Major Home Renovations – When Are They Worth It?

After years of a floundering housing market, it appears that the tide has finally turned, and this industry is picking up steam once again. However, it certainly has not returned to its early-2000 highs, and homeowners must be careful when investing in major renovations. No matter how beautiful the results, sometimes the cost of a project just can’t be recouped. That said, there are a few tried-and-true areas that come with a higher likelihood of getting a return on investment.


Bathrooms and kitchens are the two money-makers when it comes to home renovations, since this is where most buyers look first. Look for high-end finishes to really make the room pop. Sleek faucets and glass shower doors make a much bigger impact than an expensive toilet. If you have a smaller bathroom, you may be able to incorporate “wow-factor” features without much cost. For example, putting heated floors in a 50 square foot bathroom may only be a few hundred dollars, but it will make a huge impression on potential buyers.


The true heart of a home, the kitchen is a perennial renovation favorite. Replacing cabinets, countertops, and appliances are the mainstays of a renovation, but you can save money (and go eco-friendly) with a few tricks. Rather than replace the cabinets, take a look at their current condition. If they’re structurally sound, you may be able to simply refinish them, getting that brand-new look at a fraction of the cost. Even a coat of paint and some new hardware can make a huge difference. To save money on countertops, consider looking at a salvage shop. Natural stone counters that were taken from another renovation project can often be found at a fraction of the cost even though they look like new.

Square Footage

Home additions are huge undertakings, but you can’t beat the return on adding square footage to a house. Consult with an architect and contractor to see if there is any opportunity to expand your home’s footprint. Adding a bedroom is a safe bet, particularly if you’re able to simply convert attic space rather than bump out exterior walls, but expanding the garage and adding a second level are also popular choices.


When you’re considering major home renovations, don’t forget to look outside the home as well. Curb appeal can be a make-or-break factor in a home’s selling price, so look at investing in some landscaping to really make it pop. It’s amazing what just some edging and a new layer of dyed mulch can do to a flower bed. For a green spin, create a garden using native plants that don’t require much water or care.

Exterior Finishes

While you’re outside, take a look at the home’s siding and roof. These two aspects are major money- and time-hogs, and many buyers appreciate knowing that they won’t have to worry about it. Give the home a complete facelift with some new siding, or just refresh it with a good power wash. For both roofs and siding, make sure the warranties are transferrable to the new owner.

Regardless of what area of your home you choose to renovate, there is one maxim that holds true: stay neutral. Your home renovation should appeal to as many people as possible, not polarize them. Find the line between bland and bold with neutral colors and classic rather than faddish features.

Major home renovations may be time consuming and costly, but by taking the time to plan, saving money where possible, and investing in the right areas, you can create a huge return and add major value to your home, even in today’s market.