The Rationales of Home Improvement

Unless you actually do live under a rock you can’t help but notice that the United States economy is in the worst shape most people now living can remember. Even trying to tell you that better days are coming would be laughable. We’ve had so many things lately that add to the difficulty Americans have making it day to day, it doesn’t seem plausible to want to even think about doing home remodeling.

The real estate market doesn’t look good for most home buyers or sellers. Recently we’ve seen the stock market rebound but with unemployment at 10%, general earnings down, inflation at an all-time high homeowners are reluctant to spend on home improvement projects. The uncertainty of what tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year will bring has too much fear and anxiety attached to it. Homeowners are reluctant to spend with such uncertainty in the market. Yet there are a few projects that have benefits beyond return of investment.

But one must change the rationale of thinking to see the validity in the concept I am about to propose. If you’re like me you usually rationalize home-improvement projects by using a list of rationalization criteria. That list might contain many criteria in any order depending on your personality but will usually contain most or all of the following.

  1. Cost versus need
  2. cost versus want
  3. cost versus return on investment
  4. investment versus savings

It’s not a long list, but generally when we do home-improvement projects these are the basic questions or rationales we use in justifying the projects we undertake. If we see a project that is in need we do our best to meet that need properly with the least amount of money.

If there’s a home-improvement that we want we tend to look at all the things in our life before we progress. We look at our finances more closely we decide can we squeeze one more payment in. We also tend to do a bit of financial forecasting, by looking at what we actually make what we owe, what the future holds for our income and maybe if were really into forecasting we might look at what the next year or two looks like in our personal economic outlook before we make any decision to proceed.

Cost versus return on investment is a little bit more sophisticated than the other two I’ve just mentioned. When we do home improvements under this particular guideline we look at how much we spend and how much what we have spent will be returnable investment in our home at sale time. Now I’m not saying everyone looks at every home-improvement in this manner but we sure need to look at it when it comes to doing major remodeling or major upgrades to our homes.

The last rationale in my list that we might tend to use, investment versus savings might well be better stipulated as the all-encompassing rationale. If we see home-improvement project that we can do that will actually save us money in the long run it’s a bit easier to justify. But even so easy justification because of savings still takes into consideration all of the other rationales. It’s a simple fact we will look at all the others in relation to how much money we actual save doing the project and here I can give you at least one good example of how this would come into play.

If you have a home that is more than 15 years old and you have never replaced the windows and doors since purchasing the home then it’s a pretty sure bet that you can save money on your energy bills whether the heating or cooling if you upgrade to new Windows and doors. Over time regardless of how efficient the windows and doors originally were their effectiveness degrades. Degradation of window and door efficiency over time increases the amount of energy needed to heat or cool a home. The amount of savings that you might receive by replacing your windows and doors with new replacement windows and doors depends on where you live and how many windows and doors you have.

The more extreme the climate you live in, the more savings you will realize by installing brand-new Windows and doors. The more temperate or moderate climate that you live in, the less your home might benefit from the installation of new replacement windows and doors. That however is not to say that replacing windows and doors will not benefit you the point of it being cost effective to do so.

It would be at this point all the other rationales that I’ve listed would come into play. And the thought process might go something like this. How much do we really need the improvement? Is this improvement something we want to do? If we improve our home by adding brand-new Windows and doors will it increase the overall sale value of our home? If we add new replacement windows and doors to our home how much money will we save on our energy bill, and how long will it take to recoup the money we spend upgrading to new Windows and doors?

The only way that one could conceivably think that these rationales would not come into play would be if you were planning on staying in the home you are currently in forever. But even then the fourth rationale will someday take over because every tangible thing regardless of what it is will degrade over time if not taken care of. Homes are strange and the fact that if they’re taken care of properly they appreciate over time. But the same is true in reverse a home that is not taken care of will depreciate over time. You make the choice.