Limited Home Remodel Budget? The Best ROI Home Improvements

If you’re selling your home, you may be considering a kitchen remodel or other remodeling projects to modernize the house and maximize the listing price. Potential buyers love “move-in” ready homes. Potential buyers may be looking to minimize move-in costs. Therefore, homes with fewer required upgrades can oftentimes receive more offers than homes that have a list of things that need to be fixed up. However, not every upgrade is going to mean the buyer will be willing to pay a higher price. Because not all budgets are created equal, we put together a remodel and upgrade guide based on data from the past three years to show how far your money can go as you choose the best ROI home improvements. If you want to spend:


House Remodeling Between $1,000-$2,500

Exterior and interior painting: Buyer preferences on paint and other remodeling are not universal nor always predictable. One buyer’s dream kitchen can be another buyer’s nightmare! However, among all the potential types of upgrades, one factor is universal: paint color. The right paint color can have a huge impact on your home’s value. (Read How Paint Color Can Affect Your Home’s Value.)

Keep in mind when budgeting to paint a wall or a whole room that a can of paint can range anywhere from $15 to $40 a gallon. 

National cost: $1,800. Resale value: $2,300. Projected ROI: 127% (Figures averaged for room type, color.)

Even if you don’t use a listing agent to sell your home, speak to a local broker who will tell you which colors, styles, and remodeling projects are trendy and which projects to avoid outright.

Attic insulation: Upgrading your attic insulation to fiberglass is appealing to potential buyers as it cuts down on heating costs. However, there are three main types of attic insulation installation: batts, blown, and sprayed. Speak to a handyman before putting money down on R30 rolls.

National cost: $1,400 (blown), $1,600 (batt), $2,400 (sprayed). Resale value: ~$1,000+ Projected ROI: 108%

Painting and attic insulation were the only positive ROI upgrades according to data from HomeAdvisor and since 2016. However, this does not mean upgrades with negative ROI are fruitless endeavors.

House Remodeling Between $2,600 to $5,000

Garage door replacement (upscale): If repainting your garage door isn’t enough, consider replacing your entire door plus the motor and assembly. Even though a basic garage door will cost roughly $1,000 for the materials and labor (according to HomeAdvisor), there are multiple factors to consider, including the garage threshold width, climate, and cost of materials.

National cost: $3,300. Resale value: $2,800. Projected ROI: 85%

Install/replace hardwood floors:  This type of remodeling project has the most variables considering the different wood types, number of rooms, and the total square footage. In addition, installation quotes can vary depending on the wood type, too. However, the national average for all hardwood floor projects was $4,400 (again, according to HomeAdvisor).

National cost: $4,400. Resale value: Variable. Projected ROI: 70-80%

Consider refinishing hardwood floors over replacing existing ones, especially in older homes with original wood flooring. New flooring will make the house feel newer and make the buyer be more willing to pay more. 

House Remodeling Over $5,000

Full bath/half-bath remodel:. Bathroom remodels are a great way to modernize your home for less than a kitchen remodel, but for greater profit. Keep in mind that although you’ll be updating the tile, shower/tub, and sink, the greatest impact is the paint color. According to Zillow, avoid painting your bathroom white (-$4,000 loss) and opt for “light powder blue” hues instead (+$5,400 gain).

Changing out the mirrors in your bathroom can also make the bathroom match current styles and change the look of the room. You can look for more affordable mirrors at a discount store or even at a second hand store. 

National cost: $9,700. Resale value: Variable. Projected ROI: 60-85%, depending on market trends.

Kitchen remodel: Full kitchen remodels are some of the best projects you can tackle if your house is a bit dated. Although potential buyers will eventually purchase their own appliances, they want to minimize initial move-in costs. Kitchen remodels vary from rearranging the entire layout of the kitchen to replacing existing materials with what’s in styles, such as new countertops and flooring.

When working with a tight remodeling budget, consider replacing the backsplash, cabinets, lighting, or flooring to increase your ROI on your home quickly. Even just changing out the hardware like door handles or knobs can change the look and price value of your home. 

National cost: $22,000 Resale value: Variable. Projected ROI: ~60%

The “Gold Standard” for remodeling projects states that all your projects should cost no more than 5% to 15% of your current home’s value.


The cheaper and easier upgrades generally yield the greatest return on investment. You’re paying for the cost of materials as well as labor, so projects with lower overhead have the best chance for breaking even. Larger projects require more planning, physical labor, and permits to obtain. In addition, larger projects like major kitchen overhauls may only be appealing to a narrow target audience. Your potential buyers have their own ideas in mind!

Keep in mind that the return on investment or best ROI home improvements for common upgrades and remodeling projects depends heavily on your geographic market as well as what’s in style. Also, these prices may not accurately reflect the true cost of materials and labor. (Data reflects national prices and returns on investments up until 2017.) In the end, your individual success varies depending on your local market, seasonal trends, buyer personas — and even building codes.