There are a variety of reasons to do a house project, and it can often feel like there are an endless list of projects to be done around the house.   Are you thinking about moving or are you thinking about annual maintenance and preserving your home?  Maybe you simply want to add value to your home?  Perhaps you are just wanting to maximize use and enjoyment for you and your family? 

When is it a good idea to invest money in your home? There is no hard and fast rule and the answers to these questions vary significantly.  Some projects announce themselves as urgent such as when you aren’t getting any hot water anymore and you want to take a shower, or when it’s the middle of July and the air conditioning fails and family is coming over to celebrate Independence Day.  Other projects such as updating the kitchen or repainting the inside/outside of your home are more nuanced and may be more difficult to prioritize. 

In addition to prioritizing the non-urgent items, how do you balance aesthetics and enjoyment vs. return on investment?  My parents just redid their entire backyard and it looks beautiful and makes for incredible social distanced BBQs and family gatherings and really appeals to the growing number of grandchildren.  Their new backyard added significant value to my parent’s home, but that is not what motivated them to do it.  Their focus was and is on creating a place to gather and make memories with many kids and grandkids nearby. How do you calculate the return on longer conversations and more memories with family?

I also have a sister who is constantly working on a project on her home.  Her home is gorgeous and she is constantly looking to update, improve, and beautify every inch of her home in every way.  Not every project is about dollars and cents and creating a place of beauty and refuge from the storms of life for your family has its own return.  Maybe one person in your family really wants or needs something such as a wheelchair ramp or accessible-related items.  Part of what drives my sister is that she loves doing projects. She is capable and passionate about working on projects and she is the one in her marriage with all the power tools and know-how.

While the list of projects and motivations behind them vary substantially, looking at it through the lens of return on investment can offer more clarity.  Sometimes it helps to prioritize projects by knowing the financial return on different house projects.  One quick way to look at the potential return is by looking at Hanley Wood Media Inc’s annual “Cost vs. Value” report across the country, regionally, and in each city.  And while the numbers vary somewhat by area, they largely hold across different markets. 

Enhancing the Visual Appeal

Based on the National Data in the chart below, you can see that projects that enhance visual appeal of the outside such as new garage doors or manufactured stone veneer tend to recoup most if not all of the costs it requires to do them.  Other high return areas include minor kitchen remodel, backyard deck, siding, and vinyl window replacement.

Whenever you look at doing any project, always get three bids.  Any service or product is a three-legged stool.  The legs of the stool are price, quality, and speed.  You only get to choose two of the three legs based on what’s important to you.  As you receive bids from contractors, think about the stool and what two legs are most important to you. 

At, we talk with sellers and potential sellers every day and one of the most common questions we get asked is from people who are putting their home on the market and what they should do, if anything, to help get the most return from their house.  The answer to this question like most questions isn’t always an absolute. 

Generally speaking, new carpet and paint will help sell a home much faster and can visually make a big impact for a relatively low cost, but it isn’t universally needed in every case.  What is the condition of the carpet and flooring?  What about the paint?

 If a home needs new carpet, and especially if it is vacant, replacing carpet can be a very smart thing to do.  But if the carpet is just a few years old and still looks great, a good carpet cleaning may be all that is needed.  Regarding repairs to sell your home and if you are in Utah, you can reach out to us and we can provide you with some things to consider, and if you are outside of Utah,  I’d consult with your local realtor. Reach out to us and we will connect you with an experienced realtor who can offer sound advice.  

If you are considering moving and wondering what specific projects you might consider for your home or property to help it sell for more money, reach out to us at el***@ha**************.com or you can quickly get an instant, automated house valuation here as a first step.

Eliot Ward is a Realtor® and consultant and real estate investor and owns