How to Get the Most Bang for Your Renovation Buck

Written by Robin Taub

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Are you thinking about doing some home renovations? You'll want to enjoy the results of your planned project, whether it's a new kitchen, bathroom or a finished basement. But you'll also want the money you spend to come back to you – at least partially, if you ever sell your home one day. So how can you get the most bang for your buck, both today and down the road?

How Long Are You Planning to Stay?

"If you're planning to stay for under 10 years, keep resale in mind," says Jennifer Greenberg, a broker at Royal Lepage Real Estate Services. "If you're going to be there for 15 to 20 years, then your renovation project should be about improving the quality of your own life and the functionality of the space to suit your needs. Because after 15 to 20 years, your reno is going to need a facelift."

Kitchens and Bathrooms

The kitchen is the focal point and gathering place in most homes. If you enjoy cooking, eating and entertaining at home, a spacious kitchen with modern appliances may be a priority project. An updated kitchen can also help with resale. If your budget doesn't allow for a major, expensive renovation, there are simple DIY ways to update your kitchen.

  • Consider replacing cabinet doors and drawer fronts, rather than installing brand new cabinetry. Changing out hardware like pulls and handles, or even just repainting cabinetry, can make a big difference.
  • Replacing the old, dull, dented sink for a shiny new one with a new faucet set is an easy switch.
  • Replacing the existing countertop with a new one will probably require professional help but can make a big impact.

Perhaps you want to recreate a luxurious hotel vibe in a spacious en-suite master bathroom with updated fixtures, lighting and decor? The tips above apply equally to bathrooms as to kitchens, but your renovation budget can go even further if you get creative, like this homeowner, who got everything she dreamed of, on a tight budget, for her bathroom renovation.

Renovation Over Moving

When their three daughters returned home to Toronto after university, the Diamond family realized they needed to renovate to suit the family's current lifestyle. Since they planned to stay in their home for at least another 10 years, they decided to rework the existing footprint of their main floor.

The renovation entailed "switching" their large living room and small dining room. The former dining room became part of a much larger kitchen, with new floors, cabinetry, countertops and appliances. The former living room became a dining room that can accommodate their large extended family, which often gathers at their house for holidays.

Before the renovation, the Diamonds had briefly considered moving, but quickly realized that downsizing in a city like Toronto, where condominiums are just as expensive as houses, can be difficult. By staying and renovating, they were also able to avoid all of the costs associated with moving, including real estate commissions, legal fees, land transfer tax, movers and more.

Renovations When You're Thinking of Eventually Moving

"When renovating, think about your needs, functionality and quality of life, but keep in mind the typical buyer too," advises Ms. Greenberg. "You can't go wrong with a finished basement, which provides an extension of living space for a growing family, or installing closet organizers to help create order from chaos."

But don't do projects that make your house so unique or niche that it doesn't capture the attention of a large buyer group. "Don't eliminate parking or bedrooms," warns Ms. Greenberg. "You may end up spending more money to "normalize" those renovations one day when it comes time to sell."

 

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