If you’re the type of homeowner who loves to lavish a little TLC on your home in the form of some smart renovations, the question remains: What are the very best home improvements to make? Whether you’re looking for a great return on investment or just something you’ll enjoy without breaking your back or bank account, check out this list of expert-approved renovations you won’t ever regret.
1. A new deck
“My personal favorite and the favorite of my customers over the years, hands down, is wood decks,” says Mark Clement, co-host of MyFixItUpLife. According to his experience as a builder, homeowners are so happy that their “eyes light up” when they can finally walk out to a new deck.
So decks can not only thrill you, but also provide a solid return on investment. With an estimated 75% ROI, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value report, an updated deck makes for a cost-effective home improvement.
If you’re remodeling a deck, check out this guide to deck renovations that pay off. If you’re building one, we have you covered there, too, with this guide on what you shouldn’t do when building a deck.
Fixing up the basement will add a whole new level of living space to your house and get you over 70% ROI, higher than a rehabbed kitchen or bathroom. Just be sure you know what you’re doing.
“Done poorly—and that is easy to do—they’re drab,” Clement says. “Tricked out with some panache, people literally stop using rooms in their regular house to go hang in the basement.”
Before adding all that panache, you’ll want to make sure to deal with mold and dampness, and pick out the right type of flooring. You can find out more about the best basement renovations for your buck. If you’re looking to really overhaul your basement, here’s what you need to know about go-big-or-go-home basement trends.
3. Attic insulation
No, it’s not the most glam project, but it does make a difference. Scoring the highest ROI of 116.9%, a fiberglass attic insulation actually pays for itself and delivers a small profit whenever you decide to sell.
Plus, relatively speaking, this project is “easily DIY-able,” Clement says. “From a building science standpoint, it keeps the heat and cold on the outside of the roof while still letting air pass inside the rafter bays.” In short, it enables you to add a layer of insulation without sacrificing ventilation or much space.
As for the best type of insulation to use, Clement recommends stone wool from Roxul, which costs about $50 per 30 square feet.
4. A new front door
A new front door is one of the best home improvements you can do. “It’s near instant gratification,” Clement says.
A new front door can also save you money on energy costs, while keeping your house that much more quiet and impervious to criminals.
“I love saving money and energy. I love curb appeal. But I triple love not hearing the school bus or dog barking or delivery truck backing up,” Clement says. Plus, front door replacements have a high ROI, with 91.1% for steel doors and 82.3% for fiberglass doors.
5. Small kitchen renovations
Let’s be honest: A total kitchen renovation is really expensive. But you don’t have to empty your bank account to make your kitchen that much better. Instead, try one or two of the following: adding new stainless-steel appliances, refacing cabinetry, or installing a new countertop, flooring, or charging stations—each one on its own can elevate this area without siphoning off too much money.
For a more in-depth look, consider kitchen improvements with the best payoff.
6. New siding
Replacing your siding can not only protect your home, but also make your exterior pop. Replacing the bottom vinyl siding of your house with manufactured stone veneer has an ROI of 92.9%; adding all new siding has an ROI of 77%.
Just remember that siding is rarely a small project, Clement says. So you’ll want to devote more than one weekend for this home improvement. If that’s too big of an undertaking, check out how to paint aluminum siding or stain wood siding.
7. Landscaping and trees
Think about it: Planting a tree costs you next to nothing. Yet down the road, a mature tree can add $1,000 to $10,000 to the value of your home, according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. Plus, foliage and flowers lend a lush, vibrant look to your lawn that increases your curb appeal in spades. Check out these landscaping projects that really pay off.