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Here Are the Best Home Renovations for Your Money in 2020

Shaina Mishkin

The best home renovation project for your buck isn’t a chef’s kitchen or master suite, but an affordable fake stone that returns nearly all of its value at sale, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report.

Manufactured stone veneer has been one of the report’s top performers since it was added to the trade magazine’s study in 2015, recouping between 89% and 97% of its value each year. The 2020 report, which compares the average cost of 22 home improvement projects to their resale value, is the first in which manufactured stone veneer — which costs an average $9,400 and recoups an average $8,900 at sale, for a return of 96% — tops the list nationally.

While the manufactured stone siding gets a good return across the country, the impact it will have on your sale price depends on your local market. The project goes the furthest in the Pacific and Mountain regions, where it recoups 120% and 100% of its initial cost at sale respectively — entirely offsetting the initial cost. The siding sees the lowest return in the region that envelops states like Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas, where only 61% of the project’s initial cost is recouped at sale.

While it might top the list, manufactured stone veneer isn’t the only project that will give you a near-perfect return on your initial investment. Adding a new steel garage door will nearly pay for itself, according to the study. The project returns an average 95% of its initial cost at sale nationally, Remodeling says. That’s a little less than manufactured stone veneer, but still well above the list’s average return of 67%.

The lowest scoring project, an upscale master suite addition that involves adding a luxurious 640 square foot living area onto the side of a home, costs an average of $282,000 and typically recoups $145,000 at sale for an average return of 52%, according to Remodeling. And even that isn’t bad when you consider the purpose of a master suite addition is seldom undertaken to boost sale price, the magazine explains in its Key Trends report. “They take this on for their own enjoyment, and that difference in type of value is key,” the report says.