As you design a custom home for your family or a major remodel, it’s hard not to think about how the house will sell when it’s time to move on. But we think you should keep your own needs at the front of your mind, design a knockout house that fits your needs, and trust that the quality and attractiveness of the home that you build will appeal to buyers down the road.
As Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report demonstrates every year, almost no remodeling project will return 100 percent or more of what you spend, so it really doesn’t make sense to invest in a major project solely for the purpose of increasing your home’s resale value. Of course, in the shorter term, you should fix what’s broken and refresh what’s outdated so that prospective buyers won’t be turned off.
At COOPER Design Builders, we believe that the projects we undertake with our clients should be to fit a home to the family’s way of living. Investing in an upgrade to your lifestyle, making your home easier to live in and more fun to invite friends over to, will pay back nonmonetary dividends for years.
So if your kitchen is the hub around which your family’s day turns, design it to work that way for you. And if you can’t imagine living in Portland without incorporating the outdoors into your lifestyle at home, go ahead and invest in that outdoor kitchen and living space.
There Are Buyers for That
We believe you will find that when you finally do decide to move out of your house, there will be buyers out there who can envision living their lives in the home that you designed for your own family, and they will be willing to pay handsomely if you invested in high-quality materials and workmanship in the first place.
All that having been said, let’s talk about the areas where it makes sense to spend a bit more, both for your own enjoyment and quality of life as well as for a future buyer’s.
Building a home that consumes less is becoming easier all the time, with the proliferation of energy-saving large and small appliances, light bulbs, thermostats, and water fixtures. Also, smart design can make the most of solar heat in the winter (on those days when the sun peeks through) and shading of the sun in the summer. Additionally, high-quality windows and high levels of insulation save energy, and something as simple as making sure the joints in the ducts that carry air through your home are fully sealed can lead to significant savings. Finally, building products made of recycled and nontoxic materials contribute to the making of a green home. In the Pacific Northwest, more and more new homes are being built “green,” and in January 2018, the city of Portland started requiring every home going on the market to have a certified energy score to let buyers know what they were getting.
Windows fill your home with light and connect you visually to the world outside, so including as many as possible in your design can enhance your quality of life, despite their cost. Because glass is a poor insulator, and 25 to 30 percent of a typical home’s heating and cooling costs are attributable to heat loss or gain through windows, investing in high-quality windows can make a big difference.
Energy-efficient windows cut down on heat transfer in a variety of ways, and you should spend some time in research. The type of frame, the low-emissivity coating on the glass, the type of gas between the panes, and even the style of opening – sliding, fixed, casement, double-hung, etc. – all contribute to the efficiency of a window. High-quality windows can be expensive, but they will save you energy and increase your comfort level, and you won’t need to replace them for many years, if ever.
Despite the increase in high-quality options for wood-like flooring materials -- such as laminate, vinyl, porcelain tile, and engineered hardwood -- many people still believe that there’s nothing better than real hardwood floors. If you feel that way, and you can afford it, include wood floors in your home design. You will enjoy them every day, and when it’s time to sell, many buyers who place hardwood floors on their wish lists will appreciate your choice.
As mentioned above, you should design your kitchen for the way you live, whether it’s as a busy family with a need to accommodate several people doing a variety of tasks, or a couple or single person with a penchant for gourmet cooking and entertaining. Consider installing countertops of stone or other high-quality material and undermount sinks, high-end tile floors, layered lighting with unique fixtures, and premium appliances from companies such as Sub-Zero, Miele, or Thermador. They will make your life easier and will stand the test of time, and they’ll catch the eye of a buyer.
And There’s More
Other home features that might be important to you, and will attract buyers in the future, include:
- A luxurious master suite with a spa-like bathroom: Such a suite will be an oasis for you and can include features such as a fireplace, sitting area, bar, spacious walk-in closet with built-in cabinetry, double vanities, quality fixtures, heated floor, separate water closet, soaking tub, steam shower, and a luxury-tiled shower enclosure with rainshower or multiple shower heads.
- Outdoor living space: You’re in the Pacific Northwest; enjoy the natural beauty. Your living space outdoors will reflect your priorities. It could be a cozy place to gather with friends around a fire pit, a lush landscaped yard, a flower and vegetable gardener’s paradise, a gourmet outdoor kitchen, or a covered outdoor living room with all the amenities including fireplace, TV, sound system and lighting.
- A finished basement for what’s important in your life: With insulation, moisture-control measures, flooring, walls, and egress windows, that unused space can be turned into a home theater, second family room, guest suite, game room, home gym, wine cellar, or any combination of the above.
- Quality landscaping.
- An entryway that makes your guests happy they have walked up to your front door: This could be a simple front porch or portico that will shelter guests from the weather or a grand entryway that ushers visitors into a grander front room with vaulted ceiling and a showcase stairway.
- An open floor plan, if it makes sense for you.
- High-quality lighting, designed attractively and intelligently.
- Universal design: The concept here is to make a house easier for aging and mobility-limited people to live in while also improving the quality of life for visitors and family members with all types of physical abilities. Some examples of universal design include wide doorways and halls, augmented but dimmable lighting, rocker light switches, lever door handles, no-threshold shower entries and doorways, countertops and vanities of varying heights, and no-touch faucets.
Keep It Nice
Once you have built a home that you will love, you’ll need to make the effort to keep it up so that a buyer will love it, too, several years from now. That means keeping up with basic maintenance such as cleaning, repainting, fixing leaks, checking heating and cooling systems, and inspecting windows and doors for proper fit and function. Making minor repairs along the way can save major headaches and costs when it’s time to sell.