Considering a major home improvement?   Updating a kitchen, replacing windows or adding living space are just some of the expensive renovations that homeowners tackle to add functionality or enjoyment to the use of their home. But which projects are the big winners and losers when it comes to adding value?


Kitchens are at the top of the list in terms of adding value to your home.  Renovating an outdated kitchen can add thousands to your bottom line when reselling your home.  Because remodeling a kitchen is a big, disruptive project it is something most buyers want to avoid.  An updated kitchen requiring no work is definitely an added value.

Bathrooms are another winner.  Just like kitchens, an outdated bathroom represents a major project and expense to most buyers.

A master bedroom suite can also be a big plus.  An added walk-in closet and larger private bathroom are very appealing selling points to most buyers.

Popcorn ceiling removal is a relatively inexpensive project that definitely adds value.  Again, this is a messy, disruptive project that buyers want to avoid.

Replacing windows and or the roof are projects that are marginal winners.  Most buyers expect these items to be in good condition.  So while replacing them may not add tremendous value, not replacing them if old or worn could significantly detract from resale value.


Swimming pools lead the list of projects that don’t add significant value to your home.  Because they can be viewed as dangerous, and are expensive to maintain, swimming pools can actually be seen as a negative to many buyers.

Room additions that don’t conform to the original design or floor plan also detract from value.  While enclosing a back patio or converting a garage to living space, may add to usable square footage, most buyers don’t want a dining room that has a window into another room and probably do want a garage.

Overbuilding or high-end upgrades are big losers.  Improvements should be comparable to other homes in the neighborhood.  Increasing a home to 5000 square feet in a neighborhood of 2000 square foot homes is money that will never be recouped.  Likewise, using the most expensive fixtures, appliances or flooring will generally not add more value than using a slightly less expensive selection.

Extensive landscape and professional hardscape features may be very enjoyable and add to overall appeal of your home, but will most likely not significantly add to resale value.

Invisible improvements such as replacing plumbing, electrical or HVAC systems are not big winners.  Again, buyers expect these items to be in good condition and it is seldom that you’ll recoup your investment here.  Consider these a part of general home maintenance.

When planning a major home improvement project, keep in mind that even if your project is a winner, you’ll probably not recoup more than 75-80% of your investment when reselling your home.  Especially in today’s market with home values remaining flat, the primary reason for undertaking any home improvement project should be for your own enjoyment of the home, not adding to your bottom line at resale.