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"The Sign of Renovation in Your Neighborhood

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Fixes, big and small, add appeal that catches eyes of potential buyers

Project Features

Judy Hotchkiss June 1994

"Fixes, big and small, add appeal that
catches eyes of potential buyers"

David Banks's little Cape Cod house on Hancock Drive has a good location. It's just east of Virginia-Highland, a few hundred feet into DeKalb County. But a two-bedroom, one-bath 1940s jhouse is simply a tiny house.

So Banks and his wife, Marty Bova-Banks, decided to expand.

They added 800 square feet to the attic for a master suite and an office, in the process enhancing the home's curb appeal with a new roof line.

The project began with a request that Sawhorse Inc. renovation specialists replace a rotting deck and add a master bedroom in the basement.

Sawhorse's Carl Seville told the Bankses they could add the basement bedroom but it would add little or no value to the house. Attic renovations add value; basement rooms do not, says Seville.

Where Banks despaired that the original attic was a scant 7 feet high, Seville saw potential. A new roof with four dormers accommodates new, 10-foot ceilings - some vaulted even higher. The Bankses gained a spacious master bedroom, large bath, walk-in closet, sitting room and office.

The house went from a two-bedroom, one-bath house to three bedrooms, two baths. A twin tier of decks completes the $90,000 job. The trick, if there was one, was rebuilding the front roof so it looks much the same but extends farther over a front porch.

Enhanced curb appeal was a bonus. It also will hasten the home' s sale should the couple ever decide to move. "A fresh-looking house sells quicker than a tired one," says Zac Pasmanick of REMAX In Town. "It's a fact, you get more calls on a house that looks good from the street than on one that's such a dog it's still barking at you a block away."

Among the small fixes to enliven the front of a house, he suggests fresh paint. Paint the front door bright red or a dark color and the exterior a trendy color with an accent trim. Even consider painting dowdy brick. A house on North Highland has had more inquiries since the owners repainted the trim a trendy Sherwood green. New screens on the porch look fresher. Well-kept beds of pansies or impatiens also lend appeal, he says.

"First impressions are so important," says Pasmanick. Some updates backfire. Skylights on the front of the house are a no-no, he says. For light in the front, add dormers, as the Bankses did, or locate skylights on the back.

Tired houses end up being fixer-uppers, sell slower and are likely to fetch a lower price, he says. Poorly handled renovations can turn a remodeled house into one a buyer thinks needs work. This translates into more time on the market. "And time is money," says Pasmanick.

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