Real Estate agents and contractors like to talk about upgrading and remodeling your home to increase its value. Get an estimate from any remodeling contractor on just about any project, and you are likely to hear about the wonderful value the project will add to your home. Just like the sales pitch to promote swapping out your heating and cooling system for a new, more efficient system. When you do a cost analysis across the board you’ll find that it can take 10 or 20 years to recover the cost to replace the system with the savings in energy costs. As long as you know the story before you spend the money, it’s fine.
Let’s look at a new deck as an example. We’ll take the average 16 foot by 20 foot composite deck built in Virginia, using all mid-range materials and design aspects for construction. A simple design, simple railings, with pressure treated framing materials and composite decking and rails. The average price from a contractor would be about $16,000, while the project would add an average of about $9,200 to the value of your home. Don’t get too hung up on the numbers here. These are only averages for illustration purposes and regardless of how accurate they are or are not, (though they come from a compilation of data from over 23 government agency building departments) the point they make is irrefutable. In this example, the deck cost $6,800 more than it added in home value, and each year that passes will see that value continue to depreciate. Again the actual numbers are not that important here. The point being made is that the money you pay to the contractor for his labor, overhead and profit do not get added to the value of your home. While the deck may increase the value of your home, it decreases your net worth. For the sake of this article, we’re leaving out the considerations for enjoyment of use, as well as maintenance and upkeep expenses.
There is a way to add value to your home, and increase your net worth at the same time, if you know how. Do it yourself. Sounds simple, no? What if you do not have the knowledge, skills or tools to build a new deck? There are home improvement coaching services available if you know where to look.