Top 15 Home Updates

Find out how the top 15 home improvements rank, plus get tips on maximizing the return at resale.

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#1 Minor Bathroom Remodel
Average return at resale: 102 percent

  • It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. You’ll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent.
  • If you can pipe a child’s name on a birthday cake, you can re-caulk a tub. Use a softener like CAULK-BE-GONE® to get rid of the old caulk. Fill the tub with water after you’re done to stretch caulk while it dries.
  • If your old tub is too large to fit out the door, re-glaze it for a like-new finish. Cost: $300 to $400.
  • Remove dated wall coverings and apply a fresh coat of paint. For damaged walls, spray on texture provides quick coverage.
  • Old shower doors can ruin any bathroom. Removing or replacing them will add the illusion of space.

#2 Landscaping
Average return at resale: 100 percent

  • The average homeowner spends about $3,502 for landscaping and another $1,465 on a designer, according to the American Nursery and Landscape Association.
  • Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services, or ask the neighbors what works for them.
  • Sod costs about 30 to 35 cents a square foot, so a 5,000 sq. ft. yard would cost about $1,500 to sod. Budget for a delivery fee if you buy less than 1,000 sq. ft.
  • A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. For maximum impact, choose one color and vary the height of plants.
  • If your doorway is overwhelmed by greenery, then get out the shears. Replace overgrown shrubbery with flowering foundation plants mixing heights and colors for dramatic effect.
  • A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property. Roll a sealant on flagstones for a permanent wet look that enhances the color.

#3 Minor Kitchen Remodel
Average return at resale: 98.5 percent

  • A minor kitchen remodel averages $14,913 and brings in $14,691 at resale, a recoup rate of 98.5%. Go for the minor remodel when your kitchen needs a cosmetic update and not a drastically different floor plan.
  • A $15,000 kitchen update covers 30 feet of re-facing for cabinets and drawers, a new wall oven, cooktop, sink and fixtures, laminate countertops and resilient flooring.
  • Put recessed lights 3’ to 5’ apart on center and 18" from cabinets to light the countertops. Running the lights between two joists is easier than running through the joists.
  • If your home is worth more than $500,000 go with stone or trendy glass countertops.
  • Cover the old vinyl with floor leveler so the pattern doesn’t bleed through. You can’t put a second layer of vinyl on if the subfloor is below-grade concrete.
  • Brighten up the kitchen by giving your old wood cabinets new character. Just sand and paint — it’s a whole lot less expensive than buying new ones. Get the steps for painting wood cabinets >
  • Don’t forget window treatments. Changing drapes and window molding is an inexpensive way to add decorator detail.

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