When you consider making changes in your home, it’s always a good idea to think about changes that will make your home a better place for you to live now. You also want to consider whether your changes will make your house more valuable over time. Remember, that you need to consider the cost in relation to your desires and your equity. Virtually no home improvement returns 100 percent of its cost, but the right improvements can still lead to higher value down the line.
Before starting any home improvement project, always check with your state and local building codes and your Homeowners Association (if you have one) rules. A project that violates the code and can’t get a permit will actually detract from the value of your house, not add to it. Of course, using reputable service providers for these projects listed below should answer any permit or code questions for you. Sometimes it is best to let the pros handle things!
1. Renovate Your Roof
Generally, replacing or restoring your room has a pretty significant payback in equity. The amount of return you will see depends on the type of roofing you choose and on whether you restore and refresh your roof or replace it entirely. You should work with a roofing service to determine which work would offer the best value for the dollar on your home.
Restore Your Roof
Restoring your roof can be as simple as replacing some damaged or missing shingles. On the other hand, you may find that you have a more extensive section of the roof that needs to be reshingled. You’re limited in how many times you can take this step. If you have several roofing layers, it may be time to break down and install a whole new roof.
Replace Your Roof
Years ago, reasonably priced options for replacing your roof were relatively limited, meaning you probably replaced an asphalt tile roof by tearing it off and putting on a new layer of asphalt tile. Today your options for a new roof – even at a reasonable cost – are much more expansive. As was often required with asphalt, you can do a tear-off or a roof over. A roof over is actually recommended in some of the newer applications like metal roofing and adds extra resale value to the insulation in your home. On the other hand, being able to advertise that you did a tear-off will comfort potential buyers that they are unlikely to have to deal with roof problems any time soon.
Home Advisor says your roof will cost between about $5,000 and $10,000. Don’t forget today’s high inflation in building products, though. If you have the skill to do it yourself, you can save a large percentage of that cost. On the other hand, having a professional roofing service makes it easier to deal with unforeseen problems.
A metal roof will return about 60 percent of its cost in equity and will last 40 to 70 years. Asphalt shingles are cheaper but have a much shorter life. They will also return about 60 percent of their cost. Other less common and more expensive roofing options include synthetic shingles, clay or cement tiles, wood shingles, and slate.
2. Invest in New Garage Doors
Another project which can really improve your curb appeal is new or improved garage doors. Although a low-cost project at around $3,000 to $4,000, a high-end garage door can provide a nearly 100 percent return on investment. Clearly, this is a project worth considering, even over a garage door repair. Sometimes you can keep your existing garage door but give it a new coat of paint, especially if you’re painting the rest of the exterior. Other times, you may prefer to spend a little more and let the garage door replacement help to completely revitalize or revamp the look of your home.
Garage doors come in six basic types. If like many suburban homes, the garage door is one of the first things to be seen in your house, you may want to think about changing what you have. The primary garage door in use today is the sectional garage door. It is common and attractive and made of large sections that allow it to roll up with a mechanical opener. Similar but with smaller sections, roll-up doors are usually seen in commercial rather than residential settings. An early but now uncommon garage door is the slide-to-the-side door, moving on a track off to one side of the door instead of above it. An old-fashioned but recently popular door is the side-hinged double barn door. Any of these doors can be purchased in a wide range of styles and can radically transform the appearance of your home.
3. Revitalize Your Driveway
If your driveway has seen better days, improving it will have a decent return, even if you only get a residential paving contractor to make patches and repair cracks. Those same residential paving contractors can add a walkway or add brick pavers, dressing up your curb appeal. It is crucial here, however, not to over-improve. Don’t spend so much on unique driveway landscaping that you may put off potential buyers and still not see a good return on your investment.
Most driveways have been cement or tarmac, but today, options like stone and paving bricks are becoming more common. They are also, alas, more expensive and may, as such, put off as many buyers as they attract.
4. Explore Your Fencing Options
Fencing is one of those areas that can be restricted by city code or homeowners’ association rules, so before considering any new project, make sure to find out what you are allowed to do. Your city code and HOA rules may limit the fence types you can install, so you will want to work with a local fencing company that understands your local requirements.
Fencing usually offers about a 60 percent return on cost. Generally, you will do your best by fencing the backyard, carefully choosing your fencing company and your fence type, and ensuring it’s all well done. That being said, your best return will come from cast iron, wood, and vinyl fencing. These options usually offer the most privacy. That privacy seems to be the primary reason for the preference for these fences. You will also want to be sure that the fence is installed and maintained correctly.
Front yard fences are usually more for decoration than privacy or protection. White picket fences continue to charm, and various decorative iron fences are available for front yard fences. Again, be sure to check with your city and your HOA before beginning a fencing project. Often, a state will have a fence limitation, and municipalities and HOAs may further restrict what you can do.
5. Get Your Water Heater Inspected
Water heaters generally last about 20 years, and if yours is in the early part of that range, you probably don’t need to do much. However, one water heater installation that will provide an instant increase in value is installing a tankless water heater. The reduction in energy costs brought by these water heaters may be why houses with them sell for about 4 percent above their expected price. If you replace your old water heater with a tankless model, be sure to include it in your listing materials. Check with your local utilities about the dollar amount a homeowner is likely to save by using one.
6. Keep Your Gutters Clear
Rain gutters that are in bad shape can cause serious damage to your home. Leaking in the foundation or through the roof can both create big problems. Generally, however, buyers expect them to be in good shape, so there is little return on your investment in rain gutters. It might be worthwhile to consider adding gutter guards, although they will not be a significant selling point in marketing your home. They do reduce the risk of damage from clogged gutters, and it’s nice to tell a potential buyer they won’t be on ladders clearing gutters.
7. Upgrade Your Washer
Not all appliance replacements will excite buyers and increase your return. However, since most people do not take their washer and dryer with them when they move, having a high-efficiency pair in your laundry room can certainly attract buyer interest. Many buyers are completely entranced when they see those high-end laundry rooms, and they can make a sale for you. Even if you don’t go that distance, do at least spend some money on washer repair to make sure you are leaving a working machine behind.
8. Make Sure Your Electrical System is Optimized
However much we all talk about saving energy, we live in a world where almost everything in our lives depends on reliable electricity. This is particularly true if you live in the country and are dependent on well water. Consider upgrading your electrical panel so that buyers won’t have to worry about electrical repair services in the short term. In areas where power failures are frequent, it’s also wise to consider installing a generator that will kick on and automatically maintain power during a failure. A whole house generator can raise the value of your house by 3 to 5 percent, according to Consumer Reports.
Having a generator that will kick on immediately in the event of a power failure is increasingly desirable as we experience more and more power grid failures due to weather and to changes in energy generation at the grid level. Your generator isn’t just a convenience. When your power is off for an extended time, you can keep cold and frozen food, well water is still available, and those who work from home can still do so. Generators are a great selling point in suburban and rural areas, especially with more individuals working from home than ever before.
9. Give Your Home an Exterior Facelift
There are lots of ways to give your home a facelift. One way to make a radical change is by using siding services and replacing everything. Remodeling Magazine says that it will give about a 77 percent return on its cost. Siding is available in many different forms now, not just the familiar metal or vinyl siding. The siding can freshen up your house or transform its look completely. Even paint can make a tremendous difference in the appearance of your home. Any whole-house replacement of the exterior will be expensive but will often make a significant return on your investment.
Even traditional vinyl siding is now available with additional insulation, thus adding more than just looks to the value of your home. There are natural log sidings that can transform your home into a log cabin, as well as siding that looks like brick. Some people prefer wood, such as LP SmartSide, an engineered hardwood product that is durable (50-year warranty) but extremely expensive. Cement siding like Hardie Board is durable and flexible but one of the more expensive options.
Natural wood siding can be painted or stained and is eco-friendly, but it is expensive to buy and install and requires relatively high maintenance. An alternative is manufactured wood siding. It looks like natural wood at a much-reduced cost but can have moisture problems. Other wood products for siding include cedar sharks and board and batten, a rare and lovely design appearance.
Metal siding of all sorts is environmentally friendly and low maintenance. It resists fire and insects but not rust. Some of the lighter metal siding materials can also be subject to dents and dings. Brick isn’t so easy to add to an existing home, and it also has mortar maintenance issues. A similar aesthetic can be achieved by using stone veneer siding, which almost any siding service can install. Note that this material can’t be recycled and can be vulnerable to moisture.
In the end, how you prepare your home to be sold one day or to enjoy, for now, is all up to you. It’ll work out best for you if you invest in the areas of your home that will provide the best return on investment. With the guide above, you’ll have all of the information you need to get started on increasing your home’s value.