Give Your Old Bathroom a New Shine. Remodeling an old bathroom is always a good idea-and it costs much less than updating a kitchen. Last year, this popular project typically included installing a new bathtub, toilet and vanity counter with a double sink, plus a recessed medicine cabinet, ceramic-tile floor and vinyl wallpaper. Average cost: $9861. Average value added: $8887.
Most Desired Extra: A Second Bathroom. No improvement is more essential to a family's comfort than a second bathroom. A typical midpriced addition last year featured a tub/ shower with ceramic tile surround, a low-profile toilet, a cultured-marble vanity top, a mirrored medicine cabinet, linen storage, and general and spot lighting, vinyl wallpaper and a ceramic-tile floor. Nationwide, the average cost for these amenities was $21,087, and the average value added to the house was $18,226. In some markets, the project more than paid for itself. In Albany, N.Y., for example, this bathroom cost $21,497 last year but boosted resale value by $28,750. In New Orleans, it cost only $18,724 and added $27,000 to resale value.
Don't forget to check local zoning laws before remodeling, warns Judith Mathis, a Scottsdale, Ariz., homeowner. In Minneapolis five years ago, Mathis was in mid-bathroom renovation when she learned she needed five permits: "an inspection permit for the demolition, separate permits for plumbing, electrical and mechanical, plus an overall work permit!" As a result, the job took longer than expected. "My house only had one-and-a-half bathrooms," Mathis recalls, "so for six weeks, I was washing my hair in the kitchen sink and visiting friends on weekends to take showers."Another surprise: Because the house was old, all of its plumbing had to be upgraded to meet current building-code specifications-adding $4000 to the total. "Still," Mathis notes, "when I sold the house 18 months later, I got all the renovation costs back in the sale price."
Don't Neglect The Exterior
Buyers decide whether to get out of their car and look at a house based on its exterior appearance, says Richard Gaylord. One of last year's most financially rewarding outdoor projects was putting on new vinyl siding and trim. The average national cost of replacing 1250 square feet of siding was $6946. Average value added: $6445. A close runner-up was adding an outdoor deck. A typical project was a 16x20-foot deck with a built-in bench and planter and a complete railing system. It cost $6917 on average and added $6000 to the home's value.
Frank J. Helderle
"WE ALWAYS HAVE TIME FOR YOUR REFERRALS"