I always say that the best home improvement projects are the ones that will increase a family’s comfort and enjoyment – even in a minor way. But when deciding whether to take on a new project, many homeowners do wonder whether the planned project will increase the value of their home – and by how much.

Naturally, most projects do not increase the value of your home by as much as you paid for the remodeling. So then you may focus on the home improvements that are more likely to net more bang for your buck in comparison with others.

For example, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report last year, a new front door adds an average 96.6 percent of the amount you spent on the door to the actual value of your home—and sometimes, simply painting your existing door can bring almost as much value.

Similarly, replacing windows and/or siding with attractive energy-efficient materials is often worth more in terms of increasing a home’s value than larger projects such as a room addition.  I can say from personal experience that buyers expect energy efficient windows when they look at homes – and if yours has old wood frame windows the buyers will deduct significantly more than the actual replacement cost of those windows from their offer price.

Also leading the list in terms of cost vs. value are kitchen and bath renovations. The report found that kitchen projects yielded a higher return than bath projects, and that even a minor kitchen remodel can add 82.7 percent of the project’s cost to the home’s value.

That’s because, remodelers note, smart shoppers can do a kitchen remodel for less money than many people assume it might cost. The average cost of a minor kitchen remodel—new cabinet doors, appliances, countertops, sink, faucet, paint and hardware—is under $20,000 nationwide, about half what surveyed consumers guessed.

With other upgrades, it is important to consider where your home is located can make a difference. An added swimming pool, for example, will likely add more value in Los Angeles than in the DC metro area where buyers frequently ask what it will cost to fill in a pool.  A home office or an exercise room is more likely to be appreciated here with so many people working from home one or two days a week.

Other home improvements most likely to increase your home’s value include:

  • Wood deck addition
  • Attic bedroom conversion
  • Garage door replacement
  • Master suite enlargement
  • Sunroom or home office addition