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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#7 Major Kitchen Remodel
Average return at resale: 91 percent

  • A complete kitchen remodel in a midrange home averages $43,862 and returns $39,920 at resale. That price buys 30 ft. of cabinets, an island, laminate countertops, stainless sink, wall oven, cook top, vinyl flooring and appliances.
  • If your home’s value rises and your kitchen’s finishes don’t, do a major remodel rather than small fix-ups. Budget 10 to 15% percent of your home’s value remodeling the kitchen.
  • Kitchens feel bigger when there are fewer obstacles. Removing cabinets over a counter gives a wide open feel. Make those countertops truly useful by creating an eating bar.
  • An eat-in kitchen is a big plus – give it a deluxe touch with a built in banquet or bench and nice pillows.
  • Local granite dealers that sell (or even give away) remnants then charge for cuts and installation can be a bargain option if you need 8 feet or less of countertop.
  • Planning to sell? Stick with neutral colors for walls and window treatments. Remodeling to please yourself? Choose colors you love.
  • Tin ceiling tiles make an affordable, custom backsplash.
  • Put your home in the best light. Perk up a dark kitchen with French doors that’ll let the sun shine in.

#8 Deck, Patio or Porch Addition
Average return at resale: 90.3 percent

  • Adding a 16x20 ft. pressure-treated wood deck with a simple pattern costs about $11,000. At resale, you’ll get about $10,000 of that back, a recoup rate of 90 percent.
  • One simple but effective trick — add eye-appeal with decorative planters on the front porch, patio and decks.
  • Give a courtyard an impressive entry with an inviting gate, lighting and mature plantings. These small improvements will have a big impact at closing.
  • Use bold plantings to emphasize features, or to distract the eye from flaws.
  • Run-down stairs lower your profit margin, so make sure porch railings are safe and attractive.
  • And here’s an easy tip — camouflage unattractive air conditioning units with a wooden trellis.
  • In the West, the recoup rate reaches nearly 100 percent, but it falls to 83 percent in the South.

#9 Basement Remodel
Average return at resale: 90.1 percent

  • The average basement remodel costs just over $51,051 and returns $46,010, so you’ll recoup about 90 percent of the cost.
  • What do you get for $51,051? A 20 x 30 entertaining area with wet bar, a 5x8 bath, recessed lighting and a laminate floor.
  • Finishing the walls is a must – but here’s an important tip: Keep dry wall panels a half-inch away from concrete floors, so they don’t show moisture.
  • Always fix flooding problems first. Add French drains, bigger gutters or re-slope the yard to keep water out. Test to make sure the fixes work before investing time or materials in a basement.
  • Want just the wet bar? Buy 10 linear feet of cabinets, a laminate countertop, a stainless steel drop-in bar sink and an under-counter refrigerator for about $2,500.
  • Cover concrete floors with an easy-to-install modular subfloor so floors won’t be cold. Add carpet squares with a traction backing for an amazing transformation.
  • In the West, basement remodels return 108 percent of cost, in the Midwest, 73 percent.

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