Top 11 upgrades that pay off upon resale

We often get asked – often late in the process of the build – what upgrades make for the most profitable and easiest resale. Well, here are 11 (we were going to go with 10, but there’s always a bonus option with us!)

11. Invest in Your Driveway

Investing in your driveway asphalt is a good idea, and having a well-designed and maintained driveway will be essential to the curb appeal. While nothing makes it ‘pop’ like a new top-coat, having visual appeal, usefulness (like a circular driveway or extra parking to one side) is a great way t turn your driveway into a statement piece. Another classic driveway option is interlock brick – but remember that you’ll have regular maintenance to do, inclusion re-levelling, repairing, and weeding.

10. Swank up the Faucets in Your Kitchen & Baths

Choose taps that sparkle instead of the builder basics and go for a look that matches the theme of the home and, most importantly, that will last. Buyers want a home that feels new, even if it isn’t. The small step of carefully choosing modern taps and hardware in your kitchen and bathrooms can cost as little as few hundred dollars and will be the finishing touch if you have nice counters and sinks.

9.  Upgrade Interior Lighting

For lighting, we recommend a 3-light fixture. This upgrade isn’t that expensive, and upgraded lighting a long way to increasing the value of your home. All homes feel darker than they should unless you’ve upgraded your lights. Flush mounts with a smooth clear bowl start around $25 and they’re great for halls, bedrooms, and utility areas.

For more formal spaces, we recommend 3-5 light chandeliers or modern fixtures to be used over any table, and you can get some really nice ones in the $170-$250 range. If your rooms are lacking architectural interest like moulding, built-ins or fireplaces, an elegant and eye-catching light fixture can often become the room’s focal point for a small fraction of the price.

You generally get 300% return on moderately priced options (not the cheapest, builder-basic, dime-a-dozen styles). 

8.  Don’t Scrimp on Flooring

Upgrading your flooring is clearly a more expensive choice than light fixtures or appliances. While trends are great to follow in paint colours and even appliances, we recommend going with high quality, simple flooring options that require little maintenance instead of trendy colours, materials, or styles. Flooring changes the entire feel of the room, and can limit paint and decor options if it’s too noticeable.

7. Counters for Life

Counters are the second surface that can make a big difference to the feel of the space. Luckily, a quality counter is a lot cheaper than high quality floors, and combined with a marble backsplash you can get real bang for your buck.

In executive homes we recommending installing stone counters, but only if the cabinets will suit the look, and the kitchen is a good layout. Once you install stone, you should never need or want to replace it so if there’s any possibility that the cabinets could be replaced in the future, don’t bother with a stone counter. Instead you can choose to go with a more affordable option such as butcher block.

6. Finish the basement

High-income buyers (those earning $150,000 and more) like basements in general – for storage, man caves, or extra living space. You’re adding more heated square footage, which bumps up your house into another price bracket. Even among homes ranging from $250,000 to $400,000, a finished basement can add even more—up to $40,000 or $50,000 to the asking price.

Finishing a basement costs between $6,500 to $18,500 (depending on square footage) and involves installing drywall, flooring, and paint. But this upgrade can carry a return on investment as high as 69%.

5. Put in energy-efficient appliances

Appliances with the Energy Star symbol, the federal certification that they reduce energy use without sacrificing performance, ranked either as desirable or essential home features among nearly 90% of moderate-income home buyers in one study. And the look of high-end, style-relevant appliances cannot be overstated.

4. Get energy-efficient windows

Home buyers of every economic background, from those with incomes under $75,000 to those with incomes over $250,000, rank Energy Star-rated windows among their most-wanted features, whether with triple-pane insulating glass or with low-e insulating glass, one national survey says. What’s more, choosing double-hung windows over insulated vinyl windows recovers about 74%  of the costs.

3. Make your laundry room more accessible

A lot of home buyers prefer not using the stairs to do laundry. The national survey shows 68% of moderate-income buyers and 69% of high-income buyers prefer having the clothes washer and dryer on the main floor instead of in the basement or the garage. Some homes above $300,000 have a larger laundry room with a drop zone for children’s backpacks and shoes, or connect the laundry room to the master bedroom instead of the kitchen.

2. Turn your shower into a walk-in

Although 77% of home buyers with moderate income (under $75,000) in the national survey ranked having both a shower stall and tub in the master bathroom as essential and desirable, although some buyers are fine with just a shower in the master bath. And the tub they’re looking for is a standalone deep tub that invites you to sink in and relax – not a short tub with a shower head looking at you.

(To qualify as a “full bath” to an appraiser, a bathroom must have a full-size tub, but it doesn’t have to be the master bathroom. A tub in a secondary bathroom is fine, especially for bathing children.)

1.  Kitchen Backsplash

It’s amazing how many people still spend time choosing a kitchen backsplash. To see drywall behind a sink or an oven is both impractical and unfinished. Adding a high end kitchen back splash one of the best ways to differentiate your home from the competition, and show your home to be more upgraded and stylish.

If your backsplash area is less than 25 square feet, I urge you to choose marble. Kitchens are the #1 most important room to buyers, so if you give them what they love, your home will stand out. Going high end on the back splash is especially effective in a smaller space, where the biggest cost of the job is the labour. It doesn’t cost much more to use a better material and buyers will notice. Choose and interesting mosaic with subtle detail and variation, and you will have a backsplash that looks good for decades.

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