Which projects pay off?

With home equity rising — albeit modestly — more people are thinking about tackling long-neglected fix-up projects. So I thought it might be useful to share the results of Remodeling Magazine’s 28th annual Cost vs. Value Report that compares the construction costs with resale values for the most popular home improvement projects in more than 100 of the biggest U.S. markets.

In short, this year’s survey shows that the least expensive projects yielded the biggest payback. That’s a contrast to what’s happened during more frothy housing markets. The cost to do those projects rose on average 4.2 percent, but with house prices rising modestly across the country, only about half of the 36 projects on the list would benefit a home’s value at resale. And so the cost-value ratio increased for only five of those projects.

Craig Webb, Remodeling’s editor-in-chief, said that during times of stronger price growth, big-ticket projects, including finished expansion spaces and basement build-outs, provided a better return on investment.

Here’s a rundown by price range on the top recouping projects for 2015, meaning those that offer the biggest payback when you sell your house.


• Under $5,000

Steel entry door replacement: 101.8 percent

Midrange garage door replacement: 88.4 percent

Upscale garage door replacement: 82.5 percent

Fiberglass entry door replacement: 72 percent


• $5,000 to $25,000

Manufactured stone veneer: 92.2 percent

Fiber-cement siding replacement: 84.3 percent

Vinyl siding replacement: 80.7 percent


• $25,000 to $100,000

Attic bedroom: 77.2 percent

Basement remodel: 72.8 percent

Major kitchen remodel: 67.8 percent

Garage addition: 64.8 percent


• $100,000-plus

Two-story addition: 64.1 percent

Master suite addition: 61.7 percent

Major kitchen remodel: 59 percent

Master suite addition: 53.7 percent

Jim Buchta