listing their home (and 20% said it helped close a sale). Now more than ever, the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged more people to cook at home, thereby making a kitchen with updated appliances a sought-after commodity. Check out these blog posts on counters, cabinets, and DIY renovation tips for more ideas on how to update your current kitchen. Also keep in mind that 75% of agents surveyed in HomeLight’s Q3 2019 Top Agent Insights Report said that stainless steel appliances are the most in demand appliance finish among buyers.
Gone are the days of wall-to-wall carpeting, homebuyers of recent years want hardwood floors. This home project has one of the best ROIs you can find in home remodeling; there is a 106% cost recovery of new hardwood flooring and 100% cost recovery to refinish existing hardwood floors (according to the same Realtor Remodeling Impact Report). If hardwood throughout the house is not in the budget, opting for another hard surface, like laminate, is still preferred over carpeting. Prioritize the main living areas and keep the carpet in the bedrooms if you can’t update all the flooring. The best practice is to keep the flooring consistent in the house by using the same color and material in all the rooms you plan to make hard surface floors.
Buyers today want modern interiors with clean lines. Bathrooms are similar to kitchens in that they are a high traffic area for family members and so they can wear out faster than other rooms in the house. Buyers like bathrooms with big showers that give off a spa-like environment. If you are not in a position to remodel a bathroom, re-grouting tile and replacing water stained ceilings will go a long way to refresh the space.
Even if you have all the amenities a prospective buyer could dream up inside your home, it’s the exterior of the house that will immediately create an impression on the buyers before they even step foot inside. Create some curb appeal to ensure you impress the buyer from the start. For a quick and relatively inexpensive face-lift, keep the yard mowed and powerwash the exterior of the house. Homebuyers also want ample exterior lighting for both aesthetic and safety reasons. If you can take on a bigger project, the number one outdoor feature buyers want in a house is a patio. Check out this blog post for tips on how to upgrade your existing patio or talk to a contractor about building one.
To get an offer on your house it’s important to help potential buyers envision making your house their new home. There are several ways to accomplish this, particularly with proper staging, but one of the best ways is to paint all the walls neutral colors. A neutral palette (think whites and grays) makes the furniture pop and gives the home a move-in ready appearance.
Let’s face it, Americans today have a lot of stuff. Minimalism, while trendy, is a challenge for most of us. We want to live in simple, calm spaces without sacrificing our beloved possessions. This creates a demand for more storage areas in the house. Homebuyers want walk-in closets, garages with shelving, large pantries, and laundry rooms. While it’s not always possible to create these spaces if they are not part of your floorplan, with a bit of creativity, you can still improve these areas. Try installing an organizational system with shelves and hanging rods to optimize the space in a reach-in closet. Similarly, you can add shelves and a peg wall for tools to increase the storage capacity for your garage or even invest in a shed.
Energy Efficiency and Smart Technology
According to 2019 survey results from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), energy-saving features such as Energy Star appliances, windows and whole house certification are among the most wanted home features. Buyers are willing to spend a little more upfront in the interest of saving money on utilities down the road. In addition to replacing old windows and appliances with energy-efficient ones, consider installing ceiling fans and smart thermostats which will also help lower utility costs. You may also decide to upgrade your insulation which boasts a recovery value of 83%. Be sure to have these features highlighted in your listing since they can be overlooked in a typical home tour.
When in doubt about which projects to focus on, ask your realtor! They will have the most up-to-date data and trends, plus know what appeals to buyers specific to your local housing market.
With the Fourth of July right around the corner, you may be brainstorming ideas on how to celebrate with friends or family in a time of social distancing (a term we are very familiar with and perhaps tired of). Having an outdoor gathering can be one way to still socialize with friends while minimizing the risk of exposure from COVID-19. If you decide to host a BBQ, you may realize your backyard needs a bit of TLC before you can entertain. Investing in a patio might be the answer; afterall, a “Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of Realtors in 2016 found that 102% value is recovered from building a new patio and 106% is recovered from a new wood deck. Whether you are designing a new patio or deck, or are lucky enough to already have one, here are a few ways you can improve the area and make it one of your favorite places “in” the house.
Choose Versatile Furniture
Great furniture doesn’t have to be expensive to make a patio inviting. You may already have some chairs and tables that just need a quick facelift. You can easily remove rust and repaint/ spray paint metal pieces for a refreshed look. You can use benches for flexible seating or buy chairs that are ideal for both dining and lounging. A hammock is also a budget-friendly way to add a relaxing place to kick your feet up.
Create Outdoor Storage
Part of having versatile furniture is finding storage options that can help utilize the area if you have a smaller yard plus keep it looking tidy. An ottoman with an empty base can house magazines and sunscreen. A bench with built-in storage can hold cushions and pillows. Wooden crates can be painted and then treated with sealant to weather-proof them.
Add a Fire Pit
One easy way to instantly make your patio cozier plus establish a focal point in the yard is to add a fire pit. Not only do they provide heat in the cooler months, they are entertaining to watch and fairly inexpensive to install. A quick Google search will yield dozens of DIY fire pits (just be sure to stick closely to the materials list so you know you are constructing a safe fire pit) and you can always purchase a smaller, more portable one from a home improvement store or online. One of the biggest benefits of a fire pit right now is that people can easily congregate around the fire while staying six feet apart from each other.
Throw Some Shade
A backyard hangout or BBQ doesn’t have to be a sweaty, sunburnt ordeal. Incorporate shade to keep you and your guests cool. If your backyard doesn’t have many trees, you can purchase shade sails or umbrellas to cover the areas of the patio you plan to lounge in. You can also install a retractable awning or even build a pergola and add vines for a more natural feel.
Have a Pop of Color
After getting the basics set up, adding a bit of color is a great way to really make the space your own and show off your style. Quick ways to make your patio more visually appealing include laying down a big outdoor rug, planting bright flowers, using fun-shaped or colorful planters, or tossing in some weather-proof pillows with interesting designs.
Focus on the Accents
If you are looking for a way to really make your patio/ backyard stand out, there are plenty of things you can do. You can create a stone path to a bench or your favorite area of the yard. Bonus points if you cast your own stones using quick-mix concrete. A vertical succulent garden can be a great conversation piece, especially if space is an issue. Hanging up string lights or investing in a water feature are other great ways to instantly add some curb appeal to your backyard.
The Patio is Ready, Now What?
Now that your patio is ready for entertaining, what should those who are social distancing keep in mind while hosting the perfect BBQ?
10 Best Kitchen Countertops
A kitchen is central to both the style and functionality of a home. The average American spends about 40 minutes per day in the kitchen preparing food and cleaning up after meals. We want to enjoy the environment that we spend this time in. A beautiful kitchen countertop can really define the space and set the tone for the style of your kitchen. A countertop also must be functional for cooking on. Most countertops in residential kitchens are made of one of ten common materials. In this post we’ll explore the 10 best countertop materials currently on the market.
With so many options to choose from, finding a countertop material for your kitchen includes considering subjective and objective criteria. When you are looking at countertop materials, take these five factors into consideration:
A budget friendly and versatile option, laminate countertops are made by bonding a plastic laminate sheet to a particleboard (MDF) core. Popular brands of laminates include Formica, Nevamar, and Wilsonart. These countertops can be purchased ready-made as a post-form countertop or custom made to your specifications.
While they have been seen in a negative light in the past for being cheap, laminates have recently become more popular because of the thousands of varieties available. They come in an endless array of colors and patterns and are now popular in retro style kitchens, particularly mid-century modern styles.
Laminates are the best option for those on a tight budget. They are easy to clean, but can stain if not cleaned quickly enough. They are somewhat heat resistant, but can be scorched or discolored by hot pans. Laminate will not melt.
Cost: $15-40 per square foot, installed
2. Ceramic Tile
A second budget-friendly and DIY-friendly option is ceramic tile. Tiles come in more options than ever before, they can be made to look like wood, marble, leather, or cork. In fact, ceramic tile comes in more options than any of the other ten materials.
Tile is very durable and heat resistant, but much less expensive than natural stone, quartz, or solid-surface countertops. On the downside, tile creates an uneven surface that may make it more difficult to prepare food on. It can also be difficult to maintain clean grout lines between the tiles, although grout comes in a variety of different colors.
Generally, ceramic tile countertops do not contribute to the resale value of a home, but tile is still very popular as backsplash, wall and floor material.
Cost: $18-35 per square foot, installed
3. Solid-surface material
This relatively new material has been around for about 50 years. Solid-surface material is a manufactured material that blends acrylic particles and resins, which are formed into sheets and other shapes. It can be formed into countertops or sinks and can create a seamless surface. It was initially seen as a “space age” material that tried to mimic natural stone, although it does not convincingly resemble either natural or engineered stone.
Solid-surface material is a mid-range cost option that can be a good alternative to natural stone or quartz for large kitchens with lots of countertop space.The material will eventually wear out over time. It can be scorched by hot pans, but scorch marks can also be sanded out.
In terms of resale value, solid-surface material is generally perceived more positively by buyers than laminate or tile.
Cost: $35-85 per square foot, installed
A timeless source of beauty, marble is a natural stone widely used in ancient architecture. Traditionally associated with luxury, marble actually costs less than many of the other options in countertop materials. It is sometimes used in only a small part of a kitchen. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and because it is natural, each piece is unique.
Marble is one of the softer natural stones, making it less durable and easier to damage than granite or soapstone. It can scratch and stain, but using a sealer will help to maintain its appearance.
Cost: $40-100 per square foot, installed
Considered a premium material, granite is the most popular natural stone used for kitchen countertops. Granite is thought of as elegant and luxurious, and remains a common option for kitchen projects where money is no object. It comes in a very wide array of colors and patterns. Although it is expensive, the cost has come down in recent years as supplies have increased. Granite is a clear favorite of both realtors and home buyers.
Granite is one of the hardest natural stones, and may be the most durable of the stone options in the top 10 countertop materials. It will not burn, but lighter colors can stain. Sealing helps prevent granite from staining. It varies more in price than any other countertop material.
Cost: $45-300 per square foot, installed
A third option for natural stone, soapstone has a dark gray color and a smooth, satiny texture.It has recently become a popular choice in kitchen countertop material, and can also be made into a sink. Soapstone is particularly popular in historic homes, but can also lend a striking element to modern kitchen designs.
Soapstone is very hard and resistant to heat and stains. Over time, it develops a patina that lends it an antique look. Although it is a durable surface, it will scratch. It has a more expensive starting price than marble or granite, but does not go into the higher ranges like granite does.
Cost: $55-100 per square foot, installed
7. Quartz (Engineered Stone)
“Quartz” is a manufactured stone product made from 93% quartz particles and other minerals formed into slabs that are bound with resins. The quartz comes from leftover stone from quarries, making it a low-environmental impact option. Companies that produce quartz include DuPont Zodiaq, LG Viatera, Cambria, and Silestone. It was created as a stone product that performs better than granite or marble, and can closely resemble either of those natural stones. It comes in even more colors than granite, and overall, may be the best value. Some buyers even prefer quartz to granite .
Quartz has a non-porous surface, unlike porous natural stone. It doesn’t stain, scratch or scorch, and may be the least high-maintenance option. Quartz does not require sealing.
Cost: $55-155 per square foot, installed
8. Wood or Butcher Block
A unique option for a kitchen countertop, wood or butcher block has a distinctly warm, organic look to it. Wood countertops are particularly attractive in historic homes. Wood countertops are available in a wide variety of colors and finishes, but most are made from hardwoods like maple and oak.
Wood is fairly durable and very resistant to heat. It needs to be well-cared for to remain clean and attractive, and must be sealed very frequently to prevent staining. Use mineral oil on wood frequently to keep it in good condition. Although it can look very beautiful, wood countertops are an unusual choice that do not add any resale value to your home.
Cost: $60-100 per square foot, installed
Endlessly malleable and extremely durable, concrete can be custom made in almost any shape and form a seamless countertop and sink unit. Currently, concrete is very trendy in new, modern homes. Concrete countertops are cast into forms directly in your kitchen, and must be installed by skilled professionals.
Although countertops are made from a different type of concrete from that used for sidewalks, they remain very heavy. They are heat resistant and scratch resistant, but can be scorched by hot pans.
Cost: $70-$140 per square foot, installed
10. Stainless Steel
Originally reserved for commercial kitchens, stainless steel has recently become trendy in high-end residential kitchens. It has a distinctive contemporary and industrial style that works well in a new, modern home. Unlike most other materials, stainless steel can’t be modified, so it always looks the same. Stainless steel can create seamless countertop and sink units.
Stainless steel is very heat resistant, and doesn't burn. It can stain, but it does not rust. In addition to being the most expensive countertop material, stainless steel may be seen as unattractive by buyers who don’t follow new trends in materials.
Cost: $80-250 per square foot, installed
DIY projects can save money, increase the value of your home, and make you feel good about what you’ve accomplished. A kitchen remodel is a significant project that can add a great deal of value to a home. However, DIY projects can be risky, especially if you are new to them, as mistakes are inevitable. It’s important to learn which mistakes to avoid. According to Bill Gassett of Maximum Real Estate Exposure, "Poor-quality workmanship . . . can easily decrease a home's value." Here are 10 common DIY mistakes people make during a kitchen remodel that are easy to avoid.
1. Not Asking For Help
Before you start planning your remodel, talk to someone with expertise in kitchen remodeling.Show them your plans and ask for advice.They will think of things that you would not have come up with on your own. They can guide you in the right direction on details like which materials and appliance brands to use. They can also help you ensure that your design fits your actual needs for the space.
2. Gaps Between Walls and Cabinetry
No home is perfectly level, however, you try to make cabinets level when you hang them. But because of this, gaps occur next to the wall. To fix this problem, use a wood shim to fill the gap. It’s the same principle as putting something under the leg of a table to stop it from rocking back and forth. Then, you can use the same molding that covers the rest of the room to hide the shim.
3. Poorly Placed Lighting Fixtures
People who aren’t experienced with remodeling often don't think about lighting fixtures and don’t budget for them. Instead, they just keep the old lighting, but it may not match the new kitchen design. Lighting fixtures should line up over the sink, countertops or kitchen island.To avoid this problem integrate lighting fixtures into the overall kitchen design from the beginning. Budget to hire an electrician (get multiple bids). One thing you can do yourself is to repair the ceiling after the electrician has installed the lightning. For safety, you should let the electrician handle the wiring.
4. Badly Laid Floor Tiles
According to Gassett, if the subfloor is uneven or there is something wrong with the underlayment, tiles laid on the floor can crack or shift. First, do a test to see if the subfloor is even. Then secure the subfloor to the floor joists. Use the appropriate type of underlayment for the type of tile you’re using. For example, use liquid underlayment for porcelain or concrete tile. If this sounds unfamiliar, don’t worry, the tile supplier you work with can explain how to do this. The underlayment will compensate for any unevenness in the floor and prevent the tiles from cracking.
5. Painting Without Prepping
If you try to cut corners and do your paint job as quickly as possible it will show in the results.Telltale signs of an amatuer paint job include, paint on light switches and imperfections in the wall that are poorly covered, like cracks and dents. To avoid these mistakes, spend the time to prep and clean your surfaces properly.
Before you start painting, be sure to do the following:
6. Not Protecting the Rest of Your Home
During your remodel, you will need to take measures to keep the rest of your home clean and free from dust and paint. This way you will avoid a major clean-up job when the renovation is finished. You can use plastic sheeting and tape to seal off the kitchen area from the rest of the house. You can even add an adhesive backed zipper to create an entryway into the work space. Take steps to protect your new kitchen as you go, for example, cover your countertops with cardboard secured in place by painter’s tape to protect them until the remodel is finished.
7. Poorly Planned Tiling
Common problems with poorly planned tile work are large gaps filled with grout and pieces that don’t fit together well. For a professional look, use grid-paper to make a “map” of the area you’re going to tile. Put electrical outlets, door frames, and other obstacles on the map. Then lay out your tile on the map, starting in the center. Test out your calculations by laying some tile in a non-conspicuous area first.
8. Leaving a Space Between the Wall and Floor
If the baseboard or shoe molding wasn’t removed before laying a new floor, a gap between the floor and the wall will result. Before putting down new flooring, remove any existing molding first. Then put down the new flooring. You should use the manufacturers recommendations to determine how close the flooring should be to the walls or cabinets in your kitchen. After that, you can lay a baseboard or shoe molding to cover the area where the floor and wall meets.
9. Forgetting about Workflow
Your new kitchen may look great, but if you forget to organize the space to fit the way you work in it, or your workflow, you will be missing out. The three busiest areas of a kitchen are the stove, sink, and refrigerator. This is referred to as the kitchen “work triangle”. Make sure to place these areas close together in a way that enables you to move efficiently between them.
10. Not Looking at the Big Picture
Don’t forget to think about how all the elements of your new kitchen fit together. Key elements to include as you plan your grand kitchen design include paint colors, appliances, cabinetry, hardware, and flooring. If you take the time to consider each of these elements in relation to each other, you’ll end up with a much more cohesive and appealing design.
In recent years, homeowners have opted to replace their kitchen cabinets for open shelves. When done correctly, open shelving can complement all styles of kitchens, whether they are rustic, modern, or more traditional and give your kitchen a fresh, open feel. While trendy, there can be some drawbacks to ditching traditional kitchen cabinets. So, would switching to open shelves be the right move for you?
The Pros of Open Shelves:
The Cons of Open Shelves:
Fixing Up A House
Whether you are renovating a home to prepare it for sale or just want to improve it, renovations can be expensive so it’s important to find a contractor you trust and ensure your upgrades add value to your house. Renovating a home can seem overwhelming at first, especially if you have several ideas or projects you want to accomplish. If you have any issues with the basics- your roof, HVAC system, plumbing, or flooring and walls- they will be your first priority. If everything is in good working condition, you may decide to focus on the kitchen or bathrooms which typically have a high return on investment. So once you’ve decided on your project, what should you do next?
1. Set a Budget
Your budget may look different if you are improving upon your dream home versus if you plan to sell your home in a few years. Not all upgrades will pay for themselves when it comes to selling a home. However, if you are improving on a home you plan to live in for several years to come, it may make sense to splurge on amenities that you would want regardless of resale value. A big part of the budget is deciding on materials. In most cases, you want to balance your splurges with economic substitutions. You may decide on an upscale laminate over true hardwood floors or choose a cost-effective neutral tile in the bathroom paired with a top-of-the-line tile for an accent strip. After getting some estimates, you may find that you do not have enough saved. It’s a good idea to review loan options and talk with your mortgage lender.
2. Devise a Plan
Get together all the information about your project including everything you want done and desired materials. You may decide to create your own plan or you might meet with a pro, like an architect or interior designer. It’s a good idea to establish early on how involved you want them to be in the process since hiring an architect for the full job (assembling a team of contractors, overseeing construction, designing every aspect of your renovation) could be costly.
3. Create a List of Candidates
Your realtor, friends and family, and social media platforms can be a good springboard for you to start a list of people/ businesses you may want to use for your renovations. You can find more candidates through an online search as well. Then you will want to narrow down the list by looking at reviews carefully.
4. Interview the Best Candidates
Now you can verify with each candidate that they are licensed and insured as well as inquire about their past work with renovations similar to yours. You can request references and then make sure they check out. Next, you should set up in-person interviews. This ensures you will work well with your contractor and they get a chance to see the property/ area you want renovated. This will help them give you an accurate estimate; you may even decide you want to pay for a “hard estimate” at this time to be sure you will stay within budget (which can be particularly important if you plan to sell soon and want the best return on investment).
5. Select a General Contractor
Now you are ready to hire your General Contractor (or plumber, painter, designer, etc). You want to be present but avoid micromanaging since that can slow down the renovations and add unnecessary tension. Since you’ve been thorough in your selection process, you can be confident in your team to produce high quality work. That said, it’s always a good idea to let your GC know how to get in touch with you when you aren’t home if they need a decision on purchase or design. Your freshly upgraded home is now ready to be enjoyed, or perhaps, sold!
According to the NAR's 2017 Remodeling Impact Report, adding a new roof will bring 109% return on your investment.
The NAR estimated that the job would cost $7,500 and would likely bring $8,150 more in a home sale.
45% of Realtors suggest adding a new roof before selling a house. Furthermore, 32% of Realtors stated that adding a new roof helped them sell a house recently.