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2008-2009 Best Home Value Remodeling Projects

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Kivitokki MansionEvery year, Remodeling Magazine publishes a list of home projects, their estimated costs, their resale values, and how much you can expect to recoup whenever you sell your home. I wouldn’t use the list to decide which home remodeling projects to start but if you have two you like equally, their information might present the tipping point.

I looked at Remodeling’s Best Home Renovations list in 2007 (and in 2006) when the housing boom was still happening. Now that we’re in a recession and the value of homes falling, how does the list compare?

In their 2008-2009 list, every midrange project fell compared to 2007 values and only three upscale projects increased compared to 2007. It’s not at all surprising because home values are sinking almost everywhere and it will naturally drag down the value of remodeling. What was once a luxury people would pay for is still a luxury but people aren’t willing to pay top dollar for them.

We recently replaced our roof because it was leaking, the plywood was flexing badly, and the FRT in the wood had activated with the trapped heat in our attic. According to the Baltimore statistics, we can expect to recoup 72.5% of what we spent, compared to 65.5% nationally. While that’s great news, we had a twenty five year old roof that needed to be replaced so even if it were 0% we would’ve done the job (we need a roof!).

Top 5

Not surprisingly, the top five from 2007 are the top five in 2008 (in the same order too), though the cost recouped percentages are lower.

Project 2007 Recoup % 2008 Recoup %
Deck Addition 85.4% 81.8%
Siding Replacement 83.2% 80.7%
Minor Kitchen Remodel 83% 79.5%
Window Replacement (Wood) 81.2% 77.7%
Window Replacement (Vinyl) 79.3% 77.2%

It’s a fun list to play with and I recommend you drill down to as small a geographic area as you can. Each area’s values vary slightly from the national average to account for local trends and geographic preferences, so the deeper you go the more accurate you can expect the numbers to be. In the end, remember that the most important aspect of a remodeling project is how much you’ll enjoy it, not how much money you can expect to make back.

(Photo: wili)

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9 Responses to “2008-2009 Best Home Value Remodeling Projects”

  1. ian says:

    [quote]… so the deeper you go the more accurate you can expect the numbers to be…[/quote]

    Although the information may be more specific to your area, the number of houses included in the estimate is also decreasing and therefore the accuracy is going down.
    It may be good to stay broad in your search to keep the sample size up and accuracy high.

  2. Jessica says:

    Looking at the costs they’ve assigned to each project, it seems like they’re assuming that you’re going to pay someone else to do the work. It’s important to note that for most of the projects listed, you can come out way ahead by doing the work yourself. It’s not as hard as you may think.

  3. mbhunter says:

    If you DIY be sure to check local code. Even if you finish the project an inspection later could reveal the code issues that were glossed over. Then you won’t recoup as much.

  4. Jake says:

    Interesting! A couple of years ago I was going to sell my home.. i asked the realtor if it would be worth putting vinyl siding on my home to help it sell.. she told me I would not get my money back!

    since the home market crashed, i ended up staying but HAD to do something to the siding, if i was going to stay or go, either way it had to be done!

    Interesting to see what I may recoup from the investment!

  5. Patrick says:

    Not bad returns considering even if a contractor did the work. The biggest thing is to get enjoyment out of it and still recoup some of the cost.

  6. barry says:

    I’ve taken some of this advice already. We will be trying to see our hourse starting next month. I replaced the siding last fall, and have had the entire outside and inside repainted. We did a “minor kitchen remodel” (new paint, countertops, sink/faucet, light fixtures/fans) a couple of years ago.

    So, we will see how that works!

  7. One thing I would say about the siding – even if it doesn’t help the sale price quite as much, it will surely help to make the home look newer and sale more quickly.

  8. SavingDiva says:

    I am purchasing a condo (closing next week) and I am thinking about redoing the floors (carpet to wood).

  9. Bargain babe says:

    Wow, very cool info. My husband and I re-did the kitchen in our condo years ago and replaced the floors, counters, and cabinets. Kept the appliances. We did all the labor ourselves (with the help of my super handy Dad) and saved a ton of money. We sold it just as the market was starting to hesitate. In the end I’m not sure we got a return on our investment, other than being ABLE TO SELL the condo.


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