By Alan Knight
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Is it really worthwhile to remodel your home?  Well, that depends on whether you are planning to sell your home in the next few years or you plan to stay put indefinitely.  There is not always a direct relationship between exactly how much you put into a specific renovation project and exactly how much you get out of it.  If you consider home improvement item by item, you'll likely conclude that undertaking almost any individual home improvement prior to the sale of your home is a losing proposition.  However, when you add small improvements together with vision and creativity, you create an overall house improvement and a big return on your investment.  The whole package is far more valuable than the sum of its parts.

Now in the remodeling concept, there are both winners and losers.  With some ideas you are bound to fail and will most likely lose everything you invested in it.  Others will pay off for you, and maybe in a big way.  Let's look at some of the losers first.

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Back in 1979 my wife and I were enjoying our new home and decided that what was missing was an in-ground swimming pool.  I took out a second mortgage and paid $12,000 (over $30,000 by today's standards) and had the pool and a privacy fence installed.  We just knew we would be in this house for a very long time.  Boy was I wrong.  Within six months I received a job offer in Texas and we put our house up for sale.  How much did the pool add to the sale price?  Zero!  I could have gotten just as much without it.  So, effectively I lost $12,000.  But, we did enjoy one summer with the pool.  The point is swimming pools can be an iffy proposition.  Yes, there are times when they help make the sale.  In most cases, especially if there are small children in the family, it could hurt the sale.  Most buyers are buying “the house” and if there is a pool that's just a little bonus for them.  The way they look at it is we got the pool for free.  They want to pay extra for it, believe me.

Some homeowners have considered taking a spare bedroom to make it into an executive office.  This is a mistake.  First, it can be expensive.  You decide to have a carpenter in to build solid oak cabinets and shelves from floor to ceiling.  You look at the floor and decide that only hardwood could possibly complement the cabinets so you rip out the carpet.  Then you look at the small desk that you have used in the corner and decide that a heavy, mahogany executive desk is needed along with some leather chairs.  A nice painting behind the desk makes it almost complete.  Then you realize that you must have an upgrade in your digital and electronic devices.  The entire project climbs to $30,000.  You enjoy it for a year, and what happens?  You lose your job or get transferred.  Who pays for the new office?  Not the buyer, they're busy trying to figure out how to turn it back into a bedroom.
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The Sunroom addition is another popular mistake.  Now I say that if we're talking strictly about resale.  If you plan to stay in your house for the next 30 years, you can enjoy your addition immensely, but if you plan to sell in a couple of years you might get stuck.  Anytime you have to add on to the foundation-and the footprint of your home-- the price climbs, says Michael Hydeck, owner of Hydeck Design Build Inc. near Philadelphia and past president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

With a 200 square-foot room with skylights, low E-windows, automatic shades and a tile floor, it's a major project.  In certain parts of the country you may do just as well, adding a pergola over your patio.

Let's look at some better uses of your money.  A sound investment is in targeted your kitchen.  Let's say you have $10,000 to play with.  No, it won't get you a complete makeover for that, but we can definitely put it to good use.  Think about upgrading tired old appliances.  Cabinet resurfacing and upgrading the countertops can be very affordable and you can make a big splash.  Having the countertops, refinished in a multi-stone pattern is a great way to save70% over replacement.

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Another way to put your remodeling money toward positive results is in the Master Bath.  For a few thousand dollars, you can have the old fiberglass bathtub removed and replaced with the new walk in shower with zero threshold.  It is absolutely stunning with its openness and it makes the bath seem even bigger.  You might also consider a deep porcelain soaking tub with a porcelain pedestal sink to replace the wall sink.  Not only will you have the personal enjoyment of using this new path, but a resale will be much easier.

A real no-brainer is painting the house.   Repaint the interior of your home and keep it neutral with soft earth tones.  Then make sure you pick up some fantastic pillows and accessories to add punches of color.

No buyer wants to walk barefoot across your tired, old, stained, worn-out carpet.  When you replace the existing carpet, go with a neutral shade.

Curb appeal is so important if you are investing for the future.  Keep the hedges trimmed and healthy.  Give your lawn some TLC, and plant flowers for color and beauty.  Create a strong first impression by adding shiny new house numbers and maybe even a new mailbox.  Finally, add some wonderful outdoor lighting.

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If you have an attractive backyard (and if you don't create one) show it off through the interior of the house.  Suppose you have a room that looks out into the backyard.  Replace those windows with French doors and build an attractive deck.  You've just increased the size of that room-and added value to the house for very little money.

If selling isn't in the cards for you and your family, you can still consider all of the tips above.  You'll enjoy living in an upgraded house, especially if you're staying put.  Additionally, think about these projects for long term payback.

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This article discusses the how you can lose a lot of money by remodeling and upgrading the wrong part of your home. It also goes on to explain that targeting the kitchen and bathroom can enhance and make a big difference value and salability of your home. Upgrading a master bathroom by adding a zero threshold shower, a walk-in tub or a porcelain clawfoot not only add beauty, but can raise the value as well. 

If you learned anything from this article, please make a comment or pass it along to your friend’s family and co-workers. If you would like to leave a comment related to this article, place it in the comment section below.

Would you like to receive a free copy of our new ebook - Tub King's Ultimate Guide to Cast Iron/Porcelain Tubs, Walk-in Tubs & Safety Suite Showers? Fill in the form below and we will send it to you for free! It is also for sale and you can see/buy it on by clicking on this link.

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and I will personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.

Alan Knight is the owner of Tub King, Inc., and  in Jacksonville, Florida. He has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, the company is also multiple time award winner, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you would like to contact him, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or email them at

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