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RISMEDIA, July 22, 2009-(MCT)-While the market continues to struggle, homeowners are faced with an important question: Is a home remodeling project worth it?

“There are a lot of answers to that question,” says Stephen Gidus, co-owner of PSG Construction in Orlando, Fla.

It’s worth it when it makes life more comfortable, convenient and aesthetically pleasing for the homeowner-especially if the homeowner plans to be in the home to enjoy the improvements for years to come, he said. It also is worthwhile if it adds value to the home, and is likely to be attractive to future buyers.

Projects that traditionally boost a home’s value and appeal include kitchen and bathroom remodels, and the renovation or addition of a porch, says Scott McCurdy of Coastal Reconstruction in Orlando. Simple additions that add character to a home also increase its resale value. Interior and exterior paint can add “a lot of zing especially in colors that are currently popular, such as greens and black.

Other smaller projects include installing trims such as crown moldings, wider baseboards and tile back splash; changing the hardware on doors; changing toilets, sinks and bathroom hardware; installing new appliances; upgrading countertops; or reworking cabinets by painting them or replacing the doors and hardware.

Gidus suggests two other remodel projects that boost value: the addition of storage space and a multipurpose room. “Here in Florida we don’t have basements or large attics. Extra closet space is very valuable. It has a lot of appeal for resale.”

Also, flex-space at the back of the house or upstairs is great. “Based on the size of the family and where they are in the growth cycle, it could be used as a playroom, recreation room, home office, exercise room or entertainment space,” says Gidus. “And based on your budget, you could include built-in bookcases, an entertainment center, fireplace, full- or half-bath, wet bar, under-counter fridge and a porch or lanai for outdoor living.”

But the kitchen is still king when it comes to adding value to a home, followed by the bathroom. “Those rooms are designed for today. The look and functionality of cabinets, appliances, tile, lighting fixtures, et cetera, becomes outdated fastest,” says Gidus.

Kitchens, in particular, are changing-in looks, layout and function, says McCurdy. “We’re finally realizing the kitchen has always been the main gathering point in the home. But until recently, most kitchens have been inadequate to take a crowd,” he says. A renovation project can expand the kitchen or open it up to an adjoining space by removing a dividing wall.

Other popular upgrades include commercial-grade stainless-steel appliances; a computer desk; comfortable seating; better-quality cabinetry; granite countertops; and even a fireplace.

A remodeled bathroom usually combines luxury with function, says McCurdy. “It’s a place to retreat and unwind.” Features that increase a bathroom’s appeal include larger showers with rain shower heads, steam showers, body sprays, heated floors and hinged glass doors or partial shower walls. Also, soaking tubs instead of Jacuzzis, more windows and skylights to let in sunlight, and more efficient, quieter ventilation. “You’ll never get dollar-for-dollar what you put into a renovation,” says McCurdy. “But with a kitchen or bath, especially, you’ll definitely improve your home’s value and increase its resale appeal.”

Which projects have the biggest payback?
Projects that boost curb appeal, such as replacing siding and windows, add the most value to a home, according to the remodeling cost vs. value report for 2008-09 done by Remodeling Magazine. Maintenance-related projects and moderately priced upgrades provide the most stable payback, the report found.

Projects that recoup only a small percentage of their cost include garage, sun-room and master suite additions, roofing replacement, home-office remodel and installation of a backup power generator.

When resale value is a major factor in a homeowner’s decision to remodel, the best approach is to consult with a reputable local remodeler about actual construction costs, and talk with an experienced Realtor about home prices in the neighborhood, the magazine advises.

Nationwide, the study found the average major kitchen remodel cost $53,235, its resale value was $42,104, and the cost recouped was 79.1%. For a minor kitchen remodel, the resale value was $16, 234 on a $20,320 job, recouping 79.9% of the cost.

A $14,510 bathroom remodel had a resale value of $10,953, and the cost recouped was 75.5%.

(c) 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.