If you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

To make things easier for you, here are four remodels to avoid and four to invest in.

Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold. It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool. Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money. A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price. Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of REALTORS® reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater. The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in seven and a half years. After that, panels are a big money-saving asset. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

Related: Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels?

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable. New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer. Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent. Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring. Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind. Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.

A strong housing market isn’t necessarily all good news for sellers. As evidenced by Remodeling magazine’s newly-released Cost vs. Value Report for 2018, average return on investment (ROI) for home improvement projects dipped across the board, with “upscale” projects taking the biggest hit.

Home Improvement Projects- from your Charlotte RealtorThe report, which measures the average cost of 21 popular remodeling projects and their average resale value one year later, found that garage door replacement has the highest ROI at 98.3 percent (up from 85 percent year-over-year). Backyard patio jobs garner the lowest ROI, at 47.6 percent (down from 54.9 percent year-over-year).

The reason for the sweeping decrease in ROI isn’t immediately obvious, but Remodeling magazine’s editor-in-chief (and manager of the report) Craig Webb notes that it’s likely related to the strength of the housing market currently.

“It’s not clear if…nationwide affordability concerns are leading (real estate) pros to question the value of renovations that would make a house even more expensive at resale,” says Webb.

However, a silver lining from the report relates to when the data was compiled. Remodeling magazine put all the cost information together before the country was struck with several natural disasters, including massive forest fires and several hurricanes. Since then, building supplies and the price of skilled labor has increased, but that’s expected to change over the course of 2018. As a result, expect to see the ROI of most of these projects level out by the end of the year.

Despite these events, some longtime trends continued through the new year. Remodeling is still far more cost-effective than replacement, but, according to real estate pros, replacing is still the way to go. This year, there’s a 20-point difference in ROI: 76.1 percent for replacement jobs, versus 56 percent for remodeling.

Nationally, when it comes to renovation ROI, curb appeal still wins out. Here are the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “midrange” cost category:

Manufactured Stone Veneer (97.1% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $8,221
  • Average Resale Value: $7,986

Entry Door Replacement (Steel) (91.3% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $1,471
  • Average Resale Value: $1,344

Deck Addition (Wood) (82.8% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $10,950
  • Average Resale Value: $9,065

Minor Kitchen Remodel (81.1% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $21,198
  • Average Resale Value: $17,193

Siding Replacement (76.7% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $15,072
  • Average Resale Value: $11,554

The top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report’s “upscale” cost category are:

Garage Door Replacement (98.3% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $3,470
  • Average Resale Value: $3,411

Window Replacement (Vinyl) (74.3% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $15,955
  • Average Resale Value: $11,855

Window Replacement (Wood) (69.5% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $19,391
  • Average Resale Value: $13,468

Grand Entrance (Fiberglass) (67.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $8,591
  • Average Resale Value: $5,809

Bathroom Remodel (56.2% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $61,662
  • Average Resale Value: $34,633

Nationally—and on the complete other end of the spectrum—here are the five projects with the lowest ROI in the “midrange” cost category:

Backyard Patio (47.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $54,130
  • Average Resale Value: $25,769

Master Suite Addition (56.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $123,420
  • Average Resale Value: $69,807

Major Kitchen Remodel (59% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $63,829
  • Average Resale Value: $37,637

Bathroom Addition (59.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $44,717
  • Average Resale Value: $26,769

Deck Addition (Composite) (63.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $17,668
  • Average Resale Value: $11,239

The five projects with the lowest ROI in the “upscale” cost category are:

Master Suite Addition (48.3% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $256,229
  • Average Resale Value: $123,797

Major Kitchen Remodel (53.5% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $125,721
  • Average Resale Value: $67,212

Bathroom Addition (54.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $83,869
  • Average Resale Value: $45,752

Bathroom Remodel (56.2% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $61,662
  • Average Resale Value: $34,633

Grand Entrance (Fiberglass) (67.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $8,591
  • Average Resale Value: $5,809

The 2018 Cost vs. Value Report compares, across 149 markets, the average cost of 21 popular remodeling projects with their average value at resale one year later. Average resale value is calculated based on estimates provided by real estate professionals.

By Jameson Doris