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In the past 2 years, we spent more time at home – and only at home – than we’d ever anticipated. Now that both the pandemic and our collective cabin fever are starting to decline, many folks are reflecting on what lockdowns taught them about their houses and contemplating upgrades. But remodeling isn’t always the best way to improve the ROL you’re getting from your home. Before you break ground on that new swimming pool or extra bedroom, ask yourself these three questions.

1. What’s your goal?

Rising costs of raw materials, labor scarcity, and a very competitive housing market are driving up the price tags on remodeling projects. To justify that extra cost and hassle, it’s important that you have a clear goal in mind.

If this remodel is strictly about enjoyment and comfort, make sure that you and your family are really going to use this upgrade in perpetuity. A bigger, open-concept kitchen might look beautiful in computer models. But are you going to take advantage of all that space, cook more meals at home, and host more dinners for friends and family? An extra bedroom might keep your teenagers from fighting so much. But when they head off to college, are those rooms just going to sit there, empty and unused?

On the other hand, that same renovated kitchen or extra bedroom might be worth the investment if your goal is to sell in a year or two. Upgrades that reduce maintenance costs, increase total square footage, and improve curb appeal are going to make your property stand out even if the real estate market stays hot.

2. What about a refresh?

Whatever your goals might be, an expensive remodel isn’t your only option. Upgrading things like bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances can make rooms feel new without having to knock down any walls. And if you or your spouse are handy, you might enjoy having a weekend project that’s going to improve your home while also saving you some money on labor and materials.

If you’re willing to invest a bit more money in a more substantial makeover, think about working with an interior designer. A pro might be able to spot that ineffable something that’s messing with your home’s flow and make suggestions that will take some of the guesswork out of sorting through swatches or measuring for a new couch.

Speaking of furniture, a bed that doesn’t break your back or a new TV that will make family movie night more exciting can breathe new life into your home as well. Best of all, you can take some of these upgrades with you if you do decide to move.

3. Is this really necessary?

Separating needs from wants can be tricky when we’re thinking about home. Building a dedicated home office will be a clear-cut need for some families. But the way your home makes you feel and inspires activity is important too. Aesthetics like a new coat of paint or a dining room that opens out onto a new porch can affect your mood and stimulate your senses. Turning a spare room into a home gym might not seem “necessary,” but if you’ll spend more time in that gym than you would in a fitness club, the benefits to your health could be significant.

On the other hand, if you know you’re not really a jacuzzi person but you can’t stop thinking about all that money you didn’t spend during the pandemic, you might just be talking yourself into a splurge.

Instead, why don’t we discuss how you’re feeling about your house post-pandemic and how your financial plan can improve where you live and how you’re living.

About the Author
David Klepeisz, CFP, EA

David was born and raised in historic Yorktown Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Tech where he studied financial planning through a CFP® board-registered program. David has also earned the professional certification of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® practitioner from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. In addition, he has earned the professional certification of Enrolled Agent (EA) A holders are licensed by the U.S. Treasury and are the only federally licensed...