One of the most daunting tasks a homeowner can take on is renovating. That being said, one of the best ways for a homeowner to add value and optimize the investment component of their home purchase, is to renovate. Let the push pull begin….
The two best pieces of advice I can offer those looking to renovate is to:
1.) assemble an advisory team that can help you engineer value, and 2.) vet your vendors.
The former is of particular importance as it pertains to selecting your realtor. Especially if you KNOW you plan to renovate before you sell, or right after you buy, make that part of your selection process when choosing your agent in either situation.
1. Assembling Your Advisory Team
Construction is one of those things where nothing substitutes for experience. Leverage your personal networks (parents, friends, web resources) and start your research well before you elect to take on any sizable project. It is only through past experiences, and most applicably, past mistakes, that one can learn to avoid the pitfalls of renovation. Find out what things cost, where the best ROI is, what is worth doing in preparation for a sale, and what will most enhance value after a purchase. To adequately do this, a homeowner must get the necessary insight from a real estate professional to best contextualize contemplated home improvements.
Upgrading A or B may add huge value, but tackling C and D may be more of sunk cost, in the eyes of the real estate consumer. In theory, who knows better than those who are with those consumers every day? Does your agent have renovation experience, a network of vendors they could refer you to, and poignant input as to the financial impact of your contemplated work scope?
My family just moved and took on substantial rehab work in our new home. The unit below ours (identical footprint) closed 9 weeks before us, and needed similar upgrading. The new owners were not clients, but being future neighbors, and seeing some potential benefit for all of us by coordinating some elements of the work, I reached out to see if I could help them. The long and short of it is that after introducing them to our contractor, they elected to use someone else. After we closed, finished our work in 5 weeks, and moved in (14 weeks after they closed), they were sitting there with open walls. They fired their contractor and hired ours. They moved in about 6 weeks after we did, netting a difference of 15 weeks of delay for them, and who knows how much of a financial disparity.
After spending the past decade building a trusted network of vendors through our own renovation and property management contacts, we offer this vast resource to our client base. This saves our clients thousands and thousands of dollars, and precious (and expensive) time.
This fact leads into the 2nd key piece of advice: vett your vendors!!!
2. Vet Your Vendors
Besides using your realtor, use resources like Angie’s List, The Better Business Bureau, and Linkedin, among others. Get referrals from a vendor’s past clients that you can solicit for testimonials. No renovation is perfect, nor is any vendor, but there are huge differences in both cost and performance.
Stay tuned for Part II of this blog series related to cost/benefit analysis on what jobs to prioritize, and what jobs to forego…..