What should I remodel in my home?

Remodeling a home takes a lot of resources. Not only does it typically cost thousands of dollars, but it also takes a lot of time and can cause inconvenience to homeowners and dwellers. 

Are you thinking about remodeling your home? What should you remodel first? Expanding the kitchen, changing the bathroom, painting the walls, adding an additional room, constructing a lanai, redoing flooring, and more are all possible remodel projects. But according to the National Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s 2022 Remodeling Impact Report, certain remodeling projects have better results than others. 

Some remodeling projects will bring homeowners more joy. While other projects will add value to the house if it were to be resold, recovering the project’s cost. Other remodeling projects are recommended by real estate agents to increase a home’s likelihood of a successful sale. 

The following are the top remodeling projects that will have the greatest impact. Note that the results are according to national United States surveys, not only based on Hawaii remodeling data.

Hardwood Flooring Refinish

Do you have hardwood floors with scratches that are lacking luster? If so, you might want to consider remodeling them, as many homeowners and real estate agents have stated that refinished hardwood floors have had a number of positive impacts. 55 percent of surveyed homeowners decided to refinish their floors in 2020 to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials, according to the research. 

Refinished hardwood floors make homeowners happier, scoring a 10 out of 10 Joy Score with 100 percent of remodelers stating they “had a greater desire to be home” after seeing the shiny hardwood floors. 64 percent of people who refinished their hardwood floors said they had “an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home” and 64 percent also said they “[felt] a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the project.”

In addition, refinished hardwood floors usually add more value to the home than the cost of the project. According to U.S. data from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), it typically costs around $3,400 to refinish floors in a 2,495 square foot house with no hidden issues; REALTORS®’ estimated $5000 is added to the home’s value after the completion of the project – a 147 percent of value recovered from the project. 22 percent of REALTORS® recommended refinishing hardwood floors before selling.

New Wood Flooring

If you don’t have hardwood floors already in your home, you might want to consider upgrading those old carpets, vinyl, or laminate floors to hardwood. Adding new wood flooring scored a Joy Score of 10 out of 10 in the impact report, and 90 percent of homeowners stated that they had “a greater desire to be home since completing the project” while 77 percent said they had “an increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home.”

Will the cost of putting in hardwood floors be recovered in your home’s value? According to NAR and REALTORS®’ estimates of putting hardwood floors into a 2,495 square foot home, 118 percent of the value is recovered from the project. Also despite 2020 being a COVID-19 pandemic year, 77 percent of consumers said they would have undertaken the project, regardless of the pandemic.

Closet Renovation

Do you have a closet that you cannot navigate with items strewn around? You might want to consider channeling Netflix’s Get Organized series and remodeling your closet. Of people who completed this project, 46 percent said the most important result was “better functionality and livability.” The top two reasons for renovating the closet were to add features and to improve organization and storage.

After the closet renovation was completed, 79 percent of remodelers said they had “a greater desire to be home,” and the project received a Joy Score of 10 out of 10. 61 percent said they had an increased sense of enjoyment at home due to the closer renovation and also 61 percent said they felt a major sense of accomplishment because of completing the project.

The cost of closet renovation is not likely to be completely recovered with a proportionate increase in home value. NARI data estimates that it costs about $6000 to renovate a closet while REALTORS® estimated $5000 is added to the home’s value after the completion of the project – an 83 percent of value recovered from the project. Also if you are trying to sell your home, a closet renovation is not recommended by REALTORS® to be at the top of the list, as only 4 percent recommended remodeling a closet before selling.

Complete Kitchen Renovation

Completely renovating the kitchen can be a high-ticket item on the remodeling list that also can have a big boost in joy and desire to be at home. A complete kitchen remodel scored a 9.8 out of 10 for bringing joy, and 94 percent of remodelers stated that they desired to be at home more since they finished the kitchen remodel. 

The main reason for undertaking the kitchen remodel was to improve functionality and livability, with 43 percent of people saying the remodel had this result. The costs to completely remodel a kitchen are steep, with the NARI estimating that average quality materials for the remodel would cost around $80,000. However, REALTORS® estimate that only $60,000 of that cost is recovered after the project is completed, and only 13 percent of real estate agents recommend doing a complete kitchen renovation before selling your home.

Kitchen Upgrade

If you don’t quite have the funds to completely remodel your kitchen, you might want to consider upgrading worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials in the kitchen instead. Like a complete kitchen remodel, a kitchen upgrade has a Joy Score of 9.8 out of 10. Over 75 percent of kitchen upgraders said they have a greater desire to be at home, feel a sense of enjoyment at home, and also feel a sense of accomplishment after completing the project, showing that upgrading a kitchen can have a positive emotional effect on one’s life.

The average cost of a kitchen upgrade is less than a complete remodel and is recommended to be done before a sale by more REALTORS®. NARI estimates the cost of a kitchen remodel to be $45,000 – think new cabinets, a new countertop, or new appliances – while REALTORS® estimate $30,000 of those costs can be recovered in the home’s value. 30 percent of REALTORS® recommended upgrading a kitchen before a sale; even investing $10,000 in new appliances can be an attractive feature to potential buyers, potentially causing offers to increase.

Bathroom Renovation

Taking off old grungy tiles, adding a full walk-in shower, upgrading the vanity, adding a bidet toilet: these might all be on your checklist for completely renovating the bathroom. The majority of homeowners chose to renovate the bathroom to upgrade worn-out surfaces and materials and to also improve functionality and livability. 

Does improving the bathroom improve homeowners’ lives? According to the research, a bathroom renovation scores a 9.6 out of 10 Joy Score. Also, 73 percent of homeowners stated they had “a greater desire to be home since completing the project” and 64 percent said they “felt a major sense of accomplishment.”

Bathroom renovations can be costly, averaging $35,000 with average materials, according to NARI. REALTORS® estimate that $25,000 of the cost is recovered from the project, meaning a little over 70 percent of a bathroom renovation is recovered in the home’s added value. About one of out four REALTORS® do recommend renovating a bathroom before placing a home on the market for sale; a newly renovated bathroom could be a big selling point for a potential buyer.

Add a New Bathroom

Perhaps you want to add an entirely new space to your home – a bathroom. Adding a new bathroom typically entails drafting plans and submitting them to receive a permit from the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting since a new bathroom would change the structure of your home. However, some brave homeowners decide that a brand-new bathroom is worth the investment – typically to make the home more livable.

Once the new bathroom is built, it does cause most homeowners to feel happier, although it does not have as significant an impact as other projects. A new bathroom addition scores an 8.2 out of 10 for increasing joy, and 82 percent of homeowners said that wanted to be at home more since they had a new bathroom addition. Surprisingly, although a brand-new room often takes more effort than some upgrading projects, only 48 percent of surveyed people who upgraded bathrooms said they felt a major sense of accomplishment after the project’s completion – perhaps they had some frustrations along the way.

You might think that adding a new bathroom would definitely add to the value of a home and also increase its likelihood of a great sale. However, a new bathroom is costly – estimated to be $80,000 by NARI – and only about 63 percent of that cost is recovered in the home’s increased value. In addition, only 4 percent of REALTORS® recommend adding a new bathroom before a sale.

Paint Entire Interior Home

If you don’t want to tear down walls or cabinets for a remodel or build walls for an addition, you might consider adding some fresh paint to your home to make a positive difference in your living environment. People that paint their entire homes often do so for reasons of beauty and aesthetics; 38 percent of people surveyed simply wanted a change and 15 percent just moved into the home and wanted to customize it to their personal tastes.

Painting often is not as expensive as other remodeling projects and can boost homeowners’ joy. Painting the entire interior of a home received a Joy Score of 10 out of 10. Over 80 percent of surveyed people who painted the interior of their home said they desired to be at home more, felt an increased sense of enjoyment, and also felt a sense of accomplishment.

Painting is also top on the list of recommendations from REALTORS®. Nearly 50 percent of REALTORS® recommend painting the entire home before listing the home for sale. Paint is an economical way to make a big difference in a home and increase its feeling of cleanliness and comfort.

Paint One Interior Room

Maybe you don’t want to embark on painting the entire home, but simply want to paint one room – like a bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen. More than 50 percent of people who paint a room do this because they decided it is time for a change. Do you feel like that bright orange needs to be a tan? Or maybe the plain white needs a splash of light blue?

Deciding to paint an interior room gets a Joy Score of 10 out of 10, and 73 percent of survey respondents said they had “a greater desire to be home” since painting the room. 38 percent of REALTORS® also recommend painting a room to ready it for the sales market. While painting a room might only take a day or two, it is an economical way to increase joy in your home.

Add New Home Office

With more people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing work environments, adding a new home office, or converting an existing space to a home office might be something to consider. Also, if you are a small business owner, you might have the possibility of deducting your home office expenses from your taxes. Most people surveyed said they added a home office to have better function and livability, including improving organization and customizing an office space to their tastes.

Putting in the effort to add a home office does have a positive effect on homeowners’ happiness. A home office addition scored a 10 out of 10 Joy Score. Also, 91 percent of remodelers said they had “a greater desire to be at home since completing the project.” The vast majority of respondents also said they “had an increased sense of enjoyment” at home.

A home office addition might not be as popular once the effects of the global COVID pandemic reside, or perhaps working remotely from home is the new normal. 50 percent of people who added a home office said they “would have undertaken the project, regardless of the pandemic.” Also, note that only 3 percent of REALTORS® recommend adding a home office to increase the sale viability of a home. Therefore if a home office fits your working lifestyle, it might be something to explore to increase your joy, but if it does not fit for you, it may not be needed to add value to your home.

What should you remodel in your home?

What you decide to remodel will most likely depend on your needs and situation. Remodeling can be timely and costly, so it is important to consider the reasons for the desired change and the possible impacts. 

Where will you start on your remodeling journey? According to the research, painting might make the most impact on the joy and sell-ability of a home while upgrading or refinishing hardwood floors might add the most value and make the most sense financially. However, if you want to remodel a bathroom or a kitchen, realize the costs and the potential recovery value after the project is completed – and also realize that it will most likely boost your pleasure to be at home.

Whether you desire a professional to do it all, purchase the materials yourself, or do a complete DIY remodel, you most likely will increase your feelings of joy when you are inside your home and also feel a sense of accomplishment, according to the research. And if you do decide to begin the remodeling journey, realize that 86 percent of people surveyed said that “remodeling one area of their home made them want to then remodel other areas of their home.”