By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
Michael Washington started doing construction work when he was just 16 years old. His father was a musician, and although Washington also had a talent for music, he wanted to forge his own path.
He was first introduced to the trade by a parishioner at his church who worked as a journeyman carpenter. Washington would spend his summers helping him to build and renovate houses, and he enjoyed it so much that he chose to study construction management at Bradley University and later received his master’s degree in construction from Northwestern University.
Today, Washington is the president and CEO of the Washington Building Group (WBG), a general contractor firm based in Baltimore that specializes in commercial and residential interior renovations, like tenant fit-outs, kitchens and bathrooms.
In the past couple of years, Washington said business has been great for most general contractors, including WBG. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, homeowners are taking the time to make updates to their houses, and they are in need of spaces for remote work and virtual learning.
Informed by nearly 20 years of construction experience, here are Washington’s picks for the top renovations to increase your home’s value.
Although this is the most profitable option for increasing your home’s value, it also tends to be the most expensive. Costs can range from $100 to $250 per square foot, according to Washington, and the labor is more intensive because contractors have to build the foundation. However, adding onto a kitchen, bathroom, living area or bedroom can significantly impact the value of your property.
The kitchen is often the gathering place for most households, and it’s also typically the room that visitors see first, according to Washington. During a kitchen remodel, homeowners also tend to renovate or update adjacent rooms to the kitchen area, whether a living area or dining room. Modernizing your countertops with granite or solid stone and installing new cabinets can bring life to your kitchen, according to Washington. Even if you can’t afford to buy brand new materials for cabinetry and countertops, Washington said resurfacing them and adding a more modern shade of paint can go a long way. He also said homeowners should consider creating an open-concept kitchen when remodeling.
Aside from a kitchen remodel, renovating your bathroom is one of the best ways to increase the value of your home, without spending a fortune on a home addition, according to Washington. He suggested starting with the common bathroom on the first level because it gets the most use from guests and then recommended remodeling the master bathroom. Installing ceramic tile for the floor and shower can modernize the room, and Washington said more people prefer glass showers with contemporary showerheads. While you can’t do much to revamp the toilet, replacing outdated handles and toilet paper holders can also make an inexpensive difference.
Finishing a basement
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many to work and learn from home, Washington said he’s seen an uptick in people finishing their basements. Creating extra rooms for office space, remote learning or recreation can elevate your house, especially in the post-pandemic world. Washington also recommended ensuring your basement is watertight with a waterproofing system, like an interior drainage system, and he suggested using luxury vinyl tile for basement flooring.
Facelifts and updates
While these things may not have a significant impact on the value of your home, they will still help refresh the space. Repainting your walls with a neutral color can make rooms look bigger and brighter, and installing new floors can also give common areas an improved look.
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