13 Decisions Homeowners Never Regret

These home improvement projects will make you happier at home and will increase the value of your house when you’re ready to put it on the market.

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Projects That Pay

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.

Update the Kitchen

A kitchen makeover can yield major pay-offs—and we’re not talking about a super-deluxe renovation, either. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Report, a minor kitchen update—say, new appliances, a paint job, and perhaps new countertops—can pay off up to 77 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

Add a Mudroom

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.

Related: 17 Design Inspirations for Mudrooms and Entryways

Schedule a Home Energy Audit

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: 9 Energy-Saving Home Upgrades That Pay for Themselves

Replace Windows

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.

Related: The Best Things You Can Do for the Value of Your Home

Add Outdoor Living Space

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. Remodeling Magazine estimates you’ll recoup 72 percent of the costs for adding a wood deck. Plus, an outdoor living space will increase your own enjoyment of your property.

Related: 12 Backyard Updates You Can Do in a Day

Hire Your Own Inspector

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.

Finish the Basement

Maximizing the usable square footage of your home is a smart move in an escalating real-estate market. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) estimates in their 2019 Remodeling Impact Report that you’ll recoup up to 64 percent of the costs for converting your basement into a living area. In addition to that good news, 84 percent of homeowners have a greater desire to be home since completing the project. 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: 12 Finishing Touches for Your Unfinished Basement

Revamp Electrical Systems

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.

Invest in Landscaping

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: 12 Outdoor Upgrades That Make Your Home More Valuable

Spruce Up the Bathroom

Bathrooms give you major payback on your renovation dollar. For a midrange upgrade, Remodeling Magazine estimates you’ll recover 64 percent of the cost—plus, you use them all the time, so you’ll never second-guess giving them an upgrade. This is a project that 33 percent of REALTORS® recommend sellers complete before putting their home on the market. 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!

Related: 12 Vintage Bathroom Features That Never Go Out of Style

Install New Garage Doors

Curb appeal is a major factor for homebuyers. Adding flowers and cutting the grass are quick ways to spruce up your house, but for a more lasting impact consider installing new garage doors. According to Remodeling Magazine, you can expect to recoup close to 95 percent of what you spent on a garage door replacement. A boost for your curb appeal and home value while almost breaking even? That seems like a win-win.

Fix the Facade

The inside of your house might look swell, but it’s all about first impressions and if potential buyers pull up to a fading exterior then they might not be able to focus on any of the good. Luckily, replacing the siding has one of the highest return on investments, according to Remodeling Magazine and NAR, so you’ll earn back the money you spend on this exterior project.

Upgrade the Floors

You might like the plush feeling of carpet under your feet, but nowadays many homebuyers are expecting to find hardwood floors. While this might feel like a big project to take on, research from NAR suggests it’s worth the cost and effort. In their 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, 5% of realtors claim wood floors helped them close a deal, while homeowners who completed the project indicated greater joy from the new flooring. Even more impressive? NAR calculates a 106 percent value recovered from the project, meaning you make money from the renovation.