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Which renovations have the best returns on investment?

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Finding the right renovation for your property can undoubtedly be a daunting task. In any given home, there are at least a dozen things that could be updated, ripped out, or renovated, so how do you decide which one is the best to tackle first? The easiest choice is to pick the renovation that is going to increase the value of your home the most, so we’ve compiled a short list to help make the decision easier. We will walk you through some of the most valuable and cost-efficient revitalizations you can make, with advice from professional contractors and real estate agents.


First and foremost — painting. The benefit of a fresh coat of paint over a set of tired walls can simply not be overstated. Compared to other types of upgrades, painting is easily the fastest and most advantageous, rendering an increase in the value of your home by as much as 10%. You might be pondering the differences between a DIY job versus hiring a professional after all painting seems easy enough to do yourself. There is nothing wrong with light experimentation when it comes to revitalizing your home — it’s great to get your hands a little dirty and get yourself involved in the project, but when it comes to painting, the details are important. For most homes, you’ll easily make your money back by hiring a professional, and it will save you precious time and effort. For professionals, one room can be started and finished within the span of a few hours, where most homeowners struggle to finish the same amount of work over several days.

Our advice: spend the money and do it right — it will pay off 10 fold in the long run. Matthew Doering, the lead contractor of one of the highest rated painting companies in the GTA, Clark Painting Inc, advises that the cost to paint a typical 12×10 room can vary between $500–900, depending on if you plan to paint the ceiling, baseboards and trim. This price may differ depending on the number of coats required, given that deeper colours often need 3 or more coats.

If you are looking to save a little bit of cash, do the simple things that could save the contractor time such as removing pictures and nails from walls, wiping the walls down with some soap and water, and removing the casings around outlets and light switches. This will be sure to save you some money, without frustrating your contractor.


The next reno is another no-brainer: the kitchen. The average return on investment is a whopping 30–50%! For the average Canadian an investment in your kitchen will increase the selling price of your home by 12.5% — a much higher return than the TSX, and it only takes a few weeks.

Homestars notes that the average kitchen renovation costs about $26 000, but more substantial remodels can run up a price tag of as much as $50 000. Homeowners can often convolute their new kitchen with costly, unnecessary features like expensive appliances and cabinets. It is easy to be swept up in the glamour of shiny new appliances and lose sight of the end goal, so here are some key tips to help you stay on track:

  • High-end appliances should only be purchased if you plan to keep your home for a while and frequently emulate Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen — you should never buy expensive gadgets that you’ll use once and then repurpose as a dust collector
  • Cabinets can typically be refurbished, or purchased cheaply from ready-to-assemble furniture stores like Ikea. These options will only take a pro about a week and typically cost between $3500–6000, depending on the size and complexity of the kitchen
  • For a countertop — granite is not the only way to go! Try out a laminate material for a cheaper cost with a similar look and durability


Last but not least, flooring is definitely the best bang for your buck. The first thing to consider when installing new floors is a subfloor: a layer of plywood, or other engineered materials such as OSB, that provide noise and heat insulation, while also acting as a vapour barrier. Subfloors are essential when installing tiles, and are also useful to minimize moisture problems in basements or mud rooms. If you plan to install a subfloor, the average cost will be between $2–3 per square foot.

The next question to ask is which type of flooring best suits your needs. For starters, hardwood is a proven timeless classic and is often sought after by home buyers. The National Association of Realtors found that more than half of all Canadian home buyers are willing to pay more for a house with hardwood. The main reasons are the aesthetic, and the durability. It can last up to 100 years and can be repeatedly refinished over time to extend its life cycle. This option will cost anywhere from $6–12 per square foot for materials and an average of $2.50 per square foot for refinishing. There is no question that this option provides the best look, longest life, and ultimately, the best return on investment.

For a similar look that is less permeable to liquids, try engineered hardwood. This option also lasts a very long time, but unfortunately can’t be refinished in most cases. At a price comparable to solid hardwoods, this can be a great option for humid climates or basements (assuming you opted for a subfloor).

Laminate flooring provides another cheaper alternative — priced between $3–6 per square foot. This is a great option for basements and other moisture-rich projects or anyone else who is looking to cut their costs and still have functional flooring

The average cost of a flooring project in Canada is between $3000–5000 and can increase the overall value of your home by as much as 5%! This is definitely the least expensive way to quickly increase the value of your home.

One other cost of renovating your home is the time that it takes to procure prices from multiple contractors in your area. Most Canadians spend an average of 30 hours calling and trying to arrange meetings with contractors, before deciding on who to hire. For more transparent pricing, use Acoutera and get prices from local contractors online. This can save you an enormous amount of time and will eliminate the stress associated with hiring tradesmen.


  1. Painting is an inexpensive and valuable project to tackle before selling your home — but spend the extra couple hundred bucks and hire a professional!
  2. Kitchens are the best way to increase the value of your home but are typically expensive renovations. Cut the frills and focus on function.
  3. Flooring is the least expensive way to raise your property value. If you’re looking to resell quickly, or just take on a less daunting project, flooring is the best place to start
  4. Save yourself some time and get your quotes online at

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