Early Home Improvements

Home ImprovementI got to thinking about what other activities I could complete for our preparation to go fulltime in an RV considering how much time we have to plan.  Karen had been wanting to replace the remaining 13 year old builders grade carpet.  I built our home in 2001 so the carpet really needs to go.  This sparked an idea to take a harder look at the house. What improvements can we complete now that will better prepare the home for sale in four to eight years, while allowing us to enjoy the modifications? Here is how I decided to handle the project:

Our House

Our House

You might be thinking updates to a home is as easy as working on one room at a time.  Not so for a list-maker like myself!  So here is the list:

  • Carpet (because – well you know why): Last year we started replacing some of the flooring.  We went with an engineered wood floor for the main traffic areas. We selected a cherry wood because it’s more durable than oak. The flooring we selected “clicks” together. The hard wood portion is thick enough to allow sanding and refinishing if needed.  This stuff is bullet proof and looks great.   Ours has a 30 year finish warranty. I pulled all the base trim and re-stained it as we installed the flooring. The stairs leading to the basement gets heavy traffic.  We may decide to replace this carpet with a darker patterned carpet. Quality carpet stains way before it wears out.  Pattern helps hide stains. The remaining carpet to replace is in three bedrooms. In time if we move the furniture around, shifting the foot traffic areas, this should help keep the carpet fresh for resale.
  • Kitchen: Already replaced the flooring with ceramic tile along with the back-splash behind the counters.  I thought about replacing the counters when we installed an upgraded faucet.  In my opinion bathroom and kitchen upgrades are two areas which pay for themselves when you sell a house.  We touched-up the wood cabinets. New appliances are in our future but Karen wants to wait for the existing ones to die.
  • Bi-Fold Doors: I really don’t like bi-folds, however in tighter spaces they save room.  We have two larger doors and will be replacing the door tracks or whatever is required to make them operate smoother.
  • Lighting: Just like those who own older campers, we are in the process of changing bulbs out.  First to fluorescents and now that LED are coming down in price, we are considering them.  We first started to replace the bulbs that tend to get left on for longer periods of time.
  • Hall bath mirror:  Replace the cheap flat mirror. It’s damaged anyway. We might also upgrade the light fixture above the sink if we get anything other than a mirror with glass etching. Cheap fixtures mixed with more expensive fixtures is not a good idea.
  • Basement bath: When I finished the basement bath I decided to place a large utility sink and counter where a shower might have gone.  The area below the counter is exposed and used for storage.  I may frame this out and add sliding doors.  Or perhaps a short curtain on a rod would be easier? It’s a small detail but when we installed a sink and cabinet I decided to go with a taller unit.  This left the electric outlet a little low.  I’ve decided not to worry about details like this. Having built three homes and talked with many other contractors, I’ve learned “people tend to buy what they can see.” Our home would be considered a step up from a starter home.  Some things would be more important than a low wall outlet.  Such as; storage space, durable flooring and all the stuff we look for in a an RV.  Fortunately, because I was the home builder, we added other components such as 2×6 construction on exterior walls.  If someone buying the home knows enough to look past what they can see, I think we have that covered.
Towards Sunroom
Towards Sunroom

Outside under the sunroom: When I built the home I purposely upgrading the outside 12×16 deck structure to allow for a sunroom to be built in its place.  The room is fully enclosed and open to the kitchen.  The sunroom is well constructed and safe.  However, when you walk below the room, under what was the eight foot tall deck, some may be concerned the room is held up by large posts rather than a concrete foundation.  I’ve always wanted to construct a screened porch under this area with paving stones as a floor.  Figure I’ll do that in time because it would give the appearance of a better foundation for the sunroom above.  For now, it’s a great spot to park things out of the rain. Some would consider this a compromise for not having a deck.

  • Outside fire pit: Figure I’ll extend the paving stone out from under the sunroom and future screened porch to around the pit. I’m still debating on this. In Missouri it is unlawful to “open burn.” As all our neighbors live on acreage and we are at the edge of town, its not been an issue.  With the fire pit built up with concrete sides, it really is not open burning anyway.  Works great for burning all the old papers that we have been scanning as part of going paperless!
  • House Painting: While not considered a “home improvement” it is something that takes a while to finish and we can enjoy the new paint while we live here. I’m painting one side each year and using top quality paint that will last long after we are gone. This SuperPaint is $54 a gallon but has a 25 year warranty and resists the fading effects of sunlight.  I get a builder’s discount and buy it in five gallon buckets so that helps.
Garden Spot

Garden Spot

  • Landscaping: Gardening is a major hobby for us.  We maintain no less than 13 large planting beds and a lot more.  We cleared about an acre of ground and the rest is wooded with walking trails hidden amongst the trees.  We are located on top of a hill and the back side of the property slopes down from a rocky hillside, all of which is wooded. Over the years we have been trying to get a woodland garden to grow in improved spots along the trail.  We plan to continue the gardening hobby. The next major upgrade to the trail will be short runs of split-rail fence that extend towards “the lower trail” which is on the side of the hill along a ridge line.  The landscaping around the house is 12 years old in growth.  We are removing most of the landscaping and larger bushes on the street side of the home, rebuilding the beds and replacing the larger over-grown bushes.  We are keeping in mind what size the new plantings will be in four to eight years which could be the time we sell the house.  There is one tree to replace in the front yard.  It’s a wonderful flowering tree and needs to be replaced sooner than later so it has a change to grow larger before we sell the house.
Flowers on Hill

Flowers on Hill

Click Any Photo to Enlarge

Click Any Photo to Enlarge

  • Storage sheds: We have two storage sheds on the property.  One was built-onto and the roof of the addition leaks.  We are going to remove that portion of the shed which sits on one of the flatter and more accessible portions of the property.  Hmm, this might make a great RV parking spot if we decide to get a smaller temporary rig to use while we wait for retirement.
Red is Property Line, Blue is Our Trail - Click to Enlarge

Red is Property Line, Blue is Our Trail

Well, that’s our list for now.  I’m moving all of this into our “Decisions Check List” pages under the appropriate year to complete the work.

As I read the first months of other blog sites, it became apparent selling the house was the top time consuming process before going fulltime in an RV.  Hopefully completing a few major home improvements now will cut down on our “to do” list while getting ready to sell.  It will be nice to enjoy the improvements until then.

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5 thoughts on “Early Home Improvements

  1. When our realtor saw our bright brass in our 1999 home, she said “I can’t sell it, unless you switch the fixtures to satin nickel”. We did, and it sold in one day. Don’t know what you have, but just a heads up. Also, be careful not to spend money on things you won’t get a return on, as that is money taken away from your retirement.

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    • Our fixtures are satin nickel as well. That’s been the popular finish here in Kansas City for a while now. Thanks for the advise. You bring up a great point – what would the real estate agent say. I’m hoping the land will be the big draw. I built the same floor plan house on the same hillside, but about a mile down the road. Had three full price offers but that was when the real estate market was doing well. Maybe I should get the same agent to look over my place now. Might be able to avoid building out under the sunroom.

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    • I’ll be satisfied with breaking even on any improvements. We have lived here now for 13 years but the last two houses I sold I was amazed at the price the real estate lady put on the house. Hope to be surprised again.

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  2. I’d like to add some paint to the white walls, change out the carpeting, upgrade the half bath counter top & sink. We finally got the backyard to it’s best shape since we bought it 25 years ago, so maybe just need to maintain the yards. All in good time…

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