Get the Best Return on Your Investment in Home Improvements

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Often the best return on your home investment is the joy you get from waking up in a home you love more and more with each project you complete.

And the best part? You can sometimes get your money back when the love affair is over.

Which home improvements will pay off when you sell depends on how savvy you are when you remodel.

Here are some of the more popular home improvements, and whether you should do them for love or money (and in some cases, how to have both).

Kitchen Remodel

Will remodeling your kitchen increase your home value? Sure. Will you love it? Homeowners almost always do, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of REALTORS®.

But you’ll love it even more if you can bump up that ROI.

How to add more money to your love: A little sweat equity can save you thousands if you’re willing to tackle some tasks such as demolition and painting.

Keeping the same electrical and plumbing footprint will save even more, as will refacing your cabinets.

Basement Conversion

Converting a basement to a living area is the very definition of a project done for love. It instantly makes your home more functional by giving you more living space — without increasing your home’s footprint. Just so you know, though, it can be a big-ticket remodel.

How to add more money to your love: Think about how you’ll use the space. Will you be working, throwing parties, or watching Netflix? If you can make an open floor plan work, you’ll save the cost of framing, drywalling, and painting more rooms.

Skip the cost of a drop ceiling, and give your basement the flavor of a downtown loft by painting the ceiling, ducts, and plumbing.

Speaking of plumbing, if you can run upstairs for the loo and your wet bar doesn’t actually need to be wet, skip the extra pipes and save a bundle.

New Wood Floor

One of the best returns on a home investment is hardwood floors. They’re beautiful, durable, and timeless — and one of the smartest things you can do, too.

Many homeowners now want (and even expect) hardwood floors. And when done in keeping with the home’s layout and neighborhood, they can add 2.5% to the sale price.

How to get even more ROI: If you already have wood floors and they’re still in good shape, why not refinish them and save a little money? It costs around $3,000 and recovers 100% of its value at resale.

In-Ground Swimming Pool

Even if you adore the thought of diving into the clear, blue water of your very own backyard swimming pool, when you hear about the 43% ROI (not to mention the high project cost and the years of maintenance), the idea of installing one may feel like a wet blanket. And let’s face it: There’s no DIYing an in-ground pool to trim costs.

A better bet for your ROI: If you’re more of a sit-by-the-water type, consider a waterfall or fountain. It’ll bring you water-side happiness while also upping curb appeal. Or DIY a small (removable) soaking pool and mini-deck — you’ll get all the watery goodness without the high cost and maintenance.

But! If you just can’t stop dreaming about the real deal, don’t let the low return on investment deter you. Being happy while you’re in your home is just as important, maybe more so.