If you are a homeowner, or perhaps a home buyer considering the purchase of a fixer-upper house, you will profit from reading “How to Increase the Value of Your Home” by Vicki Lankarge and Daniel J. Nahorney. This enlightening new book explains which home improvements are profitable and which might be enjoyable but won’t add as much market value as their cost.

This light, easy-reading book is filled with important facts that homeowners, home buyers and real estate agents need to know before embarking on home renovation. What makes the book especially valuable is it is filled with facts, not just opinions of home renovation experts. Along the way, there is sage advice of what homeowners should do to avoid major improvement mistakes.

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For example, if you are considering adding a swimming pool to your home, be aware that is an unprofitable investment. In fact, it might hurt the resale value of your home because many prospective home buyers won’t even look at a home with a pool (because of the potential danger to small children, as well as the maintenance costs).

The one drawback I spotted in this otherwise excellent book is it doesn’t have a comprehensive list of typical home improvements and their percentage profitability. To illustrate, adding a bathroom to a one-bathroom home usually increases the market value of that residence by at least the cost of the new bathroom. But renovating a kitchen is unlikely to add more than 75 percent of its cost to the home’s market value. Having this valuable information in a simple table would have been invaluable.

Virtually every possible home improvement is considered. The details are often amazing, such as the type of new siding to install on your home and its pros or cons. The explanations are often highly detailed, such as the author opinions about “synthetic stucco,” which is the subject of many lawsuits.

What are the most profitable home improvements? Although I didn’t keep a list as I read this fascinating book, adding an additional bathroom, building a new deck and remodeling an existing bathroom appear to add close to 100 percent of their cost to the home’s market value. Most other improvements add significantly less, percentagewise.

As explained by Lankarge and Nahorney, the criteria for deciding on whether to make a home improvement should be how much you will enjoy it as a homeowner. However, if you plan to sell your home in a year or so, most of these renovations won’t be worth the cost and hassle, especially if you live in the home during remodeling

In addition to the factual detail, the practical advice is what makes this book so valuable. To illustrate, when adding on to a home, whether a second-story addition or a side-wise expansion, the authors advise: “Size does matter.” Then they explain why making a big addition can be more profitable than a small addition.

Chapter topics include “Repair Before You Remodel”; “Recoup Your Remodeling Costs”; “Interior Improvements”; “Home Improvements You Shouldn’t Bank On”; “Heating and Air Conditioning”; “Landscape and Hardscape”; “Ready, Set, Spend”; “Proper Maintenance for a Safer, More Valuable Home”; “Insurance”; and “Selling Your Remodeled Home.”

Especially valuable are the book’s concluding chapters about necessary home insurance and selling the remodeled home by creating curb appeal. What makes this simple book so useful are the practical, easy-to-understand explanations of situations that homeowners encounter when considering renovation. On my scale of one to 10, this outstanding book rates a solid 10.

“How to Increase the Value of Your Home,” by Vicki Lankarge and Daniel J. Nahorney (McGraw-Hill, New York), 2004, $14.95, 181 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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