Budgeting for a renovation can be an exhausting and overwhelming exercise, but when you keep the big picture in mind (is this investment going to increase my home value when I sell?) it makes it a little less daunting. We spoke with one of Utah’s top realtors about what factors home inspectors and appraisers consider when valuing your home, and what features make home owners jump (or run).
Meet Haley Hodges. Haley is a top producer within her brokerage, Utah Homes Network. She specializes in selling residential real estate along the Wasatch Front & Davis County. Haley also has extended education and training in negotiation through Next Level Exchange.
Question: What are the most common “must haves” on your clients list when they are looking for a home?
Answer: Many homeowners are in the market to live in a specific area or neighborhood, so the top of their list is typically location. After that, the structural elements of the home are top priority – open concept, large bedrooms and lots of closet and storage space. It’s been common to see a newly renovated home that has expanded a room, but left the closet with the same (limited) space.
Second to layout are the guts of the house – your foundational, structural elements that are costly to redo.
Question: What do you consider to be the “guts” of the house that buyers are focused on.
Answer: The guts are a lot of the hidden (non-wow factor) elements that make up your home. Good plumbing, updated electric, vinyl windows and a fenced in yard with a strong, vinyl fence. Many buyers are open to a fixer-upper to replace flooring, cabinets and paint, and often times will replace those elements with their own touch and style even if you have top of the line features. But replacing anything foundational is costly and will likely turn a buyer away. So when considering upgrades to your home, make sure foundation gets a bigger piece of the budget to style.
Question: How do I make sure my home appraisal appropriately captures all the work and upgrades I’ve done.
Answer: Keep in mind that an appraisers will value features on a scale, and might not get into all of the detail. It’s up to you to make sure you clearly document and line item all of your renovated features up front so they can factor that into your valuation.*
*check back for a follow up on the dangers of overvaluing your home when prepping to sell
Question: What is the biggest risk you’ve seen when selling a recently renovated home?
Answer: The biggest concern with a newly renovated home is checking the permits. When a home is first built, there is a lengthy permit process that takes place between the builder and the city to ensure everything is built to code. When a homeowner takes on a project, they need to make sure they are permitting every upgrade made and doing it by the book. If you take on a project and don’t get the proper permits, it is a case for your home owners insurance not covering damage caused as a result of your upgrade (think – improper electric update causing a home fire).
When the excitement of Pinterest browsing for inspiration meets the anxiety of actually executing your home renovation project, how do you know where to start, what to prioritize, and what to expect? Quality Construction is asking the experts to help you get ahead of those construction planning woes. In today’s post, we interview Jess Nero, a professional Interior Decorator and all around home reno expert.
Meet Jess Nero. With more than 8 years of experience in retail, interior, and event design, my primary focus has always been the same: How can I help bring your vision to life? I firmly believe that a space should be a reflection of those who live in it. However, not everyone knows precisely how to articulate that style or vision. This is where I come in!
With a strong background in project management, space planning, visual and interior design, I want to get to know you and translate your vision into reality. By guiding you through the experience of selecting the right combination of textiles, furnishings, accessories, lighting–and even hard-to-find architectural elements–you and I will create a well-curated space that still feels like your own.
Question: What are the first steps to planning for a home renovation project?
Answer: DO YOUR RESEARCH! As exciting as it is to watch HGTV and browse Pinterest for inspiration, you need to really dig into your home’s specifics to understand what you’re looking for, what your budget is, and how much you are ready and willing to take on. Talk to your friends and neighbors who have recently undergone big projects, look into the professionals you want to hire, make sure you have all the information you can about your home’s foundation and structure.
Second, expect the unexpected. Even the most detailed plans get derailed and you need to understand that you learn more and more once construction starts; there are too many unknowns that come to light as construction is under way to plan ahead of. So in your plan, make sure you plan for those gotchas.
Question: If I’m pretty handy and want to save money, how can I approach taking on the project myself to cut the cost of the professionals?
Answer: In the debate of DIY vs. Hire a Pro, I strongly recommend a hybrid approach. Even the most seasoned DIY’er is going to run into issues with your project, so it’s best to get an expert to come in and help with at least the architecture, demolition and planning phases of the project.*
*Check back for a follow up in our Ask the Expert Series on the DIY vs. Pro debate
Question: How does that factor into a tight budget? I don’t want to blow a big percentage on labor that I could do myself.
Answer: When budgeting for any home renovation project, you need to have an “unknown” line item to make sure you can cover any gotcha’s that are discovered along the way. If you forego the professional and take the project on yourself, that “unknown” line item should be at least 50% of your overall budget. Without the help of a professional, you will more than likely make costly mistakes and you’ll quickly find that the money you could have spent on hiring someone is going to redoing or fixing something that went awry.
Question: How can I budget for my project materials vs. project labor, and how is that reflected on a quote from a professional?
Answer: Two answers to this two part question.
First, when budgeting for your materials you need to make your living situation the #1 factor in your decision. Take for example a family with two very active dogs. It wouldn’t make sense to splurge on high end hardwood floors that are going to get scratched up and potentially torn apart. In this case, maybe go for the less expensive flooring option and splurge on the paint you really want!*
*Check back for a follow up in our Ask the Expert Series on material selection for your design esthetic
Second, understanding your quote will vary by who you are working with. Often times your contractor, designer or decorator will factor in the cost of your materials up front and offer you one big quote, some will line item things out, and some may provide a mix of both. Make sure you ask plenty of clarifying questions if anything is unclear.
With the wave of earthquakes that struck the Wasatch front Spring of 2020, many Utahns have been forced to put disaster proofing their house at the top of their home update to-do list. But this doesn’t have to mean that you have to put off some of the more fun projects – there is a way to take on some of your planned updates and factor disaster proofing into it.
Take the example of finally upgrading your linoleum floor with the hardwood of your dreams. By partnering with the right professionals, you can replace your floors and improve the foundation and structure of your home. When planning your budget, you need to put foundation and quality of materials at the top of your list to avoid the need for costly rework down the line, and avoid damage when the next earthquake hits.
Here is what to look for in the planning phase of your project to make sure you’re making structure your #1 priority:
Sustainability of materials used
Considerations taken about the location of your home and project
Working with the existing plumbing and electrical structures in your home