S.A.“Sam” Jernigan: 2016 Cost vs. Value Report — see which home improvements deliver $ignificant bottom-line equity increases | TheUnion.com

S.A.“Sam” Jernigan: 2016 Cost vs. Value Report — see which home improvements deliver $ignificant bottom-line equity increases

S.A. Sam Jernigan
A new report offers information on which home improvement projects return the biggest bang for the buck in terms of home equity.
Graphic by S.A. “Sam” Jernigan |

Finally, the thumping and zzz’ing of hammers and saws can be heard once again here in western Nevada County.

And it’s that way across the nation, as we collectively exhale following the dark and remodeling-stalled years of the downturn.

But since deferred home maintenance can only be deferred for so long, here’s a timely tool for helping you decide how to wisely allocate your casa fix-up dollars.

Every year, Remodeling Magazine, in cooperation with the National Association of Realtors, researches and compiles a comprehensive assessment of 30 home improvement projects in terms of their impact on sales prices nationally.

Entitled the “Cost vs. Value Report,” the 2016 edition of this invaluable resource was just published this month:


While national trends and aggregate numbers are interesting, the most actionable information is gleaned by drilling into the Sacramento report specifically.

To do so, first select Pacific as the region, and then you’ll see the metro area links listed below.

The report provides the average cost of a specific job, its impact to a home’s resale value, and the percentage of return on investment for the homeowner.

You can also see how our region compares both to the entire western part of the U.S. as well as nationally.

For example, top winners in our neck of the woods are fiberglass attic insulation, delivering 120.8 percent of the project’s cost, garage door replacement 114.3 percent, the addition of manufactured stone veneer 110.4 percent, the replacement of (wood) windows 99.4%, and minor kitchen remodels delivering a 93.7 percent return. Beyond percentages though are the good ole’ bottom line benefits.

For example, a major kitchen remodel is currently averaging $66,211 regionally and adds a whopping $49,940 to a home’s resale value, whereas the “minor kitchen remodel” is $22,339 and delivers $20,928 in increased equity on average.

Many of us here in the Foothills want to stay put in our idyllic settings, so adding square footage when your just-right home needs to grow a bit makes good sense — and this strategy is validated by the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report as well.

For example, the addition of a master bedroom suite may set you back $131,075 on average, but will deliver an additional $89,858 in equity to you upon completion. Similarly, the addition of a bathroom may run you $87,560, but may return $50,853 in increased value to your home.

Unless you’re a skilled DIY’er, I always recommend using licensed contractors.

Due diligence is surely advisable in this key aspect of your planning process. So after gathering recommendations or undertaking your own research (including our excellent Nevada County Contractors Association, http://www.NCCAbuildingpros.com), do take two minutes to independently confirm the status of their license as well as bond with the State of California’s Contractors State License Board via their easy to use online license look-up tool which can search by contractor’s name, company name or their license number:


Lastly, do consider utilizing 3D space planning to test drive your ideas on paper BEFORE you build. I designed my own residence here in Grass Valley via these digital tools and served as my own general contractor (e.g. owner/builder) — and my careful preplanning resulted in zero change orders during my home’s construction. If you’re not familiar with this “change order” term, it refers to any significant alteration made to the specifications of your original plans which can not only incur upcharges by your contractor — but, worse yet, can create chaos in what should be a well-orchestrated scheduling of trades who typically need to proceed in a certain sequence on a construction project.

One such delay may result in a project halting altogether when it’s suddenly determined changes need to be made, often requiring alternative materials to be ordered which may not be in stock and/or will require time to ship.

In turn, this delay might then result in, say, the tile contractor not being available to return to the job for 1.5 months or similar such snagged scenarios.

Our homes are typically our most significant investment.

Now that the economic dust has finally settled, let’s get back to keeping them in good nick as those peeling shutters aren’t going to paint themselves.

And ditto re: the other maintenance tasks that may have been accumulating on your To Do list for the last handful of lean years.

So check out the Cost vs. Value Report for its quantitative research and plan accordingly to ensure your home’s value continues to increase alongside your homeowner happiness.

(Ms.) S.A. “Sam” Jernigan, Interior Designer, IFDA, of Renaissance Design Consultations in Grass Valley (www.RdesignConsultations.com) has over 20 years experience providing design consultation and 2D/3D space planning on an hourly basis. She has frequently been quoted as a design expert in articles for AOL, FoxNews.com, Bed, Bath & Beyond, BobVila.com, the National Home Furnishings Assoc., et al. Visit her website to learn more or phone 530.362.1339.

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