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MINOR REMODELING CAN PAY BIG WHEN SELLING HOME

Your home could stand a lot of remodeling, but you plan to sell it in a few years. You want to choose the

project that will allow you to recoup the greatest percentage of your investment in resale value.The best choice would be:

A: Minor kitchen remodeling;

B: Adding a bathroom;

C: Renovating to create a master bedroom suite.

All of these projects are good, but the best may be the kitchen.

According to information provided by The National Association of the Remodeling Industry, minor kitchen remodeling is likely to give you back 100 percent of your investment costs. At an average cost of $8,320 per project, it's also one of the least expensive of 11 popular remodeling projects.

These days it's especially wise to know. The high cost of land, the housing affordability crunch and the nation's aging housing stock have helped make remodeling the fastest-growing segment of the construction industry. It weighed in at $106 billion in sales last year, a growth of more than 5 percent over 1989.

In a real estate market wracked by recession, a homeowner who makes farsighted use of the remodeling dollar may have the edge when ready to sell, according to Janet Chaikin, marketing and publications coordinator.

"Kitchens and bathrooms - that's where the most value is," said Richard Dichtel, host of "The Home Improvement Show," a radio broadcast.

Although market, location and the quality of the remodeling are important factors, homeowners on average regain 88 to 100 percent of their investment for major and minor remodeling in kitchen and bath.

Minor kitchen remodeling may include new countertops, cabinets, floor surface and wallpaper. Major remodeling may entail all this plus extending the floor space to include an eating area, new appliances, built-in features and more.

Remodeling a bathroom often means adding a separate shower, a new tub, tile, new plumbing, a vanity sink and cabinets.

People would be surprised what can be done with an outdated bathroom, said Dichtel. Typically they have a long tub next to a linen closet that takes up much more space than it's worth. A new tub and separate shower can often be placed in that same area with storage space provided by wall cabinets. The average cost of this remodeling is $7,574. The result is a far more efficient and attractive bathroom.

Two projects that have become very popular recently are the creation of a master bedroom suite and the addition of a family room off the kitchen. Frequently the suite can be created by knocking out one wall of a bedroom and incorporating the space once used for a child's bedroom or an office. It may include a bathroom with double vanities, a big tub and separate shower, a sitting-dressing area and walk-in closets.

The kitchen-family area is usually a big, open room or den that becomes an extension of the kitchen with a fireplace, a TV, and comfortable furnishings.

Both these projects allow the owner to regain an average of 88 percent of the investment.

Sunrooms, porches, gazebos and decks come in around 80 percent and are especially popular in cities with temperate climates, while the value of adding a solarium drops to about 75 percent. Some people don't like the look of these molded glass rooms, and they're also an expensive form of construction.

Interior and exterior painting, interior decorating and minor carpentry probably will not allow you to get back a lot of your money. Dichtel said this should be considered maintenance work that enables you to sell your home for its full appraised value.

But these simple face lifts, as well as landscaping, are often big factors in how quickly a home sells, he said, and that's where the dollars come in. People tend to buy houses by driving through neighborhoods they like. A home they want to see is usually chosen because of its curb appeal.

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(Chart)

Probable `recovery' estimates

By Scripps Howard News Service

How much can homeowners expect to recoup on various remodeling projects?

Here are the average costs of various home remodeling projects and the average percentage of those costs recovered at the time of resale:

REMODELING AVERAGE PERCENT

PROJECT COST RECOVERED

Minor kitchen remodeling $8,320 100

Major kitchen remodeling $20,906 98

Bathroom addition $10,867 98

Bathroom remodeling $7,574 88

Family room addition $30,303 88

Master bedroom suite $21,680 88

Deck addition $5,168 84

Attic bedroom $20,579 83

Sunroom addition $15,560 79

Replace windows $6,844 73

Replace siding $7,816 70