The Home Renovations that Pay Off

Three projects that will give you the biggest return on your investment.

By Kenneth Ho

The kitchen

The kitchen is the best place to put your money, hands down. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, the average amount home-owners should spend on a kitchen reno is about 10 to 15 per cent of the overall value of their home. If you're renovating the kitchen for personal use and not only for the purpose of investment, and if you are going to live in your house for more than five years, then you should spend 15 to 25 per cent or more. In most cases, you will recover the cost by the time you sell your home- with a 44 per cent higher return on investment than the average.

What do buyers look for?

• space, functionality and effective, well thought-out storage

• granite countertops create elegance, plus its resistance to scratches and easy maintenance make it ideal for everyday use

• quality- don't skimp on appliances or labour- having the job done well is a value adder; doing it poorly may reduce the value of your home!

The bathroom

After the kitchen, bathrooms are the next key space potential buyers look at. A study from Canada's leading real estate companies shows that a well-designed bathroom renovation can generate up to a 56 per cent better return on investment than the average. Usually a bathroom renovation involves the complete replacement of existing finish and fixtures- tubs/showers, toilets, faucets, sinks, tiles, flooring, lightings, cabinetry and tile-work. Sometimes a bathroom renovation also involves the re-location of fixtures and the removal of adjacent walls to create a better layout.

What do buyers look for?

• a spa-like environment: light colours, rich textures

• luxuries such as water jets in the tub or a steam shower stall

• a large master ensuite with a soaker tub and doulbe sinks

Floor and wall finishes

Don't undervalue the paint and flooring in your home! Many buyers want a home that's move-in ready, so the more appealing the walls and floors are, the more interest your home will generate on the market. Flooring can generate a 22 per cent better return on investment than the average. If you have carpet in the family, dining and living rooms, it is recommended to change to hardwood and/or tiles. Not only will it make your home more elegant, but you will also enjoy the benefits of a healthier indoor environment, with less allergens. Simply repainting your walls a warm, neutral colour will give you a 29% better return than other popular renovations.

What do buyers look for?

• walls should be smooth and painted in a neutral colour which will help enlarge the space

• currently, hardwood or tiled flooring if not throughout, then at least in the main areas, is the more popular choice for potential buyers

• flooring should create a good flow between one room to the next and be able to tie in with other elements such as cabinetry, wall colours and baseboards