Best ROI home improvements for 2015

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | January 15, 2015

Your home is your castle, and you are willing to work to improve it. But you want to make sure every home improvement offers a great return on investment. Fortunately, Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report can help. Here are the best ROI projects for your home in 2015, including the average cost, why you should invest in each, and the real scoop on whether you can do it yourself.

Steel entry door

A favorite of homeowners looking to spruce up both security and curb appeal, the steel entry door offers a huge array of designs to fit any desired look, a very affordable price, and the possibility of doing it yourself, assuming you're handy. The ROI is a pretty sweet incentive to make your house look nicer this year.

National average cost: $1,162
ROI: 96.6%
DIY: Moderate effort and knowledge required.

Wood deck addition

A nice deck off the back of the house creates an outdoor living area where you can work, play, or simply enjoy the view. So install the things you love, like built-in seating for guests, handsome railings and just the right shape to fit in with your landscaping. It's also a great option for entertaining and can make your home more appealing if you choose to sell it down the road.

National average cost: $9,539
ROI: 87.4%
DIY: Small decks, maybe; larger decks need a contractor's expertise.

Fiber cement siding

Want to take your curb appeal to upscale heights? Fiber cement siding offers many benefits, including superior resistance to pests, mold, and fire. Most fiber cement brands offer impressive warranties. This price assumes replacement of 1,250 square feet, primed and painted at the factory.

National average cost: $13,378
ROI: 87%
DIY: Only if you have the specialized tools and experience.

Attic bedroom

When you need more space, look up: attics are often under-used and certainly under-appreciated. Turning the attic into a bedroom can allow more breathing room for a growing family, give you a space for guests or just spruce up the interior for resale value. This national average cost assumes a completely finished 15x15 bedroom with a comfy 5x7 bathroom.

National average cost: $49,438
ROI: 84.3%
DIY: This is a big job, including electrical and plumbing; call in the pros.

Garage door replacement

A new garage door can boost your curb appeal, change the overall look of your garage and give you more security. A mid-range door with a 10-year warranty might be a simple, uninsulated door that looks good and gets the job done; an upscale door will be high-strength steel, insulated, include thermal seals, and have a lifetime warranty.

National average cost: $1,534 for mid-range; $2,791 for upscale
ROI: 83.7% for mid-range; 82.9% for upscale
DIY: If you're handy and have a helper (or two), yes.

Minor kitchen remodel

Who doesn't want to spruce up their kitchen? If it includes some of the best ROI this year, all the better. A minor kitchen remodel can include new cabinet fronts and hardware, energy-efficient appliances, fresh flooring, new laminate countertops, and a mid-range sink and faucet. This price assumes a kitchen of about 200 square feet.

National average cost: $18,856
ROI: 82.7%
DIY: Call in the pros for most of this, and finish the small jobs yourself.

Window replacement

Whether you choose wood or vinyl, new windows can work wonders for your home's overall look. If you choose to go upscale, you can look forward to even more energy savings thanks to better insulation and low-E coatings. The price accounts for ten 3x5 double-hung windows and new exterior trim to match.

Wood windows
National average cost: $10,926 for mid-range; $16,798 for upscale
ROI: 79.3% for mid-range; 74% for upscale

Vinyl windows
National average cost: $9,978 for mid-range; $13,385 for upscale
ROI: 78.7% for mid-range; 76.6 for upscale

DIY: Unless you are a contractor, don't tackle this on your own, especially if you live in a multi-story home.

Vinyl siding

A new layer of vinyl siding can improve the entire look and feel of your home -- not a bad investment for the homeowner who is itching for a major change. A mid-range option for 1,250 square feet is for basic siding, but foam-backed vinyl brings along with it higher energy savings, as is reflected in the higher price tag.

National average cost: $11,475 for mid-range; $14,236 for upscale
ROI: 78.2% for mid-range; 78.1% for upscale
DIY: Unless you have done this successfully in the past, it's best to call the pros.

Whether you're planning on selling or simply looking for a more comfortable, energy-efficient home, these projects can help make 2015 the year you get your home into tip-top shape.

Photo credit to Kevin Irby

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.