Friday, January 23, 2009

Update, Don't Renovate

Saving Money Tip #57 - Update, Don't Renovate Your Home. With the onslaught of home improvement shows, it's easy catch the renovating bug. You might be tempted by kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances in newly-laid out floorplans. You might want to knock down walls to open up rooms. You may feel the need to have a bathroom with a separate shower and tub. There is no end to what you can do to renovate your home.

These types of renovations can be very expensive. And while they may add value to your home, you probably won't get back all that you put into it. In addition, some renovations can be an over-improvement for the neighborhood or even for the rest of your house.

To avoid costly renovations, try updating it instead. When trying to decide what to do to update a certain room, look over it carefully. What is the worst feature of the room? Is it the wallpaper? The gold shag rug? Change those. Are there still acceptable parts of the room? Keep what's good. You will still get the effect of a renovation without going top of the line.

IRL - I love home improvement shows. HGTV is my favorite channel. I love to watch what houses people buy and what designers do to make the homes look beautiful. But sometimes I get the feeling that I am the only one in America who does not have granite countertops. Seriously, that is all I see on that show.

I mentioned in an earlier post how we updated our 1950's kitchen. We still have the original nice wood cabinets. This was still a pretty good feature in the room. So we left it. We covered the ripped laminate floor with a black and white laminate tile - just like a 1950's diner. We bought a replica diner kitchen table and chair set. We ripped out the 1980's splash paint border and put a new one with cute diner signs -" hot dogs for 10 cents" and the like. And we bought replica tin signs on the walls such as "Route 66". And whenever I am at thrift stores or yard sales, I keep my eyes open for things that would look good in my 1950's diner kitchen. The total cost of our update was about $1,000. We get compliments on it all of the time. And it stands out from all of our friends' kitchens with the Tuscan beige walls and the stainless steel appliances.

I have a friend who did do a major renovation to their kitchen. Their house is 1960's and not much else has been renovated in their house. After spending $40,000 - yes you read that right - their kitchen makes the rest of their house look shabby. The worst part about it is there was so much potential in their kitchen. For the most part, all they really needed was a new sink and countertop. The wallpaper had to ripped down as well. The cabinets were nice hardwood. All they needed was updated hardware. And the floor had been replaced just a few years earlier. They seriously could have done an update to their kitchen for under $2,000 and a little bit of sweat equity. And the style of the kitchen would have at least matched the rest of their home. Also they could have then used some of the money they saved by updating their dated yellow bathrooms. PS. Those granite countertops will look passe in 15 years anyway. :-)


Otter Mom said...

Very good advice. I've often watched home improvement shows and wondered if they realize that they have spent/changed things way too much. I have a rent house and it is very easy to over update, but not just in rental property. I really like your blog.

Michele said...

Thanks for the comment, Otter. I just added a picture of our 1950's kitchen update.