Homeowners are continually exposed to the latest and greatest in remodeling and renovation trends on TV programs, in magazines, and on home improvement web sites. It seems there isn’t any place in the house that’s off-limits to improvement, expansion, or updating. If a homeowner is planning to remain in their home for many years to come, they should consider projects that genuinely suit their own needs – the custom kitchen, a fabulous master suite, a new home office. But if the plan is to sell the home in the not-too-distant future, homeowners should focus on projects that will have the best chance of getting the highest return on their investment.

Let’s take a look at the 3 rooms that rise to the top of the ROI list of midrange projects (our list does not include home additions or necessary repairs):


Average ROI = 83% (minor remodel), 78.1% (major remodel)*

Even within a particular room, project costs can vary widely depending on the extent of the improvements. A major kitchen remodel -custom cabinetry, expensive surfaces, high-end appliances, and engaging a designer – may cost upward of $100,000 and, on average, get a return on investment of about 78%. A minor kitchen “facelift”, on the other hand, averages a similar ROI in percentage terms, but will cost far less. This more-modest project may entail cabinet refinishing, replacement of countertops and flooring, and perhaps swapping out dated appliances for new but inexpensive models that improve the room’s appearance.


Average ROI = 78.3%*

Bathroom remodels consistently rank at or near the top in term of return on investment. Whether it’s a powder room or a master bath, beautiful, updated surfaces, water-saving fixtures, and neutral tones are the minimal improvements that should be considered. Taking another step up, enlarging the room itself and adding luxurious “spa” elements such as a deep soaking tub, heated floors, and a double shower will obviously increase the budget and, likely, the appeal of a master bath.


Average ROI = 81.2% (wood), 79.3% (vinyl)*

Replacing windows may not rank high on the glamour scale, but buyers appreciate the appearance and improved energy efficiency of new windows and are willing to pay for them. Insulated windows are a smart improvement for homes in any climate, and will make the house look better both inside and out.

Here are a few more thoughts to keep in mind:

Regional differences
While the above figures are average, what’s most in demand in one geographical area may differ elsewhere. Do your homework before committing to a project.

Aim for universal appeal
Avoid highly unusual designs, strong colors, and unique custom components that can be polarizing to potential buyers. Remodeled spaces should look great to the widest possible audience.

Don’t over-improve
Homeowners should be careful to keep upgrades and improvements within the range of similar homes in their neighborhood. The most expensive home in the area, however attractive, is rarely the easiest to sell.

*Source: 2007 Cost vs. Value Report (Remodeling Magazine and REALTOR® Magazine)
David Wall, B.Sc.