I’m an advocate of design and remodeling choices that enhance daily living. Not ones aimed at maximizing resale return on investment.
But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore the effects of renovations on a property’s future value.
It’s okay to make peculiar or particular changes that work in the short term, but stick to ones that can be easily undone (by you or by a future owner). Examples of safe choices include replacing grass with artificial lawn (some people can’t abide the fake stuff) or opting for an eccentric exterior color (paint is easily changed).
But some choices are practically incurable and have a huge negative impact on value. Undoing them is too costly. Examples include eliminating parking or stuccoing over a clapboard-sided Victorian.
Or removing stairs. Which brings me to the story of Rapunzel.
Raising teenagers is challenging. Parents inevitably experience a conflict between wanting to be close to their teens and simultaneously as far away from them as possible. They want the teen’s bedroom on the same floor as the rest of the family. Yet they’re tempted to install them in the bonus room behind the garage where they’re out of sight out of mind.
There’s a wish to control the teenager, but any attempt to do so is futile. To traverse the teen years, parents can set clear boundaries, support responsible independence, reward honesty, and encourage plain talk about sex and/or drugs.
But it’s best to avoid the sorts of actions undertaken by Rapunzel’s adoptive mother. Removing the only means of egress to a teen’s bedroom is not only a hazard, it’s the sort of move guaranteed to ruin the parent-child relationship.
And since the installation of stairs is always an expensive hassle, the removal of stairs usually diminishes property value. Nobody wants to use a hair ladder on a daily basis. Non-code stairs or (worse) spiral staircases are crappy enough.
We see – in the Grimm brothers’ version of Rapunzel – just how badly it can go. We’re talking eating disorders, extortion, child endangerment, teen pregnancy, violence and tonsorial harm. Not to mention the difficulty Dame Gothel must have had selling her vacant tower after Punzie ran off with that Prince boy.
Instead of demolishing three levels of stone stairs, Ms. Gothel should have opted for family counseling. Or – in the first place – she should have pursued neighborhood mediation to make the pregnant lady next door stop stealing and eating all the rampion in her witchy garden. Crafting a crooked deal to adopt the neighbor’s firstborn child wasn’t such a hot idea. That sort of thing always ends badly.
If YOU are contemplating renovations to your home, be sure to call me first. I can help you strike the right balance between ROI and lifestyle enhancement.