Money & Career

Which renovations really pay off?

Since we moved into our house, we’ve survived three rounds of renovations. Some have been worthwhile; others, not so much.

Since we moved into our house, we’ve survived three rounds of renovations. Some have been worthwhile; others, not so much. By far, our best investment was our basement — we converted it from a dingy old apartment into a space we could use as a family/play room and a home office. Since my husband and I work from home and our kids are still small, it’s probably the area of the house we use most.

Turns out we made a good investment, according to this article in MoneySense last week. It lists the  renovations that will give you the most bang for your buck if and when you sell your house — for example, we can expect to recoup 70 percent of the costs of our basement reno when we our house sells. Other high-return renos include a new steel door (102-percent return), a second floor addition, and new vinyl siding (72 percent).

Which renos aren’t so hot? Sunrooms, a back-up power generator (okay, who does this?), adding a bathroom, and a new roof. That one surprised me — because we’re planning to sell our house in the next few years, replacing our old roof was at the top of my list.

Of course, your reno shouldn’t just be based on resale value — home offices are on the bottom of the list in terms of recouping costs, but since I spend a good eight hours a day in mine, it’s a worthy investment for us.

I think the key is managing costs and expectations — sure, Italian marble is wonderful, but if it’s going to stretch you beyond your budget, then opt for something cheaper (or skip the renovation altogether).

A good rule of thumb: it you can afford it and it makes you happy, then go for it.