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Home Improvement Projects That Pay Off

multi-tiered cedar deckHome improvement spending is on the rise, and consumers are expected to fork over more than $121 billion this year on home remodeling and construction projects, FoxBusiness reports. But the question more homeowners need to ask when preparing to shell out for home upgrades is: Will I get my money back on this investment?

When it comes to the bottom line–increasing the value of your home–not all home improvement projects pay off. Sure, your new Italian marble floors might be attractive to buyers, but they won’t necessarily inspire people to drop more money on your house. So what home improvement projects are worth it?

For starters, anything that enhances your home’s all-important curb appeal is a good bet. Curb appeal is so critical that exterior projects often provide the greatest return on investment, says the Denver Post. For example:

Building a cedar or composite deck. A quality cedar deck can increase your home’s value by up to 80.6% of the project cost, while durable composite decks retain 70.9% of their value. In the Pacific Northwest, the numbers are even more appealing. Northwest cedar decks retain 91.5% of their original value, with composite decks clocking in at 82.1%. That means regardless of the type of deck you install, after taking the resale value into account you’ve only paid from 8.5% to 17.5% of the actual price.

  • HGTV recommends building a multi-level deck with plenty of room for outdoor accessories–provided the size stays proportional to your home.
  • Green decking, such as a WestStar composite deck, is especially attractive to many buyers.

Creating an outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens are hot, hot, hot! They can be as simple as a basic island, or they can include lots of all-weather cabinetry.

  • Use good design sense. Unless you live in a posh neighborhood, an over-the-top outdoor kitchen won’t necessarily pay off.
  • HGTV suggests stone veneers as a cost-effective way to give your outdoor kitchen a high-end look.

Adding outdoor lighting. Replacing outdoor light fixtures and adding accent lighting to your deck is a relatively inexpensive project that has a large impact on curb appeal, says REALTOR magazine.

Replacing windows. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report, you can recoup more than 88% of the cost of new windows. Savvy home buyers understand the long-term savings they can reap from energy-efficient windows.

Avoid lavish home improvements such as swimming pools and overly unique or personalized remodels. And whatever you do, make sure you don’t try to outstrip the sale prices of other homes in your area too much, or you’ll just end up driving potential buyers away.

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