home improvement

Does The Type of Retaining Wall Change Resale Value?


Dear Dave,

Now that spring is upon us and summer is fast approaching, we are getting some projects lined out for our property. We have an area that needs a retaining wall, 25 feet long and 4 feet high, and we would like some advice on what might be the best route to take. We have access to railroad ties but we aren’t sure if those will have as good of resale value for the property as a rock or stone retaining wall. What are your thoughts on this?

Much Appreciated,

Jim and Ruth - Loma, CO

Jim and Ruth,

Again, many issues to uncover and consider here.  First, you are thinking resale and I always love it when people think resale!  What you do to your home while you live there will significantly impact the value of your home either positively or negatively.  By focusing on resale, it does not guarantee anything, however it will help ensure your actions have a positive impact on your bottom line when you do decide to sell. 

A retaining wall can be a definite value ad to a property from both the function side and the aesthetic looks of our landscaping. The most important thing, in my mind, is to have it done by a professional, so it looks like it was done by a professional. Case in point, I added a pond to my property five years ago and around ¾ of the pond we had a boulder retaining wall that went from ground level at a 90 degree angle up the side of the pond to the top edge. It looked awful! I had a visitor ask me one time, “Why did you build an elephant watering hole?” Yikes! Needless to say, we did not feel very good about our “pond”.  This spring, we hired a landscape professional, Keith Lowdermilk of Lowdermilk Landscaping, to re-do some of our landscaping. While he was looking over the job, he asked if he could “re-do” our retaining wall around our pond. He thought he could make it look better. We said, “Absolutely!” After all, it was a total eye sore and we don’t even own an elephant! Long story short, he completely rebuilt the retaining wall around our pond and now it is a highlighted feature of our landscaping rather than something we were trying to hide. The cost was ridiculously reasonable, especially considering the end result. He used the same boulders we had and simply re-stacked and reshaped the contour and the finished product is amazing! The moral of the story - don’t be afraid to hire a professional!

“Regardless of the medium used, railroad ties, boulders, or rocks, I think it can be a valuable addition. “

Regardless of the medium used, railroad ties, boulders, or rocks, I think it can be a valuable addition. Try to pick a medium that is in line with the style of your home. If you have a more country or cottage feel, then maybe a rail road tie wall would look best. However, if your home is newer and is stucco and stone then maybe something with boulders would look best. From a pure cost perspective, if you have the inside track on some cost savings on railroad ties, I would suggest you follow that route. As I learned, spend a bit extra and go with the professional to, at a minimum, help you design the wall, but potentially also install your wall. 

Do it right the first time and it will really pay off and look great! Remember, not everything is about resale - you are going to have to look at it for many years and if it is done right you will look at it as a feature and not an eyesore. My bet is you (and your back!) won’t regret it. Hope this helps.


Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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Which Decking Material is Best for Resale Value?

Back yard house exterior with spacious wooden deck

Dear Dave,

 We have been considering a deck “make over” in the spring and are undecided about what type of material to use for our decking. We really have no intentions of moving, however always have the “what would be best if we did have to sell?” mentality when making home improvements.  What are your thoughts on composite deck material, like Trex, versus a standard redwood or natural wood decking material? I want something that is going to last, add value to my home and stand up to kids and dogs. I am leaning towards a Trex type decking, but it seems to cost a lot more.

Thanks for the help!

Joel - Orchard Mesa, CO


Good question and paying attention to your outdoor living space is VERY smart.  It is nice you can make this decision based on what you want and not have to make the decision based primarily on monetary return will be. Since you are going to keep living there, then the return on your investment is not paramount and getting what you want becomes a larger part of the equation. Outdoor living space has become increasingly important and buyers will absolutely pay more money for a home if the outdoor living area is top notch and dialed in! Decks can be an awesome feature on any home, especially in Western Colorado where we enjoy over 300 days a year of sunshine. A deck can also be a huge liability to any home if it is in disrepair or in bad need of a major overhaul. Much of your decision should be based on your homes setting, price range, and your budget.

What do I mean by your setting? Your home’s setting is a crucial part of deciding how far to take this endeavor. If you back up to wonderful views, a private field, the Gunnison River or Valley floor then spending extra money will pay off and might pay off in a big way. If you have a special setting then the value of an awesome outdoor living area takes on a higher value and will become a significant selling feature in the eyes of future buyers. In turn, if you are located in a typical neighborhood setting with smaller yards and rows of fence line, then the importance of the material is less important as you are not really capitalizing on a special setting. The location of the deck on your home is also a major player in this decision. How does the deck lay out in reference to the rest of your home’s living space? If you have a large deck that extends from your kitchen/eating or main living room and is easily usable in the day to day and for entertaining, then the importance is heightened. If, for instance, your deck is off the side of your home and accessible only through the office then the importance is significantly diminished and I would suggest finding another feature to highlight.  

The price point of your home is also a major player in the decision making process.  The higher the home value, the more likely the extra cost of a Trex decking or more exotic natural wood will be appreciated.

The price point of your home is also a major player in the decision making process.  The higher the home value, the more likely the extra cost of a Trex decking or more exotic natural wood will be appreciated. I have seen some amazing exotic wood and Trex wood decks that were no doubt a serious selling feature and were significant value ads, especially for those who live and covet the outdoor lifestyle. The one thing you do not want to do is over build or over improve your home and the value of homes in your neighborhood. If you add a $10k deck to a $160,000 home it is not as likely you will get all that money back.  In turn, if you add a $25k deck to a $400,000 home there is a good chance you can recover those costs.  

The bottom line is this, if you are looking for durability, low maintenance and can afford the larger investment then I would go with a high quality TREX product. Be careful of going with a copycat product, not all composite decking is created equal. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, go with natural wood and water seal it every year to ensure it looks great for years to come and does not become a maintenance issue. Even if you go with a pressure treated natural wood deck and keep it maintained it will look great and last for years. You don’t have to go expensive to be fabulous, but you will have to maintain it. I hope you love your new deck and it provides incredible memories for years to come!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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Outdoor Living Features with Excellent & Poor Resale Value

Back yard house exterior with spacious wooden deck


We want to do some outside renovation to our home this spring/summer and are considering all of our options. In your experience, what do you think people value the most in outdoor living spaces?

We’re considering all options, from a built in BBQ, to a hot tub, maybe even a pool. We enjoy being outside in our wonderful Colorado weather and want to look ahead to when we sell our home as we undertake this project.

Thank you for your input.

Todd and Lacey - Fruita, CO

Todd & Lacey,

I think any improvements to your outdoor living area will be beneficial and be a selling feature when you eventually sell your home. Most important I would suggest you evaluate your lifestyle and the family activities that you enjoy most and design your new outdoor living space to fit what your family enjoys most. 

Circular Fire Pit

This question is with perfect timing, I was just speaking with one of our builders this week about outdoor living spaces and how valuable they are to consumers. This value is magnified in our location, because of the wonderful weather we enjoy 8 months of the year (virtually all 12 months this year!). An outdoor deck or patio with pergola and built in BBQ or fire pit can be a neighborhood gathering area and the spontaneous parties with friends and family will provide memories that can last forever. This kind of upgrade is very valuable and fairly cost effective in the grand scheme of things and generally found to be of added value to most any home buyer. Hot tubs and pools can be much more polarizing.

If you are considering a hot tub remember they are often one of those, “we can take it or leave it items” for most buyers. It is my experience that a hot tub generally does not move the needle very far in either direction when it comes to perceived value. A pool is one feature that is VERY polarizing. If you are going to put in a pool, do so for your own enjoyment. Do not add a pool looking for a large return on your investment down the road, because it is likely not going to be there. People are either pool people or they are not…it is that simple. I do find that pools are becoming more valuable and sought after by consumers, but it is a specific subset of them, not the majority. As I discussed this week with a friend of mine, your general return on a pool is 50% max, and that can go up or down depending on the price of your home.

The bottom line is this, whatever feature you decide to install will hopefully be with your family’s enjoyment in mind and the time you spend using it will further your relationships and really what more could you ask for!

The bottom line is this, whatever feature you decide to install will hopefully be with your family’s enjoyment in mind and the time you spend using it will further your relationships and really what more could you ask for! Sometimes we do things that might not make financial sense, because they are done for pure enjoyment and there is nothing wrong with that! Life experiences and memories made are what these features are all about! Have a blast this summer and enjoy whatever you decide to create!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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Should We Xeriscape Our Yard?



Our landscaping needs a complete overhaul! We were in the middle of drawing up plans to revamp our front and back yard when I ran across some ideas for xeriscaping online. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it in the first place! We would love the low maintenance aspect of it since my wife and I travel a lot. The only thing is we’re thinking of downsizing in a few years. Before we take the leap and jump all in on the idea, what’s your opinion on the style and furthermore if it will turn away buyers once we go to sell.

Love your column!

Cynthia & Bob, Grand Junction


Cynthia and Bob,

I think it’s a great idea! Xeriscaping is quite popular and can be very attractive, especially in our “high desert” climate that easily lends itself to that style. The one hesitation I might have revolves around what type of home you have? If your home/neighborhood lends itself to families with younger children then I might lean toward xeriscaping in the front yard and having some grass/yard in the back. I totally get the low/no maintenance attraction, but people with younger kids tend to want a grass back yard for them to have a play area and gravel does not make the most inviting play area for younger kids! 

Xeriscaping is quite popular and can be very attractive, especially in our “high desert” climate that easily lends itself to that style.

If you take these things into account I do not believe you will have any issues when it comes time to sell, in fact it might be a selling point to many buyers who crave the low/no maintenance yard as people's time only becomes more valuable as we all get stretched even more thin! Again, great idea and enjoy your new landscaping! 

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Should I add to my current garage or build a detached shop?


Dear Dave,

I have been throwing around the idea of building a shop at my house. I live on about an acre lot and have a fairly new home, built in 2007. I have room to build a detached shop and also room to add onto my current 2 car garage.

My question for you is, what do you think would make the most sense when I go to sell the house someday? Do people appreciate a detached shop or would they like it connected to the house?

Thanks for the help-
Robert, Grand Junction


I believe this is an idea that virtually every man throws around from time to time, where can I build a shop? Building a shop has almost become part of the American dream. Right behind the dream of a detached shop is a three car garage or three car garage with large storage shed! As you wander through life accumulating “things” that you probably no longer need, but can’t force yourself to part with the idea of more and more storage becomes increasingly important.

A detached shop can be a man’s private kingdom and it is hard to put a price on that.

In my opinion, build a detached shop. The nice thing about a detached shop, over one that is attached, is that what is in or what is happening at the detached shop is less likely to spill over to the main garage and house. This is a simple function of being “detached”. A detached shop can be a man’s private kingdom and it is hard to put a price on that. The fact that a garage or shop is detached from the rest of the house implies that not everyone is invited, there is limited access.  Having a shop that is detached also gives one the opportunity to separate his or herself from the chaos or activities of the main structure and provide a place of solace and privacy where anything goes and being clean are not words that need to be feared! Having a place that is a safe haven is valuable and for those who are used to having it, it is VERY valuable.  

Go detached and live longer and more prosperous and when you go to sell, enjoy the rewards of having a detached shop! I am kidding about the longer and more prosperous part, but the rewards will be no joke! It will, no doubt, be a big selling feature that will have you seeing more green! ($)

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

What type of roofing material is the best investment?

Dear Dave,


We will be needing a new roof in the next year or so and I wanted to get your opinion on different materials and options that may be available. We typically see shingles, but more and more we are seeing metal roofs and understand that is a more recent trend. Do you have an opinion on which of these choices may be best? Are there any other materials that you would recommend that might be better?

We will be retiring and selling our house in a few years, so we want to get our money’s worth.

John and Kate, Grand Junction, CO

John and Kate,

When making home improvements it is always wise to consider your return on investment prior to making any selections or firm decisions.  However, selecting a new roof and basing your decision on return on investment can be a tricky proposition. One thing I have learned over the years is, there are a few basic characteristics every home buyer expects as a given when purchasing their home and having a “decent” roof is one of those expectations. Buyers expect, and rightly so, that the roof to be in good condition with a minimum of 3 years remaining on the anticipated life expectancy.

Because it is a basic expectation for any buyer that the roof be in good repair, you can assume that very few, if any, buyers are going to be willing to pay significantly more for the home because the roof is new or newer. They will appreciate that your roof is in better condition and it may help sell your home faster or help it beat out another competing house, but long as the life expectancy is more than 3-5 years don’t expect to reap any real tangible monetary benefits. That being said, you do have the opportunity to impact the price of your home, monetarily, by replacing your roof with a different material or texture that will impact your home's appearance.  

Buying a home is an emotional experience and homes that have a unique appearance or unique characteristics certainly can get a leg up on the competition during the sales process. Consider using a standing seam metal roof or a thicker architectural shingle for your next roof!   Metal roofs provide a fresh look and are becoming very popular. If your home lends itself to mixing the surfaces, you can create wonderful street presence that will help you stand out from the other homes that are for sale and even other homes in your neighborhood. You can also provide a pop of color, but don’t go too crazy with the color. A thicker architectural shingle can also look wonderful and provide some depth where none previously existed. These thicker shingles generally are used when replacing shake shingles, as they help maintain some of the original look. You can also go the way of a tile roof, but be careful that you do not over build your neighborhood or over improve your property. 

There are options out there to dabble with some new looks, however note that these options will be more expensive and less budget friendly than a standard 30 year architectural shingle. Be mindful of your budget and anticipated return and don’t be afraid to ask for other professional opinions prior to making the leap on your next roof. Hope this helps and I bet it turns out great!                                                            

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team