When the house gets stoned.


Owning your own home has always been considered the American Dream, but it does come at a price. It's not just buy me, keep me, and sell me for a profit. Your home is likely your largest single investment and deserves and needs the commitment and attention associated with every other puzzle piece in your portfolio. A house must be tweaked and maintained on an almost daily basis just to support its current value. Even if you spend $10,000 on a new roof and $8000 on repairing an old septic system, you don't add $18,000 to the value of your home, you have simply protected your investment from deteriorating and losing that amount at the time of sale. These are not really improvements, but costly maintenance. They are expected and necessary. Yes, you can spend thousands of dollars on deferred maintenance and add no additional value to your home.

A new home buyer often forgets to figure in to the cost when owning a home the ongoing thankless "day to day" that goes along with proud ownership. The upcoming millennial home buyers are opting for move in ready, or not buying at all. If you take a long look at the investment, paying for rent without all of the extraneous expense that follows with proud ownership can be more bottom line profitable in the end. The market drops in the past decade or so have eaten away at values while the maintenance, insurance, taxes and perpetual unexpected fixes continue. I would have to agree that in this period, it may have been wiser to rent, and wisely invest the difference and end up better off financially. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to assess the variables, crunch the numbers, create a plan and end up a very smart non-homeowner. Think of it in terms of leasing a car. For some, it just makes sense.

For those of us with the need for our own personal piece of the planet, buying is a no-brainer. It may come with it's own set of time, effort and cash flow, but I still believe in the dream, and have always taken great pride in ownership, or in most of our cases.......loanership. A mortgage payment is not just an end to a means, but a building block of a larger picture. When the elusive day comes that your home is paid off, there is still expense. If the daily do's, perpetual maintenance and upgrades are not addressed, the value of the property can actually go down. There comes a day for all of us when the investment needs to be re-directed into a more manageable size and space for our needs and time of our lives.

Wether you opt for a fixer upper, or just time and use have warranted upgrades, some give greater paybacks in valuation than others. With all things being equal in the end, we should constantly be aware of the best options. If you are deciding between multiple projects in your home and one of them gives an 80% return on your investment and the other two are simply aesthetic choices that are specific to you and could actually cost you perceived value at selling time...............well you do the math. At the very least, choose to tackle the valuable project first.

Traditionally kitchens and bathrooms are huge selling points. They easily reap between 65-90% in all return markets. So, if you are vacillating between a new bathroom or a rock climbing wall in the man cave........granite in the bathroom first.

I have recently finished a complete kitchen and bathroom renovation. I have lived with the upgrades for a few months now and even though I have slightly "overbuilt" for the area,

A true six burner with potential for a griddle has always been a dream for entertaining.

I will be living here for a few years and have chosen to donate my last few years of vacations and a couple more to come for something that I can enjoy on a daily basis and still be a selling feature. This is a personal win/win for me. Everyone has to pick their poison.

One of the latest and greatest changes to your home with a very good 75-90% ROI (return on investment) is the addition of stone to your facea. With all of the new man made veneers on the market, the cost has gone down and the application is less invasive. It gives dramatic results in a much shorter time frame.

I had a couple of chimneys that were 60 years old and looked like it. They had been painted, tuck pointed and veneered in masonite to avoid a more costly but ultimately necessary fix to avoid further deterioration. With this being a must do, it gave me options to play a bit. At this juncture I had an opportunity to fix the damaged chimneys, upgrade the look and carry the stone to other parts of the home as a sophisticated accent to help pull the entire look together. The chimney would be repaired and with a little imagination and reasonable extra money, I could make dramatic, cost effective changes.

I was steered towards a reputable contractor and within our first consultation, we had a plan, narrowed the stone choices down to 3, and in a few days an estimate was in my e-mail. I chose a stone option that turned out to be difficult to get in the small amount that I would require which slowed the process down, but when the day came. the entire installation took place in one days time.

Of course the chimneys were the most important fix, but the addition of a faux chimney going down the front of the house and flanking the French doors to the south, gave the choice of stone and design a beautiful and cohesive look and purpose.

But, if you are like me, I want to hear and see the numbers. As this is a project that I know well, I will break it down into real costs and results.

For this project in particular, the cost of product used and labor balances about 50/50. For the chimneys it was a little more on labor as it required tear out and prep. We had already prepped for the stone by the doors, so labor came in a little less there compared to the price of stone. For an experienced DIY'er, this is a medium to large project and could be tackled if so chosen, but I generally say "Pick your battles" and I chose to let the pro's do this one and take a bite on the labor and enjoy a job well done in less than 9 hours. Sometimes those quick finished projects help to propel you to the next phase when you are feeling a little overwhelmed with the whole thing. I needed the boost.

I was given a low end estimate if all went smoothly, and a slightly higher one for the unforseen. When the day came for this project, many delays had occurred, and there were few if any hidden problems, so the lowest estimate became my final billing. As we know, that doesn't always happen and I was pleased with the results and happy to write the $2800 check.

After living with the new stone, and a little coaxing from my Dad, I again called my contractor and gave him dimensions of a spot surrounding the front picture window and new glass block replacement to the right of it. Since this area is a blue/gray vertical metal above white painted brick, I could change the whole look of the front of the home for less than $1000 more. With the metal removed and stone added, the brick painted a warm coordinating natural color the remaining vertical siding can become an accent and the entire property look more contemporary and sophisticated.

The next phase is painting the exterior.. The cues for a palette need to come from the things on the house that are permanent to the color scheme such as the roof, and in this case, the stone and larger out buildings. So, after the additional stone is installed...................on to the paint brush.

Next came a little landscaping.........................and finally some living.

There's still another bathroom and master bedroom to tackle and maybe an Airsteam overlooking the White River as a guest house. What would life be without a challenge?