July 17, 2018

Architect Advice Part 1: Make Smart Remodel Choices!

Entry FoyerSo, you want to remodel. One question many have is: How much, if anything, should I do, and will it be a net gain financially? More important: What are the areas on which I need to focus?

At DCRegionRealestate.com, we’ve already warned that sellers can’t expect to get all their money back for every upgrade. However, when you do make those improvements for your own enjoyment, it makes sense to consider how they will affect your homes resale value in the future.

Here we bring you another perspective on remodels—not from a builder or an agent, but from an architect.

Liz Craver, principal at Craver Architects in Alexandria, has for more than 20 years participated in projects that range from Formula 1 race tracks and baseball stadiums to courtrooms. For the past 15 years, however, her focus has been on residential projects and small retail spaces. She has some specific thoughts on the best approaches for improvements.

Hollin Hills Addition Deck

“Overwhelmingly, most resale improvement efforts are focused on the kitchen and baths for good reason,” she says. “Families live and work together differently now than they did when much of the local housing stock was built in the ‘50s and ‘60s.”

She emphasized that for the older Cape Cod and colonial-style homes that dominate much of the area, that enlarging the kitchen and opening them up to living and dining areas is a good start.

“In the mid-century modern homes, which already come with an open concept plan, creating a master suite might make the most sense for improving value,” Liz says.

All of this is a focus that has simply changed with the times.

“We’ve seen the need for formal dining rooms and separate, Jacuzzi-style tubs falling by the wayside for years,” she added, as these are places to “recapture space” in the home. “There is also renewed interest in ‘mudrooms,’ but now with higher quality finishes, that integrates the space into more public entry areas.”

When clients approach Liz, she says, she takes a close look at what needs refreshing versus reworking, and this assessment—along with determining the main focus—are the most important steps.

Music Room 1“Next, they should spend time brainstorming, sketching, and discussing needs, current housing trends, and priorities,” she says. “This clarifies the game plan for all the work that follows.”

Of course, all structures vary. Some call for restructuring or a new addition, but others may not.

“Often, small adjustments like moving a door to consolidate circulation are all that’s necessary,” Liz says. “Clients making improvements for resale are looking to get the best return on their investment quickly; so smart, well-informed choices are critical.”

If you’re looking for an architect’s perspective on your home or more information, please visit the Craver Architects website or contact them at 703-765-2780. You may also view their page on Facebook or at Houzz.com.

Stay tuned for the concluding part of our conversation with Liz so you can avoid some of the biggest mistakes that people make when deciding to remodel.


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