Worth It: 8 Renovations That Pay You Back

Conventional wisdom holds that upgrades and improvements will enhance a home’s value. But some improvements are better—and more cost-effective—investments than others. Contrary to what you might imagine, some of the most worthwhile projects also are the most economical. Start charting your home improvement course now by considering some of the projects with the biggest payoffs.

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  1. Great Garages


    Sometimes the best curb appeal upgrades are the simplest. But for the most bang for your buck, you can't beat a new set of garage doors. Spending about $1,500 on a midrange replacement will return 83.7% on your investment, and an upscale model costing about $2,800 will return 82.9% of the cost.

    Related:  Instant Curb Appeal—15 Fast Facade Fix-Ups


  2. Enjoy A New Deck


    Choosing a renovation you're actually going to enjoy is as important as a good return on your investment. That's what makes a new wood deck such a great choice. It returns 87.4% of the investment on a mid-range project costing about $9,500. And until the day that you sell, it will offer a place for relaxation and fun.

    Related:  Get Inspired! 17 Sensational Deck Designs

    Zillow Digs home in Kent, WA

  3. All Around the House


    No doubt about it—replacing exterior siding gives your home a major facelift, but it also generates a strong return on your investment. The most cost-effective option is fiber-cement, with a whopping 87% return on your project costs of about $13,378. Vinyl siding isn't a bad option either; it returns about 78% of the investment.

    Related:  10 Reasons to Reconsider Vinyl Siding


  4. Attic Retreat


    The popularity of attic conversions is on the rise, and for good reason: Adding an extra bedroom upstairs gives you additional living space without increasing the overall footprint of a home. An attic bedroom remodel is an investment that returns 84.3%, with an average remodeling cost of $49,438.

    Related:  Under the Eaves—10 Arresting Attic Rooms

    Zillow Digs home in Seattle, WA

  5. Update Your Kitchen


    Perennially topping the charts of popular remodeling projects? The kitchen, of course. But no need to give yours a complete overhaul in order to add value to your home. In fact, smaller kitchen remodels—upgrading the counters, cabinets, and appliances at about $18,856—return 82.7% of the cost. A big-ticket, upscale kitchen remodel is nice, but at an average of $109,935, it returns only 63.6% of the cost.

    Related:  I'm Dreaming of a White... Kitchen—10 Bright Beauties to Behold

    Zillow Digs home in Oakland, CA

  6. Seeing Clearly


    There are plenty of reasons to replace your old windows. Today's options are more energy-efficient, saving you money on your heating and cooling bills. They also come in a array of convenient options that make open, closing, and cleaning much easier. And good windows add value to your home. Mid-range wood windows return 79.3% on an average cost of $10,926 and mid-range vinyl replacements return 78.7% on an average cost of $9,978.


  7. Down Below


    Remodeling the basement is another great way to add living space to the home without embarking upon a full-scale addition. Transforming yours into finished space—for instance, adding insulation, flooring, walls and ceiling—earns a 77.6% cost-to-value ratio, with the average remodeling cost weighing in at $62,834.

    Related:  Life Underground—10 Beautiful Basement Makeovers

    Zillow Digs home in Montclair, NJ

  8. Having A Backup Plan


    A rather unexpected—but welcome—addition is a backup power generator. The growing popularity of this relatively inexpensive home addition may be due to the unpredictable weather of the past few years. With an average cost of $11,742, adding a backup generator is a project with a 67.5% return on investment.


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