Top 10 Remodeling Projects That Offer the Biggest Returns

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Home owners are investing in their homes once again, according to recent industry surveys that point to a strong rebound taking hold in home remodeling. Home owners also may be seeing higher gains from some of these remodeling projects at resale, according to the most recent Cost vs. Value Report, which reviews the top remodeling projects that offer the highest returns at resale. The Cost vs. Value Report is conducted each year by Remodeling Magazine, in conjunction with REALTOR(R) Magazine.

So, which remodeling projects offer the potential for some of the biggest pay-backs at resale? The following mid-range remodeling jobs offer the highest returns, according to the 2013 Cost vs. Value Report.

1. Entry door replacement (steel)

Estimated job cost: $1,137

Return on investment at resale: 85.6%

2. Deck addition (wood)

Job cost: $9,327

ROI: 77.3%

3. Garage door replacement

Job cost: $1,496

ROI: 75.7%

4. Minor kitchen remodel

Job cost: $18,527

ROI: 75.4%

5. Window replacement (wood)

Job cost: $10,708

ROI: 73.3%

6. Attic bedroom

Job cost: $47,919

ROI: 72.9%

7. Siding replacement (vinyl)

Job cost: $11,192

ROI: 72.9%

8. Window replacement (vinyl)

Job cost: $9,770

ROI: 71.2%

9. Basement remodel

Job cost: $61,303

ROI: 70.3%

10. Major kitchen remodel

Job cost: $53,931

ROI: 68.9%

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Charles L Sizer

    Question: If the average of the Highest Return Updates is only 75%, why do any of them?


  2. Peter

    Chuck, remodeling isn’t necessarily done for resale. If you like your house and location, but want to update the list gives the highest ROI updates. Shopping your contractors and materials in this market should get you 100% (cash) ROI or more. And, what value to you put on personal convenience and enjoyment?

  3. Melissa,

    We always look forward to seeing which remodeling projects reap the highest return for homeowners. We especially like seeing basement remodeling in the Top 10 this year since that is something we specialize in! Do you think basements will ever make it into the top 5 since a refinished basement can dramatically increase living space and allow a growing family a bit more elbow room?

  4. Ken Smith

    No No No. These figures are return OF investment, not return ON investment. Not one single project breaks even.

  5. Kristen

    Chuck, I have this very same question. I have been told that I cannot sell my house “as is” but need to do improvements, but that I will only get 80% of my money back from the improvements. I get stuck at this point.

  6. I don’t buy any of these statistics. I agree that these are frequent updates. I also think they enhance the saleability of the home. But, how can you put a number on the additional value a give update will bring to the home? No one knows what the home is worth until it sells. So, the pre-update value is just somebody’s guess.

  7. As a contractor I would agree with your list except that the pricing has a wide range and fluctuates greatly depending on the job

  8. Greg Ali

    Landscaping should be number 1 . Often the return is greater than 100 percent.

  9. I’ve seen this list year in and year out. I have never seen how the statistician(s) arrive at the percent of market value to construction cost. If you to well known price index sites, you’ll see how complex the process is to arrive at general price level increase/decrease. Market value / construction cost ratios are even more complex. Seeing how this process is undertaken would strengthen or weaken the argument.

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  10. That should read, “If you go to well known price index sites”. In any event, I’m aware that the methodology is largely by survey. Surveys are normally used in addition to hard statistical data, but not in lieu of.

  11. This is seriously big data to have in Blog Post, Great post Mellica,
    This number shows :: “9. Basement remodel – Job cost: $61,303 – ROI: 70.3%” Helps me a lot.

  12. John

    It can be demotivating knowing I won’t recoup my cost. That being said you have to do it sometimes. I used a roofing contractor to fix my roof and some siding and I felt like it would help me pay for the cost in the future but now I’m second guessing that thought.

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