The Most and Least Profitable Home Improvement Projects

Erin Easley

Written By Erin Easley

Published 03/11/20
The Most and Least Profitable Home Improvement Projects

While home improvement is more than just about the dollars and cents, we’ve compiled this useful guide for the top 5 most and least profitable home improvement projects for you to use as a guideline when thinking about where to spend your hard-earned money on your home.

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Most Profitable Home Improvements for 2020

The 5 categories below, in general, will make you the most money among all types of home improvement projects

Kitchen is King

Return on Investment: 104%

Typical Cost: $15,000

A modern kitchen goes a long way in terms of your home’s resale value. Adding items like granite or quartz countertops as well as Stainless Steel appliances conveys that your kitchen is modern. You’ll want to make sure that your ceiling lights are approximately 4 ft apart.

 High-Efficiency Windows

Return on Investment 105%

Typical Cost: $600-$1,000  per window

Replacing your windows with efficient, green versions may be more than you expected initially, however, boy do these things pay for themselves, lowering your bills on average between 9-16%.

 Bathroom Remodel

Return on Investment: 102%

Typical Cost: $10,000

You read it right. On average, a simple bathroom remodel will actually make you money when you sell your home.

$10,000 is no small sum. There are a few options to D-I-Y a home bathroom improvement. Re-caulking a tub is a simple procedure. If you can’t get your tub outside just re-glaze it and the finish will look brand new. All for a total cost of $300-$400.

In addition, you should update your walls in the bathroom, whether that is new coverings or a fresh coat of paint. Shower doors are also an easy item to update to create a new look.

 Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

Return on Investment: 101%

Typical Cost: Varied

Sometimes known as a ‘Mother-in-law apartment’ goes a long way in creating value. It can provide a perfect additional area for guests, be used for additional income, or as an autonomous living space for family members and close friends staying with you. In general, Western Cities are increasingly adjusting their laws to allow for ADUs. However, these can get pretty pricey and vary widely in cost.

Attic Bedroom Conversion

Return on Investment 100%

Typical Cost: $35,000-$38,000

Most people only use their Attic for Storage. Why not convert it into a spacious bedroom for a child to live in. In addition, upon sale, now you get the benefit of listing your home with an additional bedroom number.

Be sure to add attic insulation to lower your utility bills and check that your existing HVAC system can handle the climate needs of another room.


Least Profitable Home Improvements

Below are the projects that on average, yield the lowers return for your investment

Living Room

Return on Investment -60%

Typical Cost: $2,000-$5,000

While not too expensive (compared to other home improvement jobs) a living room refresh won’t translate into too many additional dollars when the time comes to sell your home.

Changing the drapes, paint and flooring may help give your living room a fresh look and make this key room feel new again.


Return on Investment -47%

Typical Cost: $1,500-$3,500

Similar to living rooms, it won’t cost you too much, again comparatively, to redo and update your bedroom. On average, refreshing your bedroom will involve, replacing lighting including light switches, new furniture, and if you’re really going for it, redoing your walls and floors.


Closet Renovation

Return on Investment: -43%

Typical Cost: $2,000-$4,000

While not too expensive, redoing a closet isn’t a very profitable project. It’s just not a significant factor when a potential buyer weighs purchasing your home.

New Fiberglass Front Door

Return on Investment: -40%

Typical Cost: $2,500

A steel front door will usually cost your around $500 and on average has the same return on investment as the much more expensive fiberglass option. That said, it is an easy project and if you find the right door that you think would be appealing to future buyers, we say go with your gut.


Exterior Updates

Return on Investment -2%

Typical Cost: $5,500 (for 1,000 square feet)

If your house has vinyl siding, on average it can cost around $5,500 to replace 1,000 square feet. Paint is a fantastic, easy way to keep your home looking its best and it also prevents wear and tears to the structural components underlying it. If you are able to, try to gravitate towards neutral colors and high-quality paints. A new coat of paint can run you anywhere between $100-$1,000

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