Homeowners often hope that a remodeling project will pay them back in monetary terms - perhaps energy savings or increased home value - but a new report from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) adds joy to the payback possibilities list.  NAR's 2019 Remodeling Impact Report looks at 20 different home improvement projects and surveys consumers who have undertaken the project, Realtors, and members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. The report ranks the appeal of a given project in terms of resale and its overall functionality and examines the reasons for remodeling, the success of the project, and the owner's satisfaction on completion of the job.

Seventy-four percent of owner-respondents reported that they had a greater desire to be in their home after completing the project, 65 percent say they experienced increased enjoyment, and 77 percent felt a major sense of accomplishment. Additionally, 58 percent reported a feeling of happiness when they see their completed projects, while 38% said they have a feeling of satisfaction.

NAR calculated what it refers to as a "Joy Score" for each project. The score is based on the happiness homeowners reported with their renovations; the more pleased with a given project, the better the Joy Score, with the highest possible score being 10. The report details those projects that received some of the higher score and why. 

A complete kitchen renovation was among projects receiving a "10."  Ninety-three percent of those polled said they have a greater desire to be at home since the completion of their kitchen, and 95 percent said they have an increased sense of enjoyment when at home.

The most important result of a kitchen renovation is improved functionality and livability, according to 46 percent of those polled. As to the reasons why they decided to take on the project, one-quarter said they wanted to upgrade worn-out surfaces and materials. Another 20 percent reported they were new homeowners and wanted to customize the kitchen to their particular tastes.

Another top-ten project was upgrading closets, partially the report says because of the inconvenience of a disorganized closet which owners frequently encounter as they start their day. The sense of achievement of a closet renovation is immediate and 68 percent said they felt it on completion while 72 percent report having a greater desire to be at home since finishing the job.

With a closet redesign, 56 percent say the most important result is better functionality and livability. Fifty-four percent say the top reason for doing the job was the need to improve organization and storage and 15 percent answered that it was time for a change.

Another top-ranked interior project, with a 9.8 score, is a full interior paint job, something that may be visible in every room in the home. Eighty-eight percent say they have a greater desire to be in their newly painted home and 86 percent report feeling a major sense of accomplishment when they think of the project.

The highest-ranked exterior projects were installation of a fiberglass front door (9.7) and new vinyl windows (9.6). Improved energy efficiency was among the top reason for undertaking these jobs.

As for the money thing, the NAR survey found the top projects for recovering cost on resale are new roofing, installation or refinishing of hardwood floors.  Remodelers say that new roofing costs $7,500, and Realtors estimate that it helps sellers gain $8,000, on average at resale. That equates to 107% of value recovered from the project.  Wood flooring results in a $5,000 recovery, 106 percent of its estimated cost while refinishing a hardwood floor breaks even, recovering the entirety of an estimated $2,600 cost.

Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist said the report "shows us that people often remodel for resale purposes, but it also reminds us that homeowners remodel, too, with the desire to make a home their own."

"Realtors and homeowners alike recognize the value of taking on a major home remodeling project," said NAR President John Smaby. "While these tasks can be time consuming and costly, the projects are well worth the temporary inconveniences, as this report shows, and the final products ultimately reward us, with feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and higher homes values."