Only select home-improvement projects offer a reliable return on your investment of cash and sweat equity. We break down the remodels that pay off the biggest in raising your home’s value.
Projects that add value:
Replacement of exterior siding
Fresh interior paint
Rejuvenation of landscaping
Projects that won’t raise your home’s value include:
Conversion of a garage into a family room
Screening an outdoor room
Adding a deluxe kitchen upgrade into anything but an upscale homeTake a look at the sweat scale and see how some of the most popular home improvements rate:
The Sweat Scale
$$ – Probably not worth the sweat you’ll put into it.
$$$ – Sweat the cost or style details to make money on this project.
$$$$ – A good bet for turning the sweat of your brow into sweat equity.
$$$$$ – You’ll be making money before the sweat dries.
Doing a kitchen update instead of a kitchen remodel is like getting Botox instead of a facelift – it’s cheaper, it’s faster and it can hold you over for years. Got a kitchen so outdated that Martha Washington would be comfortable cooking there? Go for the full-blown remodel.
If you want to build real sweat equity, forget the bidet and the hand-blown sink when you remodel your existing bathroom (unless you live next door to Paris Hilton). Keep the plumbing where it is and focus on updating outdated fixtures. Strip the bath to the studs and put in a porcelain-on-steel tub with a tile surround, a tile floor, a durable solid-surface vanity, updated lighting, fresh plumbing fixtures and a new toilet.
Give your house a new outfit by replacing the siding and you’ll reap the rewards at resale. According to the National Association of Home Builders’ Cost vs. Value, replacing 1,250 sq. ft. of vinyl siding and trim returns 95.5 percent of cost – and that’s the cost when a contractor does it for you. Upscale siding made from either fiber-cement boards or cellular polyvinyl chloride (PVC) lumber has an even more astounding 103.6 percent return.
Painting can be a great investment in your home or a horrible mistake. It all depends on the color you choose. Pick right and you earn a big payoff. Pick wrong and you devalue your home.
Your house never gets a second chance to make a first impression. Shabby shrubbery and a patchy lawn make people assume the inside of your house looks as bad as the outside.
Turning a deck, porch or carport into a sunroom or screened patio creates a great space for entertaining, but it won’t add equity to your home. In fact, you can’t even count that additional square footage as part of the house unless it’s insulated, heated and cooled for year-round use, points out Realtor Nancy Jones, an agent with Hunt Real Estate ERA, Williamsville, NY.
Do custom kitchen cabinets, built-in warming drawers and professional-grade appliances call your name? Tell them to call someone else.
Thinking of putting up wallpaper anywhere in your home? Be prepared to pay for your wall covering at the wallpaper store and again when you sell your home.
If you work from home, converting a bedroom into a home office may be a necessity. But you won’t add value to your home by installing custom cabinets, adding a laminate desktop and wiring for telecommunications equipment, according to the National Association of Home Builder’s Cost vs. Value survey.
Converting a garage into a family room can backfire when it’s time to sell your home. “I’ve had clients turn down houses that are good deals and otherwise perfect for them because they had only a one-car garage,” says Susan Huerta, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate, Clarksville, Maryland. “People want three-car garages now, so a home where the garage has been converted can be a tough sell.”