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Best Remodeling Ideas for Raising Home Value: What Pays Off?

Homeownership has its benefits. One of those benefits is that you have the real opportunity to make it your own space. Yank out those old kitchen cabinets and replace them with a whole new look. But which are the best remodeling ideas for raising your home value?

Will knocking out that center wall really “improve the feng shui” of your living room? Maybe. However, it may not raise the selling price or value of your home. While some remodeling ideas are more born from necessity, others actually help raise the value of your home. We’ll break down the Do’s and Don’t’s of which remodeling ideas help your bottom line and which you may want to just leave alone.

Best Remodeling Idea #1: Bathroom Renovations and New Bathrooms

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) estimates that the typical cost for remodeling a bathroom will fall around $30,000. That seems high to us, but if you go all out with Italian tile, a walk-in shower, and knock down a few walls, we could see it adding up quickly.

Best bathroom remodeling Ideas that Raise Home Values

Upgrading your bathroom definitely improves the functionality and look of this important room. Still, the National Association of Realtors estimates you’ll recover around $15,000 when you sell. $30,000 in, $15,000 out. That’s only a 50% cost recovery on this home improvement project. Of course, if you can keep your costs down and still create something beautiful, so much the better.

Best Remodeling Idea #2: Wood Floor Installation and Refinishing

Do you have old, wooden floors hiding under that carpet? Can your existing hardwood floors use some freshening up? Do you not have hardwood floors, but wish you did? In any of these cases, renovating or refinishing your floors make for great places to start when it comes to home improvement. To refinish, some estimates say you can expect to spend $3–$8 per square foot. However, you can expect to recover as much as $3,000 or more. That might equate to 100% of your investment!

hardwood tongue groove flooring

Even if you’re installing new wood floors, the National Association of Realtors considers starting from scratch to present a great value. At an estimated cost of $5,500, you can expect this home improvement project to net you $5,000 added value upon resale. While you might not get every bit of your money back in home equity, you’re still looking at around 91% of your value recovered!

Best Remodeling Idea #3: Adding Attic Insulation

Green homes sell. Nobody wants to pay hundreds of wasted dollars each month for heating and cooling when they can put that in their pockets. Ensuring your home has sufficient insulation will actually raise the value of your property—particularly to any discerning buyers.

ideas for raising home value - adding attic insulation
Um…Make sure your attic looks a bit nicer than this!

While not as “sexy” as flooring, improving your home’s insulation has proven to be another one of those fantastic remodeling ideas. Not only will it save you money on your power bill, but new insulation should recover you $1,600 from an initial estimated investment of $2,100. That’s 76% of your value recovered. The energy savings will save you or your buyer the rest. This might be one of those ideas for raising home value that pays off early if you don’t wait until you sell!

Best Remodeling Idea #4: HVAC Upgrade

Similarly, HVAC replacement presents some decent value. NARI estimates that replacing your old HVAC system could run you around $6,475, but that you can expect to recover 67% of that money upon resale. Of course, newer, energy-efficient models also save you money on your present energy bills.

ideas for raising home value air conditioning HVAC upgrade

Some older homes with two-stories tried to use fancier diverters or other systems that sent air conditioning to the whole home from a single unit. In this case, adding a second, smaller HVAC system might be a much better solution for cooling your home. We do this in my own home with an upstairs bonus room.

Best Remodeling Idea #5: Update Your Roof

Apparently, one of the best remodeling ideas you ought to consider when it comes to home improvement starts with your roof. You’ll likely drop around $10,500, but Realtors estimate that you’ll make back 109% of that cost in added value when it comes time to sell.

best remodeling Ideas replace metal roof standing seam

No one wants to buy a home and immediately replace the roof. In fact, many lenders will make that rather difficult.

Beyond these numbers, replacing your tired, old roof often increases your energy efficiency, reduces water damage, and adds curb appeal. On our own home, we got tired of replacing shingle roofs, so we converted to a metal standing seam roof. It’s a great look that should last 50 years or more. However, we don’t expect we’ll get all that cost out of the home.

Good thing we don’t plan on selling anytime soon!

Best Remodeling Idea #6: Garage Door Upgrade

A new garage door will also improve the aesthetics and functionality of your home, and you’ll recover as much as 87% of the initial cost through added value. We estimate that a basic new garage door will cost around $3,000. Premium models can cost a whole lot more. Since this upgrade is a relatively simple home improvement to install, this is one of those remodeling ideas that is a no-brainer.

best remodeling ideas garage door upgrade

Best Remodeling Idea #7: Siding

New siding, specifically fiber-cement siding, can be a solid investment. Although the upfront costs can run an estimated $24,000, this siding is durable, long-lasting, and looks great. Plus, this upgrade has a relatively high-cost recovery of around 83%.

HardieBoard Trim painted windows

Home Improvement Projects: Where NOT to Invest

Whatever the case may be, some home improvement projects add legitimate value to your house, while some projects might fall more into the “vanity project” camp. Whether you plan on selling your home soon, or just want to make your place your own through some general home improvement, the above remodeling ideas that might help you narrow down where to start.

But what about ideas that don’t add to your home’s value?

Avoid: Remodeling a Master Bedroom Suite

You might think that remodeling your master bedroom would jump the value of your home way up, but this is another area that you won’t get quite as much as what you put into it. According to Remodeling Magazine’s latest Cost vs Value Report, they estimate that your total cost for renovating your master suite might net just over a 50% return.

The incredibly high cited costs likely take into account California and New York pricing. Regardless, I’d estimate that regardless of what you spend, you’re sure to invest more than you make upon selling the home.

Best Remodeling Ideas for Raising Home Value bedroom
If this is your idea of a bedroom renovation, then a) you have expensive tastes, and b) don’t expect to recover more than 52% of your investment.

Surprise, surprise, not all remodeling ideas are good ones, at least not if you’re actually looking for a high return on your investment. While any home improvement project will likely improve the livability of your house, these projects present the smallest cost recovery of any of the typical remodeling ideas that homeowners come up with.

Avoid: Major Kitchen Upgrades

Kitchens sell homes. Period. However…people are very particular about their kitchens.

If your latest remodeling ideas include redoing the kitchen, we get it. You should reconsider upgrading the kitchen if it looks dated and you want to sell. However, on major kitchen renovations, you may only recover 54% of your investment through added equity.

With kitchens, less might be more when considering ideas for raising your home value.

how much kitchen remodeling ideas raise home value

You might spend well over $35,000, but you may also recoup more like 80-90% of that investment if you don’t overbuild and the rest of the house supports the look of the new kitchen.

On second thought, maybe this should have risen to the top part of our best remodeling ideas for raising your home value.

Avoid: Adding a Bonus Room or Game Room

While adding a room might seem like a great idea—it’s one better suited for those who intend to keep their homes. If you’re looking to sell, adding a room won’t recoup the cost to build it—probably not even close. There are exceptions, like underbuilt homes on a particularly expensive piece of property. However, for the most part, you spend more to add space than you get out of it when you sell.

This idea gets even worse when the room is a bonus room or game room. Adding a game room or home theater makes your house appeal to a more limited amount of people. A majority would prefer the additional bedrooms space and might look at the room as something they need to disassemble.

adding bonus game room home resale value

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that these are estimates based on national averages. That number changes constantly with the cost of building supplies and labor costs. While the cost of some renovations will seem high for some areas, the recovery percentages should be pretty solid. National averages are also affected by the fact that renovations favor people living in much more expensive homes. That skews the pricing upward—which is why some of the renovation estimates exceed the size of most people’s entire homes!

Ultimately, what are the best remodeling ideas that will pay off and which raise home values? It all depends on your housing situation. If you’re not planning on moving anytime soon, but would like to increase your enjoyment of your living space, a $15,000 bathroom upgrade might actually make sense.

If you’re flipping houses, you might avoid major bathroom and kitchen remodels. Definitely avoid building a home theater or game room. Sure, these upgrades can attract buyers. However, you probably won’t make a great financial return on the investment if you go overboard. Meanwhile, new roofing and insulation will not only attract buyers but also let you adjust your asking price. These projects almost consistently increase the value of your home.

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