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Best and worst home improvement projects

Posted at 10:19 AM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2018-11-21 17:46:56-05

Home improvement season is underway.

But if you're thinking of redoing a room or deck this year, you might want to know which improvements will give you the most return on your dollar -- and which will give you the least.

New kitchen may not return as much as you hope

New kitchen? Five or 10 years ago, spending $25,000 on your kitchen usually meant you could get another $25,000 at selling time, because upgrading to stainless steel appliances would help your home sell faster.

But not anymore.

Bloomberg News states kitchen projects now return less than they did a decade ago.

Why? Home buyers now expect stainless steel appliances in all but the cheapest homes. Granite counters are almost standard, so they no longer "boost" your home's resale price the way they did a decade ago.

If your home has 1990s-era tile or laminate countertop and a white oven, that will pull down your home's value. Stainless steel has become the new standard in 2017.

Biggest return on investment

Despite the figures above, kitchen remodeling still remains the best project for return on your dollar.

Among the best projects right now:

  • A kitchen redo: $24,000 on average, Bloomberg says, and you'll recoup 70 percent of the cost at resale. Remember: the first thing buyers look at -- after the outside of the home -- is the kitchen.
  • A full bathroom remodel: $10,000 on average, with a 62 percent return at resale.
  • Main floor half bath remodel: Only costs $3,000 but can really help sell a home.
  • Adding a deck: This remains a good investment. It costs $8,000, and it returns 70 percent of what you paid.

Lower return on investment

Some projects unfortunately don't return much on investment.

Home office: Bloomberg says converting an extra room to an office with built-in bookcases costs $4,000, but you'll get back just 40 percent at resale.

Sunrooms and garage additions (such as making a two-car garage into a three-car garage) also don't bring the big dollars at selling time.

There is nothing wrong with them, and a sunroom will make your home much more enjoyable. But if you drop $20,000 on the project, you probably won't get it back.

Pool: Unless you are in Florida or Southern California, a pool won't increase the value of your home. In northern states, a pool can make your home harder to sell, as some buyers don't want to deal with it. A hot tub is cheaper, and easier to remove if the new owners don't want it.

If you want a sunroom or pool, they are great, as long as you plan to stay in your home a few years.

Don't overdo it

One finally caution: A high-end kitchen remodel, with granite and professional looking appliances, can now go north of $40,000.

If you are in a neighborhood of lower-priced homes, you may never get that money back.



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“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). John Matarese reports on deals and scams so you Don't Waste Your Money. "Like" his page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @JohnMatarese.

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