How to get the most return on home improvement

How to get the most return on home improvement

Remodeling projects are expensive and nearly always end up taking more time and causing more personal life disruption than any homeowner expects. And some projects that homeowners think will set their abodes apart and make them a “must have” when it comes time to sell, actually end up being the first thing the new owners want to see gone.
If you’re going to invest in projects designed to improve your home’s value, it makes sense to know what remodeling projects will give you the most return for your money – and which ones could actually detract from your home’s attractiveness.

Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews, has gathered consumer ratings on home improvement contractors for 15 years. The following information is based on a 2010 nationwide survey of more than 500 remodelers and real estate agents and national remodeling statistics.

5 Remodeling Projects with the HIGHEST return on investment:

  1. The Kitchen: Whether it’s a major overhaul or a simple makeover, putting a fresh face on your kitchen is your best investment. A major update could cost more than $20,000, but you can expect at least an 85 percent return.
  2. The Bath: An outdated bathroom can quickly spoil a sale, and it won’t be a pleasant space for you, either. Current trends of large showers instead of space-hogging garden tubs may serve you well, as will attention to classic features rather than unusual color schemes. A major update could cost less than $20,000, but yield an 84 percent return.
  3. Decks: A new deck can cost a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on size and materials used. Before you build, look at other homes in your area and build accordingly. If the deck is in good shape, your return could be more than 80 percent.
  4. Siding: If your home’s façade is siding and it’s not in good shape, replacing or repairing the siding can bring instant freshness. You’ll likely spend at least $10,000, but you should get at least 80 percent back.
  5. Window replacement: The energy efficiency of new windows is a clear benefit to switching out older windows, but in some cases, it’s a safety feature, too.  Costs depend on the number of windows you’re replacing, of course, and the type. Expect a return on your investment of at least 80 percent.

5 Remodeling Projects with the LOWEST return on investment:

  1. Pool: Unless your home is the only home on the block without a swimming pool, you’ll rarely get back even half of the money you pay to build one, and you can scare prospective buyers off because many don’t want the responsibility or liability of a pool. In-ground pools are expensive and can range from less than $20,000 to more than $60,000, depending on how expansive your design and materials.
  2. Home Office Remodel: If you work at home, you’ll want a pleasant home office, but don’t get too carried away with it. Remodeling could set you back more than $20,000 and you’ll be lucky to get half that money back. It’s better to have a room that can clearly be used as a bedroom, playroom or other space without a lot of redecorating.  Expect a return of 57 percent.
  3. Sun Room or Four Season Room Addition: These rooms can set you back more than $50,000 and they’re often beautiful bonus rooms. If you’ll enjoy the room and use it, it’s worth the investment. The return on investment is generally less than 60 percent, though.
  4. Master Suite: Who doesn’t want an expansive private retreat even within their own home? Master suites are expensive, though – some can run into six figures – and the return is generally in the 60 percent range.
  5. The Garage: Adding that third bay to your garage may make sense when your kids start driving, but it can be expensive – especially if it’s attached to your house. You may get as much as 60 percent of your investment back, but you may scare off buyers who don’t anticipate needing that much garage space.

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Time is key when it comes to how big or small of a remodeling project you should pursue. (Photo courtesy of Troy Kapalczynski)
Time is key when it comes to how big or small of a remodeling project you should pursue. (Photo courtesy of Troy Kapalczynski)

If you're planning to move within the next few months or year, big-dollar remodeling projects may not be the best idea good idea.

Leave a Comment - 10



Subject: Enlarge rental home

I have a nice 3BD 2 Bath rental house in a very nice area of town but the Master Bedroom is only 11x13 with 4 opening in it. The master bath shower in small with only 1 sink. Wondering if it smart to enlarge Master Bedroom and Bath.I'll be keeping this house for income. Not sure I could get more than $100.00 a month more in rent.

william coble


I read all of the messages posted. I can tell you what the banks and appraisals are saying is in line of what angies list is reporting. Your comments are false, according to the records and facts. I would advise you to call a bank and appraisal office to investagaite your concerns before posting false statemnets to the public.



Adding a fireplace adds more resell value than it cost to add.

Chuck Jennings


What about just removing wallpaper in the kitchen & painting the area?

rick fillion


the only home improvement project that will be worth more than the money you spend is a totally dry clean basement. typically 1.20 for every 1.00 you spend. you can't finish all that space if you have moisture. plus it's extremely unhealthy



In today's market, no one is going to get more than 50% back from a home improvement, unless it was to replace non working totally trashed facilities. Your figures are obviously trying to promote remodeling and are unrealistic



I wonder if taking on the project of getting rid of popcorn ceilings and replacing with a smooth or a slightly patterned finish would be worth time, cost and effort



I just joined and I am disappointed. I first log in and it says they are sorry but you don't have much information for where I live. I sure am glad that I only joined for a real little while

geri calandra


what about returns on a new roof, especially one built after a tear down of prior layers of shingles?

Felicia G.


After having a bad experience hiring a contractor that I found in the phone book, I am glad I found Angie's List for the next stage of my dad's rental apartment renovation. This list of remodeling projects with the highest ROI will be helpful as I make the determination on what I should concentrate my budget on. Thanks for this service. I can see it will make my next contracting experience 100% better.

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