Consider These Home Enhancements for a Better Life

Fixer Upper Houses: A Guide to Knowing If They're Worth It - This Old House

In April 2021, according to, the national median listing price for houses on the market was $375,000, an increase of 17.2 percent from the same time last year. Despite the steep prices, people bought houses for sale across the country within 43 days from listing. This is because the inventory of available homes for sale nationwide declined by 53 percent from the same period in 2020. Buyers determined to acquire a home are willing to pay a premium and are jostling in competition.

The increase in home prices is good news for current homeowners, even if they do not plan to sell their homes. According to data from CoreLogic, about 62 percent of home properties are under a mortgage, and these homeowners gained almost $1.5 trillion in equity in the fourth quarter of 2020, representing an increase of 16.2 percent year on year. The average American homeowner gained about $26,300 in equity in the fourth quarter of 2020, with the largest gain at $54,500. According to CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft, many homeowners used their equity gains to finance home remodeling and improvement.

Outdoor Space

With the long months of having to stay home during the pandemic, Americans realize that they need to create outdoor spaces within their properties. They feel a hankering to be in the fresh air, in the sunlight or moonlight, surrounded by greenery. Those with enough land area are building around or beside the house, while those who do not are building upwards, replacing the roof with a roof deck, or adding a roomy balcony.

Building a patio, deck, gazebo, or pergola is popular as an extension of the living room outdoors. People are adding a jacuzzi for the summer months and an outdoor gas fireplace for the colder months. Built-in seating in cement or wood or weather-proof outdoor furniture completes the ensemble.

Potted plants are still in demand, and so are landscaping design and maintenance services. People want flowers, vegetables, herbs, bushes, and small trees, as well as lawns where children and pets can play.

People build cottages or posh sheds as home offices or hobby centers, called by many names such as she-sheds or man-caves. In some cases, these are larger accessory dwelling units (ADUs) that can stand as independent residences either attached to or detached from the main house.

Having an ADU can convert the existing single-family home into a multi-family home. A single or newlywed son or daughter can occupy the ADU. Alternatively, the ADU can accommodate elderly parents.

Many are age-proofing the ADU to make it ready for occupants of any age. This means having complete amenities on the first level, from the bedroom to the toilet and bathroom, kitchen, dining room, and living room. There must be no steps on the first level, and there must be handrails and a built-in shower seat in the bathroom. If there is a second floor, this can accommodate a younger companion.

Indoor Space

People are also building indoors. Creating home offices and home classrooms are the most popular renovations, either as separate enclosures within the existing living space or by remodeling the basement or attic. Home gyms are common additions for convenience. Households are also preparing isolation rooms in case a family member gets sick.

Adding new and larger windows brings in more natural light and visually expands indoor space. People are also taking advantage of new technology in window glass that filters out harmful UV rays and saves energy by keeping out the heat in summer and keeping out the cold in winter.

Suppose there is no ADU, people age-proof the main house. According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Census Bureau, 90 percent of homes nationwide are not equipped for the needs of the elderly. This is worrisome because 11 million of the elderly have difficulty walking or climbing stairs. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 30 million older adults suffer falls annually, with one senior falling every second in the country.

Worthy Lifestyle Investments

Using the home equity to add enhancements to the house for a better lifestyle is a worthy investment. It immediately improves the quality of life of homeowners while increasing the value of the property, something like having your cake and eating it, too.

With age-proofing, the home also becomes ready for retirement and aging in place, a better option for many than an institutional retirement home. If it is made into a multi-family home, family members can take care of their elderly, and the elderly can help look after grandchildren. This is a return to old values that will be most beneficial to society.

Meta title: Practical Add-ons to Further Enjoy Your Abode
meta desc: As prices of housing soar, homeowners gain higher equities on properties and use these for renovations and remodeling projects that improve their lifestyles.