There's no question that remodeling will add to the value and resale price of your home, not to mention the comfort and satisfaction you'll have in a more enjoyable environment.
Here's a look at some new trends in some of the most popular remodeling projects and a rundown on the kinds of returns you can expect to get for your investment.REPLACEMENT DOORS AND WINDOWS: Replacing weather-beaten doors and windows remains the most popular residential remodeling project. And today's emphasis on high-quality wood or steel doors, unique window designs - such as round-tops, box, bays and clerestories - and technologically advanced high efficiency designs are paying off in higher returns. Expect to recoup as much as 75 percent of this investment now compared to just 40 percent about seven years ago. But the higher quality comes with a beefier price tag. Replacing all exterior doors and windows for a modest house can run from $7,000 to $18,000.
NEW SIDING: Installing new siding with insulating board is far less expensive - just over $6,000 on the average - and can boost your home's resale price by 75 percent to 100 percent of the project's cost. Higher energy efficiency accounts for some of this project's value, but more important is the enhanced curb appeal it gives your home.
Vinyl and vinyl-coated aluminum siding remain the most popular because they require little maintenance, but owners of more expensive houses may be better off going with natural wood. It's more expensive and, if painted, more difficult to maintain, but is generally preferred by homebuyers at the upper end of the market.
When renovating your house's exterior, pay special attention to creating a dramatic entry - for example, a landscaped brick path leading to a carved door flanked by fluted pilasters and topped by a classical pediment. This feature alone can help swing sales negotiations to your favor.
ROOM ADDITION: Building a 15- by 25-foot room addition is costly - close to $30,000 on average - and has a relatively modest recovery rate - about 70 percent if you sell within two years. But if you like your present location and simply need more space, you're often better off adding a room or even an entire second floor than buying a larger house. To get the best return on resale, make sure the addition blends in with the layout and architectural character of the house. Also, a multipurpose room will do better than one restricted to a single purpose such as a gym or workshop.
REMODELED KITCHEN: The kitchen can have more impact on the market value of your house than any other single room. The trend today is toward opening up the kitchen to living areas and bringing in natural light via skylights, greenhouse or clerestory windows.
Sleek, Eurostyle cabinetry - made of either natural wood or high-quality laminates - are still the rage, as are countertops of granite, and marble look-alikes such as Corian and Avonite.
Many renovators are also going to top-of-the-line appliances like subzero refrigerators whose doors accommodate panels to match your cabinets, and Jenn-Air ovens that feature range-top broiling with down-draft exhaust.
All this has raised the cost of kitchen renovation to $19,500 on average, with some makeovers reaching as high as $100,000. While returns on this investment are high - 75 percent to 90 percent of the project's cost - you're better off from an investing standpoint opting for a medium-cost renovation than an ultra-expensive one.