What Makes Your Historic Home Renovation Cost Effective?

Feb 23, 2016 8:30:00 AM Christina Wilson

 Owners of historic DC brick homes are frequently tackling a renovation project. Many of these projects are designed to achieve period authenticity and style; others are geared more toward increasing the value of the real estate. Not all home improvement projects are equally cost effective.

Every historic home comes with a to-do list of repairs and upgrades. A challenge to owners is to determine what any of them should cost or which should come first. One very helpful resource is Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value Reports, which compare average cost for popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 101 U.S. cities. Here are three factors to consider in prioritizing your renovations:

Return on Investment

Renovation or upgrade projects rarely recover 100% of the cost incurred. You can get the best return on your investment by carefully selecting the right projects.The Cost vs. Value 2015 Report gives data on job cost, resale value, and costs recouped for specific remodeling projects. For a complete list of the Washington DC projects rated and C/V ratios, see the Cost vs. Value report for the South Atlantic Region. Here is an example:

Minor kitchen remodel - replace cabinet fronts and countertops, install new hardware, replace appliances, repaint,  and remove and replace flooring - recoups 96% of the cost

Major kitchen remodel - redesign of space; replace cabinets, appliances, build island, add custom lighting;  remove and replace flooring - recoups 61%

Neighborhood Market

Whatever renovation you undertake, the ultimate increase in value to your home will depend a lot on the other homes in your neighborhood. Avoid projects that will require you to price your home out of the local market to recoup your investment. And remember, some projects, like kitchen remodels, may make your home more marketable, but will not necessarily yield a higher sales price. If you are thinking about renovating your historic DC brick home in hopes of increasing its market value start with your realtor. Real estate agents know the neighborhoods, have access to comparable sales and can advise about specific renovations.

Curb Appeal

Many low to moderately priced projects that improve exterior curb appealare solid investments. Front door replacements, garage doors and refurbished exterior facades, including walkways, and entry steps influence a buyer’s first impression. Inside the home, consider simple improvements—new appliances and countertops, new cabinet hardware, and fresh paint and flooring—rather than the grand renovations.

Renovating a historic home inside a historic district, whether in preparation for sale or not - can be an intimidating process. For information on permitting and architectural styles and material, contact the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.


 Renaissance Development, a leader in historic preservation, specializes in the repair and restoration of historic DC brick buildings. We love old homes and are committed to preserving their historic charm and value. If your renovation plan includes masonry or brick repair, contact usfor a free site visit and project quote.

Categories: Restoration

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