Renovations as a Way to Add Value to Your Home: Dos and Don’ts

Toronto Real Estate News
New floor and sofa by LeeroyNew floor and sofa by Leeroy

If you're looking to sell your home or add value, there are many ways—on both ends of the budget spectrum—to do so. According to Abbe Will, a research analyst in the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the remodeling market is doing well these days:

The remodelling market has steadily improved in recent years with homeowners incorporating larger, more discretionary projects into their home improvement priorities. The real test [...] will be whether the industry can clear ongoing bottlenecks in labor availability and consumer financing concerns to fully meet this increased demand.

There are other home projects, however, that may not add value and may cause potential buyers to give your home the thumbs down when it comes to selling. Here's a list of the dos and don'ts of home renovation projects that will add, or detract from, your homes value when it comes to resale.

Renovations that add value

Cost of New Flooring


  • Cost: Based on 1,000 square feet, $3,500 and up
  • Return: 50%

In a survey conducted by the National Wood Flooring Association in 2013, 82 per cent of realtors believed that homes with hardwood floors sold faster than homes without.

If you choose to go with a wooden floor then you should prepare something between $4 and $6 per feet squared for the material, and if you don’t have the time or skills for this large scale DIY project, you should add $2 per feet squared for work on top of that. Of course the situation gets more complicated (and expensive) if there is existing floor and/or subfloor that needs removal, in which case you should stretch your budget by an extra $1 per feet squared of existing floor and $1.60 per feet squared of subfloor that needs removing.

If dishing out the dollars for hardwood floors isn't suited to your budget, you can still completely update your home's look, and value, with laminate flooring.

The material for this option will cost you between $1 to $3 per feet squared and you can get the installation done for $1.60 on average, given that your subfloors are in good shape.

Depending on the materials you use for the floor, returns on this investment can range from 50% up to 75% when you choose to sell, less days on the market for houses with proper flooring.


Cost of Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodel

  • Cost: up to $19,000
  • Return: 50%

Kitchens tend to be the first thing new owners remodel after purchase, in order to either personalize or add the feel of modernity to their new property. So why not go the extra mile and meet them halfway with a newly remodeled kitchen that incorporates the newest trends and technology? According to a global study by HSBC, mid-range kitchen remodels of costs up to $19,000 can yield returns of about $9,500.

Most real estate and renovation professionals will say that updating your kitchen and bathroom are the best ways to increase the value of your home. Scott McGillivray, Home and Garden Television (HGTV) personality says:

Kitchens and bathrooms are always value-adds, so if you're prioritizing your renovations and looking to make your dollars go further, plan on doing those rooms first.

Something as simple as a fresh coat of paint or stain on kitchen cabinets go a long way to creating a more modern look, and lighter colours give the impression of a larger, cleaner space.


Cost of Bathroom Addition

Bathroom addition

  • Cost: $50,000
  • Return: 52% to 60%

Buying a house is a game of numbers. Some of them ought to be low and some of them ought to be greater. And as you have probably guessed, the ones that should be greater are the number of rooms and bathrooms. So adding an extra bathroom provides you with a great return on your investment when you decide to sell. Adding a completely new bathroom without any pre-existing fundamentals can come with a price tag of $50,000 and the resale value return on this investment ranges between 52% to 60%.


Cost of New Attic Bedroom

Attic bedroom

  • Cost: $80,000 to $125,000
  • Return: 85%

The equation with this one is quite simple: the more rooms in your home, the better. Remodelling the unused attic above your head into an extra room can bring an unexpected demand for your property when reselling. Before you dive into a project like this, there are many factors to consider, as not all attic spaces are suitable to be remodelled into a bedroom or even a decent storage space. There are things that can prohibit you from doing so completely, such as not enough head space and natural light. Other factors that could raise the price are improper insulation and wiring. If your attic is a good fit for a remodel you should prepare for something around $125,000 - $80,000. But the costs recouped after reselling averages 84,5% of your investment.


Cost of Basement Remodel

Basement remodel

  • Cost: $25 to $35 per square foot
  • Return: 77%

A finished basement is undoubtedly a great addition to any house. Not only are you increasing the value of a property, but you are also ensuring its longevity. A properly finished basement does not only provide you with extra space that can be used either for storage or some extra room such as laundry or a recreation room (come on, we know you always wanted that pool table in your basement!), but it also ensures that the foundation of your house is not getting wet every spring or with every severe rainfall. Such renovations and/or finishings will probably cost you between $25 and $35 per square foot (so for example, if your basement is 1,000 square feet then it would cost you between $25,000 and $35,000.) On the other hand, the return on this investment is somewhere around 77%.


Cost of Curb Appeal


  • Cost: up to $100,000
  • Return: 14%

First impressions can mean a lot, especially to homebuyers. If you're looking to sell your home and you have dated lawn furnishings, weeds in the garden and peeling paint on your fence or deck, a lot of buyers could get turned off. Putting some time and effort into landscaping can go a long way in adding value to the home.

In a study conducted by Clemson University out of South Carolina, consumers can value a landscaped home more than 11 per cent higher than the home's base price.

According to, some of the most popular ways of adding value via landscaping are outdoor fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, fire pits and patio pavers.


Tasks as simple as keeping your lawn mowed, gardens free of weeds, and regular checks of your furnace and vents can go a long way to adding value to your home. A well maintained home is one that is most likely to catch a buyer's eye and most allow them to picture themselves living in that space in the future.

Detracts from value

Pink walls by Daniel Oines
Pink walls by Daniel Oines

Painting bright colours

  • Cost to repaint: up to $4,000

While you may think it's great to have lime green and orange walls to encourage your plants to grow or to create your own happy place, using bright colours won't necessarily add to your homes value. Colour Consultant Krystle Wilk explains why:

When it comes to resale, painting bright colours makes it more difficult for potential buyers to envision both themselves and their things in a certain space. You can still do a strong colour, just don't do a neon. You can use brighter colours, just make sure they work with the other elements in the space.

Stair handles by Knight725
Stair handles by Knight725

Digging a swimming pool

  • Cost to fill in a pool: Up to $10,000

While you might be a fan of heading out to your very own pool every morning for a dip, or hosting poolside parties on the weekend, swimming pools in a home aren't for everyone.

Website Pool Pricer says the top five hassles of owning a pool can include excavation complications like rocks and roots; leaks, which can damage the structure of the pool; problems with the water itself such as algae and improper use of pool chemicals; unwanted water loving creatures like water boatmen and mosquitos and, in rare cases, people inviting themselves over, or people coming by while you're away just to use your pool.

Some people may also underestimate how much space a pool requires. If your entire yard is taken up by a swimming pool, potential buyers for your home may be turned off that there isn't enough room for other things such as gardens and landscaping.

Wall to wall carpet by Garann
Wall to wall carpet by Garann

Wall-to-wall carpets

  • Cost: Up to $318 to remove carpet from a 100-square-foot room

The days of wall-to-wall green and red shag are well behind us and wall-to-wall carpet is no longer a sought after aspect of home ownership.

Carpets come in a number of different materials and can be an expensive undertaking, especially when removing old carpet and adding new. Wool carpets are expensive and tend to stain easily; nylon carpets can fade; polyester wears easily and olefin lacks resilience, says the Master Care Corporation.

Carpeted homes can also depend on locations. Using carpet in warm, high humidity areas is an unnecessary extravagance and, if wet, can lead to mouldy conditions. Health concerns with carpet also include the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or products linked with carcinogens. In that same thread, there have been studies concerning vacuums, which find the household cleaning products can release or harbour bacteria such as salmonella.

Kettles by Your Best Digs
Regular vs. electric kettle by Your Best Digs

Updating appliances

If your 80s or 90s home is still sporting 80s or 90s appliances and you're looking to renovate, then new appliances can be a good addition for your home and its value. If you purchased a new stove in 2013 and are thinking about updating to a 2016 model, that won't necessarily add value.

The same can be said for only updating particular appliances while the rest of your home remains in a state of 60s wood paneled basement walls, or 90s golden oak. If you pair that with imported marble or the most expensive refrigerator money can buy, potential buyers will be turned off by finding very new things in one space and very old things in another.

If there are any renovation projects or revamping ideas you might want to undertake but aren't sure of, always be sure to ask your realtor as they can offer the best advice for the situation.


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