Home Buying in 92651>Question Details

Sean Carter, Home Buyer in Laguna Beach, CA

What is the first thing to look at when considering upgrading a home that was build and not remodeled since 1977.?

Asked by Sean Carter, Laguna Beach, CA Fri Jan 14, 2011

How much to spend on a remodel....
What is the major things to look at in a remodel

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I suggest you have a home inspector out and determine what functional issues may be lurking (in the same vein as Edward's answer). After you have fixed/updated all items that impact functionality I would have to say that removing "popcorn" ceiling (if applicable) is a must and then I would go right to the kitchen and kitchen appliances.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 1, 2011
The house has not been upgraded since '77? All of these answers have been good. But from my point of view the first things to do is upgrade your furnace, water heater etc. Those appliances have reached the end of the their life span. Electric service upgrade is also essential. Remodeling is nice and fun but what's the point if your electrical system is from the disco era. Your system is not designed for today's usage. Have it assessed by a licensed electrician. Then you can the fun stuff of remodeling.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 18, 2011
Hi Sean,

I know we've talked, but I noticed this question. so....

Given where you are, maximize the view. One problem with the older homes is small windows and lack of light. So open up the view, add/increase windows and let in the light. Since you are near the ocean, make sure and insulate too, so you don't get too hot watching the sunset. I'm jealous!

I would also consider knocking down some walls and creating a open floorplan if it isn't already built that way. And today's buyer (and I realized you are planning to live there) want nice upgraded kitchens and spa-type bathrooms.

Can't wait to see how this turns out.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 18, 2011
If you're going to be in the home for awhile (5 years+), forget about improving the value of the home and start with remodel projects that meet your personal needs. Be selfish. If you want a new garage, start with that. If you want a garden or a bidet in the master bathroom, go ahead with it. You can add value later, when you are getting closer to selling. A home doesn't have to be just a cold, impersonal investment, it should be countoured to the way you live your life. However, for homes over 30 years old, you might want an inspector to go through it and find out what is wearing out. The roof, wiring and plumbing might all need updating before they cost you a lot in repairs.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
Hi Sean,
If you are purchasing a home you and your agent will most likely have it inspected by a certified inspection company prior to closing escrow. This can be a good guide for you to determine what needs to be done, and then what you would love to do. The obvious things are the roof, safe electrical and good plumbing. From there, it really depends on what is important to you. From a selling standpoint the same basics apply, from there it really helps to make a home look as "turnkey" as possible.
I live and work in Laguna Beach and know the area and the homes very well, if I can be of help.
Ellen Bosworth
Surterre Properties
Laguna Beach
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
Hi Sean,
Are you remodeling to continue to live in the property? If you are staying and plan to be there a long time, then make it just the way you want! If you are asking for resale value; plumbing should really still be fairly fine at this point but you should have it checked out. Main items for resale would be; Windows, Kitchen, Bath, Air/heating. Most people I think can see beyond the other cosmetic stuff. Good curb appeal is also important so maybe replanting is in order. If you can do much of the work yourself; then you can do it all and expect to see some profit from it. If you cannot do some of it yourself, definately have a Realtor over to let you know what they think the price will be after repairs; and "as is" You may ifnd that remodeling is not the way to go in that case.
Good luck to you,
Connie Bramble
Prudential CA Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
It depends on your objective.

If you have not had a home inspection or termite inspection recently get those first. They may reveal areas which need to be addressed before cosmetic improvements or along with them.

What is going on in the neighborhood and how will your home compare to other homes. You don't want to over improve, as you will not recoup the full value.

Meet with a couple real estate agents and they will be happy to consult with you on the biggest improvements for your dollar. Usually you start with repairs, roof, windows, plumbing and electrical, kitchen and baths, and don't forget curb appeal and landscaping. When upgrading your finish work choose materials which most likely will last through what would be a style definer. Wood floors are most nearly timeless. The permanent big ticket items should not be trendy. It you want trend, do this through wall color and accessories.

California has a new law regarding lead paint and when you are scraping a pre 1978 home your painter is to be certified to insure they can do this to standards and proper disposal. Also, some ceilings have asbestos, same situation, do it right. Get permits.
Web Reference: http://terrivellios.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011

I grew up in So. Cal in the Residential Building ind. (I know, BIG Deal!!!) Ha,ha

Below are a lot of great suggestions. IMO, the 1st major thing is the Neighborhood it is located in. That will help determine how much your budget will be and how extensive you want to remodel. Personally, I would stay comfortably beneath the Budget even if I inherited the House. (Don't go all HGTV and Ty Pennington on it!)
2nd thing is the BIG 3 the Roof, Mechanicals and Plumbing. These Must be Tip Top or the other upgrades will be in vain upon resale.

Good Luck, I sure miss the warm Cali Sun!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
Hi Sean

Houses built prior to 1978 may have lead based paint? That is one thing I would make sure is corrected. You always want to have a good foundation and wall structure. Have a specialist check that out prior to doing any construction. From there it just depends on what you want to work on first. Having a specialist in plumbing, electrical, interior decorating and roofing is alwaysa good idea. If you have any other questions just let me know.

Mikey Bente
Realty Executives
Dana Point
714 393 6486
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
The most popular and most used rooms are the kitchen and baths. You can have lots of fun remodeling these rooms and spend more than you planned. What are your goals and/or your budget? Do you need a granite counter or would laminate work; there are plenty of new styles and colors. What about the cabinets...could they be painted and new hardware added or purchase a maple cabinet and stain with a color more to your liking. The kitchen and bath is a good start for everyone to enjoy!

There is a brand new article in Remodeling Magazine that discusses cost vs. value. I've attached the link below. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
Hi Sean Carter
If this particular home was built in 1977 it should have a good architectural design probably built in a tract home, the first thing I would do is remodel the kitchen and baths, because bedrooms, living room, dining room are standard, and also your budget..Please provide more details about this particular project of yours and I can help you more.
I am a Building Designer and a general contractor since 1982 and a Real Estate Broker since 1986. You must look at the present value of your home and maybe add a 2nd story to the house. there are so many things to improve the value of your home. Always call a license general contractor to pull permits and this way you will increase the value of your home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
That's a pretty general question and costs will vary greatly depending on the size of the house, and what you're intending to do with it. For example, are you buying it to live in for a long time? Or are you buying it as an investment and plan on selling soon? (if it's fix & flip, you're probably not going to want to invest in high end upgrades where you're going to get limited ROI)

The very basic things you'll want to consider first are: electric, water, sewer, heating & cooling systems. Then take a look at roof & windows. Once those are replaced, repaired, etc. then you can think about things like bathrooms & kitchen, flooring, etc. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
If the "bones" are good, e.g. foundation, roof, no termite damage, floors, etc., then both the kitchen and bathrooms will be where you want to concentrate your efforts. Both will yield a good return and are some of the first and most outstanding items a potential buyer will want to see, assuming you are upgrading in order to resell.

Also, the curb appeal of the property is extremely important. Many folks will not want to go inside a property if they are not impressed from the car window, even if the inside is gorgeous. A fresh coat of paint and landscaping do wonders.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
Hi Sean,

I take it you just bought a fixer. I would recommend getting professional advice from several licensed contractors and get several bids. Also always use referrals. If you would like a few names please give me a call of email me. You want to make sure you are getting solid advice. 949-201-6887
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
Hi Sean,

It depends what your motivation is. If you're looking to upgrade so you can sell it for a much higher price, you have to be mindful of the fact that the value of the house only rises a moderate percentage, in comparison to what you spent on the upgrades. Bottom line, it's still the same house, in the same neighborhood, and the same square footage. You never recoup anywhere near the full value of the upgrades. And even if you get a great price way over the comps, the buyer will have a hard time getting it to appraise.

However, if you're upgrading with plans to keep the house, I would get several quotes, check references, etc. Everything should be permitted, for your own safety, as well as for the possibility of selling in the future (or you, yourself, refinancing). For instance, certain loan-types (such as FHA) will have possible deal-killing loan restrictions if you have unpermitted additions.

If you need additional information, or professional referrals, please go to the "Information Center" section of my website. Or, feel free to call me anytime. I'm here to help!

Steve Smith
Broker / Owner
Highcrest Real Estate & Mortgage
(949) 322-4491
Web Reference: http://www.HighcrestRE.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
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