According to a 2006 survey by Remodeling Magazine, the top 10 projects that add the most value to your home are:

  1. Siding replacement (103.6% return on investment)
  2. Minor bathroom remodel (102.2% return on investment)
  3. Minor kitchen renovation (98.5% return on investment)
  4. Two-story addition (94.6% return on investment)
  5. Attic bedroom addition (93.5% return on investment)
  6. Major bathroom remodel (93.2% return on investment)
  7. Major kitchen renovation (91% return on investment)
  8. Deck addition (90.3% return on investment)
  9. Basement renovation (90.1% return on investment)
  10. Window replacement (89.6% return on investment)

Further Information

  • Master Bathroom Renovation Project (article/video)

This week we’re looking at not just home improvement but home improvement projects that add the most value to your home.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement, with projects, tips and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: For most Americans, their house is their single largest investment. But it’s also their home. So it only makes sense you would want to improve your home by making it more attractive, making it more energy efficient, and just generally making it more appealing for the neighborhood. But the fact is, there’s a lot of projects that just really don’t return very much value financially to your home.

Well, this week we’ll look at the 10 projects that will add the most financial value to your home. Whether you do them yourself or hire someone to take care of them, it will give you a great comfort level knowing you’re spending the money the right way on your home, and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so stick with us.

We’re starting our look at the home improvement projects that return the most value for your home improvement dollar here on the outside of this home, looking at replacing windows. Now, that’s not a very exciting home improvement project, but one that can make such a difference in how your house looks as well as how it functions.

Now windows, more than any other element on the outside of your home, can define how it looks, and the overall style of your home. Also, as far as function, they provide ventilation, natural light, and will determine how energy efficient your home can be.

Now this home is about fifteen years old, and very well build aluminum windows, double pane insulated. They’re in great shape and far more efficient than a single pane window, and very maintenance free, just a little washing is all that’s necessary.

If you have windows in your home that are very drafty and, and non-insulated, then you’re going to have a lot of problems in the future selling that home, so it may be time for a change.

Because window replacement addresses both the static and energy efficiency issue, there are a lot of options. Replacing single pane wood or metal windows with double pane vinyl or aluminum windows is one of the most popular routes homeowners take for this upgrade.

This kind of replacement window can be ordered to custom fit the existing openings in a home and installed pretty quickly with great results. However, the project that return the most value, seem to be those where the owner uses insulated wood windows with a vinyl or aluminum plating on the outside.

Our first interior project on our list is basement renovation. One of the most popular renovations in many parts of the country because in most cases, you have a ceiling, you have walls, and you have a floor, so it can be very reasonable to convert this space to living area.

And you may use it just like these homeowners are using this place as a game room. Have a little wet bar, refrigerator and cooking area, plenty of room for seating, plenty of room for a pool table or maybe a ping-pong table and of course you have to have the television to kind of round out the entertainment in the game room.

Now this type of project can be very do-it-yourself friendly, because you’re not exposed to the weather so you can progress along on it, just a little at a time. But, there are some very important considerations in basement renovation.

The most obvious issue is moisture. Caulking and sealing the inside of the basement walls is a good start. But for real security, the outside of the wall has to be properly waterproofed in the area adjacent to it should be designed to drain water away from the foundation.

Light and ventilation are also important issues because most basement windows are small. Adding a pre-fabricated window well like this one from Bilco to a basement wall, allows you to install a much larger window. This not only adds more light and fresh air to the basement, but also creates another emergency egress route.

Creating a space around your home just to have a little fun has always been real popular like this basement game room. There’s another project that can add even more value to your home that’s on the outside and that’s building a deck. A perfect place to gather all of the family and friends to have a little fun.

The decks that seem to return the most value or the ones that look good and require the least work to maintain. So, composite deck material may be a good choice. The initial cost is higher for these decks, but the likely hood of getting that money back at sell time is much greater.

Most composite decks actually begin with a structural framework of wood, so instillation is not that different from traditional wood decks. For do-it-yourself work, that usually means driving more screws than nails.

If you already have a wood deck, giving it a face lift will certainly make your home more attractive for your family or perspective buyers. Regular cleaning and application of a waterproofing stain also makes decks last longer.

We’re back inside to look at the next project on our list and that’s major kitchen renovations which usually will include completely gutting the room you have for you kitchen, and possibly altering the walls to create even more space.

That’s exactly what we’ve done in this kitchen, starting a few months ago with a very out of date, kind of out of place kitchen, and first thing we did was remove every bit of the cabinetry, countertops, fixtures, and appliances, then when everything was put back in, we ended up with a very functional and very attractive kitchen.

Now, I would recommend that you do just what these homeowners have done, and that’s work with a qualified kitchen designer who will not only make sure the kitchen looks great, but will ensure that it’s very functional with your fixtures and your appliances being close together to maximize the efficiency you have in your kitchen.

Hey, we’re going to keep working our way up the list, right after this week’s Simple Solution.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Danny Lipford: Installing drywall means a lot of measuring and a lot of cutting.

Joe Truini: Professionals have become really adept at measuring and cutting a sheet without ever having to mark it, and here’s how. They’ll pull out the tape to the distance they need to cut, and hold their finger on the very top of the sheet and the knife on the end of the tape. Then as they guide their finger along, the blade automatically cuts the proper distance.

Danny Lipford: That’s what’s so great about drywall is that you really don’t have to cut all the way through the sheet. All you have to do is score the paper on one side, snap it, then cut the paper on the back is all that’s really necessary.

Now Joe, what you’ve shown us there takes a little bit of practice to keep from cutting yourself or cutting too much of the sheet. What’s an easier method?

Joe Truini: Well, for a novice do-it-yourselfer you can use a combination square like this. Just adjust the blade to the depth of your cut, hold it on the top of the sheet, and use a pencil on the bottom of the rule. And just guide it along, and you can make a mark exactly where you need it.

Now, once you get really good at that, you can go back to using your knife, and again you don’t have to mark it, you can hold your knife there and make the cut. Now the advantage of using a tape of course that you can measure and mark a much longer cut where a combination square like this is only good up to about 11 inches.

Danny Lipford: And of course the same type of tape can be used horizontally or vertically.

Joe Truini: Absolutely.

Danny Lipford: We are a third of the way up our list of home improvement projects that can return the most value to your home. Right now, major bathroom remodel, which usually involves completely gutting the bathroom, all fixtures being removed, and then an upgrade on the overall look of the bathroom, like we’ve done here.

As well as many times people are looking for a little extra space in order to make the bathroom the size they really want. We were able to get that extra space here, by encroaching into an existing area and claiming an area of four foot by 12 foot to expand this shower and the closet right beside it. Of course, a successful major bath remodel involves a lot more than just selecting pretty fixtures.

The desire to get rid of the old dated fixtures usually brings on these projects, but creating a layout to maximize the available space is where the challenge lies. In doing that, some relocation or additional plumbing lines is inevitable, which isn’t cheap. So planning to minimize it will help you to control the budget.

Hiring a professional designer or architect for a major bath remodel is often a good investment because they understand these issues and can create a design that addresses them as well as your desire for a larger, more modern bathroom.

The next project on our list is converting existing attic space into a bedroom. Now it depends on how a house is constructed as to whether or not there’s available space for this type of project, but this house is perfect.

There are a number of things to consider when you converting an attic space in to living area. First, is good access, so here we’ll have to cut out a few rafters and put a few headers in order to provide adequate headroom through here.

Second consideration is that very thing, headroom. In most attic rooms, you’re using your roof rafters as your ceiling joist to attach your ceiling material below it, and of course insulation in between.

And, it’s always nice to have natural light in any room, and in an attic space like this, you have a couple of alternatives. One, you can go with a sky light or a rough window, but in this case, the gable is the outside wall, so we could put a few windows in there and take of that.

But the most important consideration is to make sure your floor system is strong enough. If the existing ceiling joist for the room below are not adequate to support a live load, it may be necessary to supplement them by adding new floor joist on top, running perpendicular. You’ll also want to look for any plumping and vent pipes that will need to be rerouted to accommodate the new floor as well as air conditioning and heating ducts that have to be moved.

For a little extra room, you might consider a dormer to the space, which will also add more natural light to the area, making it seem even larger. When it’s done right, an attic room can be a great addition to your home.

Another project that can add value to your home as well as square footage is a two-story addition. Now most of the time, a two story addition can be the most economical way to add square footage to your home, because you have only one foundation and one roof structure for both levels of living area.

But the thing you need to consider any time you’re adding on to your home is to make sure you’re not overbuilding for the neighborhood. Now this particular neighborhood has held its value very well, and a lot of sizable houses, so adding on to this house was a no brainer. And, the way we’re doing it is to off set it a couple of feet here, which adds a nice architectural line. And we’ll carry the same wood siding right on around so that it blends in, and that’s essential to any addition that you’re building in.

A couple of other things to consider. First of all, you need to make sure the rough structure on your two story addition, ties in well and you need to make sure that you have very graceful access from down stairs to upstairs so the existing stairway in this house worked out perfectly.

Now we’re working our way through our smart home improvement list and we have more for you in just a few minutes, but first, check this out.

Announcer: Let’s join Danny at the home center to check out this week’s Best New Product. Brought to you by The Home Depot.

Danny Lipford: I remember years ago when I was just a small kid, I found a little hairpin on the floor, and when mom and dead were not looking, I plugged it right in to an electrical outlet. Well, that didn’t turn out too well, and over the years, a number of manufacturers have introduced different ways to prevent that type of accident.

Now one of the most common is little outlet covers like this that just slip right in and this will prevent anybody from sticking anything in there. Now these are widely available, very inexpensive, but very aggravating when you actually have to pull them back off in order to use the outlet.

Well, Leviton has introduced a tamper resistant outlet that really looks just like any other outlet, but what makes it unique is a little shutter design that’s inside the outlet itself that will prevent anything small from going into the outlet itself. But, when it’s time to use it for a fixture or an extension cord in this case, it goes right in without any resistance at all.

Now this is a great idea, and really only costs a couple dollars more than a standard outlet, so the next time you’re doing a little renovation, or maybe building a new house that will require the use of electrical outlets, you might consider this for a little peace of mind.

This week we’re looking at a list of home improvement projects that will add the most value to your home. Now earlier we looked at a major kitchen renovation that included removing all cabinets and countertops and replacing them. Now we’re looking at another kitchen project that’s even higher on the list, a minor kitchen renovation or a kitchen facelift as it’s commonly called.

Now you can see the cabinets behind me here are in great shape. Nothing needs to be changed here, but it’s actually not a kitchen, it’s a kitchen showroom that has a variety of different displays that can serve kind of as an idea center to give you different suggestions of things that you may want to change on your own kitchen.

You can see how the doors look, different types of hardware, countertops, and countertop treatment, more doors to choose from, as well as different hardware there’s a lot that can be changed in your kitchen by simply changing out the hardware. But, this should be able to give you a number of ideas that you can use on your kitchen face lift.

Usually, the goal of these projects is to update the look of the room, and the best way to do that, is to address the most visible surfaces. While you most likely won’t replace all of the cabinets, you might replace the doors to give the existing cabinets more character, or maybe a simply paint job is in order.

Replacing the countertops in the kitchen is a great way to get a new look and it can be done very inexpensively with a plastic laminate material, or if the budget allows, use something more dramatic like granite to update the space.

Next on our list, a minor bathroom renovation, which can include changing out some of the same elements that were changed during our kitchen face lift Now a kitchen and bath showroom again is a perfect place to get some great ideas, but the key thing in a bathroom renovation is careful selection of all your plumbing fixtures, because that will change the look of a bathroom more than anything else.

In recent years, there have been tons of new finishes introduced for bath fixtures and valves, so you’re not tied to plain old polish chrome anymore. There’s also variety in the style and shape of these items, so almost any look is possible. Before you decide on a whole new set of fixtures, be sure to look in to the cost of installation.

Changing a shower valve for example is far more involved than just replacing a lavatory faucet, so talk to your plumber first. Also, don’t underestimate the affect of simple changes like adding bead board or maybe a new mirror to the space. They can make a big difference.

Now we’ve made it to the project that will return the most of your home improvement dollar, and that’s replacing wood or hardboard siding that can be very maintenance intensive, with something that’s very low maintenance, vinyl siding. For years, vinyl or aluminum siding were really your only options for a low maintenance siding. Now, there’s a lot more to choose from.

Solid core vinyl siding is essentially vinyl siding with a foam insulation backing which adds longevity. This feature prevents the warping sometimes associated with vinyl siding, and it allows the panels to be manufactured in a greater variety of profiles which look more realistic.

Another option that really mimic wood is fiber cement siding. This material has become incredibly popular because it can be installed just like wood siding, but it won’t even rot or be eaten by termites.

There you have it, 10 projects that are guaranteed to add value to your home. Of course the question now is how to you get these projects done? Well, some of them are very simple, so you may chose to do all of it yourself, or you may chose to involve the services of a professional contractor to do all or some of the work, but that can be done. You can do the things that you like to do, and have contractors take care of the rest.

Now another option is to check with the installed sales department at the local home center. That way, you can go in and pick out the materials that you want to use, and they can do all of the installation, or on a minor kitchen remodeling, you may choose to let them do the countertop, and you take care of the ceramic tile.

No matter what you do, and how you choose to get these projects done, it’s very gratifying once everything is complete.

Announcer: Let’s head outside for Around the Yard with lawn and garden expert, Trisha Craven Worley. Brought to you by TimberTech Composite Decking.

Danny Lipford: So you pot, you plan, and you prune, what you got going here?

Tricia Craven Worley: A little plan.

Danny Lipford: A little plan, okay. Well I see you’re probably trying to help some homeowners out here with some ideas for their backyard.

Tricia Craven Worley: They already showed me this plan that they had already drawn, showing the deck and plotting out the trees that they already have on the property. But they asked, they asked me to give them a few more ideas.

Danny Lipford: I loved playing with tracing paper back in kindergarten. That was fun.

Tricia Craven Worley: It’s fun for adults, too, Danny. Well what I’ve done is taken color pencils, as you can see, and started showing where different things might work well. For example, they already have ground cover here, which I think is going to work, and I’ve color coded. A blue for the fountain, green for the ground cover, red for areas of flowers and beds, and violet for the vines.

Danny Lipford: I see.

Tricia Craven Worley: Now this is very, very generic.

Danny Lipford: But it’s probably a great starting point if you’re talking with say a landscape architect to give them an idea of kind of what you’re looking at.

Tricia Craven Worley: Oh, it’s always a good idea to give a professional what you think you want. Now, if for some reason, you can’t budget it, it’s something that the homeowner can do themselves.

Danny Lipford: I see.

Tricia Craven Worley: Now this isn’t the stopping point. One reason why it’s nice to use tracing paper, is then you can layover, again, as you can see, I decided to move the fountain to this area and create more of the hardscape going over there. Once you’ve worked to the point where you think you’re finished, then just take it to your favorite photocopy place and have it copied in color or black and white and you’re ready to go.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford is brought to you by The Home Depot, you can do it, we can help. Ryobi power tools. Professional features, affordable prices. TimberTech Composite Decking. Less work, more life. Simonton Windows, we make lasting impressions. And, Broan. The leader in residential ventilation.

Danny Lipford: Well we’ve looked at some great projects. Some small, some large, some a little more complex than others, but all the projects will add value to your home and make your home more attractive. Let’s take a look at the 10 projects we’ve covered.

We started our list with the window replacement, a project that will increase the energy efficiency of your home. Next, basement renovation, gaining that valuable space you may need. Next, building a deck; a perfect gathering place for family and friends. Major kitchen remodeling. Nothing sells a house like a nice, modern kitchen. Bathroom remodel. A small area, but one of the most important.

Attic bedroom, more living space, without building on. Two story additions. Twice the space under the same roof. Minor kitchen renovations, very manageable, short turn around. Minor bathroom renovation. A few new fixtures and surfaces and it looks brand new. And, finally, siding replacement, making your home more maintenance free.

Our list of projects came from a survey by Remodeling Magazine. And if you want to know more about that survey or anything to do with home improvement, check out our website at Hey, thanks for being with us. We’ll see you next week.

Like most growing families, these folks needed a little more space. Next week, we’ll show you how we created it.

Announcer: If you liked to purchase a video tape or DVD copy of this week’s show, visit our website at or call us at 1-800-946-4420.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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