Expect to Lose Serious Money on These 5 Home Renovations

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A home remodeling project with fresh paint and open space for touching up walls
Pascal Huot / Shutterstock.com

Want to boost your home’s value? Grab your remodeling tool kit and head outside.

For three decades, exterior replacement projects have provided a bigger return on investment than interior discretionary remodels — and that trend remains in place, according to Zonda Media’s 37th annual Cost vs. Value report.

However, if you insist on remodeling your interior, at least have the good sense to avoid the following projects if boosting home value is your primary aim.

Zonda says the following remodels offer the worst return on investment of all home remodeling projects.

Major kitchen remodel (upscale)

Women in a kitchen
SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com

National average cost for this renovation: $158,530

Average cost recouped for this renovation: 38.0%

If you hope to get a good bang for your buck on interior renovations, your best bet is either a minor kitchen remodel or a midrange bath remodel. The former offers a 96% return on investment and the latter can get you a 74% return.

Zonda says “discretionary projects like an upscale bathroom or kitchen remodel will feel valuable to those who make the selections but won’t provide nearly as much return to sellers.”

Primary suite addition (midrange)

Bedroom
Breadmaker / Shutterstock.com

National average cost for this renovation: $164,649

Average cost recouped for this renovation: 35.5%

How did Zonda arrive at its findings? The publisher surveyed more than 6,000 real estate agents, providing them with project specifications, cost estimates and photos and illustrations of each project.

Zonda then asked the agents a simple question: “What value does this project add to the sale price of a home?”

Bathroom addition (midrange)

Bathroom
Artazum / Shutterstock.com

National average cost for this renovation: $58,586

Average cost recouped for this renovation: 34.7%

Exterior projects offer a better return on investment than interior projects this year. Zonda says this is nothing new, but a continuing trend:

“This year’s report upholds a multiyear trend establishing exterior home improvement projects as more valuable than larger interior projects. This year’s top three projects, which have been consistently ranked among the highest valued projects in years past, have remarkably high return values – with garage door replacement at 194% ROI, steel door replacement at 188%, and manufactured stone veneer at 153%.”

Bathroom addition (upscale)

Spacious bathroom
Artazum / Shutterstock.com

National average cost for this renovation: $107,477

Average cost recouped for this renovation: 32.6%

In a summary of the 2024 findings, Todd Tomalak — leader of Zonda’s building product advisory practice — notes that the survey this year reflects unusual changes in the housing market:

“This shift in CVV between categories is fascinating. It mirrors a broader underlying disconnect we are seeing between remodel segments in 2024, driven in part by differences in homebuyer activity.”

In particular, high mortgage rates and high home equity are leading some projects to more than double in value compared to last year. Garage door replacements, steel door replacements and manufactured stone veneer are all examples of high-return projects.

Primary suite addition (upscale)

Bedroom
sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

National average cost for this renovation: $339,513

Average cost recouped for this renovation: 23.9%

In the latest Cost vs. Value report, return on investment plunged for some projects even as others doubled — reflecting the turbulent nature of the housing market and living costs today.

“Last year’s number one project, the HVAC conversion, held 104% ROI, but is now ranked number 12, with just 66% ROI, likely driven by consumers now observing large declines in natural gas heating costs versus prior years,” Zonda says.

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