Which Home Improvements Pay Off?

Maybe you've been thinking of remodeling your kitchen. Maybe you've had big plans to put your house on the market this summer. Or maybe you've been spending more time at home than you have in a long while — and, you know, you're starting to realize your house is a lot draftier than you thought.

Making improvements to your home can be both exciting and nerve wracking. After all, you want to make sure you're focusing on the right thing, making the right choices — spending your money the right way.

Trying to prioritize your home improvement dollars? Here's what you need to know:

  1. Home improvement is a great financial investment.

  2. But there is a huge range in ROI. Some projects do better than others!

  3. The improvements that pay off might surprise you.

Let's explore this a little more.

Home improvement is a great financial investment

For most of us, purchasing a home is a huge financial investment — maybe the biggest one we'll ever make. You save up for a down payment, pour a large portion of your budget into a mortgage each month, and work hard to build up equity over time. Home improvements, then, are actually really smart to make! If you ever sell, you want to be sure you're getting all your money back (and then some), right?

Home improvements can also be a fantastic creative outlet. In many respects, it's about making your home just how you want it. Don't like something aesthetically? Change it! But home improvement also happens under the surface. In fact, some of the best upgrades are the ones you'll almost never see.

There is a huge range in return on investment (ROI)

Changing out an old furnace that could start an accidental fire, insulating your crawl space, replacing your electrical panels...these aren't glamorous projects, but they are certainly upgrades. And many of them will lead to a bigger payday than what you'd get out of the tens of thousands spent on a major kitchen revamp.

Aesthetic projects, like a bathroom remodel or new addition, are highly influenced by the subjective tastes of you: the homeowner. If your future buyer just isn't all that into what you did...well, you're out of luck. Something more practical (sometimes even invisible) in the long term, on the other hand — like attic insulation — could mean cash back in your pocket when you sell.

The improvements that pay off might surprise you

Curious which home improvements have the biggest return on investment? Which actually pay off? Let's take a look at what the latest data (2019) tells us, working up to the best possible investment you could make.

Roof replacement - ROI: 68%

A new roof may not be a showstopper, like a kitchen remodel, but it can absolutely boost your home's value.

Steel entry door - ROI: 74.9%

Steel doors are stronger than their fiberglass and wood counterparts, providing greater security against intruders. Steel doors are also not prone to warping or cracking.

Siding replacement - ROI: 75.6%

New siding is a great way to boost the appeal of your house in a hurry, without breaking the bank. Vinyl, in particular, has excellent long-term appeal.

Wood deck addition - ROI: 75.6%

Nothing says "home" to a buyer like a new wood deck! It'll cost you a pretty penny, but you can expect to recoup more than three-quarters of your investment.

Minor kitchen remodel - ROI: 80.5%

Note: we said minor. We're talking fresh paint, new hardware and countertops and better, energy-efficient appliances (not brand new cabinetry or a change in layout). Totally worth it!

Garage door replacement - ROI: 97.5%

Improving the curb appeal of your house with an upscale garage door is a great bet right now. Buyers are especially into antique, four-section doors with ornamental handles and decorative windows like these. And the payback is 97.5%!

Attic insulation - ROI: 107.7%

One of the most valuable improvements you can make is attic insulation, clocking in at a whopping 107.7% return on investment! And the results are consistent year after year. Attic insulation is one of those upgrades that just never loses its luster — at least as far as your bank account is concerned.

Truth is, the most valuable home improvement projects aren't always the high profile, high gratification ones. Because, in the end, what most people want is to be warm, safe and secure in their homes. And that means insulating!

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