Owning a home for the first time can be exciting. Sometimes the home you purchase is just how you want it, but more often than not, renovations or small updates may need to be done to make the house ‘feel like your own.’
It can be difficult to know exactly what to renovate, when, and whether or not it’s a project you should do yourself. Between legal guidelines, inspections, and the goal of increasing the value of your home, making the right decisions requires some forethought, fact-finding, and patience.
Renovating often leads to happier homeowners. According to the 2015 renovation report from the National Association of Realtors, 74% of homeowners enjoy their home more than they did prior to renovation. In addition, 38% of owners took on their home renovations themselves.
Even with the assurance that the right renovations and updates offer overwhelming benefits, the important questions still remain: What do you renovate first? How much will it improve your home, and if so, do sustainable, yet affordable options exist?
A renovation to mitigate a ‘broken feature’ is an easy decision, such as replacing a faulty roof, or new water heater, but in other cases, the decision may not seem so clear. At Source Capital Funding Inc., we understand the importance of support and sustainability for home buyers. An unending list of home renovation articles can muddy the research process, and it is important to know the market well enough to recognize the demand for information not just on home renovations, but value-increasing, sustainable home renovations.
Based on a study conducted by the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment, when asked on an incremental dollar amount to rate how much they were willing to pay for a green home, buyers opted for ‘green’, in a range between $10,343 and $53,000 more, or an average of 3.46 percent. Some home premium increases ranged from 6% to 7.7%, and even higher on homes with photovoltaic solar arrays installed to conserve energy costs.
Choosing to renovate and create sustainable home amenities not only increases home enjoyment, but grows home value. Furthermore, you can aspire toward achieving highly valuable ‘green status’ through certification programs such as LEED. To help new homeowners with their renovation picks, we’ve compiled our 6 most valuable tips for sustainable renovation for first time home buyers.
- Energy Seal Your Home – A home that lacks energy efficiency costs extra money as a result of the increased power needed to heat and cool the home. The expenditure to energy seal can be a small as checking your home for ‘leaks’, updating your insulation (around $1000,) adding new efficient windows, or installing a better heating and cooling system. House logic reports that new window projects estimate at $15,000 and can add up to 80% ($12,000) of the investment in improved home value.
- Add Proper Ventilation with a ‘Whole House Fan’ – A whole-house fan is a great way to keep costs low and cool your home in the hot months. For about $500 plus labor, you can install this amenity and eliminate costly, energy-draining air conditioning. Some municipalities and utility companies offer energy rebates for whole-house fans. These fans consume an average of 10% less energy than that of an air conditioner, and from that added savings, often pay for themselves in just a few seasons.
- Grow Your Garden and Landscaping. While a garden renovation is often built for ‘curb appeal,’ it is also an affordable way to reduce your energy consumption, build home value, and increase credits for LEED home certification. Buyers will often pay 10% more for a home with great outdoor amenities. If you include proper landscaping such as new trees and native plants, a ‘smart’ garden will reduce run off, reduce your carbon footprint, add highly-valued privacy, and reduce your monthly energy bill. If you’re considering updating the existing garden, try these ‘green actions’:
- Remove invasive species from your premises.
- Use non-toxic pest control around the garden and home.
- Add trees and shrubs to increase privacy and ‘cool’ the premises.
- Add a rain barrel for plant watering.
- Add a Deck or Update the Existing Patio. At $8 to 35$ per square foot, decks and patios are more cost effective than a home addition. When renovating with a ‘green’ focus, your most important considerations are new material consumption and product manufacturing methods.
- Use certified, legally harvested, sustainable wood.
- Consider alternatives wood, such as recycled wood/plastic composites, and sustainable concrete alternatives.
- Look for products made from over 50% post-consumer waste.
- Update the Kitchen. While kitchen updates in 2015 averaged a median price of $30,000, they can offer an average of 67% return on investment and greater home satisfaction for the homeowner. There are ways to ‘go green’, boost your LEED credits, and cut down on costs:
- Install a finished wood pallet to create a living wall/indoor garden.
- Replace your existing appliances with energy efficient products where needed.
- Recycle old house items. For example, a ladder can become a pot rack and a dresser can become a perfect kitchen island.
- Visit and become a member of your local home materials Co-op, to find reclaimed features, fixtures, and home construction supplies.
- Give the Home Another Bedroom. Adding a bedroom can increase the price of a home by up to 15%. However, in most cases, to be officially called a bedroom, the room must meet square footage standards, have a window for emergency exit safety, a door that closes, and a closet. Check your local requirements for exact specifications. You can add a new suite or wing for around $100,000 or even convert a den, attic or basement into a livable bedroom for a fraction of that price. To keep it sustainable, we suggest the following:
- During the construction phase, buy from repurposing organizations or reuse what’s already in your home.
- Install windows on opposite sides of the bedroom for better circulation through cross breezes.
- If it is an addition, add solar panels to offset additional energy costs.
While renovating your home takes research, some creative-thinking and planning, the added value, peace of mind, and return on investment is often well-worth the added effort in the long-run.
- Find More Information on fantastic projects for new homeowners on the Allconnect Blog.
- More information about LEED Certification for Homes can be found on the S. Green Building Council website.
Author Bio: Sacha Ferrandi is the Founder and Principal of Source Capital Funding, Inc. With over 12 years in the industry, Sacha is an expert in home furnishing, home investments, and lending for real estate.