Curious which home improvement costs less than $5,000, delivers the highest return on investment and has the maximum impact on curb appeal?
According to the latest studies, the answer is a new garage door.
A garage door replacement is one of the best value-returning home improvement investments, according to Remodeling Magazine's 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. This exhaustive annual study uses input from nationwide Realtors to compare the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects against the value those projects retained at resale.
Of all the home improvement projects that cost less than $5,000, a mid-range and an upscale garage door replacement rank second and third as projects that deliver the most value at resale.
The true front door
A mid-range entry door replacement ranks first. However, the curb appeal of an entry door can't compare with the impact of a front-facing two-car garage door. This door commands almost six times more visible space than the entry door. The curb appeal impact is even greater when the garage door is a $2,800 upscale model.
The conventional wisdom of yesteryear suggested that a home's front entry door was the center of curb appeal attention. Realtors of the 1980s would commonly recommend spending extra dollars on an upscale front entrance.
But today, as front doors are used less and garage doors are used more, home improvement experts recognize that a front-facing garage door commands much more impact and curb appeal than a front door that is often shrouded in shadow.
"The most noticeable architectural element of today's home is the garage door," says Gale Steves, former editor-in-chief of Home Magazine, a primary conduit of home improvement ideas to its 4 million readers.
If you plan to stay in your home and improve its value, Steves recommends focusing on the curb appeal of the home, making it as attractive as possible from the street. For front-facing garages, she recommends upgrading an old garage door to a new carriage style door that offers attractive styling that complements the home's unique character.
Paying for itself
In the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, the typical cost for an upscale garage door ($2,791) delivered an estimated value at sale of $2,315, equating to an 83 percent return on investment. The $1,534 cost for a mid-range garage door replacement had an estimated value at sale of $1,283, or 84 percent of the original cost.
In several cities and U.S. regions, an upscale garage door actually returned more than 100 percent of its cost. This was particularly true for large cities in California and the Pacific region.
In a separate study, more than 71 percent of Realtors nationwide felt that an attractive new garage door added as much as 4 percent of the selling price. That's a bump of $10,000 on a $250,000 home, which means that a new garage door can pay for itself.
Choosing the right design
Before you begin your garage door project, make sure you see the wide range of new styles available. The right one will complement and enhance your home's personality.
A helpful website is GarageWowNow.com, a non-commercial site developed by the garage door industry. The site includes before and after photos and displays many fresh styles introduced in recent years from leading manufacturers.
The one-day makeover
A local professional door dealer can help you find the right look for your home and install the door correctly, quickly and safely. This delivers a stunning home makeover in only a few hours, with no clean-up and no mess.
But don't try to install the door yourself. It's a complex and dangerous task, performed with springs under extremely high tension.
With a small investment of time and money, a stunning new garage door can make your home the envy of the neighborhood. And you can be confident that your investment will pay off in the short and the long run.