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From Spotlight: Hassle-Free Remodeling? You Bet!

8 Home Remodeling Projects With Top-Dollar Returns

Not all home improvements are created equal. These will reward you the most when it comes time to sell.

Homeowners entertaining on their porch
Image: Nigel Riches/Offset

Your home is in the perfect location, came at the perfect price, with the perfect lot. (Yay southern exposure!)

But the home itself? Perfect isn’t the adjective you’d use. But you knew that moving in, and now you’re ready to start making it just right.

Where to begin, though? How about with data? Data is that friend who tells you like it really is.

Because while any home improvement that brings you joy is priceless, not all add as much home equity as you might expect.

The "Remodeling Impact Report" from the National Association of REALTORS® has tons of data on how much improvements cost — and how much of those costs you can recoup.

Here are eight of the report's best home remodeling projects with equity-building might:

#1 New Roof

Two men work on a gray shingled roof with houses in distance

If you find yourself sprinting for the buckets when it starts to sprinkle, getting a new roof should be your No. 1 to do. Measuring rainfall from the indoors isn't cool. 

The cost: $12,000

The return: 100% at $12,000

Considering it’s what’s between you and the elements, it’s a no-brainer. 

Not sure if you need a new roof? Signs you might include:

  • Shingles are missing, curling up, or covered in moss.
  • Gritty bits from the asphalt shingles are coming out the downspout. 
  • The sun’s shining through your attic. 
  • You notice stains on ceilings and walls.
  • Your energy bill is sky high.

#2 and #3 Refinished or New Hardwood Floors

Herringbone wood floor in white kitchen with steel appliance

You flip on the TV to see that your fave home reno-ing duo is it at again, flipping a ranch that’s stuck in the '80s. 

They make it to the living room, pull back the dingy carpet to reveal hardwood floors in great condition. They’re psyched — and for good reason. 

Hardwood floors are a timeless classic. Refinishing is a no-brainer. Neither will you regret adding new hardwood floors if you have none.

The cost to refinish: $3,400

The return: 147% at $5,000

The cost to buy new: $5,500

The return: 118% at $6,500 

Related: Should You Refinish Hardwood Floors Yourself?

#4 New Garage Door

White glass garage door on gray, ranch-style home

No surprise that a garage door replacement project made it onto this #winning list — a new garage door provides a big boost for your home’s curb appeal at a relatively modest cost. 

The cost: $2,000

The return: 100% at $2,000

There are options galore, too. A host of factory-finish colors, wood-look embossed steel, and glass window insets are just some of the possibilities that’ll give your doors bankable personality. 

#5 Better Insulation

Insulation is tucked out of sight, so it’s often out of mind — that is, until you’re forced to wear your parka indoors because it’s sooo darn cold. 

The cost: $2,500

The return: 100% at $2,500 (plus the added savings on heating and cooling costs!)

#6 New Siding

Home with blue siding and white trim | New Siding for ROI

In any color! And never paint again. 

Those are two of the three benefits of vinyl siding. The third, of course, is your home’s value. 

But if long-time homeowners look at you funny when you mention vinyl siding, just tell them that today’s vinyl is way better than what they remember because of fade-resistant finishes and transferable lifetime warranties. 

The cost: $18,300

The return: 82% at $15,000

#7 Fiber-Cement Siding

Want fiber-cement siding instead? It also shows a strong payback of 86%. Although it’s the pricier option — you’ll spend about $18,600 with a payback of about $16,000 — it has one thing vinyl still lacks — the perception of quality.

The cost: $18,600

The return: 86% at $16,000

#8 Basement Conversion to Living Area

With more homeowners working from home and spending time at home because of inflation and high prices, adding living space is a priority. Basement conversions to living areas were a popular interior renovation.

The cost: $57,500

The return: 86% at $49,150

In addition to the financial return, remodeling provides emotional benefits. Eighty-four percent of homeowners have a greater desire to be in their home after finishing a project. And 69% enjoy their homes more. Fifty-seven percent feel happy, and 39% feel satisfied when they see their completed project. With results like those, remodeling is an investment you can feel confident about.


Anne Arntson
Anne Arntson

Anne Arntson is a Virginia-based writer who's looking for a historic property to call her first home – the creakier the wood floors, the better.