It’s important to be judicious about the home upgrades you make. Upgrades can expand the functionality of your house, improve the quality of your life while living in it, and increase home value simultaneously.
But at the same time, upgrades are expensive, and they’re not always worth making.
Which upgrades are always worth making and how do you know?
One Big Caveat
Before we go any further, there’s one important caveat we need to address. There’s no such thing as a home upgrade that’s always worth making, because every house and every individual is unique. While there are home upgrades that are almost always worth making, you’ll still need to consider the state of your home, your personal goals and priorities, your budget, and other factors before moving forward. This list is meant to be a starting point for considering new home upgrades.
Home Upgrades That Are (Almost) Always Worth Making
In most scenarios, these home upgrades are worth making:
- Inexpensive bathroom upgrades. The bathroom is one of the most important rooms of your house, and any improvements you make are likely going to improve your quality of life while also increasing the value of your home. Major bathroom remodels can be both expensive and time consuming, but there are smaller, similarly impactful upgrades that you can make. For example, installing a heated bidet toilet seat won’t cost you much in terms of time or money – but it could dramatically change your bathroom experience for the better. If you feel like doing a bit more work, you can replace the vanity, install new lighting, or replace your shower.
- Kitchen remodels. Kitchen remodels also have a tendency to pay for themselves (or nearly so) with improved quality of life and increased home value. Kitchens are excellent for capturing first impressions, but they have a tendency to feel outdated after just a decade or two. If you have an older kitchen, consider making an upgrade.
- Energy efficiency upgrades. Most types of energy efficient upgrades are worth making, assuming you can afford them. Investing in more energy efficient appliances, improving your insulation, or sealing the cracks around your doors can save you money on your utility bills and make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. It might take a while for these upgrades to pay for themselves, but the savings will eventually accumulate to this level.
- Replacement windows (in older homes). If your home has older windows, it’s probably worth replacing them. Newer windows are easier to open and close, they look nicer, they’re much more energy efficient, and they can increase the value of your home by almost as much as you pay for them. If your windows are currently single-paned, or if they no longer open and shut easily, they’re probably overdue for an upgrade.
- Landscaping. Most of the landscaping you can do for your property is inexpensive compared to the benefits you’ll receive. Better landscaping is a way of boosting curb appeal, it can encourage you to spend more time outdoors while you’re living at the property, and it’s definitely going to increase the resale value of your home. There are practically unlimited choices here, so feel free to get creative.
- Painting. On average, painting your entire house should cost less than $2,000. If you’re only painting a single room, and you’re doing the work yourself, it can cost you less than $100. But despite this modest investment, painting can breathe new life into almost any room of your house and make it feel more inviting and cleaner.
- Basement conversions. Do you have a basement that you’re only using for storage? Consider converting it into a living space. Converted basements are highly attractive because they can sometimes function as an additional bedroom or even a totally separate space for rent.
- Attic conversions. Similarly, attic conversions can be incredibly valuable. This is especially true if your attic is unfinished, without adequate insulation to boost your energy efficiency.
Key Factors to Consider
Beyond these upgrades, when considering potential changes to your home, always keep the following in mind:
- Costs. Every upgrade has costs, including both monetary and time costs. Make sure you estimate your costs conservatively and budget appropriately so you don’t overspend.
- Quality of life. If you plan on living at this property for a while, consider the subjective value that you and your family will get from each possible upgrade.
- Home value. Not all home upgrades add value to your home; in fact, some can even detract from your home value. Projects with a high return on investment (ROI) are naturally superior.
Not all of these home upgrades are a good fit for every home or every homeowner. However, they tend to be disproportionately valuable when compared to other upgrades, offering lots of benefits despite their minimal costs.