10+ home improvement ideas to add a little value to your home

Many people are holding off on selling their houses, and they have a variety of reasons for staying put. Depending on the area, there are housing shortages leading to higher prices, not to mention that expenses incurred by moving from one house to another can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Instead, they are opting to make improvements to their current home that will make living there more enjoyable and increase the value, which will help them down the road when they do decide to sell. It is important to remember, however, that home improvements do not automatically equate with a higher resale value. Some might add nothing, whereas others could actually decrease the asking price.
Here are 10 tried-and-true improvements that will be worth the investment and will give you pleasure without the hassle of moving.
1. Kitchen remodel
Homeowners who invest in remodeling their kitchen typically recoup from 60 to 120 percent of the amount spent. And although the cost of the job can range anywhere from $5,000 to more than $75,000, it isn’t necessary to go overboard. Relatively inexpensive paint, applied in modern colors, will also update the look and add to the value.
2. Add a bathroom
Bathrooms are a big deal to growing families, and if you don’t have enough of them, your life will be chaotic on school mornings and you’ll have a harder time selling your home down the road. Adding a bathroom can be pricey, but you can recoup from 80 to 130 percent of that cost. Figure on needing about 35 square feet for the bathroom. Then take a look at spare rooms or any space that’s hardly used to see if it could accommodate a bathroom.
3. Energy-efficient windows
Drafty single-pane windows can keep teh house cold during winter and prevent you from selling it when you’re ready. Most home buyers are considering energy efficiency when they purchase, but even if you never sell, Energy Star-rated windows could save you up to $500 a year in heating and cooling costs. So even though the cost of window replacement in an average-sized home is between $7,500 and $10,000, you could possibly get back 60 to 90 percent of the investment.
4. Solar panels
Two things happen when you add solar panels to your roof: Your energy bills drop considerably and your home’s value can rise as much as $20,000 on a medium-sized house. And as electricity prices increase, the advantages of solar energy will rise proportionally. Installing panels can start as low as $10,000 with a payback of around 10 years.
5. Add a deck
Adding a deck makes outdoor living spaces more fun and it adds value to your home. Decks can cost as little as a few thousand dollars up to $15,000 and beyond, depending on the size and the material you use. Composite decking is more expensive than pressure-treated lumber but needs little or no maintenance. And homeowners usually recoup 65 to 90 percent of their investment.
6. Reinvent an existing room
Yes, you can add more square footage to your house to get a new room, but that kind of project can get out of hand quickly. That simple-looking addition that started out with a $15,000 estimate can escalate into a $35,000 monstrosity right before your eyes. Rather than taking that on, consider projects such as finishing a basement for a game room or turning attic space into a bedroom or a craft area. These reinvented rooms will appeal to buyers, and you will recover 50 to 80 percent of your costs.
7. Beef up the insulation
If your home lacks sufficient insulation, this is a home improvement project that can’t wait. Houses that haven’t been updated with energy-efficient insulation are draining cash and making it harder for you to sell them. For a one-time price of a few hundred dollars, you could be saving hundreds of dollars in utility bills each year. Add CFL light bulbs, a programmable thermostat and a high-efficiency water heater, and you’ll save even more.
8. Closet organizer
Adding wire shelving to your closet might not give extra value to your house, but it will make your life easier and more organized. And it tells a good story when prospective buyers are touring your home. You won’t spend a fortune ($200 tops) to have a neat closet, and even the most challenged do-it-yourselfer can handle the job with a drill and some hand tools.
9. A fresh coat of paint
Don’t ever underestimate the value of a relatively inexpensive exterior and interior paint job. Painting the living room can give you the same feeling as purchasing a new home. Outside, it can add curb appeal just as neat flower beds and a well-groomed lawn do. If you decide to sell your house, fresh paint shows buyers a well-cared-for home.
10. Add inexpensive landscaping
Plants, shrubs, and trees are improvements that add both beauty and value to your home. They don't have to drain your savings initially or with ongoing maintenance. Buy plants that are native to your area and are drought-resistant. They will require the least amount of maintenance and water, which will be easier on your budget.
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