Best Home Improvements for Your Renovation Dollars

(ARA) – Homeowners renovate for two basic reasons: money and fun. Or, more precisely, they undertake home improvements to improve their home’s resale value or their enjoyment of their house. The best home improvements, however, are ones that deliver on both objectives.

Americans will spend nearly $141 billion on remodeling in the first half of this year, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. If you’ll be among the many homeowners opting to improve, rather than move, you may be wondering what renovations are likely to give you the best balance of enhanced resale value and immediate enjoyment.

Here are five home improvements — from budget-friendly to big budget — that provide noteworthy return on investment (ROI) in terms of increased value and improved enjoyment:

1. Skylights

You can lower your electric bill by installing skylights that will reduce dependency on artificial light and fill your home with natural light. You can obtain quality, energy-efficient, “No Leak Skylights” from Velux for around $800 per unit for a standard fixed skylight with flashing kit. You can find a local installer to provide a customized cost estimate at In terms of positive energy, the mental and physical health effects of exposure to natural light are well documented. They’re also an effective privacy preserver for bathrooms where you might not want a wall window. Skylight and sun tunnels (skylights that use reflective tubes to bring sunlight into rooms without direct roof access) not only enhance the energy efficiency of your home, they just may make you feel better about living there.

2. Decks

Whether you go for wood or composite, adding a deck is a great way to boost resale value, expand your living space and up your enjoyment of your home environment. On average, homeowners who add a wood deck can expect to recoup more than 80 percent of its cost when it comes time to sell, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-2010 Cost vs. Value Report. Composite deck additions return about 71 percent at the time of resale.

3. Kitchens

It makes sense that the room where most families spend the bulk of their time would be a popular remodel — and one that pays off big in terms of value and comfort. Even a minor kitchen remodel — costing about $21,000 — will return about 78 percent of its value on resale, according to Remodeling Magazine. A major kitchen job, costing around $57,200, will recoup about $41,200, or 72 percent.

4. Baths

Whether you’re tackling a major job that involves knocking out walls and changing fixtures, or just making cosmetic improvements like upgrading faucets and repainting, remodeling a bathroom goes straight to the heart of our craving for comfort. Americans view their baths as far more than a place to get clean and take care of other necessities. Even if you’re not creating a home spa, improving the bathroom is sure to boost your home’s resale value and increase your satisfaction with the room. Remodeling Magazine says the average bathroom remodel costs around $16,100 and returns up to 71 percent of that cost at the time of sale.

5. Basement/attic remodel

With more families staying put in the homes they have, rather than moving up to larger homes, many Americans are looking for ways to expand their living space while staying in place. Attic and basement remodels are great ways to add usable, livable space at a fraction of the cost of building an addition. The lingering effects of the Great Recession have multiple generations living together under one roof again, and many of these families create bedrooms, bathrooms or even family rooms in unfinished attic or basement space. Everyone appreciates the extra room, and attic renovations and basement remodeling yield resale returns of 83 percent and 75 percent, respectively, according to the Cost vs. Value Report.