Even if you’re not planning to sell your home anytime soon, it’s an inevitable question when you consider remodeling: How much will this improvement add to the value of my home?
Surprisingly, much of the time the answer is not as much value as it costs to actually make the improvement. But some home renovations bring you more bang for your buck than others.
The top-ranking home improvement? A new front door, which on average adds 96.6 percent of the amount you spent to the value to your home, according to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report for 2016.
Replacing old elements, such as doors, windows and siding, in general yielded a better financial return than bigger remodeling projects, such as additions. But real estate agents and remodelers say updated kitchens and baths still bring a significant payoff, especially at resale time. The report found that kitchen projects yielded a higher return than bath projects, with a minor kitchen remodel adding 82.7 percent of the project’s cost back to the home’s value. Kitchens are important, because would-be buyers often overestimate how much they would cost to update.
If you have a dated kitchen … and a buyer walks into that kitchen, they’re going to think that in order to redo that kitchen, they’re going to have to spend $40,000 or $50,000.
But the average cost of a minor kitchen remodel – new cabinet doors, appliances, countertops, sink, faucet, paint and hardware – was $18,856 nationwide, according to the Cost vs. Value report. Savvy shoppers can do it for less than the buyer assumes.
But, like the front door, it’s important to do the right kitchen remodel. Adding a $75,000 kitchen to a $100,000 house is unlikely to yield $75,000 in value, although it may make you a happy chef. As a general rule, look to spend about 25 percent of the home’s value for a new kitchen and 12 percent to 15 percent for an updated bathroom, says David Pekel, president and CEO of Pekel Construction in Milwaukee and a master certified remodeler.
Putting an ultramodern kitchen into a 100-year-old Tudor home isn’t smart, either. "Whatever your home improvement is … I strongly discourage designing new spaces in a fashion that’s incongruous with the rest of the house’s architectural vernacular," Pekel says. "It doesn’t really add value. It detracts."
Whether certain improvements will pay off varies not only regionally, but also neighborhood by neighborhood, based on who is going to live in the house. For example, a pool adds more value to homes in some Los Angeles neighborhoods than in others. In cities with colder climates, a pool may not add any value.
Renovations within the existing envelope of your home – those that don’t require you to build an addition or expand the roof and foundation – often return more value than building extra rooms onto your home. For one thing, they’re much cheaper.
Converting an attic into a bedroom ranked third of the 35 improvements a Cost vs. Value report, returning 84.3 percent of the amount spent. Turning attics into usable space is a popular and profitable improvement in the Milwaukee area, where much of the housing is older, Pekel says.
Replacing windows with French doors that open to the backyard is another popular, and not very expensive, renovation project. It makes the room feel bigger and gives you somewhere to go, Suddenly your home just feels more spacious.
In the years before the real estate market crashed, additions were the most popular remodeling project, Pekel say, with family rooms, kitchens and master suites among the top choices. But in the current lending climate, it’s easier to get a mortgage to buy a bigger house than it is to get a home equity line of credit to add to an existing home.
Renovations that bring the greatest percentage return on investment:
Renovations that yield the smallest return: