When it comes to home improvements, there are two big factors to consider when figuring out where to put your money: whether it’s something that will increase the value of the house to you and whether it’s something that will increase the value of the house to others, if and when you decide to sell your home. The most valuable home improvements are those that increase your home’s worth in fair relation to the amount you spent on them. And while the improvements that might be most worth it for you personally are subjective and hard to quantify, Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report offers helpful national data on what home improvements give you the biggest bang for your buck. Here are 6 improvements to focus on.
Upscale garage door replacement
It may not be the most exciting upgrade, but replacing your current garage door with an upgraded model will yield you 98.3 percent in recouped costs across the nation. This number increases sharply for specific areas, with 46 out of 100 markets in the Cost vs. Value Report seeing more than 100 percent in recouped costs for this project. Now that’s money well spent.
What constitutes an upscale garage door? Today’s best garage doors are those built with durable materials like steel, wood composites, and aluminum, and that have high-performance additions like energy-saving glazing and insulation. Wood is a classic choice aesthetically, though it’s not quite as weather-resistant. If you really want a wood garage door, get the best of both worlds by looking into fiberglass or wood composite, which can have the same appearance as wood without the downfalls of the material.
Manufactured stone veneer on exterior
Another exterior home improvement that offers a strong return on your investment is enhancing the exterior of your home with manufactured stone veneer. A manufactured stone veneer isn’t really stone at all—it’s a man-made composite material shaped in molds. It has the same look as real stone, however, and is installed in the same way. It’s a great way to boost curb appeal and update an old or boring exterior. Even doing just a portion of your home (for example, the area around your front entry way) is enough to reap benefits. According to the report, the national average return on investment for manufactured stone veneer is 97.1 percent.
Wood deck addition
Seeing a pattern here among the best home improvements? The renovations that give you the most value tend to be focused on the exterior of your home. And when it comes to your backyard deck or patio, wood is the way to go. A composite deck addition or a backyard patio won’t yield you quite as much on the return as wood will at 82.8 percent (composite deck and patios yield an average return of 63.6 percent and 47.6 percent, respectively).
Remodeling recommends sticking with a 16 foot x 20 foot wood deck addition, though the right size for your home will depend on the size of your house and your yard. You’ll want to add a railing system as well for added function and stability.
The kitchen (within reason)
The kitchen is major when it comes to the most valuable home improvements. Buyers often look here first when determining whether a home is worth its asking price, since most people want an upgraded kitchen without having to pay a ton of money to get it after purchasing a house. There are a range of valuable home improvements you can make in the kitchen to fit your particular budget and objectives, from putting in energy-efficient, stainless steel appliances to painting cabinets and installing new countertops.
Interestingly, you don’t have to spend big in the kitchen to get a big return. A minor kitchen remodel will recoup about 81 percent of its cost in average resale value, while a major upscale kitchen remodel will recoup only about 53.5 percent of its cost. The most valuable home improvements in a minor kitchen remodel include modernizing the cabinets and countertops, upgrading to brand new appliances, updating the sink and faucet, and updating the flooring.
Siding and vinyl window replacements
Old, damaged, or deteriorating siding can seriously date the look of your house, and not in a charming way. Fortunately, updating your siding is a valuable renovation, bringing in a cost recuperation of 76.7 percent based on a purchase of 1,250 square feet of siding. Just make sure not to neglect the trim, since it’s an important factor in making your siding upgrade look its best.
And while you’re at it, why not complement upgraded siding with upgraded windows? Low-energy vinyl window replacements provide a pretty similar return to siding at 74.3 percent and will help make sure that your new siding doesn’t clash with dated windows.
A mid-range bathroom remodel (think updated tile, fixtures, toilet, counters, and lighting) will get you a return of 70.1 percent nationally. And like the kitchen, doing more doesn’t equal getting more. An upscale bathroom remodel is only going to get you a 56.2 percent return, and a new bathroom addition just 54.6 percent.
Another of the most value home improvements in terms of bathroom remodels is turning your standard bathroom into a universally accessible one. This includes widening doorways for wheelchairs, putting in a walk-in shower, lowering light switches, and putting support bars near the toilet. While this might not seem like something that would be relevant for most of today’s buyers, it will be very soon. We live in an aging society. By 2050, it’s estimated that the population aged 65 and over will be more than double its population in 2012, growing from 43.1 million to 83.7 million. Small accessibility modifications will have major appeal as homeowners and buyers grow older.
If you’re looking to make the best and most valuable home improvements, take a look at the 2018 Cost vs. Value Report and hone in on your specific region and city. While we’ve been looking at national data, specific upgrades may have more or less value depending on where you live. It’s always important to do the research instead of just assuming that something will definitely give you a return on your investment.