Planning a home renovation? Here’s how to make sure you profit from it

How your space functions and feels matters now more than ever, especially if your new norm is an everything-at-home lifestyle; work, play and living. And, by this point in the pandemic, if your space isn’t optimal, you’ve probably exhausted all the furniture- and room-rearranging options available to you. So naturally, if you own, home improvements aimed at increasing the livability and workability of your space are probably on your mind.

Whether it’s a long-planned or pandemic-induced renovation, here’s how to do the math on it.

Begin with the final market value in mind

Before you start breaking up the concrete in your basement in an effort to level out the floor, you’ll want to compare listings and sale prices of properties that are, and are not, upgraded (for condos and townhouses, too). Some of this information can be found online, and your realtor, if you have one, can fill in the blanks of what else is happening in your neighbourhood in terms of prices. No one has a crystal ball for the real-estate market, especially during COVID-19 times, but by gathering up as much pricing data as you can, you’ll better determine guardrails for your renovation budget.

The high-level math on renovations is this; you need to get out the money that you invested in the reno when you sell, and then some, otherwise it’s not worth your while. Also, you need to be able to afford to pay for the improvements.

For example, if you invest $100,000 in an upgraded kitchen, bathroom and basement, but comparable listings show that you’re only going to fetch $80,000 more for your property (from current value), you’re effectively losing $20,000 plus the value of your efforts. On the flip side, if you’re likely to fetch $150,000 more for your property, your costs are

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Wichita’s most expensive homes are selling fast. Here’s why.

The most expensive homes in the Wichita area are selling fast and the number of them available has fallen to levels not seen since before the Great Recession, according to a real estate analyst at Wichita State University.

Stan Longhofer, director of WSU’s Center for Real Estate, said the demand for homes that cost more than $500,000 and a limited supply of them were standouts of the 2021 Kansas Housing Markets Forecast, an annual report released this week. The change comes despite a pandemic and global recession that hasn’t yet negatively impacted home sales but could catch up in the next couple of years, Longhofer said.

For now, the housing market is booming, often causing “bidding wars.”

During the pandemic, labor and service sector jobs have seen bigger layoffs than office jobs that have more flexibility, he said. And people in those more flexible, usually higher-paid roles have been driving the demand for higher-end homes.

“It’s just sharpened and made even more extreme the separation between those in very fortunate economic situations with those who are not, “ he said. “And it’s those that are in the fortunate situation that are driving the housing market.”

Historically low interest rates and the economic environment of the fortunate people have dropped the supply of higher-end homes for sale to under six months, Longhofer said. It’s the first time the supply has been this low since the 2007-2009 recession, he said.

Shortage of homes

The housing market is considered balanced when there’s a four to six month supply of homes. The supply is calculated by dividing available homes by average homes sold each month.

For example, if 1,000 homes are available and on average 200 homes a month are selling over a year’s time, 1,000 divided by 200 equals a five-month supply —

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Here’s what people are buying at home goods, home improvement stores and more | Food + Living

COVID-19 is shaping shopping behavior. That’s been bad news for retailers on many fronts — but certainly not all. Here’s a sampling some of the items shoppers have been snapping up for their homes.

Bon appetit

The Shops at Rockvale, located off Route 30 in East Lampeter Township, have seen a lower traffic count than usual over the past few months, says manager Kristi Burkholder. But sales reports show that those shoppers who are there are buying more things — especially if those things are related to eating at home, says Burkholder.

“The kitchen stores are out of control,” she says.

Foodie-focused business is also brisk at Zest! in Lititz. There, manager Elizabeth Elia says shoppers are increasingly investing in quality basics like kitchen scales. Pizza stones also are selling. So is anything having to do with bread.

“They’re getting serious about baking. One item that is selling like crazy now is the Danish bread whisk,” Elia says of the circular tool used for denser doughs and batters. “We can’t keep them in stock.”

Our food writer samples 12 varieties of Lancaster County apples

Going big

Tina Ator, owner of Olde Mill House Shoppes in Lancaster, says she has noticed a renewed interest in larger furniture pieces and lighting rather than smaller, “knick-knack-type” purchases.

Customers are looking ahead to the future too, specifically to Christmas gifts and holiday items. Ator says customers started asking her to display those in September.

“They don’t know what is going to happen, so they want to be prepared,” she says. “Some of them want to get it now while they are out and about.”

Gothic Revival touches grace houses, churches around Lancaster [architecture column, photos]

Project materials

From paint to tools, people are buying for do-it-yourself projects. Second-quarter revenue was up 30% over the same period last year at Lowe’s and 23% at Home Depot.

“Most of us are forced to

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PTO and poll working: Here’s what Election Day looks like for these tech employers

This election year has been unlike any other in American history.

With an ongoing pandemic, and while millions of people still work and attend school from home, options like mail-in voting, early voting and one-stop voting centers have popped up across the region. Election Day will likely be more like Election Week, New York Times’ opinion writer-at-large covering technology Charlie Warzel told us during a keynote at’s Developers Conference last week.

And similarly to how companies have had to figure out how to address these and other “big issues” this year, many have chosen to make voting and Election Day a part of their company’s policy.

Power Home Remodeling, which previously offered two hours of flex time to go vote on Election Day, this year rolled out a companywide campaign called “Power the Vote” in an effort to educate employees and encourage them to vote. The campaign also includes the new policy of giving a full paid day off on Election Day to all 2,700 employees, and encourages them to volunteer in their communities by helping others register to vote, advocating for voter rights or as serving as a poll worker on Election Day.

“With the current climate of the world and this year’s primaries, we learned [the original policy was] clearly not enough — we knew we had to do better,” Chellsy Mysza, a company communication specialist told

Michelle Bauer, Power Home Remodeling’s VP of public relations, brought up the change during an Introduced by conference panel last week on how companies are transforming this year, saying that employees can also be paid by Power for their volunteer hours.

“We’re really trying to support those conversations in a way that people can be civil about it, and supporting that voting message for sure,”

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Here’s a first look at the Academy at Shawnee as it undergoes a $40 million renovation

The Academy at Shawnee is at the halfway point of its $40 million renovation.


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This project touches nearly every part of the school, including the third floor that hasn’t been used since the early 1980s.

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“I could not understand how we could possibly have a school building with a condemned floor,” said Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio. “How is that possible? What message does that send to the children of the school and the community?”

The third floor will be functional and welcome students for the first time in decades.

Pollio got his start as a JCPS teacher at the school when it was known as Shawnee High School.

“This place is special to me,” said Pollio. “Anytime you start your career somewhere. This place is special to me.”

Renovations include a new HVAC system, electric system, new lighting and new spaces. The library is one of the notable changes that are complete at this point in the project. It was moved to a more central location.

“The library was in the farthest corner of the school,” said Pollio. “Any kid who would go to the library, in many instances, would have a 10-minute walk there and a 10-minute walk back and how much instructional time did that waste?”

The pool has been fixed, the auditorium will receive all new seats and the Neighborhood Place will be its own hub where students and parents can easily be connected to important resources.

Pollio said the extreme renovations prove that investments must be made in district facilities.

“When I stepped into this position, I made it one of the things I was going to do was right this wrong,” said Pollio. “That in 1981 we had a floor in a high school

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