Home Reno for Dummies: Which Renovations Yield the Highest Return

The home improvement industry is really big business, and for good reason: whether you’re focused on improving your home for your own needs or trying to sell at a higher price, home renovation is essential. But between roofing services and DIY projects, the world of home improvement can also be complicated. If you’re unsure where to start, this short guide on home renovation for dummies will get you going in the right direction.

In 2018 alone, most homeowners spent somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 on home improvement projects. Don’t let that figure frighten you — you don’t have to spend that much if you don’t have that kind of money, and there are definitely options for smaller investment budgets. M Abe the best place for you to start would be with routine gutter cleaning, or perhaps it’s time to have the HVAC system inspected. However, for most homeowners, the main question isn’t how much money you can or should spend: it’s which renovations yield the highest return on investment. That’s the question that this guide to home renovation for dummies will attempt to answer.

Whether your needs and goals, there’s a home renovation project and plan for you. From kitchen upgrades to  concrete and asphalt paving, to help you figure out where your money should be invested, keep reading this article on home renovation for dummies.

Home Renovation for Dummies: A Quick-Start Guide

Before we get into the home improvements that yield the highest return on investment, it’s important to get an overview of your home improvement options. This will help you make the best, most informed decision possible for you.

Investments to Consider If You Plan to Stay in Your Home

For most of this article on home renovation for dummies, we’ll be discussing what improvements to make if you intend to sell. But maybe you’re undecided about whether you sell your home or not, or you’re going to be living in your current home for a couple of years yet. If that’s the case, then any project that adds square footage to your home is usually viewed as the best possible investment in your family’s enjoyment of your house.

Technically any improvement made to your home can result in a safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable living experience for your family. But if you simply need extra space to keep from tripping over one another, adding an addition to your home might be the way to go. Besides allowing you all to enjoy your home more while you’re in it, the extra square footage will allow you to add to your asking price if you ever decide to sell.

If you’d like to have more living space right now, but you do intend to sell in the near future and want the best ROI possible, focus on remodeling unused areas. The most common examples are turning your unused attic or unfinished basement into functional living spaces. Besides giving you more convenience while you’re still living there, you could recoup as much as 98% of your investment.

Highest-Value Home Improvements for Sellers

When you’re specifically improving your home to boost its sale value, your focus should be on getting the most bang for your buck. In other words, spend as little as you possibly can to increase your home’s value as much as you possibly can. Obviously, this doesn’t mean buying cheap materials or tricking potential buyers into thinking your home is worth more than it is. What it does mean is opting for investments that generally don’t cost too much, but still mean a lot to prospective buyers.


Improvements that offer high value in return for small investments usually involve things that enhance curb appeal, modernize the kitchen or bathroom, and create a more impressive entrance to your home. We’ll get into what these best home improvements are in more detail later.

Invisible Home Improvements

“Invisible” home improvements aren’t necessarily invisible in a literal sense. Instead, this term refers to all home maintenance and improvements that don’t typically mean much to home buyers. Replacing your heating and cooling unit, getting a new septic system, or upgrading your hot water heater may improve the quality of your home, but not usually in such a way that attracts notice from would-be buyers. People looking for homes to buy simply aren’t interested in paying more for better appliances like these, even if they’re brand new.

However, this rule comes with a caveat: home buyers may not be particularly interested in newer or better HVAC or water systems, but they will expect them to be in good working condition. If your water heater barely works and your air conditioner doesn’t keep the house cool, it’s going to be in your best interests to solve these problems before selling. In this instance, you aren’t adding to your home’s value — you’ve merely maintained the value it already has. Ignoring problems like this could cause serious inconvenience for you down the road.

There is one invisible improvement you can make that sometimes increases a home’s value: replacing the roof. Even though a new roof isn’t exactly a showpiece, it can boost a home’s value, especially if your current roof is approaching 20 years old. Later, as we get into more detail on home renovation for dummies, we’ll come back to this aspect of home improvement.

Home Improvements to Avoid If You Intend to Sell

This guide to home renovation for dummies focuses mainly on the best home improvement projects for ROI. But just like there are several projects that are recommended because of their high return, there are others that you should specifically avoid because they don’t increase your home’s value that much.

Some of these less profitable projects include adding a backyard patio, adding on an upscale master suite, and getting an upscale major kitchen remodel. These upgrades each come with an expected ROI of around 50%. That’s not bad, and we will mention these renovation options in detail later on. But if you’re working with a limited budget, you should focus your attention on improvements that give a higher return.

If you’re planning on living in your current home for a good while yet, you should feel free to invest in whatever home improvements will maximize your enjoyment of your home. But if getting a better sale price is most important to you, stay away from these costly, low-return investments. Keep reading this guide to home renovation for dummies to learn what home improvements we actually recommend.

Home Renovation for Dummies: Top 15 Projects for ROI

From replacing the garage door to replacing the roof, these are 15 of the best home improvements in terms of ROI, listed in order of potential value.

Garage Door Replacement

Hiring garage door services to renovate your garage probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about valuable home improvements. But with an average job cost of $3,470 according to CheatSheet.com, you stand to earn as much as 98.3% back on your investment. That means this is one of the few home improvements where you can get back almost exactly as much as you spend. You might even turn a small profit if you manage to find a nice-looking door at a discounted price.

Manufactured Stone Veneer

As you probably guessed from learning about garage door replacement, curb appeal is worth big bucks to home buyers. In fact, the desire for curb appeal is so strong that some people might not even stop to look at your house if they don’t like how it looks from the road. One cost-effective way to boost your home’s curb appeal is to have manufactured stone veneer added on to your home’s exterior. Building with real stone is difficult and expensive, but a manufactured stone veneer gives the same effect at a smaller cost. And as a result, you could earn more than 97% back on your investment.

Front Door Replacement

Once again, curb appeal is important to home buyers. Your entryway door offers the most significant first impression to visitors, and investing in one that’s solid and attractive is worth every penny. You can find and install an expensive-looking door for as little as $1,500, then recoup about 91% of your investment.

Wood Deck Addition

Good deck contractors are in high demand, and for good reason: home buyers are keen to find a house with plenty of space for entertaining visitors, and an outdoor wood deck is a perfect spot for guests. While a nice, high-quality deck can cost you as much as $10,000 or more, the upgrade will boost your home’s value enough to almost cover the entire cost.

Minor Kitchen Remodel

If you’ve done any research about home improvements at all, you know that kitchen remodeling is one of the most popular improvements to make. In an advanced kitchen remodel, you might replace everything from countertops to cabinets. However, that won’t get you the best return on your investment. A minor kitchen remodel is your best bet: refurbished cabinets, upgraded appliances, and perhaps new flooring, as well as new hardware and light fixtures if yours are looking dated. Even something as simple as new paint for the walls could be the refreshed look your kitchen needs. You can expect to recoup as much as 81% of your investment in minor kitchen remodels.

New Siding

As all professional landscapers know, curb appeal is key to making a home attractive. On that note, if the siding on your home is worn or outdated, having it replaced could be the facelift your home needs to sell itself. You can expect a return of up to %76.7 on your investment in new siding.

New Windows

Replacement windows don’t just make your home look better. They also help keep your energy costs down by providing enhanced insulation. Because of this, getting window replacement services can be a good idea even if you don’t plan to sell right away. If you do sell, you can earn 74% back from your investment in new windows.

Accessible Bathrooms

More often than not, people looking to buy their own home are starting to get on in years. And as people get older, they begin to look out for accessible bathroom features, such as walk-in showers with support bars and wheelchair accessibility. Any minor upgrades that can provide enhanced comfort and safety to aging residents is a good idea, with a potential ROI of around 70%.

Full Bathroom Remodel

As real estate agents like to point out, kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. While a bathroom remodel isn’t necessarily cheap or simple, home buyers value that kind of upgrade, and you can earn back 70% of what you put in.

Roof Replacement

As mentioned briefly earlier, getting a roof replacement before selling your home will make your offer that much more attractive to prospective buyers. No one wants to have to replace the roof on the house they just bought, so they’ll be sure to pay attention if they see “new roof” on your home listing.

Enhancements to the Front Entrance

We already talked about replacing the front door as being good for boosting curb appeal. If you have a little more money to invest, you can go all out by adding glass side panels and new light fixtures, transforming your front entryway. It makes a good first impression and leaves a big impact.

Bathroom Addition

Adding another bathroom or powder room to your house can really boost its appeal, especially on floors where there isn’t a bathroom yet. You can recoup almost 60% of your investment when you add on an extra bathroom in a strategic spot.

Major Kitchen Remodel

Unlike a more limited kitchen remodel, a major remodel will only bring you back around 59% of your total investment. But sometimes completely gutting the kitchen and starting from scratch is necessary. Fortunately, you will earn a good percentage of your investment back, even with a full remodel.

Master Suite Addition

People buying their own home usually want to see a full master suite, rather than just another cramped bedroom. A spacious bedroom with walk-in closets and a full bathroom can set you back a pretty penny, but you’ll also earn around 56% back when you sell.

Backyard Patio

By now we’re getting into upgrades with an ROI of under 50%, but if you have plenty of money to invest and you want your home to fetch the highest price possible, installing a backyard patio could be a good idea. Backyard upgrades in general are a good idea because they offer space for new home buyers to entertain visitors of their own. Adding things like a fire pit, outdoor kitchen, or sliding glass doors can help you get more back on your investment.

As you can see from this guide to home renovation for dummies, home improvement can really be simple. From bathroom remodeling services to custom made countertops, hopefully, you found this content on home renovation for dummies was inspiring and informational.

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