As spring nears, a homeowner’s thoughts quite naturally turn to home upgrades. What will you do this year to improve your home and make it more pleasant or more convenient for your family?
Cost is always a consideration, of course. All upgrades can be pretty pricey, ranging from four digits to five. Upgrades are long-term investments. They increase ease of living for you and your family. They also add to your home’s resale value in most cases.
So, what are the costs of some common upgrades?
1) A Skylight
If you’ve ever walked into a home with a skylight on a sunny day, you know how wonderful it makes you feel. Skylights add up to 30 percent more light to a space. The extra light can also cut down on energy bills.
The cost of installing a skylight ranges widely depending on your type of roof and the size. A two-by-four-foot skylight and related costs will range between $150 and $500. Installation will be an additional $500 to $3,000. These costs assume asphalt roof shingles. Skylights in a tile or metal roof will cost a bit more.
2) An Air-Conditioning Unit
Did you swear last summer was the last you’d spend sweltering without air conditioning? Air-conditioning units may be at the top of your upgrade list if so.
Be sure to factor in both the cost of the unit(s) and labor. In general, a unit, labor and miscellaneous costs run from $3,800 to $4.500. Generally, air-conditioning units come with a 10-year warranty. Amortized, of course, you are paying $380 to $450 per year. Per month, the cost is $32 to $38. That’s not much when you think of how much more comfortable you’ll be in July and August.
3) A Fireplace
If, on the other hand, you want your home cozier and warmer, your upgrade list might include a fireplace. If you want a traditional wood-burning fireplace, they can cost as much as $30,000, according to House Logic. Gas fireplaces are an increasingly popular option for homeowners. Gas fireplaces combine the warmth and charm of a fireplace with more convenience and enhanced safety. They don’t require the delivery or chopping of wood, and homeowners run no risk of fire or smoke damage.
Fireplaces are a desirable amenity not only for you, but also when it comes time to sell your home. Forty percent of people indicate they would pay extra for a home with a fireplace, House Logic reports, up to $1,400.
4) A Swimming Pool
Installing a swimming pool is many people’s dream. It’s a great place for the family to hang out. It’s a wonderful congregation point for parties. Plus, the exercise and relaxation you can get from a swimming pool are terrific.
Installing an in-ground swimming pool can cost more than $18,000. If you need to excavate land for the swimming pool, it costs as well, up to $2,600. No wonder so many people turn to above-ground pools, which can run you just $1,500 and are great places for kids to play.
Bear in mind swimming pools do not necessarily help you at resale time. Yes, you may find a buyer whose eyes light up at the sight of a pool. But you may also find buyers who don’t want a pool. People with young children consider pools a safety hazard. Not everyone likes to swim. For those folks, a swimming pool and its maintenance are a liability, not a benefit.
Get a swimming pool if you love to swim and can afford it, by all means. Just keep in mind future benefits of a resale are not assured.
5) Solar Roof Panels
If you’re thinking about going green and saving energy with solar roof panels, be sure you can. You’ll need a relatively flat roof and good exposure to the sun. If you have tall neighboring buildings or tall surrounding trees, it’s best to consult a solar panel installation company about the feasibility of installation.
You also need to think about your roof. If you have a 20-year-old house with its original roof, it may be better to hold off until you replace the roof. The last thing you want, in terms of costs, is to install solar panels and then realize you have to remove them to reshingle or replace the roof.
Solar roof panels have fallen 50 percent in cost since 2008. They can result in $20,000 in energy savings over 20 to 30 years.
The installation cost is slightly less than $3.50 per watt on average. However, solar panel installation costs vary tremendously depending on the size of your roof, available tax rebates, local energy costs, lower energy regulations and the amount of energy you’ll save. This is one upgrade where consultation with an experienced solar panel professional will help you understand the cost versus savings trade-off.
And if you want to take it to the next level, there’s always the option of adding solar water heating panels to your existing plumbing system as well.
Want to Upgrade Your Home? – Final Thoughts
Few homeowner activities are as fun or as useful as planning for a home upgrade. The cost of these five common upgrades should help you plan your next move up.
Anum Yoon is a personal finance blogger and writer. She created and maintains her personal finance blog Current on Currency. You can subscribe to her blog newsletter right here for her weekly updates.