There are always areas of a home that have room for improvement. Upgrading one of these areas will improve your use and enjoyment of your home and if done well can also positively impact the value.

Trina Knudsen, Renovation Design Group

The housing market is hot right now in Utah. There are more buyers than houses on the market, and most houses are selling quickly. Home values are rising, and that is a good thing regardless of whether a homeowner is selling or staying in place.

A Salt Lake housing forecast from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors earlier this year pointed to historic growth in 2015 and predicted 2016 would be another “very good year.” Now, we are seeing the prediction become reality.

There is a positive energy in the housing industry right now. It is refreshing to see the change in the dynamic from where we were eight years ago in the 2008 downturn. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index shows builders’ confidence in the market and the industry is holding steady and has been steady for the past four months. Whichever way we look at it, a hot housing market is a good thing for the real estate and construction industry.

NAHB’s press release on May 17, citing data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department, indicates that “nationwide housing starts rose 6.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million in April.”

“The fact that future sales expectations rose slightly this month shows that builders are confident that the market will continue to strengthen,” NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz said in the news release. “Job creation, low mortgage interest rates and pent-up demand will also spur growth in the single-family housing sector moving forward.”

Besides selling lots of houses, a hot market creates another situation. Because there are more buyers than houses that are for sale, some buyers miss out on getting a house. These buyers are left dissatisfied with their current house but can’t seem to land a new house either. It may actually be time to bite the bullet and tackle that remodeling project you have talked about for years.

In our office, we have seen an influx of clients coming through our doors in this exact situation. They may have decided to move but been pushed out by the hot market. Therefore, many clients are reconsidering the potential of their current house and what could be accomplished with a serious home remodel. Remember, the goal of home design is to create a home that meets your family’s needs and functions well on a daily basis.

Then there is the move-and-remodel scenario. While buying a new house can go a long way to having a house that supports your family goals, it is rarely a perfect match. This can lead to the uncomfortable conclusion that after a family moves into a new house, there will still be potential remodeling projects looming. At the very least, there will be some finishes (flooring, countertops or wall colors) that the new owners would like to change. With today’s high purchase prices, there may be no money left for cosmetic upgrades after signing on the line for a new mortgage.

Remodeling is not necessarily cheaper than buying a larger or new house. The question that has to be answered is: “By taking the same amount of money we are investing in a new home and applying it to a major remodel to our existing home, could we have the same functional results with the added benefit of new, up-to-date finishes that we select and which will create a look we will love?” In such a case, remodeling may indeed give you a finished product that will suit your needs better than a home into which you might move.

Because of the control that remodeling can give in terms of both function and aesthetics, some people take the approach of looking for a lower-cost home with “good bones” or potential that they can upgrade into their dream home. However, in a sellers’ market, this is more problematic due to the higher asking price many homes are currently sporting.

Therefore, a homeowner may be better off by using the equity in his or her existing home, taking the Realtor’s fee and the cost of moving and applying this money to the remodeling budget.

Whether a person is shopping for a new house, building new or remodeling, the first step is to assess his or her family’s needs and wants and to set realistic goals for a house. Carefully consider what kind of lifestyle the family would want and seek to create a home that will support that lifestyle.

Don’t let a house determine how you live in it. The details of home design truly dictate how homeowners use their house, so make sure they are thoughtful and thorough with decisions. If a homeowner is diligent and intentional about it, the result will be that he or she can be happy with the home regardless of whether the decision is to stay or to move.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs. To learn more, visit or contact

Renovation Solutions: Hot housing market impacts decision to buy or remodel