Comparing the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale, the data in Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report includes national and regional averages for midrange and upscale projects. At the peak of the market in 2005, on average, nearly 87% percent of remodeling costs could be recouped. Although current returns are lower, some projects still offer a chance to recoup a majority of your investment.

According to the report, the top five projects nationwide for upscale homes are all exterior improvements. Fiber cement siding replacement is at the top of the list, offering a 78% return on investment. Exterior upgrades also place high on the list for midrange projects — entry door and garage door replacements rank at 72% and 73% respectively.

It is also possible to cut the data by project level within a region, such as the San Francisco Bay Area as in the chart below.

Visit the Remodeling magazine website to see the full Cost vs. Value Report.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) surveyed more than 100 of its designer members across the country to uncover the likelihood that they would incorporate various materials and styles in their designs. The following seven top kitchen trends and four top bathroom trends emerged for 2011. Note: percentages may not total 100% as the survey tallied only whether a designer specified a product in a design, not how often they did so. Results reflect national trends and may not be consistent with local preferences.


  1. Shake It Up

    When it comes to style trends in the kitchen, Traditional remains the top choice. The big news is that Shaker has now supplanted Contemporary as the second most popular look.

  2. Dark and Beautiful

    The most specified type of finish for cabinets and floors is a dark natural finish. In contrast, the use of medium natural, glazed and white painted finishes has diminished.

  3. Take the Chill Off

    Interestingly enough, unchilled wine storage has grown in popularity, while the incorporation of wine refrigerators seems to be on the decline.

  1. French Revolution

    In terms of refrigerator styles, the French door refrigerator is now the most popular (78%.) Freezer-bottom models (single-door refrigerator on top, single-door freezer on the bottom) fell slightly in popularity to second place (59%.)

  1. Induction is Hot

    Induction cooktop selection is heating up! This trend is expected to continue due to induction’s energy efficiency. Gas cooktops are still the most popular though specification fell from 76% to 70%, while conventional electric cooktop specifications increased slightly from 38% to 41%.

  1. LED Lighting the Way

    For energy-efficient lighting solutions, designers are flipping the switch on LEDs (light emitting diodes) rather than CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) most likely due to the poor quality of light CFLs produce.

  2. Take Out the Trash

    Trash or recycling pull-outs were included in 89% of the kitchens designed by NKBA members. There was also an increase in both garbage disposals and trash compactors.


  1. Of Quartz

    Quartz solid surfaces such as Zodiac™ and Caesarstone™, are an increasingly-popular choice for bathroom countertops, up from 48% to 54%, but quartz still has not had the impact it has in the kitchen. For bathroom countertops, granite remains the most popular choice (83%.)

  2. Going Green

    The use of the color green in bathrooms is on the rise. Whites and off-whites, beiges and browns remain the most commonly used color tones, however.

  3. A Worthy Vessel

    Undermount sinks continue to dominate the bathroom scene, but vessel sinks have become the clear second choice among designers.

  4. Supreme Satin Nickel

    In bathrooms and kitchens, satin nickel is now the favorite faucet finish, while brushed nickel comes in second. Stainless steel remains popular in the kitchen, but not in the bath.

Remodeling magazine just released their annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2010-2011 which compares the cost of various types of remodeling projects with their resale value. It provides data for the national averages and for specific regions of the country. At the peak in remodeling value in 2005, the national average percentage of recouped value for all types of projects was 86.7%. This year, the ratio has dropped to 60%, reflecting the instability in the national real estate market due to tight lending practices and uncertainty over foreclosures and distressed properties. Keep in mind that these numbers are driven by the cost of remodeling and the value of homes in all markets.

In our local area, where housing values have remained more stable, the return on remodeling costs is much higher. Some types of projects recoup over 100% of the value when the home is sold. An entry door replacement that cost $1,546, will return $2,029, or 131.30% of the cost in resale value. Similarly, a bathroom remodel that cost $22,014, will return $22,440, or 101.90% of the cost upon sale. Major projects, such as additions and kitchen remodels, while they do not recoup 100% of the cost, are still able to recoup approximately 95% of the cost upon resale. Of note, these figures represent averages for good quality (not luxury) projects. High end projects with expensive finishes and fixtures recoup less overall than projects of good quality.

At the national level, the first 10 places in the ranking are held by 13 projects (includes ties.) It’s a sign of the times that 10 of them are exterior replacement projects such as windows, doors, and siding. Replacement projects have always performed better in resale value than remodeling projects, partly because they are among the least expensive and partly because they are need-based improvements that contribute to the home’s curb appeal and protect the owner’s investment. To read the full article and view charts for all types of remodeling projects and areas of the country, see the Remodeling 2010-11 Cost vs. Value Report on the Remodeling magazine website.

Check out the Hammerschmidt Construction website to view before and after photos and descriptions of two whole house remodels with additions, completed earlier this year. While the projects started out as “repairs” several years ago, they are now both completely transformed and the owners are ecstatic. Size-wise, is where they diverge.

One is a two story home in a suburban neighborhood. Built in 1963, the structure lacked architectural integrity. The original home was 2,525 sq feet and after remodeling it’s 3,939. An addition was added over the flat-roofed garage and architectural details (gabled roof, timber-framed entry, stone) created the architectural balance and symmetry the original house was lacking. Inside, the interior was configured to improve the flow and function of each space and the family’s love of nature inspired the finishes to create an elegantly comfortable home.

The second house, well, actually a cabin, was built in the 1930s as a weekend drinking shelter during prohibition. The stories it could tell. Starting out, there was 1,128 sq feet of living space, not including basement storage, and the finished project release is 1,191, but oh what a difference 63 sq ft can make. To be fair, there were other additions (up) for a clerestory and the interior was reconfigured. See more on our website.

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