If home remodeling is on your mind, you’re not alone. Two-thirds of homeowners said spending more time at home during the pandemic made them want to do more renovations and repairs, according to a recent study by home loan lender LightStream.
The best renovations will not only boost the enjoyment of your home but will also help raise its market value. Here are four pandemic home improvements to increase value in today’s market.
REMODELING THE KITCHEN
“Since the pandemic, we have all been spending more time in our kitchens than we ever anticipated,” says Bailey Carson, a home expert at Angi.com, a digital marketplace for home services. And it doesn’t seem like that trend will let up much: Food and beverage consultancy Hunter found that 71 percent of Americans who started cooking more during the pandemic intend to continue doing so even afterward. “We care more than ever whether our kitchens are in good shape, have enough counter and storage space, and are made from quality materials that will last through the wear and tear of daily use,” Carson says.
The bad news? The kitchen is one of the costliest rooms to renovate, says Lauren Silbert, vice president and general manager of consumer finance site The Balance. According to Remodeling magazine, even a modest kitchen upgrade could run you more than $26,000 — although you’d recoup 72 percent of that in a sale.
Silbert’s advice? “Keep your most expensive design choices to the pieces that show off their value, like quality appliances, stone countertops and beautiful but durable flooring,” she says. “Smaller, less expensive touches like lighting, cabinet hardware and storage will add plenty of charm but don’t need to be expensive to add value.”
INSTALLING ENERGY-EFFICIENT APPLIANCES
Speaking of appliances, we’ve all been using a lot more of them during the pandemic. But more time at home leads to higher utility bills — household electricity use in the U.S. rose 10 percent during the second quarter of 2020. And higher energy costs could be here to stay, considering 36.2 million Americans could be working remotely by 2025 — an 87 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels.
Installing energy efficient appliances can reduce your home’s utility costs significantly. “Look specifically for products that have the Energy Star seal of approval,” Carson says. “They will likely cost more upfront but they will save you — and future buyers — the most energy and the most money on monthly bills.” For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Star-qualified refrigerators use 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models.
ADDING A PATIO
The pandemic made outdoor living space a desirable asset in today’s market. More specifically, “a patio is an easy way to add space to your home without [building] a full-blown addition,” Silbert says. “And it makes an otherwise empty yard more functional and styled.”
One thing to consider before you break ground: If you live in a place that tends to get a lot of mosquitos or bugs in the summer, Carson suggests building a screened-in porch to keep insects out.
FENCING IN THE BACKYARD
“While some people may prefer unobstructed views across their property, many prefer the privacy, security and convenience of a fenced-in backyard, particularly if children or pets are in the home,” Silbert says. This might be especially desirable for families who adopted a dog during the pandemic.
Depending on the size of the fence and the materials, costs typically range between $1,667 and $4,088, HomeAdvisor data shows.
If lumber prices are still high when you plan to remodel, one way to keep costs down is to opt for vinyl or aluminum fencing. But cost isn’t your only concern, Carson says: “Remember to have your utility companies come out to locate the power lines before you begin to dig.”