Adding value with home improvement projects

This time of year, homeowners are eager to spring into action and get started on home improvement projects. The key is tackling projects that will increase your home’s value.

Shortly after moving into her new home, Heidi Birkey discovered a plumbing problem that cost her more than $500 to fix.

“The plumbing under the sink is really, really old, and it was all metal plumbing so when he took it apart, it just fell apart in his hands,” said Birkey. “I had the plumbers to come out three different times and finally they just had to replace all of the plumbing in kitchen.”

There are countless home improvement projects you can invest in, but Angie’s List says don’t go into project–planning overdrive. You need to be selective, since not every project will add value to your home.

Real estate agent Nancy Burk says when you do choose a project, it’s important to follow through.

“Typically, the homeowner may start a project with great enthusiasm and fails to finish out the project,” said Burk.

Angie’s List says if you want to add value to your home with home improvement projects, there are three common mistakes you should avoid.

“Be sure that you balance your needs and your wants. So, maybe you want a new deck, and you need a new furnace, but only have money for one. Be sure you invest in those needs first because it will be a better return on your money,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks said.

You also want to avoid over–investing in your home.

“Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the best things to invest in because they get the best return on investment, usually around 85 percent,” added Hicks. “But don’t overinvest here. The goal is to keep up with the Joneses, but don’t be the leader in your neighborhood.”

Another big mistake homeowners make is not taking enough time for research. A project installed poorly won’t add value to your home, so you should always hire a reputable contractor.

“Painting is a really common thing that it takes a good steady hand to make a good steady line,” said Burk. “Be very cautious when you say, ‘oh I can do this myself.’ You may need a professional.”

Angie’s List says unless yours is the only house on the block without a pool, it’s not a good idea to add one. In most cases, you won’t get back even half of the money you spent when it’s time to sell the house. Typically, home offices and sunrooms aren’t a good ideas either. A buyer may want that space for something else, such as a bedroom or playroom. The return on investment for these projects is about 60 percent or less.