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Renovating this fall? Here’s what you need to know

Published: Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 11:18 a.m. CDT

More than half (52 percent) of homeowners plan to make a home improvement or addition this fall, according to the Zillow Digs Fall Home Improvement Trend and Spending Survey. Are you part of the majority? Here’s what you need to know:

How to get started

More than one-third of homeowners find inspiration online, and you should, too. Zillow Digs makes it easy. Users can browse more than 90,000 photos, share ideas, get estimated costs for kitchens and bathrooms, and even connect (via iPad or on the Web) with local home improvement professionals — for free.

What’s hot this fall

Many homeowners will be reworking their office areas (they want quiet, clean spaces that can be used for dual purposes — think an office that doubles as a guest bedroom), and as we transition from outdoor to indoor activities, they plan to spruce up their kids’ playrooms. According to members of the recently formed Zillow Digs Board of Designers, families want play spaces that keep the kids occupied as well as nearby areas for adults to stay active, such as a workout area or pool table.

Who to hire to do the job

Get bids from your top three contenders, and toss out the lowest bid. When a contractor comes in several thousand dollars cheaper than the next guy, there’s generally a reason for that. The contractor may use cheaper materials, or may start the project only to notify you down the line that it’s more extensive than originally assumed — and therefore more expensive. Ouch. Once you’ve selected your top contending contractors, see if they have Zillow Digs profiles so you can check out photos of their previous projects and get an idea of their style and quality of work.

Remodeling returns are up

After years of declining return on investment, remodeling has turned the corner this year. Owners nationwide are recouping 61 percent of remodeling costs when they sell, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value Report. The best return is on smaller projects and practical replacement jobs.

Related:

Vera Gibbons is a financial journalist based in New York City and is a contributor to Zillow Blog. Connect with her at http://veragibbons.com/.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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