Allyn Brown didn’t really like the cramped, choppy layout of his 1970s ranch home, but the location was just too good to give up. The house sits on two mountaintop acres overlooking vineyards and orchards, just minutes from the vibrant downtown of Sherwood, Ore. Best Places — and not far from where Brown’s two adult children and four grandchildren live. 140,000 overhaul, which included opening the floor plan, modernizing the kitchen, and installing a wall how To Make Money In Your Spare Time windows that offers panoramic views of the lush valley. Happy with where you live but not so hot on your living space?
Now might be the perfect time to address your abode’s architectural flaws. With real estate prices on the rise, it’s safer than it has been in years to invest in your home — especially when measured against the prospect of moving, notes real estate agent John Ranco, past president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. What’s more, improving a substandard home in a sought-after location may be the best real estate investment you can make, says Omaha appraiser John Bredemeyer, spokesperson for the Appraisal Institute. Spend wisely, and you could get back your project cost — or more — when you sell. MONEY asked some innovative remodeling pros for cost-effective solutions to the issues that most commonly force people to move. One of their suggestions may just turn a house you like — with reservations — into a home you love. The problem: No first-floor powder room Many modest, two-story prewar homes lack facilities on the main floor. So every guest and grandparent has to traipse upstairs to use the loo.
You can squeeze a powder room into a space as small as four feet by four feet or even three feet by five feet, says architect Chris Turley of Highland Park, Ill. One option is to repurpose a large coat closet, pantry, or under-stairs cubby. Alternatively, you could build new walls to carve the space out of a hallway, back foyer, or porch. Keep in mind that the closer you put the bathroom to existing plumbing, the less it will cost. Horizontal drainpipes must be sloped properly and tied into a stack, a basement-to-rooftop pipe that vents out sewer gases. Adding a new stack means significant demolition to walls above and below — and cutting a hole in the roof. So try to build directly next to, above, or below the kitchen, the laundry room, or another bathroom.
20,000 if you use the existing walls and door of a closet and have a basement or crawlspace underneath to give the plumber easy access. 5,000 if the new WC isn’t near existing plumbing. The problem: Master suite that’s not so sweet In newer homes, the master bedroom typically offers generous floor space, walk-in closets, and a dedicated bathroom featuring dual sinks plus a separate shower and tub. You’re lucky to get enough room to fit a king-size bed and a couple of dressers, let alone a bathroom. Expand your boudoir, bath, and wardrobe by taking over an adjacent bedroom.
Even if you can’t get by with fewer rooms, he says, you can make things right by replacing the lost sleeping quarters up in the attic. This can also help you avoid taking a hit on property value. So, in a four-bedroomhouse area, dropping to three may not be a good idea. But in a predominantly two-bedroom neighborhood, you’d still be way ahead of the Joneses. 80,000, since your project can range from a simple workaday bathroom and basic pole-and-shelf closet to a spa-style retreat with stone finishes and a bubbler tub for two, and a walk-in wardrobe outfitted with kitchen-quality cabinetry. Solution 2: Build over the garage. Another possibility is to build a master suite over an attached garage. That’s no small job, since you’ll need to remove the roof, beef up the structure to hold the added weight, provide a vapor barrier to block car exhaust, and build out not just your master suite addition — from the structural framing to the decorative finishes — but a whole new roof on top of it. 80,000, depending on how much work the garage structure needs and how high-end you go with your project.
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The problem: Bedroom shortage For growing families, the number of bedrooms is often the biggest factor motivating a move to a bigger and more costly home. Because bedrooms do not require the plumbing, tiling, or appliances other rooms do, however, they can be fairly inexpensive to add — and may significantly increase your house’s value, says Buffalo Grove, Ill. The ideal place to add bedrooms is the square footage you already own up in the attic. Not every attic is easy to finish, though.
You’ll also need a means of emergency exit, though that could be accomplished with a simple built-in rope ladder. To create more full-height space, you can add a dormer, says Riverton, N. That basically means raising part of the roof to provide more clearance. 30,000 to strengthen the floor, insulate, and finish the space, assuming you have stair access.
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The problem: Kitchen is too small Kitchens didn’t become the hubs of houses until the 1980s. So older homes often have cramped, closed-off cooking areas that are short on storage, prep space, and room for eating. Putting stools around that new island allows you to lose the kitchenette set, if you want, making way for even more cabinets and countertops. Tearing down walls improved the flow of Allyn Brown’s house. It was also an ideal solution for Angie and George Devanney, 42 and 51, of Berkeley Heights, N. 6 on our Best Places list. 8,000 to remove the wall and refinish the surrounding floor, ceiling, and walls, with the ultimate cost depending on whether you need to add a beam or move plumbing.
100,000, depending on labor, finishes, and appliances. Solution 2: Hang a small addition. Want to keep the dining room as is? Put on a small kitchen addition that hangs off the side of the house rather than sits on top of a full foundation. You might go from an L- to a U-shaped design, for example, or gain the space for a breakfast-bar island. 15,000 for a two-foot- by-10-foot bump-out, plus the cost of your kitchen remodel.
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The problem: No place to play Today’s high-end houses are built with spacious rec rooms, sometimes including wet bars and home theaters. That gives tots a place to romp, older kids a spot to play videogames, and parents another area for entertaining. One in 10 respondents to our CNNMoney. The answer for Tom and Karen Henry, both 59, of No.
In 2007, they turned their cellar into a family room. Luckily their basement ceiling was high enough. You also must resolve moisture issues first. That could be as simple as repairing roof gutters to eliminate the source of water.
Or you might need a sump pump, possibly with drainage piping cut into the floor around the perimeter to collect and discharge water that gets in. 50,000 to finish the basement, which would include adding insulation, putting up walls and ceilings, installing flooring, wiring electricity and lighting, and connecting to your heating and cooling system. 20,000 or so for a bathroom. 125,000 for a 900-square-foot living area that includes a tricked-out home theater, pool table, mini-kitchen, and laundry room. It’s part man cave, part mom cave, and part kid cave.
And it’s one more reason that we’ll never leave this house. Money may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data.