Top Ten Home Renovations that will Boost Your Property’s Value

What changes to your home will make the biggest impact on your property value and get the best return on investment? 

Whether you’re looking to sell your home or just want to increase its livability and value, renovations are always a great investment – when they are done right. And with today’s high prices for detached homes, more and more people are choosing to renovate to make their home work better for them, rather than try to move up.

But what exactly does it mean to do renovations “right”? What changes to your home will make the biggest impact on your property value and get the best return on investment? And then, how do you pay for it all? We spoke to some experts for advice and came up with this chart of top 10 renovations to boost your home’s value.

10) A Fresh Coat of Paint

It might seem obvious, but don't underestimate the power of a little paint to transform your space. This is an especially good trick if your budget is small but you need a big impact. A fresh coat of paint in key rooms, such as the entryway, living room, dining room, kitchen and master bedroom, will pay big dividends, says builder Todd Best, owner of the multiple-award-winning Best Builders, a home renovation and home builder for nearly 30 years.

Best advises that you choose universally appealing neutral shades (think off-white, taupe and soft yellows, and don’t forget super-trendy greys and pale blues) and stay away from dark colours, which tend to make a room look smaller and are a more personal choice.

9) Shiny New Faucets and Hardware

Replacing outdated items like faucets, sinks, toilets, door handles and drawer pulls is another relatively inexpensive and easy change that can make a big impact.You can do it cheaply by, for example, just updating old switchplates with modern stainless-steel ones, or you can go a step further and considerably improve the look of the room by adding modern elements.

So what’s the right choice? Although chrome still dominates the market, gold-coloured finishes and brass are back. There’s a resurgence of brass, but it’s a champagne, brushed brass that is elegant.

However, silver colours and modern shapes are still the most popular. When it comes to lever handles, the most requested are those with square back plate, polished chrome, satin nickel, stainless steel.

For a clean, uniform look, Gray suggests home owners have matching door hardware throughout the home.

8) Inviting (But No-Mess) Fireplace

A gas fireplace is one of the most desirable assets a home can have, both for resale value and for setting the tone and ambience. Besides the esthetics of a gas fireplace, it’s a lot less maintenance [than wood-burning] and can increase the value of your home. West Coast home owners are going for the contemporary, often linear, gas fireplaces.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s worth converting it to a gas fireplace. Fireplace insertsare a great option. According to Robert Koby, owner of Vancouver Gas Fireplaces, gas fireplace inserts increase a fireplace's efficiency.

“They are installed in existing masonry fireplaces or approved metal fireboxes,” adds Koby. “Most inserts are efficient heaters and are available with a number of features such as fans, thermostatic control, ceramic fiber logs for a realistic glowing effect, and a variety of trim options.”

7) Energy-Saving Windows

Is your home equipped with aluminum-framed, single -glazed windows? If so, it’s worth replacing them as they are costing you money every day in lost heat – and a savvy buyer will know this, which will also knock money off the resale value of your home. Even though this is not a cheap renovation, it should ultimately pay for itself.

Energy Star-rated windows can save the occupant lots of money and will add brightness to your home. The number one choice is vinyl windows because they are durable, energy efficient, strong and require little maintenance. There is also a wide selection of beautiful windows to choose from.

6) Modern and Clean Flooring                                                   

Another fairly costly but totally worthwhile renovation is putting down new flooring. Nobody wants to be treading on tatty old carpeting, whether that’s you as the owner or a future buyer. But selecting flooring that is durable, attractive, easy to maintain and healthy can be overwhelming because of the endless choices available today.

Most buyers do not like carpet, especially on the main floor. Replace aging carpeting with hardwood, laminate or tile. For the eco-conscious homeowner, go for bamboo and cork, which are really in vogue. That said, hardwood has the widest appeal, is one of the best flooring investments and works for both contemporary and traditional décor.

Adhere to the rule of threes when it comes to flooring options: never more than three different flooring materials in your home, otherwise it will look too busy and choppy. It’s all about flow. If you think of your flooring as the canvas for the rest of your décor, then imagine a seamless flow from room to room.. And don't neglect replacing the stair covering if it is old and passé.

5) Immaculate Bathrooms

Best guarantees that one of the first things a woman looks at in a home, besides the kitchen, is the bathrooms. Updating the fixtures, putting in a new vanity or mirror, new countertops and cabinetry are all simple changes that will make your bathrooms much more pleasant to use and, when it comes to reselling, will leave a good impression with buyers.

Get rid of those old bar light fixtures. In addition, if it's in your budget, replace dated flooring per the advice above.

4) Knock Down Walls for a Great Room

Rather than segmented rooms or a formal dining room, many West Coast home owners increasingly want one big living-dining room, or even a great room with the kitchen integrated too. It's all about flow, connectivity and spending time together as a family. If your rooms are separated, many potential buyers will be mentally adding up the cost of having to do that work themselves.

However, a word of caution: tearing down walls means dealing with plumbing, electrical and structural work, which can be very costly, so calculate your ROI carefully.

3) Heart-of-the-Home Kitchen

The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home. It may seem like a big expense, but an upgraded, attractive kitchen can increase the value of your home by 10 per cent, says Best. So if you're spending $40,000 on upgrading a kitchen in an $800,000 home, you could boost your asking price by $80,000 and come out $40,000 richer.

Today's home buyer wants a big, open, modern kitchen with high-quality stainless steel appliances, functional features such as soft-close cabinetry, pantry drawers, nice hardware and lots of windows to let natural light pour in. Adding a breakfast bay is also extremely popular right now and is one of the most desired additions to a kitchen.

2) An Exterior with Curb Appeal

Even if your home is fabulous on the inside, it’ll never gain its full potential in value if the exterior (especially the front) is shabby. Sarah Gallop, award-winning designer at Sarah Gallop Design Inc., says there are numerous ways to boost your curb appeal without breaking the bank or without taking days and days of work.

She suggests a fresh coat of exterior paint (it’s very trendy to do the trim in a contrasting colour, especially in character homes), lots of containers of plants and flowers, a well-tended front and back yard with trim hedges and plants, a tidy and smart garage and, if you’re up for spending a bit more, some cool exterior lighting on entrances and pathways to really impress people at night.

1) A Mortgage-Helper Suite

Here in Greater Vancouver, many single-family homes have a basement that is perfect for a mortgage helper suite – and there is no renovation that will make you more money than a finished, tenant-ready suite. Mortgage helpers are a very attractive option for homebuyers who want to step up into a nicer property that they couldn’t otherwise afford, or are looking to take a big bite out of their monthly mortgage payments, so the value of a home with such a suite will immediately be way higher than one without.

It’s a big job, but if you have an unfinished basement and really want to boost your home’s value, it’s worth getting the necessary permits and transforming the space into a practical, usable space. Make sure it’s as light and bright as possible and that it has a smart, clean bathroom and modern kitchen. Redesign the common entrances if necessary and make sure that the unit is blocked off sufficiently from the main residence for privacy. Turn it into a liveable space that you would be happy to live in or host guests, and it’ll be snapped up by tenants and future buyers.