Which Remodeling Projects Result in the Highest Payback?

As you work through your home remodeling projects, I’m sure you’re always wondering whether you’re spending your budget in the right places…especially if you bought the property to fix up and then immediately resell.

Remodeling magazine just published their 2014 Cost vs Value Report.  They also created an outstanding online tool that will really help you understand which home renovation projects are going to payback the best in your area of the country.

Some Budget Drainers:

  • Home Office Remodel projects returned less than 50 cents on the dollar.  It appears as though a significant portion of the cost for this item is in cabinets and other fixtures that buyers just aren’t willing to pay anywhere near full price for.
  • Sunroom additions returned only slightly more than 50 cents on the dollar.  Certainly a nice to have, but usually not a lot of square footage and buyers are apparently recognizing that.
  • Master Suite Additions returned only 56% of the cost which initially was a surprise to me.  But when you consider the average cost of this project in the United States (around $100,000 for a mid range addition) it starts to make more sense….in many areas this project could represent 25% or more of the house’s total value.  Premium master suites are nice and sell houses for sure, but there’s a limit to the premium that buyers will pay for this feature.  And in most cases, the seller’s choices and taste aren’t going to exactly match the buyer’s.

Some Great Places to Invest Your Dollars:

  • Entry Door Replacement.  Steel entry doors returned almost 100% of the amount invested.  Fiberglass doors returned about 70 cents on the dollar.  Not surprising – you can make a big change in curb appeal for a relatively small investment by replacing entry doors.
  • Kitchen Remodels returned between 75 cents to 83 cents on the dollar.  No surprise here – kitchens and bathrooms sell houses right? Bathroom remodels were in about the same range, but bathroom additions returned only about 60% of the cost – probably due to all the dollars you have to sink into mechanicals to create a bathroom.
  • Garage Door and Siding replacements returned from 78% to 87% of the cost.  Again the curb appeal factor is at work.  I also think that buyers tend to overestimate the cost of exterior repairs (probably because most won’t attempt these jobs themselves) and when they see brand new siding and doors they are willing to pay a premium.
  • Wood Decks added a significant amount of value, returning up to 87% of the cost.  However, using composite materials shrunk the return on investment to as little as 65%.


As you set up your fixer upper house projects, make sure to refer back to current Cost vs Value reports.  They are valuable aids in terms of helping you make decisions on what projects to tackle and which not to as well as what material grades to use.




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