Home renovations that pay off

Don’t be misled, as I was, by the title “PropertyLadder Buying for Profit” by Kirsten Kemp. This new book is really aboutmaking profitable improvements to your home, whether you already own it or arepurchasing a “fixer upper” house to upgrade for fast profits orlong-term holding.

Although I have never seen or heard about the TV show”Property Ladder” on The Learning Channel, the first chapter containsfour case studies from episodes of that TV show.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

These real-life examples explain how profitable improvementsadded market value to homes. The before-and-after color photos are amazing andinspiring. Profits on the four houses range from $74,000 to $104,000, as shownby home values before and after fix-up. Fix-up costs ranged from $30,000 to$62,000; the number of construction weeks averaged about nine.

Author Kirsten Kemp explains in considerable detail justabout every possible improvement a home might need and how to accomplish it.Unfortunately, after the book’s first few pages there are no more color photos,just drawings, to illustrate the topics under discussion. But the superbgraphics and two-color printing make for easy reading and understanding.

“Make renovations that pay off” is the book’stheme. Judging from the color photos, the goal is to transform an ugly houseinto a near-model home even though all the houses pictured were at least 30years old.

Emphasis is on kitchens and bathrooms, but bedrooms are notoverlooked, although the upgrades are less extensive, such as installing crownmolding and upgrading the flooring.

Especially valuable are the details on improvementalternatives, where to get the best prices, and how to save. For example, whendiscussing granite kitchen countertops, Kemp explains, “Bypass kitchenshops and big-box retailers and go straight to the granite yard to selectslabs.” She also says, “Don’t be shy about bargaining with thegranite-yard salesperson. Find the granite you like best, inspect the slabs forcracks or fissures, and ask, ‘What’s the best deal you can give me?’ “

Throughout the book there are more details than you mightwant to know, but it pays to read those details to compare upgrade choices. Toillustrate, in the section about flooring, the author compares hardwood, tile,laminate floors, and carpets, including nylon, olefin, polyester, acrylic, wooland blends. She also explains the importance of installing new carpet paddingand the type to install.

The practical information and advice is amazing. This is thekind of book to first read lightly without getting bogged down on the details.Then, after knowing what valuable information the book contains, it pays to goback to re-read the details about the topics which especially interest you.

The section on paint is especially valuable. Having improvedmany houses and dealt with paints and stains of all types, I thought I knewabout paint. Wrong! Since paint is the most profitable home improvement by far,I was pleasantly surprised by all the new paint facts I learned. Especiallyvaluable is the information when you can and shouldn’t paint over oil paintwith latex, and vice versa.

Although there are only four major chapters — “CaseStudies”; “All Around the House”; “Makeover Magic”;and “Project Price Guide” — don’t be misled. Within each chapter arekey topics, explained room by room, as well as by projects, such aslandscaping, lighting, cabinet doors, sinks and faucets, crown molding, andstrategies.

The price guide is especially valuable because it comparesseveral quality grades. To illustrate, it shows the difference in qualitybetween a $500 and a $3,300 refrigerator. This valuable guidebook is easy tounderstand as it emphasizes the most profitable home upgrades to consider. Onmy scale of one to 10, it rates a solid 10.

“Property Ladder Buying for Profit,” by KirstenKemp (Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, IA), 2006, $19.95, 249 pages; availablein stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.Amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2007 Inman News

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