Home Owning

Home improvement or remodel

Personalizing your home or property and customizing it to your tastes and circumstances is a very large industry in the United States. The words “home improvement” suggest that whatever the project is that it will add value or improve functionality or appearance to your home.


Homeowners will often remodel without considering if the remodel adds value to the property – until they come to sell. Only then do they discover the marketplace may shun their investment for a coy pond, swimming pool or whatever action was taken.


With thousands of outlets and distribution channels, competition for these remodel dollars is intense, and sometimes the vendor will unwittingly say or do just about anything to make a sale.


If you have a home improvement or remodel project you are contemplating, and you are uncertain if the improvement will add value, or will somehow detract, just Ask Monty.

  1. I recently sold my home. The buyer is now coming back saying I lied on the condition report and wants me to pay to fix a problem. Am I responsible for the fix?

    Reader Question: I blacktopped my driveway and turnaround area to my garage. My house was for sale, and several people objected to the gravel drive. The house went under contract as soon as the work was completed. It looked great, and the buyers loved it. No issues. A month after closing the new owners contacted […]

    September 2, 2019
  2. We remodeled our home some years ago without a permit. We want to sell now and the question is on the condition report. How should we deal with it?

    Reader Question: Back in 2001-2002, we remodeled our home without a permit. We didn’t know it was required. Now we want to sell, and the question is on the seller condition report. Is there any way to overcome that issue now? Monty’s Answer: Permits can be a challenge for several reasons; ordinances change over time, […]

    July 14, 2019
  3. Have we made costly homeowner mistakes? Agents are stating one of our bedrooms is not a bedroom. Can this be true?

    Reader Question: Did we make some costly homeowner mistakes? We are selling our home we bought 40 years ago. We finished the unfinished upstairs ourselves to save money after we bought it. We raised four children here. Now the real estate agents say because one of the bedrooms is accessed through another bedroom and lacks a […]

    August 21, 2017
  4. Will adding solar panels affect the value of my home?

    Reader Question: ​How will adding solar panels to my home affect its value? Are the panels an asset or a liability? Does their value change with time? ​Monty’s Answer: You are asking questions that rely on science and future events that are beyond the scope of my expertise. With that qualification, here is one person’s […]

    August 7, 2017
  5. Do all home improvements make financial sense?

      Reader Question: I am worried that my home improvements are not going to pay off at all when I sell my house. Do all home improvements make financial sense? Jason C. Monty’s Answer: Not all home improvements make financial sense. Some homeowners make improvements because they want a particular feature or “feel, ” without […]

    April 12, 2016
  6. Is it worth it to finish a dirt floor basement?

    Reader Question: I am considering buying a home built in 1908. The basement has a dirt floor. Is there any financial advantage in have the floor finished with concrete? Monty’s Answer: Hello Michael, and thanks for your question. Homes with dirt floors in the basement are more common than we realize. Let us assume there is […]

    September 24, 2013
  7. Should I finish my basement if my mortgage is underwater?

    Reader Question: I have seen estimates and rules of thumb regarding the value added to a home by finishing the basement. They vary widely, from $20.00 to $90.00 per square foot. An online website values my home for $150 per square foot. At a $20.00 per square foot return, finishing the basement isn’t worth my […]

    December 5, 2012
  8. How do I pick a good general contractor for modern office?

    Reader Question: Monty, our company is expanding. We have an eye on a 10,000 square foot all-brick warehouse built in the 50’s. We want to gut it and turn it into an edgy-high tech office. We expect we can invest about 1.3M including 500T for improvements, based on the market rents in the neighborhood. What is the […]

    October 31, 2012
  9. Should I combine two parcels?

    Reader Question: Dear Monty, My wife and I recently purchased some lakefront property. The property contains two small, similar lots. We plan to keep both of them. One lot has a cabin, and the other is vacant. We currently pay property taxes of $800 (cabin parcel) and $550 (vacant parcel). At the time of purchase, […]

    September 10, 2012