What Home Improvements Add the Most Value?


You’re finally ready to make some improvements to your home. You know home improvement projects can be expensive and you want to get the most out of your upcoming renovation, but how do you know what home improvements add the most value? These tips can help you make sure your renovation is adding value to your home no matter your budget.

Home Improvements That Add Value

Kitchen Improvements

If adding value to your home is the goal, the kitchen is likely the place to start. Conventional wisdom says kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. How much will a new kitchen increase the value of your home? According to Zillow, kitchen renovations provide up to 80% return on investment. Depending on how you choose to renovate, you could get more or less back from this investment. 

Full-scale Kitchen Remodel

A full kitchen remodel includes new appliances, cabinets and countertops. Many home buyers will pay more for professional grade, energy efficient, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Your dollars are best spent on things that improve the flow of the kitchen and make cooking easier and more enjoyable. When making improvements, make sure you are adding either storage or counter space. Skip anything that reduces the amount of kitchen storage or workspace. 

Budget Kitchen Makeover

You can give your kitchen a facelift with updated backsplashes, sinks and fixtures. Consider adding touches with broader appeal, like subway tiles, to give a clean, modern look. If your cabinets are functional, a coat of paint is the most cost-effective way to freshen their appearance. Consider changing the drawer pulls to complete the transformation. 

Whether you’re doing a full overhaul or a streamlined refresh, it’s important that the style, size and quality of your kitchen matches the rest of the home. Many home buyers won’t pay more for a house with a deluxe kitchen if it seems out of place with the rest of the house. 

Bathrooms Improvements

Updated bathrooms are key for adding value to your home. When designing a bathroom, keep in mind how many people will use the space on a daily basis. Often, if your home only has one bathroom and multiple bedrooms, adding an additional bathroom to the layout can add value to your home and provide up to 70% return on investment,. 

Full-scale Bathroom Remodel

If you have the space (and the budget), many home buyers prefer a design with a separate tub and shower. Walk-in showers are a nice upgrade if your home has the space to accommodate both. Most buyers appreciate a consistent design between the kitchen and bathrooms; using the same materials for countertops, flooring and fixtures can help create a cohesive feel. Installing heated floors in the bathroom is an unexpected luxury buyers appreciate.

Budget Bathroom Makeover

If you’re looking to make a big impact, consider incorporating tiles for a clean, timeless and cost-effective design. You can save a lot of money on fixtures by carefully shopping big box home improvement retailers. Many buyers like clean lines in bathroom spaces, and they prefer shaker-style cabinets. Choosing granite and quartz countertops can also help add value to your home. Skip darker paint colors in favor of something light, and consider painting cabinets white or off-white to complete the transformation. 

Lighting Improvements

Many buyers are looking for modern finishes throughout a home and pay special attention to light fixtures and lighting. Buyers want homes that are bright with natural light. 

Window Replacement

When thinking about lighting, many buyers will tell you that natural light is best. They’re looking for high-quality, energy efficient windows that let a lot of light in. If you are installing new windows, look for those with double-paned glass, ideally with low-e coatings that reflect heat back into the room in the winter and reflect heat outdoors in the summer. Make sure you understand Energy Performance Ratings before investing in new windows. 

Light Fixture Updates

If new windows aren’t in the budget, you can give the appearance of a lighter, brighter room with the help of light fixtures. Updated fixtures can have a low cost but provide a big impact. Something as simple as light bulbs can make a difference, too. Bright white or daylight bulbs are much brighter, whereas soft white or warm white-emitting bulbs have a more subtle, muted tone. 

Energy Efficiency Improvements

From insulation to electricity, some of the biggest home improvements that add value are not always visible. Improving your home’s energy efficiency is important to buyers and can also save you money. 

Keep in mind there are a lot of materials on the market that claim to be “green” or promote energy efficiency. But buyer beware — many green products don’t meet minimum energy efficiency standards. Look for the Energy Star logo, read about the product’s sustainability ratings when purchasing, and search for rebates on qualifying purchases. If hiring a contractor to help with your home improvement projects, consider working with a LEED certified contractor to ensure they follow green building standards. 

Major Efficiency Updates

When looking to add value to your home, invest in the essentials, like updated HVAC systems, insulation, updated electric panels and energy efficient water heaters. Incorporating renewable energy elements like geothermal heating, solar panels and wind energy appeals to energy conscious buyers. 

Small Efficiency Improvements

Water heaters are expected to last 8 to 12 years. When you prepare to update, consider a tankless water heater, as they add greater value to your home. Adding insulation is another great use of renovation money. Energy companies may provide rebates and incentives for adding insulation to make your home more energy efficient. 

Curb Appeal Improvements

Your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers will see. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune on the outside to make a good impression. Consider where your home is located and how buyers will be able to use the space. Does your neighborhood have lush, green lawns as far as the eye can see? Do drought-tolerant plants make sense? Do you have a spot for the barbeque? Yes, it is possible to improve curb appeal on a budget.

Elevated Outdoor Living

Decks and outdoor living spaces can have a big impact on home values. Your outdoor living space is an extension of your home and provides a lot of room for creativity. Consider adding fire pits, bar areas, gathering spaces  and weather-resistant seating options to make the space more inviting and usable. Keep it consistent with the design of the inside of your house. 

Thinking about adding a pool to add value to your home? In most locations, adding a pool doesn’t make sense. Buyers are often turned off by the maintenance and insurance risks associated with adding a pool to your yard.

Tidy Outdoor Spaces

Improving outdoor spaces doesn’t have to involve a complete renovation! Planting weather-tolerant plants at strategic places around the yard and regularly mowing your lawn will give a clean and well-kept appearance. Take care of the beds with regular weeding. If you have exterior lights, keep them in good working order, and stay ahead of snow shoveling in the winter. 

Improve Your Coverage 

If you are renovating your home to sell, making a few improvements can go a long way in adding value to your home. Just be sure to contact your Farm Bureau agent to ensure your coverage keeps up with the renovations.

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