By Dan Fritschen

Quick Remodel Decision Table

How much longer will you stay in the house?

Type of project

0 to 1 years 1 to 3 years
New doors and new windows OK¹ OK¹
Paint or refinish bathroom and kitchen cabinets and install new hardware OK¹ OK¹
New baseboard, crown molding, etc. OK¹ OK¹
New flooring (carpet) OK³ OK³
Refinish hardwood flooring OK³ OK³
New hardwood or tile flooring Not recommended² OK³
Major kitchen remodel Not recommended² OK¹
Add on a 2nd Story Not recommended² Not recommended²
Add on a new bathroom Not recommended² OK¹
Finish a basement or attic Not recommended² OK¹
Add on a new room Not recommended² Not recommended²
Enlarge an existing living room or family room Not recommended² Not recommended²
Add on a new master suite Not recommended² Not recommended²


1* Note that this recommendation assumes that you will use economy or average grade material and spend an average amount on labor and the materials. If you are going to move in a few years, it is not a good idea to do even a simple remodel using expensive custom materials since you will only have a few years to enjoy the results and the next owners probably won’t pay you even 50 percent of what you invested in these improvements.

2* These projects are not recommended if you will stay in your home for a short period since the projects are relatively expensive and/or can take several months to complete. Since you will only stay in the home for a short period after the remodel project, you won’t be able to enjoy the results, and unless you manage the project very carefully to minimize cost, you could easily spend more on the remodel than the additional amount you will get with the improvements when you sell and move.


3*If the items that you want to replace (i.e. carpet, doors) are in very poor condition and will detract from your home’s otherwise good overall condition when you go to sell, then you can consider replacing them. Before deciding to proceed with this improvement make sure that you will enjoy the new items during the remainder of your stay in this house. Also, use economy or average-priced materials, designs and colors that are common and that appeal to the largest number of buyers and pay a reasonable amount for the installation.