Is your home in your heart?

Your emotions will have a lot of say in whether you stay or go.

“Think honestly about your relationship with your neighbors and how you feel about your location and the surrounding area,” says Fred Wilson, a principal with Morgante-Wilson Architects in Evanston, Illinois. “If you have a strong connection to the neighborhood and emotional ties to your home, renovating may be the right answer.”

Wilson’s firm estimates that 70 percent of homeowners in the remodel-or-move quandary ultimately decide to stay put and make changes to their house.

A residential architect may envision upgrade possibilities you may not see and help you get maximum functionality out of the home you already have. You might tap your home equity to pay for the improvements.

How long will a renovation take?

Many people overlook the fact that renovation involves a serious, long-term commitment in time and energy. They have to get their head around the process — time being the first and foremost consideration.”

No kidding!

A kitchen remodel involving new countertops, cabinets, appliances and floors can stretch on for three to six months. If ductwork, plumbing or wiring has to be addressed, the job could take longer. A bathroom remodel can require two or three months, while a room addition can take a month or two.

You have to be ready to be very patient. It’s very difficult to live in something that’s being renovated.

Can you budget realistically?

Realistic budget planning is critical when deciding whether to make your current home work or look for another one.

Budgeting accurately is essential if you do decide to renovate.

A lot of homeowners don’t know exactly what they want. Say you have $50,000 and the contractor says he can do it for that. But then your wishes change, you want different materials, it doesn’t come out as youimagined — and that’s where the budget gets blown up.



Will you earn back the upfront costs?

Before opting to remodel or sell, try to determine what return on investment you’ll see on either option. 

If upgrading, What’s the average return on investment for the renovations you’re considering?

Most home upgrades do not pay for themselves in the form of a higher eventual sale price. Some renovations manage to recover 80 to 90 percent of their costs, while others barely cover half their expenses.

If you’re thinking of listing your current home and buying another one somewhere else, ask yourself whether you’ll be in the new place long enough to recoup the costs of taking out a new mortgage and moving. It has traditionally taken seven years to earn back those upfront costs.

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   “What is your working day like?”
   “How will you clean up at the end of the day?”
   “What steps will you take to protect my property?”
   “How will additional charges be dealt with?”
   “Is there a warranty for your service or for the materials you’ll be using?”
   “How do we resolve any disagreements?”

   “How long have you been in this business?”
   “Do you have a contracting license?”
   "Do you carry workman’s comp insurance for your employees?
   “Will you obtain the permits and set up the inspections required for this job?”
   “What is our timeline for completion?”
   “What is the payment schedule?”