Which Home Improvement Projects Should You Start With? Best Home Improvements for Selling & ROI

Home Improvement ProjectsWhether you're the proud owner of a new home or want to spruce up your current property to put it on the market, some home improvement projects pay bigger dividends than others. The best renovations are ones that will add value to your property and make your home a more livable space for years to come.

Renovations to Prioritize

If you're not sure where to start on improving your property, check out one or more of these parts of your home to see if they need an update:

Attic and Wall Insulation

Year after year, reports show that adding insulation is the very best home improvement project for homeowners looking to make a big return on their investment. Because it immediately saves you money on your energy bills, the project often pays for itself within months. It's an attractive selling point for future buyers looking for more eco-friendly houses, and you may also be eligible for rebates or subsidies to get the job done affordably.

It is also possible to complete this project by yourself. However, you will need to do a good bit of research and invest a lot of time in procuring the materials and installing them.

Roof Repair or Replacement

If your roof has seen much better days, it often makes sense to bite the bullet and have it repaired or even replaced entirely. This can be an expensive project, but protecting the rest of your home and belongings from water damage in the long run is well worth it. This high-value renovation can return much of your investment, as an outdated roof is a big turn-off to potential buyers who don't want to be burdened with an immediate repair in their new home.

Beyond this, a damaged roof can bring about a plethora of other problems if not dealt with in a reasonable amount of time. However, not all roofs need replacement, so do not rush into a job that does not actually have to occur!

Smart Kitchen Upgrades

If you have your heart set on a home improvement project that lets you get creative with your interior design, a minor kitchen remodel should be high on your list of priorities. This can include refacing the cabinets, adding energy-efficient appliances and swapping outdated lighting and design choices for a fresh look. Kitchens are a major selling point in the real estate market, so having an up-to-date one is crucial for selling later.

No matter how long you plan to stay in your current home, these projects should be at the top of your to-do list when it comes to renovations. They provide the best bang for your buck by keeping your home safe from the elements and making it more attractive. When in doubt, you may want to ask a real estate agent about the current look of your home, or an inspector about how your roof or insulation is holding up.

High ROI Home Upgrades

Sometimes, small improvements result in higher dollars, but that's not always the case. On the other hand, major renovations often bring disappointing returns. Knowing the potential return on investment for various home repairs and remodels will help you make the right decisions.

Among the most popular home improvement projects are kitchen and bath remodels (including a bath addition), "reinventing" a room, adding a deck, and increasing the home's energy efficiency. All will add value as well as increase your enjoyment quotient.

Minor kitchen remodels—those costing $15,000 or less—constitute good value, and buyers in the hottest housing markets are apt to pay happily for updated kitchens. The decision to remodel should be based not only on resale potential but also on family enjoyment and the value the project adds to your lifestyle. By all means, remodel to your desires if you have every expectation of remaining in your home for five to 10 years. In that case, your considerations would be your own preferences and your individual budget.

However, improvements undertaken solely for the purpose of selling for top dollar are a different story.

Financial Return On Investment

According to real estate agents, architects, contractors and buyers too, the least glamorous improvements are prone to be the biggest attractions for homebuyers. Experts suggest that the money spent on a new roof or siding, repairing a leaky basement and repainting exterior trim will yield a better return than investing the same dollar amount on granite countertops or a new steam shower.

The ROI, short for "return on investment," of various home remodeling projects ranges from a low of around 20–25% for some extravagant interior renovations to more than 100% for certain functional improvements. Remodeling Magazine's 2016 report on cost versus value projects shows an average return, across 30 surveyed home improvement projects, of 64% of cost if you sell the house this year.

The Highest ROIs

The highest return? It's not what most people would guess. Adding attic insulation scored top honors with a return of 116% of the cost. The cost of insulating an attic is negligible compared to the cost of a major kitchen overhaul, so it may be a case of comparing apples to oranges.

Your own decision also depends on when you plan to complete the project. If you redo your kitchen and play to enjoy the results for two to three years, then the cost is worth it for your own satisfaction. If, on the other hand, you want to spend your dollars on improvements that will help you sell the house quickly, you'll look at ROI from another perspective.

Remodeling Magazine's study notes that siding replacement is a big winner for owners, particularly engineered stone, returning about 92.8% of the cost, while a new roof and updated windows will typically return about 80% of the cost. An inaugural survey by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry affirms the results in a slightly different order. Ranked from low to high in order of average ROI, the six top improvements are:

  • New vinyl siding
  • A new garage door (or doors)
  • New wood floors
  • Upgraded insulation
  • Refinished hardwood flooring
  • A new roof

Be Aware of Local Market Conditions

Because buying a home is such an individual decision, the best advice is to consult with your real estate agent to determine local market conditions and peg buyer "hot buttons." While spending money on improvements can boost the selling price, all that might be needed is to ensure that needed repairs are completed.

In other words, use your own best judgment. Complete deferred maintenance, touch up chipped paint, repair sagging gutters, fix broken tile and put your home's "best foot forward" regarding landscaping and street appeal. You don't necessarily have to spend much money to create a big impact!

Affordable Home Improvements

If you've recently purchased a home or are looking for a new place to live, chances are you don't need us to tell you how expensive a new home can be. For the most part, enjoying the fresh new look and feel of a brand new home usually means paying a premium, ultimately pricing some home buyers out of the new construction market. But just because you might not be able to afford new construction doesn't mean there aren't relatively inexpensive ways to make any old home feel modern and up-to-date.

Add a Smart Thermostat

Arguably one of the hottest new innovations in high-tech home trends, smart thermostats are exactly as they sound—a smart and automated way to heat or cool your home. Once installed, homeowners can control their home's temperature remotely, ultimately saving on energy costs each and every month. And because smart thermostats are the norm nowadays and are quite affordable thanks to their wide availability.

Install Low-Flow Toilets

Sometimes referred to as high-efficiency toilets, a low-flow toilet is designed to save water, which can be especially beneficial for single-family homeowners who pay a monthly water bill. Most low-flow toilets use 4.8 liters or less, while a standard toilet will use 6 liters or more. And while the water savings might seem insignificant on the surface, you'll save a lot of money over time once transitioning to a low-flow system.

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