Pride and Joy - Page 2

Boosting your enjoyment of life—and the value of your real estate too—through smart home improvement
Pride and Joy
Pride and Joy
Pride and Joy
Improvements that can instantly add real-money value to your home: double-pane windows and sliders (center); insulated roofing systems (such as polyurethane foam) and bathroom remodel (top); and high-efficiency radiant-heat boiler (above)). Also on the list is a kitchen remodel.

For owners on the brink of selling, it's wise to consider only minimal improvements, and ones that will be cost effective, maximizing return upon the sale.

"Since they won't be enjoying the improvements themselves," says Swartz, "they want to only do those things that will…improve the salability or desirability of the home to potential buyers. In this market, it is a good idea to invest in cosmetic changes that improve the presentation of a home, such as painting, and replacing older flooring, outdated light fixtures, and untended landscaping.

"But it just doesn't make financial sense to undertake a large remodel just before selling. Taste is so subjective. It is often best to leave it [larger remodel projects, such as kitchens and baths] to the new buyers to make it their own."

Driving forces

There are many driving factors that motivate people to remodel. The first priority is anything that affects the home's function. Is your home in disrepair from years of neglect or deferred maintenance? Is your roof leaking, has the radiant heat stopped working, or is your siding victim to dry rot? That's where to start.

"Now, I want to be the first to say that if the toilet is not working properly, you don't just replace the entire bathroom," says Cindy Carey, co-owner and COO of Starburst Construction, based in San Jose. "You don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. However, if other things [in the bathroom] are starting to get dated or are not working properly, maybe you'll want to consider a more comprehensive project."

A desire for more space inspires many homeowners to catch the remodeling bug.

"Adding onto a mid-century modern home allows for that fourth bedroom, that master bathroom, that usable closet, that family room, or whatever else is lacking. Twenty-first century families have more stuff and use more space than mid-century families ever did," says architect John Klopf of San Francisco-based Klopf Architecture.

Chopped-up spaces are another great reason to remodel. Despite being open-plan houses, MCM homes are oftentimes made up of a number of maze-like and small, albeit highly efficient, spaces.

"In some ways these spaces reflect the traditions of the time and are largely obsolete today," Klopf says. "For example, the mostly closed-off galley kitchen worked fine when it was mom cooking for the family. But today's families often cook together, or entertain and cook at the same time, or they just want a feeling of togetherness as mom or dad cooks for the family."

Enlarging windows, opening up walls with sliding-glass doors, and installing skylights add to opening up the home's interior and connect it with the outdoors in an even greater way.

Pride and Joy
Three experts who know Eichlers: (L-R) Cindy Carey of Starburst Construction, John Klopf of Klopf Architecture, and Kevin Swartz of the Erdal Team.

A desire for an updated look, or to honor the spirit of the home's original architecture, is another major kick-starter. Many MCM homes have been poorly remodeled over the years in inappropriate styles. Remodeling is the time to remove the ugliness of Victorian crown molding, Bavarian woodcarvings, 1980s oak cabinets, and four-inch tile countertops with wide grout joints, and replace it with something more in line with the modernist style.

"A homeowner knows it's time to update if they're looking through magazines and ads, and see things that would help them have a more functional house and a more up-to-date look—[things] that would give them a greater passion for their home," adds Jeff Fracker of Transcontinental Construction Concepts, a general contractor who works on Eichlers and other MCM homes throughout Orange County.