10 Decisions Homeowners Never Regret

When it comes to shelling out for renovations and fixes, homeowners have no shortage of options. So when is it smart to splurge and when is it foolish? From wiring to landscaping, here are a few foolproof ways to get the best home-improvement bang for your hard-earned buck—without suffering a case of buyer's remorse.

  1. Update the Kitchen

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    Kitchen remodel

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    A kitchen makeover can yield major pay-offs—and we’re not talking about a super-deluxe renovation, either. According to Remodeling Magazine, a $15,000 update—say, new appliances, a paint job, and perhaps new countertops—can pay off up to 92 percent. So you can reap the benefits of an upgraded kitchen without having a major project take over your home. 


    Related: 10 Kitchen Updates You Can Do in a Day

  2. Add a Mudroom

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    Mud room

    Zillow Digs home in Rumson, NJ

    A utilitarian space to store shoes, coats, and backpacks may not be glamorous, but it certainly keeps your home neater and makes daily comings and goings easier. Consider carving out a bit of space near your back door, or even adding a bump-out to accommodate an organized entry.

  3. Schedule a Home Energy Audit

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    Home energy

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    Here’s an easy one that can add up to major savings over time: book a visit from a home-energy auditor. The assessor finds inefficiencies in your energy use and where heat or cooled air may be escaping. In addition, a home auditor will teach you about the best ways to fix any issues that might get discovered. The best part is that these audits are often free, and fix-it measures may be eligible for rebates.


    Related: 14 Secrets of People with Low Energy Bills

  4. Replace Windows

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    Windows

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    Older houses often come with drafty, sticky, or otherwise troublesome windows. While not an inexpensive job, window replacement pays off in energy savings and definitely boosts home value. Plus, you’ll love throwing open your new windows in springtime, with no broken latches or warped sashes to get in your way.

  5. Add Outdoor Living Space

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    Backyard

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    Your yard is a bonus living room, so make the most of it by adding a screened porch, patio, or deck. Such features often cost less than you imagine, and they add functionality and resale appeal. Plus, an outdoor living space will increase your own enjoyment of your property.


    Related: 12 Backyard Updates You Can Do in a Day

  6. Hire Your Own Inspector

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    Home inspector

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    Before you close on that new house, it’s worth the time and expense to vet and hire an inspector. It’s fine to use the guy suggested by the seller or his realtor, but with such a major purchase you’ll always be glad you secured a second, impartial opinion before you signed on the dotted line.

  7. Finish the Basement

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    Basement

    Zillow Digs home in Portland, OR

    Maximizing the usable square footage of your home is a smart move in an escalating real-estate market. You can transform that dim cavern below your feet into a fabulous game room, home gym, or playroom. To take it to the next level, consider adding a bathroom—provided the plumbing is already in place it would be an easy project to tackle.


    Related: Sell High: Top 7 Value-Boosting Home Renovations

  8. Revamp Electrical Systems

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    Home electricity

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    Old wiring isn’t just a drag on your home’s value, it is also a safety risk. Hire an electrician to give your home an electrical upgrade. Any improvement that protects your house is always money well spent.

  9. Invest in Landscaping

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    Landscaping

    Zillow Digs home in Phoenix, AZ

    It may be a few years until you can appreciate the benefits, but adding trees and shrubs to your yard adds to your home’s curb appeal and value—and shade trees can cut energy costs, as well. Get bids from a few different landscapers, ask them for a guarantee to replace any plants that don’t do well in the first year, and choose items that thrive in your neighborhood. Soon you'll have the nicest looking yard on the block. 


    Related: Before and After: 6 Landscapes Totally Transformed

  10. Spruce Up the Bathroom

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    Bathroom

    Zillow Digs home in Oakland, CA

    After kitchens, bathrooms give the most payback on your renovation dollar—plus, you use them all the time, so you’ll never second-guess giving them an upgrade. For a timeless look, choose durable black or white flooring and surfaces. And invest in a high-quality toilet—you’ll always be glad you did!

  11. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!