What Adds Value To a Home: 7 Home Improvements That Add Value (and 6 that don't!)
Doing some remodeling projects around your house can help or hurt the value.
Let's talk about those home improvements that help, those that hurt, and how to know if it's worth it.
If you'd rather watch than read, check out our Youtube video below.
7 Home Improvements That Add Value:
1. Minor Bathroom Remodel
What does a minor bathroom remodel look like? It’s just updating the space you already have. Replacing all the fixtures, including the tub, shower, and toilet. New vanity counters and sinks, new faucets, paint & flooring. You would either want new cabinets, or you could paint the existing cabinets, or just replace the cabinet doors and drawers. Light fixtures and new mirrors can easily transform the look of a bathroom.
If your doorway is overwhelmed by greenery, get out the shears. Sometimes just giving your current landscape a trim and cleaning up, along with fresh mulch can make a big difference. A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property. Updating landscaping will freshen up your curb appeal. If your house is at least 15-20 years old and has the original landscaping, it may be time for an update. If you’re not sure where to start, look around in a neighborhood you like, local garden centers often offer free design services, or we have some landscaping companies we can recommend.
3. Minor Kitchen Remodel
A minor kitchen remodel typically consists of leaving your current cabinet boxes in place, but replacing fronts and hardware. Replace your appliances with updated, energy efficient models. Replace countertops, sink and faucet. Finish it off with flooring, painted walls, trim & ceiling, and updated lighting fixtures. Recessed lights provide much more value than the fluorescent tube lights that many builders put in kitchens in older homes. A minor kitchen remodel is considered a cosmetic update, not a drastically different floor plan. The finishes you choose will be dependent on the value of the house. Depending on the location, if your home is over $500,000 or considered luxury, your finishes will need to be more high-end. We’ll talk more later about not improving over the neighborhood. Also, changing out window treatments will add more value without much cost.
4. Exterior Improvements
New paint on the exterior and front door make a big difference. If your front door is worn out, adding a new front isn’t that expensive and can definitely add value. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, you may need to get their permission before starting your outside projects. If you’re having trouble picking paint colors, paint color cards take the guesswork out of choosing the right color combination for doors, trim and siding. You can also get a small can of paint to test before doing the entire house. If your house was painted before 1978, test for lead before sanding or scraping. For an updated look, remove old awnings from windows and doors. Update any damaged or worn-out fencing. A good power wash and stain can help update the look of a wood fence.
5. Deck, Patio or Porch Addition
Adding a pressure-treated wood deck will give you a big bang for your buck. Not only for you to enjoy, but it’s a big feature for buyers if selling. Add eye-appeal with decorative planters and lighting. Since 2000 when so many people spent so much time at home, an outdoor space became a wanted feature.
6. Replacement Windows
Most homes are built with ‘builder-grade windows’. Builder grade is a term used to describe inexpensive windows made from low-grade materials. These materials help builders cut construction costs, minimizing the home's cost. They’re typically made of vinyl and can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. This isn’t long, considering higher-end windows can last up to 30 years. Not only will higher quality replacement windows make your home look better and increase the value, they should also help with your energy costs.
7. Living Room Updates
Freshen the living room walls with a coat of paint. And don't overlook the trim — brighten it with a high-gloss white paint and caulk any open seams between the molding and ceiling and baseboard and wall. Painting is one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest ways to add value to a home. If you have carpet in the living room, either have it professionally cleaned or replaced if it's torn or stained. Getting rid of popcorn ceilings will definitely add value as well. Be careful here and make sure it’s tested for asbestos before starting. Asbestos was used in textured paints manufactured before 1977. You can also add a new wood or stone mantle to the fireplace.
6 Home Improvements That DON'T Add Value:
It doesn’t matter if it’s top-of-the-line in-ground or above-ground, a pool doesn't add value. If you're thinking resale, it's not worth it — you'll never recoup the cost. But if you'll use it and enjoy it, put in a pool.
2. DIY Painting
Unless you can do professional-style painting, hire a professional. I know it’s tempting to go buy a can of paint and save the money. But if your workmanship isn’t the best, it can cost you if you plan on selling. Hiring a professional to paint can help ensure a more attractive and valuable result.
3. Garage Conversions
Converting garages can add square footage to your home’s under-heat and air square footage, but when you get ready to sell, most buyers want garages. This won’t increase your home’s value.
4. Overbuilding for the Neighborhood
Some improvements may unintentionally make your home fall outside the norm for the neighborhood. A large, expensive remodel may make the home more appealing. But it won't add significantly to the value if the rest of the neighborhood is still in original condition.
5. Inconsistent High-End Upgrades
Updates and upgrades should be done consistently throughout the home. Marble in the bathroom could do little to increase the value of your home if the kitchen has original avocado green laminate countertops, and the living room has shag carpet dated back to the 1970’s.
6. Invisible Improvements
Invisible improvements are more expensive projects that you know make your house a better place to live, but that can’t necessarily be seen. Things like a new plumbing system, heat and air units or tankless water heater. These things don’t necessarily increase the value of your home. But they are expected to be done to keep in line with other homes in your neighborhood.
Thinking of selling?
Watch our video on How to Get Your House Ready to Sell - 5 Tips + Bonuses
How do you decide if a renovation is worth the cost?
1. Consider your timeline
If you're going to be in the home for 30 years or more, you can pretty much do anything, because at that point, your mortgage is paid off. If you’re looking to sell in the near future, you’ll want to make choices that will appeal to a potential buyer.
2. Consult an expert
Before you move forward, talk to a professional so you aren’t making misinformed choices that could decrease your value. A designer can help you tell fleeting trends from future classics; a contractor can explain what kind of work a proposed renovation would entail.
3. Compare home features in your area
Look at comparable homes for sale near you and go to open houses to make sure your improvements align with the norms for your neighborhood. You can also talk with your professional real estate agent for advice.