Value of the Most Popular Home Improvement Projects

Besides roof replacement, landscaping, pest control, and electrical work, the most popular home improvement projects are usually focused on bathrooms and kitchens. While the most popular justification for spending money on the improvements is to improve the resale value of the home, which actually offers a questionable return in most cases, the best approach for an interior designer is usually to focus instead on client comfort, rather than increased home value.

Thanks to a piece at, we have evidence for this that is hard to argue against. For example, the largest return on investment can be found by performing a minor bathroom remodel. Yet, according the them, the average return at resale is just 102% on the homeowner’s investment.

Home Improvement ROI

Whether major or minor, remodeling just about any room from the original to an updated version can be quite costly. As a result, return on investment (ROI) for a remodel quickly becomes something of a mixed bag. Obviously, the nicer the original version of the space the less likely it is that making changes will affect the resale value of the home. On the other hand, remodeling a real “fixer-upper” can have a huge impact on value.

The clever interior designer will discuss these points with their client in an open and honest manner before proceeding with any changes. While you certainly do not want to discourage a potential client from hiring you for their remodeling project, working with integrity will benefit you in the long run.

The following is a list of some of the most popular home improvements across the country and, while every market will be different and values may fluctuate, the average ROIs shown here should be taken into consideration if your client mentions resale value as justification. Working from lowest ROI to highest, we have:

  • Update to a living room or bonus room – At just a 66% ROI, updating the décor of a living room is the least realistic way to improve the resale value of a home. Changing a “bonus room” is not too much better at something below 73% return. This is likely because needs and tastes can differ greatly from one homeowner to another, making cosmetic changes largely irrelevant to long-term home value.
  • Add a family room – Considering the expense, the 83% ROI of adding a family room must be taken into consideration. (With an average cost of over $54,000 and a return of about $45,500, this is a serious question.) On the other hand, adding a space that is well used and loved by the clients has real value in the present. This should be the most important reason for adding a family room to an existing home.
  • Replacing windows – With a nearly 90% return on investment, putting in new windows has some appeal. Perhaps more important though is the fact that new windows can save on energy costs for the current homeowner. Be advised, however, that for really hot climates (e.g., Phoenix and Las Vegas), replacement windows make little difference and will return only about 62% on investment.
  • Basement remodels – Hugely popular almost everywhere, a basement remodel offers about 90% ROI. Again, due to the expense of remodeling such a space (about $51,000 national average), the focus should be as much on satisfying the immediate needs and comfort of the client as it is on adding value to the home.
  • Adding outside space – Much like windows and basement, the value of making changes to the exterior of a home with a new deck, patio or porch will not exceed the investment (about 90% ROI). Other changes to the exterior, even something as simple as a new coat of paint, on the other hand, will offer an average of 95% ROI.
  • Kitchen remodels – One of the top two most popular remodeling projects across all markets, changes to the most popular room in the majority of homes, the kitchen – offers a pretty decent ROI. While a major change to the kitchen can return about 91% of the cash invested, a minor remodel offers a nearly 99% ROI. Such a project would be largely cosmetic, with changes to paint, wallcoverings, flooring, and countertops. Swapping out the appliances at the same time would constitute a major remodel.
  • Remodeling bathrooms – Perhaps the most popular remodeling project of all, making changes to bathrooms offers a strong return on investment, depending on the size of that investment. Again, a minor remodel is more likely to boost value with an average 102% ROI, while a complete overhaul of a bathroom offers something in the neighborhood of a 93% return.

While it’s not a complete fiction that home improvement projects and home remodeling can increase the value of a home, boosting the value above the cost of the project is not guaranteed. The key for the sharp designer is understanding your market, and knowing which of these popular home improvement projects you can count on to help you boost your client’s ROI and close the sale.

Looking for more new design trends, tips, and ideas? Get in touch with TD Fall today.