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OverviewImprove living spaceMarket value upgradesKitchenBathroomEnergyLiving areaCurb AppealBest overall ROI
our living space is important. And if you're like most of us, it can be in a constant state of update. There's always something that can be fixed or altered. Determining which project or projects to prioritize depends on why you're taking on the project and what you expect to get out of it. If the goal is to make the space more livable or in-line with your style, for instance, there is a list of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that could have big value. But if you want to increase the market value of your home, there are some rooms and projects to focus on first. Let’s get into it.

If the goal is to improve your living space.

It's a good question with a simple answer: As early as possible.

If you’re looking at home renovations just to improve your life in the home, there are plenty of DIY options to consider. Hanging a shelf to increase storage space, for instance, can immediately make the space more enjoyable. A simple shelf, however, is unlikely to move the needle on your overall home value.  

Some projects are simpler and more approachable, like giving your home a deep clean or putting up blinds. Others can be a bit more difficult. If you're not sure about your ability to accomplish the task, it's best to consult with a professional.  

Here is a list of some easy DIY home projects that can improve the appearance and functionality of your home:

  • Painting: A fresh coat of paint can make a room look new again. You can paint walls, ceilings, trim, or furniture.
  • Landscaping: Simple landscaping projects like planting flowers, adding mulch, or building a rock garden can improve the curb appeal of your home.
  • Cabinet and furniture refinishing: You can update the look of your kitchen or bathroom cabinets and furniture by sanding and staining them.
  • Lighting: Updating lighting fixtures can make a big difference in the look and feel of a room.
  • Window treatments: Installing new curtains, blinds, or shades can improve the look of a room and provide privacy and light control.
  • Flooring: Installing new flooring, like laminate or tile, can improve the appearance and value of your home.
  • Organizing: Organizing your closet, pantry, or garage can make your home more functional and reduce clutter.
  • Cleaning: Giving your home a deep clean can make it feel new again and improve the overall appearance. This may include steam cleaning the carpets or scrubbing tile grout in your kitchen or bathrooms.  

Some of these carry weight in the market value of your home as well. Painting, for instance, is something you should keep up with and make sure to do right before you list your house.

Which home improvements add the most market value?

In general, the spring and summer months are the busiest times of year for the housing market.

There are some heavier lift projects that are known to improve a home’s value. The bonus with any of these is that they will also improve your time spent in the home. The downside is, by the nature of the job, they tend to take longer and cost more money. They may also leave a room inaccessible for the time it takes to finish a job.  

The best return on investment (ROI) upgrades for a home will vary depending on the specific home and market conditions. Still, regardless of the market, there are a list of projects that regularly come up in this conversation. Some upgrades that tend to have a high ROI include:

Kitchen renovations

A well-designed and updated kitchen is a major selling point for potential buyers. The scope of the project and your needs as a homeowner will determine exactly what goes into any kitchen renovation and the duration of the project. Some common elements of a kitchen upgrade may include:

  • Cabinet replacement or refacing: New or refaced cabinets give your kitchen a fresh, updated look and provide additional storage space.
  • Countertop replacement: Upgrading to new countertops, such as granite, quartz, or solid surface improves the appearance and functionality of your kitchen.
  • Appliance upgrades: Replacing outdated appliances with new, energy-efficient models makes your kitchen more functional and can lower your energy bills.
  • Lighting: Upgrading or adding lighting fixtures, such as pendant lights or under-cabinet lights improves the look and feel of your kitchen.
  • Flooring: Installing new flooring, such as hardwood, tile, or luxury vinyl improves the appearance and durability of your kitchen.
  • Backsplash installation: Adding a new tile backsplash adds a decorative touch and protects your walls from spills and splashes.
  • Paint: A new paint color can give your kitchen a fresh look.
  • Sink and Faucet: Installing a new sink and faucet changes the look of your kitchen and adds functionality.

It’s important to consult with a professional designer or contractor to determine the best kitchen upgrades for you. Keep in mind that a kitchen remodel can be an extensive and disruptive process. It's important to plan ahead and have a realistic budget in place.

Bathroom renovations

Similar to kitchen renovations, updating your bathroom or bathrooms is a great way to increase the value of your home. A bathroom renovation ranges from small projects that take a couple days to an overhaul that may take weeks. Exactly what your renovation includes depends on what you need out of it. There are, however, some common elements of a bathroom renovation may include:

Just like a kitchen, a bathroom remodel can be an extensive and disruptive process. If you’re considering a remodel, be sure to consult a contractor early so you can plan ahead.

Energy efficiency

Adding insulation, upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, and replacing windows can lower energy demand of your home. These updates are particularly beneficial because they can be done rather quickly and upgrade your home’s market value as well as your experience in the home immediately. Living in a more energy efficient home will not only lower your energy bills, but it will also reduce your environmental impact. It's a win-win situation. A professional can help you determine the best energy-efficient upgrades for your specific home and budget.

There are, however, some common jobs to consider:

Add living space

Finishing a basement or converting an attic into living space may increase the square footage and upgrade the market value of your home. You can also make an addition to a home to add a room, or a bathroom. These are the go-to ideas when people think of adding living space, but there is something else to consider: outdoor living space.  

Outdoor living spaces, such as decks, patios, or porches, provide additional living space for homeowners and can be used for entertaining, relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. A well-kept outdoor living space may not show up on tax assessments or online value estimators, but it still can add value. These spaces are more likely to be noticed by an appraiser when it comes time to sell and may increase the amount that a potential buyer is willing to pay for your home.  

It's important to note that, perhaps more than other parts of the home, the value added by an outdoor living space can vary depending on things like the quality of construction, the materials used and the size and location of the space. So, if you already have a deck that could use some love, don’t be afraid to invest in quality, long-lasting materials. Additionally, the specific location of the house and the type of outdoor living space may play a role. For example, a house in a warm climate that has a large, covered patio with a pool may have more value than a house with the same features in a colder climate.

Curb appeal

Curb appeal is a fancy term to reference a person’s first impression of your home. It’s all about how your home looks from the street, how attractive it is to passers by. Simple improvements to your home exterior, such as landscaping, painting, or a new front door can make a big difference in the overall value of your home.

Some things you can do include:

Which remodeling project provides the highest return on investment?

When selling your home, it's important to be aware of potential pitfalls and challenges that may arise.

So, which job adds the most value? It's important to note that the ROI on home upgrades can vary depending on the location, the type of upgrade and current market conditions. It's always a good idea to consult with a real estate agent or home appraiser to get an idea of what upgrades would be most beneficial for your specific home and market.  

But, if we were forced to give a single answer we would probably say that many professionals agree the kitchen is the greatest value add. The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we store, prepare, and cook the food. Anything that can be done to improve a kitchen’s functionality and beauty translates to future buyers.  

  • Pricing: Make sure you price your home correctly from the start. If you overprice it, you may end up with fewer offers or spend extra, unnecessary time on the market. On the other hand, you may leave money on the table if you underprice it.
  • Disclosing defects: Be upfront about any defects or issues with the home. Failure to disclose known defects can lead to legal issues down the road.
  • Negotiating with buyers: Be prepared to negotiate with buyers but try to stay firm on your bottom line. Remember that you are in control of the process and can choose to accept or reject an offer.
  • Closing delays: Be aware that there may be delays in the closing process. This doesn’t always mean it won’t work out, but it could stall the sale.

By being aware of these potential challenges, you can be better prepared to handle them if they arise.