#1 - Minor Bathroom Remodel
It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. You’ll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent. If you can pipe a child’s name on a birthday cake, you can re-caulk a tub. Use a softener like CAULK-BE-GONE to get rid of the old caulk. Fill the tub with water after you’re done to stretch caulk while it dries. If your old tub is too large to fit out the door, re-glaze it for a like-new finish. Cost: $300 to $400. Remove dated wall coverings and apply a fresh coat of paint. For damaged walls, spray-on texture provides quick coverage.Replace old shower doors or remove them to add the illusion of space.
#2 - Landscaping
Average return at resale: 100%
The average homeowner spends about $3,502 for landscaping and $1,465 on a designer, according to the American Nursery Landscape Association. Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services, or ask the neighbors what works for them.
Sod costs about 30 to 35 cents a square foot, so a 5,000 sq. ft. yard would cost about $1,500 to sod. Budget for delivery fee if you buy less than 1,000 sq. ft. of sod. A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. For maximum impact, use one color and vary the height of plants. If your doorway is overwhelmed by greenery, get out the shears. Replace overgrown shrubbery with flowering foundation plants, mixing heights and colors for dramatic effect. A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property. Roll a sealant on flagstones for a permanent wet look that enhances the color.
#3 - Minor Kitchen Remodel
A minor kitchen remodel averages $14,913 for $14,691 at resale, a recoup rate of 98.5 percent. Do a minor remodel when your kitchen needs a cosmetic update and not a drastically different floor plan. A $15,000 kitchen update covers 30 feet of re-facing for cabinets and drawers, a new wall oven, cooktop, sink and fixtures, laminate countertops and resilient flooring. Put recessed lights 3’ to 5’ apart on center and 18" from cabinets to light the countertops. Running the lights between two joists is easier than running through the joists. If your home is worth more than $500,000, go with stone or trendy glass countertops. Cover old vinyl with floor leveler so the pattern doesn’t bleed through. You can’t put a second layer of vinyl on if the subfloor is below-grade concrete. Brighten up the kitchen by sanding and painting existing cabinets. It's much less expensive than buying new ones. Add decorator detail without the cost by changing drapes and window molding.
#4 - Exterior Improvements
(Vinyl Siding, Paint, Updated Front Entry)
Average return at resale: 95.5%
The average national cost to replace 1,250 sq. ft. of vinyl siding: $7,239. Average return: $6,914, with a recoup rate of 95.5 percent. A gallon of paint covers 400 sq. ft. of house. Paint colour cards take the guesswork out of choosing the right colour combination for doors, trim and siding. If your house was painted before 1978, test for lead before sanding or scraping. Upscale, fibre-cement siding costs $10,393 and returns $10,771 at resale, an even better recoup rate of 103.6 percent. If you need columns to hold up a pergola, purchase the load-bearing type. Fibreglass composite columns are popular and durable. Check salvage yards for unique historic columns. For an updated look, remove old awnings from windows and doors. Swap damaged wrought-iron railings for real wood supports for a more inviting entry. Give a bare, charmless porch a dramatic makeover by adding a pergola and columns.
#5 - Living Room Updates - Decor
It costs around $1,350 for staging and updating living room decor with new light switches, outlet covers, floor registers, crown molding, chair rails and drapes, plus fresh flowers and accessories. Details add dollars. Crown molding gives a room a crisp, clean finish that buyers love. Choose molding that complements window trim and floorboards. Prices start at around $1.40 per linear foot. Shift furniture away from the walls to make living rooms feel larger and more contemporary. Create a seating area around a feature you want buyers to notice, like a dramatic fireplace. If you’re staging your home to sell, don’t move excess furniture and clutter into the garage. Rent a storage unit for about $1 per square foot per month. New window treatments are a cost-conscious way to add a punch of designer color. For low ceilings, create the illusion of height by positioning drapes and valances higher on the wall.
So, when should you renovate?
"How long do you plan to live in your home?"
If, on the other hand, you're planning to sell your house in less than five years, "then looking at the return makes sense," says Jauck. Don't forget though, that tastes vary widely by location, so it's fundamental to understand which are the trends in your area. For instance, hot tubs and decks can be big on the East coast, while new garage and front doors are the new trend on the West coast.