||The Real Cost of Home Improvement
For a few years, carpets have been allowed to fray, faucets to drip and paint to peel. Now, home improvement spending may be rebounding. Harvard University's Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity suggests spending will rise 12.2 percent by early 2012.
To see what projects homeowners are likely to pursue and what they'll spend, Bloomberg.com used survey data from home improvement website and app Houzz. Estimates on potential payoffs from projects come from Remodeling Magazine, which asks appraisers and others how much hypothetical projects recoup costs in the form of increased home values. Projects are ranked from most to least expensive.
Average cost: $576,460
While the most popular region of the U.S. for custom-built homes is the South, they're most expensive in the western U.S., at $760,300. The cheapest region is the Midwest at $551,200.
Complete Home Remodel
Average cost: $192,724
A top-to-bottom renovation is the sort of project most likely to end up over budget -- and 55 percent do so, according to Houzz. Men are more likely to pursue a total home remodeling than women, though few of these homeowners are do-it-yourselfers. Contractors are hired for all but 18 percent of total home renovations.
Average cost: $34,190
Not surprisingly, homeowners with children are 50 percent more likely to add or replace a swimming pool. According to the National Association of Home Builders, a pool's concrete shell should last more than 25 years. Its plaster and tile have shorter life expectancies of 10 to 25 years.
Average cost: $24,766
The kitchen is the most popular room for upgrades other than the bathroom, with the Houzz survey showing 48 percent of respondents plan to renovate their kitchen in the next two years. Perhaps surprisingly, men and homeowners without children are most interested in renovating their kitchens. The cost of a new kitchen can vary: Owners of homes worth $300,000 or less managed to spend $12,601, about half the overall average.
Homeowners recoup 66 percent of the cost for a major kitchen remodel and 72 percent for a minor one. New kitchen cabinets have a life span of up to 50 years.
Garage or Carport
Average cost: $13,059
Married couples are 30 percent more likely to add or renovate a garage or carport than single people. Garage upgrades cost the most in the northeastern U.S., at $15,900, and the least in the South, at $10,800.
Adding a new garage recoups 57 percent, while replacing a garage door can recover 72 percent of its cost. Garage door openers should last 10 to 15 years, according to the NAHB.
Average cost: $10,723
The bathroom is the one room of the house most likely to be renovated, according to both Houzz and a NAHB contractor survey.
When homeowners renovate a bathroom, they can expect to recoup about 62 percent eventually. Adding a new bathroom returns just 51 percent of its cost. While showerheads can last a lifetime, shower doors last about 20 years. Toilets and bath cabinets can have an "unlimited life span."
Average cost: $9,454
Roof work is the project most likely to be entirely turned over to a contractor, with only 9 percent of Houzz users claiming to do it themselves.
A new roof will recoup 58 percent of its cost. The life span of a new roof can vary, but those made of slate, copper and clay and concrete can last more than 50 years. Asphalt shingles last 20 years or so.
Average cost: $9,426
Media rooms are favorites of the rich. Homes worth $1 million or more are three times more likely to have recently added media rooms than houses worth $300,000 or less. Men and homeowners under age 45 are most likely to express an interest in adding a media room, at about twice the rate of women and older respondents. A built-in audio system should last 20 years, according to the NAHB.
Patio or Landscaping
Average cost: $9,010
The cost of a new patio or landscaping can vary wildly. Owners of homes worth less than $300,000 spend an average of $3,279, while those in million-dollar homes spend $27,442. Such projects are 20 percent more popular in the western U.S. than in the Midwest and Northeast. Most materials used in landscaping last 15 to 25 years.
Redecorating, New Furniture
Average cost: $8,646
Redecorating, which includes anything from new curtains to a complete makeover of a home's furniture and decor, is the most popular home improvement activity cited by Houzz survey respondents. Everyone redecorates at about the same rate -- rich or poor, married or single, and across various regions of the U.S. One exception is men, who were about 17 percent less likely than women to be planning a project.
Cost estimates and most other data come from a survey of 29,000 Houzz users. To gauge the payoff in higher home values, estimates were used from Remodeling Magazine, which polls appraisers and others on hypothetical projects to gauge the potential payoff in increased home values. Estimates from the National Association of Home Builders were used on how long improvements should last.
(Source: Bloomberg, 09/05/12)
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