Best return on investment for home improvements

With the economy recovering and unemployment receding, Americans are stepping up to the plate to remodel their homes. But not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some homeowners will spend a few hundred dollars to spruce up modestly, others will invest thousands in a major remodel.

Not all of these projects will result in significant return on investment.

You may not be planning to sell your home in the short term, but it’s smart planning to at least know where you’ll get the best bang for the buck on improvements. The answers may surprise you.

Topping the annual ROI list for Remodeling magazine in 2014 was—drumroll, please—a 20-gauge steel front door. The magazine estimates the total cost of the new door for a midrange home at $1,162, but says the improvement adds $1,122 to the home’s value, a whopping 96.6 percent return on investment when the home is sold.

Conversely, way down Remodeling’s list of ROI for improvements: home office conversions and sunroom additions, both of which can be expected to return only about half of their investment.

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