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Is it time to get a wine cellar?

Is it time to get a wine cellar?

Does a Wine Cellar Increase Your Home’s Value?

Elizabeth Dougherty

“No man also having drunk old wine straightaway desireth new: for he saith, ‘The old is better’.” Luke 5:39


Even in ancient times, apparently, folks knew really good wine from the less desirable stuff. In today’s world, most people think cellaring wine is beyond their reach. I have to admit, the prospect of building a wine cellar does seem daunting. Luckily, there are experts right here in the Tampa Bay region to take some of the guesswork out of it.

My first stop was my local wine guy. Having helped homeowners set up their own wine cellars in the past, he was a wealth of information. The first, and most important piece of advice is to make sure the cellar is located in an interior room or closet away from windows and unwanted temperature fluctuations. “It’s best to use an interior closet, if you can,” he said. Asked about artificial cooling methods, he recommended equipment from International Wine Accessories, Inc. Their website is www.iwawine.com. On the website, there are lots of choices for racks, as well. He says to make sure the wine is well supported, cannot be jostled and the bottles are stored sideways. Once you have your cellar ready, what should you fill it with? “It’s important to develop a palate profile”, he advises, “and make sure you insure it.”

In adding up the cost for a small closet-size cooling unit, basic pine racking and foil/foam insulation (available at Home Depot or Lowe’s), it comes to about $1,000.00. Not bad for a place to store and showcase an impressive wine collection. Suddenly, you might find a lot of your friends inviting themselves over every weekend.

Still, the question about home value is lingering in my mind. I’ve worn two hats in life; my old career encompassed all things relating to real estate, mortgages and the closing process. However, for the past ten years or so (since culinary school) I’ve spent more time tasting wine (and food) and writing about it than valuing homes. So I decided to contact some appraisers to give me the skinny on how much a home wine cellar adds to residential real estate value.

What I have learned is there are two basic ways of valuing a home cellar. Some appraisers rely mostly on what’s called the “cost approach” to value. That is, how much would it cost me to build the cellar in today’s dollars? A handbook such as the Residential Cost Handbook from Marshall & Swift is generally used. The other approach is the Market Value approach that relies on comparable sales of homes with similar amenities. In this case, both approaches suggest a boost in value to an average price range residential home of around $1000.00 for the addition of a wine cellar that is about the size of a coat closet. Keep in mind that if you use your coat closet for a wine cellar, there might be a small reduction in value for not having a coat closet if most homes in your price range have one.

Whew! It’s a lot to think about when all you wanted was a place to stash some wine, right? Here’s my best advice to you. If you like wine and want to build a little cellar as a project, do it. You’ll usually gain the cost back in the value of your home. And, although the price of a wine cellar might be $1000, the look on your guests faces when you crack open that 1997 bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet, for instance, is priceless.

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