Overhead and Underfoot: The Best Home Improvement Bang for your Buck

by Nancy Crowe

When considering which home improvement project you’ll take on next, you want it to pay off in enjoyment and quality of life, but also in resale value and energy cost savings.

Making over your kitchen to look like a Food Network cooking show set or adding a bathroom could add value to your home, not to mention a lot of fun. However, research indicates the best bang-for-your-buck home improvements are right under your feet, over your head and otherwise unseen.

The 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, compiled by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) and National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), examined the resale return on a number of home improvement projects. Kitchens and bathrooms did not rank as highly as previously thought. Among the renovation rock stars are hardwood floors, roofs, and insulation. Here's a look at each:

Refinishing or Installing Hardwood Floors

There is nothing like the clean, classic beauty of a hardwood floor, and perhaps that’s why refinishing or installing hardwood floors both ranked high on the list. People tend to refinish hardwood floors to either upgrade worn-out surfaces or customize the home to their taste, but the report suggests doing so may help attract new interest as well. It says 39 percent of REALTORS suggested sellers refinish their hardwood floors before putting the house on the market, and 5 percent said the project recently helped close the deal.

The NARI cost estimate for refinishing a hardwood floor was $2,500, with the REALTORS estimating the same amount for cost recovered, a 100 percent cost recovery.

New wood flooring is installed for similar reasons — a desire for better function, durability, and livability. NARI’s cost estimate for installing new wood flooring is $5,500, with the REALTORS’ estimated cost recovered at $5,000, a 91 percent cost recovery.

If you’re considering new hardwood flooring, the first of many choices is between solid and engineered. Some engineered products may contain formaldehyde, which can become a part of your home environment through off-gassing. Yet engineered flooring has some installation advantages, according to Architectural Digest.

Replacing the Roof

The only renovation in the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report that returned more money than it cost was replacing the roof.

The average homeowner can expect to spend about $7,600, but recoup more than $8,000 (105 percent) at resale. For this project, 45 percent of REALTORS suggested homeowners add new roofing before attempting to sell, and 32 percent said the project led to a closed deal.

Roofing is a commonly overlooked element of curb appeal, but new architectural-grade asphalt shingles provide color and texture options that can make a difference in your home’s appearance, according to HomeAdvisor. Roof warranties are also longer these days — try 50 years instead of 15-20. Some types of roofs have ENERGY STAR ratings because they reflect solar heat and can save on cooling costs. And, HomeAdvisor adds, you definitely want a sound roof when inspection time rolls around.

Upgrading the Insulation

Perhaps even less likely than the roof to induce open-house chatter is the insulation … and yet new, energy-saving insulation is something a REALTOR would highlight to prospective buyers. The NARI Remodelers’ cost estimate is $2,100, with the REALTORS’ cost recovery estimate of $2,000 — 95 percent.

According to This Old House, the Department of Energy estimates a properly insulated attic can shave 10 to 50 percent off your heating bill and keep temperatures stable enough in summer to reduce cooling needs. If you are noticing a spike in your energy bills, drafty rooms, extreme heat upstairs, ice dams on your roof or if noise from outside seems especially loud, it might be time to upgrade, according to Overhead Door of Fort Wayne.

When considering your next home improvement investment, keep those kitchen and bathroom dreams alive — but for your best financial return, give some thought to what's over your head, under your feet and hidden in your walls.

If you think these sound great, but aren't sure how to finance them, you may be able to use the equity in your home to fund your future projects with a cash out refinance. Our team at Ruoff Home Mortgage can talk to you about your options! Apply online today!

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