This ONE Kitchen Renovation Brings Big Returns

How to get above 100% ROI on a Kitchen Renovation

The One Kitchen Renovation that returns over 100% ROI.

Any major kitchen renovation can cost tens of thousands of dollars. And while you may love the end result, your home’s valuation may not.

It’s not to say you can’t just renovate your kitchen because you want to. It’s your house. You can do whatever you want. But if you’re about to renovate your kitchen, or even pondering it – and you want to do it in a way that gives you more enjoyment, and returns your investment – how do you go about this?

For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on the unusually bold claim of getting a big return on a kitchen renovation. With the average ROI of kitchen renovations (according to a multitude of renovation surveys) ranging from between 60% to 80%, it’s important to know when and what to do. Essentially, the bigger the renovation, the lower the return.

Throughout the Bethesda, Rockville, and Silver Spring areas — there are many older homes that lend themselves to getting a 100% + ROI. But only if you approach the renovation right.

If you’re kitchen is closed off from the rest of the house, you’re in the sweet spot for a positive ROI renovation

Older Galley Kitchen Before Renovation

The kitchen above is very typical of many homes in the DC Metro area. The kitchen is closed off from dining room on one side, and the family and hangout room on the other side. The kitchen countertops are also old and outdated. This picture doesn’t show it, but the ceiling was textured and had one light. The tiles were also old, but lowest on the list of what would bring a big return.

The wall holding the cabinets is not load bearing. So the perfect scenario exists to renovate this kitchen by removing the cabinets and wall above the existing countertops on the dining room side. Where this renovation can rapidly lose value is by paying to take out the old kitchen cabinets and replacing them with new ones.

If you want a positive ROI, don’t do this. Leave the existing cabinets. Have them repainted and change the hardware.

Countertops were replaced with quarts countertops. And the floor tiling was redone. And the biggest splurge was the tile backsplash added throughout. Now in this case, they had laminate matching the countertops on the walls. So something had to be done anyway. And in the end, for the best look and long term maintenance, the backsplash tiles made the most sense.

The end result is the picture at the top, and from the other view – matching the Before picture…

Older Kitchen Before Renovation.

Older Kitchen After Renovation and Opening Up Wall.

For lighting, this kitchen smoothed out the textured ceiling in the kitchen and added four recessed lights. And instead of taking one of the refinished kitchen cabinets and hanging it on the side wall, they chose shelving to hold glasses and wine glasses (and wine bottles on top). One additional splurge was adding the modern chandelier. But at $200, that’s a reasonable cost to add a little something extra.

The house was painted from the kitchen over to the dining room and around to the entire main living area.

So let’s review all that was done in this renovation:

  • Kitchen wall and cabinets removed
  • Kitchen cabinets repainted and new hardware added
  • Kitchen ceiling smoothed out
  • Recessed lighting added
  • New electrical outlets and covers added
  • New range and range hood added (old microwave removed)
  • Marble flooring installed
  • Tile backsplash added throughout (with decorative behind the range)
  • Freshly painted on the main level
  • Quartz countertops added
  • Wine and glass shelving installed
  • New sink, faucet and garbage disposal installed
  • New slide in range installed

Make no mistake about it. This was a major renovation, but the runaway costs of new kitchen cabinets really kept the budget in a real sweet spot.

This entire project was completed at roughly $20,000.

Did I get some exceptional pricing because of contracting relationships? Yes. But even at $25,000 this is a major kitchen renovation that was in the sweet spot of having a closed off kitchen wall, old countertops, and kitchen cabinets made of solid wood that were easily reinvigorated.

I am 100% confident that if you were to complete a similar renovation, you would not only enjoy the kitchen area more, but you will get every dollar back…and maybe more. In the above case, I would feel comfortable in saying this home would net $25,000 – $35,000 more post renovation.

The kitchen area is such a focal point in the home. New buyers are NOT opposed to buying older homes. They just want to feel more open. If you create this environment for them, you will enjoy and reap the benefits.

What Kitchen Renovations Don’t Return As Much Money?

I will go through a much more detailed post on this another time – including how to make selections. After reading the above, you probably have some ideas of what kitchen renovations return less money.

  • Expanding an already open kitchen
  • Installing new kitchen cabinets when the existing could be reinvigorated by painting and new hardware
  • Installing higher priced kitchen cabinets than necessary
  • Paying too much for new kitchen countertops because of the level of granite or quartz chosen
  • Paying too much for new kitchen countertops because you were sold costlier edging
  • Paying too much for appliances (skip the $2,500 or $4,000 range and go for the $600 – $1,200 range
  • Going too fancy on lights and fixtures

The BIGGEST factor you want to consider when it comes to pricier, unnecessary renovations is “How long will you be able to enjoy them?”

If the answer is only for 2-5 years, you really might want to consider renovating for the sale or renting of your home vs renovating for you. Big, big difference.

I hope this helps. Let me know what you think, and stay tuned for more. And as always, you can reach out to me direct with any questions about real estate: 240-687-2650.


Mark Fitzpatrick
RE/MAX Town Center
12505 Park Potomac Avenue
Potomac, Maryland 20854
240-687-2650  call/text

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Home Inspection issues | Who takes care of what?

Home Inspection
What does Seller pay for?  What does Buyer pay for?

1) The inspector comes out for inspection during winter.  The a/c compressor can’t be run when it’s below a certain temperature.  Home Inspector won’t turn it on and therefore can’t verify that it’s working.

2) Inspector goes up on ladder to check roof.  Wait, there’s frost on the roof.  Inspector refuses to walk up there.  Roof doesn’t get proper inspection.

3) House has a sump pump in the basement.
There’s a pvc tube lying across the top of the enclosure cap.  Inspector says he can’t open the cap to check if pump is working correctly.

These are all scenarios I have recently run into with my clients.  The first, I represented the Buyers.  The other two, I represented the Sellers.

In my many years of working with Sellers and Buyers, there still isn’t a clear definitive answer to give you with certain issues.  New ones come up specific to every sale. It comes down to knowing what’s expected of Seller and Buyer, and beyond that making a reasonable compromise to get it done.  The seller wants the buyer to get a great home, and the buyer just wants a solid home in working order.

Remember, real estate is negotiable.  At least, before you agree to terms in writing.
#1 above, there’s not much anyone can do while the weather is too cold.  An agreement will need to be put in place that addresses the a/c compressor and potential problems. Is it a new unit with a warranty? is it an older unit? The specifics will help determine which path I’ll suggest to my client. It’s possible we’ll hold $ in escrow to be released upon satisfactory inspection of the unit, and enough held, so unit will be fixed if not working.
With both #1 and #2 above, we’ll need to watch the weather closely to see if we get a break in temperature to get Inspector back out to the home before closing.
#3, we’ll weigh the age of the pump and any warranties… most likely we’re going to have seller get us access. Even if this means hiring someone to remove section of pvc that’s in the way. and then fix back the way it was.

As a buyer a good rule of thumb is to make sure safety and structural issues are addressed.  It is reasonable that you want to purchase a good home, in working order. All appliances and utilities working correctly.  Whether it’s you or any other buyer, this seller will be expected to deliver a solid home.  Unless of course you got a discount worked into your price accepting a certain condition of the home.
Aesthetics or potential problems are just that.  It’s a good idea to get a Home Warranty especially if some of the utilities are older.  You’ll have spent a good deal just to get into the home.  Last thing you need is an unexpected significant expense.

As a seller, you will need to make sure the Inspector can access your home. The inspector is not going to move all the filled moving boxes you have stacked around the utilities.  Make sure Inspector can access the attic, all appliances, electric panels, heating/cooling units, and that all the utilities are on.  If property is vacant and you’ve turned them off, the inspector is not going to light any pilot lights on your stove or your gas fireplaces.  Remove any dishes and clothes from dishwasher and washing machine, these will be run as well.  Make sure the water & electricity are on.
Keep pets locked up, and ideally, you should NOT be there with inspector and buyer.  I’ve seen it work great when the seller was there, they were able to answer a lot of questions.  I’ve also seen it not go well, and the seller was defensive and had something to say about anything negative found by the Inspector.  Best advice is to not be there.

Questions will surely be asked later that day, from our notes.  We will have a 2nd set of questions once we get the Inspection Report delivered. This typically comes back within 48 hours max, of inspection completed.

BJ Matson, Realtor®
Home Buying Advisor • RE/MAX
301-881-8900 text
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