Choosing Home Improvement Projects to Get the Best Return

by Sean Bryant on August 20, 2014

Home Improvement Projects

When it comes to your house, there’s always room for improvement. The kitchen could use an update, you wish your master bath was bigger and more storage would be wonderful. Even if you had your home custom built for your family, you can amass a laundry list of changes you’d like to make.

But what improvements are really worth making? Depending on the project, the added value may not be worth the time and money spent. However, with proper planning and high-quality work, some projects may actually increase the value of your home.

What’s Worth It: Convert the Attic Into a Bedroom

Upgrading the attic to add extra livable square footage to your home is a great investment. According to a nationwide survey by Remodeling Magazine, this project packs a 84.3 percent return on average. Because reconfiguring the attic into a spare bedroom will require electrical work and HVAC routing, you’ll need to hire a few professionals to complete it, but if you’re handy you should be able to complete the framing, drywall work and painting on your own. You may need to rent specialty construction equipment — like a nail gun, drywall lift or texture sprayer — to complete this addition, depending on the specifications of your home.

What’s Not: Bathroom Addition

While your growing family may be in need of an extra bathroom, don’t expect this addition to pay off when it’s time to sell your house. An average bathroom addition only pays a return of 60.1 percent. As with all additions, it can be difficult to make a bathroom addition seamlessly blend into your home’s architecture and roof line. You can make this project work for less while getting the most value if you can do some of the work yourself.

What’s Worth It: Minor Kitchen Remodel

As the heart of the home and the most-used room in many, the kitchen is often the focal point of improvement for homeowners and a deciding factor for potential homebuyers. Giving your kitchen a facelift will add value and improve your enjoyment of the space. But if you are considering selling your home in the near future, it’s an important area to focus on. An outdated kitchen can be a major turnoff for the typical buyer, though it may make your home more attractive to local property flippers, so get ready to be low-balled if you leave the kitchen as is.

Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value survey found a minor kitchen remodel offers more return, 82.7 percent, than a major kitchen remodel, which yields an average of 74.2 percent. To keep your project minor in scale, reuse your current cabinet boxes and room configuration and update the cabinet fronts and hardware. Repaint and add new flooring, countertops, as well as a new faucet and sink. Replace outdated appliances with new energy-efficient models, ideally in a stainless steel finish instead of black or white.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

Latest posts by Sean Bryant (see all)

  • Having a bedroom in an attic is so much fun. When I was kid, I myself requested that an attic should be turned into bedroom. My father turned it so. It turned to be a beautiful renovation that my friends loved it and would always hang out there. The sky at night is priceless and stunning. I just miss my room since I transferred because of school.

  • Attic conversions have always intrigued me, because they weren’t really a thing in the type of housing that I grew up in. However, we are long-run considering a move to Toronto, where there are old, dead space attics, and if we do get to that point, an attic conversion is something that I plan to research extensively due to the value-add potential.

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