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The Ultimate Guide to Remodeling your Home

Remodeling a home takes a lot of resources. Not only does it typically cost thousands of dollars, but it also takes a lot of time and can cause inconvenience to homeowners and dwellers.

By REAL. Updated Aug 06, 2022 | Real Estate | 17 min. read
  1. Remodeling ProjectsJump
  2. What should you remodel?Jump
  3. DIY Remodeling ProjectsJump

Are you thinking about remodeling your home? What should you remodel first? Expanding the kitchen, changing the bathroom, painting the walls, adding an additional room, constructing a lanai, redoing flooring, and more are all possible remodel projects. But according to the National Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s 2022 Remodeling Impact Report, certain remodeling projects have better results than others.

Some remodeling projects will bring homeowners more joy. While other projects will add value to the house if it were to be resold, recovering the project’s cost. Other remodeling projects are recommended by real estate agents to increase a home’s likelihood of a successful sale.

Top Remodeling Projects

The following are the top remodeling projects that will have the greatest impact. Note that the results are according to national United States surveys, not only based on Hawaii remodeling data.

Hardwood Flooring Refinish

Do you have hardwood floors with scratches that are lacking luster? If so, you might want to consider remodeling them, as many homeowners and real estate agents have stated refinished hardwood floors have had a number of positive impacts. 55 percent of surveyed homeowners decided to refinish their floors in 2020 to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials, according to the research.

Refinished hardwood floors make homeowners happier, scoring a 10 out of 10 Joy Score with 100 percent of remodelers stating they “had a greater desire to be home” since seeing the shiny hardwood floors. 64 percent of people who refinished their hardwood floors said they had “an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home” and 64 percent also said they “[felt] a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the project.”

In addition, refinished hardwood floors usually add more value to the home than the cost of the project. According to U.S. data from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), it typically costs around $3,400 to refinish floors in a 2,495 square foot house with no hidden issues; REALTORS®’ estimated $5,000 is added to the home’s value after the completion of the project – a 147 percent of value recovered from the project. 22 percent of REALTORS® recommended refinishing hardwood floors before selling.

New Wood Flooring

If you don’t have hardwood floors already in your home, you might want to consider upgrading those old carpet, vinyl, or laminate floors to hardwood. Adding new wood flooring scored a Joy Score of 10 out of 10 in the impact report, and 90 percent of homeowners stated that they had “a greater desire to be home since completing the project” while 77 percent said they had “an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home.”

Will the cost of putting in hardwood floors be recovered in your home’s value? According to NAR and REALTORS®’ estimates of putting hardwood floors into a 2,495 square foot home, 118 precent of the value is recovered from the project. Also despite 2020 being a COVID-19 pandemic year, 77 percent of consumers said they would have undertaken the project, regardless of the pandemic.

Closet Renovation

Do you have a closet that you cannot navigate with items strewn around? You might want to consider channeling Netflix’s Get Organized series and remodeling your closet. Of people who completed this project, 46 percent said the most important result was “better functionality and livability.” The top two reasons for renovating the closet were to add features and to improve organization and storage.

After the closet renovation was completed, 79 percent of remodelers said they had “a greater desire to be home,” and the project received a Joy Score of 10 out of 10. 61 percent said they had an increased sense of enjoyment at home due to the closer renovation and also 61 percent said they felt a major sense of accomplishment because of completing the project.

The cost of closet renovation is not likely to be completely recovered with a proportionate increase in home value. NARI data estimates that it costs about $6,000 to renovate a closet while REALTORS® estimated $5,000 is added to the home’s value after the completion of the project – an 83 percent of value recovered from the project. Also if you are trying to sell your home, a closet renovation is not recommended by REALTORS® to be at the top of the list, as only 4 percent recommended remodeling a closet before selling.

Complete Kitchen Renovation

Completely renovating the kitchen can be a high-ticket item on the remodeling list that also can have a big boost in joy and desire to be at home. A complete kitchen remodel scored a 9.8 out of 10 for bringing joy, and 94 percent of remodelers stated that they desired to be at home more since they finished the kitchen remodel.

The main reason for undertaking the kitchen remodel was to improve functionality and livability, with 43 percent of people saying the remodel had this result. The costs to completely remodel a kitchen are steep, with the NARI estimating that average quality materials for the remodel would cost around $80,000. However, REALTORS® estimate that only $60,000 of that cost is recovered after the project is completed, and only 13 percent of real estate agents recommend doing a complete kitchen renovation before selling your home.

Kitchen Upgrade

If you don’t quite have the funds to completely remodel your kitchen, you might want to consider upgrading worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials in the kitchen instead. Like a complete kitchen remodel, a kitchen upgrade has a Joy Score of 9.8 out of 10. Over 75 percent of kitchen upgraders said they have a greater desire to be at home, feel a sense of enjoyment at home, and also feel a sense of accomplishment after completing the project, showing that upgrading a kitchen can have a positive emotional effect on one’s life.

The average cost of a kitchen upgrade is less than a complete remodel and is recommended to be done before a sale by more REALTORS®. NARI estimates the cost of a kitchen remodel to be $45,000 – think new cabinets, a new countertop, or new appliances – while REALTORS® estimate $30,000 of those costs can be recovered in the home’s value. 30 percent of REALTORS® recommended upgrading a kitchen before a sale; even investing $10,000 in new appliances can be an attractive feature to potential buyers, potentially causing offers to increase.

Bathroom Renovation

Taking off old grungy tiles, adding a full walk-in shower, upgrading the vanity, adding a bidet toilet: these might all be on your check list for completely renovating the bathroom. The majority of homeowners chose to renovate the bathroom to upgrade worn-out surfaces and materials and to also improve functionality and livability.

Does improving the bathroom improve homeowner’s lives? According to the research, a bathroom renovation scores a 9.6 out of 10 Joy Score. Also 73 percent of homeowners stated they had “a greater desire to be home since completing the project” and 64 percent said they “felt a major sense of accomplishment.”

Bathroom renovations can be costly, averaging $35,000 with average materials, according to NARI. REALTORS® estimate that $25,000 of the cost is recovered from the project, meaning a little over 70 percent of a bathroom renovation is recovered in the home’s added value. About one of out four REALTORS® do recommend renovating a bathroom before placing a home on the market for sale; a newly renovated bathroom could be a big selling point for a potential buyer.

Add a New Bathroom

Perhaps you want to add an entirely new space to you home – a bathroom. Adding a new bathroom typically entails drafting plans and submitting them to receive a permit from the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting since a new bathroom would change the structure of your home. However, some brave homeowners decide that a brand-new bathroom is worth the investment – typically to make the home more livable.

Once the new bathroom is built, it does cause most homeowners to feel happier, although it does not have as significant as an impact as other projects. A new bathroom addition scores an 8.2 out of 10 for increasing joy, and 82 percent of homeowners said that wanted to be at home more since they had a new bathroom addition. Surprisingly, although a brand-new room often take more effort than some upgrading projects, only 48 percent of surveyed people who upgraded bathrooms said they felt a major sense of accomplishment after the project’s completion – perhaps they had some frustrations along the way.

You might think that adding a new bathroom would definitely add to the value of a home and also increase its likelihood of a great sale. However, a new bathroom is costly – estimated to be $80,000 by NARI – and only about 63 percent of that cost is recovered in the home’s increased value. In addition, only 4 percent of REALTORS® recommend adding a new bathroom before a sale.

Paint Entire Interior Home

If you don’t want to tear down walls or cabinets for a remodel or build walls for an addition, you might consider adding some fresh paint to your home to make a positive difference in your living environment. People that paint their entire homes often do so for reasons of beauty and aesthetics; 38 percent of people surveyed simply wanted a change and 15 percent just moved into the home and wanted to customize it to their personal tastes.

Painting often is not as expensive as other remodeling projects and can boost homeowners’ joy. Painting the entire interior of a home received a Joy Score of 10 out of 10. Over 80 percent of surveyed people who painted the interior of their home said they desired to be at home more, felt an increased sense of enjoyment, and also felt a sense of accomplishment.

Painting is also top on the list of recommendations from REALTORS®. Nearly 50 percent of REALTORS® recommend painting the entire home before listing the home for sale. Paint is an economical way to make a big difference in a home and increase its feeling of cleanliness and comfort.

Paint One Interior Room

Maybe you don’t want to embark on painting the entire home, but simply want to paint one room – like a bathroom, bedroom, or the kitchen. More than 50 percent of people who paint a room do this because they decided it is time for a change. Do you feel like that bright orange needs to be a tan? Or maybe the plain white needs a splash of light blue?

Deciding to paint an interior room gets a Joy Score of 10 out of 10, and 73 percent of survey respondents said they had “a greater desire to be home” since painting the room. 38 percent of REALTORS® also recommend painting a room to ready it for the sales market. While painting a room might only take a day or two, it is an economical way to increase joy in your home.

Add New Home Office

With more people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing work environments, adding a new home office, or converting an existing space to a home office might be something to consider. Also, if you are a small business owner, you might have the possibility of deducting your home office expenses from your taxes. Most people surveyed said they added a home office to have better function and livability, including improving organization and customizing an office space to their tastes.

Putting in the effort to add a home office does have a positive effect on homeowner’s happiness. A home office addition scored a 10 out of 10 Joy Score. Also, 91 percent of remodelers said they had “a greater desire to be at home since completing the project.” The vast majority of respondents also said they “had an increased sense of enjoyment” at home.

A home office addition might not be as popular once the effects of the global COVID pandemic reside, or perhaps working remotely from home is the new normal. 50 percent of people who added a home office said they “would have undertaken the project, regardless of the pandemic.” Also note that only 3 percent of REALTORS® recommend adding a home office to increase the sale viability of a home. Therefore if a home office fits your working lifestyle, it might be something to explore to increase your joy, but if it does not fit for you, it may not be needed to add value to your home.

What should you remodel in your home?

What you decide to remodel will most likely depend on your needs and situation. Remodeling can be timely and costly, so it is important to consider the reasons for the desired change and the possible impacts.

Where will you start on your remodeling journey? According to the research, painting might make the most impact in joy and sell-ability of a home while upgrading or refinishing hardwood floors might add the most value and make the most sense financially. However, if you want to remodel a bathroom or a kitchen, realize the costs and the potential recovery value after the project is completed – and also realize that it will most likely boost your pleasure to be at home.

Whether you desire a professional to do it all, purchase the materials yourself, or do a complete remodel, you most likely will increase your feelings of joy when you are inside your home and also feel a sense of accomplishment, according to the research. And if you do decide to begin the remodeling journey, realize that 86 percent of people surveyed said that “remodeling one area of their home made them want to then remodel other areas of their home.”

Do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement projects

DIY projects are the ultimate way to put sweat equity into your home. While you may have minimal experience with tools or paint, a little studying and preparation and a lot of determination can update many spaces in your home.

Glean some inspiration from these four do-able DIY home improvement projects to create inspiring and comforting surroundings.

Update Your Kitchen Cabinets (or Bathroom Vanity or Dressers)

Are your kitchen cabinets looking beat up from years of cooking and rummaging to find a good grind to eat? With some elbow grease, painting cabinets and upgrading knobs is an achievable DIY home improvement.

Grab these tools and materials and get ready for approximately two days to transform your kitchen:

Step 1: Remove Hardware

Take your screwdriver or wrench and remove all pulls, knobs, and latches, carefully placing them in bags inside cabinets where they will be easy to find when the painting is complete. Stores like Anthropologie and even thrift stores often have attractive knobs that can update your kitchen’s look, so you might want to consider purchasing new knobs.

Step 2: Clean the Cabinets

Even if your cabinets seem spotless, they most likely have grease and grime from years of cooking. Follow the included instructions to mix trisodium phosphate (TSP) with water. Get on the gloves, wipe down all angles of the cabinets, and then wipe them off with a clean cloth.

Step 3: Sand and Repair any Sightless Spots

If there are any holes or gouges, fill them using the putty knife. Before the wood putty dries, wipe away any excess. After it is dry, use sandpaper to create a smooth, unnoticeable surface.

Use a sanding sponge or a wood sanding block to roughen all the surfaces of the cabinets with fine-grit sandpaper; this will provide the new paint with a clean base for good adhesion. Any worn areas or peeling paint should be sanded until smooth.

Vacuum the sanding dust from the surfaces, and then give them a good wipe to remove any remaining dust.

Step 4: Paint

To maximize durability and ease painting tasks, buy a high-quality semi-gloss latex paint that has the primer already mixed in.

Put down your drop cloth to protect your floor (or big cardboard boxes). Then grab your high-quality brush. Start by painting the inside edges and face frames. After painting the front areas, you can move to the inside of the cabinets, if you desire. It often is easier to remove the drawers and then paint.

Apply paint in thin, light coats, scraping the brush against a surface before painting to remove any excess paint. Allow paint to dry for at least three hours before adding another coat. A third coat is recommended, as kitchen cabinets have a lot of use

Step 5: Reinstall the Hardware

After the paint has a day to dry, add the knobs back or put in your new, shiny hardware. Then sit back and admire your spruced-up kitchen.

This kitchen project may inspire you to also update your bathroom vanities or dressers! The steps are nearly the same, and these are also do-able home DIY projects.

Paint the Bathroom Tub and Tiles

Does your bright pink tile around your shower make you cringe? If your tile is in good condition but it has a less-than-desirable color scheme, you can paint it with three to four days and attention to detail.

To do this job, buy a pre-packaged tub and tile kit. Rust-Oleum and Homax make these kits, and they are often available in local hardware stores. This kit will give the complete list of necessary supplies and step-by-step instructions to transform a retro bathroom.

The kit will guide you to sand before painting. This is an essential step, as a rough surface will enable the epoxy paint to stick and stay. Also, a spray paint gun will give the best look if you have one available.

While painting tile, it is important to ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. Also wear a mask!

Spruce Up Your Yard with String Lights

When you need a quick escape, you might dream of relaxing in a mini outdoor lounge. If you have a lanai – or even a small backyard – you can transform an outdoor space into a lounge or gathering space.

If you have a roof, fence, or pergola, simply buy globe lights drill some holes for hooks and string them. If you only have an outdoor space, you can follow these low-skill steps to create beautiful potter plants and a string light sanctuary.

Purchase these tools and materials:

Step 1: Mix Concrete in the Barrel

Empty the Quikrete into the planting barrel, filling it about ½ to ¾ full. Mix the concrete with water and shake the barrel to eliminate air bubbles. To make life easier, have the barrels positioned where you want them to be at the end, so you do not have to move them later (when they are heavier).

Step 2: Insert the Post

Stick the 4x4 post upright into the barrel with the concrete. Then screw scrap wood into the post to hold it tight while the concrete is setting. If needed, add more concrete and water.

Step 3: Fill Barrel with Soil and Plants

After the concrete has cured, add some small rocks to help with the drainage. Then put potting soil on top. Plant herbs, flowers, or other small plants to make a beautiful base.

Step 4: Add Hooks and Hang Lights

At the top of the 4x4 post, drill a hole and insert a C-hook. Hang the string lights from the C-hooks using the zip ties, crisscrossing if desired.

Voila! You have created a beautiful outdoor space to relax and rejuvenate.

Add Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper

Do one-tone walls have you feeling blah? Peel-and-stick wallpaper is a way to add a vibrant burst to any room – without the risk. The wallpaper can be easily removed if you ever want to change the climate of the room again.

Tips for sticker wallpaper include the following:

Your home is a part of you – and even more so as you apply skills and sweat to complete do-able DIY projects.

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