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Jun 04

What is the value?

Posted by C. Mason Hearn in value, remodeling
Somewhere during early conversations with almost every client, we are asked something to the effect of “Do you think we’ll build value with our proposed renovation?”


Naturally, I have had plenty of opportunity to build (what I think is) the proper response, which asks the homeowner to dig deeper regarding his or her definition of value.


From my perspective, there are essentially two types of value which one might consider, as one thinks about home improvements.  First, and obviously, is the increased potential real estate resale value as a result of improvements.  Second, is the intrinsic value of better utilization and increased enjoyment of your home.


The first value inquiry is one that I most often respond-to by referring the homeowner to a real estate agent.  These folks are the professionals, most qualified to answer questions of what sorts of things might increase a home’s value, and (potentially) by how much. 


While there are published reports, such as Remodeling Magazine’s annual remodeling Cost versus Value Report, such studies cannot practically take particular property issues into account.  A high-end kitchen remodel might significantly increase value in a home that has a severely outdated and not-too-functional 1960’s kitchen in place, while replacing a very good kitchen for the purposes of “I personally don’t like the style / color of the cabinets and granite countertops” would likely be a lower-return investment from a resale perspective.


I’m sure it is also pertinent to ask:  Is what you desire to add to your home bringing it up to the marketplace-expected standards of the neighborhood, or are we going beyond that, or intensely personalizing that, to the extent that such premiums may not be appreciated by a prospective buyer?


It is my experience that the latter interest of building value via personal accommodation, appreciation and enjoyment is the primary reason that most high-end properties are improved.  My personal taste within my own home is somewhat unusual.  I understand that many of the things that we’ve done within and outside our home may not appeal to a broad range of prospective buyers.  However, my family has made a long-term commitment to living where we are, and the surroundings we’ve created give me a great amount of joy being amidst them.  I love living in these spaces that we’ve creatively tailored to fit our family. 


What is the value of personal joy?  It’s a hard thing to put a figure on.  It brings to mind the passage in The Dead Poet’s Society, wherein Mr. Keating describes The Pritchard Scale for determining the Greatness of any particular work of poetry, graphing its artful perfection versus importance of objective.


“Rubbish!  Tear it out!”  says Keating, reinforcing that the real value of anything intended to fulfill one’s soul, to achieve joy, to create an experience, is difficult to quantify by objective measurement.  So it is with the personal enjoyment value of artistically re-crafting one’s home environment.  A good designer, along with a responsible remodeling contractor, should be able to achieve your interests, and inform you regarding the level of investment required… in the terms of personal enjoyment, only you can define the value.

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