Whether you love your home and would be happy living there forever, or you plan to sell it eventually, chances are it could use a few updates beyond regular maintenance.

Even if you aren’t sure what your plans are, investing responsibly in the place you call home ensures a more attractive, comfortable living space for you and your family—a far more justifiable venture than say, for example, nurturing your Starbucks habit.

Of course, a big remodeling project is a touch more expensive than a years’ supply of vanilla lattes, and like any major investment, there are right and wrong ways to spend your money.

Best Updates for Selling a Home in the Next 5 Years

man installs fiberglass insulation in atticAsk yourself: Where will you be in five years? Although remodeling the master suite, adding a half-bath, or relaxing by a brand-new pool may sound tempting, if you know you’re selling in the near future, save the major projects for a house you’ll keep for a long time.

Instead, focus on home improvements that are attractive to the universal buyer and likely to fetch a high return on your investment.

Prioritize energy efficiency, curb appeal, and minor updates

Make universal updates. You may have heard this advice before: If you plan on selling, don’t sink money into swimming pools or home offices. Buyers don’t want to pay more for a home with single-purpose rooms or features they won’t use, especially those that require routine maintenance, like pools.

Impress with curb appeal. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, curb appeal projects, such as new landscaping, entry doors, and siding, tend to have better resale value than interior improvements. A tidy, green lawn and a clean exterior make a positive first impression, so potential buyers enter the house with a favorable mindset.

Touch up kitchens and bathrooms. Once they’re in the door, most real estate professionals agree that buyers look first at kitchens and bathrooms. These rooms can be expensive to overhaul, but 2017 data suggests that judicious spending on a minor kitchen remodel—painting the walls and cabinets, installing new hardware, and upgrading appliances—can make a world of difference.

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Invest in energy. Now more than ever, people are responding to energy-efficient design, but you don’t need to replace your roof with solar panels to improve your home’s energy consumption. Simple, inexpensive projects, like adding attic insulation or insulated windows and doors, are highly valuable because they cut down on energy bills.

In fact, installing loose-fill fiberglass insulation in the attic regularly returns more than the initial investment, according to Remodeling magazine.

What is ROI?

Return on investment, or ROI, is shorthand for how much money you stand to make back on any one remodeling project when you sell your house. It’s calculated by dividing the value a renovation adds to your home by the original cost.

For example, say you replace your wooden front door with a mid-range steel door. You spend $2,000 on the upgrade, and when you list your home, your appraiser adds $2,500 to the selling price for the new door. That’s a $500 gain, or a 125% return on your investment.

Many factors influence the resale value of a remodel, including the region, market, and current trends. But if you’re unsure where to focus your funding, choose a project with a high ROI on the national scale.

2017 Home Improvement Return On Investment National Averages Chart

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 report, the home updates with the best ROI rates are:

  • Attic insulation (fiberglass) – 107.7% return
  • Entry door replacement (steel) – 90.7% return
  • Manufactured stone veneer – 89.4% return
  • Garage door replacement – 85.0% return
  • Minor kitchen remodel – 80.2% return

Lifestyle Remodeling for a Modern Home

It’s safe to say that many people over the age of 45 are comfortable in their current home and would prefer to stay there for many years to come. Some may love their community enough to retire right where they are.

When this is the case, remodeling becomes less about adding value to a property and more about modernizing and individualizing your living spaces to create a more beautiful, comfortable home.

Additional rooms

attic converted to contemporary living spaceThe longer you’ve lived in a place, the longer you’ve had to expand your horizons, cultivate your interests, and practice your hobbies. Shouldn’t your home develop along with you?

A new room is a blank canvas that you can transform into anything you want. Art studio, workshop, home gym, library, breakfast nook—when it comes to new construction, it’s entirely up to you.

Additions are, as one might expect, the most popular way to expand a house. But if widening the footprint isn’t possible due to space constraints or outdoor spaces like decks or patios, consider the following remodeling ideas:

  • Basement digs. If you can’t build out, consider breaking new ground. Basement digs are costly and will take some time to complete, but the end result—an entire new floor to do with what you please—is worth weathering the construction period.
  • Loft conversions. The space is there already, and you’re probably only using it for storing dusty old furniture and holiday decorations. Once all the safety regulation boxes are checked, the sharp angles of an attic make for a unique space suited to artistic endeavors.
  • Garage conversions. Like attics, garages have plenty of potential that tends to go underutilized, instead serving as a storage unit for oily rags and old paint cans. As long as you aren’t expanding the space, building permits aren’t required, so converting a garage into a workspace or the proverbial “man cave” is a relatively quick remodeling endeavor.

Open floor plans

Kitchens that flow into living and dining areas; harmonious living spaces uninterrupted by walls: whereas open-plan spaces are staples of today’s modern home, many houses constructed just 20 or more years ago remain divided into separate rooms per the traditional mode.

Removing walls to unify the living spaces isn’t just about feng shui, whether you believe in it or not. Open floor plans encourage community, creating a center for family or social activity in a single, homogenous space.

Of course, some load-bearing walls are necessary, but elegant workarounds do exist. Internal windows or sliding doors, or archways and simple support pillars can open up a space without compromising the integrity of the structure.

Remember: Always consult a professional remodeler before going anywhere near the hard hats and sledgehammers.

Staying or Selling, Renovate the Right Way

However long you plan to stay, smart home upgrades are a worthwhile venture.

Invest judiciously in the property you know you’ll sell, and the value will come back to you. To get the most out of your remodel, focus on spaces that buyers look at first and low-investment, high-return home projects, like installing insulation.

And if you love your home, renovate at your discretion. Budget for those big, glamorous projects that get you excited, that open up or expand your space to encourage community or provide a private space for personal growth. It’s your home—it should reflect who you are.