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Live Well for Less

Want to beat the high cost of living in the Islands? Move to Minneapolis. Barring that, you can read this story, which has ideas on how to stretch your dollar.


(page 6 of 9)


Remodeling: Smart Add-Ons

Bathrooms: Ideally, there will be at least two bathrooms in a house, preferably two and a half. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, enlarged bathrooms are the most popular attraction for new home buyers. Other additions, such as sunken whirlpool baths and showers, are popular with younger buyers. But be sure to install modest, solid amenities. It’s easy to over-spend on bathroom fixtures.

Bedrooms: Real estate agents say that most buyers ask for three- and four-bedroom houses, so staying within that range you will have more potential buyers when it comes time to resell.

Closets: Walk-ins, especially those with built-in wardrobe shelving, are desirable for the master bedroom. For the rest of the house, just be sure there is plenty of closet space, including room for linens and towels.

Floors and walls: Replacing worn carpet, tiles or wood floors, as well as outdated paint on the walls, can give your home an immediate advantage over similar properties in the area.

Kitchens: Newly redone cooking spaces and cabinets attract more buyers and may command a slightly higher price for the home. Sellers used to always get back what they invested in a full kitchen remodel, but with today’s midrange kitchen remodel easily costing more than $50,000, the chances of recouping all the money are slim.

Windows: New windows show that the house has been upgraded and suggest energy efficiency, along with lower energy bills.


DON’T Don’t go overboard: Just concentrate on improving two or three deficiencies in your home.

DO Protect your home’s character: Nothing sticks out more than a new addition that is in a completely different architectural style. Stay true to your home’s character.

DO Keep it simple: Basic repairs that are made to last will bring you the biggest returns upon sale. In some cases, owners are more likely to get back what they put in by simply sprucing up rooms with a new coat of paint.

DON’T Don’t take a dive: Swimming pools can be a poor investment; it’s rare that a pool’s cost will be recovered in a home sale. It can also be a negative feature for buyers with young children.

DO Switch perspectives: Look at your home as though you were the buyer. Chances are that if you find the upstairs bedroom could be brightened by a larger window, others will feel the same.

DO Hire a licensed contractor: Licensed contractors are evaluated by the state of Hawaii Contractor’s License Board, which ensures that they have the necessary training, experience and qualifications to do the job right. Plus, they are able to obtain and sign correct building permits.

DON’T Don’t get building permits: Do not obtain an owner-builder permit if you are planning to sell soon. Structures cannot be sold or leased until at least one year after completing your improvements and a valid notice of completion has been filed.

>>  Love the One You’re With

You love the home or neighborhood you’re in, but need more space. Here’s how to maximize what you’ve got. By Aimee Harris

Build Up

Julie Meier expanded her living space by investing in “the mack daddy of all grills” to create an outdoor kitchen/entertainment area.

If your home is a single-story one, could you add another story? According to Hanley Wood’s Cost vs. Value Report, it’s among the best returns on remodeling investments in Hawaii. A second story is estimated to cost $122,085, but the value added to your home— $123,969—more than recoups the cost. Other best investments include adding a lanai ($16,297 cost estimated, and the value of the home goes up $14,846), and remodeling your bathroom ($14,889, and the value goes up $15,631).

Consider swapping yard space for another “room,” by adding an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area.

For example, homeowner Julie Meier decided to invest in the “mack daddy of all grills”: a Viking 41-inch Ultra-Premium Grill. She and her husband also replaced their careworn lawn with a modest, lagoon-like pool, with waterfall and tropical landscaping. The home’s large sliding doors create an indoor-outdoor transition to the backyard.

“We are outdoors more now than we have ever been before,” Meier says. “We look forward to coming home. At least twice a week we’re outside cooking.” Meier notes that the cost of extending her living space to the outdoors was far less than the value it added to the home, both financially and in terms of the couple’s enjoyment of their home.

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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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