Home Improvement Projects

Home Improvement ROI

Driving through Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Trousdale Estates, the Bird Streets, and Hollywood Hills, the constant construction traffic is simultaneously encouraging and frustrating. The traffic caused by the construction trucks and crews is compounded by narrow, windy roads. However, seeing so many construction projects underway is wonderful when considering the investment people are making into their homes and their neighborhoods in so many Los Angeles neighborhoods. It's hard to see the changes around town and not be inspired to do some work on your own home. One of the most important questions to ask before undertaking a project on your own home is "What are the best home improvement projects for return on investment?"

While thinking of your return on investment (ROI) is especially important if you are thinking about putting your home on the market for sale in the near future, it doesn't necessarily have to be the most important factor when working on your home. Your home is a place you should love to be in and should be the way you want it to fit your lifestyle (within reason and H. H. Holmes' Murder Castle is a good exception to the rule). A great resource is the annual Cost vs Value Report. The Cost vs. Value Report compares the average cost for 36 most popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 102 U.S. markets.

In the report, the following projects received the highest ROI in the city of Los Angeles.

Mid Range Priced Projects

  • Entry Door Replacement (steel) - 149.7%
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel - 117%
  • Window Replacement (vinyl) - 114.7%
  • Deck Addition (wood) - 113.9%
  • Garage Door Replacement - 111.9%
  • Basement Remodel - 106.3%
  • Bathroom Remodel - 99.6%
  • Attic Bedroom Remodel - 96%


Here are two upscale versions of the above projects:

  • Window Replacement (vinyl) - 108.4%
  • Garage Door Replacement - 103.1%

To put this into perspective here is a description of mid-range verses upscale for the same project:

Garage Door Replacement Mid-Range:
Removing/discarding existing 16x7 foot garage door and tracks. New door is 4 section, uninsulated, single layer, embossed steel on galvanized steel tracks but reusing original motor. Using only two coats of baked-on paint, galvanized steel hinges, and nylon rolls. With a 10 year limited warranty. Cost of the work would be $1,859, resale value would be $2,079.

Garage Door Replacement Upscale:
Still removing/discarding same size door and tracks and reusing the original motor. However the 4 section door is now on heavy -duty galvanized steel tracks. The door is now high tensile strength steel with two coats of factory-applied paint and foam insulated to minimum R-12 with thermal seals between pinch-resistant panels. Windows are now in the top panel with 1/2 in insulated glass. This comes with a lifetime warranty. Cost of the work would be $3215, resale value would be $3316.

Now compare the same projects ROI with the nationwide average comparison.

Midrange Home Improvement Projects

Mid Range Projects:

  • Entry Door Replacement (steel) - 101.8%
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel - 79.3%
  • Window Replacement (vinyl) - 72.9%
  • Deck Addition (wood) - 80.5%
  • Garage Door Replacement - 88.4%
  • Basement Remodel - 72.8%
  • Bathroom Remodel - 70.0%
  • Attic Bedroom Remodel - 77.2%

Upscale Home Improvement Projects

Upscale Projects:

  • Window Replacement (vinyl) - 74.9%
  • Garage Door Replacement - 82.5%

Common projects in Los Angeles have significantly better resale value than nationwide average for the same projects. Maybe because the weather in Los Angeles is much more temperate compared with the rest of the nation or because the combination of low inventory and low mortgage rates, the real estate market in Los Angeles is still continuing to climb. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of projects to do to upgrade your home and get a great ROI. Be sure to keep in mind the purpose of the project. If the project is to enhance the owner's comfort for the foreseeable future, have fun making it personal. However if the project is to upgrade and then eventually sell, keep a neutral palette in mind. Projects that are done in a style that are too taste specific could limit the buyer pool.

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