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Old 09-07-2009, 10:17 PM  
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Default How do you know how much is too much?

I have a dilemma about renovating our 1890 house. It was once a fine home. However, the city it skirted has grown, a freeway has been built right by it, and the neighborhood, while not bad, is not great either. Also, the school system is less than desirable (hooray for charter schools).
However, the house is great. There are some additions that were done on the cheap, and some of the workmanship of the mid-century was not great, but the original structure, the original trim, the original wood floors, are fantastic.
All this, plus the fact that my husband's job is okay, but he's not married to it, make it impossible for me to know whether we'll be here in ten years. Maybe a nicer neighborhood will win out, or maybe we'll settle in. If I had to guess, I'd say we'll be here.
So, with all that background, here's my question: How do I make decisions as we renovate? Do I get the kitchen I want because I love cooking, even though high end appliances are probably not in high demand in my neighborhood? Do I add the tin ceilings that would look just perfect in this house, or do I just drywall? It seems we face this dilemma every time we start a new project. Do we do what we want with the home that we live in, or do we look at the house as an investment that must be managed for maximum roi?
Any opinions?

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Old 09-08-2009, 07:39 AM  
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Personally, if it were me, I wouldn't put one penny into it. Housing prices are in the dumps. Most people are up-side-down (owe more that it's worth) on their mortgages and spending money on them only makes the situation worse. Nobody's job is safe in this state. I used to be employed in the solar panel manufacturing industry here in MI and they have severanced (not laid off) over 350 employes, indicating that the industry won't be bouncing back anytime soon. There is a mass exodus from MI. You'd be better off saving your pennies and buying a home in a more desirable location that doesn't require updating. Again, just my personal opinion. However, if you prefer to proceed in the renovation direction, kitchen and bathrooms still provide the best return on you money. As far as drywall versus tin ceiling, this depends on your budget and personal taste. It may not be someone else's cup of tea. High end appliances are nice but, may not match with the era of your home. I'd play it safe and keep renovations to a minimum until the economy recovers in 10yrs. or so.

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Old 09-08-2009, 10:53 AM  
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Ha! Yes, will the last one to leave Michigan please turn the lights off? Unfortunately, we recently exported our long-term depression to the rest of the country, so I'm not sure how much good it'll do to leave.

Thing is, it's because of the economy that I'm thinking more about staying put. I'm not sure our house would ever sell in it's current condition. We got the house for less than $95,000, and while we certainly haven't made any money on it, we are at least not upside down. But if it doesn't sell, we can't move.

It sounds like you're thinking more in terms of renovation only for the sake of resale, not personal preference, if at all. Thanks for the input.

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Old 09-08-2009, 12:51 PM  
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KatyE - I would, at the very least, do all critical maintenance. Things like roof leaks, exterior painting, etc. Keep the house weather tight.

Sorry to say, in the neighborhood as you describe, I would not be making big investments. if someone were looking for a house they would likely opt for something away from freeway, with better schools, in a growing community, without midcentry hack add-ons. There are a lot of houses on the market and buyers have their pick. Yours will be lower on the list.

On the other hand - If you are in love with the house and plan on staying a long time then go for it. Just keep in mind you likely will not likely recoup your investments in the near term, maybe never. Make sure you live within your means and you will be fine.

You may be interested in our show on Handyguys Podcast where we answer the question "is your house a money pit"

Episode #77 – Is Your House a Money Pit?


The Handyguys Podcast [url][/url]

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Old 09-08-2009, 04:48 PM  
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Hello KatyE:
I have been to Grand Rapids a few times and I think it is beautiful. I don't know about your neighborhood but lots of folks live near freeways; so many its not a stigma anymore.
Yes, you deserve the appliances you want and you deserve the tin ceiling. You go girl! It doesn't matter what the market is doing; it just matters that you can be happy with your house and kitchen. When it comes time that you want to move somewhere else, we'll work the details out then. Enjoy it while you can.

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