According to the US Census Bureau’s most recent American Housing Survey (AHS), 57 percent of homeowners choose to make significant improvements to their homes rather than pack their bags in search of greener pastures. Investing in the right remodeling projects can not only make your home more enjoyable, but it can also yield financial rewards down the road. This blog touches on some important considerations to make when deciding which areas of your home are ready for remodeling.

Change in Lifestyle

Looking to add a bedroom for a growing family or the constant stream of weekend visitors? Attics and basements are great spare bedroom candidates. Even better, the Remodeling 2012-2013 Cost vs. Value Report (* estimates that attic bedrooms recovered 72.9 percent of costs, while basement remodels recovered 70.3 percent of costs. If space is tight in these areas, look for creative ways to utilize hidden spaces.

Your yard, though not a “room” in the traditional sense, creates opportunities for a variety of projects, from decks and screened-in porches to outdoor kitchens and dining areas. As your life changes, shape your backyard to meet your interests—perhaps a pool for the kids or a tranquil outdoor patio now that you have more time to relax in the sun with a good book. For the best investment, the 2012-2013 Cost vs. Value Report ranks wood deck additions (77.3 percent of costs returned on a midrange project) and composite deck additions (67.5 percent of costs returned on a midrange project and 59.7 percent returned on an upscale project) the highest among backyard remodels. For more information on designing and executing an outdoor living space that integrates seamlessly with your home, click here.

Selling Your Home

Many homeowners remodel simply to improve their quality of life, but if you’re thinking about selling in the future, be choosy about where you spend your money. If the 2012-2013 Cost vs. Value Report can tell you anything, it’s that first impressions carry a lot of weight. Exterior projects accounted for six out of ten remodels in the midrange category and all four remodels in the upscale category that recouped over seventy percent of costs. Focus on simple, cost-effective projects that boost curb appeal, such as entry or garage door replacement.

Certain projects will actually decrease the value of your home and make getting it off the market more difficult. Over-the-top kitchen and bathroom remodels or niche hobby rooms can turn off buyers who don’t have the same tastes or lifestyles. If you order takeout most nights, you won’t want to feel obligated to blossom into a five-star chef simply to justify the kitchen you’ve purchased along with your dream house. Other buyers might wonder what they’ll do with an at-home workout space when they love getting out to the gym with their friends. Aim for mass appeal when updating rooms, and keep the colors schemes neutral.

For more information, check out our blog on increasing the value your home.

Energy Efficiency

The slump in the housing market pushed many homeowners away from lavish and over-the-top remodels in favor of practical, cost-effective upgrades. Even as creativity is let loose again with the housing sector’s recovery, it’s wise to equip your home with efficient appliances and fixtures whenever possible to save yourself money and boost your home’s appeal for potential buyers down the road. From the right windows to proper insulation and efficient HVAC systems, there are plenty of ways to make energy savings a part of any remodel.

The persistent quest for the perfect home through years of small tweaks, modest upgrades, and major remodels is one of the great joys—and sometimes frustrations—of homeownership. With careful planning and an expert contractor, you can make sound investments while creating the home you’ve always wanted.

*© 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: National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

For more information on our sources, please contact us directly.