SA Building & Remodeling
Remodeling fever hitting San Antonio homeowners
In Depth: Residential Real Estate & Mortgage Lending
Del-Voda Harris Jr., San Antonio Business Journal (July 21, 2000)
Many homeowners who want more space and modern amenities are choosing to stay put instead of move. But they're not giving up their dreams for larger and more appealing kitchens, bathrooms with hand-cut stone tile or home offices -- they're choosing to remodel their existing homes to add the perks they desire.

Rudy Niño, president of the Greater San Antonio Builders Association's Remodelers Council, says business for remodelers in San Antonio this year is up around 40 percent, compared to last year.

"Remodeling is the sign of the times. Many home buyers who bought homes 15 and 20 years ago are fixing up their places by adding new additions to their bathrooms, kitchens, and other parts of the house," Niño says. "Everything from flooring, lighting, and cabinets are being done to remodel homes."

Niño contends that the key reason people are staying put and adding space or remodeling their homes is because they find it cheaper than buying a brand-new home.

In addition, community ties and reluctance to take on a full-scale move is also driving homeowners to remodel instead of move. In fact, in surveys on lifestyle factors that cause stress, moving ranks toward the top, according to Niño.

Remodeling allows homeowners to tailor their existing homes to the specifications they want. The only alternative that would come even close to that, according to Niño, would be a substantially more expensive custom home.

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, more money is being spent on remodeling this year than prior years. Brett Martin, spokesman for the trade group, says that more than $140 billion is set to be spent in the U.S. on remodeling in 2000, compared with $115 billion in 1996.

However, Martin contends one of the key reasons for the expense is simple maintenance. "The average home in America today is 30 years old," he says. "Homeowners are spending on items such as roofing, tiling and basic maintenance."

A strong economy is also leading property owners to make home improvements. "The economy is making it more affordable to remodel or rebuild homes," he says.

Remodeling costs vary significantly, from contractor to contractor for the same materials in similar space, Martin cautions. That is why it is important for homeowners to check out the contractor before hiring one to complete the job.

"A $12,000 remodeling job can look just as good as a $30,000 remodeling job," Martin says.

Peggy Weiss, a Northwest San Antonio homeowner, used $28,000 from her savings account and had the kitchen and bath of her 20-year-plus home completely remodeled. She says she was pleased with the job -- which came in several thousand dollars under her expected costs.

"I was very pleased with the work that was done for the amount of money I paid," she says.

According to Remodeling Online, kitchen and baths are the most popular home-improvement projects, and provide the greatest return on investment during resale.

The average national cost of a major kitchen remodeling job was $31,090, according to Remodeling Online. The average cost recouped for the project at resale was 70 percent, according to the industry web site. The average national cost for remodeling a bathroom was $9,135, providing a 71 percent return on resale.

© 2000 American City Business Journals Inc.

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