Home Renovations That Will Pay You Back

When it’s time to remodel, many homeowners head to home improvement stores like Lowe’s to buy the supplies they need to complete their home projects. It’s a smart idea, especially since the right projects can put more money back into your pocket.

However, home renovation costs can be substantial: The average bathroom remodel alone costs between $6,000 and $35,000, according to HomeAdvisor. Meanwhile, a kitchen remodel ranges from $4,500 to $50,000.

If you want to choose the best home renovations, here are several that will give you the biggest bang for your buck when the time comes to sell.

Remodel the Kitchen

“If it’s more than 15 years old, upgrading the kitchen floor, cabinetry and appliances to modern standards will net you more money during [the] time of sale,” said Joe Polyak, founder and realtor of Rise Homes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Many families view the kitchen as the center of the home. So, minor kitchen renovations can drastically increase your property’s value — the Remodeling report showed a 65 percent national recoup on average. This renovation can also increase home enjoyment for the entire family.

If you have an outdoor kitchen that needs to be renovated, consider updating the appliances. For example, Lowe’s offers savings on high-quality appliances.

“Outdoor entertaining and grilling go hand in hand,” said Jule Eller, director of trend and style at Lowe’s. “So bring the heat, and fire up that backyard flavor with a modular grill. You can choose add-ons like a sink, side burners or refrigerator to create a complete outdoor kitchen.”

Still, renovators should take care not to go overboard with kitchen remodel costs. “Upgrading the appliances to a certain level of luxury — KitchenAid versus Bosch, for example — can significantly increase value,” said Polyak. “Be careful, though. You don’t need to put Wolf appliances in a condo in a blue-collar condo complex. That won’t add value.”

Build an Outdoor Deck

“This can be a fairly inexpensive project that can add a lot of value in the eyes of potential homebuyers,” said Polyak. Specific features tend to vary in popularity by geographic location, and the national average cost for this upgrade is about $10,000 for wood and $17,000 for composite materials, according to Remodeling’s report. Of that amount, a homebuyer can hope to recoup about 71% and 65%, respectively.

“In Arizona, people like a nice fire pit with a beautiful outdoor area. In the San Francisco Bay Area, they like a nice deck with landscaping,” he said. “You can hire someone to do the work, but depending on how handy the homeowner, this can definitely be a fairly inexpensive do-it-yourself project.”

Create a Paver Patio

You might also consider adding a paver patio to your home. “Building a paver patio or walkway is a simple way to make your landscape more inviting and define an outdoor living space,” said Eller. “Best of all, you can install the paving stones yourself. You can also integrate landscape lighting to add ambiance and dimension.”

Eller recommends purchasing 10 percent more blocks, pavers or stones than you anticipated. “The excess should account for breakage, the material you need to cut and replacements for future repairs,” she said.

Upgrade Lighting Fixtures

Most fixtures can be purchased for a few hundred dollars or less, but when you’re working with electrical wires, you’ll also want to make sure to bring in a professional. Most homeowners spend about $318 to bring in an electrician, which will increase overall remodeling bills, according to HomeAdvisor. Still, prospective buyers are likely to appreciate the enhanced lighting, making it one of the best home renovations on a budget.

You might also want to upgrade your outdoor patio lighting with string lights, lanterns, candles, outdoor table lamps or floor lamps to bring your patio to life. Or, perhaps you have a deck? You’ll probably want to upgrade those lights as well. The good news: It won’t cost you a lot of money at stores like Lowe’s.

“From setting a festive mood to offering a soft glow after dark, outdoor lighting is a great way to make your outdoors warm and inviting,” said Eller. “Check out these battery-operated LED step lights or these bronze solar LED post lights.”

Replace the Entry Door

Installing a new steel entry door has the largest cost versus resale value, according to Remodeling’s report. It’s about a $1,400 project that’s likely to boost your home’s value by the same amount.

Bold colors can always replace a traditional door like a bright yellow and high-gloss black. To make this change buy some inexpensive door and apply paint to it yourself. There are plenty of affordable door options you can find online.

Install or Repurpose Flooring

“Updated hardwood floors or new carpeting can help sell a home,” said John Bodrozic, co-founder of digital home management tool HomeZada. “But a lot of the determination of whether the project pays for itself depends on how much money people put into the project.”

According to HomeAdvisor, existing carpets can be cleaned for about $174, and the average hardwood refinishing cost is $1.50 to $4 per square foot. Installation of new flooring increases the cost: $1,583 for carpet and $4,397 for wood. However, you can reduce these sums.

“If you have the skill or are willing to learn, you can save labor costs if you can do some of the work yourself,” said Bodrozic. “If you do hire a contractor, make sure you get three to five bids and make it known to the contractors that they are competing for the business. Depending on the marketing conditions and timing of your project, you could save yourself some money.”

Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Features

“I’m noticing a big trend toward energy-efficient appliances, LED lights and tankless water heaters,” said Diana George, a vice president at Century 21 Real Estate Alliance.

“These products save homeowners money and contribute to a smaller carbon footprint.” A tankless water heater can be installed for about $4,200 in a 2,200-square-foot home, and LED converter bulbs can be bought for about $14 per light, said George.

You don’t have to wait until you move to reap the financial benefits that accompany an energy-efficient upgrade. A tankless water heater can cut a homeowner’s water heating bill by about a fifth each year. A switch from incandescent to LED bulbs, meanwhile, can save a homeowner a surprising $300 per year. Energy-efficient upgrades might not be the most exciting of home improvement projects, but they can have an almost immediate impact on a home’s overall bottom line.

Replace Vinyl Siding

It’s not everyone’s idea of a dream renovation project, but new vinyl siding can dramatically enhance a home’s curb appeal, which can make or break a homeowner’s prospects when selling on the open market.

Newer siding can also help curb heating and cooling costs and reduce occurrences of mold, fungus and mildew. New vinyl siding generally costs around $14,000 and will increase a home’s resale value by about $11,000, according to Remodeling.

Remodel a Bathroom

“Bath renovations are always worth the money invested,” said Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP in Warwick, New York. “If the home has good bones and quality finishes, the home seller will reap most, if not all, of the cost.”

A homebuyer can expect to pay about $18,000 for a mid-range bathroom renovation and recoup about 65 percent, according to Remodeling. However, making smaller changes can also bring big rewards. “The impact a new light fixture can make can take a house from being dated to feeling new,” said Gray-Plaisted. “I find upgrading light fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens to be worth every penny spent.”

In the end, a home renovation choice is about more than just the value you’ll eventually recoup. Consider projects that will keep your home properly maintained, but also that your family will enjoy. A house is more than an investment; it’s also the place where your family will build memories for years to come.

Open the Floor Plan

An open floor plan is one of the more sought-after features for homebuyers today. However, older homes typically have many walls and narrow hallways, said Polyak. The good news is that it can be surprisingly inexpensive to knock down a wall and create a more cohesive space. An interior demolition costs about $3,000 on average, according to HomeAdvisor.

Even load-bearing walls can be removed, preferably by a skilled contractor who can then place a beam in the ceiling for support. Even with the added home renovation costs, this improvement can still add significant value to a home, said Polyak.

Paint the Interior

Most homeowners spend between $996 and $2,721 on home interior paint costs, according to HomeAdvisor. At that price point, it’s easy to recoup the cost when it’s time to sell. Even so, it might be worthwhile to consult a professional before selecting a color.

Still, professional advice doesn’t have to add to the cost of the project. Many national paint retailers like Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore offer free paint consultations.





How Much Value Does a Kitchen Remodel Add to Your Home?

So you’re trying to decide if you should put a new kitchen in your home. The estimates are in, and they’re all far higher than you expected. You may be having doubts and wondering if you should really go ahead with the project. Is a brand-new kitchen really worth the cost?

If you’re smart, you’ll think long-term. The money you spend on your kitchen now could pay you back handily when you put your home on the market. So, how much does a kitchen remodel increase home value? The answer may help you decide if you really want to go through with the project.

How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Increase Home Value?

A new kitchen can increase home value. In general, the value is expressed as the percentage of money spent on the remodel the homeowner recovers after the sale of the home. Better Homes and Gardens says homeowners can expect a return of about 52% on their investment in a new kitchen if they sell their home. The exact amount you’ll recoup depends on a few factors, such as your house value, the value of houses in your neighborhood and the quality of the project.

How much your home value increases is also dependent on how much you spend on the project. According to Moving.com, a major upscale kitchen remodel returns 53.9% of the money invested. Remodeling your kitchen with mid-range fixtures has a 58.6% return on investment. If you do a minor kitchen upgrade with mid-range fixtures, you’ll see a 77.6% ROI.

It may seem counterintuitive that a minor kitchen renovation, such as replacing cabinets, offers a higher ROI than a major renovation, such as changing the structure and layout of your kitchen. You would think that the more money you invest, the more you’ll get back. But, if you take into account that you are spending far less money on a minor renovation while still getting the desired result, it makes sense that the return is higher.

Looking only at the numbers does not show you the full return value. Think about how long you intend to live in the house after you remodel the kitchen. If you plan on moving quickly after the remodel, the percentage of return is the biggest factor. But if you plan on staying in the home for a number of years after the remodel, you should make upgrades that make sense for your family.

What Percentage of Your House Value Should You Spend on a Kitchen?

Experts suggest that homeowners should spend 6 to 10% of the home’s value on a kitchen renovation. Spending more than that might not give you a good return on your investment. You have to analyze the money you’re spending compared to the potential value you are adding.

For example, if your house is worth $500,000 and you spend $100,000 (20%) of the home’s value on a major kitchen renovation, you’ll get see about a 53.9% ROI — or a $53,900 boost to your home’s value.

In contrast, if you spend $50,000 (10%) of your home’s value on a smaller-scale kitchen upgrade, you can expect an ROI of 77.6% — or a $38,800 home value increase.

In the first example, minus the boost to home value, you’ve spent almost $50,000 on a new kitchen. But in the second, you’re only out about $11,000. Don’t just jump into a major renovation thinking it will give you the best return; often, the opposite is true.

Also, take into account the time you plan to spend in your home after the kitchen is remodeled. If you are moving right away, the 6-to-10% rule makes sense. However, if you plan to stay in your home for years to come, you might want to spend more because the investment also becomes about your personal enjoyment of the space.

Does a Kitchen Add Value to a House?

A new kitchen does add value to a house. It’s one of the most popular rooms in the house, and it’s the room where you and your family spend the most time. It’s no wonder kitchens are one of the first rooms that homeowners look at when they’re considering renovating their homes. It’s so popular that real estate experts have listed kitchen upgrades and full kitchen renovations as second and third in a list of home renovations that add value to your home.

But homeowners should consider more than just money when judging the value of their house. There’s also something called the joy score, which measures the satisfaction a homeowner gets from living in a pleasing and functional space. The National Association of Realtors lists a kitchen renovation as having a joy score of 10 out of 10, no matter if the work was done by a professional or by the homeowner.

With this in mind, you can’t judge your home in terms of money only. So, before you start adding up the monetary value a kitchen adds to your home, be sure to consider the emotional and aesthetic value as well.

8 Things You Can Do with a Sunroom

Whether you’re thinking about adding a sunroom to your home or you have one that you’re not sure what to do with it, sunrooms can make a great addition to your home. Not only can they add value to your home, but they can give additional space and function too. But if you’re not sure what you want to do with your sunroom, here are eight great ideas to start with:

1. Turn Your Sunroom into a Home Office

With more people working from home, many are looking for a dedicated space in their home to turn into an office. Sunrooms are the perfect rooms to turn into a home office, especially since natural sunlight can help increase productivity by 5–40%.

2. Create a Cozy Reading Area

Consider installing a wraparound bench in your sunroom to help convert the space into a cozy corner for all sorts of things. Wraparound benches make the perfect reading corner or even area for afternoon naps in the sun.

3. Use Your Sunroom as an Additional Living Room

If your sunroom is large enough, turning it into an additional living room is a great idea. One of the top reasons to use your sunroom as a living room is all the natural light it can provide year-round. It also helps give your living room a touch of outdoor living, which creates a unique family room for your home.

4. Make Your Sunroom a Screened Porch

Another great use of a sunroom is to convert it into a screened-in porch. The screened-porch sunroom is especially great if your sunroom faces the backyard. You could create beautiful landscaping for the sunroom to overlook, which makes it a great place to entertain guests.

5. Turn Your Sunroom into a Dining Room

Whether your home doesn’t currently have a dining room or you want to repurpose your current dining room into something else, using your sunroom is a great option. Turning your sunroom into a dining room is not only practical but can give you more space for entertaining while increasing the functionality of your sunroom.

6. Create a Craft or Hobby Space in Your Sunroom

What better room of a house to provide the lighting you need for crafts and hobbies than a sunroom? If you have a hobby that takes up a lot of space and requires great lighting, try turning your sunroom into a cozy crafting space.

7. Use Your Sunroom as a Bar

If you currently use your sunroom as an area to entertain guests, installing a dedicated bar is an excellent investment. Having a bar in your sunroom will save you the hassle of going back and forth between your sunroom and kitchen to make and serve drinks. It also makes your sunroom the ultimate entertaining space for your home.

8. Make Your Sunroom into a Green Space

If you’re into gardening and enjoy having plants in your home, a sunroom is the perfect place to have plenty of potted and hanging plants. Not only will your plants be able to get plenty of sunlight in the sunroom throughout the day, but they can create a beautiful aesthetic for any cozy sitting room.

If you’re thinking of adding a sunroom to your home, these are eight creative and worthwhile ideas of what you can use your sunroom for. If you already have a sunroom in your home and want to convert it into something else, consider one of these ideas to make the space exactly what you want. Whether you’re looking for a dedicated space to entertain or wanting something for reading or crafts, sunrooms are the perfect option for you. When you want to discuss adding on a sunroom to your home, contact Brett King Builder!


Are you planning to build a new house? One often overlooked aspect of a house is the basement, but keeping an eye on your lower floor can maximize your space and your ROI. In fact, a finished basement can give you a return on investment of about 70–75%. With that great return, you can see the worth of finishing your basement. But what should you include in your basement? Our experts weigh in about the top things you should consider for your basement.

1. Another Bedroom (or Two)

Depending on the size of your basement and what all you decide to have in it, you could add one or two bedrooms to it. Every homebuyer considers the number of bedrooms when looking at a house, and a basement bedroom could be perfect for teenagers, aging parents, or even just a large family.

2. Another Bathroom

As with bedrooms, potential buyers will note how many bathrooms your house has to offer. Having a bathroom in the basement is especially nice so residents and guests don’t have to trek upstairs to use the washroom.

3. A Home Gym

If the COVID-19 pandemic led you to give up your gym membership in favor of working out at home, give yourself the space you need with a designated home gym. When you’re building a basement, you can even set aside space for all your equipment, a sauna, and a yoga studio. No matter what you have in mind, be sure to design your home gym for your preferred workouts.

4. A Home Office

With the rise of the Coronavirus, more people than ever before have started working from home. If you have plans to work from home permanently, a home office is perfect for you. Set up your workstation exactly how you want it. From having a window near your desk to having enough outlets for all your gadgets, you can customize your home office to be as comfortable as possible.

5. A Children’s Playroom

If you have kids or grandkids that play with their toys all over the house, it might be nice to have a dedicated children’s playroom. The sky’s the limit with a playroom, and kids will jump on the opportunity to have their own space. Consider building a slide, rock climbing wall, reading nook, dress-up closet, shelves to hold toys, or even a faux tree house to keep your little ones entertained.

6. A Mother-in-Law Apartment

Mother-in-law apartments or suites are essentially an entire apartment that can function separately from the rest of the house. Many people use these suites for elderly family members because it gives them the independence they need while keeping them close. Even if you don’t plan to have family members use the space, you can also rent out the mother-in-law apartment to gain some extra income.

7. A Home Theater

Everyone loves having a movie theater experience from the comfort of their own home, making a home theater an excellent option for your basement. No matter if you’re a casual watcher or a self-professed movie buff, you can deck out your home theater with everything you need to enjoy the show. Some of the most popular touches to a home theater include adding acoustic panels to your walls, surround sound speakers, lounge chairs, a concession stand, and even a popcorn machine.

8. A Game Room

If your family spends a lot of time playing games, converting your basement into a game room can be a gamechanger. Whether you enjoy more board games, arcade games, or even foosball, having space for all your games makes it easier to play and clean up afterward. For easy storage, consider building shelves to hold your games or necessary supplies like dice, paper, and pens. You might also want to have a kitchenette, so you have all your treats and drinks ready for your next game night.

9. A Laundry Room

Boost the functionality of your new home with a basement laundry room. With an entire room set aside for laundry, you’ll have more space for all your laundry totes, baskets, detergent, and clothes. Add cupboards to hold your supplies, a sink to wash stains, rods to hold hangers, and even storage cabinets to keep your ironing board out of the way.

Make the Most of Your Basement

When you’re looking at the design for your new house, don’t forget to give your basement a personal flair. This is your space, and it should be what you want. Whether you’d rather have a home gym or a theater room, you can do so much with your home’s basement. For help designing and building your custom home in the surrounding areas of Bucks County, PA, contact Brett King Builder!

8 Ways to Make Your Front Door Distinctive

You open and close it umpteen times a day — leaving for work, walking the dog and emptying the recycling — without giving your front door much thought. But during the holidays, it will be on display for family members and guests who you may not have seen for a while.

Rethinking your front door’s look can boost your home’s curb appeal and not only when you’re trying to sell. Making changes to your front door can alter the entire look of your home.

Most people see their front door as purely utilitarian, but it’s also about being happy about the place where you live and beautifying the neighborhood.

Here are eight ways to make your front door pop.

1. Paint it

One of the easiest, fastest and most inexpensive changes you can make is to paint the door. Choose an eye-catching color to make the entry distinctive or one that reflects your personality. Popular colors are blue — particularly royal blue — red and yellow. You don’t need much paint, so experts advise buying a quart of paint instead of a gallon to save money. It can cost as little as $20 for DIYers.

When Georgiana White, 78, repainted her Sacramento, California, house earlier this year, she went with dark blue for the front door. “I thought it was a great contrast with the lavender [stucco and white brick],” she says. “I love it.”

Experts suggest selecting an exterior pain suitable for the material of your door, whether it’s wood or metal, and sanding the door to help the paint adhere. Before sanding, however, Jepsen says make sure to check if the existing paint contains lead. Although toxic lead paint was banned in 1978, if your home was built before that, the front door paint may contain it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved three home test kits: 3M LeadCheck ($11 for a two-pack), D-Lead ($39.50 for seven tests), and one required by Massachusetts and available only to professionals there.

2. Update lighting

Lighting not only enhances safety, but it can add mood and highlight special features of your home. For Christmas, it’s all about lights — whether they’re strung on garland around your door or your porch, says Kelly Fitzsimmons, a holiday light designer in the Chicago area.

Keep those Christmas lights around the front door all year or change the color seasonally, such as yellow for Easter. No power outlets outside? Try battery-powered sensor lights. Other lighting options include hanging a lantern above the door or adding uplights along the sides to create a soft glow.

3. Replace the door

Getting a new front door can transform the whole look of your home, says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations for Power Home Remodeling in the Philadelphia area. This option also may increase the security of your home or make it more energy efficient, he adds.

Experts suggest matching the style of your front door to the style of your home. If your house is mid-century modern home, go retro with an aqua door with square glass panels. Bizzley likes Dutch doors (also called split doors), where the top and bottom sections can be opened and locked separately. A Dutch door can cost from $750 to nearly $2,000 with installation.

4. Go seasonal

Decorate your front door based on the season or holidays like Halloween and Easter. Use wreaths, lights or hanging signs with inspirational sayings.

For Christmas, Melissa Sage Fadim of Chicago added garland, lights and wreaths with soft pink bows to match the pink of her front door. “I am a pink person,” says the 72-year-old who painted the door when she bought the house a year ago. “For the first time in many, many years, I’m excited about Christmas.”

5. Add architectural diversity

Installing shutters alongside the front door and painting them to match the door will make your home stand out, Bizzley says, because they’re not that common. Shutters cost $30 to $60, and installation is about $200.

Another option is to add a canvas awning or wood or metal portico over the front door to provide a new architectural feature and protect you from bad weather.

6. Go with glass

Add sidelight windows (narrow vertical windows along a door) or a transom window (a small horizontal window above a door) to make your front door seem larger and to brighten your foyer. Some modern sidelight models open and close. You also can install elegant French doors, especially if your front door faces a view of mountains, an ocean or meadow. Stained glass is pretty and provides more privacy.

7. Think temporary

Apply decorative window film to the glass portion of your front door to provide some privacy but also color while still letting in more light. These inexpensive, removable films come in many designs, including stained glass. Prices start around $10 for a sidelight size.

8. Upgrade door hardware

Small changes can make a big difference. Add an unusual door knocker, perhaps in the form of a squirrel, or an antique doorknob. You can buy these online for $25 and up, but for something unique, Jepsen recommends looking at estate sales, garage sales or architectural salvage businesses. It’s also an easy DIY installation.


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