Monday, January 22, 2018

"Not So Fast On The Remodeling - Take A Step Back"

As home prices continue to increase, people are turning more to remodeling their current homes as a way to keep from moving. Remodeling has never gone out of style, but at times when the new home or resale market becomes difficult due to a shortage of inventory, increased demand, or a distress situation where home values are volatile, remodeling of existing homes becomes more attractive.

When we add to that the number of home improvement and decorating shows on television and other media outlets (including video channels), it's easy to see that remodeling has a strong following. In many cases, remodeling is an ongoing process that is never really complete. A project may be designed in stages to do a little at a time due to time or budgetary issues. Additionally, after one project is finished, often another is begun, and so forth. People's needs change as well.

That brings us to the current state of remodeling as an activity. There are many articles, blogs, and televised programs on home renovation. Largely, they are about improving a home's value - creating a larger return on investment for what is spent on the project or adding overall value to the property for a future sale date. Until recently, considering how to improve the future resale value of a home has been the main reason for major remodeling projects - kitchens, baths, family rooms, basements, garages, patios, entrances, bedrooms, and more.

In light of how people want to age in place in their current home, is remodeling that focuses on improving the home's future resale value the direction we want to emphasize and follow? What about using or enjoying the home between the current time and such a future date when the home actually is sold - years down the road?

People are creating multi-generational households where their young adult children are returning to the nest or continuing to live there while attending college, soon after college, beginning that first professional position, or recovering from a relationship that didn't work. These households also invite aging parents to live with them to help as they adjust to the demands of aging and give them a good support system.

When parents move in with their children - occasionally for a few weeks each year (all in one stay or spread out over several visits) or on a permanent basis - changes to the home likely are needed. A separate bathroom to accommodate them, an accessible bedroom, wider hallways and doorways, stronger flooring and lighting, perhaps a separate entrance from the outside, and other considerations will need to be addressed.

Remodeling an existing home - whatever it's age, from brand new to a century or more - is a good way to make personalized adjustments to a home, to update it over time, or to create specific results. No one is disputing that. The only issue is the intent. Rather than undertaking improvements just to enhance property values instead of addressing specific needs of those in the home to enjoy it while they continue to live there, we want people to make their homes more accommodating for themselves and the members of their household in the short-term. There's a good chance the home values will increase regardless because the marketplace is looking for such improvements, and future buyers will appreciate any extras that a property offers them that seems in keeping with what they might want to do anyway. It's just that this is secondary to serving the needs and functions of those living in the home.

People need to enjoy a safe, comfortable, convenient home now, even if it needs further modifications later. The point is that the modifications should be made to accommodate the people using the home now and not be designed to appeal to some unknown future buyer that they hope to impress to with their renovations. 

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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.