On average, Canadians move 4.5 to 5.5 times in their lifetimes – which can add up to a big chunk of money. With the odds being that you’ll move in the not-too-distant future, you want to be able to recoup any remodeling expenses when you move on to your new home.

Which Projects Pay?

Not all home improvements offer a healthy return on investment. Kitchens and bathrooms pay for themselves – as does painting and other cosmetic work – but other renovations are less worthwhile. It’s important that you choose wisely.

By investing in the right projects now, you can get a great return on investment when you choose to sell your home or want to get financing. Here are some projects you can focus on to get the most value for your dollar.


For a lot of families, the kitchen is the busiest room in the house. It’s also usually one of the first rooms buyers check out when shopping for a new home. Whether consciously or unconsciously, most of us tend to think of the kitchen as one of the primary indicators of the quality of the house.

An attractive, well-equipped, and efficient kitchen immediately makes buyers feel at home. On the other hand, a kitchen that is outdated or disorganized leaves buyers with a bad impression of your home, even if it’s well maintained and sturdy.

If you’re considering updating your kitchen, take into consideration both your needs and what is needed to make a good first impression to buyers. Use good quality materials. Attractive and durable surfaces like hardwood cabinets, stone or engineered stone counter tops, and nice tile make a kitchen appear well made. Make sure to keep ample counter and storage space. Good lighting is equally important in the kitchen, particularly over the sink, cooking surfaces, and food preparation areas.

Design your eating area based on the size of your kitchen and family. Some kitchens may do better with an island while others will have a full dining area available. Updating your appliances is also another good way to convey a sense of quality. Remodeling your kitchen is a big job, but if you do it, you should see a return on your money when you sell the house.


Bathrooms are another great place to spend your renovation budget, and can be easily recovered when you sell your home. If you only have one bathroom, adding a half bath will be a worthwhile investment. Ensuite baths in master bedrooms are also popular. Use easy to clean materials in neutral colours like white, off white, beige, and slate. Like the kitchen, this is one of the first rooms buyers look at; it is one of the easiest ways to ensure you receive top return on your investment.


Choose the best materials you can afford for floors. Hardwood floors are great investments because they’re warm, durable, attractive, and buyers love them. Consult with your designer about the many types of flooring that are available to fit not only your tastes, but the quality and style of the home as well. Just make sure you avoid wall-to-wall carpeting: most buyers will see that as a problem to fix, even if it’s new.


A few inexpensive updates to the lighting in your home can go a long way. Even if you change nothing else, new lighting can add convenience and character to a house. Good lighting can also make your life in the home more relaxing. Having the right lighting also helps your home show well to buyers.


Enhancing curb appeal with landscaping can be very effective. Modest landscaping can include foundation plantings, stonework, trees, shrubs, and small perennial beds. These add beauty to your home and can add value – if you don’t overspend. If you’re staying in your home for a while, you can go ahead and create your paradise, but stunning gardens are one of those things that people won’t pay extra for. Buyers basically want to see a yard that is tidy, healthy and well-kept.

Deck or Patio

If you don’t already have one, consider adding a deck or patio. This is a low-cost investment that creates an inviting extra living space for relaxing and entertaining. You can have a basic deck built using wood materials, high-end synthetic wood, or stamped or pressed concrete. All of these options draw potential buyers with the extra outdoor space they provide, and they’ll be happy to pay extra for that added benefit.


Finished basements mean you get an extra room in your home, often used for offices, entertainment rooms or crafting areas. It’s essential that your basement is dry and well lit – dark and damp definitely doesn’t sell. Ask your designer for ways to illuminate the basement with a mix of natural and artificial light to make it more inviting.

These are just some of the relatively inexpensive remodeling projects that will give you a great return on investment. When choosing renovation projects, keep in mind that you’ll have to consider not only your own needs, but the needs of the next owner as well.

Other Tips For Choosing a Project

Look Beyond Your Home

One great way to choose remodeling projects and how much to spend on them is to look at other houses in your neighborhood, and the amenities in your area. It’s essential not to over-renovate for your neighbourhood: creating a palace in a lower-income area may mean you don’t fully recoup your investment.

Avoid Personal Style Statements

If you’ve always wanted something unique, it’s best to shelve that thought. Your giant aquarium or swimming pool may seem like a wonderful feature to you, but the next buyer might just see the upkeep. At best, most people would not be willing to pay extra for items like these.

The other key thing to remember is to respect the character of your home with new projects. Any new renovations should be consistent to some degree with the rest of your home. This is more important with older homes.

Top of The Line Doesn’t Pay

Buy good quality, but avoid anything that’s truly upmarket. Even if they make people ooh and aah, when it comes down to the price they’ll remain practical.

What If You Don’t Move Right Away?

The longer you stay in your home, the more likely it is that you will reap the benefits of a beautifully updated home. Our environments effect our overall quality of life, so there’s more than a sale price to consider. And speaking of dollars, make sure you keep your receipts: your potential buyers may want to verify how much was spent on the project and when.

Need more help choosing and planning your home renovation project? Our designers will provide more expert advice on which projects are right for you and your home.

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