Average return at resale: 100 percent
The average homeowner spends about $3,502 for landscaping and $1,465 on a designer, according to the American Nursery Landscape Association.
Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services, or ask the neighbors what works for them.
Sod costs about 30 to 35 cents a square foot, so a 5,000 sq. ft. yard would cost about $1,500 to sod. Budget for delivery fee if you buy less than 1,000 sq. ft. of sod.
A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. For maximum impact, use one color and vary the height of plants.
If your doorway is overwhelmed by greenery, get out the shears. Replace overgrown shrubbery with flowering foundation plants, mixing heights and colors for dramatic effect.
A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property. Roll a sealant on flagstones for a permanent wet look that enhances the color.
(Vinyl Siding, Paint, Updated Front Entry)
Average return at resale: 95.5 percent
The average national cost to replace 1,250 sq. ft. of vinyl siding: $7,239. Average return: $6,914, with a recoup rate of 95.5 percent.
A gallon of paint covers 400 sq. ft. of house.
Paint color cards take the guesswork out of choosing the right color combination for doors, trim and siding.
If your house was painted before 1978, test for lead before sanding or scraping.
Upscale, fiber-cement siding costs $10,393 and returns $10,771 at resale, an even better recoup rate of 103.6 percent
If you need columns to hold up a pergola, purchase the load-bearing type. Fiberglass composite columns are popular and durable. Check salvage yards for unique historic columns.
For an updated look, remove old awnings from windows and doors.
Swap damaged wrought-iron railings for real wood supports for a more inviting entry.
Give a bare, charmless porch a dramatic makeover by adding a pergola and columns.
Minor Kitchen Remodel
Average return at resale: 98.5 percent
A minor kitchen remodel averages $14,913 for $14,691 at resale, a recoup rate of 98.5 percent. Do a minor remodel when your kitchen needs a cosmetic update and not a drastically different floor plan.
A $15,000 kitchen update covers 30 feet of re-facing for cabinets and drawers, a new wall oven, cooktop, sink and fixtures, laminate countertops and resilient flooring.
Put recessed lights 3’ to 5’ apart on center and 18″ from cabinets to light the countertops. Running the lights between two joists is easier than running through the joists.
If your home is worth more than $500,000, go with stone or trendy glass countertops.
Cover old vinyl with floor leveler so the pattern doesn’t bleed through. You can’t put a second layer of vinyl on if the subfloor is below-grade concrete.
Brighten up the kitchen by sanding and painting existing cabinets. It’s much less expensive than buying new ones.
Add decorator detail without the cost by changing drapes and window molding.
Minor Bathroom Remodel
Average return at resale: 102 percent
It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. You’ll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent.
If you can pipe a child’s name on a birthday cake, you can re-caulk a tub. Use a softener like CAULK-BE-GONE to get rid of the old caulk. Fill the tub with water after you’re done to stretch caulk while it dries.
If your old tub is too large to fit out the door, re-glaze it for a like-new finish. Cost: $300 to $400.
Remove dated wall coverings and apply a fresh coat of paint. For damaged walls, spray-on texture provides quick coverage.
Replace old shower doors or remove them to add the illusion of space.
Major Bathroom Remodel
Average return at resale: 93.2 percent
A major bathroom remodel involves expanding an existing 5×7 ft. bathroom, relocating and replacing the tub and toilet and adding designer sinks and faucets, a linen closet, lighting, a ceramic tile floor and exhaust fan for a cost of $26,052, which brings in $24,286 at resale.
Start at the bottom. Replace old floors with fresh tile in ceramic or stone for a solid payoff. Buy extra tiles in case you break any during installation. Set some tiles aside at the end of the job for future repairs.
Give an old vanity a facelift with a new countertop for a clean, fresh look buyers will love.
Use eye-fooling tricks to make a small bath look larger. A new pedestal sink is a smart replacement for an old cabinet. The smaller footprint gives the illusion of space.
Attic Bedroom Conversion
Average return at resale: 93.5 percent
The average attic bedroom in a two- or three-bedroom house costs $39,188 and returns $36,649 at resale.
The best recoup rate is in the West: 105 percent; worst is in the Midwest: 82 percent.
That price includes a 15 x 15 ft. bedroom, a 5 x 7 ft. bath with shower, a 15 ft. dormer, four windows and a closet.
Add attic insulation to lower your utility bills. Making sure the foil vapor barrier is installed down toward the ceiling to prevent moisture from seeping up. Check the US Department of Energy website to see the right level of insulation for your area.
Can your existing HVAC system handle the load of another room? If not, factor in the cost of a second unit.
A solar-powered attic fan is an efficient way to save on cooling costs. The attic fan exhausts heat from above your home and is powered by a solar cell on the roof.
Deck, Patio or Porch Addition
Average return at resale: 90.3 percent
Adding a 16×20 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.
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. 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.
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.
10 Replacement Windows
Average return at resale: 89.6 percent
Replacing ten 3×5 ft. windows runs about $9,700. On average nationally, you’ll get back $8,700 when you sell, a recoup rate of nearly 90 percent.
Big city window replacements pay off. The average homeowner recoups more than she spends on replacement windows in San Francisco, Seattle, Orlando, Miami, Chicago, NYC and Boston.
For hot climates, there’s low-e glass that reflects heat. And for maximum efficiency, add argon gas inside the pane to prevent heat and cold transference within the window.
Family Room Addition
Average return at resale: 83 percent
The average family room addition costs $54,464 and adds $45,458 at resale, a recoup rate of 83 percent.
The highest recoup rates occur in high-cost Western markets.
A sunroom counts in the home’s square footage only when the room is heated and cooled for year-round use.
A sunroom adds value only in upscale neighborhoods. It won’t bring in higher bids in lower-end neighborhoods.
An addition shouldn’t be obvious. Make sure it has an open transition. A wider interior doorway and more substantial steps visually connect the addition to the rest of the house.
Living Room Updates – Decor
Average return at resale: 66 percent
It costs around $1,350 for staging and updating living room decor with new light switches, outlet covers, floor registers, crown molding, chair rails and drapes, plus fresh flowers and accessories.
Details add dollars. Crown molding gives a room a crisp, clean finish that buyers love. Choose molding that complements window trim and floorboards. Prices start at around $1.40 per linear foot.
Shift furniture away from the walls to make living rooms feel larger and more contemporary. Create a seating area around a feature you want buyers to notice, like a dramatic fireplace.
If you’re staging your home to sell, don’t move excess furniture and clutter into the garage. Rent a storage unit for about $1 per square foot per month.
New window treatments are a cost-conscious way to add a punch of designer color. For low ceilings, create the illusion of height by positioning drapes and valances higher on the wall.
NOTE: ROI values and remodeling costs are subject to change.