The 7 Simple Home Improvements That Are Actually Worth the Money

Sacha Strebeby Sacha Strebe

So you’ve finally bought your very own home… Congratulations, it’s time to pop the champagne. But it needs some work, huh? That’s okay; making changes along the way is all part of the process when you’re transforming your new home into the space of your dreams.

So where do you start? Ask your parents, and they’ll most likely say the bathroom, since new equals hygienic. Ask your family, and they’ll selfishly say the kitchen, since it’s where they spend most of their time. Ask your friends, and the answer will always be the living room, since that’s where they all like to hang when they visit.

While all of these places deserve equal attention, your budget won’t be so accommodating. So what comes first? Which home improvement project will give you the best bang for your buck and give you a decent return on investment if or when you decide to sell?

If you’re just as clueless as we are, don’t worry, we did the research for you. Actually, Remodel magazine’s Cost vs. Value report did. This handy guide compares the “average cost for 30 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 100 U.S. markets.” You can even download a report specific to the region and city you live in. Genius.

We put together the top seven home improvement tweaks that will bring the most return on investment. You’ll never guess which renovation brings the highest return on investment nationwide.

 

A T TI C   I N S U L A T I O N    |   1 1 6 . 9 %  R E T U R N

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Photo: Vincent Leroux for Marie Claire Maison

Who would have thought that attic insulation would be the top home improvement for return on investment? It might be surprising at first, but when you look into the myriad benefits, it’s easy to see why. The first major benefit is energy efficiency: Basically, insulation helps to keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter. A home that isn’t properly insulated can cost you big time, both in comfort and cash. While you can DIY attic insulation, there are potential safety hazards involved (including asbestos exposure), so if you aren’t experienced in tackling large home-improvement projects, EPA’s Energy Star recommends hiring a contractor. You can schedule a free in-home consultation with the Home Depot insulation unit to see how much it will cost in your home.

Job Cost: $1268

Resale Value: $1482

Cost Recouped: 116.9%

 

E N T R Y   D O O R   R E P L A C E M E N T    |   9 1. 1 %  R E T U R N

 

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Photo: Patrick Cline for Lonny

Who doesn’t love a beautiful entry? In fact, there’s a whole hashtag dedicated to it; just punch in #doorsofinstagram and you’ll find over 30,000 of them all over the world. It’s glorious (our own Hillary Kerr is a big fan). It’s probably why it ranks number two on the list of most valuable home improvements. But it’s not just aesthetics; a new steel entry door also provides energy efficient insulation. According to Home Depot, installing them is a fairly easy DIY project. Check out their video to teach yourself, and take a look at their range of doors while you’re at it.

Job Cost: $1335

Resale Value: $1217

Cost Recouped: 91.1%

 

G A R A G E   D O O R   R E P L A C E M E N T    |   9 1. 5 %  R E T U R N

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Photo: Curro Palacios Taberner for Dezeen

When you imagine yourself rolling into the driveway after a long day, what are you looking at? Is it a simple roll-a-door that gets you in quickly, or a beautiful architecturally designed timber version that looks every bit as beautiful as the rest of the house? Well, regardless of what you choose, the garage door is just as important as the entry. Not only does it enhance the overall appearance, it also upgrades your home security, too, and gives you a 91.5% national average recoup on costs. Now those are the kind of odds we will bank on every time. If you’re thinking of installing a new garage door or replacing your old one, Sears offer a free consultation.

Job Cost: $1652

Resale Value: $1512

Cost Recouped: 91.5%

 

M I N O R   K I T C H E N   R E M O D E L    |   9 1. 5 %  R E T U R N

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Photo: Birgitta W. Drejer for Interiør Magasinet

Before we started researching this story, we polled the office on which home improvements they thought would top the list on ROI. Many of us raised our hands to kitchen, bathroom, and entryway; they seemed like obvious choices. So you can imagine our surprise when we discovered the reality. A major kitchen remodel will set you back $119,909 on average, with a resale value of $73,707 (only a 61.5% recoup on costs). It hardly seems worth it. You’re better off investing in a minor kitchen remodel and upgrading a few elements that spruce up the overall aesthetic and provide practical upgrades that improve the day-to-day efficiency of the space. Now we see why IKEA kitchens are so popular: They provide fashion and function at a price everyone can afford.

Job Cost: $20,122

Resale Value: $16,716

Cost Recouped: 83.1%

 

M A N U F A C T U R E D   S T O N E   V E N E E R    |   9 2. 9 %  R E T U R N

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Photo: Studio Mark Ruthven via Decoist

It might not be the first home improvement that springs to mind, but when we went in search of manufactured stone veneer in real life, we found some striking examples. Don’t be deterred by the term “manufactured” either; the formula has been perfected over the years, and it looks remarkably similar to the real thing. Besides, isn’t a manufactured version better for the environment? According to Taylor Concrete, the term veneer “implies something that is decorative or cosmetic with a functional element,” which means these stone walls can be applied directly to most surfaces including drywall, concrete or brick. That makes it a much simpler home improvement project than actual stone. So what are the next steps? Once you decide on a place to feature the stone veneer, you can watch Eldorado Stone’s step-by-step video on how to install it yourself. Lowe’s has one too. Otherwise, you can look up tradesmen in your local area to do it for you.

Job Cost: $7519

Resale Value: $6988

Cost Recouped: 92.9%

 

W I N D O W   R E P L A C E M E N T    |   7 3. 3 %  R E T U R N

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Photo: Courtesy of Entrance, design by Helena Sand

Whether you’re admiring your home from the outside or peering at the world from the inside, windows are key to the overall aesthetic. They add major style props to its curbside appeal and flood it with natural light to elevate every room, not to mention that they improve your home’s energy efficiency. According to Consumer Reports, new windows can even “make your home quieter, more attractive, and less drafty, and they don’t need painting.” If you’re confused by choice, the Consumer Reports website helps you choose the best one for your home, and a major thing to note is that price doesn’t indicate performance. While it can be relatively simple to replace them yourself, if you’re not super handy, try out Home Depot’s window installation service or look up Yelp in your area to find a local technician.

Job Cost: $14,725

Resale Value: $10,794

Cost Recouped: 73.3%

 

R O O F   R E P L A C E M E N T    |   7 1. 7 %  R E T U R N

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Photo: Simon Maxwell for Real Homes Magazine, styled by Helenka Maciej Hill

If there’s one home improvement you can’t lose on, it’s the roof. It’s an investment that not only improves the look of your home but the quality of the time you spend in it too. A leaky roof isn’t pleasant, and neither are the health implications from the mold that grows as a result. Sometimes you might only need a small repair, which is much more affordable, but there are a few cases when a full replacement is necessary. Home Advisor states most roofs last 20 to 25 years, so if yours is nearing this age, you might want to consider a new one. Other reasons include extensive leaking and curb appeal. The latter is why it’s worth the money. On average, you can recoup 71.7% of your investment for a new roof, and it will literally raise the roof. If you need some free advice, call in the experts at Home Depot, Sears or Lowes.

Job Cost: $20,142

Resale Value: $14,446

Cost Recouped: 71.7%

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