all home improvements are created equal. Fortunately for us, local
remodeling/renovation, appraisal and real estate pros know which
alterations make sense — and which don’t.
Weighing in are
Cheryl Barenz of Barenz Builders in Germantown, Kate Shortall of
Blackstone International in Waukesha, Mike Grota of Grota Appraisals in
Menomonee Falls and Richard Ruvin of Falk Ruvin Real Estate in Glendale.
nuanced responses and caveats, collectively agreeing on the five best
1. Kitchen —
this centerpiece room needs to be up to date and functional.
"Layout and function (are) important, but kitchen upgrades have
always been really important," Barenz says.
2. Bathroom —
especially a master bath en suite — makes a convenient getaway for
active lifestyles. "One of the top two selling points in any home
(along with kitchens)," Grota says.
kitchen, dining and family area — a gold standard today for
entertaining and everyday family needs. "People are looking for
ease of interacting, and open concept allows that," Ruvin says.
outdoor space — from an enclosed patio to an expansive, multifunction
seating and cooking/eating area. Wisconsinites love their outdoor days
and outdoor cooking time, even in winter. "This is even more
important if the home and yard have a nice view in a nice
location," Grota adds.
5. Storage — any
and every kind, from pantries to walk-in closets. Anything that helps
organize and keep things tidy. "I have seen people select the most
high-end finishes in kitchens and baths and not consider storage,"
Shortall says. "They need a place for all their stuff to have the
rooms function well."
There are ample
"honorable mentions." Barenz and Shortall each mention
charging stations — a central place for all those tech gadgets. Add
one in a mud room or at a counter nook.
Barenz says large
windows are a good investment because more natural light opens up a
best improvements include a second laundry area, a second dishwasher, a
family-friendly snack bar for families with teens, a central vacuum
extended to the garage, and a radiant heat system instead of a furnace,
which is easier to maintain.
Don’t Overdo It
balancing the financial commitment with the basic worth of the home.
always a point of diminished return," he says, noting ornate
driveways or façades that don’t match the rest of the home as
examples. "It’s those kitchen and bath projects that (are)
updated after 20 or 25 years that see the largest increase in
Lower-value — or
low ROI — improvements are usually based on homeowners’ wants and
won’t likely be of value to the next owner. They include:
1. Swimming pool
spaces, such as a lower-level golf tee and net or backyard soccer field
wallpaper and paint
Can It Be Changed?
On the one hand,
homeowners who really want what they want should update their home as
enjoys swimming and really wants it, I would never tell a client not to
have a swimming pool," Barenz says. "They just
need to know it
won’t necessarily be something the next homeowner wants."
keeping hardscapes (think countertops and tile) in neutral and letting
bold patterns and colors shine in easily changed materials, like paint.
"Anything that is quirky that can’t easily be changed is a
negative," he says. M