The remodeling market is booming in the Twin Cities. Any doubts? Drive down just about any street in a coveted area—Edina, south Minneapolis, Highland Park, and many more—and you’ll see the dumpsters and remodelers’ yard signs sprouting like early crocus. And quantitative indicators reinforce that impression: The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, which keeps tabs on home improvement dollars spent in 43 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, projects spending will increase 6.8 percent in 2017. In select areas, including Minneapolis, the increase over 2016 will top 10 percent.
It’s not surprising. Encouraged by rising home values—prices for existing homes in the metro are up nearly 5 percent over last year to a median of $220,000, according to the latest data from Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors—many homeowners conclude the old place just may be worth improving. Likewise, when buyers do find properties that meet some of the non-negotiables on their list—the space, the charm, the walkability—they may opt for making improvements rather than continuing
By definition, home improvement projects increase a home’s value, though most return only a portion of their cost when it comes time to sell. Remodeling magazine’s annual “Cost Vs. Value Report” is instructive here. Some of the sexiest projects offer the least stellar returns: an upscale major kitchen remodel returns 58 percent of its initial cost when it comes time to sell. The improvements with the best ROI in the Minneapolis area? Fiberglass attic insulation (returns 88 percent on an average cost of $1,442) and exterior stone veneer (returns 76 percent on an average cost of $7,896). But, for most of us, the payoff for an updated kitchen that creates a natural gathering place for family and friends or a new mudroom that corrals the mess of a Minnesota winter is about more than dollars. It’s about living in spaces that fit our lives.
The stories of homeowners on the following pages show how it’s done. They made savvy remodeling decisions, set realistic budgets and expectations, and hired professional teams of designers, architects, and builders to bring it all home. The new spaces fit—and those are returns you can bank on.
By Chris Lee. Photo by Spacecrafting