Just like new again
A look at the latest remodeling trends in the Tulsa area.
With an unpredictable housing market, more and more people are choosing to remodel their current home rather than pack up and move.
Homeowners in the Tulsa area have experienced a solid, consistent property value increase over the last few years, says Barry Helms, owner of Renovations by Helms. This growth results in good equity for funding property improvements.
“Tulsans’ property values did not double overnight, as they did in many parts of the country, but they also did not plummet when market conditions worsened,” Helms says. “The home has become their best investment.”
While remodeling is more costly on a per unit basis than building a new home or moving, there are still advantages for your pocketbook.
Moving costs, on average, run $29,000 by the time you buy a new home and sell your current home, Helms says. Depending on the neighborhood, this money may be best spent remodeling your current home.
Remodeling also allows homeowners to tackle small parts of the house one at a time, thus limiting the amount of money required to improve their lifestyles, says Paul Burgard, president of Renaissance Construction.
For those homeowners still planning to sell, remodeling offers easy ways to maximize the value of your home.
“There are some relatively inexpensive projects, such as new paint and replacing windows, doors and hardware, that will make dramatic cosmetic and efficiency improvements, boosting the value of the home,” Burgard says. In the end, this means a favorable return on the homeowner’s investment.
But remodeling is not right for every home, cautions John Fisher, owner of UBuildIt.
“I wouldn’t always advise remodeling,” he says. “The condition of the existing house and property; the location and relative appraised values in the neighborhood; the age and inclination of the owners, and how long they plan on staying in the house … are all things to consider.”
The bottom line: Research your neighborhood and consider the costs of your remodeling goals versus buying a new home before beginning any remodeling project.
What is the best way to increase the value of your home through remodeling? Start. Develop a master plan and undertake a project every two to five years to keep costs down and keep up with current trends.
The usual suspects
Bathrooms, kitchens and master suites still top the list of remodeling projects, with kitchen and bath remodels tending to add the most value to the home. But new elements and trends are adding to the mix and helping to freshen up these spaces. Chrome, for example, is making a comeback.
“Polished chrome has made a resurgence as a popular finish for plumbing fixtures,” says Brandon Jackson, owner of Jackson Construction and 2008 Home Builders Association (HBA) Remodelers Council president.
The contemporary style with clean, simple lines also is a current trend. With paint, Jackson says, less is more.
“Painting the walls, ceiling and trim the same color is in, while glazing and faux finishes are out,” Jackson says.
High-end materials, such as granite and stone, and commercial-grade appliances remain popular luxury elements, while dual showerheads, heated floors and energy-efficient appliances are becoming features that are more requested.
Wide open spaces
As baby boomers reach retirement age, the remodeling industry is seeing an increase in “aging in place” design. Essentially, boomers are remodeling their current homes to fit their aging needs, says Brandon Perkins, owner of Brandon Perkins Development and 2009 HBA president. This includes widening doorways, adding ramps, changing doorknobs to levers or adding a ground-floor bedroom if one does not already exist. All these features help make the home more accessible.
The 1950s ranch-style homes, which feature open, one-level floor plans, are enjoying a boost in popularity. They are highly sought by both baby boomers who want to avoid stairs and young families who enjoy the convenient layouts, Jackson says.
These homes fit yet another trend today, which is the need for an open floor plan combining the kitchen, living and dining areas.
“In terms of resale value, shoppers are looking for the open living/dining plan, so if you want to compete with new homes on the market that showcase this plan, then it just makes sense that this should be a high priority in terms of remodeling,” Burgard says.
Most likely, homeowners who remodel to create such a space will see their cost recouped at resale.
Outdoor spaces and entertaining areas with outdoor kitchens also are in demand. And, while certainly a luxury, technology features such as home theaters or in-wall speakers, intercom systems, wireless networks and automated lighting and temperature controls also are popular amenities incorporated with today’s remodels.
Green is the word
The green movement in Tulsa is slow and behind the national curve, but this important trend is moving in our direction.
“Builders have been educating themselves and consumers have started to demand green building techniques,” Perkins says.
Several local organizations have taken an active role in green building.
As with building in general, “green” or energy-efficient remodeling is increasing in popularity not only because of the environmental benefits, but also the cost-savings potential for homeowners. Green remodeling options include projects such as added insulation, energy-efficient appliances and water-saving fixtures such as low-flow toilets and showerheads.
Someone you can trust
So you’re ready to start remodeling your home, but how do you choose a reliable builder or contractor?
“The HBA is a good place to start,” Fisher says.
Be sure the builder or contractor has the capabilities and experience to accomplish the task, and always ask for recommendations, he adds.
Your home is the largest investment you will likely ever make, and you owe it to yourself to use only the best in the business, says Darby Thomas, 2009 HBA Remodelers Council president.
All HBA members have workers’ compensation and general liability insurance coverage; have been in the business for at least one year; utilize alternative dispute resolution; have provided professional and personal references; and abide by a code of ethics and professional standards.
Another source is the Better Business Bureau. “Be sure to ask for references and check with the BBB to see if complaints have been filed against the business,” Burgard says.
Also verify that the contractor is licensed and bonded and request to see a certificate of insurance or name of the insurance agency to verify coverage. Request written bids with specific line items from several contractors you like before making a decision.