Whether you’ve lived in your home for three weeks or three decades, there’s never a bad time to invest in an upgrade or new look. The real question is: Which home improvement projects fit your home best?
Most homeowners lean toward big, costly upgrades that offer immediate visual impact: new kitchen, new bathroom, new roof, new siding, new driveway. They assume that such projects will boost the home’s resale value, paying for themselves—and then some, hopefully—when it’s time to sell.
Homeowners with this strategy are not necessarily wrong. But, as in so many other areas of life, no home improvement project is a slam-dunk investment. Most home experts warn about overplaying the potential financial benefits of a new patio, deck or bonus room. Homeowners who ask which home improvement projects are likely to pay off may be missing the point.
According to real estate and mortgage professionals, it’s very important for homeowners to take a realistic view of any home improvement project’s value-add potential. No project is guaranteed to add to the value of your home. It’s best to focus on those improvements most likely to increase your quality of life, rather than those you expect to increase your home’s eventual selling price.
So, what home improvement jobs should you focus on? That’s up to you, but you can probably find one or two to love among these eight.
- Garage Door Replacement
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to repair a garage door is $220. That’s a relative bargain: Replacing a garage door is several times more expensive after labor.
It could be worth the expense. Old garage doors are loud, unreliable and potentially dangerous. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your door, and you’re not sure a fresh coat of paint is enough to address the issue, treat yourself (and your ears) to a new and improved version.
- Deck Addition
You can’t go wrong with more outdoor space. A simple wooden deck is a straightforward home improvement project that committed, experienced DIYers can easily tackle themselves. If you need to call in the pros, you’ll spend more, but you’ll get what you pay for—and be reasonably sure that the work is up to code.
- Resurfacing in High-Traffic Areas
Tired of creaky floorboards, soft spots, chips and other signs of floor wear and tear in high-traffic areas? Invest in a shiny new floor surface that fits with the rest of your house’s style and won’t cost you a fortune. Realistic faux tile and pressed bamboo are popular, cost-effective and easy to clean.
- Bathroom Update
You don’t have to gut your bathroom to make a big difference. Nor do you have to splurge on top-of-the-line fixtures that inevitably lose their shine (and their style) over time.
Instead, focus on bathroom updates that make you happy. A multisetting showerhead? A low-flow toilet? A larger, sleeker mirror? A basin sink? All great, as long as they suit your fancy. And, if you choose wisely, they just might suit eventual buyers’ fancies too.
- Strategic Skylight
Nothing says “happy to be home” like a bright, airy interior. In living spaces directly under the roofline, consider a well-placed skylight that opens your home to the outside and increases the amount of natural light reaching the floor. Think twice before adding a skylight to the bedroom, unless you’re a habitual early riser.
- New and Improved Landscaping
If you’re an avid gardener, this is your project. A few strategic shrubs or planters can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal. And remember, you’re not just trying to impress neighbors and potential buyers—you’re giving yourself a sight for sore eyes after a long day at work.
- More Efficient Appliances
One of the most practical ways to turn over a new leaf at home is to invest in kitchen or laundry appliance upgrades. Not only do gleaming new appliances wow guests and ease the burden of housework, they can significantly reduce your home’s water and energy consumption—and the bills that come with.
- New Windows and Doors
Like top-of-the-line appliances, new windows and doors are typically more energy-efficient than the fixtures they replace. If you’re tired of drafts, or just weary of looking at dirty, beat-up windows and doors every day, start with a trial project—your back door, perhaps, or a single window. As time and budget allow, go through the house and replace the rest of your outdated portals.