10 Remodeling Projects That Add Home Value

Spend your hard-earned cash on a remodeling project that actually pays you back in resale value. Here are 10 top-rated home updates to try.
By: Karin Beuerlein
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Steel Entry Door

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, there’s one remodeling project that actually returns at least 100% of your investment through added home value: adding a steel entry door like this one from Pella. Besides its aesthetic appeal, a new steel front door can improve your home’s security and energy efficiency as well. But you won’t be satisfied with your door’s performance unless it’s plumb, level and square, so installation is a job for a pro unless you have serious carpentry experience.

Manufactured Stone Veneer

Even though it’s less expensive, manufactured stone veneer no longer looks like the cheap cousin of the real thing. Modern versions are durable, beautiful and natural-looking. Adding veneer around the bottom third of your home’s exterior will return nearly your entire investment, and because it’s lightweight and easy to work with, you can even do it yourself. Learn how here.

Major Kitchen Remodel

Every homeowner dreams of having an impressive kitchen, and overhauling yours will give you a reliable bump in home value. Jan Goldman, owner of renovation and design firm Kitchen Elements, has some advice on where to spend your budget: splurge on great backsplash materials, beautiful hardwood floors and top-notch cooking equipment. “Do I love a wonderful built-in refrigerator? Yes, but cold is cold,” Goldman says. “If you can’t afford all the higher-end equipment, nothing beats well-designed, well-calibrated ovens and cook surfaces, whether it’s gas or induction.” 

Window Replacement

Whether you choose vinyl or wood, replacing your old windows will return as much as three-fourths of your initial investment. The best reasons to replace your windows are beauty, comfort and added home value; you’ll also get a boost in energy efficiency, especially if your old windows are single-panel glass or excessively drafty, but your energy bill savings will be modest.

Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom remodels often don’t bring the highest returns simply because they’re expensive to begin with, but if you’re adding a second bath where you only had one before — or if you’re operating in a hot real estate market — remodeling can be a very smart move. Jan Goldman, owner of renovation and design firm Kitchen Elements, has a tip for creating space: no windows over tubs. “Who needs a window in the bath that you’ll never open?” she says. “It’s a design flaw that many builders indulge in. Typically, if you move the window somewhere else, the floor space will open up.” In this bath, that move created room for more than nine feet of prime counter space.

Wine Cellar Addition

A finished basement is a dependable enough investment by itself — but adding a luxury wine cellar is an increasingly popular remodeling project that also adds value and is even becoming a baseline expectation in some markets. Spend your money wisely to get the best return: “The most important feature of a wine cellar is temperature control,” says Mike Tenhulzen, owner of Tenhulzen Residential, who installed the cellar shown here. “A reliable chiller with humidity control is well worth the initial investment, and LED lighting is ideal because it doesn’t give off any heat.” Also, make sure you go the extra mile to treat the perimeter of the room properly with vapor barriers, weatherstripping and insulation in order to protect your precious cargo. 

Wooden Deck

Increase your home’s livable footprint by adding a wooden deck — and recoup around 80% of your investment. Wood is a less expensive choice than plastic composite materials and actually returns a greater percentage of the total project cost in increased home value. Pressure-treated pine is the cheapest and most common option, but spending a little more money for redwood or cedar gives you natural resistance to rot and insect damage without all the harsh chemicals. Tropical hardwood (such as ipé) is the priciest choice of all but is incredibly durable and beautiful. 

Master Suite Addition

This is one of the heftiest remodeling projects you can undertake, usually ringing up a six-figure price tag because it requires adding considerable square footage at ground level. Even though a master suite addition typically returns more than half your investment, you should consider building over your garage or reconfiguring your existing footprint if possible to minimize the cash outlay.

Vinyl Siding Replacement

Although vinyl siding sometimes gets a bad rap for quality, contemporary siding represents a huge upgrade over early versions that didn’t perform very well. Plus, it’s a sound investment, because you’ll recoup around 80% of your project costs in added home value. It’s usually worth it to pay more for thicker siding because it’s less likely to sag, and it’s always worth it to pay for an experienced contractor, because proper installation is critical to avoiding warping and buckling. 

Family Room Addition

A new open space for family gatherings makes your home much more livable. Although a family room addition will be expensive, especially if you’re adding exterior footprint, you’ll recoup more than half your costs in added home value.  If you want to add high-end touches in a space where the kids will run wild, think vertically (and make durable choices for flooring and furniture): this remodeled family room from Tenhulzen Residential is comfortable but modern, featuring cherry cabinets with vertical-set tile surrounding the fireplace.