Best Investments for the First 5 Years in Your Home

by Megan WildOctober 3, 2016

Whether you’ve just moved into a home or have been there for several years, you might be thinking of redoing, remodeling or refurbishing…How do you decide which redo, remodel or refurbish takes precedence? Partly, it depends on how long you plan on being in the home. If it’s just going to be five years and you don’t need a new heating, ventilation, or air conditioning (HVAC) unit in that time, it probably doesn’t pay to have one installed. To recoup on your investment of installing an HVAC system takes roughly 15 years. However, if you plan to be in your home a long time, such as 15 to 30 years, and want to know what the best redos, remodels and refurbishes are for the first five years, we’re here to tell you.

Many upgrades to your home will reward you by increasing the potential resale value of your home. Since remodels can be time-consuming and expensive, it makes sense to focus on those that give you the biggest bang for the bucks.

1 – Remodeling the Kitchen

Remodeled Kitchen

This is hands-down the best investment you can make. Real estate agents are nearly unanimous when pointing to the importance of the kitchen to buyers, as it’s the heart of any house. According to Real Simple magazine, a kitchen remodel will recoup up 83 percent of its cost. The strongest returns? Kitchen remodels that cost from 6 percent to 10 percent of the home’s total cost, according to LifeHacker. Most popular items to remodel? Countertops, chosen by 74 percent of homeowners, and wallpaper or paint, 70 percent.

2 – Refurbishing the Home’s Exterior and Yard

What realtors call “curb appeal” is a key component of the impression potential buyers take away from viewing your house. It’s also a key part of the impression neighbors form of you. If your home is slightly dingy or rundown nothing will freshen it like a new coat of paint or new siding. Plant some dwarf evergreens on either side of the door, and paint the door a deep, rich color. It’s relatively inexpensive, and it looks great.

3 – Buying energy-saving appliances.

Energy Star™ appliances are guaranteed to save energy. If your house already has some, great. If not, purchasing them will save you costs going forward and be a terrific selling point to prospective buyers. Buyers are attracted both by their potential cost savings and by the environmentally friendly aspect. Look for refrigerators, dishwashers, lightbulbs, washers, and dryers with the Energy Star™ label.

4 – Remodeling the Bathroom.

Remodeled Bathroom

Although less-favored than the kitchen, this remodel is still extremely popular with prospective buyers. New fixtures, handles and tile will make an older bathroom look great. Regrouting will make it look clean and shiny.

A full remodel can recoup the costs by 68 percent to 78 percent come resale time, according to Real Simple. If a full remodel is expensive, paint can at least freshen the area. Wallpaper, once thought profoundly old-fashioned, is making a comeback for bathroom walls. Replacing pipes is also much easier, as many pipes are heavy-duty plastic rather than the metal of yore.

5 – Finishing Basements or Attics

If you have an unfinished attic or basement, one of the best investments you can make is to finish it. Why? Homeowners are increasingly looking for flexibility. A finished attic or basement could be a game room or a space for morning workouts.

In addition, more and more young people are living with their parents for at least a year or two, and more and more senior citizens are moving in with their grown children. If prospective homeowners have the future needs of either of these age groups to think about, a basement or attic that can double as living quarters can be very appealing. Basement remodels can also add a whopping 50 percent to 100 percent of resale value, Real Simple says.

6 – Insulating the Attic

Attic-Old Window

While we’re on attics … insulating an attic is a fairly low-cost endeavor. This home improvement can be as inexpensive as $200, yet you will reap the benefits in multiple ways. An insulated attic reduces utility costs, adds resale value to your home, and saves money on insurance costs. Especially if you live in a climate that’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer, a well-insulated attic can make you feel cozy or cool, as the season requires, while the added bonus of being a nice resale value investment.

7 – Installing Energy-Efficient Windows

Windows, like appliances, come in the Energy Star™ brand. Installing them is relatively easy and can save you annually in heating costs. They are also simple to install. This is a refurbishment that is especially important if you live in a cold winter/hot summer climate–they will increase your comfort as well as saving energy. On average, they have a 77 percent return on investment, says LifeHacker. In addition, of course, new windows are bright and shiny, making your home sparkle.

Redoing, remodeling or refurbishing a home can be an exciting task. With care and planning, the upgrades you do in the first five years of homeownership can be part of your overall investment in the home going forward.


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About The Author
Megan Wild
Megan Wild enjoys finding easy and low-stress ways to improve your home. In her downtime, she enjoys flipping flea market finds, hanging out with her dog, and writing on her home-themed blog, Your Wild Home. She's passionate about sustainability and environmentalism, and you can find her tweeting about both @Megan_Wild.
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