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Response to MSN Real Estate Article 8 Most Overrated Home Projects Part 1

Part 2

The hair on the back of my neck stands on end when I read articles that discuss the values of different home remodeling projects and base their comments on the resale value of the home or what makes more economic sense as the primary justification for proceeding.

hotel demolition

Based on the article we should all be driving around in non-air conditioned Hyundai Accents – it will take you to the same places that a Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes will, cost a lot less in gas, car insurance, maintenance and it is less likely to be stolen.

Should we blow-up all of the three, four and five star hotels? Why not? It makes much more sense economically to stay at a Motel 6!

Anyone who writes this type of article should include in their heading what make of car they drive and what hotel they stay in when they travel.

A recent article on MSN Real Estate discussed the 8 most overrated home projects.

  1. Whirlpool bath:
  2. Whirlpool baths are never used. Why? Because they require a lot of water and make noise. My wife and I both use ours – sometimes together. Is it economic, who cares – after a hard day at work I find it very relaxing and then there are the times when it is a lot of fun! According to one contractor he is removing whirlpool tubs and building walk-in stall showers in their place. My bathroom has both and in the morning I prefer the walk-in stall shower over the tub.

    The article also says that people don’t have the time to use the whirlpool – well maybe we would all be better off if we did take a half an hour each day for a soak in a whirlpool bath!

  3. Room additions:
  4. Convert attic or basement space rather than build an addition. Why, because it is more economical, according to the article it will cost you $21,000 less to convert the basement instead of building the addition and the addition only recoups 65% of its value while remodeling the basement recoups 75% of its value. Basement and attic space is difficult to heat and cool. Basements suffer from dampness and if they have windows they are small and many are sunken below ground level. It can be difficult to obtain a permit to convert an attic or basement to a bedroom so many of these conversions are not being permitted. But maybe I would like to be able to walk out of my new space to the backyard, or maybe I would like a lot of daylight, maybe it would be better if the family room addition was off the kitchen so that we can watch the kids while we cook. How do you I get those features or watch the kids from an attic or basement conversion.

    Let’s look at the economics as laid out in the article. The new addition will cost us $82,750 and the basement conversion will cost us $62,000. Would anyone invest either of these sums in a home that they weren’t planning on staying in for 5 years? I don’t think that any less time is at all realistic.

    I will spend $82,750 for the addition and I will only get back 65% of that if and when I sell. One could then say that the addition cost me $29,000 over 5 years. It cost me $16.00 a day to have my addition.

    I will spend $62,000 for the basement conversion and I will get back 75% of that when I sell. One could then say that the basement conversion cost me $15,500 over 5 years. It cost me $8.50 a day to have the basement conversion done.

    I can then say that I saved $7.50 a day while I am sitting downstairs in the basement looking at four walls, no natural daylight, and my wife doesn’t like being in the basement, because the furnace and air conditioner and let’s not forget the dehumidifier which we installed to get rid of the dampness, make too much noise and she can’t see or hear the kids playing outside. The ceiling is low and we both feel claustrophobic when we are down there.

    There are so many other considerations. Basements are only in older homes in cold climates. In newer homes roofs are built using manufactured trusses, so conversion means removing the entire roof. Converting attic space usually means the addition of a flight of stairs which takes up space on the main level – space that in most cases is not sitting vacant.

    There is so much talk about Universal Design, Growing Old In Your Home and Accessibility and yet the concept of basement or attic conversion is in complete opposition to these new long term lifestyle strategies.

    At what point does personal choice and comfort enter into the equation. How much more are we willing to pay for a level of comfort and luxury in our choice of cars, when we spend a couple of hours a day in them, versus our homes where we spend half of our life with our families? The Mercedes will cost a lot more on a daily basis than an addition to our home. Stay at the Motel 6 and use the money saved to build the addition!

  1. Versailles kitchens:
  2. I will agree that the price of kitchen remodeling can get out of hand. But that is only if you don’t plan and budget properly. It is my belief that people who over spend on kitchen remodeling over spend on a lot of other things, if you can’t afford the toys you shouldn’t be buying them, but that goes for anything not just kitchens. Statements that upscale kitchens have no value are ridiculous. Gourmet cooking is one of my hobbies and when we have guests they generally all end up in our kitchen/family room so that we can socialize while a cook. That makes my kitchen my living or grand room! I like and use my 6 burner countertop range. What value do I get out of it, is one of the questions asked? My response is; what value does anyone obtain from Wedgewood or Royal Dalton China or crystal wine glasses and nice silverware? Maybe we should all switch to plastic plates, glasses and cutlery. They function in the same manner as the china, crystal and silverware. No one will starve or dehydrate using plastic!

    Oh and I will only get back 63% of my investment in my remodeled kitchen when I sell my home. I didn’t remodel my kitchen as an investment, I remodeled my kitchen for a lifestyle – the same reason I don’t drive a Hyundai Accent and I don't stay at a Motel 6 when I travel.