Monday, January 1, 2018

"Home Improvements For Function Not ROI"

There was a time, not that long ago, when people would consider making improvements to their homes - the kitchen, bathroom, family room, sun porch, pool area, garage, or basement, for instance - in order to gain a higher future selling price for their home. There were more concerned with adding value to their home than seemingly enjoying it now or in providing for the health, safety, and welfare of those in the home.

While it's true that most any (but not all) home modifications and improvements will contribute to the overall value of the property, it's the intent that we are concerned about. People should be much more concerned with how potential improvement will enhance the livability, safety, convenience, comfort, and access within their homes than with how much additional value they are creating.

Enclosing a carport into a garage, finishing a basement or attic and turning it into craft space, a game room, or an extra bedroom, connecting outside features with a continuous hard surface pathway (a deck, patio, outdoor kitchen, pool or spa, firepit, and water feature, as applicable), or redoing a kitchen or bathroom to provide more function and accessibility will enhance the lifestyle of those living in the home as well as those visiting, and it will add value. How much value? There is no formula, and that is not our concern. We are interested in keeping people in their homes and doing what is necessary, within the limits of their budget, to accomplish this.

Adding value has both qualitative and quantitative aspects. For instance, painting the exterior of the home will help preserve it and make it look nice and appealing. Does it add value? Yes, in the sense that it doesn't detract any, and yes in the sense that in preserving the integrity of the home, the value is maintained if not enhanced. Money is spent to buy and apply the paint (whether done by the owners or a contractor). How long before the outlay returns and pays for itself? Hard to say. This is the argument that people wanting a return on investment (ROI) or added value are looking for - they want a definitive answer that by spending whatever amount to paint the exterior (or accomplish another project) they will get that back and then some within a short amount of time - thereby justifying the expense. It's almost as if they would not paint the home unless they were convinced that they would realize a capital gain from doing so.

Rather than looking for ways to improve a home strictly to add value to it, doing normal maintenance to help it maintain its value and contribute to the functional use of the home is a solid strategy. Doing so may mean fewer major improvements over time anyway. Add to that the incidental improvements that are going to enable the occupants of the home to continue living there long-term, such as safer flooring, stronger and more effective lighting, wider doorways, easy to use hardware. There won't need to be a focus on adding value to a home for the purposes of selling it and hopefully recouping the expense of making changes but rather the opportunity to enjoy the safety, comfort, convenience, and added accessibility that such improvements might mean to those living in the home, as well as accommodating those who visit on a regular basis or occasionally. 

While major renovations may indeed add value to a home for resale purposes, our interest is more in helping enjoy their living space now and in the coming years as they continue to live there rather than being concerned with a move and any possible financial gain to result from that. We are focused on having the homes people live in support them well.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.