Remodeling your home — if you do it right — can add to your enjoyment now and to your resale value later

This is my column for this week from the Arizona Republic (permanent link).

Remodeling your home — if you do it right — can add to your enjoyment now and to your resale value later

Removing interior walls and low ceilings can make your house feel more open — and more modern. Combined with other improvements — kitchen and bathroom remodeling and energy-efficient windows — opening up your floorplan can add substantially to your enjoyment of your home now, and to its resale value later.

Simply opening the kitchen up to the living and family rooms can make a huge difference. Modern homes are built around the “greatroom” concept, where the kitchen leads to an island which in turn leads to the entertainment space. Whether people are cooking, hanging out or watching television, family and guests are all together, rather than being isolated into separate spaces by function.

A common upgrade people will make to older homes is converting the carport into a garage. This is not a difficult change to make, but there are safety considerations: The door leading from the garage to the house should be fire-rated and self-closing to keep exhaust fumes out of the home.

People also try to convert carports to livable space, often to the home’s detriment. When you step down off the slab, you are stepping out of the house. If you want to convert a carport — or an existing garage or a patio — to livable space, you should start by pouring new slab to the same level as the rest of the home. This is not just a cosmetic issue. You need a better footing for the extra weight the slab will have to bear.

But that’s just the beginning. The walls will need to be built to the same insulation factor as the other exterior walls of the home. And the roof will need reinforcement — and insulation.

It’s not uncommon to see homes that have doubled in square footage by means of converting outdoor spaces to indoor spaces, sometimes with one vast converted patio leading to another. But if these additions are not built to the same standards as the rest of the home — and if they are not ducted to the central heating and air conditioning systems — appraisers will not evaluate them as livable space.

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