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The Most Cost-Effective Home Renovations for 2014 May Surprise You

By Amanda Alix – Mar 30, 2014 at 10:31AM

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Years ago, kitchen and bath remodels added the most value, but things have changed

Photo credit: Wonderlane/Flickr.

If you're a homeowner considering doing some remodeling, you'll want to know whether your planned improvements will add value to your home. Whether or not you plan to sell in the near future, taking on a project that you feel confident will pay you back in more than just comfort and enjoyment may influence the timing or scope of the work.

The home renovation market is beginning to pick up again, and is expected to increase in the first half of the year by 10% over that of the first two quarters of 2013, according to a report from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies .

Providing additional perspective on remodeling activity, the annual Cost Versus Value Report from Remodeling provides some pertinent facts about the national home renovation market, including which changes are gaining in popularity – and adding value.

Here are some of the top home transformations that are the most likely to pay you back in 2014, and give you the best return on investment.

Replace your front door

Photo credit: Hakan Svensson.

It sounds too good to be true, but it is: Replacing your front door – preferably with one made with 20-gauge steel – will pay for itself by returning 96.6% of the cost back into the value of the house. This particular alteration returned only 85.6% of the project cost last year, and, at an average cost of just $1,162, shows how much little things really do matter.

Add a deck
This one is interesting, because the composition of the deck makes a huge difference. Building a wood deck will return 87.4% of its value, while decks constructed of a composite decking material will return only 74.3%, despite the latter's more maintenance-free profile. There's something to be said for tradition, it seems.

Create an attic bedroom
This home modification now returns 84.3% of the money spent, up from 72.9% last year. Adding a bedroom in this manner not only makes use of available space, but may be gaining in popularity as more family members, particularly young adults , tend to live under the same roof these days.

Invest in a backup generator

As the report notes, increasingly damaging storms are making backup power generators a very popular household item. This home improvement project gained the most in the bang-for-your-buck category, currently returning 67.5% of value – up 28% from 2013.

Some remodeling jobs are pricier than others, of course, and costs may vary quite a bit from one area to another – factors that could affect the return on investment on your particular project. Doing your research ahead of any home renovations, no matter how minor, is generally the best way to get the most value out of your remodeling dollar.

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