10 Popular Home Improvements: Are They Worth The Cost?

One increasingly popular way to modernise and reinvent your home is through renovations. Some of the changes you make might ultimately pay for themselves, while others won’t. In a worst-case scenario, you could end up decreasing the value of your home.

A freshly renovated home showing natural light pouring into the living area through new large windows.
A freshly renovated home with natural light pouring into the living area through large windows.

This uncertainty can make it challenging to decide which upgrades will add maximum value based on your family’s current needs, versus the needs of a potential future buyer.

Here, we’ll discuss popular renovation ideas, how much you can expect to pay, and whether or not they’re worthwhile.

Curb Appeal Upgrades

Your house won’t get a second chance to make a great first impression, which is why boosting your home’s curb appeal can be a time and cost-effective way to maximise its value. And with costs ranging between a few hundred dollars to more than $50,000, you can go as modest or extravagant as you want, depending on the features you’d like to include.

Big-ticket items like updating landscaping, installing new exterior and accent lighting, putting in water features, or erecting fencing or masonry work, will cost more than wallet-friendly options like:

  • Painting the front door;
  • Installing a new door handle;
  • Updating house numbers;
  • Adding flower boxes;
  • Buying a new doormat;
  • Putting in a new mailbox (next to your front door or at the curb);
  • Power washing your house, driveway, and sidewalk.

Consider the impact that even these small changes can have on helping your home look its best.

This house enjoys great curb appeal thanks to some quality landscaping and a fresh lick of paint.
Quality landscaping and fresh paint add to the curb appeal of this home.

Swimming Pool

In-ground swimming pools typically start around $35,000 and can exceed $100,000, depending on size and features. You can add another $400 per month if you hire a professional pool maintenance company or about $115 monthly to perform the upkeep yourself.

Having a pool can boost your home’s value by about 7%, but you likely won’t recoup the total investment when it comes time to sell.

For these reasons, pools in warmer climates can provide value to your family, but not necessarily to the people who eventually buy your home. Having a pool — and everything that goes along with it — can make your home more challenging to sell when the time comes.

Solar Panels

Installing solar panels on your home will typically cost between $4,000 and $10,000, depending on factors like the system’s size, your home’s location, the local market, available rebates, panel and installation quality, and site orientation issues.

Despite these initial costs, a solar panel system can pay for itself in four to seven years, based on usage and if you decide to sell your excess electricity back to the grid. A system can also increase your home’s value by about 4.1%.

Solar panels don’t just save you money and boost your home’s value. As a renewable form of energy, solar panels are also an environmentally conscious choice.

Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Prospective buyers may look at wall-to-wall carpeting as outdated and unsanitary since it tends to trap pests, dust, and moisture underneath. For these reasons, installing wood floors in central areas of the house, such as living rooms and hallways, can increase a home’s value by 10%, compared to identical homes without wood floors.

Still, many buyers prefer wall-to-wall carpeting in bedrooms, which generally costs between $20 to $60 per square metre, since it gives these rooms a softer, cosier feel.

Smart Home Technology

Compared to just a few years ago, smart home devices that connect to the internet and share data — known collectively as the internet of things (IoT) — are more popular and widespread than ever. Common examples of smart technology include speakers, lighting, thermostats, security systems, TVs, and even outlets, all of which can add convenience.

Depending on the products and level of integration you choose, it can cost you between a few hundred dollars and more than $15,000 to make your home “smart.” Regardless of how much you spend, smart technology can differentiate your home, help it stand out from the crowd, and even increase its appraisal value when it comes time to sell.

Luxury Kitchen

Kitchens are the heart of a home, where you gather with your family or guests and nourish your body. Luxury appliances like commercial-grade ovens, cook tops, and refrigerators can make preparing food both efficient and enjoyable, while other touches like wine chillers and standalone ice machines can add convenience.

Home sellers only recoup an average of 54% of a luxury kitchen remodel cost, depending on where you live. This means that if you invested $100,000 into your kitchen, you’d likely only recoup about $54,000 when you sell.

While a luxury kitchen remodel can serve you and your family well and make it a more enjoyable space, keep in mind that you probably won’t recoup all of your expenses.

A beautifully renovated kitchen that shines despite the absence of luxury appliances.
A beautifully renovated kitchen that shines despite the absence of luxury appliances.

Accessibility Updates

Making a home more accessible to individuals with disabilities involves renovations like modifying or eliminating entry steps, widening doorways and hallways (although most modern homes already have wide enough doors and hallways for wheelchair accessibility), retrofitting bathrooms, and making sure there’s adequate lighting throughout your home.

Depending on what needs to be done, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $30,000 on the renovations.

Keep in mind that unless you plan to sell your home to an individual with disabilities, there’s no reason to go overboard on these renovations.

Sunroom

Sunrooms — which can cost between $900 and $1,800 per square metre — offer several potential benefits, including adding more versatile semi-outdoor living space to your home without worrying about bugs invading your private escape.

Despite these benefits, building a sunroom onto your house will only return an average of 60% of your out-of-pocket costs, depending on features like the overall size and if your sunroom is built for three seasons or four. For this reason, you’ll need to balance your family’s enjoyment with the reality that you won’t fully recoup your expenses when it’s time to sell.

Windows

On average, new windows can cost between $100 and $1,250 per square metre, each, depending on their materials, size, features (e.g., fixed or sliding, single or double glazed), and quality.

Not only can new windows allow more light into your home, boost its curb appeal, and add more soundproofing, but you could also save a significant amount of money on heating and cooling costs over a year while also lessening your environmental impact.

While there’s no standard for how much of your investment you’ll recoup, new windows typically return 70% to 80% of your costs when it’s time to sell.

An outdoor swimming pool that owes a lot to its landscaped setting. Outdoor swimming pool
Windows allow light to shine into this kitchen. Windows allow light into this kitchen.

DIY Projects

When completing different parts of a home renovation, handling it yourself can save a meaningful amount of money on labor costs. Unless you’re a professional, though, you’ll want to bring in an expert when:

  • Removing chipped paint from the exterior of your home
  • Painting kitchen cabinets
  • Redoing your bathroom plumbing
  • Removing walls or performing other demolition tasks
  • Waterproofing your basement
  • Repairing roof tiles
  • Replacing your electrical panel
  • Repairing drywall

Otherwise, you could cause damage that costs much more to repair than if you hired a professional in the first place.

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