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New front door offers top return

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

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If you’re planning a remodeling project this year, here’s good news and bad news for you: The good is that remodeling projects in the Charlotte area cost less than similar projects in the Southeast and across the country. The bad is that, generally, you won’t get quite the return on your investment.

For top returns, consider a new steel front door or new fiber cement siding.

And don’t spend lots of money remodeling your home office.

Those are a few quick takeaways from Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report for 2014.

Broadly, the news is encouraging. The magazine said that after several years of slumping along with the housing market and the rest of the economy, remodeling returns nationally are rebounding. Overall, the ratio is 66.1 percent, up 5.5 points from last year and the largest increase since 2005.

That ought to inspire a little confidence among families thinking about new kitchens and bathrooms.

The magazine’s annual report looks at 35 popular remodeling projects, and then estimates the cost and what percentage of that you might recoup when you sell. It compiles data for select metro areas – including Charlotte – along with multistate regions and the entire nation.

The projects are divided by price into mid-range and upscale categories.

Here’s how popular remodeling projects fared:

• The mid-range major kitchen remodeling in Charlotte cost $51,825 and returned an estimated 55.4 percent upon sale.

The project includes 30 linear feet of semi-custom cabinets, including a 3-by-5-foot island; laminate counter tops; and standard double-tub stainless-steel sink with single-lever faucet. Also includes energy-efficient wall oven, cooktop, ventilation system, built-in microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal and custom lighting, along with new vinyl flooring.

The same project returned 76 percent across the region and 74.2 percent nationally.

• A mid-range bathroom remodeling here cost $14,691 and returned 52 percent. That compares to returns of 77 percent regionally and 72.5 percent nationally.

The project includes updating a 5-by-7-foot bathroom with new porcelain-on-steel tub, 4-by-4-inch ceramic tile surround, single-lever shower control, standard white toilet, solid-surface vanity counter with integral sink, medicine cabinet with light, ceramic tile floor and vinyl wallpaper.

• Tops in Charlotte – and in the entire survey – is a new steel entry door among mid-range projects. In fact, it has topped the list every year it has been included. In Charlotte, a new steel door would cost $1,099 and return 84.7 percent.

Replacement projects, especially those that improve curb appeal, always rank near the top of the report, the magazine said.

Second best in Charlotte was new fiber cement siding among upscale projects, which cost $12,166 and returned 73.7 percent.

Which project scored worst? The home office remodel – which returned only 30.7 percent – followed closely by a new mid-range bathroom or sunroom, which were nearly as low.

Remodeling magazine’s annual report isn’t definitive, of course. No estimate is. You ought to remodel based on your family’s needs and your neighborhood’s norms. But the widely quoted Cost vs. Value Report is always a good starting place for any conversation about remodeling.

See the entire report, including descriptions of the 35 projects and how data was gathered, at

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