To answer this question correctly, first you must decide what the “payoff” means. If a home improvement is meant to improve your life or that of your family, then you can’t discount the value there. By simply living in your home and enjoying what you’ve done, you’re essentially getting your money’s worth and any increase in monetary value is just a bonus. If you’re mainly focused on resale value, then the payoff takes on a different meaning. While there is no metric for which improvements make your life better, there is a metric for which ones affect the resale value of your home. Realtors from across the country have rated several home improvement projects and how they stack up in terms of resale value versus their initial cost. Remodeling Magazine has the Cost vs Value 2015 Report available on their website, which is searchable by region and will give the breakdown of which home improvements pay back the most.
Based on the national average, steel entry doors are the number one home improvement project when it comes to return on investment. In fact, it pays for itself and then some by giving an average ROI of 101.8%. Energy savings, durability and ease of maintenance make this a clear winner. For 2015, adding a manufactured stone veneer to the exterior of the home can recoup at least 92.2% of the investment. Replacing the garage door is another popular home-improvement choice that can improve your life while still returning an 88.4% ROI. Other home improvements such as replacement windows or an added deck to the exterior the home are also good ROI choices.
It’s important to note, however, that real estate prices tend to follow local trends. You can peruse the data on the Cost vs Value 2015 Report for your region, but bear in mind that these numbers are not a hard and fast rule.
It’s probably equally valuable to know which improvements offer the worst return on investment. Improvements such as swimming pools, though they may be a lot of fun for your family, may not be sought after by future buyers. As a result, pools have an average 8% return on investment. Home offices as well, may be something that you find useful, but a prospective buyer will have no need for. Because of their limited appeal, sunrooms typically showed a low ROI of 42%. Of course, as mentioned above, these are improvements that may pay dividends for you and your family and other ways, rather than financially.