It has been five months since Sandy ripped through our area and damaged homes along the coast. Whether your house had inches of water or feet, the damage has been inconceivable. So many questions needed to be answered. Does my home have to be raised? Where do I begin? Who can I hire to help? Well the questions are finally being answered and homeowners are ready to move forward. Whether you are planning to stay in your home or sell, these 10 improvements will guide you through which renovations will give you the highest return.
1. Open Floor Plans
Did your home have small confined rooms before Sandy? Transforming a cramped, stuffy cluster of rooms into an open, informal living space fits with most people’s dream of life near the water. Coastal space comes at a premium, so creating a home that feels spacious makes it that much more appealing. A six-figure construction projects can pay off, as long as they don’t cost more than 10 percent of the home’s total value.
2. Glass, glass, and more glass
People crave natural light and postcard views of the coast. Skylights, bigger and more-stylish windows, height-gaining transoms, and French doors enhance an existing home.
3. Outdoor living
“Any way to help people enjoy the outside adds value to coastal homes,” says Robert Van Cleef, owner of Yankee Housewrights, a remodeling company based in Jamestown, Rhode Island. According to Remodelingmagazine’s “Cost vs. Value” report, a deck addition will recoup more than 86 percent of the cost at resale. Screened porches, patios, outdoor showers, outdoor dining areas, and open-air fireplaces are also popular.
An attractive yard goes hand in hand with outdoor living space. Native plants help establish a sense of place and are much easier to maintain. A small investment in landscaping can create big visual return.
5. A new bath
Plumbing and costly fixtures make bath remodeling more expensive per square foot than any other home improvement. But the expense is worth it, say real estate professionals. A makeover that costs $25,000 will recoup an average of $21,000 at resale. Even adding a bath (average cost $41,500) will, according to theRemodeling report, earn back more than 80 percent of your investment. Not too shabby.
6. Dream kitchen
Kitchen makeovers top most remodeling greatest-hits lists, coastal or otherwise. Things to consider: Do include a commercial ice maker; you always need cubes at the beach. Do not include a trash compactor; the hassle-factor is high, especially if you’ll be putting your home up for rent. It is just one more thing to worry about breaking or malfunctioning. A minor kitchen remodel can return more than 90 percent of its cost.
Whether you’re adding weather-resistant exterior siding or reconfiguring the facade, “a face-lift gives your home street appeal,” says Pat Campbell-White of RE/MAX Realty Group in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. “And no matter how [much of a] cliché it is, you never get a second chance to make that first impression.”
8. Heart and soul
Attitude inside counts, too. Cosmetic changes, such as wall colors and furnishings that complement the cheery colors of the coast, give visual cues that make a beach or bay house feel like home.
9. Boat parking
The hassle of getting a permit can make building a new dock a real headache. But for houses with navigable-water access, a private space to tie up a boat is a real bonus, if not required. “Jump through the hurdles to build a dock and around here it might mean a five-to-one payback on your investment,” says Robert Van Cleef of Jamestown, Rhode Island, which faces the boating haven of Newport. Already have a dock? Additions such as a boat lift or built-in seating increase value.
10. Central Air
Whoever said that you do not need AC in a beach home has never sat in a 90+ degree room on an August afternoon when there’s not enough airflow to ruffle a window sheer. No matter how shaded and cool your house is, if it doesn’t have central air, and nine out of the other 10 houses on the market do, yours will be at the bottom of the list.