Sunday, July 29, 2012

Million-Dollar Home Must-Haves

Though million-dollar dwellings now seem like a dime a dozen in some places in Toronto, it does take more than the location and a piece of good-sized land to jump to the next threshold.

Throughout all the renovations I've done for my house, besides satisfying all my emotional needs as to how I want my house to look/function in a certain way, I constantly keep track of the "value" of my investments. Fully aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I've always made an effort to stick with the mainstream styles. As much as I love Monet, I probably wouldn't spend hundreds of dollars to turn his Water Lilies into a massive mural in my bathroom.

Here are some of the must-haves based on my experience buying, selling and investing in quite a few properties over the years. I typically focus on those that are relatively easy to change/upgrade. For example, to elevate a 60's house's 8-foot main floor ceiling to 10-foot would be neither an easy nor a practical upgrade.

1. Facade and Curb Appeal: may it be the more modern stucco/stone exterior or the traditional red brick/cedar plank combination, a well-maintained and clutter-free porch shows the home owners care about their dwelling.

2. Bright and High-Impact Entrance/Foyer: you would be pleasantly surprised how much more value some $5,000 marble floor tiles (vs. 12x12 ceramic tiles with giant grout lines) in your foyer would add to your overall property.

3. Mouldings and Wainscoting to Add Definitions and Characters: moulding is probably one of the highest ROI/high buyer impact upgrades you could ever add to your property. And the costs keep coming down these years with competition and vast selection of materials such as plaster, MDF and solid wood. Mouldings and wainscoting give a house the "always-there" appeal, and add characters to newly-built.
4. More Livable Square Footage: the most common way to add livable space is to finish your basement. A large and open area for games, entertainment and bar plus an in-law/nanny suite in the basement has quickly become a million-dollar home must-have.

5. Luxurious Kitchen: it is not a real-estate myth that kitchen and bath sell the house. Besides granite/marble countertop and solid wood cabinetry, the kitchen must be big enough to fit the entire extended family in, with plenty of room to move around. Not only should you be able to host a ballroom party there, but also all of the appliances should be new and preferably professional grade. Induction and multi-burner stoves are much sorted after. In recent years, I've also noticed that white kitchen cabinetry has become increasing popular, and there are so many finishes and details you could choose that they look nowhere similar to the cheap Melamine ones from the 80's.

6. Spa Bathroom: Miss your last trip to a spa? By having beautiful decor, natural stone tiles, double-sink vanity, and a high-end shower and free-standing tub, the feeling of a spa retreat in a home is easily attainable. Polished bathroom hardware and crystal chandelier can add touches of elegance and glam to an otherwise practical space.

7. Plenty of Storage:  Walk-in closets for the bedrooms, pantries, hallway closets, cold room/wine cellar, and garage big enough to fit the entire family cargo, are a few examples. Wall-to-wall built-in bookcase/media unit has seen its increasing popularity in a study, basement or even living room. The good news for those DIY warriors out there is that there are ample Ikea-hack ideas that would allow you to turn an inexpensive set of bookcases/shelves into a much more expensive built-in unit.

8. Outdoor Entertaining: The entertainment space doesn't have to end in the house. The whole "taking the living room outside" concept is becoming an increasingly popular demand by people in the market for a new home. A pool, separate dining and lounging area, and outdoor kitchen/BBQ are all bonus value additions to a luxurious, million dollar home.

So what is your home reno experience pertaining to the above must-haves? Any others you could share?

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