Style, Substance Pay Off in Home Remodeling

How to get the best bang for your remodeling buck

Siding replacement (75.6%) and a new asphalt shingle roof (68.2%) are high return investments in your home.
Siding and Roofing Contracting Resource:  Keystone Contracting LLC, Freehold NJ

By Erik J. Martin

When you put money into the stock market, it’s inevitable that some of your chosen stocks and funds are going to outperform others you picked. And it’s practically impossible to predict ahead of time which ones will be smart bets.

When you invest in home improvement, on the other hand, you can have a better idea of which projects will pay off in terms of adding higher resale value to your property. One trusted resource that many homeowners turn to for guidance here is Remodeling’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, which suggests particular renovation projects that offer a better return on investment (ROI).

In its recently published 2019 report, Remodeling indicates that upgrades yielding the highest costs recouped are a garage door replacement (97.5% ROI); manufactured stone veneer (94.9%); minor kitchen remodel (80.5%); wood deck addition (75.6%); and siding replacement (75.6%). Rounding out the top 10 are steel entry door replacement (74.9%); vinyl window replacement (73.4%); fiberglass grand entrance door (71.9%); wood window replacement (70.8%); and composite deck addition (69.1%).

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s rare to recoup 100 percent of your money on any remodeling project – especially the big ones.

For a lot of these projects, you’re only getting about 60 to 80% of your money back at resale.

That doesn’t mean many of these renovations aren’t worth investing in, however.

A minor kitchen remodel yield and 80.5% return on investment. Tile Flooring Resource: Richmond Tile, Staten Island NY

There are two types of home improvement projects worth considering: purely esthetic improvements made to enhance your home’s appeal to potential buyers, assuming you want to sell soon; and projects that actually save you money and/or make your life more comfortable. It’s the money-saving, comfort-improving projects that really make sense if your goal is to enjoy your home while you’re living there.

Put another way, don’t necessarily nix a desired home upgrade just because it may produce a lower ROI than you’d prefer.

If you’re going to get years of enjoyment out of the improvements that you’re considering and are okay with not recouping a high return on investment, by all means proceed. But if you are moving sooner rather than later, your money is often better spent on your next home than on expensive remodeling upgrades.

That’s because the next owner may not value your lavish room addition or costly master bath remodel as much as you do.

Not paying attention to what and how much you should spend on a renovation can be an expensive learning experience. You’ll learn that many buyers just don’t care that you spent $200,000 to remodel the kitchen and add a bathroom. People often over-improve their homes and just don’t get that back when they go to sell. 

Nevertheless the top ROI projects ranked by in the 2019 Cost vs. Value Report are safe bets.

This report lines up with not only what homeowners want in their homes today but supports major trends, too. The most common remodeling themes we hear repeated are upgrading our indoor and outdoor living spaces and having low-maintenance exteriors. If you look at Remodeling’s list of projects that drive the most value, eight of their top 10 projects accomplish one or both of those goals.

New deck additions, both wood (75.6%) and composite (69.1%) are great investments for homeowners looking to enjoy their outdoor spaces and, eventually, recoup their investment if and when they sell. 

Before embarking on any project, pre-planning is crucial.

Talk to a Realtor in your neighborhood to see what he or she thinks about your plans and if it will increase the marketability of your home. Additionally, shop around carefully for a qualified remodeling contractor, and get at least three quotes for any potential work.

Lastly, expect to spend time researching colors, finishes, and trends so that the final product is something you’re going to be happy with for years to come.