If you’ve been daydreaming about kicking back on your newly remodeled deck or patio this summer, you aren’t the only one. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), spending on residential home remodels reached a whopping $172 billion in 2018 and is expected to gradually increase in both 2019 and 2020.
As much as you’re probably itching to remodel your entire home, it’s usually not feasible to get everything done at once. So, that begs the question: Where should you put your money first?
While there are several factors that can influence the ROI of your remodeling projects, there are some tried-and-true upgrades that are almost guaranteed to put money back into your pocket. Especially if you intend to sell your home and get your money back sometime soon. If you’re ready to start improving your home, here are the areas that deserve your time and money first:
1. Interior Paint Job
There are several reasons why you should kick off your big remodel with painting the interior, with the first reason being that it’s the most practical. As many homeowners have learned the hard way, painting the interior first will ensure that you don’t accidentally get paint splatter on your new flooring installation or brand-new kitchen cabinets.
Another reason to start with an interior paint job is that it’s an easy win for beginner DIYers. If you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of DIY home improvement projects, painting your interior is a great way to ease into it and get dramatic results almost instantly.
Last, painting your walls can drastically change your design choices in the big picture remodeling process. Maybe you originally wanted red-hued pine wood flooring—until you painted your interior a light gray and realized that you prefer a Scandinavian-style abode with its clean lines and bleached-wood flooring. By tackling your paint job first, you can potentially explore your personal design style and find what truly speaks to you.
2. Door and Window Replacement
If you don’t plan to move in the near future, a new door and window replacement could help you save on energy costs. Even if you are planning to sell your home, replacing your windows may be a good investment. You should start by checking your windows and doors for any air leaks and fix them by applying weatherstripping in your home.
For windows that need total replacing, be sure to keep an eye out for ENERGY STAR certified windows and buy windows that are designed for your climate. If you live in a hot and humid area, look for special glass coatings that will block heat while allowing light to pass through. For colder climates, consider installing low-e storm windows to reduce heat loss and air leaks.
3. Bathroom Addition/Remodel
For years, bathrooms have landed the top spot for home improvement projects. It’s no surprise as to why: According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value report, homeowners can expect to recoup 67.2 percent from a mid-range bathroom remodel and 60.8 percent for a mid-range bathroom addition.
If you’re planning to sell your home in the not-to-distant future, adding a guest bathroom could help your home sell faster and potentially fetch a higher price. Struggling to come up with the budget for a $20,000 bathroom remodel? Opt for smaller, low-risk upgrades such as replacing light fixtures and installing new porcelain tile flooring to refresh your space without spending tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
4. Minor Kitchen Remodel
As one of the most used areas of any home, a great kitchen can add beauty and functionality to any home. This is no doubt why a freshly updated kitchen is one of the most sought-after home features of millennial buyers, according to research by Realtor.
But, when it comes to remodeling your kitchen, you need to be cautious with just how much you upgrade. After all, it doesn’t make financial sense to invest in a $60,000 kitchen remodel if your home is only worth $300,000.
Another reason to hold back on a complete remodel is that homebuyers often have different tastes in a kitchen and may want to remodel it themselves. You’re better off giving your kitchen a minor facelift by swapping out hardware and replacing cabinet doors.
5. New Flooring Installation
Investing in a new flooring installation is a relatively cost-effective home improvement project that can instantly upgrade any space in your home—but which flooring design will give you the best bang for your buck?
The undeniable beauty and charm of solid hardwood flooring has made it a top choice for homeowners looking to increase the value of their home. However, it’s far from the only flooring design that can boost your home’s aesthetic appeal.
According to a 2019 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Study, engineered flooring such as vinyl tile and engineered hardwood has become more popular than natural hardwood flooring. This is no doubt due to recent advancements in flooring technology, which has allowed engineered flooring to rival that of natural stone and hardwood in terms of beauty.
6. Decks and Patios
While your outdoor living space may seem low on the totem pole of home improvement projects, don’t underestimate the value of a beautiful deck or patio area. Not only are decks and patios relatively easy for beginner DIYers, they can significantly increase your home value.
According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, homeowners who remodel their backyard patios can expect to recoup an average of 55.2 percent of costs, while building a wood deck can provide an ROI of 75.6 percent. Consider skipping the professional and build your own deck to save even more and get serious bragging rights when guests come to visit.
Keep in mind that this list may not make perfect sense for every homeowner. If you have no intention of listing your home in the next few years, making upgrades that will directly benefit you while keeping ROI in mind is generally the best way to tackle your remodeling projects.
However, if you’re selling your home now or within the next few months, it might make more sense to focus on sprucing up your curb appeal or doing easy kitchen and bathroom upgrades. Feel free to pick and choose from this list and do what makes the most sense for your situation.