Things to Consider Before You Remodel

February 9th, 2012 by The Responsibility Project

From prioritizing renovations to choosing a contractor.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

A home update adds to your quality of life – and you may recoup some of the cost if you sell. But should you shell out money to remodel or move altogether? Homeowners have debated those options for decades, and in a bad economy, people are more likely to stay put. The Wall Street Journal reports that Americans changed residences less often last year than at any time since 1948.

Lisa Chalem understands. “It’s smarter for us to stay where we are,” the Chicago homeowner says. “No matter what we spend on remodeling, it won’t equal what it would cost to start over. We do one project at a time.”

Here, you’ll find helpful advice to keep in mind about what return to expect on popular improvements and how to choose a contractor.

How much of your investment can you recoup?

Here’s the latest scoop on returns for midrange home improvement projects from Remodeling magazine and the National Association of Realtors. If you pay $21,411 for a minor kitchen remodel, for example, you can expect it to be worth $16,765 (78.3%) when you sell your home. The following are additional average returns on common home improvement projects, and for more stats, including results in your city, visit

Wood deck addition: 80.6%
Minor kitchen remodel: 78.3%
Bathroom remodel: 71%
Family room addition: 65.3%
Master suite addition: 65.2%

How do you choose a contractor?

You’ve decided to add pizzazz to your kitchen, or maybe you want to update a bathroom. How do you find the right professional to handle the project? The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends the following before hiring a contractor:

• Seek recommendations from others and look at examples of the contractor’s work. Projects should be similar to yours in scope and detail.

• Check references from homeowners, builder organizations, consumer affairs offices and the Better Business Bureau.

• Request documentation to verify that the contractor carries all necessary licenses and insurance, including workers’ compensation.

• Ask who will actually do the work in your home, and make sure the contract outlines what safety measures they’ll employ.

Visit for a list of additional questions to ask before hiring a contractor, and protect your remodeling investment by visiting Liberty Mutual’s Home Insurance page and contacting your Liberty Mutual representative to update your policy.