Boston area home improvement projects can cover virtually the entire spectrum of housing. Home improvements can range from custom finishing newly-constructed spec homes to older home remodeling updates to fixer uppers that need considerably more than just a little TLC. Let’s take a look at the various options available in the housing market in which Boston area home improvement projects can make an important impact.
New Construction or Builder Remodel
It’s no secret the new home market has been one of the most attractive in recent years. In part, new construction has added an element of increased supply to a national real estate market that has suffered from a lack of available inventory. The biggest attraction to new construction is just that – it’s new! Yet, with all its newness and “move-in” readiness, new homes do present some potential purchasers with a major drawback – there are few components to which buyers can claim for “their own.” Unlike a custom home construction project built to the owners’ specifications, most new construction allows little for the purchaser to customize or have input on. In addition, some home buyers feel that a newly built home lacks individual personality since the home has been designed to attract a larger pool of typical buyers. That brings us to the first of the Boston area home improvement projects – some developers and builders allow certain customizations to their homes. The improvements can range from what color or type of paint or wall covering the home can have to the type of floors – carpet, tile, or hardwood flooring. In addition, some developers or builders will give their purchasers the opportunity to make other customizations from appliances, kitchen cabinetry, kitchen and bathroom hardware and more.
Arguably the most popular of the Boston area home improvement projects is the owner remodel option whereby the homeowner elects to renovate all or part of an older home. Often the remodeling project can be undertaken expressly for the satisfaction and enjoyment of the homeowner. Many times – especially in the past several years as home values have risen steadily in some markets – homeowners elect to perform remodeling that will enable them to put their home on the market and command top dollar because of the popular updates it will offer.
Homeowners who have done their Boston area home improvement projects homework and who can select knowledgeable remodeling contractors can indeed make improvements to homes that can improve its value dramatically – especially in a rising home value market. A word of caution, however, not all home improvements will add value to a home. The best thing to do is to discuss the improvements you want to make and get a cost estimate. Then have a frank discussion with a real estate professional as to the price range you could expect to sell your newly-modeled home. Then, the decision is easier. If you’re able to recoup more of the cost incurred by having the improvements performed than by not having them done, you should consider moving forward with your remodeling plans.
As the name implies, the fixer-upper is on the complete other end of the Boston area home improvement projects spectrum as far as the scope of the work to be performed. A property described as a fixer-upper could require anything from some cosmetic attention to a complete gutting of the home to the walls and subfloor. Homeowners thinking of purchasing a fixer-upper property should be aware of two major considerations:
- How much work needs to be performed to raise the property to the level you desire, and how much of that work are you able and willing to perform?
- Are you in favor of making severe wall or flooring demolition if necessary, or are you in favor of merely updating surfaces like walls and floors with new materials?
Once you’ve answered those two questions you can move forward by identifying the properties that fit into the categories based on your answers. If you’re considering buying a fixer-upper, remember it requires a level of imagination and forward-looking vision to create and achieve the potential the property may have. Some buyers find it helpful to enlist the services of a knowledgeable real estate agent who may be aware of properties that are available. Plus, you may also want to hire an architect, contractor and designer to assist you in developing the vision for the property’s potential. Their experience, opinions and cost estimates can be extremely valuable in determining whether to go forward with remodeling a fixer-upper and, if so, to what degree.
While there are advantages for each of the three major Boston area home improvement projects options, our best advice is to decide which is right for you. The most important factor to consider is the result of a comfortable balance of money and time combined with what you want and what you need in your home.
The key to achieving the most success in determining the level of home improvement work you’re comfortable with is purely a personal decision. It’s a decision based on your financial abilities, but also on your appetite for making changes and taking chances.
One last word of caution. Be prepared for the unexpected if you choose a fixer-upper. Many homeowners can sadly attest to the simple truth that once the renovation starts, there’s little or no backing up. In addition, in the case of an older home that may have undergone years of neglect, there could be hidden damage such as rotten wood, termite issues, or water damage that may only be discovered after the demolition and renovation work has begun. Beware also of electrical and plumbing system failures that may require additional budgeting to replace or upgrade the systems to bring them within the proper municipal building codes.
Boston area home improvement projects can be rewarding and fun – but only if you have the mindset, temperament and financial wherewithal to undertake them.
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