How should we remodel after buying an older home?

Question

We are down-sizing and purchased an older home to remodel. Our home renovation included new windows, doors, flooring, electrical panel, water heater, plumbing fixtures, and water pipes. Anything else?

Asked by: GS – Arkansas
Answer

Home renovation has taken on new meaning in recent times. With people now working from home full-time there is more time devoted to looking at the existing walls and wondering if they deserve an upgrade.

Interestingly, you didn't mention kitchen and bath renovation.  That's usually the first thing that people think of because that's the space we use daily.  With larger remodels, it is easy to know that you are taking a long view.  Anyone replacing electrical panels is planning on staying for a while.  

Whenever you buy an older home, there's always more to do. It doesn't matter if the house is 25 years old or 125 years old; you have to decide what's best for you and your family and the property to keep you safe within the four walls.  So as a matter of course, public safety (or personal safety) is paramount.

So once that's done, and as you've mentioned, you've done a lot already, you're looking for additional ways to create value, comfort, and livability.  Following is a list of other items to consider.  Note that they are not in order of importance or use. 

Remember that every property is different and unique so what's best for one asset has no merit for a different asset. Consider these suggestions as a starting point for improving the property. When it comes to renovations, always remember to start with the budget that makes sense for you and your family.  

Often, families have purchased more houses than they can afford or over-invested and buy only to lose the home.  Just be aware of this and make sure it doesn't happen to you.   

Interior

  • Mini-Kitchen remodel (update appliances or re-finish cabinets or floors)
  • Full-Kitchen remodel (replacing items beyond appliances)
  • Bathroom remodel (master bath first)
  • Fully service HVAC (+ change filters regularly)
  • Add an alarm system (don't go overboard)
  • Blown-in insulation
  • Clean out sewer line from the house to the street 
  • Clean water heater elements
  • Replace oven elements 
  • Paint (ok to do one room at a time, or start with common areas)
  • Floor or ceiling vents (older ones can be hard to find. Have them sand-blasted and re-painted)
  • Hollow interior doors – replace with solid wood 

Exterior

  • Concrete – driveway and walkways 
  • Estimate the usable life of the roof and plan for replacement. 
  • Landscaping (drought-resistant or low maintenance)
  • Add Exterior lighting (for safety and ascetics) 
  • Paint (start with wood surfaces) 
  • Gutters and downspouts - replace/repair a needed
  • Door locks – upgrade
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