The Most Valuable Remodel Projects

The woodlands, real estate, home, buying, selling, buyer, seller, courtney buie, remodel, home improvement, renovation, investmentRemodeling your home can be a daunting idea. If you know you eventually want to sell, projects that improve the size, quality, and personality of your home are almost always a good investment. But cost for a big renovation can climb through the roof very quickly, and it’s hard to say how much of that money you’ll get back at closing. And even with the most valuable projects, rarely is the return even close to 100%.Then there are those nightmare stories of people throwing piles of money at their home and seeing no real increase in their home’s value when it comes time to sell.

The trick is to be smart about the project(s) you choose. Smart investments in changes that will set your home apart from others on the market will be invaluable when you have to compete. Through some research and my real estate experience I’ve come up with the of remodeling projects that are most likely to return the highest percentage of your investment.


A well-designed kitchen is one of the first things buyers look for. Kitchen remodels can be as basic or complex as you choose to undertake, but you have to be careful about how you spend your money. Big changes can be made in a kitchen for under $20,000 if you spend judiciously, and most sources put a minor kitchen remodel returning between 70-85%. For around that much money you can reface your cabinets, upgrade hardware, get a new countertop (though not granite), and even lay a new floor depending on the size of your kitchen and the materials you choose. Major remodels also have high returns (around 60-70%), but avoid spending more than 20% of your home’s total value.

Curb Appeal

Some of the lowest-cost and highest-return investments you can make are on the exterior of your home. Replacing old with new is the most effective way to totally freshen up the appearance of your home. Replacing old siding with higher-end fiber cement siding costs around $13,500 on average, and also returns around 78%. Replacing a front door was #1 on 2010-2011 Remodeling magazine Cost vs. Value Report, costing an average $1,200 but returning almost 102%! Replacing a garage door returns almost 90%, and also is a huge incentive for buyers with haunting memories of garage door maintenance issues. Replacing old windows with new, energy efficient panes not only returns about 70% of investment, but also lowers energy costs which adds extra incentive. Replacing exterior features often return such high percentages because buyers see them as necessary maintenance to the home, and appreciate their being done before move-in.

Adding a deck can also yield a large return and set your home apart from others on the block. While you don’t want to undertake any decking projects that vastly differ from the style in your neighborhood, a luxurious and useful outdoor space dramatically improves the appeal of your home. Good materials and sealants are a must on deck projects, and a well-built and well-designed deck can return around 80%.

Attic Living Space

Although this is one of the most costly and involved remodel projects, it always tops lists of most valuable investments simply because it’s the easiest way to add another bedroom and bathroom without changing the footprint of your home. Living quarters and bathrooms are premium in home value, especially with reports showing that the economy is pushing many adult children back home with their parents. Though it costs on average a whopping $44,500, the return is over 77%.

If you’re interested in comparing other projects and their average cost/return in Texas compared to the nation, check out the 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine.



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