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Which Improvements Pay Back?

Recouping your remodeling investment may be your goal when you sell your house. But when it comes to resale value, all home improvements are not created equal. As a rule, kitchen remodeling projects and bathroom additions almost always pay back 90 percent or more of their costs. However, finishing a basement usually pays back less than 50 percent. Other improvements fall somewhere in between.
Consider these payback estimates* for the most typical home improvement projects:

Add a new heating or air conditioning system
$2,000 to $4,500
100% for heating; 75% for air conditioning
Minor kitchen remodeling
$15,000 to $25,000
94% to 102%
Major kitchen remodeling
$25,000 to $60,000
Add bathroom
$8,000 to $16,000
$4,000 and up
$4,500 and up
Replace windows
$6,500 to $1,300
68% to 74%
Enhanced Porch & Walkway
$2,500 and up
Install or upgrade landscaping
$2,500 to $15,000
83% to 90%
Finished exterior foundation, stone or parging
$4,500 and up

*Compiled from several published surveys

Understanding payback value

Payback value depends heavily on the real estate market and prevailing property values. If the market is slow, expect to see less payback than you would in a fast market. Also, consider the neighborhood: If you remodel your house to twice the size of the other homes on the block, it is unlikely that you will be able to sell at double the price. Issues that can influence payback value include:


Type of improvement

Kitchens, bathrooms and porch remodeling projects consistently return the most in resale value and almost always help sell a house. Converting a basement into a family room yields the smallest return on the investment.


Scope of improvement

Projects can be large or small. Sometimes, the cumulative effect of small projects can pay back more in resale value than that of larger projects. Small projects tend to be cosmetic in nature: fresh paint, new doors, garden windows, and ceiling fans. Large improvements involve adding or upgrading living space.



Today's fad may be tomorrow's standard. Backyard decks, for example, were difficult to find 30 years ago; now they are common. Decks may not have paid back very much in resale value decades ago, but as decks have become more desirable, their resale value has increased.

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(905) 566 - 5533

(705) 445 - 6969

(888) 932 - 3363