There are a lot of factors you need to consider when you're going to sell your home—whether you're ready to put your home on the market or whether you're heading in that direction in the next 12 months. One of the main things sellers focus on is the sale price. After all, you want to get the most bang for your buck. But how do you do it? Sometimes this means putting in some extra money to maximize your return by doing some remodeling or renovations.

For most people, home renovations answer a family need—perhaps a finished basement for the kids' playroom or an upgraded master bathroom. And these are worthwhile projects, especially if you plan to remain in your home for more than a couple of years. But if you want to add value right away, your dream renovation may not be a sleek new kitchen with granite counters and stainless steel appliances or even a fabulous inground pool.

Key Takeaways

  • Renovating may increase the value of your home when you decide to sell it.
  • Replacing some of the vinyl siding with manufactured stone veneer was the top project for 2020.
  • The second project with the most potential for a return is replacing a garage door.
  • A mid-range kitchen remodel involves refacing cabinets, buying new appliances, and changing countertops and moderately-priced flooring.
  • The last two projects in the top five involve replacing a home's existing siding with fiber-cement or vinyl.

Why Bother With a Reno? 5 Projects Worth the Cost

After a definite slump over the previous decade, the housing market is on a path to recovery. Housing prices are stable and home equity is recovering. Existing home sales are also on a positive uptrend. All of this is good news if you're a homeowner thinking of plunging some money into your home with an eye toward resale value down the road. But not all home renovation projects are equal. In fact, few of them even come close to recouping their costs when it's time to sell your home.

According to Remodeling Magazine's 2020 Cost vs. Value Report, projects that involving boosting your curb appeal fare much better than improvements inside the home, with very few exceptions. The publication looks at costs for more than 20 different remodeling projects in 101 different markets across the United States. Below, you'll find the top five renovation projects that may end up paying for themselves.

1. Add Manufactured Stone Veneer

  • Average Cost: $9,357
  • Resale Value: $8,943
  • Expected Recoup: 95.6%

If you don't know what manufactured stone veneer is, don't worry—a lot of people don't. Even if you've never heard of it, there's probably a good chance that you've seen it. Manufactured stone veneer is a manmade material designed to look like real stone. That's probably why most companies refer to it as faux stone. It's made using cement and aggregates that, once combined, are pigmented with a variety of colors to appeal to homeowners.

There are several different ways you can use stone veneer to give your exterior a much-needed facelift. Remodeling Magazine suggests replacing a continuous band of your existing vinyl siding with faux stone veneer along the front—you know, the portion that's visible from the street. You may also want to consider continuing this along an entry archway. Doing so will require installing water-resistant barriers underneath to prevent damage from rain and the elements.

2. Replace Your Garage Door

  • Average Cost: $3,695
  • Resale Value: $3,491
  • Expected Recoup: 94.5%

A garage door not only serves a functional purpose for your property, but it also gives you a chance to put in a great design element to your home. Although it doesn't always top the list of most popular projects, keep in mind, it's among one of the first things people see when they come to your home.

You may have to change the door because of natural wear and tear, because the existing door is damaged, or simply because it just doesn't work anymore. In other cases, it. may just be outdated and needs to be replaced—especially when a fresh coat of paint just won't do.

Replacing the door(s) involves changing the tracks with heavy-duty ones made of galvanized steel. Most new doors are made of steel, are insulated with foam to keep any heat in, come with seals, and they generally come with a lifetime warranty. You can save a few bucks by reusing your existing opener, as long as it still works.

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Top 5 Home Renos For Your Money

3. Do a Minor Kitchen Remodel

  • Average Cost: $23,452
  • Resale Value: $18,206
  • Expected Recoup: 77.6%

Everyone's tastes in kitchen design are different—no pun intended. Regardless of the style, your kitchen should be functional and should also be relatively updated. Outdated kitchens are a huge downer, whether you have old cabinets that are run-down, scratched countertops, or clashing backsplashes that are hard to digest.

If the idea of spending that much money scares you, don't worry. This doesn't need to be a major job. In fact, a minor remodel of your kitchen will do just fine—the cost of which can be fairly mid-range. Start by adding a fresh coat of paint. Then tackle your dated cupboards and cabinets by refreshing them with new door fronts and wood panels—think shaker-style—along with brand new hardware. Swap out your old appliances with energy-efficient ones—a slide-in fridge and a new cooktop or range. Add a moderately priced new sink and faucet, new laminate countertops, and flooring that can take heavy traffic, spills, and other accidents.

Make sure you secure any required permits—if needed—before the job starts and write a contract with a professional if you can't do it yourself.

4. Siding Replacement: Fiber-Cement

  • Average Cost: $17,008
  • Resale Value: $13,195
  • Expected Recoup: 77.6%

This is another project that helps boost your curbside appeal for which you can earn a significant return. Fiber-cement siding looks like brick, stone, shingles, and even wood. But one thing it has that these materials don't—it's much more durable. It isn't susceptible to wind and rain damage and won't fall prey to pests like termites. The best thing about it is that it won't cost you a fortune and it normally comes primed and painted.

The cost noted above is for a total of 1,250 square feet. Replace your existing vinyl siding with fiber-cement siding. Make sure you also include fiber-cement boards as well in your budget. You may also want to consider using cellular PVC as an alternative. You'll have to make sure you install a water-resistant barrier underneath to protect your home.

5. Siding Replacement: Vinyl

  • Average Cost: $14,359
  • Resale Value: $10,731
  • Expected Recoup: 74.7%

The final project in the top five list is another siding replacement—again, for 1,250 square feet. This siding option is durable and is made from PVC resin. It is an affordable option to weatherproof your home and doesn't require you to paint your home every year. The good thing with vinyl is that it's easy to install.

When you change your siding, make sure you also factor in changes to the trim and any openings including windows and doors, as well as corners. Consider a new color to give your home a completely new look or stick with the same one to update and refresh your home's exterior. Just like the previous project, you will need a water-resistant barrier—especially if the existing one needs replacing or isn't even there.

The Bottom Line

So why aren't large-scale kitchen and bath remodels big winners when it comes to recouping your investment? These tend to be more labor-intensive projects, and simple is better when it comes to your return on investment (ROI). That doesn't mean you shouldn't tackle them if your heart is set on glass-fronted cabinets and an eye-catching tile backsplash—especially if you're staying put for two years or more. But if your goal is improving your home, boosting resale value, and seeing a return on your renovation dollars, stick with these five home improvement projects.