ALTERED ESTATES : Planning Now Aids Future Sale

There are two types of remodelers in the San Fernando Valley's fast-paced real estate market: those who wish to create a space to live in and enjoy, and those who hope to quickly resell the house at a profit.

Real-estate agents advise remodelers in either category to consider features that are attractive to buyers.

Margie Lipson, a broker with White House Properties in Encino, says the master bedroom suite, "featuring a roomy master bedroom, Jacuzzi tub, stall shower for two, double sinks, walk-in closets with drawers, shoe racks and open shelving, and even a sitting room area," is a big draw for prospective buyers.

The cost to add such a suite can vary greatly, depending on the quality of the windows, fixtures, flooring and other amenities.

Northridge contractor Thomas Auten said such a master-bedroom suite could cost from $60,000 to $150,000. Robert E. Lee, a Reseda contractor, agreed. He estimated that a "high-end master suite should cost about $100,000."

But a scaled-down version, with a 12-by-18-foot master bedroom with open-beamed ceilings, French doors to a deck, wooden windows, and a bathroom with a separate toilet room--all popular features--runs between $30,000 and $40,000, both Auten and Lee said.

The next most important remodeling project, Lipson said, is the kitchen. In houses selling for less than $400,000, painting cabinets and putting in tile, new hardware, a few glass cupboards, and new vinyl flooring may be all the upgrading that is necessary.

But for those interested in totally redoing a 15-by-15-foot kitchen--installing solid oak cabinets, relocating the plumbing, installing new appliances, upgrading the electricity, and putting in new tile or flooring--both Auten and Lee estimated the average cost to be $25,000, depending, of course, on what needs to be done structurally.

Lipson encouraged potential remodelers to consider adding a sumptuous bathroom to almost any three-bedroom, one-bathroom home. "You can easily add $20,000 to $30,000 in value by putting the home into the two-bathroom market, if the bathroom is done right," she said.

Auten estimated that a 10-by-12-foot bathroom with a skylight, cathedral ceiling with exposed beams, linen closet, oak cabinets with marble tops, fiberglass tub and shower and closet area should cost between $10,000 and $15,000. Lee reported that he did a 120-square-foot bathroom with a sauna and Jacuzzi tub, a marble entry area and 8-foot wardrobe doors for $17,000.

The wide range in the costs of bedroom suites, bathrooms or kitchens is largely due to the decorating and design decisions that the remodeler makes. One Kohler toilet costs $150; another costs $1,000. Some tile runs $2 to $3 a square foot, while hand-painted or imported tile can cost up to $15 to $20 a tile. Marble runs as high as $30 a square foot.

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