Remodeling Costs Vs. Value

If you’re like most home owners, at some point you have probably considered remodeling your home, whether it be for your own enjoyment or to add value so you can sell. What even some of the most savvy home owners sometimes don’t realize though, is that calculating the added value to your home isn’t as simple as taking the cost of the improvement and adding it to your homes fair market value. While you may think that the $30k you just spent on renovations is worth every penny, buyers in your area may not be looking for that particular improvement in their search for the perfect home. Like any trend the latest buyer desires, change with the times, and it is vital to know where that trend is heading if you want to be sure you are investing you remodeling dollars wisely.

Every year Remodeling Magazine publishes its annual report detailing which home renovation projects will provide the home owner with the best return on their investment.  According to the Remodeling 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, there have been some interesting changes to the list of features that home buyers are searching for this year.  

The Cost vs. Value Report rates home improvements by the amount of cost that is recouped upon the sale of the residence. Since buyer preferences can vary greatly from state to state and even city to city, a separate Cost vs. Value Report is prepared for each county, and shows national and regional averages for comparison.  Without further ado, here are the top 5 remodeling projects for Riverside County, that will give you the best return on your investment!


A new addition to the list this year, Stone Veneer Accents have taken the top spot on the Cost vs. Value Report for Riverside County with an estimated 122.8% of the cost recouped at selling! Stone veneer’s natural beauty, durability, and energy efficiency make it a desirable feature for an increasing number of buyers. The Cost vs. Value Report sites the average project cost at just over $7k, and added value at around $8.6K.


Coming in just a fraction of a percentage point below the #1 spot, a minor kitchen remodel remains one of the top 2 home projects in bang for the buck. The key word here, is minor. While a minor kitchen renovation can get you a return on your investment over and above its cost, a major overhaul only has an estimated average recoup value of about 80% on this year’s Cost vs. Value Report. That means if you spend $50,000 remodeling your kitchen you can only expect an increased home value of around $40,000. Minor renovation projects, such as new standard appliances, paint, and countertops average about $21k and increase the home value an average of just less than $26k!


Though still at the top of the list regionally and nationally, steel entry door replacement has dropped 2 places to #3 on the 2015 Cost vs. Value Report for Riverside County. Steel doors are attractive, adding curb appeal the home, as well as being low cost to buy and install. The front door is one of the first things a perspective buyer will see when they look at your home, so it’s important to make a great first impression. Steel doors are also more energy efficient than their wooden counterparts, and offer a better barrier against intruders.


Coming in at #4, a basement remodel is becoming more and more popular with buyers. A remodeled basement can offer a great entertainment area or even the possibility of income if used as an apartment and rented. Due to the somewhat unstable nature of the current economy, many people are looking for properties that offer the potential for additional income. The basement apartment is perfect for this goal. Entertainment rooms are also trending upward- so either way, it’s fantastic investment. Basement remodels average about $73k and add an average of almost $78k in value to the home.


Vinyl siding replacement comes in at #5 on the Cost vs. Value Report, with its high aesthetic and functional appeal! Siding is one of the features that buyers will notice right off the bat, and that they DON’T want to have to deal with replacing themselves. It can also date your property. Even if the siding is newer, if it is dirty and fading, it may detract from the home’s curb appeal. If your siding was replaced in the last 5 years and is still in good condition, consider simply cleaning and repainting to extend its life.

In addition to these top projects for your home, keeping up on general maintenance issues, such as repainting the interior and exterior walls, doing light landscaping, cleaning or replacing the carpets, and re-staining patio covers and decks, will all add appeal (and therefore value) to your home. Another biggie that puts off many buyers is popcorn ceilings. Having this outdated feature removed will almost certainly add more value than its cost, and attract more buyers.


Home offices, which were traditionally a big plus, have been following a downward trend in recent years. People are becoming more and more mobile and can easily conduct most of their business from a laptop or tablet, so they are unwilling to pay extra for a home office. Whirlpool tubs are another detracting feature, since buyers are starting to realize that they also mean higher heating and water bills. With the busier lifestyles that consumers are leading, they also have less time to indulge in luxuries like a bath, and no longer consider it a necessity. Additionally, back yard pools and spas are often seen as maintenance nightmares that do nothing but absorb money and cause headaches. Solar panel systems that are leased can also make a property harder to market since the lease payments go with the property unless you opt to pay it off when you sell.

Bottom line is, if the improvements are purely to add value to the home, follow the guidelines above to get the best possible return on your investment. If you aren’t flipping houses though, always make sure the renovation is something that you truly want and will enjoy. If you are a hobby chef in your free time, then by all means go all out and put in that gourmet kitchen. At the end of the day, you have to live in your home, and any changes you make should be ones that you will get the most relaxation and enjoyment from, but if you are doing it thinking that you will get double the value added to your home- don’t count on it.