"Pick up your things," I hastily reminded my son as I paused in his doorway and scanned his messy bedroom, "the housekeepers come today."
"Already did it," Case said, throwing his comforter over his balled up sheets.
"You call that clean?" I pressed. "You've just moved your clothes from the floor to the bed." "
So?" he replied, gesturing at his less than stellar efforts, "you said to get my stuff off of the floor - and it's off."
Hmmm. . . That wasn't exactly what I had in mind. When it comes to the house (and the associated chores therein) it's no surprise that my son and I rarely see things the same way.
"Jeepers, creepers, where'd you'd get them peepers? Jeepers, creepers, where'd you get them eyes?"
In the world of Real Estate, it's not uncommon for people to see a property differently as well. Lately, I have spent a fair amount of time meeting with clients (and friends) to render an objective opinion about an upcoming renovation. Having toured thousands of homes, most Realtors (including myself) have a finely-tuned sense of the market trends and buyer expectations. (Currently, temperature-controlled wine rooms, large master suites and favorable "walk scores" curry strong interest.) Before undergoing the expense and inconvenience of a major makeover, it makes good sense (and cents) to bring in another set of trained eyes. (Happy to do it!)
"Should I landscape the garden?" (Yes!) "Should we add a bathroom?" (Yes!) "Should I remodel the kitchen?" (Yes!) Should we gut the house and totally renovate?" (Gulp!!!) That depends. How much do you plan to spend and how long do you plan to stay?
If you are inclined to move every few years (or your projected budget exceeds the GNP of a small island nation) you may well be spending more than you can quickly - or ever - recoup. For a few lucky lottery winners, that matters little but for most of us hard-working folks, it factors in quite heavily. Which makes this expensive decision worth exploring and investigating - before excitedly moving forward with your architect and designer's every suggestion.
On the other hand, if your the kind of homeowner who stays put, has already made plans for your newborn's garden wedding, and will retire in the same home - with grandchildren in tow - you have time on your side. Go ahead and create your dream castle. In fact, you are very likely to renovate more than once and why not? You aren't going anywhere and you're not selling. Renovate to your heart's content.
In the end, the decision "to renovate or not to renovate," might ultimately come down to how much you love your home (or its potential); how desirable is its location and its setting? Perhaps most importantly, will the coveted improvements be supported by the value of the neighboring homes AND ultimately, will they make you and your family happy? If the answer is yes, yes and emphatically, yes (!) it probably makes sense to stay put - even when you might spend dearly to do so.
If however, you are likely to still feel dissatisfied with the home or the location once the renovation is finished, it might be better to consider what the same amount of money might buy you in another neighborhood and in another home and leave the renovation to the next ambitious owner. Hey, it's your money and you may spend it as you like, but I am often amazed at the less-than-favorable choices homeowners make (pink bathtubs - really?) The truth is, that it is often more costly to make the wrong choices - so best to avoid making them in the first place. If my experience can help to clarify some of these decisions, that's all in a day's work for me. Please feel comfortable giving me a call.
I jokingly refer to myself as a serial renovator (and it's true). Having remodeled four homes in twelve years, I am once again weighing the pros and cons on yet another home renovation and collecting bids as we speak (I actually like looking at blueprints and architectural renderings). Dust and inconvenience be damned, I like selecting travertine and tiles. I like window catalogs. I like wood moldings, lighting fixtures, floor coverings, faucets, fabric swatches and new appliances. I like it all (except the costs)!
"Jeepers creepers, where'd you get them peepers? Jeepers, creepers, where' d you get them eyes?" I earned them - one house at a time.
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.