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2008-2009 Best Home Value Remodeling Projects

Every 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 [3] (and in 2006 [4]) 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 [5], 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 [6], 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 [7])