The purchase of your home represents a significant investment, and one way to ensure a solid return on that investment is by completing strategic renovations. Whether you’re preparing to sell your home within the next few months or years, or are just looking to increase its overall value, renovating with a focus on value can make a significant difference.
Understanding the demographics, preferences and ‘must have’ features of current potential buyers in your area will help guide your renovation decisions. Once you’ve compiled this information, you can create a detailed plan that outlines your renovation goals, budget, and timeline.
In this article, we will explore top renovations with a track record for maximizing home resale values.
Curb appeal matters
First impressions are everything, and this certainly holds for homes. Enhancing your home’s curb appeal can dramatically impact its perceived value. According to the National Association of Realtors, 92% of Realtors® suggest that sellers improve curb appeal before listing a home for sale.
Landscaping: Well-maintained lawns, precise edging, trimmed bushes and beds of colourful flowers can transform your property. Lush green, healthy grass, and meticulously manicured trees and shrubs not only make your home look spectacular; they create a barrier that can shield the house from direct sunlight and pollutants.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 100% of the investment in landscaping and landscape maintenance is recovered at the time of sale.
Painting the exterior: A fresh coat of paint can make your home look new and well-maintained. One of the best ways to get high marks for curb appeal is to update the colour of your siding. The most popular house exterior colour in 2023 is Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams. This creamy off-white exterior colour looks great on wood, vinyl, brick, fibre cement, and stucco. Other popular neutrals include whites, beiges and greys; and earth tones like olive, sage green and browns are also trending in exterior colour palettes.
If you have a fence, and it needs paint or repairs, no amount of time or money invested into the house will prevent neighbours and buyers from noticing that fence.
Front door upgrade: The front door is often the first thing potential buyers touch and see up close, so it’s paramount when it comes to curb appeal. If replacing the door isn’t in the budget, sanding the door and frame carefully and giving it a ‘brushless’ coat of paint is the next best thing.
In addition to improving your home’s exterior aesthetics, a new energy-efficient front door and frame can help reduce your home’s energy costs by eliminating thermal bridging and increasing your home’s insulation.
Lighting: Adequate outdoor lighting not only enhances safety but also adds a touch of elegance. Consider solar-powered exterior lights for energy efficiency.
Scorching summer sun and driving rain can take their toll on outdoor lighting fixtures. If they’re a little rusty, you may be able to restore their lustre with a wire brush and a can of spray paint. But if they look dated, it may be time to spring for some new ones.
Pay attention to details: Replacing address numbers, mailboxes or mail slots, lock sets and porch lights goes a long way in making the exterior of your home look polished.
Updating the kitchen
Since 2020, families have been spending a lot more time together in their homes, and kitchens have shifted from small, separate spaces with a tight traditional kitchen work triangle to central hubs where meals are prepared and shared, where the family gathers to talk about the day, complete their homework or catch up on office emails. Kitchens are evolving to become multifunctional, central spaces within our homes, encouraging both cooking, social activities and entertainment.
According to Remodeling Magazine, a minor kitchen remodel can yield an impressive 80.5% ROI, making it one of the top-ranking projects when it comes to a financial return. The National Association of Realtors® Research Group gives a Joy Score of 9.8 (out of 10) for kitchen renovations.
Modernize the appliances: Modern Energy Star stainless steel appliances are not only visually appealing but they also attract environmentally conscious buyers. According to data from Consumer Reports, a remodelled kitchen — including new appliances, countertops, and flooring — can increase your home’s sale price by 3% to 7%. Brushed stainless steel has been around for decades, but this finish conveys “updated”, with “no appliance problems in our near future” to potential buyers.
Upgrade to premium countertops: Investing in high-quality, durable countertops such as granite, quartz, marble, ceramic tile, concrete, glass or butcher block adds a touch of luxury to your kitchen, and your counters are more likely to withstand wear and tear than laminates.
Engineered from stone fragments, resins and pigments, quartz now challenges granite and marble as the star in higher-end kitchens. Quartz resists heat, scratches, cuts and stains, and doesn’t require the upkeep of comparably priced natural stones.
Cabinet makeover: According to HomeAdvisor.com‘s 5 to 15 percent rule, your kitchen remodel should cost no less than 5 percent of your home’s value and no more than 15 percent. And Remodeling Magazine’s 2022 Cost vs. Value Report, kitchen remodels average an ROI of between 52.5% and 71.2%. In other words, if you plan to live in your home for a while, so you’re getting 30% of the price back in enjoyment and functionality, installing new cabinets could be a great investment.
Another popular option is refacing the existing cabinets and installing an island if space permits. Refacing kitchen cabinets involves updating the cabinet appearance without a full replacement. A typical refacing project may include new doors and drawer faces, veneers on the existing cabinet cases, and perhaps new hardware.
Functional kitchen layout: If you do decide on new cabinets, it may be time for a more functional layout. It’s important to optimize the lighting, with task, ambient, accent, and natural lighting. It’s also essential to maximize storage. Modern kitchens have a lot more kitchen appliances, specialty cookware and gadgets to store.
People spend more time in their kitchens together, cooking and visiting, so you’ll want to design wide walkways and direct traffic flow to ensure ease of movement. Choose an efficient layout, such as an L-shape with an island, which still creates an obvious triangle path between work zones, while allowing for prep and cooking without bumping into each other.
Updating the bathrooms
According to the Remodeling Magazine’s 2022 Cost vs. Value Report bathroom remodels average an ROI of 67.5%. Again, if you plan to live in your home for a while, so you’re receiving 35% of the price in enjoyment and functionality, bathroom renovations make perfect sense. The National Association of Realtors® Research Group gives a Joy Score of 9.6 (out of 10) for bathroom renovations.
A midrange renovation would include new fixtures, with a new porcelain-on-steel tub, ceramic tile surround, new single-lever temperature and pressure-balanced shower control, standard white toilet, solid-surface vanity counter with integral sink, recessed medicine cabinet with lights, ceramic tile floor and fresh paint or vinyl wallpaper.
Paint is still a magical interior upgrade
Paint makes your home look its best while also defending its many surfaces from wear, tear, grime and sunlight. It may not be necessary to repaint everything every few years, but high-traffic areas, including the kitchen, bathrooms and doors, can make an incredible difference. Neutrals like whites and off-whites will appeal to most homebuyers, allowing them to envision the space as their own. Put too much of your personality into the choice of colours and finishes, and there’s a risk the prospective buyer won’t like your choices, so they’ll see a house that desperately needs to be repainted before it can be theirs.
Redesigning your home’s layout
Strategically increasing the amount of living space in your home is one of the surest ways to deliver more value. Creating an open floor plan or flexible living space comes in second only to updating the kitchen on the list of desired features most often presented to Realtors®. The most common way to add usable square footage to your home is by finishing a basement or attic.
With more people working remotely or running a business from home, many buyers want to use some of that additional living space as dedicated offices. Other homeowners want a playroom they can close the door to, either to mute the noise during a video conference call or to keep the toys and mess from spilling out into the rest of the house. Flex rooms are double-duty rooms, and they’re in big demand. They could be an additional living area or game room during weekend gatherings, an exercise room on weekdays, and a guest bedroom or study area when needed.
If your home doesn’t already have a dedicated laundry room, these are another top requested feature. Ideal locations are off the kitchen or near the second-floor bedrooms. With families spending more time in their homes together, laundry rooms have become quiet retreats; a place to read, watch a wall-mounted TV, study or just listen to some music while the laundry dries.
Mother-in-law apartments, or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), are another popular choice for additional basement or attic space. Having a mother or mother-in-law stay over for a while to help a new mother can be a godsend. But these suites are also great for a nanny, adult children who live at home, or as a rental suite that allows baby boomers to afford their house once they retire, or to help millennials pay the mortgage.
Again, with families spending more time together, homeowners are also extending their living area to the outdoors to create additional options. These outdoor spaces may include decks, enclosed patios and outdoor conversation areas, outdoor kitchens and theatres.
Address any structural issues first
It can be very exciting to embark on a round of cosmetic upgrades, but it’s essential to address any structural issues your home may have. Put off, relatively minor repairs can become big, costly problems. Nothing can kill a home sale faster than an inspection that reveals significant structural issues with the house, or that revelation significantly decreases the home’s value amid negotiations.
A leaky or damaged roof can lead to more extensive problems. Ensuring that your roof is in good condition can save you money down the road. Realtors will tell you that including a 25-year transferable roof warranty represents a lot of peace of mind for prospective buyers, and it says a lot about the condition of the rest of the house.
Any cracks or instability in the foundation, or termite and pest infestations, should also be addressed promptly to prevent further damage. Plumbing and electrical systems should be up to code and in good working order.
Hiring a renovation professional and obtaining permits
While some home improvement projects can be DIY, others will require a professional. Hiring licensed contractors for major renovations ensures the work is done correctly and up to code. It’s important to obtain the necessary permits before starting any significant renovations to avoid legal issues and complications when selling your home. Many renovation contractors will take care of the permitting and inspections for you, but it’s important to confirm that with them.
Renovating your home to maximize its value will require careful planning, strategic decision-making, and a focus on key areas future potential buyers value most. From enhancing your home’s curb appeal to addressing structural issues and incorporating energy-efficient features; by investing wisely you can not only enjoy a more comfortable and functional living space now but also increase its resale value for the future.