Home improvements are a great way to add value to your home.

At least, that’s a common belief. But are they really? And which improvements give you the best bang for your buck?

The answers to these questions are probably not the same for everyone, and may depend on your definition of value. If you’re selling your home, value may be measured in monetary terms, but if you just want to increase your comfort level, this definition may include luxury additions that add little monetary value.

Here are a few quick and easy home improvements that may or may not increase your home’s value in your eyes. We’ll let you decide:

1. Light

Lighting is one of the most important components of a home, and whether you’re the homeowner or a potential buyer, natural light is usually the preferred source. Unfortunately not all homes offer the benefit of unlimited natural light.

If you have the time and budget, adding more windows is an obvious solution. If you can’t quite swing the process and expense of removing a chunk of your house to replace it with glass, you might consider tubular daylighting devices (TDDs). These reflective cylinders are installed through the roof and create a soft, pleasant diffused light. They are especially useful in interior rooms, hallways or any other area where windows would be impractical.

Another way to add natural light is to replace solid doors with ones with glass panels. This can be effective for both exterior and interior openings, creating a flow of light from one end of the home to the other. Typically you’ll be making a life-long investment when you do this, because fiberglass doors won’t rot, split, crack or peel, which will come in handy when winter finally decides to come around.

2. Space

An open floor plan is a must for many modern homebuyers, especially between the kitchen and living areas. If a non-loadbearing wall separates your space, replacing it with an island or bar might be a good investment.

Another important aspect for both homeowners and buyers is an adequate number of bathrooms. Adding an additional bathroom may help attract potential buyers and will definitely raise the comfort level of your home. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to recoup your investment, you might find yourself disappointed: You can only expect to recover about 52 percent of your monetary outlay when selling your property.

When adding to a home, be sure not to overbuild for your particular neighborhood. A $100,000 addition to a $150,000 house in a neighborhood where houses sell for $150,000 may give you the best house on the block but it won’t add much monetary value. Why would a buyer spend $250,000 for a house in a $150,000 neighborhood when they can get that same home in a neighborhood of $250,000 homes?

3. Landscaping

A potential buyer’s first impression is the outside of your home, and often first impressions will set their expectations of the inside as well. Edging your sidewalk with paving stones and some attractive ground cover will add a distinctive low-maintenance touch to your walkway.

If you have a deck or porch, add an attractive seating area. There is nothing more relaxing than a glass of fine wine and an evening of porch sitting. If you don’t have a deck or porch but have plenty of available room for one, consider adding it. Outdoor entertainment space is always a draw for potential homebuyers and a long-term benefit for you as well.

Keep weeds, grass and trees trimmed and replace any dead or dying plants. Low maintenance trees and bushes present a well-manicured appearance without a lot of time and effort. Remember — if you don’t want to take the time to care for high-maintenance plants, a potential buyer probably won’t either.

Finally, a simple coat of paint on the front door or an upgraded mailbox can provide an inexpensive facelift and boost the curb appeal of your home.

A Word About Maintenance

Basic maintenance should always take precedence over upgrades. A wine cellar or lap pool is a grand idea, but one you might regret if it takes priority over a leaky roof or worn-out heat and air system.

Buyers don’t want to spend money repairing electrical, mechanical and structural problems in their new home, and these concerns can quickly kill a sale. Dealing with maintenance issues as they arise will always increase the salability and value of your house.

Whether you want to sell or just improve your surroundings, you can do many things to improve the comfort, aesthetics and value of your home. When making major changes, consider how they will eventually affect the resale value of your home. Some things can’t be easily undone — and while you might love that monstrous gaming center, potential buyers could just see it as monstrous.

About the Author:
Megan Wild is a writer who loves to dream up new additions and improvements she can make to a home. You can check out more of her musings on her blog, Your Wild Home.