Remodel & Renovate in 20147>Question Details

CubbieFan, Both Buyer and Seller in Stevensville, MD

Thinking of closing open foyer (2 kids)

Asked by CubbieFan, Stevensville, MD Thu Feb 21, 2013

I have a townhome with open foyer... never been fond of them, and now that kids are getting older, I am getting a bit nervous about them trying to play superman, since open foyer is open to... 2nd floor living room, separated only by 3 ft tall rail. So, we are thinking of two options:

1) Install higher rail, or put drywall up to close it.
2) Close the dang thing completly and add addtional 10x8 space to living room / office?

Question is... we need to renovate for current use, along with thinking to future when we need to sell the home. So, I wonder if buyers would look at it funny if other townhomes have open foyers, and our home does not? At the same time, not having open foyer means 80 additional sq feet! More efficient heating / cooling! No need to worry about kids playing superman.

What would realtors recommend?

Help the community by answering this question:


Wow, seems like opinion is split right in half... That's gonna make the decision even more difficult... =(
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 4, 2013
Hi - interestingly this came up in an article that I just read. It seems that the trend is for people to be more conscious of energy-efficiency and therefore not as interested in two story living spaces as they used to be.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 4, 2013
Take this one step at a time considering four factors: function, value/cost, financing, and scope of work:

Function: Enhancing safety for your children is a primary concern for you, and will be for future buyers with growing children so either solution could work to solve that issue.

Value Vs Cost: Most home improvements people invest in rapidly depreciate. Cost vs value reports show that to be true about replacing windows, remodeling kitchens, updating baths, installing a deck or patio, etc. The best return on investment is in enlarging living area of the inside of the home adding permanent value to your home, which appreciates with the market. So if you can add 80 sq ft at $125/sq ft and the appraised value is $175/sq ft you are enhancing your equity position now. If the market goes up 5% in the next couple of years that added value would be about $183/per sq ft.

Financing: If you don't have cash to do the larger project a good financing option could be an FHA renovation lending refinance of your home called a 203K. I have been involved in several fixer upper home purchases, and these projects have helped my clients build equity rapidly. Over time has gotten even better for them. With a 203k loan the bank refi's your existing loan, funds an escrow account for contractor draws, conducts reviews of the contractor plans, and does two appraisals (As Is and As If improved to your plans) to ensure the project is cost and value justified. The combination of that structure helps you avoid mistakes in doing projects that don't have a positive return on investment.

Scope of Work: Before you undertake either project consult a professional who can help you determine what modifications are accommodated by the load bearing members of the structure. Scope creep is something that can be avoided if you do this first when planning a structural modification. That can help you determine what you can afford whether you are self financing or borrowing funds for the project. Under the 203K loan contractor process it is much more difficult for the contractor to over-estimate cost or expand the scope of work. There are cost consultants that can help validate the work, plans, contractor proposal cost vs fair market cost of labor and materials in our area.

Hope this helps.



Alan Kroll
RE/MAX North Star
43130 Amberwood Plaza Suite 125
South Riding, VA 20152
Cell: 703-582-4217
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 22, 2013
I think extra square footage adds value as long as the modification is done professionally. Energy efficiency is important to ecologically minded buyers. Many people work from home and might appriciate the office.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 21, 2013
From what I have seen, the open foyer is very appealing to buyers these days. So if you were renovating for a resale soon, I would say put in the higher rail (presumably the least expensive option that can be undone at the lowest cost). But I wouldn't rule out the possibility that preferences could be different in 10 years. Ultimately, I would say you should make the modification that works best for you, and keep in mind that you may have to budget for undoing the mod when you sell the house.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 21, 2013
We are looking to stay in this home for another 8-10 years... so needing to appeal to buyer is a bit remote, but we will need to be able to sell this house someday. Just want to make sure that what we do today for our convenience does not negatively impact our ability to sell home years from now.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 21, 2013
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