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How to get the most bang for your buck in remodeling

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When it comes to remodeling, there are plenty of ideas about where you should put your money and how much you can expect to get back on it. Some say kitchens, some say bathrooms, others say family rooms.

The person who knows best what your house needs is you, maybe with the advice of a real estate agent or architect. Contractors may overstate how much you'll get back from what you spend.

Few remodeling projects add as much to the value of a house as they cost. The key to planning should be to make the house more liveable for yourself rather than to spend extravagantly on a feature that may or may not interest a future buyer.

Most buyers have a checklist of must-haves. Anything not on the checklist, even something attractive like a solarium, won't be highly valued. If resale is a primary concern, stick to the basics. A unique home takes longer to sell and may bring a lower price than a conventional home.

Adding a bathroom puts your home into a higher tier of properties in the minds of home buyers with checklists. But there is no need to make it fancy, say home designers at All-Pro Home Services in Royal Oak, Mich. An expensive whirlpool will not reap a good return.

As you remodel, architects advise that it's important to preserve your home's character. If you have a two-story home, make a two-story addition. You'll need a foundation and a roof anyway, and the cost of the additional floor will not be great.

Think ahead of how you will use the new space. Is there a place for kids to drop their backpacks? Is there a walk-in pantry? If little things matter to you, they will probably matter to the next owner as well.

Always think of yourself as a consumer of housing and as a would-be seller. Wearing both hats, you can make smart choices and happy compromises. That's how to be a good remodeler, say a collection of experts quoted in Business Week.

Long Island Money & Careers Articles > How to get the most bang for your buck in remodeling

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