Page 88 - The Montecito Journal Magazine Winter Spring 2008

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spr ing
The Remodel Dilemma
o you go for the sand-cast pewter door hardware?
What about hand-planed wood floors? Should you
opt for the stainless steel Sub-Zero refrigerator or the
look-a-like from Frigidaire? Kitchen cabinets with solid
wood fronts and boxes, or MDF fronts and boxes? What is MDF anyway?
I‘m continually astounded at the myriad choices that are available
with which to appoint a home. The choices are multi-dimensional, i.e.,
budget versus return on investment. Sounds more like a business deal
than a home.
Kind of.
Consider this: Americans, on average, count the equity in their home as
60% of their net worth.
As a former real estate licensee, I watched clients overbuild their
neighborhood, the land, or the market, with them saying all along the way,
“We’re not building this to re-sell; we’re building this to live in forever.”
Within three to five years, however, I’d get a call saying, “You know Steve,
we need to sell our house,” or “We want to sell our house so we can...” (fill
in the blank with any of the following statements): “move into something
smaller now that the kids have left home”; “find something larger, we’re
having another child”; “find something closer to work”; “buy something
closer to school.”
In other words: stuff happens. So, when re-modeling, adding to the
salability of one’s home makes absolute economic sense, as does not over-
building for the area, regardless of your present plans or circumstances.
Kitchens and baths, as has often been pointed out, are among the
most important elements in a homebuyer’s decision, and can often be the
difference in selling or not selling your home.
Solid Wood Cabinets or MDF?
For instance, consider the question regarding the kitchen cabinets,
above. At first pass, there’s no question: I would rather have solid wood
cabinets. After all, it’s solid wood, what could be better than that?
Answer: MDF (Modified Density Fiberboard). How about the same look,
the same or better durability, and about 1/3 less cost?
Other facts about MDF: varieties are less expensive than natural woods;
some varieties are considered green*; MDF is isotropic (no grain), so
has no tendency to split, hence more efficient to prep and paint; MDF is
consistent in strength and size, flexible, shapes well, and can be used for
a curved surface.
*Moisture-resistant variety is typically green (LEED citation needed).
If you’re going to have painted kitchen cabinets, then you will likely
never see another dollar for the value of your home if you choose MDF over
by Steve Thompson