Home Renovation 101: 5 Simple Upgrades That Aren't a Waste of Money

Living area

The road to finding your dream home is often a long, winding, and tedious one (well, we're not about to settle for anything less than perfect, right?), but even when you've found The One, there are always changes that need to be made to make it your own. It's rare to find a space that meets all your personal and aesthetic needs, but the big challenge is knowing what to remodel so you get the best return on your investment when it comes time to sell. Even if you do want to spend a large chunk of your money on adding a second bathroom, the stats show this might not be the smartest choice.

If you're unsure where to start, don't stress, because Remodeling magazine's Cost vs. Value report did the work for you. The handy guide compares the "average cost for 29 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 99 U.S. markets."

Whether you've just bought a fixer-upper or you're looking to keep your current home from looking dated, we put together the top five home improvement tweaks that will give you the biggest bang for your buck and the four that won't.

01 of 09

Up: Deck Addition (Composite) | 62.2% Return

Alyssa Rosenheck for Oxford Exchange Design

While technology has certainly benefited numerous aspects of our lives, it's also left many of us craving nature and even sparked the indoor-outdoor interior design trend last year. So it's little wonder the deck addition is on the rise. In fact, it's one of the highest home improvement options for return on investment. This worthwhile design feature is perfect for family dinners outside, entertaining friends, or simply reading a book in the sun. While a deck addition made from wood has a 71.5% return, Remodeling magazine says it's on the decline in 2017 and that the version made from composite deck material is going up in value.1 Seeing as they both offer a pretty steady return, in the end, it really comes down to personal choice and aesthetics.

Job Cost: $17,249

Resale Value: $11,252

Cost Recouped: 65.2%

02 of 09

Up: Family Room Addition | 69.3% Return

living room
Alyssa Rosenheck for Laurel Powell

Striking a balance between the practical needs of a family and the stylish elements you personally love is never easy, but according to these Remodeling stats, the effort is definitely worth it. You'll recoup 69.3% of the money you spend adding a family room to your home, which is good news since it's a special common area where the whole family (and guests) love to chill, chat, and make memories together. And with that kind of return, you have a valid excuse to really go crazy on the overall look. Now that is music to any design lover's ears, am I right?

Job Cost: $89,566

Resale Value: $62,055

Cost Recouped: 69.3%

03 of 09

Up: Major Kitchen Remodel | 65.3% Return

Bauer Media

As if we needed an excuse to go big in the kitchen, now we have the facts to back it up. Not only will a major kitchen remodel recoup 65.3% of your dollars spent, but Remodeling says it's also on the rise in 2017, so you can expect to see that investment increase even more in value by year-end. And we can see why. As the heart of the home, it's the central space where we all congregate to enjoy our favorite indulgences, prepare healthy meals, and perfect our morning routine. So we're giving you permission to really go for it and design the kitchen of your dreams.

Job Cost: $62,158

Resale Value: $40,560

Cost Recouped: 65.3%

04 of 09

Up: Primary Suite Addition | 64.8% Return

Don Freeman/Trunk Archive

While the kitchen is definitely the heart of the home, there's one space that stands out above all else: the bedroom. It's where we seek solace from the world, recoup our thoughts, practice much-needed self-care rituals, and, most importantly, sleep. In order to enhance and encourage all of these things in our lives (not to mention improve our well-being), there are certain design elements we can introduce to make sure of it—these zen bedrooms will inspire you to redecorate. So if your home doesn't have a primary bedroom, then it might be worth adding one in, especially when you see a return of 64.8%.

Primary Bedroom

The term “Primary Bedroom” is now widely used to describe the largest bedroom in the home, as it better reflects the space’s purpose. Many realtors, architects, interior designers, and the Real Estate Standards Association have recognized the potentially discriminatory connotations in the term “Master.” Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.

Job Cost: $119,533

Resale Value: $77,506

Cost Recouped: 64.8%

05 of 09

Up: Two-Story Addition | 71.1% Return

Thomas Loof/Trunk Archive

While this is definitely one of the bigger remodeling projects to undertake (not to mention one of the most expensive), the cost recouped means it's a worthwhile investment if you do. This stylish addition will give you a 71.1% national average recoup on costs, and that's on the rise compared to last year. This major design feature is definitely an undertaking, but just think of the extra room you'll have! It's a great option for growing families or it could be transformed into a stylish home office.

Job Cost: $176,108

Resale Value: $125,222

Cost Recouped: 71.1%

06 of 09

Down: Basement Remodel | 70% Return

living room
Thomas Loof/Trunk Archive

Now that we've covered the top five remodeling projects for 2017, it's time to take a look at the top four that offer the least return on investment. First up is the basement remodel. Remember the basement slumber parties as a kid? Those underground dens were the epitome of cool. Well, they're still on the cusp of hipness with a 70% return, but according to Remodeling, this renovation is actually on the decline. So if you've been thinking about doing it but aren't sure about the value it will add, perhaps it's time to reconsider. But, of course, if you do create an insanely stylish basement, what buyer could possibly resist?

Job Cost: $71,115

Resale Value: $49,768

Cost Recouped: 70%

07 of 09

Down: Backyard Patio | 54.9% Return

back patio
Bauer Media

Despite the deck addition being on the rise, it seems not all outdoor areas are considered equal, because the backyard patio has a mere 54.9% return and is going down compared to last year. This gorgeous shaded area is the sunny disposition every home needs, or at least we thought so, but perhaps your money is better spent indoors.

Job Cost: $51,985

Resale Value: $28,546

Cost Recouped: 54.9%

08 of 09

Down: Bathroom Addition and Remodel | 53.9% and 64.8% Return

Bauer Media

While we certainly don't like to play favorites, the bathroom definitely tops our most-loved list. We'll never stop hitting the heart button, and by the popularity of this bathroom post, we know you agree. So it breaks our heart to learn that both the bathroom addition and remodel are going down on the cost recouped since 2016 and will only give you a 53.9% or 64.8% return, respectively. This doesn't mean to say you shouldn't renovate your bathroom, but perhaps you should stick to small affordable upgrades that achieve a similar design effect without the cost.

Job Cost: $43,232

Resale Value: $23,283

Cost Recouped: 53.9%

09 of 09

Down: Backup Power Generator | 54% Return

dining room
Bauer Media

While this isn't a popular renovation, it certainly seems like a very practical one. The electrical backup system would certainly come in handy in emergencies and is a better option than candles when the power goes out (although slightly less romantic). But if you do decide to install one, don't expect a great return. The national average job cost is about $12,860, and you'll only see a 54% return.1 But if you're not doing it for resale value, then, by all means, get one. After all, these units can energize a house for days so perhaps the value is in what they offer.

Job Cost: $12,860

Resale Value: $6,940

Cost Recouped: 54%

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  1. 2017 Cost Vs. Value Report. Remodeling