34 Modern Upgrades That Add Value to a Home

Caroline Gilbert
Written by Caroline Gilbert
Updated October 5, 2021
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These renovations, repairs, and upgrades can add serious value to your home

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Owning a home is not only a huge life milestone but also a major financial investment. Smart homeowners will identify cost-effective upgrades they can make before selling to provide them with the highest return on investment. 

So, what adds value to a home? Thankfully, there are many proven home renovations you can tackle, large and small, to increase resale value. Below, we’ve put together a list of 34 upgrades to help you determine which ones to take on.

Curb Appeal Upgrades

First impressions are a big deal, so many of the most valuable upgrades involve sprucing up your home’s exterior look.

1. Fresh Exterior Paint

House Painter Painting the Trim And Shutters of Home
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Buyers judge houses by their exteriors just as much as their interiors, so if your home has cracked or faded paint, you may want to consider hiring a house painting company to give your exterior a makeover. But what color should you choose? 

The best exterior paint colors will take the style of your house and neighborhood colors into account. While you can’t go wrong with neutrals, darker and moodier colors have also become quite popular in the past two years, according to Consumer Reports.

2. New Garage Door

man opens pvc garage door manually
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Since the garage door is both a practical and highly noticeable feature of your house, it may make a bigger difference than you think when it comes to increasing home value. 

Remodeling’s 2021 Cost vs. Value Report indicates that a garage door replacement can recoup a whopping 93.8% of the cost at resale. Keep in mind that the cost of installing a new garage door will vary depending on size, style, and material. 

3. Upgraded Steel Front Door

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By replacing your front door with a high-quality steel one, you can recover 65% of the cost at resale, according to Remodeling. Why? Steel doors are the sturdiest and most durable doors out there, providing increased security, lower maintenance, and higher energy efficiency. You can also paint them in any preferred front door color to suit your tastes. 

4. Updated Siding

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The cost of updating your house siding can range greatly depending on your house size, style, and material. However, this extensive project can recover 69.4% of the cost of fiber-cement siding and 68.3% for vinyl siding. 

Rot, cracks, moisture, mold, and drafts can all be signs you need to hire a professional to update your siding.

5. Stone Veneer

luxury home exterior with walkway, covered porch, and stately gables and columns
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Of all the siding updates you can take on, adding manufactured stone veneer to the front of your house is undoubtedly one of the most costly. However, if you take on this expensive project, the return on investment will likely be worth it. Remodeling reports that a stone veneer siding addition can recover 92.1% of the cost at resale.

  • Average cost of stone veneer siding: $105,000

6. Wood Deck Addition

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Adding a wood deck provides a valuable outdoor space to your home, perfect for summer barbeques and leisurely relaxation in nature. While the cost of building a deck includes multiple factors such as size, material, and labor costs, this valuable renovation can recover 65.8% at resale.

7. Enhanced Landscaping

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Well-trimmed shrubs, a stylishly designed lawn, planted trees, and hardscaping features such as a walkway and terrace are all landscaping elements that add value to a home. A local landscaping professional can help you create the look that’s perfect for your property.

8. Outdoor Lighting

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Installing outdoor lighting—from lamp posts and motion sensor lights to floodlights—greatly enhances a home’s landscaping and lights up the yard for all to appreciate. Because it adds ambiance and can help deter potential intruders, high-quality landscape lighting is an attractive feature.

  • Average cost to install outdoor lighting: $2,000–$6,000

9. Fire Pit Installation

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A backyard fire pit is the perfect place to hold quality gatherings. Fall celebrations or summer nights are made all the more atmospheric with a seating arrangement around a cozy fire. Both a well-made DIY fire pit and a professionally installed one can help increase home value. 

According to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Spring 2021 Report, 76.8% of agents cited a fire pit as a top outdoor entertainment feature among homebuyers.

  • Average cost to build a fire pit: $700, range of $300–$1,400

10. Patio Addition

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Like a deck, a patio provides a stylish and comfortable space to enjoy the outdoors together. A local patio paving company can help you create a dream gathering space that not only brings joy, but also boosts the value of your home.

11. Window Replacement

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If your window frame shows signs of rot or other damage, it’s a good indication you need to replace the window. Plus, window replacements are one of the most valuable renovations you can undertake, recovering 68.6% at resale for vinyl windows and 67.4% for wood.

Modern Interior Upgrades

Now, onto the interior. These renovation ideas add value to your indoor living spaces and can refresh an older home with modern appeal.

12. New Light Fixtures

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It’s important that your home is illuminated with a variety of practical and stylish lighting sources, so newly added light fixtures are another appealing feature for buyers. 

If your fixtures need an update, you can hire a lighting professional to help shed light on your space. The cost of new lighting will depend on the type, from pendant lights to recessed lighting to chandeliers.

13. Updated Appliances

Interior of an American residential kitchen with marble countertops and modern appliances
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Updated appliances are another attractive feature that can help you sell your home. An updated refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and microwave can go a long way in upping the value of your house and making it a more modern, tech-savvy, and comfortable place to live.

14. Minor Kitchen Remodel

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A kitchen remodel might sound like a huge undertaking, but actually, a minor kitchen remodel is one of the most valuable renovations you can take on. Remodeling reports that a minor kitchen remodel can return 72.2% of the cost at resale. 

While large projects that start totally from scratch can cost upwards of $30,000,  a smaller remodel that sticks to adding new appliances and countertops is cost-conscious and can provide the best ROI.

15. Bathroom Remodel

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Similar to a kitchen renovation, a bathroom remodel can be a pretty big project to take on. However, a minor bathroom remodel can recover 60.1% at resale. Hiring a home remodeling contractor to redo your bathroom can be a great opportunity to increase home appeal by updating the sink and faucets, making needed repairs, and revamping the flooring. 

16. Hardwood Floors

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Repairing hardwood flooring is another valuable renovation. It’s also one of the most common repairs to make before selling your home. According to a report by Zillow, 26% of sellers replace or repair their flooring before listing their house. 

The cost of hardwood flooring will vary with the size of the space, but it’s an appealing option because it’s long-lasting and easy to clean.

17. Light and Neutral Wall Paint

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If your plans to sell are close on the horizon, the cost of repainting your interior is another expense that can really pay off. Light and neutral wall paint is a safe and universal option. 

Zillow reports that 36% of homeowners repaint their interior before selling, and that light taupe living rooms can sell for a $2,790 premium. An interior painting company can help you get your painting job done quickly and professionally. 

18. Accessible Laundry Room

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Convenience is key with this renovation project. Having a dedicated and easily accessible laundry space on the first floor of your house will make your home more desirable to buyers. In a recent Angi survey, 34% of Americans stated they can’t live without a laundry room. 

19. Open Floor Plan

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Open floor plans make rooms feel brighter and more spacious. Especially if you have a smaller home, knocking out a wall to open up the space can be worth it. In fact, Realtor.com reports that homes with open floor plans appreciate by 7.4% each year.

20. Finished Basement

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A finished basement adds value and beauty to your living space. It’s also a big opportunity to create a unique home feature, such as an additional guest bedroom, gym, or home theater. Due to different state licensing requirements, it’s best to enlist the help of a local professional basement remodeling contractor.

21. Remove Popcorn Ceiling

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While they were once all the rage, popcorn ceilings are quite outdated today. You can hire a drywall contractor to take care of the removal job since it’s often messy and time-consuming. 

However, popcorn ceilings applied before 1980 could contain harmful asbestos. In that case, it’s extremely important to get your ceiling tested and have the popcorn ceiling dealt with by an asbestos removal company.

22. Increase Square Footage

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Increased square footage through bed and bath additions have a powerful effect on your home’s resale value. Remodeling reports that a mid-range bathroom addition can recover 53.1% of the cost at resale. Similarly, a primary suite addition can recoup 54.7%.

  • Average cost to add a room: $8,500–$15,000 for bathroom addition, $8,600–$21,600 or more for bedroom addition

23. Replace Old Carpet

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Carpet can be a pain to constantly clean and keep in spotless condition, so replacing it with other flooring options is a popular decision.  

The National Association of Realtors reports that 21% of realtors would advise their clients to install hardwood flooring before selling their home, and that the value of installation is recovered over 100%.

  • Average cost of carpet removal: $140–$220

24. Clean and Declutter

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A clean and well-organized house is easier to both maintain and sell. With that in mind, clutter does happen, so it can be worth it to invest in a nearby professional organizer or house cleaners. You can also organize and plan with house cleaning checklists to make large tasks more manageable. 

Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Modern, energy-efficient upgrades can help save on monthly expenses and benefit the environment, so it’s no surprise that these features are increasingly in high demand.

25. Low-Flow Toilets

Modern compact bathroom with natural light and walk-in shower
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The EPA says toilets are the biggest culprit when it comes to water use in the home. Low-flow toilets, on the other hand, can increase home value by saving significantly on water. 

According to the EPA, replacing old and inefficient toilets with newer ones that include the WaterSense label can save 13,000 gallons of water per year and over $140 per year on water costs.

26. Energy-Efficient Appliances

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Appliances with the Energy Star logo are vouched for by the EPA. These energy-efficient appliances can significantly reduce the energy usage in your home and even lower your utility bills. 

If you’re looking to sell, upgrading your appliances to more eco-friendly ones could definitely be worth it. A survey by the NAHB reports that 86% of consumers cited Energy Star-rated appliances as the most desirable green home features. 

  • Average cost: varies by appliance

27. Energy-Efficient Windows

Young Repairman In Overalls Installing New Window
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Energy-efficient windows increase insulation and keep air from escaping your home. This reduces your energy usage and cuts down on energy bills, all while keeping your home temperature more comfortable to live in. 

Energy-efficient windows can be more expensive, but they deflect heat to keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter. They save 7% to 15% on energy costs, making them a highly desirable feature.

28. Attic Insulation

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Similar to energy-efficient windows, attic insulation prevents energy waste through the attic and keeps your home temperature well-regulated. Common insulation types include blown-in, spray foam, batting, and combinations of those types. 

Especially important in the hot and cold months of the year, attic insulation saves homeowners on future energy bills and is often a must for buyers.

Smart Technology Upgrades

A Zillow report found that 42% of Generation Z buyers and 37% of millennials rate smart home technology as highly important in their home search. Therefore, it’s important to look at these modern and convenient upgrades when thinking about selling your home. 

29. Smart Thermostat

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Smart thermostats are particularly popular for their ability to adjust heating and cooling according to a house’s patterns, reducing energy consumption when it’s not needed. 

Many can also be controlled via smartphone, offering an added layer of convenience. The energy-saving benefits and ease of use make smart thermostats a valuable feature of a home.

30. Safety-Enhancing Technology

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Smart surveillance cameras, alarms, locks, and lights can let you monitor and control your home both inside and out. Additionally, smart smoke detectors can send notifications right to your phone. 

All these smart home upgrades are appealing features that can integrate with each other and your devices to make life safer and more convenient.

  • Average cost to install an alarm system: $280–$1,090

Low-Maintenance Upgrades

These upgrades could present high upfront costs, but will eliminate further maintenance worries in the long run. 

31. New Roof

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If your roof is old, cracked, or damaged, a total overhaul can turn it from an eyesore into an attractive feature you’ll be proud to show off. Remodeling reports that the return on investment can be up to 60.7% for asphalt shingles and 56.1% for a metal roof.

32. HVAC Replacement

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A house with a faulty or aging HVAC system can be a hard sell, so this is definitely a repair to look into if you’re looking to put your house on the market. 

The cost of a new heating and cooling system will vary depending on the size of the unit, the components you need, and your brand of choice. A local HVAC contractor can help you determine the scope of the project. 

33. Irrigation System

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No one wants to water their yard by hand if they don’t have to. That’s why a sprinkler system is a worthwhile investment that will be beneficial to both you and any future owners of your property. Just remember that the cost of installing one depends on the size of your yard.

34. Trim Trees

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Trees growing dangerously close to the house and damaged or dying trees on your property can be red flags for homebuyers. Ensure that future maintenance and home damage is kept to a minimum by hiring a tree service to prune or remove unsightly trunks and branches on your property. 

Whether you’re thinking of selling your home in the near future or many years down the road, these renovation ideas can help you decide how best to add value to your home.

81% of smart home device owners say they'd be more willing to buy a home with pre-installed smart tech.
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