Industrious homeowners are always looking for ways to make their homes more comfortable and enjoyable, but upgrades, renovations, and repairs can also increase the value of your home. Whether you plan to sell your house now or many years down the road, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Choose your project carefully. Not all remodeling projects are created equally. It’s rare to completely recover an investment with increased home value, but certain projects fare better than others. Which remodels top the list? According to the Remodeling 2012-2013 Cost vs. Value Report, replacing your current siding with fiber cement siding ranked the highest in the upscale projects category, with 79.3 percent of cost recouped. Steel entry door replacement ranked the highest for midrange projects, with 85.6 percent of cost recouped.

    • Other projects that weighed in with over 70 percent of cost recovered include minor kitchen remodels, window replacement, vinyl siding installation, attic bedroom additions, basement remodels, wood deck additions, and garage door replacement.

  2. Spend wisely during a remodel. Anyone who has done a sizable remodel knows that costs can quickly spiral out of control when you haven’t planned ahead. Busting a remodeling budget will only increase the amount you need to recover in added home value. To keep your project focused, set a realistic budget with all the details selected in advance, from countertops to cabinetry finishes. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) also recommends allocating 10 to 20 percent of your budget for unexpected costs.

  3. Focus on efficiency. After the housing collapse, buyers became wary of costly homes that required hefty sums for annual upkeep. What’s attracting homeowners today? Practical and energy-efficient upgrades like additional insulation, replacement windows and doors, and advanced heating and cooling equipment suddenly seem like a better investment than a house full of luxury features.

  4. Pay attention to the details. Individually, small home improvements don’t amount to very much, but a home that looks clean and updated will increase its overall value. Avoid scaring away prospective buyers with a seemingly endless list of repairs and upgrades waiting to be performed. Cosmetic enhancements, such as freshly painted walls, new carpets, or refinished floors, will all make a home appear more attractive and valuable

  5. .
  6. Invest in your landscape. An inviting yard with a lush, green lawn, mature trees, and beautiful plants will help make that crucial first impression a positive one. Mature trees, in particular, can really increase the value of your home, so plant early, long before you’re considering putting your home on the market. Well-placed trees will also reduce annual heating and cooling costs, which benefits you as well as any future buyers.

Even if you’re putting money into your house, it can sometimes have the opposite effect—decreased home value. To avoid wasted investment, follow these basic guidelines:

  1. Don’t stand out too much from the pack. If you’re the only one on your street still sporting linoleum floors and laminate countertops, a minor kitchen remodel can be a cost-effective way to catch up with neighboring home values. Also, craft your home to naturally blend in with the surrounding community. Particularly when considering exterior or outdoor projects, try to stay consistent with local preferences in things like roofing types, fence designs, or gutter styles.

  2. Don’t rely too heavily on passing trends. Remember avocado appliances and teal walls? Prospective buyers will have done their best to forget these trends, only to find them occupying their would-be dream home. Try integrating trendy accents into a classic look to keep your home fresh and modern while maintaining balance. Also, if you are about to put your home on the market, stick to neutral paint colors.

Upgrading one’s home can be a pleasure on its own, but finding ways to add value in the process can make it even more worthwhile. Whether you’re planning a large remodeling project or just some small repairs, help ensure a quality job by working with a reputable professional.

*© 2012 Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2012–13 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at

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Sources: CBS News; Forbes; National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI); Remodeling Magazine; US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

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