Thinking of renovating?? It’s a common question that arises when thinking of long term investment for comfort and lifestyle, OR if you’re thinking of selling and wondering where the best bang for your buck is. Here are some areas to pay attention to taken from the article titled 10 Home Renovations with the Best Return on Investment written by Maryalene Laponsie with my own commentary “written in”:

5 Common Renovation Errors:

  1. Measuring Errors: “Measure 10 times, Cut Once”.

  • Make sure you measure over and over again because once something is cut there is no going back! This can be a large waste of money if you have to throw out perfectly good pieces because you were careless in your measurements. “There’s always a backyard bonfire to hide those loose ends ;)” - Amber


  1. Choosing a Cheap Contractor

  • There are certain things within a renovation that you can cheap out on, a contractor is not one of them. The contractor plays a key role in the result of your renovation and that is not something you want to take a risk on. “I have seen thousands of homes, and I PROMISE you, buyers can tell good from bad.” - A

  1. Lowballing Budget—Need to budget enough for mistakes so you have wiggle room.

    • Mistakes will happen. No renovation project goes perfectly as planned. Make sure your budget has room for mistakes so you don’t end up short in the end. “Opening up walls to hidden old wiring, leakage issues, no insulation .. all problems to plan for the worst, and hope for the best.” - A

  2. Skimping on Quality/Splurging where you should save

    • Once again, there are areas to skimp on, and areas where it is important you get high quality. An area that’s going to get a lot of use (mudroom, kitchen cabinets, flooring) are areas to plan for long term wear and tear. “Buyers are looking at how ‘lived in’ a home feels, and if it’s in rougher shape then your value decreases.” - A

  3. Jumping on the Trend Train – Trends have short lifespan.

    • Try to stick to finishes that are timeless so you don’t find yourself desiring another renovation project in a couple of years. Trendy areas can also be hard to sell to people with different opinions than you! “My advice for clients when renovating to sell - white!! White kitchens, bathrooms, walls, etc. It’s much cleaner, simpler, and buyers can envision their own twist on things.”-A


12 Renovations with the Best Return

  1. Added Insulation – 108%

  2. Garage Door – 85%

  3. Front Door – 91%

  4. Landscaping – 105%

  5. Kitchen Remodel – 80%

  6. Bathroom Remodel/adding a Bathroom - 81%

  7. New Windows – 74%

  8. Finish Basement – 69%

  9. High Efficiency Appliances – Reduce living costs

  10. Interior Paint – Bring light in - 90-110% depending on the study

  11. Deck

  12. Siding Replacement


If you’re thinking about putting a “for sale” sign in front of your house, you may also have home renovations in mind. It seems logical that replacing outdated features, dingy appliances and worn carpeting should increase the value of your home, but don’t be too sure. Some renovations have a poor return on investment, while others will do little to impress buyers with their own vision for the property. It’s important to not to pour a lot of money into projects that are too personalized.

However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't make any updates. If you think you’ll be in the home for a while, go ahead and renovate so you can better enjoy the property. Otherwise, if you’re renovating for resale value, focus on these projects that offer the best return on investment.

  1. Added insulation. Each year, Remodeling Magazine conducts a cost-versus-value analysis to determine which of 29 home projects offers the best return on investment. In 2017, it isn’t a new kitchen or bathroom that tops the list. It’s attic insulation.

It’s an inexpensive project that can be done for less than $1,500 and has an estimated return of 108 percent. Plus, it’s a good investment regardless of whether you plan to sell. “As buyers become more environmentally aware, anything that lowers the costs of running a home, as well as good to Mama Earth, are valuable.” - Amber

  1. New garage door. When it comes to what it considers upscale renovations, Remodeling Magazine says replacing the garage door offers the best return on investment. Sellers can expect to recoup 85 percent of the cost of this project.

“First impressions are everything .. make sure your home shines from the curb and in those real estate photos and video!” - A

  1. Better front door. Don’t stop with the garage door. A new front door can also be a good investment. According to Remodeling Magazine, you’ll recoup almost 91 percent of the cost on a steel entry door and nearly 78 percent on the price of a fiberglass one. Winnipeggers will be looking for insulated steel as well.


  2. Improved landscaping. The National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Landscape Professionals conducted a survey in 2016 to determine which outside projects offer homeowners the best value. An overall landscape upgrade topped the list with an estimated 105 percent return on investment.

  3. Kitchen remodel. Said to be the heart of the home, the kitchen deserves some extra attention if you’re hoping to sell.


That doesn’t necessarily mean making a complete overhaul, but could include refacing cabinets or updating finishes. A minor kitchen remodel will recoup 80 percent of its cost, according to Remodeling Magazine, while a major midrange kitchen remodel only has a 65 percent return on investment.

“I like to advise my clients to try and keep costs down - butcher block, subway tile, white cabinets, splashes of colour .. it goes a long way! Buyers LOVE soft close cabinets, pot drawers .. and pull out pantry shelves .. definitely items to add!” - Amber

  1. Bathroom improvements. The bathroom is another prime place for renovations. Replace the vanity, lighting and toilet, an inexpensive way to dramatically improve the look and feel of the room.

Adding a bathroom is a major investment, and it doesn’t have the best return. Reports from both the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling Magazine say homeowners will recoup slightly more than half their investment. However, it may be essential to making a sale, especially if there is only one bathroom in the house.

“I have a LOT of buyers who want a bathroom on each floor, so even a two piece addition is valuable to attracting more buyers” - Amber

  1. New windows. Replacing old windows can brighten a room and resale prospects. There’s no need to splurge though. “You’re not going to get your money back with a top of the line window,” Foguth says. Remodeling Magazine reports vinyl replacement windows have a 74 percent return on investment, giving them a 1 percent edge over wood windows.

  2. More square footage. Refinishing a basement or other space can dramatically boost the value of a house in some areas.

A 2015 National Association of Realtors report considered the value of converting a basement to living space. It estimated homeowners could expect to recoup 69 percent of the project price. The return on investment for converting an attic to living space was estimated at 61 percent.

  1. High efficiency appliances. Like insulation, upgrading to high efficiency appliances, water heaters and furnaces has a dual benefit. These may make the home more attractive, but just as importantly, they reduce living costs for the homeowner. “Manitoba Hydro has some GREAT programs for helping with upgrades like this.”

  2. Interior paint. It’s hard to calculate the return on investment for a coat of paint, but buyers like clean lines and airy spaces. “Painting is one of the most common areas that my sellers pay attention to. A fresh coat of paint lightens spaces, make them feel larger, cleaner, newer … and we all know that a Winnipeg home likely has some drywall cracks to seal up! For the amount that needs investing in paint, it’s a no brainer to me.” - A


While these 10 renovations make the most sense from a dollar and cents perspective, every market is different. “Nothing replaces talking to a REALTOR® and understanding the expectations of buyers in Winnipeg before making those major (or minor) home renovation decisions. I’m always happy to help with advice where needed, so feel free to reach out anytime!” - Amber

Amber van den Broek
Amber van den Broek
520 Academy Rd Winnipeg MB R3N 2A8