Simon Says: How to Make your Local Remodel Make you Money

By: Simon Salloom

If you just bought a new home or will be selling your current residence you may be thinking about doing some remodeling. Regardless of whether you bought or are selling you want to keep in mind getting the best return on the dollars you invest in your remodel. A good Realtor with a lot of experience in your area should be pretty good at advising you which remodel will get you the best return on your investment.



The Quickie, 3-5 days - Sometimes it only makes sense to do a quick clean up of the surfaces in a home, I call this the quickie. It should take only a few days to complete. Paint everything-- if you have old seventies cabinets or anything else that dates the property paint them too. Shampoo the carpets. If you can't get the stains out replace them. If you own a property with bad pet smells you will want to seal the cement or plywood floors. Floors like this are porous. If you replace the carpet without sealing the floor the odors will return. Not too many homes on the westside of Los Angeles have old oak hardwood floors. If they do, you can refinish them or, depending on the cost, replace them or put some throw rugs down. After painting and cleaning up the carpet situation, replace all the old knobs and hinges (don't forget to do the hinges) with brushed nickel/stainless steel and or chrome hardware. Try not to keep any old hardware that has paint on it. It looks cheap and rental-like. And finally, change out all the old wall sockets and switches to new white plastic ones. It will surprise you by just how much better your property will look. About a month ago I listed a condo that was in terrible shape-- really bad. We did a "quickie" and the place sold in the first few days for about 10% ($60,000) more than what a half dozen other Realtors thought it was worth. People remarked on how well the seller had kept the place up. Cost $2,000-6,000 (with exterior painting it will be more)



The Moderate, 7-12 days - This includes everything I wrote about in the "quickie" with just a few more touches. You keep your cabinets but replace the kitchen counter tops with granite. There are pre-fabricated granite counters that are manufactured in places like China in 8 x 2' pieces with bull-nose edges and six inch back splashes that are very inexpensive. You keep the cabinets in the bathrooms but replace the old outdated tile, linoleum or carpet on the floors with travertine tiles.There was a time when travertine was about $10 a square foot. You can now find very good quality travertine tiles for around $3.50 a square foot. Take the old shower/bath combo doors off and replace with a new frameless door available at home depot for under $400. You can also just use a stylish curtain. Anything is better than an old cruddy 1960's or 70's shower door. Cost $6,000-15,000



The Complete, 1-24 months - If you are doing a complete remodel, it is best not to skimp on quality. In other words, avoid doing any of the things recommended in the Moderate and Quickie. On the westside of Los Angeles you will get a much better return on a complete remodel if it is done high end. This means quality, exclusive finishes like Caesarstone quartz countertops, exotic woods, expensive tile, high end brand name appliances like Viking and working with a designer or using your own well-developed aesthetic. Everything is of course relative, you probably won't put a Viking range in a 600sf condo, but you should certainly put one in a 2500sf house. It's the difference between a polo shirt without the logo and with the logo-- people pay more for the logo. $35,000-200,000



As a real estate agent I have seen a lot of remodeled properties. One person will have spent $150,000 for a remodel that doesn't look as good as another person who spent $60,000. I am not exaggerating. There are ways to do things that will save you a lot of money. In two weeks I will be publishing a column on how to save money, not on how to cut corners, but how to avoid the common mistakes that people make when remodeling.

Simon Salloom is a local REALTOR with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. To comment on this article and learn more about Santa Monica Real Estate click here.

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