6 Smart Ways to Splurge on Your Home Upgrades

A few luxury home upgrades go a long way toward making your home truly your castle — and more marketable when it’s time to sell.

Thin radiant mats can be installed under bathroom tiles to pleasantly heat the floor -- a dream come true for many homeowners, especially in the middle of winter. Image: Warmboard

Every remodel should add value to your home; that’s our mantra. But HouseLogic knows that some luxuries just make your home life sweeter and easier — and there’s terrific value in that, too.

Here are some of our favorite remodeling splurges that are great for your life now and someday may pique a buyer’s interest.

1. Central Vac (aka Whole-House Vacuum)

What:A super-suction, built-in vacuum system that features convenient inlet ports throughout the house where you plug in 25-to-50-foot lightweight vacuum hoses. The collection bin is usually located in a basement or garage.

Why: No more dragging heavy vacuum cleaners up and down stairs and throughout the house. With central vacs all you need to schlepp is a lightweight hose fitted with a power brush.

Central vacs have up to five times the suction power of portable vacuums, and they store dust far away from where it’s collected — great for allergy sufferers. Some high-tech systems have retractable hoses that disappear into the wall.

Tip:Make sure you have enough ports — at least one for every 500 sq. ft.

How much:
$1,500-$2,500 to retrofit a house; add about $500 for retractable hose.

2. Steam Shower

A sealed shower attached to a steam generator that turns the stall into a steam room. You can build a steam shower from scratch or buy a prefab fiberglass unit.

Why: Steam relaxes, opens sinuses, soothes muscles, and cleans pores. Installing a steam shower is a major project that includes wiring for the generator; vapor-proofing walls, floors, and ceiling; installing a tightly-fitting door; and having a bathroom fan outside the shower to suck up the extra humidity.

Tip: A sloped ceiling in the shower room ensures that condensation runs off.

How much:
Fiberglass unit: $1,000-$5,000; framed-in unit and generator: $7,000-$10,000.

3. Heated Bathroom Floors

What: Thin, thermostatically-controlled electric radiant mats that install under tile.

Why: No more cold tootsies when stepping out of the shower in the morning. Many systems come with timers so warm bathroom floors await you each morning.

Tip: Heated floors help stem mold growth in humid places.

How much: $15.59/sq. ft. for material and installation (not counting cost of tile or adding 20-amp GFCI dedicated circuit with 110 volts, $97-$245).

More About Radiant Heat

4. Super Skylights

Roof windows that let sunlight in. Upscale models feature insulated glass, solar-powered shades, and rain sensors that’ll automatically close an open skylight in bad weather.

Nobody likes dark, dreary rooms and hallways. Skylights let the sun shine into areas you can’t brighten with windows — hallways, interior rooms, even closets. Skylights save you money on heating, cooling, and lighting bills.

Tip: If you plan to open and close skylights, order screens to keep out bugs and roof debris.

How much: $500-$3,500 (depending on size, glazing, and complexity) installed.

5. Towel Warming Drawer

What: A stainless steel, heated drawer that slips into cabinetry, plugs into an outlet, and warms towels.

Because there’s nothing more snuggly than wrapping a warm towel around you after a bath or shower.

Tip: Towels take time to heat up — some people say as much as 45 minutes — so you’ll have to plan ahead to have a toasty one ready when you are.

How much: $1,700-$3,400.

6. Whole-House Electrostatic Filters

What: Also called “electrostatic precipitators,” these dust-removing wonders are incorporated into your HVAC ductwork. They charge polluted air with a high-voltage current, and then collect particles on plates with the opposite charge. Great at removing tiny particles that slip through regular fiberglass filters. 

Whole-house electrostatic filters remove smoke, dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and dust, improving air quality and health. But they also create ozone as a byproduct which is a lung irritant, so the health benefits could be a wash.

The filters last indefinitely, but you’ll have to clean the plates, some say as often as once a week; others advise every 2-3 months.

How much:
$600-$1,000 installed.


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